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China's Rise Sows Unease In U.S.-Japan Alliance

posted 3 Dec 2013, 06:34 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 3 Dec 2013, 06:35 ]
BVO - By visiting Japan first, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has kicked off his Asian tour on a relatively high note.

The old allies have grown closer as they're faced with an increasingly assertive China.

The U.S. has also scored points in Japan by appointing Caroline Kennedy, the only living child of John .F. Kennedy, as the high-profile new ambassador to Tokyo.

Crowds lined the streets to catch a glimpse of her procession to present her credentials to the Emperor.

But the honeymoon hasn't lasted long.

Just days after Kennedy arrived, China upset Tokyo by establishing an air defense zone that includes a set of islands claimed by both countries.

The move was condemned by the U.S. as well.

U.S. AMBASSADOR TO JAPANCAROLINE KENNEDY

"Unilateral actions like those taken by China with their announcement of an East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone undermines security and constitutes an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea. This only serves to increase tensions in the region."

We spoke with Koichi Nakono, a political analyst and professor at Sophia University, to ask howChina's rise was shaping U.S.-Japan relations and what Biden's Asia visit was likely to accomplish.

SOPHIA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, KOICHI NAKANO

"I think there's an expectation on the side of Japan that the U.S. is a reliable partner in the rising tension with China. But, of course, we'll have to see whether that is reciprocated by the United States. The U.S. is I think somewhat worried that Abe might be aggravating the tension unnecessarily, and in this instance of the air defense zone, China's move came unprovoked from the Japanese side, and so the U.S. for now responded fairly firmly and quickly to the Chinese assertions, much to the reassurance of the Japanese side. We'll have to see whether Biden can effectively convey the message from the United States that they are concerned about Japan's handling of its relationship with East Asian neighbors."

Caroline Kennedy goes East.

SOPHIA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, KOICHI NAKANO

"She's a very competent figure, with of course a huge brand name that has tremendous power of appeal both in the U.S. and in Japan. I think she will be a rather well-received ambassador here, and hopefully she'll be an effective force to communicate between Japan and the United States."

The regional outlook.

SOPHIA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, KOICHI NAKANO

"I think the U.S. does rely on Japan and vice-versa in handling the rise of China for the moment. But the relationship between Japan and the United States has not been so stable over the past year or so in part because of Japan's handling of issues or relationships in East Asia. And the history issue, the revisionism, nationalism are getting in the way, so I think the U.S. would want to continue with Japan, but they are looking with some worries that whether Japanese democracy and the country's respect for human rights and democratic principles are reliable, and in certain ways, you also see the turn of, for lack of a better term, sort of China-fication of Japanese politics, in terms of an authoritarian turn in the Abe government's approach."


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