Japan’s Northeast Asia Policy under Shinzo Abe

I attended an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday February 11th, 2015. During this event, a professor on the Faculty of Policy Studies at Chuo University, Yasuhiro Izumikawa, lectured about the framework of Abe’s Security Policy. The main problem is that the gradual status decline of Japan in the world. The policies under Abe enhanced the alliance between the United States and Japan, as well as deepen the cooperation with other states like Australia, ASEAN, India, and NATO. His policies have been largely successful but not as much in the Northeast Asia.
Professor Izumikawa mainly focused his lecture about Japan’s relation with three countries: Russia, Korea and China. In 2013, Russia wanted to move forward and resolve territorial issues with Japan; the four islands still in dispute are the Habomais, Shikotan, Kunashiri, and Etorofu. Russia promised in 1956 to return Habomasi and Shikotan when a peace treaty is signed, but Japan wanted all four islands back. Still today, no treaty has been signed to return those islands back to Japan. The longer Japan waits to sign the peace treaty and accept those two islands,  the weaker their position will become. Other countries are increasing their business development in these disputer territories.
Japan also faces problems with maintaining a diplomatic relationship with Korea; the problem lies in North Korea’s BCN weapons, missile threats, and the so-called “Abductees’ Issues.” Security cooperation is necessary with the Republic of Korea in order to resolve these issues. Japan is also reluctant to move forward to resolve history with Korea because of the public opinion of South Korea from Japanese citizens. The policy of the current president of Korea is very anti-Japan, so Japanese views of Korea has declined.
Professor Izumikawa also states Japan is in no hurry to improve relations with China because of possible change in China’s Japan policy as well as the lack of domestic pressure to improve relations with China. There is also little pressure from business lobbies and heightened anti-Chinese sentiments. While the U.S. and Japan share common goals with their relations with China, there is a disconnect in priorities which may cause some difficulties that should be managed properly.
After Professor Izumikawa’s 30 minute lecture, Joseph Ferguson and James L. Schoff spoke about Japan and its relations with the U.S. and Korea. I was able to use my knowledge from class to further understand this lecture on Japan’s foreign policies.
This event was helpful for my understanding because it was outside of the regular classroom setting and because it slightly touched on upon the history of Japan.

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