Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tom Plate on Koizumi

Here’s a hit and miss piece about Japan’s remarkable prime minister. I believe that some of Koizumi’s support in the election came from his foreign policy stance, though as Plate says, it was not the center of debate. I don’t believe this article credits Koizumi for what he’s done in that arena.

"But now, like Bill Clinton in his second term, Koizumi needs to turn to foreign affairs and work some magic there. At least he needs to make a better effort.

"Getting along with one's neighbors is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Without seeming to kowtow to China, this brilliant politician must work more closely with China on key bilateral and regional issues, including North Korea and Taiwan."

I suppose Plate doesn’t consider Taiwan a neighbor. Through Koizumi, Japan has taken unprecedented steps to tighten ties with this democratic island. He’s also done so with the democratic Australia. See a pattern? That’s not to say that he’s ignored China. Economic ties are increasing each year. But part of having a good relationship requires some movement from the other side.

"China is not always right in its disagreements with Japan, nor is South Korea. "

Try hardly ever. Even S. Korea has been acting immature when it comes to hot button issues with Japan.

"Getting along with one's neighbors is not a sign of weakness but of strength."

Knowing when someone is trying to use and abuse you is also important – as is standing your ground. Biting your lower lip, Clinton style, does not work on the People’s Party, which is why Clinton’s dealing with the Chinese counts as one of the lower points of his foreign policy.

"While Koizumi has demonstrated that he is a masterful domestic politician, history's judgment is still to be rendered on his performance as a world statesman."

The dye has already been cast and Koizumi will no doubt be seen positively as a major foreign policy leader. Mr. Plate should see that.

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