Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Indian Eye on Koizumi

This is a sequel to the earlier posting on Japan dated October 2. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's landslide election victory in September, 2005 resulted in his administration securing a two thirds majority in the lower house. This will reinforce ongoing Japanese efforts to enhance its international profile. I will not cover Koizumi's domestic reform agenda except to mention that his government successfully pushed through legislation today to privatize Japan Post. Japan Post, which also serves as a Savings Bank, is possibly the largest financial institution in the world with US$ 3.2 trillion in assets.

The Koizumi administration is lobbying for a permanent Japanese seat at the United Nations Security Council. Tokyo highlights the fact that Japan is the second largest contributor to the United Nations and has been involved in several peace keeping operations in recent years, Iraq being a noteworthy example. While Article 9 of the Japanese constitution forbids the use of force in international disputes, the United States has urged a greater Japanese role in the fight against terror. It has hinted that increased levels of Japanese participation in collective security efforts will win it American support for a permanent seat at the Security Council. With this end in mind, the Koizumi administration is likely to initiate a debate on the constitution to allow increased Japanese participation in international military efforts.

Junichiro Koizumi is keen to leave a legacy of a strengthened Japanese presence on the international stage, a move viewed with concern by China. India and Japan share a strategic convergence with regards to (i) energy issues; (ii) security of sea lanes in the Indian Ocean; (iii) nuclear non-proliferation; and (iv) permanent membership in the security council. This is witnessed in Indo-Japanese cooperation in the gas fields of Sakhalin in Russia's Far East, a coordinated response in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami in Aceh, convergence on the issue of Iran and North Korea, and UN reform. Like the 16th century Shogun Nobunaga, Koizumi views himself as Japan's unifier in a fluid international environment. It is in India's interest that he succeed in his efforts.

1 comment:

Sukhinder said...

indeed Jaffna, a Japan responsible for its defense, a prosperous Vietnam, a self confident Russia and India as the broker of this Asian alliance can contain Chinese belligerence. Natwar Singh is just not able to grasp this simple fact. And the Indian Communists do not help either.

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