[EDITORIALS]How to be a good neighborJapan should look at the circumstances around this country before sending a maritime exploration project to waters near the Dokdo Islets, or Takeshima in Japanese.
Last year, Japan's trade with Asian countries accounted for 45 percent of its total imports and exports, three times bigger than its trade with the United States. In 15 years, Japan's trade with Asia has doubled. Last year, Japan had a surplus of $24.4 billion in trade with South Korea. Asia is a gold mine for Japan. The country is happy that it has entered new boom days after the past ten missing years.
Had it not been for the Asian market, would it have been possible?
It has been a long time since Japan has had summit meetings with its counterparts in neighboring countries. The last Japan-China summit was held in 2001. The last official summit meeting between South Korea and Japan was in 2004.
On the other hand, the leaders of Japan and the United States had a walk together at a temple in Kyoto last November. These two leaders will meet again in the United States this June. Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi even expressed his condolences about U.S. President George W. Bush's dog during a summit meeting. But Mr. Koizumi changes his attitude when dealing with South Korea and China.
After World War II, Japan declared the principles of its foreign policy: an emphasis on the Japan-U.S. alliance, the United Nations and partnership with Asian neighbors. Under that principle, is it appropriate that the prime minister visits the Yasukuni Shrine and sends a maritime exploration ship to a sensitive area? Does the Japanese government believe that while doing these things, it can have a free trade agreement with South Korea, build an Asia Monetary Fund and form an East Asian economic bloc?
Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japanese Federation of Employers Associations, said he was worried. “If Japan keeps up this way (with other Asian countries), it could be a serious problem.”
Nobody likes a neighbor who earns money in the neighborhood but has fun with someone else.
We need to state what we should do. Is it true that Japan is being isolated and bullied in Asia? Yes, it certainly is, and the Japanese have only themselves to blame. Solving the problem is their own responsibility.
We hope that Japan comes back to its senses and becomes a good neighbor.