[Outlook]Rethinking security in Asia“Australia has no better friend or more reliable partner within the Asia-Pacific region than Japan,” Australian Prime Minister John Howard said. “Japan and Australia share the same fate,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The prime ministers of the two countries uttered these words as they signed a Japan-Australia security pact.
Japan and Australia began both a security deal and an FTA celebrating the 50th year of commercial pacts between the two countries, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney visited both Tokyo and Canberra.
How should we view the emerging alliance of Australia and Japan? In fact, a series of ironies mark the Australian-Japanese relationship.
Japan and Australia were set Tuesday to sign a landmark security pact, which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said was not aimed at containing a rapidly growing China.
First, Abe, who comes from a renowned family of politicians in Japan, infuriated Asian countries, in particular Korea and China, with his unforgivable words about history.
He continuously behaves as if he was not aware of any history despite the media bombardment from both within and without.
But when it comes to Australia and Japan, Abe emphatically asserted the historical significance of their bilateral relationship, which dates back to the Japan-Australia commercial pact of half a century ago, and was signed by then Japanese Prime Minister Nobuske Kishi, the maternal grandfather of the current prime minister.
Australia signed the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty(ANZUS) in 1951 (a time when Australia had come close to being invaded by Japan) to protect itself from Japan’s possible re-militarization.
Australia joined the war on terror with the United States three days after the Sept. 11 attacks, based on the ANZUS treaty provisions for assistance when a member nation comes under threat.
Japan, a previous enemy of the ANZUS treaty, has found a new ally through the Japan-Australia security pact. Australian Prime Minister Howard declared invisible threats such as the Sept. 11 attacks to be an enemy of the ANZUS Security Treaty and of the Japan-Australia security pact, redefining the previous notions of what constitutesan enemy in Australian security.
The Japan-Australia alliance was added to the U.S.-Japanese, U.S.-Australian alliance, and completes the trilateral alliance of Washington, Tokyo and Canberra, which insists it is a democratic alliance, espousing the values of democracy, market economy and human rights.
If India is added, it would herald the quadruple alliance of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, encompassing economy as well as security.
Needless to say this alliance should try to contain countries such as China, Russia and North Korea.
Japan and Australia did not sacrifice the national interests of each country while espousing acceptable causes. Japan secured food and energy cooperation in the form of coal, liquefied natural gas, aluminum and more from Australia.
The pact also promised more room for Japanese troops and a strategic framework that vertically cuts across the Pacific. It expects intelligence sharing between Japan and Australia.
Japan followed U.S. foreign policies, which associate free trade agreements with security.
Japan is a top importer of Australian goods. Australia exports more to Japan than China and the U.S. combined, which are No. 2 and 3 exporters to Japan respectively.
Australia’s market share there is still growing. Hence Mr. Howard paid close attention to the Japanese market, visiting regularly since his inauguration.
As a result of a new strategic alliance with Japan, Australia secured military and economic ties with the U.S. and Japan, the largest and the second largest economies of the world, as well as a leading role in the Asia-Pacific region and the security of Australia.
Australia and Japan exchanged tributes, one for the economy and another for security. An enemy of yesterday is today an ally.
Korea, too, has fostered democracy, a market economy and human rights, that is, the critical values of the tripartite alliance of the U.S.-Japan-Australia.
Yet it is hard to say there is any country that would say Korea is its best friend and the most reliable partner within the Asia-Pacific region or that it shares the same fate with us.
Korea, estranging itself from the U.S. and Japan, belittled by the potential of China, and facing the challenge of North Korea, has not been able to make new friends although it has lost allies.
It might find itself caught in a new sandwich of Northeast Asian security deals.
*The writer is a professor at Sejong University and a former diplomat at the Foreign Ministry.
by Kim Joung-won