U.S.- China ties weaken Japan alliances

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 -

As the United States works harder than ever to strengthen relations with China, there are signs its alliances with Japan and Taiwan are weakening. A conspicuous sign of change in Japan-U.S. ties came early Oct. 12 when President George W. Bush telephoned Prime Minister Taro Aso to inform the latter of the decision to remove North Korea from Washington’s list of terrorism-supporting nations.

Officials of Japan’s Foreign Ministry had suspected that Washington would take this action despite Tokyo’s repeated pleas not to appear conciliatory toward North Korea before the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and ’80s was resolved. The phone call came only half an hour before the State Department announced its decision.

Other signs indicate that Washington is more interested in promoting ties with Beijing than in maintaining existing military alliances with Japan or Taiwan. For one thing, Washington has refused to provide Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force with the next-generation F-22 Raptor fighter. For another, the U.S. has declined Taiwan’s request for attack helicopters and diesel-powered submarines.

To make matters worse, a Chinese diplomat hints that North Korean strongman Kim Jong Il has regretted pursuing “mea culpa” diplomacy with Japan since admitting to then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2002 that his followers were responsible for the abductions. A handful of abductees were returned to Japan; Pyongyang has not made known the whereabouts of others.

Ever since the end of the Cold War, the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait have been hot spots for American military operations in Asia. The Bush administration, however, has shifted its diplomatic strategy toward building a stronger cooperative relationship with China, as Washington has been beset with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and annual military expenditures of $200 billion.

Even though Russia has developed Su-35 fighters and China has come up with Jian-10 fighters, to compete with the F-22 Raptor, the U.S. has refused to provide the ASDF with its most advanced fighter apparently because Washington attaches greater importance to easing tension with Beijing than to strengthening the military alliance with Tokyo……. (more details from The Japan Times)