Thursday, April 14, 2005

Block Tokyo from the UN Security Council!

Grassroots opposition to Tokyo's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council is spreading like wildfire on the Net and spilling over into the streets in China, Korea, and elsewhere, fueled by Tokyo's denial of its historical responsibility for Japanese imperialism, its service as Washington's junior partner over issues like Taiwan, its own petty territorial aggrandizement (e.g., exploring "a disputed area of the East China Sea for natural gas" [Mari Yamaguchi/Associated Press, "Japan Approves Drilling in Disputed Sea," 13 Apr. 2005), and Japanese capitalists' exploitation of Chinese workers: John Chan, "Anti-Japanese Protests Erupt in China" ( 8 Apr. 2005); and Bruce Wallace, "Anti-Japan Fury Spreads through China's Streets" (Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2005).
"China must vote no and not just abstain," said Tong Zeng, a longtime organizer of efforts to force Japan to recognize and apologize for World War II atrocities. "The government may not want to take the lead, but the Chinese people have taken the lead." (Joseph Kahn, "If 22 Million Chinese Prevail at UN, Japan Won't," New York Times 1 Apr. 2005)
Zeng is right. Beijing is indeed ill at ease over the development of unruly protests that it may not be able to control, and it is reluctant to jeopardize the economic relation between China and Japan: Richard McGregor, "Beijing in Dilemma over Protesters" (Financial Times 12 Apr. 2005); and Antoaneta Bezlova, "Beijing Blacks Out Anti-Japan Protests" (Asia Times 13 Apr. 2005).

A demonstrator tussles with police at a rally outside a Japanese-owned department store in Guangzhou, China (China Photos).

A Chinese military policeman outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing. Japan's foreign minister said he would demand China end what Tokyo believes is official backing for mass anti-Japanese protests, as Chinese activists urged even bigger rallies this weekend (Peter Parks/AFP).

If Chinese masses can force its hand and compel Beijing to veto Tokyo's bid, it will be a real triumph for democracy in China, not just a blow against Japanese and US imperialism in the past and present.

If Tokyo manages to obtain a permanent seat, it will be a reliable pro-Washington vote in the foreseeable future, so all leftists, not just patriots in Asia, ought to join the campaign to block Tokyo from the Security Council. Read the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues' message "Global Petition to Reject Japanese Bid to Obtain a Permanent Seat on the U.N. Security Council," and sign any of the four petitions recommended by the coalition.

Block Japan


REDACTED said...

Well, I have to say I'm surprised at the tone of this post.

Do you think the opposition of the Chinese street is the result of a well-informed populace's dispassionate analysis of their objective self-interest, or a principled stand against a nation that is currently engaged in unconscionable misdeeds?

Or is it emotional xenophobia, the product of misinformation and selective history education? Japan has misbehaved in the past. The current issues (Drilling in disputed waters? You don't feel that the expansionist Chinese plutocracy is just as wrong for claiming every island group on the West Pacific Basin?) hardly rise to the standard of unconscionable.

However nice it would be for the current Chinese government to be forced to open up governance, realise that any choice made by an ill-educated populace is hardly a choice at all. A blind man choosing between paintings based solely on the feel of the canvas may have made a choice, but it is hardly one that should shape our preferences or actions.

Look up the word Ochlocracy; that is what the Chinese street is, at this point in time. To use their disapproval as the reason to oppose Security Council pluralism is silly. The more permanent members, the less individual power any one P-member has. The more independent power Japan has the less it has to tow the US line. Nation-states are jealous of their prerogatives. They don't intrinsically want to be other's poodle; give Japan power and it will instinctively balance against US and Chinese interests, and a multipolar geopolitical structure is surely something you could support?

Yoshie said...

The masses in China, like masses anywhere else, are not homogeneous, and I do not rule out a possibility that some of the Chinese who have poured into the streets in protest are in part motivated by "emotional xenophobia." But the risk that masses are not as objective and well-informed as possible is a risk that lovers of democracy must take in the case of any nation, not just China.

As for the question of drilling in disputed waters, I believe that the whole conflict is petty: neither China's nor Japan's economic destiny depends upon winning it. However, Japan being a far more economically developed country than China, its pettiness makes it look worse than China's does in my view.

Will the Japanese power elite surprise me by charting a political course independent of Washington if they gain a permanent seat on the Security Council? Judging by their past voting records in the United Nations (as well as their general behaviors), I won't bet on it. Besides, if they had wanted to play an independent role, for instance, by taking a leadership role in integrating the Asia-Pacific region economically (especially on the questions of debt and currency managements), the time to do so would have been before the onset of persistent deflation. Now, they have less room for maneuver than before.

Anonymous said...

Not only should Tokyo not be a part of the UN Security Council, the entire Security Council should be done away with or reformed in such as way that does not center around the rights of the economically and militarily powerful.

Interesting site you have here.

Anonymous said...

I am chinese, but I believe that Japan should join the UN security council. This is not only the problem between china and japan, but also the problem of united nation. If we do not agree Japan's position, US and its alliance are likely to neglect the U.N. I think that it is more dangerous than anything else.