United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 6, 2015
Executive Summary: DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen will leave today for Japan, on a four-day "Shine a Light on Taiwan, Taiwan-Japan Friendship Tour". This visit differs from her US visit, primarily because both the DPP and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe harbor a congenital hatred of “China” (Mainland China). Both advocate the establishment of an “Alliance of Asian Values" to counter Mainland China. Tsai Ing-wen and Abe share this anti-China hatred. How exactly do they plan to "shine a light on Taiwan"? That will be something worth watching.
Full Text Below:
DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen will leave today for Japan, on a four-day "Shine a Light on Taiwan, Taiwan-Japan Friendship Tour". This visit differs from her US visit, primarily because both the DPP and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe harbor a congenital hatred of “China” (Mainland China). Both advocate the establishment of an “Alliance of Asian Values" to counter Mainland China. Tsai Ing-wen and Abe share this anti-China hatred. How exactly do they plan to "shine a light on Taiwan"? That will be something worth watching.
DPP policy toward Japan has been heavily influenced by two factors. The first is a legacy of Sinophobia, inherited from Taiwan independence elders within the party. The second is immersion in Lee Teng-hui's Japanophile spin on history. These two factors have inculcated a Japanophile mindset and nurtured Sinophobic hatred. The DPP diplomatic posture has long been to collude with Japan in order to oppose Mainland China.
Given its colonial subject view of history, the DPP mistakenly assumes that Japan's Sinophobia is an immutable fact, cast in stone. In fact, Sinophobia is merely Japan's justification to become a "normal nation". Sinophobia is merely Japan's stepping stone to get around its postwar pacifist constitution. Japan may oppose China. It may resist China. But in fact its Sinophobia is merely an amulet Abe wears in order to restore Japan's former glory.
The DPP apparently believes its one-sided policy of colluding with Japan to oppose Mainland China means the US-Japan axis will protect Taiwan in the event war erupts in the Taiwan Strait. It apparently believes Japan will rush to Taiwan's aid when the time comes. But lest the DPP forget, Mainland China has become Japan's number one trading partner. Mainland China and Japan now share an unshakable common destiny. Colluding with Taiwan to oppose Mainland China is nothing more than the pipe dream of a handful of Japanese right-wing politicians.
During the Chen Shui-bian era, the DPP's Japanophile policy failed to gain the Japanese government's favor. The DPP ruled for eight years. During that time, negotiations over the "Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement" were convened a dozen or more times. Yet the Japanese government never once budged. As soon as the Ma administration took office however, cross-Strait relations improved substantially. Japan worried that Taiwan and the Mainland might join hands on the Diaoyutai Islands issue. As a result, Japan made significant concessions in the Taiwan-Japan fisheries agreement.
The DPP's Sinophobic stance may appear to win favor in Japan. In reality, competition in the international diplomatic arena requires wise use of cross-Strait leverage, based on real world developments, to further Taiwan's interests. In short, colluding with Japan to oppose Mainland China, is wishful thinking.
Tsai Ing-wen ignored objections from Taiwan independence elements within the party. She advocates maintaining the status quo in cross-Strait relations. Having adopted this stance, can Taipei base its relationship with Tokyo on something other than a Taiwan independence perspective on history? Tsai Ing-wen's visit to Japan will only last four days. An entire day is being devoted to the remote Yamaguchi Prefecture. Yamaguchi Prefecture is a traditional Japanese agricultural region. It has little economic relationship with Taiwan. It is however, the home of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It is the home of Ito Hirobumi, who signed the Maguan Treaty (Treaty of Shimonoseki) which ceded Taiwan to Japan. It is the home of Kodama Gentaro, Japanese Governor General during Taiwan's colonial occupation, who implemented the carrot and stick policy. Superficially, the purpose of Tsai Ing-wen's visit to Yamaguchi Prefecture is investment. In fact its purpose is to curry favor with Abe. It is to demonstrate to Abe that the DPP holds the same view of Japanese colonial history and opposition to Mainland China. Clearly Tsai Ing-wen's visit to Japan remains a prisoner of the DPP's traditional Japanophilia.
Tsai Ing-wen recently proposed a "New Southern Policy". She hopes to increase cooperation with Southeast Asia and South Asia in order to reduce dependence on the Mainland China market. This echoes Abe's 2012 "Southern Industry Policy", proposed when Beijing Tokyo relations were especially tense. Tsai Ing-wen's "New Southern Policy" differs from three previous Southern Policies only because it includes the Indian subcontinent. It echoes Abe's strategy of joining with India to oppose Mainland China. Clearly Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP are still trapped within their collude with Japan to oppose Mainland China policy. Faulty execution is likely to leave Tsai and the DPP overly dependent upon Japan, while sacrificing their autonomy.
Abe recently addressed the UN General Assembly. He said Japan is committed to peaceful, stable, and mutally beneficial relations with Mainland China. Japan is softening its stance toward Mainland China. Tsai meanwhile, is still marching down the same old path, colluding with Japan to oppose Mainland China. Abe looks to a new bright spot. Tsai meanwhile, remains the victim of an old blind spot.
We look forward to friendly Taipei Tokyo relations, We hope however, that Tsai Ing-wen will refrain from inciting conflict between Taipei and Beijing, merely to shine a light on her final mile to the presidential palace.