`Hashimoto Doctrine' Aimed at Reassuring Nervous Neighbors

Article excerpt

Ronald Morse, a professor at Reitaku University in Tokyo, was interviewed by correspondent Willis Witter of The Washington Times.

Question: How do you interpret the so-called Hashimoto Doctrine that was advanced in a speech by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in Singapore this month?

Answer: A basic theme with other countries is that Japan is not going to become a threat to the region because the U.S.-Japan security relationship is in good shape. Because Japan will not have to become a military power to defend itself, it can be a friendly neighbor that can share its successes in areas such as economic growth, provide development assistance, cooperate in other non-confrontational areas such as the environment, terrorism and drugs, and even engage in a high-level security dialogue.

Q: It sounds a lot like a continuation of Japan's yen diplomacy. Is there anything new?

A: Open articulation of the security dimension of Japan's foreign diplomacy in the region is new.

In the past, the U.S.-Japan security relationship was taken as a given. Now, because there's a sense in Japan that the U.S. has less of an interest in Asia, Hashimoto may feel that Japan also needs to stress the importance of the relationship. Most Asians appreciate the American presence in the region as a stabilizing force, especially with the impressive emergence of China. As Hashimoto defines it, the U.S.-Japan security relationship can serve as a linchpin for both American and Japanese relations with a growing China, stability on the Korean Peninsula and as a continued force for stability in Southeast Asia.

Q: Some South Korean scholars have expressed a fear of Japan, claiming that it has been deputized by the United States as the policeman of Northeast Asia. Is there any truth to this?

A: That reflects Korea's instinctive fear of Japan more than reality.

The Hashimoto Doctrine is trying to suggest that Japan is an integral part of American strategy in the region, but the U. …