Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Forgiving Japan, Forging Alliances with China and Korea

This coming week, President Park of South Korea and President Abe of Japan will meet for the first time since both took office over a year ago.

At this point, Asian nations need to forgive Japan just a little. The world no longer punishes Germany for the crimes against humanity committed by Nazi’s. The current generation living and working in Germany, governing Germany, were not even born during the Nazi regime. They had no influence; they cannot be held responsible.

This is also the case with modern Japanese citizens. South Korea and China can no longer call out Japan as a nation, demanding to hold it responsible for the despicable actions committed by a generation that has largely passed away. An apology was provided decades ago. Modern Japan looks nothing like it did ninety years ago. Contemporary citizens should not be held responsible for the crimes of their forebearers, and they need to be able to move on.

So Korea has to be able to forgive. And on the flip side, Japan has to accept its history. But goading from Korea only encourages greater Japanese nationalism.

Japan, China, and Korea must begin trusting each other and relying on each other economically. Right now, all three countries turn to the West, but as some of the world’s largest economies, they must work out better economic and political relations with each other to maximize economic development. Particularly Japan.

Japan maintains a technological sophistication that unfortunately faces stiff competition in the West. China is swiftly becoming the world’s largest economy, has a large population with a growing disposable income, and a thumb on many of the world’s resources. Japan (and Korea) need to pair up with Chinese industry and work on opening the Chinese market to Japanese innovation. Forgiveness and respect: these East Asian countries should expect this from one another.
East Asian cooperation could produce a flourishing elsewhere in the world, as China and Japan work toward developing and creating lasting economic partnerships in Africa. Stronger political and economic alliances would create a less tense East Asian, and the United States could pivot its attention elsewhere, perhaps inward, and the U.S. economy would be forced to drastically change and adapt. Furthermore, East Asian economic integration and alliances could hasten the deterioration in the relationship between China and Russia and perhaps greatly alter the political situation in China itself as its becomes increasingly economically stable.

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