The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, consisting of Japan, the U.S., Australia and India, held its first summit meeting on Sept. 24. It looks like the U.S. will attempt to lay siege to China, which is emerging as an economic superpower second only to the United States. There is concern that the intensifying conflict between the U.S. and China will exacerbate division and tension in the Asia-Pacific region.
No one objects to nations sharing the value of freedom and democracy. However, historically speaking, it is clear that the world economy could come to a standstill if these superpowers were to mark out economic blocs. Japan should take a proactive role in avoiding the intensifying conflict between China and the U.S. and create a regional economy in the Asia-Pacific region that is mutually beneficial.
The U.S. is urging the Quad to address practical issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and clean energy while it tries to defend against international security challenges. However, on Sept. 15, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia founded a security network called AUKUS. There is also the Five Eyes intelligence and surveillance network, which includes these countries plus Canada and New Zealand, and Japan is being encouraged to join.
The Quad also plans to expand strategic cooperation on a wide range of economic and security matters with regard to China. One hypothesis is that the military alliance between these nations will grow stronger as they oppose China, which is further expanding into the Indo-Pacific region.
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, who recently resigned, attended a meeting at the White House in which President Joe Biden gathered the heads of the four Quad nations in an effort to confirm that the democratic camp was unified. By entering into an agreement for the near future, the lame-duck prime minister has created a breeding ground for future problems.
While the Japanese constitution states that the execution of a treaty is the duty of the Cabinet, it requires the approval of the National Diet. There is a political void at the moment because the Diet is not currently in session and the Liberal Democratic Party, which will choose Suga’s successor, is in the middle of an election. There has been almost no domestic debate within Japan prior to the Quad summit. Suga’s visit to the White House makes light of the sovereignty of citizens.
We can no longer ignore China’s presence on the Asian stock market (called the “World Growth Center”). Many Japanese corporations do business with China, and economic interdependence is deepening. Unilaterally siding with the U.S. might hold Japan back from economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade agreement that includes Japan, will require participating countries to tread carefully in handling China and Taiwan’s petitions to join the alliance. But the United States has already withdrawn from the TPP in favor of its own interests, questioning trade strategies and enthusiasm in Asia.
Japan should not follow the United States in its desperate attempt to lay siege to China, but should instead spearhead a framework to stabilize the regional economy and security in the region through equal and cooperative diplomacy with each nation.