Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Our diplomacy tested as Japan’s leader visits

MEDIA COMMENTARY

4 July 2014


Our diplomacy tested as Japan’s leader visits

Opinion piece by Robert Ayson, Professor of Strategic Studies, Victoria University of Wellington

Courtesy of the Beehive’s just-in-time media release, at least some New Zealanders now know that Japan’s Shinzo Abe is visiting the country on Monday. This is the first visit here by a Japanese leader for a dozen years. And it is bound to be a major test for New Zealand’s diplomatic balancing act in Asia given Japan’s huge tensions with China, our leading trading partner.

Mr Abe will also be visiting Australia which has become Japan’s second closest security partner after the United States. The Abbott government has been a strong supporter of Mr Abe’s efforts to relax constitutional restrictions on the role of Japan’s armed forces. Australia-Japan security relations are likely to be even closer after Abe’s visit, but it is likely that the Key government will want to emphasise other issues in the New Zealand-Japan relationship.

This is not because New Zealand should stand against a stronger Japan in Asia’s changing power balance. In fact a strong Japan can be part of the glue that keeps the region secure if the changes are made sensibly. But the animosity between Japan and China and also between Japan and South Korea is at such a level that the rest of the region is at risk of being increasingly hostage to what is becoming a North Asian cold war.

It is quite clear that the New Zealand government regards its relationship with China as its most important in Asia. Mr Abbott once said that Japan is Australia’s best friend in Asia. This signals that Canberra and Wellington will be treating Mr Abe’s visit quite differently.

Ordinarily this would mean a focus on free trade negotiations including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But this would involve strong words for Mr Abe on the need for Japan to accept agricultural reform as the price of a successful agreement. Yet in signing a less demanding bilateral free trade agreement with Australia, Japan may feel it already has an escape clause from such demands.

What Mr Abe will want is New Zealand’s endorsement of Japan’s stronger and more confident role in regional security. Australia has just endorsed Japan’s decision to be able to use armed forces to come to the assistance of security partners, a move which Korea and China oppose very strongly. John Key’s government might well avoid a similar endorsement, emphasising instead New Zealand and Japan’s involvement in regional diplomacy.

Nor will this be the occasion to give the impression that New Zealand supports Japan’s arguments against China in their East China Sea dispute. That would buy us into a heated and hazardous dispute between two of the region’s giants.

Instead, with a distinct and independent New Zealand voice, the Key government should go firmly on the public record to call for mutual restraint in Asia’s maritime disputes and for all parties to respect international law.

But at a time when New Zealand is going for a seat on the Security Council, there is surprisingly little that can be found on the public record as to what the Key government’s foreign policy positions really are. It’s high time for that vacuum to be filled.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

TAIC: Final Report On Grounding Of MV Rena

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (the Commission) concluded that the Rena grounding was not in any way attributable to the malfunction of any on-board machinery or equipment, including on-board navigational equipment. Factors that directly contributed to the grounding included the crew:

- not following standard good practice for planning and executing the voyage
- not following standard good practice for navigation watchkeeping
- not following standard good practice when taking over control of the ship. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Parliament Adjourns:

Gordon Campbell:
On The Pakistan Schoolchildren Killings

The slaughter of the children in Pakistan is incomprehensibly awful. On the side, it has thrown a spotlight onto something that’s become a pop cultural meme. Fans of the Homeland TV series will be well aware of the collusion between sections of the Pakistan military/security establishment on one hand and sections of the Taliban of the other… More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Satire:
The Politician’s Song

am a perfect picture of the modern politic-i-an:
I don’t precisely have a plan so much as an ambition;
‘Say what will sound most pleasant to the public’ is my main dictum:
And when in doubt attack someone who already is a victim More>>

ALSO:

Flight: Review Into Phillip Smith’s Escape Submitted To Government

The review follows an earlier operational review by the Department of Corrections and interim measures put in place by the Department shortly after prisoner Smith’s escape, and will inform the Government Inquiry currently underway. More>>

ALSO:

Intelligence: Inspector-General Accepts Apology For Leak Of Report

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, has accepted an unreserved apology from Hon Phil Goff MP for disclosing some of the contents of her recent Report into the Release of Information by the NZSIS in July and August 2011 to media prior to its publication. The Inspector-General will not take the matter any further. More>>

ALSO:

Drink: Alcohol Advertising Report Released

The report of the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship has been released today, with Ministers noting that further work will be required on the feasibility and impact of the proposals. More>>

ALSO:

Other Report:

NSW Police Statement: Three Dead Following Martin Place Siege

About 2.10am (Tuesday 16 December), a confrontation occurred between police and a man who had taken a number of people hostage inside a café on Martin Place. Shots were fired during the confrontation. As a result, the 50-year-old man was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital. Another man, aged 34, and a woman, aged 38, were pronounced dead after being taken to hospital. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Sydney Siege (And DHB Budget Cuts)
Whenever the authorities bring a siege situation to an end, there will be criticism if – as has happened in Sydney – any hostages are seriously hurt, or killed... In the Sydney Morning Herald this morning, columnist Peter Hartcher raises a different point – that the initial public response had been noticeably different to the agitated reactions of politicians and the media. More>>

ALSO:

Leaked Cabinet Papers: Treasury Calls For Health Cuts

Leaked Cabinet papers that show that Government has been advised to cut the health budget by around $200 million is ringing alarm bells throughout the nursing and midwifery community. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news