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

Gordon Campbell:
On The Eleanor Catton Rumpus

If anyone was in doubt about the accuracy of the comments made in India by Eleanor Catton, the reaction from some quarters here at home has gone a long way to proving her point.

By ‘some quarters’, I mean (a) RadioLive host Sean Plunket who called Catton a “traitor” and (b) Prime Minister John Key who dismissed her views as being those of a typical Green Party supporter, which is apparently almost as bad.

In context, Catton seemed to be talking about the mixed feelings she felt after what she had created suddenly becoming a kind of public property claimed by the entire country and its leaders. That must feel weird at any time, in any place. Catton evidently finds it particularly alienating when the government of the day has shown little interest in the arts beyond their promotional/economic value. More>>

 

More Rent Assistance, Less State-Owned Housing: John Key Speech - Next Steps In Social Housing

"We are going to ensure that more people get into social housing over the next three years, whether that is run by Housing New Zealand or a community provider. The social housing budget provides for around 62,000 income-related rent subsidies a year. We are committed to increasing that to around 65,000 subsidies by 2017/18, which will cost an extra $40 million a year." More>>

ALSO:

The Future Of Work: Andrew Little - State Of The Nation 2015

In 2005 when I led the EPMU we worked together with Air New Zealand to find a way to keep engineering jobs that were heading overseas. A lot of these workers were people I’d known for years and they were facing not just losing their jobs but not being able to find the kind of work they do without going overseas. A lot of people were facing personal and financial upheaval.... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Sabin Case, The Pressures On Greece And (Songs About) Coyotes

Mike Sabin is a National MP, and the current chairman of Parliament’s law and order committee. Yet reportedly, he is being investigated by the Police over an assault complaint... However, the PM will not comment on any aspect of the story. More>>

ALSO:

Houses, ISIS, King (& Catton): PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference

The Prime Minister met with reporters to discuss: • Social housing, the Auckland housing market • The prospect of joining international forces to combat ISIS • David Bain’s compensation • The lowering of the flag for the King of Saudi Arabia's death ... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Tomorrow’s Speeches By John Key And Andrew Little

The Key government has already kicked off the political year on a stridently ideological note, with Environment Minister Nick Smith choosing to lay all manner of sins at the door of the RMA. Tomorrow, the government will wheeling out its best salesman – Prime Minister John Key – to sell its plans for state housing… . More>>

ALSO:

Transport: Auckland Looks To Light Rail

The Board of Auckland Transport has called for an investigation into a light rail network, which could relieve traffic congestion on some of the region’s busiest roads. This stems from work in 2012 (the City Centre Future Access study) which responded to a government request to develop a robust and achievable solution for access to the CBD. More>>

ALSO:

RMA: Smith's Claims Don't Match Evidence - Greens

The Motu group’s research into the impacts of planning rules looked at the costs related to housing development but not the benefits of environmental protections and does not recommend significant changes to the RMA to reduce the cost of new house builds. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news