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Japan letting wolf into Asia-Pacific fold: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-02-05 18:34

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo, Norway, on Jan 5, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

The meeting between visiting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week must have made the guest feel relieved as it enabled him to avoid the embarrassment of returning to Brussels empty-handed from his Asian trip, the first of its kind by a NATO chief in history.

The two sides said they welcomed progress toward Japan transitioning into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's new Individually Tailored Partnership Program, which is expected to elevate bilateral cooperation "to new heights that reflect the challenges of a new era". That merits the attention of the whole Asia-Pacific, which should be alert to what it might herald.

Japan, which is pursuing greater global status through militarism, is doing nothing but offering the rapacious Cold War transatlantic alliance the means to gain a foothold in the Far East to maintain the order based on "rules" that serves the United States, something the US, their common patron, is of course happy to encourage.

Stoltenberg claims that the Asia-Pacific is being threatened by the "authoritarian pushback against the international rules-based order" by Beijing and Moscow, which only sets the stage for him to try and sell the argument that "transatlantic and Indo-Pacific security is deeply interconnected".

The proposition that Russia and China form an evil axis threatening the "rules-based international order" is something strategists in Washington are trying hard to peddle around the world.

The way the NATO chief called on Japan to understand the scale of the "challenge" from China and address it together clearly makes China a common "adversary" to them, his denial of that notwithstanding.

Were it not for Japan's readiness to jump onto the US' China-containment bandwagon, which can provide it with a cover to "normalize" its status on the world stage, it would have been difficult for Stoltenberg to find a crack into which to drive NATO's wedge in the region.

In that sense, Japan has sacrificed the whole region's interests by letting the wolf into the fold with the sheep in the otherwise peaceful and stable Asia-Pacific.

The tensions in Sino-US relations have given the right-wing political forces in Japan an opportunity to retake the stage. They have prompted the country's once relatively rational and pragmatic China policy to fade fast, and Japan has now become the most active wholesaler of the "China threat" theory in Asia.

Colluding with NATO will prove to be only a beginning for the sufferings Japan will inflict upon the whole region and itself.

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