Exclusive Interview with Prof. Jiro Mizuno
by Iqra Anugrah*
GP: Do you think China’s attitude in handling dispute with Japan over Senkaku Islands is a sign of China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy in the world?
China is in the process of emerging as not only a powerful state, but also a maturing state, especially in terms of its foreign policy. Thus, whether and how China can afford this evolution process is a big question. It may take time for China to transform herself into globally acceptable member of international community in much sense. Countries at the active developing phase, like current China, tend to seek interest in more expansion orientation over political and economic opportunity and influence, resources, and territory, but the question is how fast China can synchronize all of these elements in its internationally acknowledged approach. Japan’s modernization experience since the 19th century can be possibly a good lesson for China.
GP: Some critiques, particularly in Japanese domestic politics, claim that Japan’s decision to release Chinese boat captain reflects Japan’s weak diplomacy. Do you agree with that?
Japan’s release of the Chinese captain reflects the confusion in the Japanese government’s external relations approach. If they decided to apply the judicial procedure for this case, they should have done so towards the conclusion. Otherwise, the case should have been handled diplomatically, in a clear and convincing manner. The approach should not have been misinterpreted and left any space for argument, vis-à-vis China and any neighboring and possibly concerned countries. In this kind of case, an argument to divide the domestic judicial procedure and the national diplomacy, insisting that the local judicial authority’s handling is one separated process and the central government’s diplomatic handling afterwards is another, can not stand. It is up to diplomacy to decide how to handle it from the very beginning onward.
GP: How will Japan and Southeast Asian countries respond towards increasing Chinese trade and military activities in the region?
They have to press and convince the Chinese to be open and transparent regarding their foreign policy target and the military build-up. Japan and the Southeast Asian states, plus all relevant countries, can coordinate and collaborate on the common grounds of principle and approach, thus lead the international opinion, and bring the issues to be at a globally acceptable level. Economic activities should be conducted on satisfactory bilateral and multilateral standard in compliance with the international standard and regulations.
GP: Do you think that China started to move away from pragmatist and non-confrontational foreign policy to a more assertive one? Or is it simply a natural process as a rising global power?
I am not sure about the Chinese foreign policy was non-confrontational, since China has fought against neighboring states for the territorial purposes. On the other hand, China has always been pragmatic, calculating the way to seek its interest based on their capability and increased capacity. The question is how their pragmatism can affect its policy set-up thus properly function in the harmony with other countries which pursue the similar pragmatic approach and outcome.
GP: Lastly, with increasing tensions among countries in East Asia, what is your prediction of Asia’s geopolitical situation in the near future?
Human interaction among the Asian states, in cultural and intellectual exchange and business collaboration, has drastically increased and will continue, though those effects are to some extent non-quantifiable. Most of the Asian countries share the same value standard, except a few, and as long as China can not share the same moral value, its influence must be limited. Though the emerging issue of territorial disputes, some confrontational situations with military back up and economic expansion behind will continue and take place, it will not affect the major geopolitical dimension, as the countries in Asia have developed its democratic value, which is further solidifying thus becoming less vulnerable to the influence which is in absence from such a core standard.
Posted on November 26, 2010