On Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that the U.S. presence in Asia has been beneficial for China and that Beijing should not feel in any way provoked by the new defense guidelines that Japan and the United States have settled together.
Obama participated in a news conference in the Rose Garden, following an official meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He explained that under the current administration, China reached a high status in the global trade. That’s why a strong U.S.-Japan collaboration should in no way be seen as a provocation by the Chinese.
Mr. President added that poverty has been significantly reduced in China, a fact that wouldn’t have been possible if the trading system hadn’t been stabilized and perfected. At the same time the U.S. alliances have, in a large part, established a world order in which trading thrives.
Obama’s speech followed the announcement of the United States and Japan about an upgraded defense deal. According to the reviewed version, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces has more liberty in regional security. Not many changes were made in the agreement, but Japan has now a free hand when U.S. military forces are attacked by a third country.
The American president is not oblivious to the tensions caused between China and other Asian nations due to maritime conflicts in the South China and East China seas. However, he said such issues are not the repercussions of the U.S.-Japan alliance; instead of solving their problems through standard international dispute settlements, these countries are trying to show who’s tougher.
Claiming responsibility for Japan’s war crimes
At the same news conference, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was asked about the tragic World War II situation where Japan dragged up to 200,000 women into sexual slavery; Abe had already declined once to issues a direct apology, a fact that irritated South Korea and China. A second time around, at the press conference, Abe refused again to take full responsibility on behalf of Japan.
Still, he talked about how he regretted so many women had to go through the scarring experience of being victimized as a result of human trafficking, adding that his predecessors have already expressed this deep pain about this injustice.
Previous Japanese leaders have partially acknowledged the country’s part in the abuse that happened – but he added that 20th century wars were often tragic environments where violating basic human rights and denying women their rightful dignity was on the rise.
At the beginning of Abe’s visit, authorities on behalf of both nations discussed about reinforcing connections on multiple levels: cybersecurity, military collaboration, trade, combining anti-terrorism efforts, nuclear nonproliferation, humanitarian cooperation and climate change.
Obama and Abe also commended the progress that the Trans-Pacific Partnership has made. It is a regulatory pact between 12 nations that establishes free trade in the Asia Pacific region; President Obama has called the pact to be among his top priorities.
Taking lawmakers and Congress on Obama’s side
Soon enough, the American-Japanese negotiations should be coming to an end, with just a few details to be smoothed out. Both nations are hoping to reach a speedy agreement in the near future, giving the deal the momentum it needs.
Obama, however, has still got his load of work to do by convincing Congress to endorse the deal. Not only that, but lawmakers also need some persuading in order to fast-track the required legislation – smoothing the process depends a lot on them.
As if that wasn’t enough, the president faces harsh opposition from the majority of Democrats, environmental organizations and labor unions. Obama acknowledge the difficulty of passing this bill, as the population is understandably concerned about how this deal will impact specific industries.
He added that this will “end up being the most progressive trade bill history” eventually, but until then, he needs to address the people’s fears about technology replacing human workers and about globalization.
Both nations have their strategic concerns about nuclear North Korea, which is gradually becoming a threat to Chinese military and nuclear proliferation. With the anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approaching, the U.S., as well as Japan, reinforced the need to prolong the 70-year record of non-use of nuclear bombs to forever – something all States share the responsibility for.
But the better part of the news conference put China in the spotlight. When Obama was asked about his involvement in the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, a project strongly supported by China, the president denied that his administration had any involvement in persuading allies not to join the initiative. The AIIB is perceived by some U.S. officials as a serious challenge to the United States’ influence in the region.
Image Source: Global Research