Although Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s visit to the United States was postponed for a few days due to the lack of preparation by the United States, he was still the first ally leader to visit the United States after the launch of the Biden regime. Since the video summit of the four leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia and India on March 12, Japan has launched a series of diplomatic and security activities with the United States as the background, and various versions of “2+2” have been the most active. With the support of the Biden government, the cabinet of Yoshihide Suga was given the opportunity to transfer American vaccines and provide them to Southeast Asian countries, and to participate in “vaccine diplomacy” and the reconstruction of post-epidemic order without self-produced vaccines.
The new crown epidemic has undoubtedly accelerated the reorganization of the international power structure and has begun to brew the possibility of international order fusion. Japan, as always, must stay close to its leader, gain access to participate in the reconstruction of the international order, and look forward to playing a leading role. But as usual, walking together in Japan makes people feel a little staggered and wobbly. Japan’s international influence is still being questioned.
Looking back at the process of changes in the international order in the past, we can always see the shadow of Japan, but it always makes people feel that Japan has left no traces after its efforts. The influence of Japan’s international order is always not so satisfactory, so that observers often lament that Japan “pays money and cannot show up”, and there is no more typical case than during the Gulf War. Now, the Biden administration once again called on allies to coordinate to “overcome the difficulties together.” As a major ally and loyal partner of the United States, and has experienced the “Plaza Accord” allied coordination, Japan became excited again and expressed its willingness to contribute money and efforts to cooperate with its allies to “reshape” the international order.
In the past, Japan was always unable to gain and exert its international influence. The reason was not only that the big tree of the United States blocked it in front of it and restrained it, nor was it because of Japan’s insufficient international identity and weak economic strength.
Although Japan once “lost 30 years”, it is still one of the top three in the world economy. In terms of political status, Japan has long been a member of the United Nations, a non-permanent member of the Council, and a participant or even leader of various international institutions. In terms of international economic status, Japan is a founding member of the World Trade Organization, a member country of the OECD, a major investor and equity owner of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, or a member of the Basel Committee and even the Asian Development Bank in fact The leader can be said to have a complete identity and a resounding brand. At the same time, in the framework of regional cooperation, Japan participates in CPTPP, RCEP, etc., and plays a leading role in a considerable number of mechanisms. The yen is also an international hard currency second only to the US dollar and the euro.
So where is Japan’s “worse”? This is a very worthy question.
First of all, those who exert the influence of the international order must take the lead in the word “gong” and be of high morals. Regard the international community as the public and the international order as the major factor, pay attention to the long-term interests of the international community, maintain the sustainable development and permanent peace of the international community, and give priority to private interests and only care about the interests of the country. The establishment of international rules and the construction of international institutions are essentially the formation of international power. In this process, excessive mercantilism, protectionism, nationalism, unilateralism, and even exquisite egoism must be discarded.
Diplomacy must focus on national interests, but in the process of constructing international rules, international institutions, and international order, it should not only be defined as “the pursuit of national interests”, but should include the maintenance of the common interests of the international community. Without this spirit, its influence in the international order will be overwhelmed by “personal and small profits”, and in the long run it will become a “rust zone” of international influence.
Secondly, those who exert the influence of the international order need to have a big historical view and understand what historical evolution the international order has undergone today. The international order in the 21st century is by no means the order after the First World War a hundred years ago. It cannot participate in the construction of the order in the new century as the victorious country participated in the “Paris Peace Conference”. The essence of World War II is the world’s anti-fascist war. The mission of the whole world is to overthrow and eliminate “fascism” and “militarism”. Without a clear historical understanding of this, one cannot correctly understand the post-war world, systems, and Order naturally has no ability to promote its development in a more just and reasonable direction.
Furthermore, those who exert the influence of the international order should not be the defenders and subservients of hegemony and powerful forces, nor should they be the creators of contradictions for their own benefit. After the “Plaza Accord”, there has basically been no effective so-called “international coordination” within the alliance in which the United States and Japan are located. The fundamental reason is that more and more allies no longer believe in the United States, and the leaders have broken their trust and no longer have enough charisma to gather allies for maintenance. Even pursuing the so-called common interests. Now, a Don Quixote full of old thoughts wants to take the old samurai and wield rusty swords to challenge the “wind turbines” and “digital revolutions” of the 21st century. What a ridiculous picture. Picture.
In fact, Japan has fallen behind in many aspects under the epidemic, which makes it participate in global competition and the weak capitalization of the establishment of a system for the world, and its influence on the international order is far less than that of the “Plaza Accord.”
For example, from the perspective of anti-epidemic, Japan is unable to join the global vaccine research and development queue, failed to develop a Japanese version of the vaccine in time, and lags behind other major countries in terms of vaccination level. As the organizer of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, vaccination is only at the level of African countries. The impact of the epidemic also revealed that Japanese society is lagging behind the international advanced level in terms of digitalization. The digital transformation of Japanese society is sluggish, and the national and local network systems are not unified, which has caused the network to be inadequate. Faced with the information and communication technology (ICT) era, it is still fascinated by the old dream of “electronic power”. Japan’s “digital comprehensive competitiveness” has been tested by the epidemic.
For another example, the Japanese government’s unemployment subsidy system under the epidemic was still established in 1975 based on the lifetime employment system of large manufacturing companies. In 2019, the proportion of non-regular workers in Japan rose from 16.4% in 1985 to 37.1%. Employees in the small and medium-sized service industry were in trouble, which intensified social division. According to official Japanese statistics, by 2030, Japan’s national and local government debt will account for 208% of GDP, making it the biggest risk to the Japanese economy. What is particularly alarming is that the number of newborns born in Japan will drop to 872,600 in 2020, the lowest in history.
Although the Yoshihide Suga government insists on both economic and anti-epidemic measures, various systems and practical problems have become obstacles to Japan’s economic and social development. Japan’s international influence is undergoing reversal. Under the entanglement of various factors, the Japanese government does not think about how to solve the problem internally, but is eager to play tricks in diplomacy and international politics. This is not conducive to its pursuit of the status of a leading international power, and it will only make it more and more in the predicament. .