Should Koizumi send China a thank-you note?

Posted by Martyn

Matthew Stinson, on his excellent site, features an interesting article by Japanese journalist Yoichi Funabashi – Should Prime Minister Koizumi send China a thank-you note? – which asserts that Prime Minister Koizumi should thank China for contributing to his Liberal Democratic Party’s recent election victory. It puts forward a good argument that the victory had more to do with the reaction to external pressure from China rather than the recent political rebranding of the LDP as a “reform party”:

It is almost unthinkable to envision such a large LDP victory without considering the violent anti-Japanese demonstrations that swept through China last summer and spring or Beijing’s visible effort to block Japan’s bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat. Koizumi has been seen as “standing tall” against China, as he has postured himself as a kizen, or fearless, leader.

In fact, as covered on this site in an earlier post, the five warships that China sent to the Chunxiao gas field two days before the Japanese election might well have served to increase Koizumi’s parliamentary majority.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

China is hopeless whenever they try to influence a democratic election. Whenever they try, they always end up shooting themselves straight in the foot. The ccp wouldn’t know democracy if it came and bit it on the @ss. A child could do better.

Taiwan 1996, China, upset that Taiwan people were going to vote that they didn’t want anything to do with China, put on a show of strength by launching a military exercise in the Taiwan Straits. Enter the US Pacific Fleet, China fled in tears, with its tail in between its legs.

Same thing last week. China sends its little warships and end up increasing Koizumi’s support.

Are they just plain stupid or what?

September 18, 2005 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

I was going to type Daniel’s comment almost in verbatim. China sucks at influencing elections. Perhaps they should try their hand at America’s…

Though I’d be a bit less condescending towards China’s “little warships.” This sort of complacence is how great powers lose their edge to the up-and-coming ones…

September 18, 2005 @ 3:17 pm | Comment

China doesn’t realise that trying to bully democracies doesn’t work. It only provides an opportunity for that country’s leadership to earn kudos by standing up to the bully in front of their own people.

September 18, 2005 @ 4:07 pm | Comment

While I do not dispute that China’s actions could have had an effect on the Japanese election, I would dispute the degree of their importance.

Generally the sense I get is that in major elections, foreign policy is influential but by itself not determinative of the result. People place much more importance on domestic policy issues, which have a greater direct effect on their well-being. Agendas based on reform of economic, taxation, social welfare policies, etc., are what seems to get the vote. It doesn’t seem common sense to place foreign policy above domestic concerns.

I’m still not convinced of the importance of the “China factor.” As the author states this factor was, “very difficult to detect since it was discreetly under the radar.” But the only evidence of its influence on election is a a general disgruntled feeling in Japan regarding China. The author doesn’t provide any other evidence … except for “national mood.”

All the same, given that Koizumi did singularly focused on postal reform, and reform of his own party, to the exclusion of everything else, his platform could have been boosted by what the author of the article asserts. Still, that’s quite different from China being the decisive factor.

What I wonder is whether his decisive victory will mean he’ll visit the Yasukuni shrine, or in my opinion, do the rational thing and use his popularity to deflect criticism for not visiting the shrine.

September 18, 2005 @ 4:56 pm | Comment

Meh, China had little or nothing to do with the election. Foreign policy has little impact on elections, unless people start dying. Koizumi focused the elections on one thing and one thing only – postal reform. And he won.

Beijing might be sulking a bit that Japanese people dont care about the state of Sino-Japanese relations as much as they think they should – but since when did they care about what anyone thinks of them?

September 18, 2005 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

They cared when they started trying to market this ‘peaceful rise’ jazz–unfortunately they don’t enjoy the monopoly on information that they are accustomed to in the domestic sphere. It’s made them go soft when you can just say anything and imprison anyone who disagrees. They don’t quite have the finesse to deal with un-imprisonable peoples…which is why I can’t wait for the 2008 Olympics to come around

September 19, 2005 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

It will be interesting to see what Koizumi does with his huge election mandate, which direction he takes the country in.

There’s definitely an anti-China mood in Japan, no doubt about it. Who can blame them?

I still can’t quite believe that China isn’t pragmatic enough to treat Japan as an honored friend rather than hated enemy.

Where would China be today without Japan’s hundreds of billions of US Dollar reparations and all the investment from Japnese firms with their technological knowhow?

September 19, 2005 @ 1:09 pm | Comment

everlasting – Agree with you. I thought the election was about postal reform, not “should we invade China again”.

September 19, 2005 @ 3:14 pm | Comment

the china-japan forum

the china-japan forum

September 20, 2005 @ 11:49 pm | Comment

What amazes me is that people actually think that Primeminister Koizumi is a conservative, that he is right wing, or that he is actually doing anything much to stand up to China.

If the Japanese people ever elected a right wing leader China would be the first to know about it, particularly when ODA stopped and he declared that he was going to make no more appologies.

I’d like to see what China would do agains t a leader who told things as they were rather than simply trying to avoid the issue.

How about a leader who shouts Tianaman every time they shout Nanking, or Tibet everytime they shout Manchurua.

September 25, 2005 @ 10:22 am | Comment

Japan should reflect about what it has done during the second world war. If they really and sincerely want to return to the Asian community, they have no choice but apologize for their wartime crime. However, Koizumi is not a responsible politician and his men are all “big mouths”. For them, reason is secondary to emotion, especially true for japannese FM.
Unluckily,those so-called japanese politicians need conflicts to survive, need hatred to thrive and they are able to get the politica rescources they badly need from the truma of Asian people, including Chinese and Korean people.

April 18, 2006 @ 11:44 pm | Comment

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