GT Voice: Abe, the threat of the Japanese right to the economic integration of Asia

Photo of Shinzo Abe: AFP

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who resigned last year amid a series of challenges and appears poised to return to Japanese politics, made hugely flawed remarks on the Taiwan issue on Wednesday, suggesting that Japan would intervene if mainland China attacked the island of Taiwan.

While Abe, who is no longer in power, does not necessarily speak for the Japanese government, his malicious and irresponsible remarks represent dangerous opinions among right-wing politicians in Japan on the question of Taiwan, which poses grave risks. and threats to regional stability. It remains to be seen whether the Japanese government will take this position as an official one, but such provocative remarks will certainly undermine the foundations of economic and trade cooperation not only between China and Japan, but also between regional economies.

China and Japan are active participants in various multilateral trade pacts, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is due to enter into force next month. Another major deal is a possible China-Japan-South Korea free trade agreement, which has been under negotiation for several years.

While negotiations for the deal have progressed relatively slowly in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, many have high hopes for strengthening economic ties between Asia’s three economies. East, especially in light of RCEP. Observers generally believe that the implementation of the RCEP could help remove many obstacles to the negotiations on the trilateral free trade agreement and help speed up the talks.

The case has great potential. The total GDP of the three countries is over $ 20 trillion, or about 20% of global GDP. And it is believed that once the deal is done, the China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Area will become the third largest trading bloc in the world after the North American Free Trade Agreement and the EU.

With highly complementary economic structures, China, Japan and South Korea share solid bases for economic and trade cooperation. Trade between the three countries reached $ 622 billion in 2019, up 370% from $ 132 billion in 1999. In addition, the three neighbors have strong ties in the upper, middle and lower segments of the chains. supply in sectors such as semiconductors and electronics. In the face of the challenges posed by COVID-19, a free trade agreement between them will help promote cooperation in the supply chain and boost regional economic integration.

However, it is undeniable that cooperation has suffered from the ideological, geopolitical and historical problems between the three countries. Japan also has strained diplomatic and trade relations with South Korea. Breakthroughs in the trilateral agreement will require a stable political environment. But flawed and dangerous political rhetoric like Abe’s remarks will only create more tension and risk of igniting unnecessary conflicts and threatening regional economic cooperation.

Asia has become the most promising region in the world in terms of economic growth. Most regional economies have focused on cooperation rather than conflict, as some US-led outside forces and their lackeys in the region try to incite. In the interests of the development of the entire region, the dangerous rhetoric of right-wing Japanese politicians like Abe must be rejected and condemned.

The Japanese economy also cannot afford to let these politicians play with fire. The percentage of people aged 65 and over in Japan has reached a record 28.6%, the highest on record, according to the latest national census from the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. With its rapidly aging population and stagnant economy, the country indeed urgently needs to strengthen economic cooperation with its neighbors to gain new momentum and very likely survive. If these politicians are left unchecked, their blunder will cost Japan’s economic future.

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