Abe's dangerous doctrine
In 1977, then-Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda articulated Japan's diplomatic policy toward Asia. The Fukuda Doctrine outlined Japan's commitment to share peace and prosperity with the rest of Asia through "heart-to-heart" interactions and never becoming a military power.
Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is showing the world his own doctrine during his first overseas trip since taking office, which takes him to Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, three members of Asean. It is a doctrine that will escalate regional tensions rather than promote peace.
Days before his trip, Abe and some of his cabinet members declared that this doctrine would maintain Japan's relations with countries that share basic values, such as democracy, a market economy and rule of law, in order to keep China in check.
Abe is not hiding his role as a provocateur in these countries' relations with China.
He has unveiled a grand strategy with a perspective on the world map. He reached out to the leaders of Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, India, Russia and Britain in late December over the phone. On a world map, all these countries, except Britain, encircle China.
Ahead of Abe's visit, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso travelled to other Southeast Asian nations for the same purpose.
Abe is playing the democracy, human rights and rule of law cards to push for a broader Asian "arc of freedom and prosperity" that underpinned his foreign policy during his first term in office.
The Abe administration's diplomatic campaign to counter China extends to Europe. Katsuyuki Kawai, director of the committee of foreign affairs of Japan's House of Representatives, was sent to Europe this week with a letter from Abe for Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh-Rasmussen. Abe addressed China's legitimate protection of its Diaoyu Islands in East China Sea as one of the security issues in East Asia. Japan wants to rope Nato into its territorial dispute with China. This, however, can't change the fact that these islets are an inherent part of China's territory.
Abe's "no-room-for-negotiations" statement on Japan's territorial dispute with China drives home the message that his government is not eager to mend China-Japan ties.
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Tuesday that Japan would fire flares to warn Chinese aircraft "violating Japanese airspace".
Japan should know that these warning shots will increase the likelihood of conflict between the two countries.