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History of Japan and its Relationship with the World

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Tue, 27 Feb 2018

CHAPTER II

JAPAN IN ITS SURROUNDING REGION

2.1 Japan in the Post Cold War World

When the Berlin wall fell, symbolizing the end of the Cold War, the global balance of power shifted from a tense military stand-off between the world’s two superpowers-the Soviet Union and United States- to one of American dominance. The end of the Cold War, which had gripped the world for nearly a half century, transformed the parameters and dynamics of international security.

The end of Cold War did not have the same, immediate impact in Asia than it did in Europe. There was no Soviet Empire in Asia comparable to the vast territories under Moscow’s control in Europe. While Communist regimes collapsed from Berlin to Moscow, Marxism-Leninism continued to be the ruling orthodoxy in the PRC, North Korea, and Vietnam. In Europe, the fall of the Berlin Wall led to German unification, removing what had been arguably the greatest source of tension in European politics between 1945 and 1989. in Asia, however, disputes over national boundaries remained widespread, from the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas to the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea. Although the collapse of Soviet Union led to a considerable reduction in military tensions in Asia, the potential of conflict, if anything, increased on the Korean peninsula and in the Taiwan Strait.

In the bold new world, Japan continued to confront with the strategic dilemma of protecting the vital sea-lanes along with the lifeblood of its economy flowed. Historically rooted fears of Japanese military power eased somewhat, at least in Japan and South East Asia. Nonetheless, the Japanese public remained profoundly uncomfortable with the notion that Japan should assume a larger military role, and in Northeast Asia-especially in China and Korea-historical animosities emerged all the stronger.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States has also altered the world significantly. Governments around the world now realize that they are facing a new kind of threat that differs from the traditional ones. These new threat also includes various other kinds of aspects that influenced Japan’s security environment, such as Human trafficking, drug related crime, cyber crime, money laundering, Piracy, and other cross-border organized crimes.

This research applies the Neorealism assumption that structures defines a state’s behaviour, and implies Kenneth N. Waltz’s notion that a state is a rational actor that chooses its security strategy based on an assessment of its security environment. In this sense, the researcher argues that Japan’s relationship with its closest neighbours and also the emergence of the non traditional threat determines how Japan acts towards its alliance relationship with the United States in accordance with its effort on reaching security. Therefore, in this chapter the researcher will try to explore Japan’s regional environments, which will be explained through several crucial issues that Japan is facing with its neighbours.

But before that, in order to explain Japan’s position in the region, it is also crucial to understand the basic nature of Japan, including its unique pacifist policies, its dilemma on defining national interest, and also its evolving defence posture.

2.2 Japan as a Pacifist Country

Japan, or also known as “The Land of the Rising Sun”[1] is a moderately small country with a total of 377,835 square kilometres of total area and 374,744 square kilometres of land area.[2]. Japan has a Constitutional Monarchy[3] political system with its Emperor as symbol of state. It also has a Parliamentary form of government, with elected bicameral legislature called National Diet[4], consisting of House of Councillors, and also House of Representatives.[5] The head of the government in Japan is the Prime Minister, who must be a member of the House of Representatives and is usually the leader of the largest party in the House of Representatives.

After its defeat in the Second World War, Japan has been positioning itself in the relationship among nations as a pacifist country. The subsequent sub-chapter will explore more of Japan’s pacifist constitution, which has been a symbol of Japan’s commitment to peace and more importantly its renunciation of wartime militarism. The following sub-chapter will also mentions several of Japan’s basic principle on pacifism, which clearly signs its effort in war renunciation, namely those principles are the Three Principles of Arms Exports, the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, and also the Self-Defense Force Law.

2.2.1 Japan’s Peace Constitution

Since its promulgation in 1946, Japan’s constitution, and in particular its preamble and the article 9 “peace clause,” have occupied central positions in determining the direction of Japanese security policy. The constitution is the origin of a range of prohibitions and anti-militaristic principles that constrain Japan’s use of military force for national security ends, limiting the military to defending only the state’s own territory. It also creates significant barriers to cooperation with the United States and with the wider international community.[6]

The constitution’s preamble states Japan’s ideals with regard to security:

We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time and are deeply conscious of the high ideals controlling human relationship, and we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world. We desire to occupy an honoured place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth. We recognize that all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want. [7]

Chapter 2 of article 9 of the constitution, “The Renunciation of War,” reads as follows”:

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”[8]

Article 9 is the cornerstone of Japan’s pacifism. But Pacifism alone has not keep Japan free and safe, Japan’s security has been guaranteed by the presence of American military personnel in Japan and the shelter of the US nuclear umbrella.

2.2.2 Japan’s Self-Defense Force Law

Having renounced war, the possession of war potential, the right of belligerency, and the possession of nuclear weaponry, Japan held the view that it should possess only the minimum defense necessary to face external threats. within those limits, the self defense forces law of 1954 provides the basis from which various formulations of SDF missions have been derived. The law states that ground, maritime, and air forces are to preserve the peace and independence of the nation and to maintain national security by conducting operations on land, at sea, and in the air to defend the nation against direct and indirect aggression. [9]

2.2.3 Japan’s Three Non-Nuclear Principles

As the only nation in the world to experience the disastrous effect of the nuclear weapon, the Japanese people strongly put emphasize on the effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. This notion has been firmly translated into the non-nuclear principles that Japan is upholding until now. Articulated by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato in 1967, Japan’s Three Non-Nuclear principles are:[10]

Ø Not to make such (nuclear) weapons

Ø Not to possess them

Ø Not to bring them into Japan

Japan later reaffirmed the principles when ratifying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1976 and agreed to extend the treaty indefinitely in 1995. After 64 years of its promulgation, in 2009, Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso reaffirms that Japan would still going to adhere to its Three Non-Nuclear Principles.[11]

2.2.4 Japan’s Three Principles of Arms Exports

The Three Principles on Arms Exports prevent Japanese firms from selling military hardware and technology on the international market. Like the Three non-nuclear principles, these export restrictions were established by Prime Minister Sato in 1967.[12] Its actual purpose is for Tokyo to bar shipments to the communist’s bloc and countries on the UN sanction lists. The ban was extended in 1976 to cover all countries, but then eased in 1983 when the United States sought to buy high tech materials for its Stealth bomber fleet and for other uses.[13]

The three principles of arms exports prohibit Japan from conducting arms exports to the following countries or regions:

Ø Communist bloc countries

Ø Countries subject to arms exports embargo under the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution and

Ø Countries involved in or likely being involved in international conflicts.[14]

Up until today, despite increasing calls for the legislation to be relaxed, Japan has no plans to review a government policy that prohibits the export of all military equipment and technologies.

2.3 Japan’s National Interest

References to national interest constitute a new development in Japanese discourse on security. As an academic leaded term, National interest implies a host of realist assumptions concerning state-to state relations and the international system. The concept of national interests is a crucial factor to detect the policy of a state. The hierarchy of national interests can be classified into[15]:

Ø Vital, national interests are conditions that are strictly necessary to safeguard and enhance state’s survival and well-being in a free and secure nation,

Ø Extremely Important, national interests are condition that, if compromised, would severely prejudice but not strictly imperil the ability of the states government to safeguard and enhance the well-being of citizens of state in a free and secure nation.

Ø Important, national interests are conditions that, if compromised, would have major negative consequences for the ability of the states government to safeguard and enhance the well-being of citizens of a state in a free and secure nation, and Less Important or Secondary, in which national interests are not unimportant. They are important and desirable conditions, but ones that have little direct impact on the ability of the states government to safeguard and enhance the well-being of citizens of state in a free and secure nation.

To achieve and secure its national interest, a state would conduct every possible method. However, the term National interest bears a special meaning in the Japanese context. No common agreement exists among elites as to what Japan’s national interest entails. In fact, national interest is simultaneously a loaded term and a buzzword.

When used by policy-oriented Diet members- often young lawmakers in the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and Democratic Party of Japan-the term loosely corresponds to the academic definition of national interest. In the case of the LDP, however, the term may also contain nationalist overtones. On the other hand, Japanese politicians also employ national interest as a form of rhetoric. For example, when justifying the SDF’s dispatch to southern Iraq, Prime Minister Koizumi told the Japanese press that:

Reconstruction and stability of Iraq will be directly related to Japan’s National Interest.[16]

Alternatively, during speeches and interviews, Japanese politicians may refer to national interest out of a desire to appear intellectual.

Basically, Japan and the United States share common strategic objectives in the Asia-Pacific region. They seek a politically stable and economically viable, open region. Both would like the US to maintain its strong presence in the region. Both want to play an active role in the field of non-traditional security.[17]

Dr Masayuki Yamauchi, the member of the Task Force Foreign Relations chaired by Special Adviser to the Cabinet Secretariat Okamoto, proposed that Japan’s national interests are almost the same as those of the United States, which shares common values such as freedom, democracy, and free trade with Japan.

According to him, Japan’s national interests are[18]:

2.3.1 Maintenance of the Peace and Security of Japan.

Security is the most vital national interest for every nation. To maintain its security, Japan as one of the world’s political leaders should engage itself actively in global security affairs. In this notion, former Prime Minister Koizumi stated in accordance with this matter in a press conference that:

“Considering the fact that the development and prosperity of Japan rests upon the peace and stability of the world, I am convinced that the assistance that Japan currently provides, which realizes the policy of the Japan-US Alliance and international coordination, is in its national interest”[19]

In a broader sense, the Japanese government also realizes that creating a secure and prosperous world is vital to Japan’s national interest, in a regional sense, Japan’s relation with its neighbours are the crucial point for this matter, this shows as the former Prime Minister Taro Aso stated in one of his speeches:

“I have already met with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao of China eight times in total. I have also held eight summit meetings with President Lee Myung-Bak of the ROK, including the one on the day before yesterday. I believe that the relations with the leaders of these two countries are the closest they have ever been in the post-World War II era. It is we ourselves who create a world that is secure and prosperous. When Japan takes proactive steps towards the realization of such a world, Japan truly furthers its own national interests”[20]

More in this notion, the then Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso mentions the importance of Japan to enhance its position in the region as a key player is stated in one of his speeches:

“Japan is a country whose own prosperity depends on the stability and peace that exists around the globe as a whole. To bring us back to the metaphor of the chain, Japan has national interests in raising the degree of the chain as a whole, even should the means be indirect.”[21]

In order to achieve security and prosperity, Japan realizes that the Japan-United States alliance is a vital element to achieve the perceived interest. Former Prime Minister Taro Aso stated in one of his statement that:

“As this issue clearly demonstrates, Japan’s security and prosperity cannot be secured through the efforts of Japan alone. First of all, it is indispensable that the effectiveness of the Japan-US alliance be ensured. This alliance is a living arrangement and not something for which it suffices simply to have a piece of treaty document. We must constantly strengthen the Japan-US Security Arrangements through unremitting efforts by both Japan and the US. At the same time, as Japan asserts its national interests and gains the cooperation of relevant countries, it must fulfil its international responsibilities in tangible ways.”[22]

“Stability was guaranteed by the Alliances among the free nations. On a global scale, balance and nuclear parity were achieved between Eastern and Western blocs. In North East Asia, the United States stood to bear the burden of security vis-à-vis the communist military colossi like the Soviets, Chinese and North Koreans, and maintained stability in the region. We owe the peace and prosperity that has been created largely to the United States. And today’s spread of democracy in the region is nothing but the result of tireless and colossi efforts by the United States to be a beacon of democracy world wide. It is only the Americans among the Western powers who shed blood of tens of thousands of nationals for the cause of freedom in the region.”[23]

Japan’s peace and security can be regarded as a vital national interest, as this is stated by Nobukatsu Kanehara, the then Political Minister of Japan in 2005:

“Japan’s grand strategy and vital interests consists in maintaining today’s strategic stability and economic prosperity of the entire region. Japan can not do it alone. Maybe no nation could do it alone. And it is naturally that the Japan-US alliance, the alliance of the two biggest industrial democracies in the Asia-Pacific region, is and will be the best vehicle to achieve this daunting goal.”[24]

“Japan is one of the major powers whose vital interests are entrusted to the stability of the world system. As Japan pursues its three major points of national interest, namely her own survival, stability, and prosperity, what is clear is that for a country of Japan’s size, no event occurring in the world can be ignored as being of no relation or interests.[25]”

2.3.2 Support for the free trade system.

It is evident that the free trade system is important for Japan to enjoy economic prosperity. Accordingly, Japan should strengthen the free trade system by establishing a network of bilateral free trade agreements and support the World Trade Organization.

“To promote democracy, free market and to enhance stability and prosperity in the region is not only Japan’s and American’s interests. It is the historic mission of the Japan-US alliance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs develops global rules for the world economy and ensures that Japan’s national interests are reflected within them, a role which is clear and which cannot be carried out by any other domestic entity”[26]

In the past, Japan has consistently supported the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) since it became a contracting party to the Agreement[27]. Japan has also believes that the global economy has prospered under the open, multilateral trading system under the GATT. Subsequently after the establishment of the World Trade Organizations after the Uruguay rounds, Japan has always been a contributing supportive member[28]. It could be concluded, then, that the maintenance and strengthening of a free and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system is Japan’s fundamental policy.

2.3.3 Protection of freedom, democracy and human rights.

Freedom and democracy are Japan’s significant accomplishments since the Meiji Era. It is Japan’s duty to demonstrate a consistent commitment to the protection of these values in order to maintain regional stability.

Taro Aso stated in accordance with Japan’s foreign policy of the issue of Japan’s determination towards democracy, peace and human rights:

“Coming as we are from this background with such achievements, when it comes to talk of “universal values” that are commonly held in the world in general, whether it be talk of democracy, or peace, freedom, or human rights, Japan will no longer hesitate to state its views. This is what I am referring to when I speak of value oriented diplomacy, and my remarks to you here today constitute both a declaration of our qualifications and an expression of our determination.”[29]

Democracy, peace, and human rights have a significant portion in the conduct of foreign policy for the government of Japan. In the Charter of Official Development Assistance decided in June 1992, Japan announced that, as the basic principles in implementing its aid, it would pay full attention to efforts toward promoting democratization and market-oriented economies, and to situations of basic human rights and freedom in recipient countries.[30]

2.3.4 Promotion of people to people exchanges and development of human resources through exchanges in the area of culture and education.

Japan was the first modern country in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan put emphasis on developing human resources and it is because of the promotion of people-to-people exchange and development of human resources that Japan has flourished. It is important for Japan to continue to increase the number of people who understand Japan well.

The 1992 diplomatic blue book of Japan stated in one of its paragraph relevantly this issue:

“Japan has come to occupy an important position in the international community where interdependence among countries is growing. Overseas interest in Japan is being heightened. It is in Japan’s national interest in the medium and-long term to strengthen efforts to further deepen understanding of foreign countries toward Japan through broad cultural and educational exchanges”[31]

The Government of Japan viewed that cultural exchange with other countries is a very important means of deepening understanding of Japan on the part of other countries and promoting international friendship and goodwill. It is the intention of the Japanese government to expand and strengthen various cultural exchange activities, as a major part of its diplomatic efforts[32].

2.4 Japan’s Security Environments

Japan is located in the Pacific Ocean; it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, People’s Republic of China, North Korea, South Korea, and Russia. Japan’s closest neighbours are South Korea, Russia, and China.[33] Based on the definition of North East Asia the researcher found, the North east Asian continent consist of the Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and the Russian Federation.[34] The second part of the chapter will try to explore thoroughly Japan’s security environments, including Japan’s neighbours, and also emerging security issues such as terrorism and international organized crime.

Before we observe specifically several number of states in Japan surrounding region, the researcher would first take a look at the trend in issue of concern in Japan’s domestic realm, which is described in the following issued by the Cabinet Office of Japan.

The above shows changes in Japan’s public concerns in terms of Japan’s peace and security. Respondents could choose three issues from a list about a dozen options. The clearly shows that their choices have changed significantly since the end of the Cold War. In February 1991, when the question was fist asked, it was in the midst of the Gulf War. Naturally, most respondents (56.4%) chose the ‘Middle East Issue’, as the one that concerned them with regard to Japan’s peace and security. The second highest percentage of concern was expressed on ‘US-Soviet relations’ with 44% choosing that option: the timing was not long after the collapse of the Cold War structure. The remote third concern was ‘arms control and reduction with 18.2%. ‘The Korean Peninsula’, despite its geographic proximity, came in as the forth most selected option with 17.3%.

However, the results changed significantly in the next poll in 1994. the concern on Middle East issue dropped by two-thirds to 18.2 % and that on US-Soviet relations decreased to 31.2%, while the Korean Peninsula became the strongest concern with 34.2%, reflecting the May 1993 North Korean missile test in the Sea of Japan and the nuclear crisis of 1993-94. Since then, public concern about the peninsula has grown with 46.7% in 1997 and 56.7% in 2000 reflecting the August 1998 Taepodong missile incident and the March 1999 invasion into Japan’s territorial water by spy vessels. In the year 2003, after the December 2001 sunken spy vessel incident and the September 2002 Koizumi visit to Pyongyang, as many as 74.4% of respondents identified the Korean Peninsula as their primary concern.

The results of the opinion polls show a clear decline of concern over the US-Soviet (Russia) relations and rapid increase in concern toward the Korean Peninsula among the Japanese public. The series of North Korean provocations since the 1990s as well as the shocking revelation of the abduction of Japanese nationals after Koizumi’s visit to Pyongyang attracted public attention.

The geographical proximity of the Peninsula may have made Japan’s public concern over national security more realistic than the Soviet during the Cold War period. It is then clear for us to observe, that regional concern is increased in Japan’s public attention. Therefore, in the next part of this chapter, the researcher would explain specifically several states within Japan’s regional environments and also non traditional security concern such as terrorism and international organized crime.

2.4.1 Japan’s Relationship with its Neighbouring Countries

2.4.1.1 People’s Republic of China

China has the world’s largest population and a vast landmass surrounded by 14 countries. It has long borderlines and a long coastline. China is also a nation with various races, religions, and languages. Most of its ethnic minorities[36] populate the borderlands often with the same ethnic groups living across the borders. China, with a long history, has been shaping and maintaining a distinct culture and civilization, and pride of its unique history and the experiences of semi-colonization after the 19th century is driving a desire for a strong nation as well as fuelling their nationalism. China is state with a socialist regime, and aims at building a modern socialist state under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Part (CCP).

History plays an important role in the bilateral Japanese-Chinese relationship and has an enduring impact on the perceptions, policies and future outlook of both sides. Historical experience shapes identities, but it is also instrumentalized for pressure on the other side. Depending on the prevailing political situation at a given time. Japan and China have found reasons for optimism or pessimism about their relationship. There have been many instances where Japan-China relations have soured due to various problems originating in history. Even now, the past still haunts bilateral relations.

The problem of Yasukuni Shrine[37], school history books[38], the Nanking incident[39], comfort women[40], and also abandoned chemical weapons-these problems related to national honour and dignity have stirred up the emotions of the people of both countries.

The core elements of China’s strategic policies are rebuilding the economy and modernizing its armed forces in order to protect China’s territorial integrity, providing peripheral security, and restoring her great power status. Taiwan reunification, the defeat of Uyghur separatist in Xinjiang Province, and the defeat of Tibetan insurgency are the dominant issues under territorial integrity.

Despite the growth in China’s economic and military power over the last decade, China remains paranoid about U.S. “hegemonic” power. China perceives the United States as attempting to contain China through its bilateral alliance structure. China was extremely critical of the 1996 reaffirmation of the U.S-Japan Security Alliance by President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto.

On the other hand, China supports the U.S military presence in Japan to keep the “cork in the bottle” and prevent Japan’s return to militarism.[41] Wu Xinbo concluded, in an article in 2000, that most policy and academic elites in China do not embrace the idea that Japan will become militarized and aggressive, but rather that their concern is

That the increase in Japan’s military capabilities will shift the balance of power in Japan’s favour. A militarily powerful Japan is more likely to invoke its alliance with the US to intervene should a military conflict arise in the Taiwan Straits. [42]

Historically speaking, When China tested its first nuclear device in October 1964[43], in public the Japanese government reacted very calmly and played it down, hinting at the protection given by the US nuclear umbrella. Feeling secure under the American conventional and nuclear umbrella, Japan was not overly concerned about China becoming a nuclear power in 1964.[44]

When Prime Minister Yoshida travelled to Europe in 1955 he indirectly criticised the USA’s confrontational approach to Asian communism by stating in a policy paper that ‘in fighting communism, political and economic strength was as important as military might, if not more so'[45]

2.4.1.1.1 The Military Modernization of the People’s Republic of China

In recent years, Japan has become increasingly concerned about Chinese military modernization and behaviour. In its 2006 defense white paper, the Japan Defense Agency stressed that China’s defense budget was doubling every five years and that at the current rate, China’s official reported defense expenditures would surpass Japan’s defense budget by 2009. It also noted that China’s actual defense expenditures could be higher because all equipment procurement and research and development costs are not included in the official budget s.[46] In 2007, the Chinese Government announced a staggering increase of almost 17.8% of its military budget[47], resulting in questions asked by the government of its neighbours, including Japan, of its necessity and intentions.

Relying mostly in on a naval presence for maintaining its military position, and given the circumstance that China is particularly backward in this arm category, China’s challenge looks relatively comfortable despite alarmist US media and public opinion polls, and despite China’s ability to make sustaining US supremacy more costly and/or more difficult in the meantime.[48]

The US may consider the Chinese navy still far away from becoming a blue-ocean navy, but for Japanese policy makers China’s predominantly coastal navy is rather close to Japanese waters, as we have seen in the context of the disputes over the Senkaku Islands and the EEZ.[49]

2.4.1.1.2 Japan-China Territorial Disputes: The Senkaku Islands

The Senkaku Islands territorial disputes is one of the most pressing and potentially destabilizing territorial disputes on Japan’s Horizon, however, involves five small islands and three “Rocky outcroppings”. The islands, which the Japanese call the Senkaku and the Chinese the Diaoyu, lie roughly 100 miles Northeast of Taiwan and approximately 250 miles west of Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa. The largest of these uninhabited islands covers approximately 20 acres, and has the potential to bring the two former combatants into open hostilities once more.

The fate of the islands has become a rallying point for Japanese and Chinese nationalists alike. In the summer of 1996, members of the nationalists Japan Youth Association erected aluminium, solar-powered lighthouse that measured about 15 feet tall and petitioned Japan’s Coast Guard to designate the beacon an official navigational signal and thereby reinforce Japan’s claims of sovereignty. The Coast Guard has yet to accede to this request. The lighthouse incident led to protests in Taiwan and Hong Kong, some of which involved as many as 10,000 angry Chinese demanding satisfactions for this affront to China’s sovereignty.

The Japanese are quick to point out that China never showed any particular interest in the disposition of the Senkaku Islands until a 1968 United Nations report suggested that there might be large petroleum deposits under the East China Sea in the vicinity of the Senkaku. In fact, the Chinese did not object to Japan’s 1895 assumption of sovereignty over the islands, nor did it voice any concerns regarding the islands status under Article III of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. As it relates to the Senkaku Islands, Article III says the following: “Japan will concur in any proposal of the United States to the United Nations to place under the trusteeship system, with the United States as the sole administering authority, Nansei Shoto south of 29 degrees North Latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands”.[50]

To further bolster their claim, the Japanese aversion that the United States considers the Senkaku Islands to be Japan


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