24 May 2005

Why Singapore supports Japan's UN Security Council Bid

Ruminations from the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere

Southeast Asia was under Japanese occupation as brutal as that suffered by China and South Korea during WW2. Yet almost 60 years after the end of the conflict, ASEAN nations share little of China or both Koreas' lingering and pungent resentment of Japan.

Whereas the recent incident of the textbooks drew howls of protest and stage-approved demonstrations attended largely by young adults whose grandparents had suffered under Japanese occupation, Southeast Asian leaders said nothing, aside from quiet platitudes about the need for Japan to give a clear indication to the world that it isn't trying to deny any Nanking Massacre.

Singapore and other countries in this region will support Japan's bid for the UN Security Council seat, unlike the opposition of the Chinese and the two Koreas. Why?

The Pentagon Papers provide the answer. By 1949, the Department of Defense recognised that Japan's factories and economy needed Asian food, raw materials, and markets to continue their rapid ascent. US planners realised the "potential of Communist China as a source of raw materials vital to Japan and a market for its goods", and therefore encouraged "a considerable increase in Southeast Asiatic food and raw materials exports to avoid preponderant dependence on Chinese sources".

By the 1950s, Japan was pressured to break trade relations with China, and access to Southeast Asia was explicitly offered as an inducement.

By the 1960s, the wave of independence in the region was stabilised by Japanese imports and subsidies of industrial machinery, seeding the region's own industrialisation. Southeast Asia had become integrated into Japan's region of the "Free World" economy. The disastrous Great Leap Forward was no foolhardy or crazy scheme, it was China's only alternative, now that it was isolated from the very investments it needed for successful industrialisation - which would not be achieved until Deng.

This is why the wounds of war have healed far better here than in Northeast Asia.


xenoboysg said...

The process of Japanese subjugation of China and Korea pre-dates our conventional dating of the Second World War.

Whereas SEA suffered for about 3 half years, China and Korea suffered far longer than that. Hence, the suffering and historical baggage is multiplied.

akikonomu said...

Granted China and Korea suffered longer, however we only hear them protest about WW2?