In his first visit to India, Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has achieved one concrete result: the weakening (if not crumbling) of the “Arc of Freedom”. A Japanese concept (the then foreign minister Taro Aso had highlighted it in a 2006 speech), it was meant to heighten cooperation between like-minded democracies, the US, India, Australia and Japan. But that was then.
Japan has followed what scholars call a “goldilocks” national security policy of hedging its bets. In the age of George Bush Jr and the Liberal Democratic Party rule, US security guarantees counted for more. After Barack Obama’s recent Asian visit and his pronounced pro-China tilt, Japan finds it prudent to be more “reasonable” with China.
This change of colour was in evidence on Tuesday when Hatoyama highlighted his country’s concerns (differences?) about India being outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Our Look East policy, at least its security aspect, now merits refinement.