I am writing from Honolulu, more than 60 years since the Japanese Imperial Navy’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 8, 1941, which started the Pacific War between Japan and the United States.
We must not forget that the root cause of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor can be traced to Japan’s invasion of China, especially the Manchurian Incident (at Liutaochu) of Sept. 18, 1931, and the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937.
Three years and eight months later, on Aug. 15, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally, putting an end to both the Pacific War and World War II.
The postwar years marked a protracted Cold War among the two superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and communist China, which was striving to become a major global player.
In the end, America established itself as the undisputed, sole superpower, with Japan acting as its faithful partner. The international political landscape, however, began undergoing dramatic changes after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The U.S. had become a target of Arabic and Islamic extremists at a time that wars between nations were becoming a thing of the past.
Russia and, indeed, all of the former Soviet Union, have allied themselves with Western nations and with Japan against international terrorism, while China has expressed an “understanding” of U.S. antiterrorist policies. These events would seem to indicate that the 21st century is the start of a new era.
Japan has maintained a close relationship with the U.S., both as Washington’s close ally and as a major economic force. At the same time, as a nation lying off the eastern edge of the Asian continent, it has fostered a friendship with China that dates back the better part of 2,000 years. Although China was invaded by Japan and then came under communist control, it has since made remarkable progress both economically and politically.
The flexibility of Beijing’s foreign policy has been demonstrated by its expression of a certain degree of “understanding” of the U.S. policy to fight terrorism, a stark contrast with its past stance of opposing everything Washington did.
Standing atop Diamond Head and looking down at Pearl Harbor and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, I cannot help but reflect on Japan’s profound and historic ties with the U.S. to the east and China to the west.
From both a geopolitical and historical perspective, it is no longer proper to jump to the conclusion that whoever is pro-American is anti-Chinese or that whoever is pro-Chinese is anti-American.
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