An upfront tip of the hat to Michael Cucek for this gem.

I am not sure what Abe ate while in Dehli but if he has been quoted correctly then it appears he may be auditioning for a conjoint ambassadorial-comedian position when he retires from politics.

Ultimately, he said, India, Japan and the US should work together to provide stability and safety in Asia. The thinly-veiled reference to China and the need to balance it was not lost.

I’m sure it wasn’t lost on the crowd or China. Great timing too – just when India’s appears to be inserting itself in a dispute, in an area (South China Sea), that is only tangentially related to India’s national interests. I’m certainly no fan of China’s claim to sovereignty over the (whole) South China Sea, or its claims that it needs to be solved “bilaterally,” but I’m sure there are more tactful ways for a foreign power, at least a “non-resident” one, to express its concern with regional stability.

 Abe said the US would be a weaker power going forward.

Did Abe get Washington’s permission to say this? I’m sure they would be pleased about Abe talking smack about them in foreign capitals. Being a supervillian superpower is, after all, as much about “presentation” as hard power.

Once it was seen that India and Japan can together maintain the safety of sea lanes in Asia, Abe predicted, this would reassure the Vietnamese, Americans and South Koreans, “if not the Chinese”. The safety of the sea lanes had been a US responsibility since the 1950s.

Silly Chinese, don’t even know what is good for them.

Asking Indians to shed this ambivalent attitude towards the US, Abe said, “You can shelve your American shyness for a moment and let your realist-pragmatist side prevail. After all, America dropped no bomb on you,” Abe said. He urged India to use Japan to strengthen ties with the US, saying, “We are ready and willing to be used by India to enhance your ties with America.”

I assume letting your “realist-pragmatist side” prevail is kind of like getting in touch with your feminine/masculine side? Let your realism and pragmatism run wild – rationally and pragmatically, of course! No relaxation of the unitary actor assumption either, please. Wait, isn’t there something else a bit odd in that sentence?

“We are ready and willing to be used by India to enhance your ties with America.”

That’s not it – but it seems clear that Japan is a thing to be “used,” by superpowers, prospective or otherwise. Nothing says “self-respect” like asking to be used by dominant military powers. Also, I’m sure the US has many more qualified officials – and comedians- capable of doing the international diplomacy thing. But there was something else…

“You can shelve your American shyness for a moment…After all, America dropped no bomb on you,”

Yes, that. That. He is right of course. I mean, what’s your problem Canada? By the way, I am pretty sure “shyness” is not quite the word he was going for.

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Corey Wallace joined Japan Security Watch in 2011. He writes on Japan security-related topics, focusing on issues and stories that may not find their way into the English language media. He also hosts the blog Sigma1 where he writes on Japanese domestic politics and broader issues in international relations. Prior to taking up a PhD Corey was a participant on the JET program (2004-2007) and on returning to New Zealand he worked at the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology from 2007-2010 as a policy adviser. Corey lectures two courses at the University of Auckland. One is on the international relations of the Asia-Pacific, which contains a significant focus on East Asia security issues. The other is a course on China's international relations. His primary academic interests before his current Japan focus were science and technology politics/policy, issues of ethnic identity, and Chinese modern history and politics. He carries over his interest in issues of identity and history into his PhD where he is looking at generationally situated concepts of national identity and their impact on foreign policy ideas in Japan.
Corey Wallace has 256 post(s) on Japan Security Watch