Image from "DCNS of France wins A$50bn Australia submarines contract," next.ft.com
The decision on who would build Australia’s next generation of submarines carried just as much anticipation in Japan as it did in Australia. A successful tender would embolden Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bid to enhance his brand of “active pacifism”. This is a more assertive approach to defence but “with Japanese characteristics”.
It was no surprise, then, that online news spaces quickly filled on Tuesday with news of Japan’s failed bid, following Australia’s decision to award the contract to French firm DCNS. ...
Activity on social media
Japan’s social media sphere is just as engaged in this debate. And the social media response is worth noting. Part of Abe’s domestic political milieu is the broad resistance to his brand of “active pacifism”. Many feel the government is ignoring their views.
Views on social media have ranged from relief that Japan failed in the bid and that Japanese technological secrets will not be shared, through views that Australia bowed to Chinese pressure, to claims that the Chinese father-in-law of Malcolm Turnbull’s son was partly to blame.
It is also clear on social media that Australia’s stance on Japanese whaling is the itch that won’t go away in the bilateral relationship – despite the best efforts of public diplomacy.
The submarine decision has reheated some of the stronger nationalism in Japan being cultivated by the Abe government’s stronger defence outlook. It is, for want of a better cliché, something of a double-edged sword – the opportunity for Japan to become a player in the weapons arena lost, but to a country (Australia) towards which there remains residual antipathy over Japan’s “food culture”.
It is unlikely that the failure to award the submarines contract to Japan will affect the Australia-Japan relationship in any major way. ...
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."