On Monday 11 October 2021 the RIAS and the Netherlands Atlantic Association (Atlantische Commissie) organized a lecture on the rising tensions between China and United States & Japan titled “A Tumultous Asian Decade? China’s Challenge to the Global Order and Japan’s Response.”

Dr. Minohara giving his lecture.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Tosh Minohara, a professor of US-Japan Relations and Diplomatic History at Kobe University in Japan, and at the time of the lecture Roosevelt Visiting Professor at the RIAS. Dr. Minohara laid out the stakes for both Japan and the United States, and posed that Japan should take a more active role in Asia as a protector, rather than the current situation in which they rely on other countries for protection. Dr Minohara believes that the tensions will ultimately culminate in Taiwan, which is an obvious target for Chinese leadership. Despite this being common knowledge, according to Dr. Minohara Japan has yet to invest in helping secure Taiwan. Dr. Minohara stated that ideally Japan should try to build collective defensive relationships with other countries in the region, specifically with South-Korea, but he also added the caveat that the relationship between these two countries will be incredibly difficult to build considering politics and the history between the two countries. In a similar vein, Dr. Minohara believes that Japan should seek out allies in countries that have a strong maritime presence such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, to ensure that these countries can rely on each other in the case of an international conflict.

After his lecture, Dr. Minohara answered some questions from the moderator, journalist Paul Brill, and the audience. Dr. Minohara specified that Japan instinctively has placed itself between China and the United States, but also warns that he believes a time will come when Japan has to pick a side. Especially when China eventually comes knocking on the door of the UK and the US to ask why they get to make the rules, because China questions this world order. Dr. Minohara wanted to end on a positive note, but said he struggled to do so, because it looks like history is bound to repeat itself in this case.

We want to thank Dr. Minohara for his incredibly interesting talk!