In a nutshell, Professor Yakushiji discussed: the East Asian security landscape; recent developments in Japan’s bilateral relations with ASEAN, Russia, and the US; growing regional concern over China’s assertive actions in its near seas; and the necessity for collectively ensuring a stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific region. With regard to China, Professor Yakushiji disclosed that, for most Japanese bureaucrats and professionals, China’s true intention is the fulfilment of what is dubbed as the “Chinese Dream” or the recovery of China’s preeminent position as Asian regional and global power. According to him, China is bent not simply in positioning itself as the regional hegemon in the South China Sea, but more importantly, in changing the international order which will then entail fundamental systemic change in the political, security and economic realms.
As a response, Professor Yakushiji echoed the Japanese government stand which is similar to the official positions of the Philippine, US, and Korean governments: “Any intimidating concept or provocative unilateral action that could alter the status quo, increase tension and [disrupt] freedom of navigation and overflight [should be condemned].” He also cited some concrete actions of the Japanese government to alleviate concern with China’s assertive behavior: (1) passage of a new legislation by the Diet on security policy last year which is aimed at strengthening US-Japan alliance and deterring China by allowing the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to operate abroad under strict conditions; (2) counterproposal of an Arc of Freedom and Prosperity with the Philippines, US, South Korea, Australia, India, and other like-minded countries; and (3) bolstering of military-to-military cooperation between the Japanese and the Philippine armed forces such as the Japanese government’s provision of maritime vessels to the Philippine government.
Prof Yakushiji has previously served as Editorial Writer of the Asahi Shimbun and Chief Editor of the monthly magazine RONZA, Chief Editor of Political News Department. He graduated from Tokyo University and joined the Asahi Shimbun in 1979 and has held various positions. In 2002 he became a visiting fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, D.C and was Visiting Professor of Kyoto University since 2006, and Visiting Professor of Gakushuin University since 2009.In 2011 he retired the Asahi Shimbun and assumed his current position. He has published several books and articles on the history of various high-ranking Japanese politicians include: Gaimu-syo (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2003), ”Oral History of the 1990s” series: Ozawa Ichiro, Miyazawa Kiichi, Kan Naoto, Mori Yoshiro (2006-2008), Oral History of Murayama Tomiich (2012), Testimony- Inner Politics of the Democratic Party (2012).