Peter Tasker: Lessons for Tokyo from 1980s Britain





The writer is a Tokyo-based analyst at Arcus Research.

The situation feels familiar. The casus belli is a little-known group of islands. The country in possession is perceived, not least by itself, as being in long-term economic decline. The claimant considers the islands to be a symbol of national humiliation stretching back into the 19th century.
 
Like Argentina in 1982, China is ruled by an unelected cabal at the apex of an organisation designed for a bygone era. Like Britain, Japan is an ally of the US and unsure how much support to expect from its superpower friend.
 
There are clear differences too. Even at its 1970s low point, Britain’s economy was much larger than Argentina’s, whereas China has recently displaced Japan as the world’s second-biggest economy. Moreover, Japan’s armed forces have not fired a shot in anger in 60 years and the defence budget has rarely topped 1 per cent of output. China is a nuclear power with military expenditure at least double Japan’s...


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