This paper will interrogate the kinds of presence Japan and Australia have in the Western Pacific. How do they project themselves in the region? How are they regarded in the region?
They each seek to assert a form of middle power status in the region, based largely on their separate but similar reliance on the USA. Japan continues to shelter under the US security umbrella. Australia - especially recently - has been asserting a "deputy US" status in the region.
However, this pitch for middle power acceptance is not widely convincing to other states in the region. Indeed it is often counterproductive. Other states maintain formal structures of relating but also keep Australia and Japan at a distance, or, at best, they reluctantly include them in regional initiatives.
This distancing will be analysed as being mostly self-imposed. Australia's cultural ambivalence towards the region, and Japan's wartime record obviously require larger efforts in cultural diplomacy in order to address the distancing and to overcome it. Assuming that middle power status is achieved mainly through successful and sustained niche diplomacy, it will be argued that Japan and Australia have a golden opportunity to develop joing niche diplomatic approaches (in collaboration with New Zealand) to problem states in the South Pacific. This will be illustrated by special reference to Papua New Guinea.
|Allan PATIENCE||Allan Patience is Professor of Political Science at the University of Papua New Guinea.|
|University of Papua New Guinea|
|[Joint Australia-Japan Workshop] Searching for Equitability and Peace in the Post-9/11 World: Exploring Alternatives for Australia and Japan|