Ryo Sahashi, Professor of International Politics, and Director at Center for Asian Studies, Kanagawa University is sceptical about the Trump-Kim summit. In an interview with Hungarian weekly Heti Valasz, he warned of the dangers of doing business with China.
According to Sahashi, the USA and North Korea have no common goals, but both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un needed a successful summit to score points in internal politics. He stressed that for Kim, it’s an economic necessity – getting rid of the sanctions would be a huge success for him -, and a matter of legitimacy, as even dictators need the support of the people. Losing support doesn’t only mean losing an election for non-democratic leaders, it can actually mean death.
The professor also said that North Korea’s denuclearisation plans are far from convincing. He said he doesn’t agree that more possible to make business with Kim than with his predecessors, but admitted that we can’t see the end of the current process.
Speaking of China, Sahashi said that “Chinese money is easy money” but in the long term the Chinese model is not that good, because the countries involved can end up in a debt trap, as several countries of the region already did. Regarding the One Belt One Road initiative, he said it’s hard to predict the outcome of such huge projects. About the possibility of China’s peaceful development, he said a political change is also needed for that.
He said that even though Japan can’t compete with the Chinese economy, the bilateral relations are currently excellent. Sahashi completely ruled out the possibility that eventually Japan would be allied with the “non-democratic” China instead of the USA.
He also spoke about Japan’s demographic problems and said that immigration can also be a possible solution for the lack of workforce.
Ryo Sahashi in Budapest
Professor Sahashi has been focusing on East Asian security policy for decades. Before the Trump-Kim summit, he held a lecture in the Institute of International Studies of the Corvinus University of Budapest entitled “Political issues today in East Asia from Japan’s Perspective”. Among other things, the professor explained that China has been using hard, soft and sharp power to increase its influence in the region, reshaping the world order, while Trump pays little attention to this because he’s focused on North Korea.