Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his visit to Australia on Tuesday after he succeeded in lifting the ban on Japanese military collective self-defense earlier this month. Hoping to win Canberra's support, Abe will conclude free trade agreement talks with Australia that have been seven years in the making. This will give Australia preferential access to Japan's $4.9 trillion economy.
What's more, Australia will become the first beneficiary of Japan's "not-pacifist-any-more" constitution. There is a landmark military deal through which both can jointly develop submarine technology. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was quite pleased at this "achievement." He lavished all possible compliments on Japan, saying it deserved to be welcomed "as a normal country in the family of nations," and it has always been an "exemplary international citizen" in the post-war era.
Regardless of the signs that Japanese right-wing activists are regaining power, Abbott chose to compromise for the petty interests ahead. Like the appeasement policy adopted by European leaders on the eve of WWII, Canberra's pandering to an unleashed Japan will jeopardize the consensus developed by the international community for post-war order.
What's more, thanks to its leaders' shortsightedness, Canberra is pushing itself away from its real position in the big picture of the Asia-Pacific region, although these economic and military deals will benefit Australia in the short term.
Although both sides are happy, their deal will probably not be mutually beneficial. Despite being the sixth largest country in size and 12th largest in economy, Australia's influence in the international community does not match its territorial size. The center of the world is shifting to the Asia-Pacific region, but it seems that Australia is still unprepared for a reorientation of its role in this area. It should have been an important pole in the region, and acted as a lever to boost a new pattern of a major power relationship between China and the US, which will produce innumerable benefits to the country as well as in the long term.
Australia has the ability to think and act outside the box. Canberra is neither a cavalry inside Washington's faction, nor an acrobat that bows to immediate benefits. It is a balancer and stabilizer. All it needs now is foresight to see through the future of the entire region.