Military Coup in Thailand and Likely Caution in Japan
Noriko Watanabe and Preeya Wattana
Modern Tokyo Times
The military coup in Thailand witnessed strong condemnation in certain corners of the world, notably America. However, while the government in Japan will issue certain negative words on this matter, it is still apparent that Japan’s “quietist approach” will dictate. After all, Japan values the entire Mekong Delta region based on economic interests and because of geopolitical factors in relation to China.
In Thailand the current situation isn’t particularly unique even if the factors behind the current crisis are independent, in relation to past developments. Indeed, both competing parties in the recent crisis appear to be moving further apart and any calls for genuine compromise were not heeded. The upshot of this is that the military is claiming the need for stability hence the military coup.
Cabinet ministers were detained and the constitution of Thailand was put on hold by the armed forces. General Prayuth Chan-ocha acted swiftly by announcing the immediate control over the power mechanisms of Thailand. Of course, it is too soon to state how long the current military coup will hold until democracy is re-installed. However, while the military will be condemned internally and externally, it is equally true to state that the political crisis is based on the enormous political gulfs within society. Therefore, the political paralysis and increasing nature of violence was unnerving many people in Thailand and this reality enabled the military to act.
Lee Jay Walker at Modern Tokyo Times says: “This doesn’t imply that the military coup is justified but clearly democracy is threatened in Thailand based on the deep divisions within this nation. Indeed, Thailand on a whole is divided in many areas. Notably this applies to major political differences and in the south of the country you have a major Muslim insurgency. On top of this, the armed forces of this nation are extremely worried about maintaining stability internally in the south of the country – and maintaining order based on the political dynamics of this nation – while being focused on a region that is blighted by nationalism and which is of strategic significance to several world powers.”
Japan is clearly focused on developing strong relations with India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Of course, the factors are multiple but it is fair to say the “China card” is of major concern. Therefore, Japan will not want to alienate either side in the current political crisis. Similarly, it is too early to say what effects the military coup will have because it may decrease political tensions in the short-term but alternatively it may usher in fresh violence. This reality means that the shortness of the military coup – or longevity – is unknown and this will dictate a quiet approach from Japan.
AP reports: “The coup, the second in eight years, accomplished in a few minutes what anti-government protesters backed by the nation’s traditional elite and staunch royalists had failed to achieve on the street: the overthrow of a democratically elected government they had accused of corruption.”
Prayuth is now asking for patience and for the general public to understand the difficult position faced by the armed forces in relation to the political breakdown. It is too early to say what the outcome will be because events could go either way. However, the behavior of the armed forces is not entirely their fault because sadly certain elements within society in Thailand believe that they can overthrow an elected government. Until the political arena is based on accepting the outcome of elections then the current scenario is likely to happen in the future unless the constitution is strengthened in relation to safety mechanisms.
Lee Jay Walker gave guidance to both main writers.