Along with the financial crisis, the US presidential election is on everyone’s minds in East Asia. What are some of Asia’s concerns about the upcoming US elections? Possibly the two most concerned countries, Philippines and Japan which are major US allies are watching the election results closely.
Some media commentators in the Philippines are wondering if this election will signify the end of the US as the world’s only superpower and the onset of a multipolar world. If this is indeed the case, there are now calls from the Filipino media for a more independent foreign policy with less dependence on the US. It may also present an opportunity for some Filipino elites who see the chance of making policy decisions without the need to cater to the pleasure of US power.
But those advocating such policies may still have to realize that the US remains a major power in the region for the moment although this may be counterbalanced in the future by a bloc of Northeast Asian nations plus ASEAN, the so-called Asean Plus Three (APT) if ties continue to deepen.
Overall, many in the Filipino elite wonder – is the Philippines ready for a world in which the US is no longer indispensible? This question also confronts Japan squarely in the face.
Japan is the US’s closest ally in Asia. On the eve of the 2008 presidential election, advisers to Republican nominee Sen. John McCain and Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama are once again calling for a re-engagement with Japan.
However, overshadowed by the financial crisis, the 2008 election campaign has produced comparatively little discussion on Japan, unlike the months prior to the 2000 election.
America's relations with China, American concerns with China’s military and its trade deficit with China were far more important for the campaigns.
The Bush administration’s potential lifting of sanctions against Pyongyang is likely to need some damage repair by the next administration. Japan was only informed 30 minutes before hand that Pyongyang would be taken off the state terrorist list.
Johnston, Eric, "U.S. candidates vow to 're-engage' Japan" dated 1 November 2008 in the Japan Times [downloaded on 3 November 2008], available athttp://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081101f2.html
Pedrosa, Carmen N., "Philippines, US election and a multipolar world" 2 November 2008 in the Philstar.com, [downloaded on 3 November 2008], available athttp://beta.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=412028