Losing the East?

Some of our China hands may raise their eyebrows:
Political experts say Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s greater willingness to engage Beijing and the rest of Asia reflects a broad rethinking of Japan’s role in the region at a time when the United States is showing unmistakable signs of decline. It also reflects a growing awareness here that Japan’s economic future is increasingly tied to China, which has already surpassed the United States as its largest trading partner.

"Hatoyama wants to use Asia to offset what he sees as the declining influence of the United States," said Yoshihide Soeya, director of the Institute of East Asia Studies at Keio University in Tokyo. "He thinks he can play China off the United States."