VIETNAM: Potential ‘Senpai’ or Ally?

YVONNE EPPS WRITES— A month has passed since the fiasco in the South China Sea, but it seems that Vietnam has garnered the admiration of another East Asian country. Watch out Vietnam, it seems like ‘senpai’ has noticed you.

Major Japanese TV stations like NHK, TBS and Fuji relayed their criticism of China’s ruthless sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat according to VietnamNet Bridge. The media depicted China as the culprit rather than the victim, using a variety of images and video clips of the incident to portray it as inhumane. While it may seem that Japan is sending their sympathies, they are rather impressed by Vietnam’s handling of the situation.

What Japan and Vietnam have in common is their near constant struggle of shooing China away from their territories. The Japan Times  suggests the latter as a potential role model for Japan due to their fervent will power in spite of lacking naval and air forces. It’s clear that Vietnam is outclassed in the struggle against China alone, but the media seems to lean towards the idea of teamwork between countries to push China out of their respective bubbles.

An unnamed source in the Japan-Vietnam Parliamentarians’ Friendship League is quoted saying that “Vietnam should not be abandoned,” so China will probably have to face a legion of bitter bullied countries.

Referring to one’s senior, ‘senpai’ is often a term of endearment towards someone more experienced or knowledgeable. While Vietnam’s tenacity may have caught senpai Japan’s attention, it won’t be enough to solve the South China Sea problem. The outreach the Japanese media towards Vietnam’s issue seems to suggest a more lavish opposition to China’s behavior. The true outcome of the issue is dependent on both the development of Vietnam’s regional relationships and China’s subsequent actions.


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