September 30, 2012
Thai and French Indo-China War
“Mediation is a form of outside intervention in which a third party tries to help disputants reach a voluntary agreement.” Mediation is such a large from of resolution that it can cover almost any kind of conflict. From personal relationship disputes to treaty agreements between warring countries, mediation can help solve many kinds of problems. “The role of a mediator is to aid the parties with their negotiation, and this aid takes different forms depending on the mediator’s diagnosis of what is blocking agreement.”
During the years prior to U.S. involvement in World War II, the French and Thailand broke out into war. The conflict began when the French annexed claims to territories made by the Taiwanese people. The French dominated the Thai people with superior firepower, but the playing fields were leveled when France could not transport men to Thailand. The Taiwanese armies outnumbered the French and they became equal opponents.
“French firmness against Thailand had also been stiffened by a tragi-comic misunderstanding with the Japanese over their agreed takeover of northern Indochina in September 1940.” Japan therefore felt the need to intervene with France and Thailand. The Japanese showed up at Saigon Harbor with two aircraft carriers, two cruisers, and two torpedo boats. Six French and six Thai officers boarded the ship and joined a committee of seven Japanese officers who were the mediators. “Before either Thailand or Indo-China could present a claim or grievance, Japan handed both a bill for her services as mediator — to be paid in advance. She demanded: a virtual monopoly over Indo-China’s production of rice, rubber and coal; a free hand to exploit Indo-China’s natural resources; military garrisons along the Chinese frontier; Japanese inspectors at all Indo-Chinese customs houses; a naval base at strategic Camranh Bay and defense concessions at Saigon; air bases throughout Indo-China. From Thailand she demanded a naval base in the Gulf of Siam for a fleet of 15 battleships, cruisers and auxiliary craft. Unless the terms were accepted on the spot, it was intimated, naval units would go into action and invasion of both countries would follow. The delegates signed.”
Mediation is usually appropriate for violent conflicts. It is similar to two brothers fighting and their mom making them apologize to one another. Japan is the mother figure with authority over France and Thailand, and they must reconcile and obey the demands of the mother figure in order for them to not get into more trouble. In this way Japan took advantage of the countries by taking things they wanted before beginning the mediation process with the two foes.
I believe Japan made a mistake by demanding things from the countries before beginning the resolution process. What if the French and Thai rebuked the Japanese terms and turned on them? What is stopping the French and Taiwanese from discussing the resolution terms between them? Japan must have been very confident in their abilities to be able to make such a great demand just to be the mediator. The Thai Minister Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj was asked if, “accepting Japanese mediation was not equivalent to letting a fox arbitrate between two rabbits in a cabbage patch”. He replied with, “What would you do if you were a rabbit?”
In this instance of mediation, Japan limited the terms for negotiation. They told the French and Thai that if they wanted them to be the mediator they must pay them first. Another limit is the fact that France and Thailand are at war. They may not agree with one another and then the resolution process would be for nothing. With Japan’s demand to both the countries, it heightens Japan’s involvement as the mediator and puts them into the conflict. A mediator is present to serve the parties. It is almost the opposite in this instance.