Japan, US tease Chinese tiger
Pacific "allies" oppose agreements and alliances with the largest state on the planet.
In Washington, negotiations have just ended between the parties to the main Pacific military-political union - the United States and Japan.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yeshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, as well as US colleagues Anthony Blinken and Lloyd Austin took part in a meeting in Washington - the first two-plus-two face-to-face dialogue since January 2022, when communication took place in the format of a video link, a correspondent for The Moscow Post reports.
The meeting took place amid growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, amid DPRK missile launches and Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, which the ministers did not fail to condemn. A side result of their work was claims against Russia and China. In particular, concern was voiced about the growing military cooperation between the Russian Federation and the PRC, including the naval exercises "Maritime Interaction-2022," which took place in December in the East China Sea.
The meeting "two plus two" had another symbolic result. This is a new, ready for military action beyond its national borders Japan. For example, the Japanese maritime self-defense forces, judging by the number of warships in the fleet with a displacement of more than 5,000 tons, are inferior today only to the fleets of the United States and China. Four "helicopter-carrying destroyers" were built, there are modern submarines. Only long-range missile weapons are lacking to defeat coastal targets.
During the two-plus-two ministerial meeting, Tokyo reaffirmed its commitment to even closer defense cooperation with Washington and other partners. Japan also promised to double defense spending by 2027. Prime Minister Fumio Kisida will have to inform US President Joe Biden about this during a meeting on January 13.
What the ministers agreed on
The meeting took place almost immediately after Tokyo updated Japan's National Security Strategy in December 2022 and released two other documents related to military construction. These documents became a "Japanese continuation" of the US security and defense strategy, which was released two months earlier, in October 2022. Ministers reaffirmed the "consistency of priorities and objectives."
They issued a joint statement, from which it follows that Washington will help Tokyo build military capabilities to confront Russia and China. The Americans also confirmed that they would guarantee the security of Japan, including with the help of nuclear weapons.
The ability of Japan to launch "strikes on enemy bases" did not go unnoticed. The meeting participants noted in this regard the "growing assertiveness" of China, the missile tests of North Korea and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Everything was in favor of strengthening Japan militarily.
Ministers decided to promote a "capable, integrated and flexible alliance" capable of strengthening deterrence and responding to "regional and global challenges," the joint statement said. The Allies are hatching plans for a real combat deployment against the PRC. This, firstly.
Secondly, the United States assured Japan that it would close it with a "security umbrella" in space. Article 5 of the Treaty on Mutual Cooperation and Security Guarantees obliges the United States to protect Japan in the event of an attack. Now, this will extend to the protection of satellites. The parties emphasized the importance of space intelligence for drone control, determining the location of troops, missile strikes.
Thirdly, the allies confirmed that they would cooperate "in the field of retaliatory strike capability," confirmed plans for joint operations and the exchange of information on the targets of such strikes. Japan's security strategy outlined the idea of "retaliatory strikes on enemy missile launch sites" for the first time. In this regard, she will need an air defense-missile defense system like the one that the United States has.
Washington assured Tokyo that it considers the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands to be Japanese. He recalled that these rocks are also subject to Article 5 of the Treaty. According to its provisions, the United States and Japan will regard military aggression against an ally as a threat to their security and act accordingly.
Japan's dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands escalated after Tokyo withdrew from an unspoken agreement with Beijing in September 2012 and announced a buyout of these historically Chinese rocks from a Japanese family that had owned the islands since the post-war era. China protests, PLA ships cruise near the disputed archipelago, enter its coastal zone. The heads of the foreign and defense departments of the United States and Japan also criticized China's actions in the South China Sea, calling them illegal and provocative.
In a word, China is interfering
It was stated that "China's foreign policy is aimed at changing the international order," which causes NATO concern and poses a "strategic problem" for the Indo-Pacific region. The parties condemned China's August 2022 ballistic missile launches, saying that "Japan and the United States will be united in their objections to Beijing's attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea. It seems that Japan ruled the Senkaku Islands and there is no reason to change this.
The United States and Japan agreed to expand the military infrastructure of "joint use" in view of the impending Taiwan crisis, as well as to strengthen the defense of the southern and western regions of Japan. Bases, ports and airfields are included here. On the island of Mage in Kagoshima Prefecture, runways will be built to train naval aviation pilots. Hangars and ammunition depots will be erected. The facility will receive the status of a Japanese Air Force base.
As part of the Marine Corps reorganization in Okinawa, the Pentagon is also expected to establish a rapid response unit to protect the remote islands. A clear hint that China is better off not taking risks, hoping to reclaim the Senkaku Islands by force.
Beijing calls for mutual trust
But it seems that Beijing was not going to do this. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a press conference on Tuesday called on Japan and the United States to take care that their military cooperation does not harm the interests of third parties, peace and stability. He expressed the hope that the allies will respect the security interests of the countries of the region and do more to strengthen mutual trust.
The polite comments from Beijing ended there. Experts suspect that the US plans to push Japan into the first line of conflict, including Taiwan, in order to protect its own forces. China is ready to fight back, Chinese analysts say. And there really is something to prepare for. In the three Japanese defense documents mentioned above, adopted in December, the Kishida administration not only pledged to strengthen the Self-Defense Forces in the southwest direction, but also called China "the main strategic challenge."
By the way, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington recently released a report on the situation around Taiwan, considered scenarios for a forceful solution to the problem and came to the conclusion that the United States and Japan cannot avoid large casualties in the event of a conflict and attempts to protect the island. The authors believe that the PLA will be ready to lose "tens of thousands" of troops in the conflict.
It seems that Beijing would like to avoid a power scenario.
"In the new year, we will continue to hold extensive and deep consultations with sensible representatives of all spheres of Taiwanese society on the topic of reunification and relations on two shores.... [we will] promote the process of peaceful reunification of the motherland," Ma Xiaoguang, representative of the Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China for Taiwan, said at a briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also commented on the issue of relations with Taiwan, also calling for the search for diplomatic solutions.
But not so simple
Last year, China resolutely opposed the difficulties that arose as a result of provocations and pressure from the United States, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang I. said then. "No hegemonic force could intimidate us, we decisively acted to protect the indigenous interests and national dignity of China," he said.
According to Wang Yi, the United States perceives China as its main competitor, and therefore is engaged in "blatant deterrence, suppression and provocations." The former head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that competition harms both states, and called for the development of cooperation. According to Wang Yi, this is "a necessity, not a choice."
But the U.S. and Japan will continue to undermine regional peace and stability as top military and diplomatic officials in both countries pledged to strengthen their military alliance and military cooperation, citing "the biggest strategic challenge" from China. Chinese experts believe, writes the Global Times, that Japan's closer military alliance with the United States, which occupies a more aggressive position, will be a source of danger for Japan, will not arouse approval from the countries of the region.
Not only is Japan abandoning the "defense only" principle and preparing to intervene in the Taiwan issue, analysts say, it is also providing itself to the US military as an advanced operational base, allowing the US to launch military operations against China from Japanese territory.
The hard-working Japanese nation rebuilt the country after the devastation of World War II. Japan's high-tech economy has become one of the most prosperous in the world and has always relied on cooperation and interaction with neighboring countries. Paradoxically, the longer Japanese society lives in conditions of material wealth, completely dependent on good relations with the outside world, the more aggressive the Japanese ruling elite behaves.
Japanese politicians lack either outlook or wisdom or discretion at last. They persistently harm the fundamental national interests of the country, which must be responsibly managed, adapting to the world around them, and not seeking to remake it at the behest of Washington. At least in memory of the victims of crimes created by the Japanese military in Asia, especially in China and Korea before the signing of the Act of Surrender in 1945.