‘Con­tain­ing China’ a Ja­panese strat­egy

Draft of Tokyo’s new de­fense pro­gram calls for more early warn­ing and sur­veil­lance

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ja­pan is try­ing to jus­tify at­tempts to break away from its paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion and build up its mil­i­tary by fan­ning the so-called China threat, ex­perts said af­ter Ja­pan re­leased the fi­nal draft of its na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy on Wed­nes­day.

In the draft, Ja­pan vowed coun­ter­mea­sures against what it calls “China’s at­tempts to change the sta­tus quo with force” in the East China and South China seas, ac­cord­ing to the sum­mary of the draft is­sued by Ja­panese news agency Jiji Press.

Lu Yaodong, di­rec­tor of the depart­ment of Ja­panese diplo­macy of the In­sti­tute of Ja­panese Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said the strat­egy in­cluded “con­tain­ing China” in the core mis­sions of Ja­pan’s new Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, es­tab­lished a week ago.

“The Abe Cab­i­net is now bold enough to la­bel China as a strate­gic tar­get be­cause it has har­vested enough ex­cuses from ten­sions over China’s Diaoyu Is­lands and China’s newly es­tab­lished air de­fense iden­ti­fi­ca­tion zone,” Lu said.

Bei­jing said on Wed­nes­day that it is un­rea­son­able for Tokyo to say that China’s de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish the East China Sea Air De­fense Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone last month is chang­ing the sta­tus quo.

“It is not oth­ers, but Ja­pan that made provo­ca­tions” in the East China Sea, For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said.

The draft of Ja­pan’s Na­tional De­fense Pro­gram Guide­lines out­lines mil­i­tary pol­icy for the next decade and calls for Ja­pan to set up in­tel­li­gence, early warn­ing and sur­veil­lance ac­tiv­ity to de­fend Ja­panese sea and air ter­ri­tory.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said in a meet­ing with se­cu­rity ex­perts on Wed­nes­day that the two pacts — to be ap­proved at a cab­i­net meet­ing on Dec 17 — will be “his­toric doc­u­ments that shape our coun­try’s na­tional se­cu­rity”.

The draft also said Ja­pan will re­view its self- im­posed ban on weapons ex­ports, a move Bloomberg said shows that “Ja­pan will seek to make its arms in­dus­try com­pet­i­tive glob­ally”.

Shi Yong­ming, a re­searcher of Asia-Pa­cific stud­ies at the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said Ja­pan is us­ing China to elim­i­nate self­im­posed leg­isla­tive re­stric­tions on re­vis­ing its paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion and ex­pand­ing its mil­i­tary.

“Ja­pan is pro­ject­ing China as an enor­mous threat and cam­paign­ing it­self as a ‘ma­jor vic­tim’ to bluff peo­ple both do­mes­ti­cally and over­seas,” Shi said.

Kyodo News Agency re­ported on Wed­nes­day that the Abe ad­min­is­tra­tion will im­ple­ment a de­fense pro­gram next year cov­er­ing the next five years.

Ja­pan’s an­nual de­fense bud­get grew this year af­ter a decade of de­cline.

Tokyo plans to set up an am­phibi­ous unit de­signed to take back the re­mote is­lands in case of invasion, and also plans to pro­cure un­manned sur­veil­lance planes and es­tab­lish an E- 2C early warn­ing air­craft unit at the Naha base in south­west­ern Ja­pan, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est de­fense plans.

Abe’s bid to stoke Ja­pan’s slum­ber­ing econ­omy “has given him po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal to push his long-cher­ished aim of also rehabilitating Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary, which un­der the post-war paci­fist Con­sti­tu­tion is re­stricted to de­fense only”, Agence France-Presse said.

By show­ing mus­cle in the is­lands dis­pute and mak­ing right wing re­marks, Abe is mak­ing progress in lift­ing the con­sti­tu­tional bans, said Liu Jiangy­ong, an ex­pert on Ja­panese stud­ies at Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

Liu warned that “Ja­pan is also sid­ing with coun­tries in­clud­ing the United States and Aus­tralia to step up pres­sure on China”.

“Ja­pan is seek­ing stronger sup­port from out­side the coun­try to speed up a mil­i­tary buildup, strive for more in­flu­ence in the re­gion and share

Ja­pan is pro­ject­ing China as an enor­mous threat and cam­paign­ing it­self as a ‘ma­jor vic­tim’ to bluff peo­ple both do­mes­ti­cally and over­seas.”

SHI YONG­MING RE­SEARCHER OF ASIA-PA­CIFIC STUD­IES AT THE CHINA IN­STI­TUTE OF IN­TER­NA­TIONAL RE­LA­TIONS

more bur­dens in Wash­ing­ton’s re­bal­anc­ing strat­egy,” Shi said.

Ja­pan will also bol­ster its over­all ca­pa­bil­ity to re­spond to mis­sile at­tacks as the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea im­proves its bal­lis­tic mis­sile tech­nol­ogy, its de­fense guide­line draft said. Cai Hong in Tokyo con­trib­uted to this story.

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