Japan has identified China’s expanding military activity in the region as its biggest threat with a special focus on Beijing’s growing relationship with Russia, according to its newly approved 2023 defense white paper.
The white paper is the first one released since Tokyo ended its post-WWII pacifist defense strategy. Japan announced that it will double its military spending in the next five years due to what it sees as increased security risks posed by its neighbors. Tokyo’s focus will be on its “counter-strike capability,” and money will be earmarked for U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles, hypersonic weapons, and surface-to-ship cruise missiles. (See “JAPAN DOUBLES UP MILITARY SPENDING, ENDS PACIFIST DEFENSE STRATEGY” 20 Dec 2022.)
Hamada Yasukazu, the Japanese defense minister, wrote on the first page of the document that, “The world is at a turning point in history. The international community is facing its greatest trial since World War II, and we have entered a new era of crisis.”
Fumio Kishida, Japan’s prime minister, approved the document that identified China’s rising military as “unprecedented and the greatest strategic challenge.”
The paper noted how the Chinese and Russian navies have been taking part in naval drills in the Sea of Japan “clearly intended as a show of force against our country, and pose a grave concern for their country’s security.”
The paper also said China will possess 1,500 nuclear warheads by 2035 and “increase its military superiority over Taiwan.”
Mao Ning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the Japanese defense paper interfered in China’s internal affairs and “deliberately played up the so-called Chinese threat and created tensions in the region,” according to the AP.
TRENDPOST: Japan has aligned itself with the West in its opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has imposed tough sanctions on Russians and Russian businesses, with a new list of targets released last week. Last year’s military white paper identified Russia’s invasion as a “serious violation of international law.”
The 510-page report called China, Russia, and North Korea “the most severe and complex security environment since the end of WWII.”
The Associated Press reported that leaders from China and Russia attended a military parade in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, to watch a military parade that showed the country’s latest drones and long-range nuclear-capable missiles.
North Korea has been accused of providing weapons to Russia to fight in Ukraine and China has been accused of providing technology that can be used in weapons.
The U.S. has been trying to fortify its relationship with Japan based on Tokyo’s insecurities. (See “BIDEN RAMPS UP WAR WITH CHINA, AMERICA WILL NUKE TO PROTECT JAPAN” 17 Jan 2023, “CHINA WARNS JAPAN” 17 Jan 2023, and “JAPAN DOUBLES UP MILITARY SPENDING, ENDS PACIFIST DEFENSE STRATEGY” 20 Dec 2022.)
Kishida said earlier this year that it is “absolutely imperative” that Japan, the U.S., and Europe stand united in the face of the growing threat of China. He said the alliance between Japan and the U.S. has never been stronger. He told an audience at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies that China is the most “central challenge for both Japan and the U.S.”
China has called for a trilateral summit between Beijing, Tokyo, and Seoul to address concerns in the region. There has not been such a summit since before the COVID-19 outbreak.
“No matter how blonde you dye your hair, how sharp you shape your nose, you can never become a European or American, you can never become a Westerner. We must know where our roots lie,” Wang Yi, China’s top diplomat said earlier this month.
He said it is important for these countries to focus on solutions to Asia’s problems.