WASHINGTON – Despite what has been described as a “pacifist” constitution implemented following World War II, Japan is considering rearming to offset what is perceived in the East Asia region as a more assertive China, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
That nation is throwing around its military weight to enforce its hegemony over the East and South China Seas.
Almost all the countries in the region are affected by China’s new assertiveness in the region, including Vietnam, the Philippines and even India, in addition to Japan. All have open and somewhat confrontational disputes with Beijing over jurisdiction over islands and potential maritime oil and gas resources.
For India, it has a number of contracts with Vietnam for offshore oil and gas exploration in the East and South China Seas to meet its increasing energy demands. In recent months, China and India have had disputes over access to areas where Beijing claims exclusive jurisdiction.
In addition to separate disputes between New Delhi and Beijing over land border disputes between the two countries, India has decided to enhance its presence in the East and South China Seas with an increased military naval presence of its own.
Now there are increasing indications that Japan is considering a more robust military posture to offset China’s military prowess in the region. Because of its years of military technology and assistance from the United States, Japan is assessed to be better equipped than China militarily in terms of quality, but certainly not in numbers.
The other countries with disputes with China over maritime rights in the South China Sea are backing the prospect of a remilitarized Japan.
Philippines Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario recently told the Financial Times that his country is “looking for balancing factors in the region and Japan could be a significant balancing factor.”
The issue of rearming Japan comes just prior to Japanese Diet, or parliamentary, elections that are to take place shortly. Sources say that Shinzo Abe is expected to be chosen the new prime minister.
Abe is on record as wanting to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution and dramatically upgrade the Japanese military.
Sources say that a change in the constitution to upgrade Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to a full military force would give it more of an offensive capability that could change the balance of power in Asia.
Despite Japan’s official pacifism, sources point out that it already has considerable military capability, such as 50 large surface ships compared to some 70 by China.
Such a reconstitution of the Japanese military will play into Beijing’s long-held view of Japanese militarism, which the mainland experienced prior to World War II.
For the Philippines, officials are more concerned about a militarized Japan which for a time occupied the Philippines than a more militarily assertive China which has been intercepting its shipping in what Beijing considers its territorial waters.
Beijing has further aggravated the situation by now issuing new passports that include a map of the entire South China Sea region showing its claims to parts that Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan and Indonesia also claim. The Philippines won’t stamp the passport.
Tokyo’s dispute with Beijing is over what it calls the Senkaku islands and China refers to as Diaoyu. Until now, the Senjaku/Diaoyu islands have been under Japanese control.
To enforce its claim of having established a “baseline” around the group of islands, the Chinese air force flew over them, prompting the Japanese to scramble its fighter aircraft.
China also has decided that it will use police forces to board vessels in the disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea.
Sources say this will only increase the risk of miscalculation which could spark a regional conflict.
“If China follows through and does board foreign vessels in disputed waters, it will have far-reaching global implications, likely affecting trade and access to sea lines of communication,” according to a report in the open source intelligence group Langley Intelligence Group Network, or Lignet.
The report says that that China’s assertiveness represents “a larger effort by China to take de facto control of disputed territories throughout Asia and to control large portions of the Asia-Pacific sea regions.”
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