The Rising of the Land of the Rising Sun

Japan is making pro-active moves towards playing a more significant role as a military might, especially in the wake of the need to balance China’s ‘expansionary attitude and manoeuvres’.

The Sydney Morning Herald story:

Australia-Japan military ties are a ‘quasi-alliance’, say officials

Date October 26, 2014 – 11:45PM

John Garnaut

Asia Pacific editor for Fairfax Media
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Tony Abbott with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Parliament House in July. Photo: AFP
Military ties between Australia and Japan have been growing so fast that they amount to a “quasi-alliance”, according to Japanese officials.

Ties have expanding so rapidly that each country had become the other’s most important defence partner behind the United States, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another official, Takuma Kajita, principal deputy director of the National Security Policy Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview that an unprecedented decision this month to explore the possibility of jointly developing Japan’s coveted submarine technology showed the “two countries would be tied up in the most important area of security”.

He said this and other recent moves, including the sharing of Australian space surveillance intelligence (which could potentially be linked to ballistic missile defence systems) reflected years of bipartisan commitment, recent challenges from China and also a close personal rapport between prime ministers Tony Abbott and Shinzo Abe.

“Mr Abe wants to raise the relationship between Japan and Australia considerably, his instructions are very clear, and he wants good trilateral relations between Japan, Australia and the US,” said Mr Kajita.

A unique “Australia-Japan Defence Co-operation Office” was established within Japan’s Ministry of Defence on April 1 this year in order to handle the rapid escalation of activity.

Publicly, especially in Australia, officials have been circumspect about the pace of change in part to avoid triggering an escalatory response from China.
Officials say there are no plans to progress the relationship into a formal treaty that would include reciprocal obligations to defend each other in the event of war.

And Japan is constrained by a sceptical population and pacifist constitution imposed in the wake of World War II that, among other things, requires its armed forces to operate as the Japanese Self-Defence Forces.

But some analysts warn that the Australian public has not yet grasped the dimensions and implications of deepening military ties, including the possibility of being drawn into armed conflict over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) in the East China Sea.

“The dual-tightening of Australia’s alliance with the US and its defence partnership with Japan is the most important strategic decision that Australia has made in the post-cold war era,” said Malcolm Cook, a regional security expert at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian studies.

“If there is fighting in the East China Sea then the US will be drawn in. And can you imagine the pressure for Australia to become involved?”

Japanese sources say that the two most dangerous incidents occurred just months ago, in May and June, when Chinese fighter planes used provocative measures including firing afterburners to intercept Japanese surveillance planes at a time of Sino-Russian military drills.

But the temperature has cooled considerably since then.

A high-level maritime co-operation forum resumed on September 25, after a 28-month interregnum. And what had been almost daily Chinese maritime incursions into Japanese-controlled waters have dropped substantially in frequency and intensity.

“Chinese ships now enter Japanese territorial waters every two weeks, for exactly two hours,” said one Japanese official who was present at the maritime meeting. “It used to be four, six or even eight ships but now it is only three or four,” said the official, while noting that Chinese activities in the “contiguous zone” had not diminished at all.

Japanese officials say the continuing incursions are “unacceptable” but nevertheless the atmosphere had become conducive to a first meeting between Mr Abe and China’s President Xi jinping on the sidelines of next month’s APEC meeting in Shanghai.

The new Australia liaison office in Tokyo illustrates how Australia has leapfrogged all nations except the US in Japanese military thinking.

South Korea was listed as Japan’s second most important military partner in a strategy document released less than a year ago, but those ties have cooled due to disagreements over the memory of World War II.

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Japan  under Prime Minister Shintaro Abe is seeking to reinterpret ate and probably to amend the ‘pacifist’ post World War Two Constitution, paving the way for Japanese military forces to fight abroad. Since the times of General of the Army Douglass McArthur, Japan only allowed to have a ‘Defence Forces’.

United States supports this notion with the excuse that Japan should play a more significant role to defend itself.

Obviously, China is disturbed by this development.

The BBC story:

9 October 2014 Last updated at 07:10

China media criticise ‘growing’ US-Japan military ties

Papers in China criticise the US for pursuing closer military ties with Japan and Vietnam.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained in recent months over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

According to reports, Japan and the United States are revising their mutual defence guidelines to pursue a wider partnership.

The US, in an interim report released on Wednesday, said that the new guidelines “are in response to new threats extant in the world and to a new willingness of Japan to embrace a greater role in the world”.

Responding to the report, an article in the Liberation Army Daily warns the US is “inviting calamities by nurturing a tiger”.

“By requesting Tokyo to support its military actions, the US is still sticking to the old arrangement of Japan taking instructions,” notes the article written by Liu Qiang, a strategic expert at the Liberation Army Institute for International Relations.

Japan may become the “destroyer of peace” because it feels threatened and wants to expand its military, and Washington may not be able to control it, he cautions.

“If Washington is not on its guard against Tokyo’s military development and continues to allow it to expand, the US may not be able to control its development effectively in the future. By turning a blind eye to Japan’s actions, Washington is inviting trouble, and that is worrisome,” he adds.

A commentary in the People’s Daily overseas edition points out that the US and Japan are treating China as an “imagery enemy”.

“The idea of sharing hegemony between Washington and Tokyo is secretly developing. With the permission of the US, Japan may become a new international police…Such dangerous development is worrying many countries,” it says, warning that the alliance will instead “increase distrust and worsen conflicts” in the region.

Chen Yan, an expert on Japan affairs with the Qianjiang Evening News, however, points out that the new guidelines will not affect China.

“The US will not confront China because of Japan, and in reality, Japan will not want to go to war with China too. Both are only putting up a gesture to pressurise China,” he argues.

Defence capability
Meanwhile, several state-run media outlets, including Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily website, have published photos of a completed airport runway and ongoing construction works on Yongxing Island (Woody Island), the largest of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

The Philippines and Vietnam are two of several nations currently engaged in territorial disputes with China over the islands.

Several other media outlets note that the completion of the 2,000m-long runway will allow military jet to station, and “it will hugely raise China’s defence capability in the Spratly and Paracel Islands”.

Elsewhere, some state-run media outlets criticise US-Vietnam ties as Washington eases its ban on arm sales to Hanoi.

The US announced last week that it would partially lift its decades-old embargo on providing lethal military support to Vietnam to help improve its maritime security.

“Hanoi is looking to the US for support in its maritime territorial dispute with China, especially since tensions between Vietnam and China escalated earlier this year amid a dispute over China’s oil drilling operations in the South China Sea,” notes an article in the China Daily.

However, the commentary reminds the Southeast Asia state that “it is only one small piece on the US’ strategic rebalancing chessboard” and there is “deep acrimony and distrust” between the two countries.

“Besides, both need to be mindful that their strengthened military ties do not compromise each country’s relationship with Beijing. After all, a head-on confrontation in the South China Sea would serve no one’s interests,” it warns.


In the wake against China’s aggressive military-centric expansionary attitude and premonition, Japan started to exert herself into the clout of anti-China sentiments around Asia. Despite China’s strong opposition, Japan has continued on the new policy which would see a balance to China’s military might in East Asia.

*Updated midnight

Published in: on October 26, 2014 at 21:00  Comments (9)  

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  1. By coincidence, the Singapore Straits Times today carried a AFP/Reuters report “India picks Israel over US for key missile deal”.

    According to the report:

    – PM Narendra Modi’s government will buy 8,356 Spike anti-tank guided missiles and 321 launchers (made by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems) from Israel.

    – Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that India will also buy hundreds of Israeli-made Barak missiles for the Indian Navy’s battleships next year.

    – the Modi government is rushing to clear defence projects worth US$13.1 billion to modernise India’s ageing military assets.

    The report quoted Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley: ” National security is the paramount concern of the government. All hurdles and bottlenecks in the procurement process should be addressed expeditiously, so that the pace of acquisition is not stymied.”

    The implication is that India is beefing up it’s military to close the gap with it’s strategic rival China and to face down any potential threats from Pakistan.

    With India rearming and Japan going for a more aggressive forward defence policy (note that both the Abe and Modi goverments are right-wing), how will China react?

  2. See, even Australia wants military ties with Japan. Not trusting the Chinese.

    Japan will be Australia’s first line of defence. We, Malaysia, will be No. 3,4,5 whatever.

    Of course the Japanese would like to call it “quasi alliance”. Even the ordinary word alliance I don’t mind. After all, that word has been abused by damn bloody racist Hitler during World War II.

    What matters is what they do with it. And what the other countries do to watch China not do anything funny in this region – the Far East and South East Asia.

  3. The Sydney Morning Herald’s report says, “this and other recent moves, including the sharing of Australian space surveillance intelligence (which could potentially be linked to ballistic missile defence systems)”.

    Whatever you do, would you pls ensure that any of China’s Ballistic Missiles get blasted well before reaching Malaysian airspace, mate?

    I dun want any falling in my backyard. Not even on the mainland Chinese Embassy in KL.

    I know China is no where near Star Wars capability yet. But having sent astronauts to the moon, they may have Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Maybe poorly guided and may drop shit all over the place between them and Australia.

  4. Lets put things into perspectives with the following basic facts:

    1. While we may or may not have disagreement with some/all the players involved in the geo-strategic games in this region, none posed an existential threat to us except PRC.

    2. If PRC have it ways, Malaysia will lose more than a quarter of its territory (and all the resources that goes with it) – absorbed by PRC’s illegitimate, unilateral and internationally unrecognized nine dash line.

    3. Our territorial integrity (hence our existence as a nation) had never been under greater threat than it is today since 1963 when Sukarno embarked on the failed Konfrontasi.

    4. Our responses (or rather the lack of it) had embolden PRC’s as demonstrated by its actions in the contested waters.

    Thus far how we responded to this simmering crisis escapes my comprehension…

    I hope these quotes by Churchill will remind those in position of the vices of appeasement;

    “An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile hoping it will eat him last.”

    “There is no greater mistake than to suppose that platitudes, smooth words, and timid policies offer a path to safety.”

    • Wah, saya tak tahu bahawa “If PRC have it ways, Malaysia will lose more than a quarter of its territory (and all the resources that goes with it) – absorbed by PRC’s illegitimate, unilateral and internationally unrecognized nine dash line.”

      Terima kasih Sdr VARUNA. Kalau boleh, nak dengar lagi maklumat dan pendapat saperti itu.

      Kalau gitu, perlu kita laungkan selalu. Supaya PRC jangan jadi hantu.

      Tapi tak tau lah mcm mana DS Najib nih. Nampaknya dia amat terbawak bawak dengan nakkan taraf negara maju. Nak cuba please everybody. Nakkan pelaburan China konon nya. Hingga di Johor projek Iskandar, Dangar Bay, Forest City dsb nya akan membawa berjuta Cina masuk, duduk tetap, menggugat nisbah peratus Melayu:Cina dan menluaskan lagi jurang ekonomi Melayu:Cina.

      Semua orang tahu tiada siapa yang boleh please everybody, tapi Najib nak buat gitu. Malang nya dalam peroses itu China melanda landa. Kalau kominis, boleh tukar belang ke? China masih lagi di perintah oleh Parti Kominis.

  5. The regional security expert said, “If there is fighting in the East China Sea then the US will be drawn in. And can you imagine the pressure for Australia to become involved?”

    Australia has always been a good boy since World War I and II. The Commonwealth link is strong among Australians. If fighting in East China Sea, Britain not likely to be involved. Yes, Australia will be under pressure then.

    But Australia’s future is in this area. I think somehow they will be involved. They have agreed with US on the stationing of military assets in Australia. US looking at them as the last line of defence. And Australia sure would want any war with China fought in the East China Sea. With Japan as the first line of defence.

    I would like that, too. If US, Japan and Australia can whack China and make them behave in the East China Sea, then China would have learnt a lesson. And not try to be a menace in the South China Sea.

  6. Bila Obama nampak nya mahukan legasi sebagai Presiden yang tak mahu ramai tentera nya mati, tarik keluar tentera nya dari Iraq dan sekarang dari Afghanistan, tak mahu “boots on the ground” melawan IS/ISIS/ISL, maka mungkin ada pihak lain yang nak mainkan peranan “Policeman of the World”. Atau mengambil kesempatan mengeksploit keadaan itu. Mungkin yang di Timur Jauh tuh.

    Jadi, bagus lah Australia pun mainkan peranan yang lebih daripada dahulu nya. Nilai nilai hidup mereka di Australia tak jauh dari kita di Malaysia. Mereka pun anti-kominis. Walau pun kominis mengaku mereka pun demokratik sekarang, mereka tidak ada pilihan raya ala Barat. Merekut mereka di Hong Kong berdemo tak habis habis hendakkan pilihan raya. Satu negara dia sistem, kata Beijing.

    • Perdana Menteri Turkey bahru sahaja komplen di temu ramah dengan BBC bahawa jika Amerika dll tak mahu “boots on the ground”, mengapa pulak mereka di kritik dan di harapkan mengeluarkan tentera Turki melawan IS dsb nya di Kobane, di sempadan Turkey.

      Berat juga keadaan bila Amerika tukar dasar luar nya. Russia dah ambil kesempatan berkenaan Ukraine. Tak tau lah sama ada keadaan akan menjadi lebih “fluid” dan amat rumit di sana sini di dunia akibat bertukarnya dasar luar Amerika itu.

  7. Sure the land of the rising sun will rise the maximum possible if allowed. The Japanese PM been visiting the Yashikuni (?) shrine commemorating the war dead, indicating a wish for Imperialistic days again. Though this time it may not be Imperialism but survival that motivates the Japanese. Survival against the Chinese who have demonstrated their unfriendly posture.

    According to a TV documentary, they themselves asked the victorious and Japan-administering General Douglas MacArthur to draft a war-renouncing Constitution. Since then, they had only “Self Defence” Forces. And interpret the Constitution the best way possible as to the extent of self-defence – how far their fighter jets can go to chase away enemies encroaching their air space.

    Super power politics have changed quite drastically since the last war. The Soviets turned to be arch enemies with the US and the Cuban Missile Crisis almost threw the world into a nuclear holocaust. The Soviets have been reduced in strength with the break up of the Soviet Union. Russia is still formidable and deemed a Super Power. But China now is sure bidding to be one. So, Japan should be allowed to counter that.

    Counter or balance may just be a an exercise in semantics. What is important to Malaysia is that we must not be the proverbial gajah dan harimau berlaga, pelanduk mati di tengah tengah. Di tengah we may not be physically. But Najib has been wanting to please mainland Chinese leaders in more ways than one. Politically, we might be di tengah between China and Japan. Far-fetched? Let’s discuss.

    And many people have asked that UMNO replace Najib with Muhyiddin at the PAU in November. Let’s touch that, too, in passing, when discussing the rising sun subject. Meanwhile, have a good rising sun this morning, folks.

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