Editorial: Japan Should Not Ignore China’s Real Intent at Senkaku

 

Refusing to hide its ambition to take the Japanese sovereign territory of the Senkaku Islands (Okinawa Prefecture), China was not content with just sending Chinese Coast Guard vessels into the waters off Senkaku, so it also sent Chinese Navy vessels on January 10th to 11th, 2018.

 

 

 

The Japan Self-Defense Forces observed and followed a Chinese Navy surface vessel and foreign submarine navigating the Senkaku contiguous zone simultaneously. This was the first time this has happened. The submarine subsequently surfaced in open waters, raising the flag of China.

 

The contiguous zone are waters just outside the territorial waters. The Japanese government was prepared to order the Japan Self-Defense Forces to undertake maritime security action, in the event of the vessels entering territorial waters.  

 

 

It is only natural that the Japanese government protested China’s recklessness, as it poses a severe threat to the safety of Japan. It once again confirms that the threat to Japan hails not just from North Korea. The number of naval vessels, air-force capabilities, and anti-ship missiles, as well as forces poised to defend the South-west should be increased.

 

This coincides with the government expressing its willingness to repair relations with China. Both the government and the opposition parties have presented a cooperative attitude toward the economic “One Road, One Belt” initiative being promoted by the Xi Jinping administration.

 

However, under the Xi Jinping administration, whether refraining from provocation, China has employed “piecemeal tactics,” where it slowly creates a fait accompli to gain an advantageous position.

 

 

This is simply a ploy to establish the “Strong Country Policy” built against the background of military capability. One wonders if it is possible for Japan to improve relations and cooperate with a country such as this. One cannot help but be rightly and seriously suspicious.

 

Speaking at a press conference on January 11th, 2018, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson obstinately claimed Senkaku as “[Chinese] Territory,” offering an explanation in complete contradiction to the facts, saying, “The Chinese Navy was following and monitoring the actions of their Japanese counterparts.”

 

It is an absurd remark. Perhaps the reason for the surface vessel accompanying the submarine was just so that they could make this kind of excuse. It truly is cunning.

 

But what is of real concern is that despite this slap in the face, the mood within the government is that “improved relations are possible.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left for a six-country European trip, without even mentioning the reckless actions of the Chinese. Speaking at a press conference on January 11th, 2018, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga criticized China, but also stated, “Our position of completely improving relations remains unchanged, and we would urge China not to hamper this trend.”

 

 

Merely lodging a perfunctory protest before subsequently calling for improved relations reveals weakness. It would have been wiser to omit the call for improved relations. What is needed is the deployment of careful diplomacy which shrewdly comprehends the intentions of the Xi Jinping administration.

 

 

 

(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)

 

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