One of the biggest casualties of the rise of the Imperial Japan in the previous century was China. The Dragon was crushed during the Second World War when Tokyo’s germ assaults on China had caused widespread damage in the country. Cities like Nanjing, Shanghai and Guangzhou had fallen to the Japanese forces before the Allies counteracted Japanese belligerence.
A post World War-II Japan, however, adopted pacifism and mandated it constitutionally. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits Japan from holding offensive weapons, though the country continues to maintain self-defence forces. However, things are changing as China continues to cross swords with Tokyo over the Senkaku Islands. Japan is considering giving up pacifism and prepare itself against Chinese aggression.
Most recently, The Japan Times quoted government sources as saying that Japan is now immediately scrambling its own fighter jets in response to every Chinese military aircraft taking off from a Chinese airbase in the Fujian Province. The report comes amidst rising tensions over the Senkaku Islands which are called Diaoyu Islands by China.
Tensions have been escalating between China and Japan, ever since China turned brutal and belligerent in its neighbourhood. Over the past few months, Beijing’s Salami-slicing tactics have intensified and Beijing has tried to bully Japan too.
Chinese vessels have been hovering in the Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands since the month of May. The uninhabited Senkaku Islands were bought by Japan from a private owner in 2012, but expansionist Beijing also claims them.
Tokyo too has stood its ground in the face of Chinese aggression. It has been confronting the Chinese vessels intruding into Japanese territorial waters and only recently the name of the administrative area containing the Senkaku Islands from “Tonoshiro” to “Tonoshiro Senkaku,” in order to affirm Japan’s sovereignty over the Islands.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping has thus forced Japan into a military stand-off of sorts. What Beijing doesn’t realise is that it is forcing the Tokyo of the mid-twentieth century to rise again.
Ever since Japan-China tensions escalated, Tokyo has bolstered its military strategy. Recently, in March, Japan’s bicameral legislature, the National Diet, approved a whopping $46.3 billion defence budget.
Military insiders say that the latest spending is clearly pointed against Chinese expansionism. And as Japan has approved the massive defence budget to counter Beijing’s misadventures.
What the Military insiders say has been further corroborated in subsequent Japanese decisions. Recently, the Japanese Defence Minister- Taro Kono conducted a rare press briefing for foreign media. In the briefing, Kono underscored the need to keep a tab on Beijing’s intentions and capabilities.
The Japanese Defence Minister also stated that he has not ruled out the option of Japan seeking pre-emptive strike capabilities ahead of National Security Council meets this Summer.
Japan is looking at acquiring some of the most lethal weapons systems in order to contain Beijing’s growing aggression in the East China Sea. Recently, the United States- Japan’s most important defence partner announced that it had approved the sale of 105 next-gen F-35 stealth aircraft to Japan.
Tokyo is going to spend an estimated 23.11 billion US dollars on the lethal American fighters.
Beijing mistook Japanese pacifism for weakness. Chinese President Xi Jinping thought that he could rub Japan up the wrong way and Tokyo would not dare hit back. But the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has matched Chinese aggression with a major military build-up.
Chinese belligerence has left Japan with no option but to use its technological capabilities in defence mobilisation. Earlier this month, the Japanese Defence Ministry announced the official timeline for developing its own Stealth fighter aircraft- the F-3 fighter. It could become a feature of the Japanese forces by 2035.
And not just the military build-up, Japan is also becoming a more prominent member of an informal axis- the Quad to take on China. Tokyo recently decided that it would look to expand cooperation in defence intelligence sharing with countries such as India, Australia, France, and the United Kingdom.
Moreover, Tokyo could also ink a logistics support agreement with India. Japan is trying to become a more active member of the Indo-Pacific alliance to contain Beijing.
The message coming from Japan is loud and clear- Tokyo is not a pacifist because of any compulsion, rather it has only chosen to be so. But Beijing’s provocations are increasingly forcing Japan to become a formidable military force just like the Second World War-era.
China doesn’t understand what it is bringing upon itself and before it comes to terms with the changing realities, Japan would have already become an overwhelming military force.