Japan has finally kickstarted a much-needed decoupling from China, in order to mirror the largescale anti-China sentiment which prevails throughout the free world against the red rogue state’s regressively authoritarian, violent and communist regime.
According to Reuters, Japan, effective April 2021, is all set to close its domestic markets for aerial drones manufactured or developed in China. The move comes as perhaps the first from the Suga-administration to insulate the Japanese economy from Chinese interference; one which will have far-reaching consequences on ties between the two Asian giants. The Suga administration is working overtime to follow the Abe-era foreign policy postulates, particularly when it comes to dealing with China. The only difference is that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has decided to go anti-China rather explicitly.
While Japan has been working for a large part of the current year to dethrone China as the global supply chain hegemon, it has also locked horns with Beijing over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. However, the Suga administration’s decision to ban Chinese drones from circulation and usage in Japan is a one-of-its-kind step which indicates that Tokyo has begun fearing Chinese surveillance, and is taking fast-paced steps to insulate its economy, national security and even cyberspace from an invasive China.
The Reuters report has quoted six officials from the Japanese government, who have all unanimously stated that the decision to gradually kick Chinese avionic technology out from Japan is centred on the idea of securing Japan as a nation and protecting its national security. The primary concerns also revolve around information technology, supply chains, cybersecurity and intellectual property. One of Japan’s senior government officials told Reuters, “China is a big market and it is important for Japan. On the other hand, there are worries that advanced technologies and information could leak to China and could be diverted for military use.”
While the primary reason for Japan to kick out Chinese avionics is national security, it goes without saying that local and domestic drone manufacturers are set to immensely benefit from the move. In the absence of Chinese drones, which occupy a large market share in Japan, government agencies will turn to domestic manufacturers to fulfil their needs. Already, the nation’s drone business market, which stood at 140.9 billion yen, that is $1.35 billion, in the fiscal year to March 2020, up 51% from the previous year, is set to grow to a whopping 642.7 billion yen by March 2026. It, therefore, is visible that the Suga administration couldn’t have taken the decision to ban Chinese drones at a more opportune time.
Due to this move, the already-growing quantum of the Japanese drone market will be satiated by domestic manufacturing. This will ensure that while Japan simultaneously protects its national security, it also helps spurt growth in the country’s avionics sector. The move to kick out Chinese drones is set to be an initiation of decoupling from China, and also insulating Japan’s economy from Beijing.
Already, the Japanese government under Shinzo Abe had, at the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year, set aside a massive sum in order to provide incentives to Japanese companies to pack their bags and leave China. 220 billion yen, which is equivalent to $2 billion, was pledged for Japanese companies shifting production back to Japan and the remaining 23.5 billion yen for those seeking to move production to other countries, preferably in Southeast Asia.
Yoshihide Suga, while carrying forward his predecessor’s foreign policy manoeuvres, has made sure that he openly snubs China and the CCP General Secretary – Xi Jinping. This is the very reason why Japan has been reluctant to host the Chinese Premier for dialogues. On the other hand, in a clear sign to Xi Jinping that Japan is least interested to indulge in talks on the highest level, Yoshihide Suga visited Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Indonesia, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest moves by Japan come in the backdrop of many experts and geostrategic enthusiasts opining that Japan could not, and would not want to decouple from China in a post-Covid world order. Turns out, they had it magnificently wrong, and Japan has just initiated the process of decoupling from China rather grandly.