The art of warfare is changing and becoming technology-intensive. Future wars will not involve huge armies, tanks, artillery guns, fighter aircrafts engaging in dogfights and other means of traditional warfare. We are looking at new domains of warfare- cyberspace, electromagnetic spectrum and aerospace. Let’s be honest- your conventional military power doesn’t matter. If your enemy outcompetes you in emerging warfare domains, you will lose the future war. And guess what? Japan, which remained a pacifist nation for a better part of the post-War era, gets a decisive edge over China as wars become technology-intensive.
Tokyo is a bigger tech giant than Beijing. While Japanese technology is highly reliable and truly latest, Chinese technology is cheap, unreliable and quantity-oriented. So, Japan is using its technology to beat China as both countries move in the direction of a possible conflict in near future.
In the Cold War era, Japan maintained Self-Defense forces for the limited purpose of defending its territory in case of a Soviet invasion. At that time, Tokyo maintained assets of conventional warfare including tanks and other means of ground warfare, coupled with some air support and very limited naval assets.
But now Japan’s security calculus has changed. Russia is no longer a threat to Tokyo. Its are energies are entirely focussed on Beijing. Japan is looking to protect its far Southwest from an increasingly expansionist China, which is frequently sending in vessels that intrude Japanese waters near the Senkaku Islands.
So, Japan is looking to mobilise assets that help it in countering Chinese military mobilisation in the East China Sea region. But this time, Japan is using its cutting-edge technology in the form and getting into largely unexplored realms of warfare- outer space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum.
Last year, the Japanese Defence Ministry allocated $1.09 billion towards outer space security and earmarked $28 million for cyberspace. Some investments were also made towards electromagnetic spectrum, and the purpose is to eliminate aerial threats such as drones. The move is, of course, aimed at countering China’s booming combat drones sector.
China has been developing AI-enabled combat drones that can inflict huge damage on adversary forces and pave way for purely contactless warfare. But if Japan excels in electromagnetic warfare (EW), China won’t be able to cause much harm to the Japanese defence establishment.
SCMP quoted Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Waseda University as saying, “Japan’s primary concern today is China and the territorial dispute we are engaged with over the Senkaku Islands.”
Shigemura added, “But it is important to note that these enhancements that are being made to national security are purely defensive and Japan has no intentions of starting an offensive conflict.”
Japan is now using its entire security apparatus for bolstering its own defences and also endangering Chinese forces at the same time. Take Japan’s outer space security strategy for instance.
Japanese government’s national defence guidelines mention that Japan is committed to launching and using more information-gathering and communications satellites for its own forces. It also seeks to develop systems with the “capability to disrupt opponents’ command, control, communications and information”.
Even in cyberspace, Japan is not only looking to handle threats posed by foreign hackers, but it is also developing counter-offensive capabilities to harm computer systems beyond its borders, should the need arise.
Finally, Japan aims to achieve “superiority in the electromagnetic domain”. With this, Japan wants to protect its own electronic communications from enemy attempts to engage in electromagnetic warfare. At the same time, Japan’s military planners want to develop the ability to “neutralise” enemy radar communications, so that the opponent can be left vulnerable to Japanese countermeasures.
As such, Tokyo has embarked on a complete revision of its defence strategy. The revised defence strategy gives a tech-friendly Japan an inherent advantage over China in future wars. Beijing will have to think twice before pushing the envelope against Japan, as the consequences and costs can be clearly quite severe.
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