Japan is playing a beautiful game. It is arming itself to the teeth, developing new strategies, and completely abandoning its pacifist approach to take on China – all while claiming that it is doing so to secure itself from a rogue state like North Korea. Japan is fast tilting towards the adoption of a defence policy in which pre-emptive strikes on enemy assets are very much a possibility, and this means it is abandoning for good its constitutional requirement to use the military for “self-defence” purposes only, and in the face of an imminent attack on Japan. Now, Japan – under the leadership of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will be able to target enemy states without having to justify its actions to a degree it is currently required to do.
North Korea Is an Excuse, China Is the Intended Target
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces currently predict missile trajectories based on radar readings of launch angle and speed. The weapons are then met with a two-tier defense system: the sea-based Aegis missile shield while outside the atmosphere, followed by Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles as they reenter. But these systems are built to defend Japan against missiles and projectiles which follow a parabolic and predetermined path. And North Korea has been developing missile technology with the help of China which allows its missiles to follow random, haphazard and unpredictable paths, making the task of shooting them down very difficult.
So, Japan is now considering the development and use of a constellation of small tracking satellites and the ability to attack the missile launch itself in enemy territory. According to Nikkei Asia, Japan’s Ministry of Defense began weighing the possibility of such a satellite constellation this fiscal year. The capability to strike enemy bases – such as hitting missile-staging areas immediately after launch to stop projectiles while still in an opponent’s territory – also emerged as a key topic during September’s leadership election for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
What’s better, newly elected Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had suggested during the campaign that he was open to the idea. He said, “It is important that we brush up our ability to respond to missile strikes.”
Will Japan Use Its New Capabilities Against North Korea Alone?
Japan and North Korea share a past overwhelmed with hostility and aggression. Japan inflicted violent atrocities against Koreans during its imperial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. After Japan’s defeat in the Second World War and subsequent independence from the Soviets, North Korea adopted a harsh attitude towards Japan. The relations turned most antagonistic in the late 1980s, when the two governments had no remaining substantive contacts. In the early 1990s, Japan began normalization talks with North Korea and issued a formal apology for its 1910-45 rule over the Korean Peninsula.
In recent years, North Korea has also shown its willingness to improve ties with Japan, seeking relief from the global diplomatic isolation and a plummeting economy. PM Kishida also looks determined and has vowed to seek a summit with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Even during the LDP election campaign, Kishida had expressed his willingness to hold the Japan-North Korea summit to resolve the abduction issue – which has become a legacy dispute between the two countries now.
Our point is, North Korea and Japan were well on the path of working out their differences, and both countries had softened their stance against each other. However, at the end of the day, North Korea continues to remain a Chinese client state. So, at the behest of China, Pyongyang is heightening tensions with Tokyo. In fact, ever since Japan began attacking Chinese interests in a variety of ways, Beijing leveraged its influence over North Korea to have some missiles of Pyongyang land in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Japan knows how it is being played. So, it is using China’s strategy against it. China thought it could use North Korea to accelerate aggression against Japan, and that Tokyo would watch on helplessly. However, Japan is now using the argument that North Korea’s increasing aggression mandates a ramping up of Tokyo’s defense capabilities to develop a decisive anti-missile infrastructure, which rest assured, will also be used against China when the time comes. Long story short, China laid a trap for Japan – and walked itself right into it. Now, Japan is gladly writing Beijing’s epitaph.