Perilous shift in Japan-US alliance impacts regional peace, stability


China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2024-04-17 10:03:49

By Liu Yisi


On April 14, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida concluded a nearly week-long visit to the US. During the visit, the two sides set the tone for the adjustment of Japan-US alliance. To loosen the restraints on Japan's military expansion and combat preparedness, the US further intensified its alliance system with itself at the core by strengthening its ties with Japan. Analysts commented that the relevant moves would drive the Japan-US alliance to veer toward a more dangerous direction.


They reaffirmed the commitments on the Japan-US Security Treaty for enhanced joint deterrence. The joint statement issued by the two sides emphasized the role of the above treaty as a cornerstone in bilateral relations, unabashedly exhibiting the deterrence of their alliance against China. The two parties declared to improve alliance mechanisms for seamless coordination, including establishing a new "joint command" for the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), upgrading the US Forces Japan command, strengthening intelligence sharing and base construction, and amplifying the deployment of reconnaissance, firepower, logistics and other forces in the southwest region. Their enhanced cooperation in command, intelligence, military industry and more fields has posed serious threats to regional security and stability.


The US instigated Japan to enhance its military expansion and war preparedness so as to assume more obligations of the alliance. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once compared the Japan-US security framework to a "bottle stopper" that could prevent the reemergence of Japanese militarism. However, to deal with the imaginary threats, the US has constantly made compromises with Japan, and even shown tolerance towards Japan’s liberation from the shackles of the "exclusively defense-oriented" principle and acquisition of mid-range and long-range strike capabilities. At the end of 2022, Japan released a new version of the three national security documents proposing to increase its defense budget to 2% of GDP for the development of stand-off defense capabilities. During Kishida's visit to the US, the two sides declared to "elevate their defense ties to unprecedented levels." Moreover, a joint statement issued by the two countries said that the US would provide technological support for Japan to effectively develop and employ the counterattack capabilities of the latter. In the face of Japan's perilous transition from defense to offense, the US seems to have forgotten the painful lessons of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Analysts believe that the US's enticing Japan to revive the illusion of becoming a military power essentially aims at further binding the latter to its own chariot. Nonetheless, such a move is tantamount to a poisoned chalice carrying the potential for detrimental consequences that harm both the US itself and others.


They aimed to form a dense alliance and partnership network, which might aggravate the regional bloc confrontation. During Kishida's visit to the US, the two sides proclaimed to build a US-Japan-Australia networked air defense architecture, boost US-Japan-ROK annual military exercises on the basis of the 2023 Camp David Summit, and regularly hold US-Japan-UK trilateral exercises from 2025. Japan and the US have expanded their alliance by developing mini-lateral relationship with the Philippines, Australia, the ROK and other countries, in a bid to strengthen the US-led regional security cooperation mechanism. With the further expansion of the US alliance and partnership in the Indo-Pacific, the military cooperation among the relevant countries, especially at the equipment interoperability level, is likely to be significantly elevated in a short time, and the regional bloc confrontation will also be exacerbated.


It is not difficult to see that the Japan-US summit chanted the mantra of "freedom and openness" while brandishing the flag of "order and rules," but their actual behaviors revolved around causing disturbances and inciting conflicts. The two countries vaunted that their alliance has been "elevated to unprecedented levels", but virtually its adverse impact on regional security and stability has also reached an unparalleled extent, which deserves high vigilance from the international community.


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