Be aware of Japan's intentions in colluding with NATO

China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2023-07-06 18:21:50

By Xu Yongzhi

Recently, some Japanese citizens and members of the National Diet of Japan gathered to protest against the government's plan to increase defense capabilities and establish a NATO liaison office. If realized, this liaison office would be the first of its kind in Asia. Despite Japan's claims of maintaining and strengthening a rules-based, free and open international order, a closer examination of Japan's interactions with NATO and its member states reveals Japan's sinister intentions of provoking regional bloc confrontation. 

The deepening of Japan's relationship with NATO and its member states began during the administration of Shinzo Abe. At that time, the Japanese government illegally "nationalized" the Diaoyu Islands and sought to strengthen its "actual control" over them. Japan repeatedly accused China of "changing the status quo by force" to legitimize its actions. NATO became Japan's target of wooing. In high-level talks with NATO member states such as the US and the UK, Japanese politicians vehemently emphasized the so-called "China threat." Japan's smearing and distortion, to a large extent, accelerated the pace of the US and West's containment of China. Takahashi Sugio, the Head of the Defense Policy Division, Policy Studies Department at the National Institute for Defense Studies, even stated in his book that Japan is not a bystander in the competition among major powers but a participant, and Japanprompted the USto change its policy towards China.

In fact, Japan has long held deep-rooted suspicions towards its neighboring countries, believing that any country stronger than Japan poses a threat. As early as 2009, Japan began shifting its military deployment southwestward to ensure that the US troops can intervene in regional affairs under "area denial" in the future. It is precisely based on this logic of treating neighbors as enemies and suppressing them with strength that collusion with NATO is a new leverage for Japan. In January this year, the UK and Japan signed a new defense agreement to upgrade the current partnership to quasi-alliance status. At the same time, Japan portrays the establishment of a NATO liaison office in Tokyo as the first step towards the future establishment of a NATO "military support" mechanism for Japan, which exposed its ambition to elevate its own status with the help of external forces.

In recent years, Japan has continuously hyped up the so-called peripheral threats to facilitate its own interference in regional affairs as well as the intervention of countries outside of the region. After the revision of the Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation in 2015, Japan allowed its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to "protect" US troops that intervene in regional affairs. Since 2018, Japan's military cooperation with certain NATO member states has seen explosive growth. Taking Japan and the UK as an example, the frequency and intensity of their joint naval exercises have caught up with the levels like those between Japan and the US at the beginning of this century. Japan has also made great efforts to court some European countries by strengthening their military presence in the region and facilitating their replenishment at port. Recently, Japan has worked with the US to formulate the so-called "joint operational plan". Japan’s various dangerous actions in assisting external forces to interfere in regional affairs by Japan seriously impact regional security and stability. 

It should be pointed out that Japan's collusion with NATO not only fails to contribute to its own security, but also exposes its sinister intentions of using force to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, handling territorial disputes, polarizing the world, and abandoning the peace constitution. This approach is not welcome in the international community. Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region are unwilling to choose sides, and many European countries also tend to regard China as a partner and refuse to follow the US and Japan.

The Asia-Pacific is a land of cooperation and development, not a place for geopolitical chess games, and should not be provoked or threatened by hegemony. Japan should earnestly learn lessons from history, stick to the path of peaceful development, and stop doing things that undermine mutual trust among countries in the region and damage regional peace and stability.

(The author is from the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations)

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