By Wu Minwen
Japan has fully cooperated with the US to promote the Indo-Pacific strategy since the Fumio Kishida took office. Since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Japan has actively followed the pace of the US and continuously escalated sanctions against Russia. Does Japan really want to act as a US pawn in the Indo-Pacific strategy?
Fumio Kishida took office as the new Prime Minister of Japan in October 2021. In an interview, he advocated taking resolute measures against China and claimed not to give in one step to China. The Indo-Pacific strategy led by the US aims to contain the rise of China, and Japan's response to this strategy is mainly rooted in internal and external considerations.
The internal reason is Japan's fear of China's rise. Japan is an island country with extremely scarce resources, and its national economy and overseas trade are highly dependent on maritime routes in the areas such as the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. Therefore, Japan regards Taiwan as its lifeline, which is also the reason that some Japanese politicians advocate that "a Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency".
The external reason is mainly the inducement and pressure from the US. China's resolution on the Taiwan question will disintegrate the US "island chain strategy" to contain China, thereby weakening its influence in the Western Pacific. The Diaoyu Islands issue has become the most important link between the interests of Japan and the US. Therefore, the US has taken the Diaoyu Islands issue as bait to lure Japan into its strategy.
However, whether the US induces Japan or Japan relies on the US, Japan faces insoluble problems.
First, Japan cannot simultaneously reconcile the territorial disputes from the north to the south. As we all know, Japan not only provokes the issue of the Diaoyu Islands with China in the south, but also has a dispute with Russia over the Southern Kuril Islands in the north. In addition, it has a Dokdo Islands dispute with South Korea. These have almost become deadlocks in Japan's relationship with its neighbors.
Second, the US is only taking advantage of Japan. Allies are only pawns on the chessboard of the US global hegemony. As the pawn in the Indo-Pacific strategy, Japan uses human and material resources to serve the regional strategy of the US. In the end, its loss outweighs the gain.
Third, Japan faces opposition from its own people. The US uses Japan to intervene in the Taiwan question, in which Japan's southwestern islands play important supporting roles. There are nearly 200 islands in the southwest of Japan. Among them, 40 ones can supply fresh water as military strongholds, but most of them are inhabited.
Japan has stationed troops on these islands and joined the plot to intervene in the situation across the Taiwan Strait, making these islands and their inhabitants the targets of counterattacks in military operations. In this regard, the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF) declared that it has no enough energy to evacuate the residents and can only let the local government do it instead. The residents of Okinawa are very concerned about being involved in the war, and they hope that the Japanese government will earnestly de-escalate the regional tension and reduce the risk of war.
The US Indo-Pacific strategy stems from the Cold War mentality, which is inherently ridiculous and out of date. Gathering allies to promote the Indo-Pacific strategy will inevitably lead to more uncertainties in the regional situation, and even lead to the danger of unpredictable serious conflicts. At the forefront of a possible conflict, Japan should think carefully about its role and situation.
(The author is from College of Information and Communication, PLA National University of Defense Technology)
Editor's note: This article is originally published on zqb.cyol.com, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.