Home » Budget Industry » Panel: Japan Still Needs U.S. Protection from North Korean, Chinese Aggression


Panel: Japan Still Needs U.S. Protection from North Korean, Chinese Aggression

A bilateral flag waves during the 42nd Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force โ€“ Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Friendship Day at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, May 5, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo

Japan doesn’t have an alternative to its American alliance when confronting North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons threat or Beijingโ€™s territorial aggression, a panel of regional experts agreed on Friday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “wants to make sure the United States doesn’t get too far ahead” of Tokyo in defusing the still-volatile security situation on the Korean Peninsula or in its dealings with China on economic and diplomatic concerns across the Indo-Pacific, said Sheila Smith a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations.

Japan has felt more pressure on what happens on the peninsula in the future because it was not given a heads-up that President Donald Trump was going to offer to talk directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Pyongyang’s weapons programs, Smith said at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Nor were they briefed on what concessions in terms of military presence in Korea or guarantees of response if attacked the administration was willing to make to eventually end the North’s nuclear weapons and missile testing and production.

Behind the scenes, since the meeting has ended, the Japanese have been touching base with the nations who supported the U.N. decision to send troops to Korea in 1950 to ensure their commitment to conditions now and continued sanctions pressure. They also have reached out to the Russians to ensure “a very concerted global response” remains in place.

Tokyo also, for more than a year, has been involving South Korea in military exercises it conducts with the United States to send a message to Pyongyang that the three are united despite separate security arrangements.

“Don’t take these two alliances as separate” if planning to attack Seoul by crossing a land border or striking Tokyo with short-range missiles or targeting Washington with intercontinental-range missiles, she said.

Smith called these moves to have the three militaries train together “unprecedented,” but whether those kinds of exercises will continue is unclear.

To Japan, Beijing’s territorial assertiveness isn’t confined to the building of artificial islands and positioning naval and air forces on these reclaimed reefs in the South China Sea, said Tsuneo “Nabe” Watanabe, a senior fellow at Sasakawa Peace Foundation. China’s constant aerial and maritime probing of islands Tokyo’s considers its own limits what Japan can do militarily in other parts of the Pacific. “A lot depends upon capability” to deliver vessels that Japan does not have with its coast guard and navy tied up patrolling its territorial seas against its close-by neighbor’s testing, menacing behavior and sometimes intrusion, he said.

Abe has brought Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, most often its navy and coast guard, into the international picture — most commonly in delivering humanitarian aid and participating in anti-piracy missions and counterterrorism operations.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, listens as Capt. Christopher Bolt, left, commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on Oct. 18, 2015. US Navy Photo

ln addition, Kent Calder, director for East Asia Studies at Johns Hopkins University, said the Japanese could be a very effective partner with the United States in providing its extensive minesweeping force for deployment in the South China Sea and the Straits of Hormuz as deterrents to the Chinese and the Iranians.

Where Japan is hedging its bets is in trade, the panelists agreed.

While Abe has “sought to inform and explain” to Trump the downsides of keeping Tokyo at arm’s length on economic issues and the value of working together on building stronger and more stable economies across the Indo-Pacific, he has met with little success.

Watanabe said, Japanese “auto manufacturers are fearful” of what happens next. If tariffs, particularly on its automobile manufacturers, are imposed “Japan will retaliate” on U.S. agriculture, Smith said.

And with that looming, the panelists cited Abe’s recent talks with the European Union to expand businesses there, Tokyo’s payment of outstanding World War II debt to clear the decks for new agreements and discussions with India about how to build economic ties and expand those regionally as other examples of Japan looking out for its own interests.

Calder said Japanese businessmen, but less so its government, see some promise in the investment bank part China’s One Belt/One Road initiative to build infrastructure across Asia and the Pacific.

“There’s more pragmatism in the business world” when it comes to proposals like that without considering security policy implications. He compared the recent American proposal to invest $113 million in development packages for the region compared to China’s $900 billion as an example to show what would be more attractive to the private sector. “The scale does create some business interest” to look more deeply into possibilities of working with the Chinese.

This has become particularly true following the Trump administration’s pulling the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and walking away from the Iranian nuclear agreement.

A summit meeting between Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping to go over trade between the two nations, what to do about North Korean weapons programs and steps to denuclearize the peninsula and what each is doing now with Iran following the U.S. pullout is possible soon. Foreign ministers covered much of this ground in a spring meeting in Tokyo.

For example concerning the impact of the nuclear agreement pullout, China intends to keep importing oil from Iran at the same levels it has since the pact was signed. It dismisses the United States’ threatening sanctions against nations trading with Tehran. Exactly how the European Union and Japan will respond in terms of trade with Iran is not as clear as long as Tehran sticks to the letter of the agreement.

Smith said Abe stressed to Trump in several meetings “let’s set the table on the Indo-Pacific” together and approach security and trade regionally.

“What are the rules of the road” Japan and the United States want for the Indo-Pacific and, specifically, China’s engagement or its continued attempts at coercion, she asked rhetorically.

 

  • DaSaint

    I presume there was a typo, and the author meant Japan’s WWII debt, not WWI. But I thought this was already paid.

    • Centaurus

      Did they ever “apologize” ?

      • E1 Kabong

        Nope.

        They’ve been trying hard to erase the history of BW/CW testing on humans.

        • Centaurus

          What ? No apology? Nuke ’em now !

          • E1 Kabong

            Well, the Japanese sure make a big deal out of the anniversary for the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings, but ZERO mention of the Pearl Harbor attack…

            Sow the seeds, reap the whirlwind.

          • Centaurus

            Ah HA ! Another sympathizer of the no-nuke crowd. I thought we were done with that when we surrendered to the Reds at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why don’t we just apologize to Hirohito for A-bombing them ?

          • E1 Kabong

            Drunk or stoned?

  • Ed L

    Former Enemies Japan Vietnam Korea Australia Indonesia etc need to ban together to prevent The Chinese Communist from dominating and taking the Northern and Southern Resource Area into their domain

  • omegatalon

    Japan still needs US protection from China and North Korea because like NATO countries, Japan is simply too dam cheap and unwilling to spend what is necessary to protect themselves; Japan’s defense budget for 2017 was $48 Billion as it should be 3X as great, Japan should be asking the US if they can buy nuclear attack submarines, F-35B and Wasp class amphibious assault ships.

    • Centaurus

      Hey, Japan has been busy buying up US real estate. We have to give them more time. Right ?

  • Kunio Hosoi

    Japan and the US need to cooperate with each other as the civilized and the capitalistic nation in the Pacific Ocean. As far as I’m concerned, South Korea has been less reliable.

  • SierraSierraQuebec

    I was surprised to notice that Japan is quite the laggard on defense spending, a $4.8T economy but only a $48B defence budget, apparently stuck in the post war standard. I guess I didn’t see past the Aegis destroyers, F-15’s, large submarine force, and ten or so designated divisions in the army. Why are they not trying to at least reach a 2% level like some NATO countries, generating a solid anchor of military force and technology to bolster themselves and other allied countries in the region and throughout the Western alliances? Old suspicions and biases may remain, and peoples’ generally aren’t as evolved as they like to think, but it isn’t like a century ago when countries and cultures like Japan could remain isolated and secretive, a 2% budget would not be a danger, a 1% budget would be.

    • Adrian Ah

      You’re right, they should be spending double. I think there are two main reasons- their defence/non aggression focused constitution, and the US presence.

      Abe is doing his best to change this. They used to change Govt’s, and Defense Ministers every few months. Now its a bit more stable.

      If they did up it to 2% (about 96bn), there’d be a massive increase in quality hardware, I’d imagine. An extra $48bn every year, of $480bn a decade. It’s massive.

    • NavySubNuke

      Well for one thing Japan actually pays the vast majority of the costs of US forces stationed there (over 80%) so they aren’t just taking a free lunch by not spending as much on defense as they should.
      That said, they should certainly work on expanding the size of their military in the coming years — but if you look at their defense spending over the last 5 years they have been doing a great job. Their submarines, aegis destroyers, and even the new F35 — er I mean helicopter — carriers are a great examples of how they do manage to get a good bang for the money they do spend.
      They are also providing key funding for continued SM-3 R&D.
      I would like to see them invest more in strike technologies though. As China continues to grow more and more aggressive and expansionist they are going to need to be able to hit back to effectively defend themselves.

  • Duane

    The truth is no nation can protect itself by going it alone. Throughout all of human history, alliances have been critical.

    • E1 Kabong

      Russia…

  • NavySubNuke

    LOL. Certainly Hugo — if Japan just capitulates and allows China to control the Senkaku Islands all of their problems will go away and China will just send them peace, hugs, and flowers….
    Everyone knows that when you make deals with power hungry dictators for “peace in our time” things go exactly as expected and they never demand more…..

    • .Hugo.

      i can see the evidence is too strong here for some people to accept, so they have to block my reply, hehe…. never mind, i can always repost.
      .
      the diaoyu islands are not owned by japan in the first place. it has always been administered by the yilan county of the taiwan province, china (regardless of roc or prc).
      .
      and yes, china and japan enjoyed a much cordial relationship in the past when previous japanese PMs have put the case aside, and deng xiao ping had also told japanese counterparts to just “let the future generations to take care of it.”
      .
      as for power hungry, i can only see the u.s. is always power hungry, and it controls its vassals (e.g. japan) to feed its ambition too.

  • pcman

    The US authored the Japanese Constitution at the end of WW ii. Their Constitution limits the amount of military Japan can have, and it has to be basically defensive.. There is a standing treaty between the US and Japan that the US will provide a “nuclear umbrella” to defend Japan against any nuclear threat/attack. To beat the North Korean’s at their own game, the US and Japan should establish a treaty to deploy US nuclear weapons in Japan as part of the nuclear umbrella. The big clause would be “unless the North Koreans completely denuclearize and get rid of their nuclear weapons.” If that does not get Kim Jong Un off his butt, only an attack on all nuclear sites would suffice. Kim’s choice, not ours.

    • Kim Chul Soo

      And if these jerks want our millions and millions stop them from killing whales and dolphins. I’m no tree hugger but this has to stop.

      • pcman

        The US has an obligation to protect Japan and South Korea, by treaty, whether you like it or not. If you want it to end, contact your US Senator. US forces in Japan and South Korea directly support our national interests, businesses and investments in the Far East. Japan provides land, builds facilities and pays civilians to support US forces in Japan. They eat the whales like we eat beef. So what’s the beef?

        • Kim Chul Soo

          I’ve lived in Japan and stick my by comment.

          • pcman

            I’ve lived in Japan too, So what? They eat whale meat and fat in Korea, too. So what? They eat dog meat in Korea, too. Disgusting, but not our concern. US has no control over what any country eats, so get off the personal cause. Don’t force your prejudice on to others. Many countries are against our eating beef and pork. So, get behind their cause, you hypocrite.

          • Kim Chul Soo

            And I’ve eaten dog-meat tacos in Mexico, so what? We raise cattle genius, we can’t breed whales and dolphins that are being slaughtered by the Japs. Time to give the oceans a rest.

          • pcman

            Actually, whales are overpopulated. But that’s beside the point. Whales are eaten by many cultures Including Americans….. if you consider Alaskans Americans. Being a racist, you may not.

  • NavySubNuke

    You can keep misspelling Senkaku all you like — it still doesn’t mean Japan should surrender territory to China in an attempt to appease their lust for territory. History has shown us how that works out.

    • .Hugo.

      i can see the evidence is too strong here for some people to accept, so they have to block my reply, hehe…. never mind, i can always repost.
      .
      it’s always diaoyu islands for both the roc and prc. only japan is trying to call it something else to grab it. ๐Ÿ™‚
      .
      let’s read a statement from your “ally” the roc (taiwan):
      mofaDOTgovDOTtw/en/News_Content.aspx?n=1EADDCFD4C6EC567&s=D3559EB4B5167E0E
      .
      “The government of the Republic of China reiterates that from the perspectives of international law, history, geography, geology, and practical use, the Diaoyutai Islands, appertaining to Taiwan, are an inherent part of ROC territory. Sovereignty over the Diaoyutais belongs indisputably to the ROC. They fall under the administrative jurisdiction of Daxi Village, Toucheng Township, Yilan County. Any statements to the contrary, whether by ROC nationals or others, do not affect the fact of ROC sovereignty.”
      .
      any comment? ๐Ÿ˜€
      .
      the diaoyu islands are one last piece of chinese territory that japan has to surrender to china after ww2.
      .
      so far history has shown us no foreign power can grab chinese territory forever too. ๐Ÿ™‚
      .

  • NavySubNuke

    As a free and independent sovereign nation the Republic of China (Taiwan) is free to claim whatever they like – it doesn’t make it true. The ultimate fate of the Senkaku islands may one day change — but it would be best for all if it changed through a legal diplomatic process and not as a result of trying to appease a power hungry dictator like Xi.

    • .Hugo.

      i can see the evidence is too strong here for some people to accept, so they have to block my reply, hehe…. never mind, i can always repost.
      .
      and your “free and independent sovereign the republic of china on taiwan” has all the strong evidence that you cannot deny to claim the diaoyu islands.
      .
      the u.s. has not gone through a legal diplomatic process when it wrongly passed the islands administration rights to japan without consulting either the roc or prc government. only the kmt chiang was being called a dictator in the past too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • NavySubNuke

    No worries hugo, I realize your masters won’t let you admit the truth on this — go ahead and have the last word!

    • .Hugo.

      no worries navy subnuke, when my evidence is too strong for you and you have to block my replies, i know who really has a master and cannot admit the truth on this, hehe….
      .
      my last word, not in even close to that yet, but i can certainly share the statement of your beloved “ally” taiwan again:
      .
      mofaDOTgovDOTtw/en/News_Content.aspx?n=1EADDCFD4C6EC567&s=D3559EB4B5167E0E
      .
      “The government of the Republic of China reiterates that from the perspectives of international law, history, geography, geology, and practical use, the Diaoyutai Islands, appertaining to Taiwan, are an inherent part of ROC territory. Sovereignty over the Diaoyutais belongs indisputably to the ROC. They fall under the administrative jurisdiction of Daxi Village, Toucheng Township, Yilan County. Any statements to the contrary, whether by ROC nationals or others, do not affect the fact of ROC sovereignty.”
      .
      ๐Ÿ˜€

      • NavySubNuke

        Lol, sorry to break the news to you troll but i have never blocked any of your replies. Your lies aren’t worth it.

        • .Hugo.

          sure, especially when i can always repost, hehe….
          .

          • NavySubNuke

            Exactly, here yoyou can just repost rather then being thrown in prison or executed like in your own country when you say something out of line!

          • .Hugo.

            nice excuse. why not try to say you want to kill someone important in your government tonight with “allahu akbar” at the end, see how soon the fbi agents will be at your doorstep? ๐Ÿ˜€
            .
            that’s called national security. ๐Ÿ™‚
            .

          • NavySubNuke

            Lol, oh hugo you really are a funny little troll. If only you didn’t live behind the great firewall maybe we could actually take something you said seriously but at the end of the day you are nothing but a paid mouth piece who isnt allowed to think.
            Have a great day!

          • .Hugo.

            just don’t know how i am a funny little troll, when you have different standards on the same issue, hehe….
            .
            oh, and this is not from behind the “firewall” ๐Ÿ˜€
            .
            “The government of the Republic of China reiterates that from the perspectives of international law, history, geography, geology, and practical use, the Diaoyutai Islands, appertaining to Taiwan, are an inherent part of ROC territory. Sovereignty over the Diaoyutais belongs indisputably to the ROC. They fall under the administrative jurisdiction of Daxi Village, Toucheng Township, Yilan County. Any statements to the contrary, whether by ROC nationals or others, do not affect the fact of ROC sovereignty.”
            .
            why not force japan to return the diaoyu islands to your beloved roc first? haha….
            .

  • Jack D Ripper

    yeah ok Nippon,,lets see a lot more coming this way from you people

  • .Hugo.

    china’s problem with japan is the diaoyu islands, which the u.s. has wrongly passed its administration rights to japan at the height of the cold war without consulting either the roc or prc government.
    .
    if abe could follow the right path of his predecessors to shelf the issue, then japan would not have to worry about the so-called “assertive” china. it is cheap for china to send in anything to patrol the diayu islands, not so for japan.