Japan's military ambition

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-20 08:02
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Japan's new defense guidelines and its midterm defense buildup program for the next five years, adopted by its cabinet on Dec 17, sent worrying signals that could jeopardize regional peace and stability and hurt its own pacifist image in the international arena.

The new "dynamic defense capability" policy marks a major departure from Japan's decade-old concept of maintaining the minimum necessary defense capability for the country.

Under the new National Defense Program Guidelines, Japan will step up efforts to make its Self-Defense Forces more mobile and will shift the focus of its defense capabilities to its southwest, where it shares a maritime border with China.

Such a paranoid defense strategy, featuring a Cold War mentality, has raised alarm both at home and abroad. In Japan, some lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan as well as the pacifist Social Democratic Party have voiced concerns that the new guidelines will increase tensions in the region.

Japan's provocative defense policy is not good news to its Asian neighbors, as the country has yet to whole-heartedly reflect upon its military past, which brought untold suffering to many of those countries.

It does not inspire regional peace and stability as the new defense paper will fuel rightist elements in Japanese society, leading to a dangerous tendency that could revive the dying embers of Japanese militarism.

Japan's new military ambition will also not help it realize its long-cherished dream - to assume a greater role in regional affairs. Instead, it will only create more suspicion and distrust in the region.

To find an excuse for its own military buildup, Japan has pointed its finger at China's normal military development, calling it a "matter of concern" for the region and the international community.

However, history has repeatedly proven that China is a peace-loving nation that adheres to peaceful development, pursues a military policy that is defensive in nature, and poses no threat to anyone. The nature and path of China's development have brought the world opportunities and been highly appreciated by the international community, including many in Japan.

Taking bilateral trade as an example, it reached $228.8 billion in 2009, with Japan enjoying a surplus of $33 billion.

China has indeed increased military expenditure to enhance national security. With a territory almost 26 times that of Japan, China's military spending is merely one-seventh of Japan's in per capita terms.

In using the "China threat", Japan has done nothing but a disservice to China-Japan relations, which are at their lowest ebb for years.

Japan's new defense documents are emblem to its paranoia and short-sightedness.