Japan, not China, is the real threat

Updated: 2014-08-09 07:39

By Xinhua (China Daily)

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A white paper issued on Aug 5 by Japan's Ministry of Defense has again hyped the so-called "China threat" theory as Prime Minster Shinzo Abe's cabinet continues to engage in activities to destabilize the Asia-Pacific region.

Expressing concern over China's military build-up, the white paper seeks the cabinet's permission to use the right to collective self-defense as a "historic" opportunity, bolstering Abe's ambition to militarize the island country.

Such ignorance of the dangerous path that the country is being led down to becomes even more alarming when viewed in the context of the white paper's special reference to China's declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in November last year. The white paper says China's move is extremely dangerous and could escalate tensions and trigger an unwanted clash. But the truth is otherwise; it is Japan that has increased surveillance in the region and resorted to aggressive military interactions with other countries.

In 2013, Japan's self-defense forces flew 810 fighter jet sorties, up 243 times from the previous year, according to the white paper. This is the first time in 24 years that the number of sorties has crossed the 800 mark, with roughly half of them aimed at China, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

Japan, however, has failed to use the "China threat" theory as a pretext to justify its military build-up. Japan's defense white papers have been using such excuses and making such claims for more than 20 years, especially since 2006, when Abe first became prime minister.

Instead of seeing China become a threat, we have witnessed an increasingly aggressive Japan - a country that has broken its post-war pacifist pledges and looks poised to assert its military presence over the Asia-Pacific region. As many commentators in the Japanese media have warned, if Japan persists with its effort to become a military power, it could become a destabilizing factor in the region.

They also said that the Abe cabinet's controversial move has caused the government's approval ratings to dip. More than 60 percent of the Japanese people covered by a recent poll said they are opposed to Abe's collective self-defense move, while over 80 percent said the government has not provided sufficient explanation for related cabinet decisions.

Japan's defense policy is in a mess. It needs a thorough and objective reassessment through public opinion. Instead of clinging on to certain impractical political values, the Abe cabinet should reassure its people and neighboring countries of the future positioning of its national defense policy.

(China Daily 08/09/2014 page5)

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