Japan Must Have the Mettle to Protect Itself Amidst Sino-American Tension

Seiji Fuji

The U.S. is embarking on full-scale criticisms of China

 The Soviet Union, a country with one-party rule by the Communist Party, was established through the Russian Revolution of 1917. It collapsed 74 years later in 1991, when the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union ended. Seventy-one years have passed since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded in 1949, and today a situation is emerging that can be regarded as a new cold war between the U.S. and China. The 74th anniversary of the PRC is three years from now.

I wrote as follows in last month’s essay:
Since the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was passed on June 30, the Donald Trump administration has been stepping up its pressure on China. The U.S. sent two carrier strike groups to the South China Sea in July, centered on the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan.

 Chester W. Nimitz, a famous commander who led the U.S. to victory against the Japanese army, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during World War II. President Ronald Reagan expanded American armaments to impoverish and collapse the Soviet Union, by which he achieved victory in the Cold War. The U.S. has fought against and forced a constant series of mighty enemies to succumb. I think it is highly significant that the U.S. dispatched these two aircraft carriers, named after the men who defeated Japan and the Soviet Union, to the South China Sea.
 The September issue of Asu He no Sentaku contained an interview at the beginning of the magazine with Fukui Prefectural University Professor Yoichi Shimada, entitled, “The New Sino-American Cold War and the Fight Against Communism That is Beginning in Earnest.” In it, Shimada states as follows:
 ・In his July 23 speech, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recognized the past mistakes made by the U.S. in its China policy and directly criticized China’s communism. This was a “historic speech,” and we can “see a new cold war coming to the surface.”
 ・In Pompeo’s speech, it was important that “President Xi Jinping is a true believer in the broken-down totalitarianism ideology. This ideology is what characterizes China’s long-held aspirations for global hegemony via communism,” and, “Pompeo actually named Xi and attacked communism.” Moreover, “Free nations must form new alliances” so their descendants are not trampled by the Communist Party of China (CPC).
 ・Before Pompeo, speeches were given by important ministers: U.S. National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher A. Wray, and Attorney General William P. Barr. They brought up a policy of using the judiciary to constrict China, such as by thoroughly cracking down on cases of technologies illegally taken out of the country. All of these speeches were approved by Trump. Trump, who is confident when it comes to economic issues, “certainly will not allow himself to be made a fool of by CPC bureaucrats in this field.” “The four men spoke without reservation in their speeches.”
 ・“It is a fact that the American awareness of China, and its China policy, have changed. This applies to both the Republican and Democratic Parties.” The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, and other laws have been passed in Congress with almost unanimous votes including Republican and Democratic congresspeople. However, the Democratic Party’s stance against China is toothless. Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, accomplished nothing during his long Senate career. If he were elected, he would hand over the White House to another person due to his age and preexisting illnesses. The left wing has increasing influence inside the Democratic Party and plans to cut military-related spending for the sake of pork-barrel welfare. “The Bernie Sanders faction in particular has clearly stated that the U.S. Navy must not protect sea lanes from the Middle East.” If this thinking were reflected in political policy, “the area around Japan would grow unstable in terms of national security.”

The U.S. will become an odd country if the leftist Democratic Party wins the election

 ・Japan’s military role is “to fully safeguard sea lanes from the Senkaku Islands and Okinawa to Taiwan from China, and also to support the American military according to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.” To that end, today there are around 12 Soryu-class submarines stationed to surround and protect Japan. These submarines, which boast the best performance in the world and are estimated to be able to submerge to around 900 meters, are equipped with Type 89 torpedoes that can be used at those depths. However, around 10 more of these are necessary.
 ・Japan’s economic role is “to prevent high technologies from leaking to China.” The U.S. halted the supply of semiconductors to Chinese high-tech companies, but Japanese companies continue providing these products. The Japanese government must put a stop to this. Japanese companies could be exposed by the American judiciary if they try to get along with both the U.S. and China and profit while these two countries are in conflict.
 ・Pompeo “implied that it is okay to continue doing business [with China] in the fields of general-purpose items and daily necessities.” “However, [he said] the U.S. will clearly remove China from the supply chains for strategic and high-tech fields.” The key will be whether the Japanese government can stick to this going forward.
 ・Demonstrations, riots, and looting against racial discrimination are breaking out in the U.S. Black Lives Matter and Antifa, which are extremist left-wing groups, have guided these in an extreme direction. They have led to bronze statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson being destroyed. The New York Times launched The 1619 Project last year. “A movement is underway to revise history from the viewpoint that slaves brought from Africa were oppressed and exploited to build the nation, and that the constitution, etc. are merely means used to misrepresent this history.” These extremist left-wing powers are criticizing the founding fathers, particularly Washington. The Democratic Party of today is much further left even than former President James Carter, who is thought of as the most liberal president.
 Shimada concludes his interview by stating, “Of course the U.S. will become an odd country if the leftist Democratic Party gains control of the government. I also think this will have negative impacts on Japan and the global community.” I agree, and I certainly hope the Republican Trump will win re-election.
 Like Pompeo said in his speech, the American attitude regarding China has changed significantly. President Barack Obama took a conciliatory stance against China. The U.S. has provided various types of aid for China’s economic development based on the belief that affluence would lead to the collapse of the communist government. However, the CPC has betrayed these expectations by using its economic clout and high technologies to strengthen its dictatorial system. American military power currently exceeds China, but it is highly possible this will change in the future. I think China’s global hegemony would become a reality at that point. Pompeo insists that liberal democratic nations must join together to free the Chinese people from the Chinese structure before this situation gets totally out of hand.

The growing possibility of Sino-American military conflict in the South China Sea

 American presidents are only valued highly if they serve two terms, totaling eight years. Republican Herbert Hoover lost the election to Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt and ended up with just one term because he was unable to take effective steps against the Great Depression, and he is given low estimations for this reason. To avoid a repeat of Hoover’s mistakes, his successor Roosevelt aimed to break free from the impacts of the Great Depression by creating massive demand (waging war). He carried out more public-works projects through his New Deal to boost demand. He also angered Japan and forced it to open hostilities with the U.S. as a way to use the Tripartite Pact to enter the war in Europe and fight with Germany. This extensive war demand fully revived the American economy, and Roosevelt used these accomplishments to win a total of four terms – the only president who has ever done so. Trump will utilize all the power of his current office to win the next election, and I think one of his options will be to attack the ascending China.
 In its September issue, Sentaku magazine ran an article entitled, “Attacks on Artificial Islands in the South China Sea Will be a Focal Point: Limited Sino-American Military Confrontation May Occur.” China has built seven artificial islands in the South China Sea, but Obama did nothing to respond besides carry out demonstrations like freedom of navigation operations. The turning point came in April with the publishing of The Kill Chain by Christian Brose, a military strategy expert. In it, Brose “points out that American fortunes are waning, as many politicians and citizens have sensed, and reveals the American mistakes that have given tacit consent to China’s expanded military presence in the South China Sea.” Based on this, on July 13 Pompeo released a statement that said China has no legal claim to the South China Sea, and, “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.” This is seen as “a clear change in strategy” for the U.S. aimed at taking action, and it is expected that the Philippines will be the flash point. Last year, Pompeo indicated his awareness that Scarborough Shoal – claimed by China and the Philippines – is Filipino territory. He declared that the American military would intervene to remove the Chinese army if Filipino fishermen or soldiers were attacked by a Chinese ship. Furthermore, Mischief Reef, also disputed by the Philippines and China, has been reclaimed and turned into a military base by China. Chinese fighter aircraft are stationed there permanently and are equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles. If soldiers from Mischief Reef are deployed to a military conflict over Scarborough Reef, the U.S. “would have a legitimate reason to counterattack.” The article says that it would be easy to gain the understanding of the international community because there are no civilians on China’s artificial islands.
 The possibility is growing that the U.S. will conduct a military operation in the South China Sea. If it seems Trump is likely to lose the election, I think he may take military action against these Chinese bases right before the election to boost his approval rating all at once and achieve victory. In every country, it is a matter of course that leaders with supreme power use their influence to maintain authority. Roosevelt provoked Japan and started a war to win elections. Some theorize that Vladimir Putin, then prime minister of Russia, was behind the series of apartment bombings in Moscow and other cities in 1999, in which 300 people died. The bombings were blamed on pro-independence Chechen guerillas, and some think Putin started the Second Chechen War as an election strategy. Russia invaded Chechnya, Putin gained the support of the people, and he won the presidency, an office he has held for many years.

Japan should use growing Chinese military pressure to revise the constitution and become capable of independent self-defense

 What should Japan do amidst this increasing Sino-American tension? The Japanese constitution specifies that we can have only limited military strength. Meanwhile, China is aiming to achieve maritime hegemony, and it is fully possible that China could occupy the Senkaku Islands by having People’s Liberation Army soldiers disguised as fishermen “take refuge” on and then occupy the islands. I think military force would be the only way to remove them, but Japan’s constitution stipulates that we cannot exercise force unless the other party uses weapons first. A balance of power helps deter war, and peace cannot be protected by declaring “we cannot use military force.” It is wrong to assume that Japan has avoided being drawn into wars because of Article 9 of the constitution; peace has been maintained through the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. However, China, which is close to surpassing the U.S. in terms of military strength, is putting strong pressure on Japan’s security structure.
 China has expanded its territory through conflicts with all of its land neighbors, and today it is trying to increase its power by embarking into the ocean. In addition to building military bases in the South China Sea, China’s dearest wish is to possess the Senkaku Islands and open a path for going beyond the “first island chain” into the Pacific Ocean. Japan must prevent this from happening. At present, Japan is narrowly holding on to control of its adjacent seas thanks to the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s high-performance, deep-sea submarines. However, China has the superior position for control of the air due to preparations to deploy its Chengdu J-20, a fifth-generation jet fighter, in actual combat. In these circumstances, can we truly be optimistic and believe the U.S. military will serve as a spear and the JSDF as a shield according to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty? Congressional approval, which is greatly affected by the public opinion, is needed for American military action. We cannot assume the U.S. Armed Forces will disregard this and start a fight with China before the JSDF takes action, and we must realize the JSDF should first defend against Chinese aggression with the U.S. military acting as an ally in line with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
 We should amend the Constitution of Japan as soon as possible to allow for the use of military force, just like in regular countries, and to gain military power worthy of a country that can independently defend itself. The Shinzo Abe administration presented the best opportunity for constitutional reform in the postwar era, but Abe fell ill and today there is a new prime minister. I hope Yoshihide Suga, his successor, will have the mettle to achieve constitutional revision. I also hope that Abe will first focus on treating his chronic ulcerative colitis and regain his health, then someday return to the position of prime minister for a third time just like Taro Katsura (who was Japan’s 11th, 13th, and 15th prime minister). Suga is a self-made person who has worked extremely hard, and also has an appealing character. I think he will have no issues with domestic affairs, but he is an unknown when it comes to diplomacy and we must avoid a situation like the former Democratic Party of Japan government that destroyed relations with the U.S. and China. To that end, I think Abe should be given a position, like special diplomatic advisor, with a certain amount of authority.
 Wars do not occur because a country has military power. Rather, they break out in power vacuums that occur when the balance of power has crumbled. Many Japanese people lack this understanding.
I have continually published Apple Town, this magazine, for 30 years to convey the truth. I also started the “True Interpretations of Modern History” Essay Contest and APA Japan Restoration Grand Prize, and have held roughly 300 meetings of the Shoheijuku academy in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kanazawa with a cumulative total of about 30,000 participants. The public opinion has shifted slightly thanks to these activities, but school textbooks and news reports are still highly biased. All people who learn the truth become conservative, and we must believe that Japan should independently defend itself. Right now the Shoheijuku is serving a major role in waking Japan up from its disillusion, and I hope many people will attend our meetings.

September 15 (Tuesday), 11:00a.m.