The top article on The Sankei Shimbun’s May 5 Morning Edition was entitled, “A Taiwanese Invasion Would be a Crisis for Japan: Recognition as Armed Attack Situation, Opposing China With the Right to Individual Self Defense.” It read:
One impetus behind the Japanese government’s increased sense of danger about a Taiwan crisis is a series of statements by leaders of the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USPACOM). Then-Commander Philip S. Davidson referred at a U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing on March 9 to the possibility of China invading Taiwan within the next six years. On March 23, John C. Aquilino (who became USPACOM commander on April 30) warned, “This problem is much closer to us than most think.”
The Japanese government was shocked by these USPACOM leaders’ statements. These commanders – who are responsible for staving off conflict in the Taiwan Strait – are saying that a crisis in that area is imminent, signifying that deterrence has failed. This American sense of danger has spread to Japan as well, which is why Taiwan was included in the Joint Leaders’ Statement.
In its 2018 annual report on China’s military force, the U.S. Department of Defense named four potential actions that China could take against Taiwan: 1) Maritime blockade, 2) Exercise of limited force, 3) Air and missile campaign, or 4) Landing invasion. If Taiwan is faced with these circumstances, what actions will the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) take?
The security legislation allows the JSDF to take part in actions involving the use of military force – as an exercise of the right to collective defense – in the event that Japan’s existence is threatened by a crisis in Taiwan (a circumstance that threatens Japan’s survival). Even if Japan’s survival is not threatened, in a serious situation that has an important influence to Japan’s peace and security, the JSDF can provide support such as weapons and ammunition to the U.S.
The article also points out the possibility of actions at an even higher level. It continues:
Many believe it is highly likely that the U.S. Armed Forces would intervene if China used military force against Taiwan. They expect the Chinese army would target American military bases, which are dispersed throughout Japan, to hinder any intervention by the U.S. China might engage the American military by occupying Okinawa, the Senkaku Islands, or the Sakishima Islands, which are close to Taiwan. In any of these cases, the JSDF could oppose China by invoking the right of individual defense through this imminent and unlawful infringement.
I agree that a crisis in Taiwan would pose a crisis to Japan, and that we must be ready to handle such a situation.
China’s population of 1.4 billion is 10 times larger than Japan’s. In China, 60% of the people have rural residency status and 40% have urban status. This system puts rural residents at a disadvantage in terms of both children’s education and public housing policy. China – which is Japan’s neighbor – has developed economic power through cheap labor performed by these residents of agricultural communities, and has obtained more power by transforming this economic strength into military force. Looking back at history, it is only natural for Japan to interact with China with a sense of maximum wariness. This vigilance makes even more sense as long as China is a dictatorship ruled by a political party founded on the doctrine of communism, whose adherents previously strove for global domination.
Since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established in 1949, China has waged the Sino-Indian Border Conflict with India in 1962, fought with the Soviet Union over Damansky Island in the Ussuri River on China’s border with the Soviet Union in 1969, and carried out the Sino-Vietnamese War against Vietnam to punish it for invading Cambodia in 1979. China has taken control of areas where other ethnic groups live and incorporated them into the country as autonomous regions, including Mongolia, East Turkestan, and Tibet. China is now moving beyond its land neighbors and aiming for marine hegemony. When Commander Timothy J. Keating of the U.S. Pacific Command visited China in 2007, a high official in the Chinese navy apparently suggested to him that the two countries divide and rule the Pacific Ocean, with the U.S. in charge of the area east of Hawaii and China responsible for the area west of it. Keating testified at the U.S. Congress in 2008 that, even if this had been in jest, it implied a strategic way of thinking in the Chinese military. In striving to achieve its longed-for advance into the Pacific Ocean, China is geographically hindered by the presence of Taiwan, Okinawa (including the Senkaku Islands), and the Japanese archipelago. Considering China’s history of drawing other ethnic groups into its nation as autonomous regions, I think China will attempt to invade Japan sooner or later both to remove an impediment to its marine expansion and also due to its endless desire for invasion – the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) desire to control the entire world. For example, one possible scenario is that China might send many personnel to “help” Japan in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster on the same level as the Great East Japan Earthquake. They might actually be soldiers to carry out a large-scale landing operation. As a sovereign nation Japan should plan for such an eventuality, but the news reports nothing and the public is not interested in this topic – I am not sure if many people and the media are unaware of it or just pretend to not take notice. A global revolution has been the goal of communism from the era of Comintern. Their objective has been to communize the whole globe, not just single countries. China also has a traditional ideology of Sinocentrism. Considering this background, China is certainly implementing an expansion tactic aimed at global hegemony.
China shifted its vision from the land to the seas in the early 2000s, when it started devoting efforts to marine expansion. Its weak naval strength was a problem at that time. It purchased the Varyag, an aircraft carrier built by the former Soviet Union, ostensibly to make it into a floating casino. China rebuilt the ship and brought it into commission as the Liaoning in 2012. China launched its first domestically manufactured carrier, the Shandong, in 2019, and is in the process of building a third carrier right now. CNN posted an article on March 5, 2021, entitled “China has built the world’s largest navy. Now what’s Beijing going to do with it?” According to CNN, the Chinese navy has been on a shipbuilding spree since 2000. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) had 360 battle force ships at the end of 2020, exceeding the American number of 297 by more than 60 ships. This has made the PLAN the largest navy in the world. Moreover, China plans to deploy 400 ships by 2025. The U.S. Navy is aiming to construct 355 ships with no specified deadline. The U.S. still has more personnel and large warships, but China has significantly more medium- and small-sized ships. Of particular importance is the Type 075 landing helicopter dock (LHD) multipurpose ship for which China started test operations in 2020. This ship can use hovercraft, amphibious vehicles, and helicopters to land 900 ground troops. I am certain that this ship would take the lead in an invasion of Taiwan or Japan.
Peace must be maintained through a balance of power. Although Japan needs military strength to oppose China, the Chinese navy has many more warships by far than the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF). Despite this unbalanced strength, a Chinese invasion is being narrowly prevented by Japan’s deep-sea submarines equipped with deep-sea torpedoes, which are of the highest technological level in the world. No other navies have any means to counter these deep-sea submarines today. Even if China used aircraft and missiles to attack Taiwan or Japan, it would have to carry out a landing operation with naval ships to wage a successful invasion. Japan’s deep-sea submarines could attack the ships transporting the troops to be landed, thereby defending against this strategy. The Kumano and Mogami, state-of-the-art MSDF destroyers that will be put into commission in 2022, have unmanned mine countermeasure systems and other features that confer advanced minesweeping capabilities. They also have equipment for laying mines, so they could use sound-sensing mines that can detect friends or foes to prevent Chinese warships from approaching if a crisis occurred in the Strait of Taiwan or at the Senkaku Islands. The JSDF is working to oppose China through technologies, not only with material resources.
The Sankei Shimbun’s May 5 article about the Taiwan crisis continued on its third page, warning that Taiwan may share the same fate as Crimea.
For instance, China could wage a cyber-attack or use “fake news” on social media or other methods to carry out psychological warfare and establish a pro-Chinese administration in Taiwan. Soldiers of an unknown nationality might be dispatched to Taiwan, and the Chinese military might be stationed there according to a “request” from the Taiwanese side.
If a similar situation to Crimea occurs in Taiwan, Japan could implement measures such as economic sanctions. However, the JSDF is limited in what actions it could take. A Japanese government official said, “The JSDF might be unable to do anything.”
The article advocates that Japan and Taiwan – which have no diplomatic relationship – must take creative measures and strengthen their national security ties to prevent Taiwan from being annexed like Crimea, and that Japan must be more involved with Taiwan. It also points out the possibility that China might take economic revenge on Japan, causing Japanese citizens to suffer.
China continues growing. Since the PRC was founded it has been under the one-party rule of the CPC; it is not a democratic nation that shares common values with Japan, the U.S., or Taiwan. Today China is on its way to becoming an empire solely ruled by Xi Jinping. If China amasses even more power it may become like Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, when Germany planned to conquer the entire world. To prevent this, Japan must acquire military power to hinder China’s expansion and enhance its security cooperation with the U.S. and Taiwan. The Japanese public must support this, and we must be prepared to withstand retaliation by China. If not, the increasingly powerful Chinese military may invade Taiwan and then Japan, and Japan might end up as a Chinese autonomous region. Most people optimistically believe this will never happen, but that way of thinking could collapse in an instant.
A balance of power ensures peace. World history and the current circumstances clearly indicate what would happen if this balance breaks down. The Japanese public must understand this as soon as possible. Japanese people are exceedingly diligent and hardworking, with good technical skills and economic strength. It is understandable that China aspires to gain these things for itself. Careless optimism invites danger. Going forward, I will continue using Apple Town, this magazine, to sound an urgent alarm about the threat of China.
May 24 (Monday), 6:00 p.m.