Tokyo is Competing with Beijing
Tokyo will not sit back and watch if China attacks other countries. This has not happened yet, but the Japanese are preparing for it. Nothing is closer to this issue than the situation in Taiwan. Japan has vowed to come to the nation’s defense if China attempts to conquer it. The Japanese will do this, because they know that after Taiwan China will likely attack South Korea or Japan. The Japanese Defense Minister said in an interview last month that any Chinese attack on Taiwan is an attack on Japan. Although Japan has been quiet and passive with its military since WWII, it will not be so forever.
Since 2014 the Japanese have been building up their military. This was when the ban was lifted on government arms purchases. Japan has increased their military expenditures to over 1% of GDP, which is a big deal for them. In addition, Japan is selling advanced weaponry all over the world, specifically to Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. That gives the Japanese knowledge and cooperation with nations that are not fond of China. China once went to war against Vietnam which shows that they are capable of sending their military to attack neighboring countries.
In addition, many in Japan are excited to be able to defend themselves without the need of calling the Americans. This kind of nationalism is essential for Japan to build a strong military with motivated soldiers. This military build-policy is giving Japan the independence that it needs, given that the US cannot afford to come to Japan’s aid at any moment. The future will probably see the Japanese people vote for Japan to possess nuclear weapons of their own to counter the nukes that China possesses.
For the foreseeable future, however, the Japanese-American alliance looks stronger and more consequential than ever. From Xi Jinping’s perspective, Tokyo is a strategic problem that won’t go away. An isolated Japan might be vulnerable to Chinese pressure, but its U.S. alliance makes Tokyo harder to bully. The more China throws its weight around, the more determined Japan becomes to build up its defense capabilities and deepen its links with America, Australia, India and Vietnam.
Many of the citizens of China believe that their country’s rise is inevitable. They believe that when the time comes, all of the nations around China will fall in line. They think that Korea, Japan, Russia and the rest will look to China as the master of the world. This kind of thinking is the centerpiece of the Communist Chinese government’s international policy. Perhaps their grand strategy is world domination where all nations pay taxes to them and follow their rules. That may be the case, but it will never happen. The United States and its allies all over the world will stop China at all costs. Hopefully the Biden administration will declare to China that an attack on Taiwan is an attack on the United States. Biden should order the military to prepare for war if China ever tries to conquer Taiwan.