Japan – Tensions in Indo-Pacific region

Japan - Tensions in Indo-Pacific region

Since mid-September 2021, about 100,000 personnel, 20,000 vehicles and 120 aircraft have been participating in various exercises across the country focused on operational readiness. For the first time in almost 30 years, Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) is conducting a massive nationwide military exercise to prepare troops for potential conflict. Japan has been stepping up its role in the region by building partnerships with neighbours and allies

In recent years, the Indo-Pacific regional has become a focal point of tension, with GSDF officials saying the security environment surrounding Japan is the worst it’s been since the end of World War II. On october 2021, North Korea had successfully test-fired a new ballistic missile from a submarine that landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea. Meanwhile, further south, China has been ramping up pressure on Taiwan by sending military jets into its Air Defense Identification Zone. Without identifying any country by name, GSDF officials say regional powers are willing to change the status quo by force — and one country in particular continues to develop nuclear weapons, missiles and challenge the non-proliferation system.

 In the Asia-Pacific region tensions are being seen worrisome as China is becoming more energetic about its claims over the South China Sea, its tactical and evident actions have spotted other surrounding countries and external interested countries like the United States. China and Japan both have flourished and innate abhorrence since 19th century and America is owing more hatred and tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. It might be called upon that there is nothing invaluable in the East Asia-Pacific but historically it is all about pride and honor, and serious issue of Senkaku Island for Japan. And their tensions ousted from the first Sino Japanese war, then islands were given to Taiwan, and due to victory in WWII, these islands were recovered by China after surrendering of Japan. The aftermath of a new threat established from communist country China; US and Japan signed an agreement of San Francisco Peace Conference by allowing Japan to patrol in the island regions, and America provided types of equipment and economically supported Japan to counter rising power China in the Asia Pacific region and tensions rampantly encouraging until today.

In the 21st century, the ascent of Asia has drawn the consideration of the United States to concentrate particularly on the Asia-Pacific region. Because of its geostrategic significance and going to be an economic hub of the world, the development of Asia can be identified with the expanding economic exercises in which rising forces China, India, and Indonesia are assuming their crucial role.

The major economic activities happen in the Asia Pacific, for instance, the main trade routes pass through the Asia Pacific, and the Indian Ocean where strait of malacca is a gateway to major economies like China, Japan, and South Korea. Particularly, in the Asia Pacific region, the US has its economic, strategic, and security interests. It includes the economic network all through the region, support of peace and soundness, and making sure about its allies particularly Japan and South Korea, and ensuring the claimants of the South China Sea to resolve their issues peacefully.

China’s rise as a great power in this changing dynamics of world politics does not lag behind and it is important to understand Sino-US relations in the purview of America’s past Asia Pivot strategy and Trump’s Indo-pacific strategy. There are multiple significant events by which it can be speculated that People’s Republic of China (PRC) is emerging as a great player, for instance, it has resisted western intervention three times in collaboration with Russia over the Syrian civil war in the Middle East; it also bring-up with the idea of making BRICS and establishing AIIB which is considered as the counterweight to America’s World Bank; through SCO, China has also influenced her role in the international politics; most significantly, it has come up with a « Belt and Road initiative’ » with CPEC which shows China’s soft power in the world. However, with this dynamic strategic architecture in the Asia Pacific, two contours are important – what made the US come up with a rebalancing strategy and how China responds to it. According to official reports, China has responded to the Indo-Pacific policy of America in two levels. Firstly, Chinese authorities have firmly denounced this US expressed policy and that they are mindful that US diplomatic moves would bolster its allies regarding the sea and territorial debates with China. Secondly, Chinese non-official media has harshly castigated US rebalancing strategy towards Asia. Some view this strategy as Cold-war like containment of China which was based solely against China because China’s ascent is representing a possible danger to America’s authority and its allies. China in countering Pivot’s response has come up with Marching West strategy, which aims at focusing China’s diplomatic and economic relations with the Eurasian countries, and China’s ascent is representing a likely threat to America’s hegemony.

Moreover, China’s reaction to the Asia-Pivot policy in past and current procedure can be shown by means of diplomatic and economic activities, for example, Belt and Road activity, Asian framework venture bank and reinforcing respective relations. The OBOR activity of China will fill two needs. Right off the bat, it will merge China’s delicate power, and besides, enhance economic collaboration with in excess of 60 nations. The Chinese reaction and its military modernization have made a serious mix and unsafe circumstance to the US Indo-Pacific technique with pervasive interests in the Asia-Pacific region. In this universe of complex association, war is certifiably not an attainable choice. America will never do battle with China since China is the second the biggest exchanging accomplice of America. Additionally, the Chinese reaction to this US procedure has been delicate as is obvious from March West methodology, OBOR, and AIIB activities. These steps are the projection of Chinese Soft power response to Obama’s rebalancing and Trump’s Indo-pacific strategy towards Asia.

The dynamics of the international geostrategic environment in which the world politics is transforming from unipolarity to multipolarity with China emerging as a great power due to its military modernization, advanced technology, and growing economy and commercial connectivity in the entire Asia, which is alarming for the US but regionally it is an irked threat for American allies particularly Japan and South Korea. By witnessing China as emerging power, American Asia pivot/rebalancing strategy and Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy towards Asia in order to counter the growing influence of China. America and its allies should not perceive Chinese rise in terms of military and economy as a threat to world peace and aggressor because PRC has always been peaceful in dealing the problems of the world and the norms of non-interference are prevailing but no compromise on territorial claim, have been immersed in the Chinese foreign policy.

The United States’ concern over denuclearization of North Korean nuclear assets is not acceptable to Kim’s regime due to the prestige and status quo of the state but has vague threats from the US forces in South Korea. Even after the President Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un in 2018, the US ally Japan is claiming that North Korean regime poses a genuine and inescapable danger to their security regardless of bringing down of regional pressures following the summit. China has reacted to America through the procedure of « Looking West and Marching West ». A few researchers are of the view that the opposition between two significant forces depicts another virus war, however, I differ that since China won’t utilize its military alternative, China wants to grow economically and it wants to have an influence on the world through soft power. In a nutshell, I would say that the US must integrate with China rather than to contain it and appreciate its emergence as a responsible stakeholder.

Nonetheless, Japan’s reaction should comprise of two distinct methodologies: the anticipation of decay and the improvement of its security environment the essential reaction will be the discouragement of heightening through the improvement of Japan’s safeguard capacity and the upgrade of the Japan-US collusion. It is additionally significant for Japan to acquire and fortify international comprehension and backing for its position through protection discretion remembering that for multilateral exchanges. International help can upgrade Japan’s situation in managing the difficulties, and yet, the effect would stay roundabout. Japan can’t depend on unrealistic reasoning and ought to investigate other options too. Japan is expected to play a prominent role in the new US administration’s efforts to rally its allies in the Indo-Pacific region – including the South China Sea – in an attempt to counter China’s rise, according to observers. In a move that will deepen unease among Beijing policymakers, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin used his first conversation with his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi to reaffirm Washington’s commitment to its partnership with Tokyo. He also urged him to « strengthen Japan’s contribution to the role the alliance continues to play in providing security in the Indo-Pacific region ».

Whether Japan likes it or not, China will continue to rise in the coming years. There is no option for Japan but to cooperate with Indo-Pacific powers such as the United States, India and Australia, as well as European countries, to maintain a desirable regional power balance that is necessary to manage Japan’s relations with China. This has become increasingly imperative as China increases its military activities in the region, including in the seas surrounding Japan. It seems reasonable to assume that the new Kishida administration, and perhaps his successors as well, will continue to promote FOIP as Japan’s vision for a stable regional order.