Washington Re-Militarizes Japan to Fight China

Following their meeting at the White House on Jan. 13, President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida issued a joint statement, proclaiming undying devotion to the “rules-based international order”, which is being challenged by China and North Korea. Their statement refers to some of the agreements and commitments made by the Defense and Foreign Ministers of the countries two days before, explicitly committing the United States to defend Japan under their Security Treaty, “using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear”.

PM Kishida stated that the two countries are facing “the most challenging and complex security environment in recent history,” which required Japan to formulate a new national defense strategy and vastly increase its defense budget. (In fact, the increase planned for this year is a whopping 26%!) Joe Biden, for his part, praised Japan’s “bold leadership” in adopting a new National Security Strategy. In addition to targeting China, their statement condemns Russia and commits to continue imposing sanctions.

In sum, the summit crowned a decisive shift in Japan’s military policy since the end of World War II, which was based on defense capabilities only. Now, under Prime Minister Kishida, it is poised to become the keystone for “global NATO” in the Asia-Pacific region. Kishida himself, aptly expressed the shift at a speech at Johns Hopkins University just after leaving the White House, he said the Japanese Defense forces would be turned from “a shield” into “a spear”.

The joint statement also emphasizes the U.S. and Japan’s ostensible “economic leadership”, and their efforts to uphold a “free, fair and rules-based economic order”, including through Japan’s presidency of the G7 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) this year. In a rather macabre choice at a time when the world is threatened with nuclear annihilation, Kishida has decided to hold the G7 summit this year in Hiroshima – a city tragically and unnecessarily wiped out in 1945 by the atomic bomb dropped by the Americans, the only power to ever use the ultimate weapon.

Before flying to Washington, the Japanese Prime Minister was in London, where he signed with Rishi Sunak a military cooperation agreement, which has been touted as the most significant defense pact between Tokyo and London in more than a century. The reference is to the 1902-1922 Anglo-Japanese alliance, which helped set the conditions for the first and second world wars…

China has responded forcefully to the role of military satrap assigned to Japan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin pointed out Jan. 16 that “Japan’s militarist past, marked by devastating wars of aggression and brutal crimes against humanity, brought untold suffering on this region and beyond. Instead of drawing serious lessons from its past, Japan has displayed a dangerous tendency of rearming itself… It is even seeking to bring NATO into the Asia-Pacific.”

As for the “rules-based order” preached by Washington, he added that the U.S. “is second to none when it comes to undermining the international rules and order”. He cited in that respect the unwarranted invasion of other countries, the imposition of arbitrary unilateral sanctions, the non payment of its dues to the UN’s regular budget, and coercive diplomacy.

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