The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
China Teaching Asia to Fall in Love with Japan’s Military Buildup

For the first time in decades the Japanese government has approved a military aid package to a foreign country. Japanese warships have also participated in cooperative exercises with neighboring countries, many of whom have painful memories of encounters with Japanese armed forces. The NYT has the rest of the story:

And after stepping up civilian aid programs to train and equip the coast guards of other nations, Japanese defense officials and analysts say, Japan could soon reach another milestone: beginning sales in the region of military hardware like seaplanes, and perhaps eventually the stealthy diesel-powered submarines considered well suited to the shallow waters where China is making increasingly assertive territorial claims.

Taken together those steps, while modest, represent a significant shift for Japan, which had resisted repeated calls from the United States to become a true regional power for fear that doing so would move it too far from its postwar pacifism.

China’s ham-handed diplomacy in East Asia is doing the unthinkable: it’s making the Japanese military popular in the region. It’s likely that Japan is going to continue increasing military aid and arms sales. It’s also clear that public opinion, both in Japan and elsewhere, now supports Japan’s rearmament in a way not seen since 1945. “We want to build our own coalition of the willing in Asia to prevent China from just running over us,” Yoshihide Soeya, a professor in Tokyo, told the Times. “We cannot just allow Japan to go into quiet decline,” said Akihisa Nagashima, the vice minister of defense.

The Game of Thrones is on, and China can’t seem to stop making moves that strengthen its opponents and threaten to make its worst nightmares come true.

Published on November 27, 2012 9:11 am