The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Falklands-Style War Coming to East Asia?

If Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is disappointed that Obama’s didn’t give his full-throated support to Japan’s claim on disputed islands in the East China Sea, he’s not showing it. In a rousing speech in Parliament that drew cheers from other lawmakers today, Abe cast himself in the role of Margaret Thatcher—the Iron Lady—and vowed that a “strong” Japan would protect itself from threats from abroad.

“I am determined to … protect our sovereignty and our people’s lives…. The threats to our national security are not ‘someone else’s problem’…. It is a ‘clear and present danger,’” he said.

Abe compared the territorial dispute between China and Japan to the Falklands war between Britain and Argentina: “Looking back at the Falkland Islands conflict, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said the following: ‘The rule of international law must triumph over exertion of force’ … Efforts to change the status quo by the use of force will justify nothing.”

China, on the other hand, accused Japan of continually harassing its ships. Said a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense: ”For a long time, Japan has closely tracked Chinese vessels and craft to monitor and interfere with them…. This is the source of the maritime security problems between China and Japan…. The Chinese side has ample evidence of this, and reserves the right to take corresponding measures…. The Japanese leader has repeatedly made provocative statements, exaggerated the China threat, and made much of military issues, intentionally provoking military confrontation.”

Both sides continually accuse the other of intentionally and needlessly escalating this territorial dispute. If this continues both sides will soon push each other past the point of no return.

Published on February 28, 2013 12:35 pm