NEEDED:JAPAN’S RESOLVE TO BACK AMERICA IN CLASH OF VALUES AGAINST CHINA
On August 3, the conservative daily Sankei Shimbun front-paged an alleged Chinese government warning that a large fleet of Chinese fishing vessels will head for waters around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands as early as August 16, when the off-season for fishing is slated to end in the East China Sea.
Frankly, I am not a little surprised that China, the country of Sun Tzu, should have issued such a forewarning. The fundamentals of Sun’s strategy preach the merits of adroitly hoodwinking adversaries. In point of fact, China’s many successes have been possible thanks to its infamously “dirty” ways.
The present global Chinese behavior more than amply demonstrates their modus operandi. First of all, Chinese are good at catching others off guard. China has thrown the international community into unprecedented chaos with the Wuhan coronavirus, snatching Hong Kong while the world was preoccupied with the pandemic. Xi Jinping has succeeded in instituting communism in Hong Kong—which none of his predecessors could—27 years earlier than originally scheduled.
As regards the Senkakus, four 5,000-ton Chinese Coast Guard ships continued cruising in the waters bordering Japanese territorial waters around the islands for 111 straight days, finally leaving on August 2. The Chinese ships intimidated tiny Japanese fishing boats operating in the area and frequently violated Japanese waters, once even refusing to leave for more than 39 hours.
Isolated internationally as a result of a widening clash of values between the world’s two biggest economies and having been condemned for being the culprit of spreading the Wuhan virus globally, China has been making amicable overtures to Japan. At the same time it has been insisting the bilateral relationship is better than ever before. China has been making elaborate preparations to wrest the Senkakus away from Japan. In April 1979, just when Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping was preparing to visit Japan to sign the Sino-Japanese Peace and Friendship Treaty, more than 100 Chinese fishing boats, some of them armed with machine guns, appeared in the waters off the Senkakus out of the blue in an apparent effort to confuse the Japanese government. China’s friendship is always paired up with a threat of some kind.
The Sankei report about the “advance notice” of a mass intrusion by Chinese fishing fishing boats was mildly denied by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, but the existing situation in the East China Sea lends credibility to the report. Observed Professor Yoshihiko Yamada of the School of Marine Science and Technology at Tokai University on July 24 on my regular weekly “Genron” Internet TV news show:
“The circumstances surrounding the Senkaku Islands are plunging us into a new critical stage. Photos from a reconnaissance satellite have confirmed the presence of numerous small Chinese fishing vessels moored along the long stretch of the East China Sea coasts of Zhejian and Fujian provinces. Their number is so large—probably more than 1,000—that many of them cannot enter port. The Chinese government is expected to lift restrictions on fishing off the Senkakus some time this month, designating areas in which the fleet should operate. There is a good possibility that hundreds of them will rush toward the Senkakus, which are extremely vulnerable.”
Gravity of Mammoth Market
That said, it is a fact that Japan as a whole is vulnerable. To begin, our national defense capabilities are not sufficient. On top of that, a cross section of Japanese, from our politicians and members of the business community down, are ill-prepared to grapple with our security issues squarely, sadly unable to come to grips with the real threats Japan is faced with. Viewed from China, we Japanese must look like an easy target.
Former defense minister Itsunori Onodera commented on the flaws in our national defense setup:
“The projected installation of two units of the land-based Aegis system, popularly called ‘Aegis Ashore,’ is at a standstill now. If that had gone ahead, we would have satisfactorily been able to defend both our land and seas against North Korean nuclear missiles. Their installation would have allowed us to deploy our seven Aegis warships to the waters of the Nansei Islands to protect Okinawa and the Senkakus against threats from China. Without the Aegis Ashores, however, we must deploy the Aegis ships to the Sea of Japan instead to guard against North Korean missiles, which leaves the Nansei islands largely defenseless.”
If a nation fails to rectify flaws in its national security and fill voids, it will invite foreign aggression. That is a well-known fact. Let us recall the confrontation between China and the Philippines over the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in the mid-1990s.
The Philippines effectively administered the reef after World War II but China claimed territorial rights in 1994, building a military installation and deploying a battleship. The Philippines countered by also deploying the only battleship it had—an old battleship purchased from the US. Then a typhoon hit the reef. President Barak Obama stepped in to mediate a settlement by proposing first that the ships be withdrawn. The Philippines complied but China refused to budge, continuing to occupy the reef as it went on constructing its military base. Whenever it sees an opportunity, China is prone to move swiftly, like water seeking lower levels, occupying new territory as it sees fit. Any nation with no will to fight will soon be taken advantage of.
Another reason China views Japan as easy prey is the puzzlingly reconciliatory attitude of our political and business leaders toward China. With the Keidanren—an organization of the country’s most powerful companies—taking the lead, our business
community has so far failed to resist the pull of China’s mammoth market. According to a recent report by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan’s direct investment in China during the January-May period of this year stood at roughly $US 5.9 billion—about equal to the same period in 2019. Toyota Motor Corp. and five Chinese manufactures have recently agreed to invest a combined total of $US 5.01 billion to set up a joint venture in Beijing to develop a fuel cell system. Meanwhile, Honda and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) have signed an agreement to form an alliance on new energy vehicle batteries.
At a meeting of the Council on Investment for the Future on July 30, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that the government will encourage China-based Japanese corporations to bring back their operations to Japan. For that purpose, the government has earmarked US$ 2.32 billion (\243.5 billion). And yet, a majority of Japanese corporations in China appear reluctant to return to Japan or move their operational bases outside of China.
America has thrown down the gauntlet against China in earnest, ready to wage a fierce battle of values with China. China’s aim goes beyond just expanding its territory. It is dead set on saturating the whole of the global community with Chinese values, ultimately seeking to have the world governed by Chinese rules. Benefiting from the Chinese economy is tantamount to complying with Chinese values, or agreeing to be dyed in the hue of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), so to speak, whether one likes it or not. That is exactly what the US has openly begun to warn against.
Now is the time for we Japanese to ask ourselves some serious questions. How do we wish to live our lives? As Japanese, how can we continue to protect our way of life? And how can we protect the values that uphold that way of life?
In-House CCP Cells in China-Based Japanese Corporations
Warned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his address at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California on July 23:
“We have a NATO ally of ours that hasn’t stood up in the way that it needs to with respect to Hong Kong, because they fear Beijing will restrict access to China’s market. This is the kind of timidity that will lead to historic failure, and we cannot repeat it. We can’t repeat the mistakes of these past years.”
We Japanese will never willingly accept the Chinese way. Because the minute we do, the CCP will quash the freedoms which form the basis of our life, as well as the democracy and the rule of law which are our national credo. Accepting Chinese rule would be tantamount to being controlled under a communist doctrine in the same way as Hongkongers are being forced into silence against their will.
I can hardly imagine living under the constraints of the CCP. Not a small number of members of our financial community, proprietors, and investors maintain they cannot ignore the gigantic Chinese market. But don’t they realize that all foreign corporations in China, including Japanese, are compelled to accept a chapter of the CCP or its cells in-house? All of the economic activities of any corporation are constantly monitored by the CCP. Proprietors and employees are forced to honor Xi’s and the CCP’s thoughts and follow their directives. Any state-of-the-art technology owned by a corporation will be stolen without exception. Communist cells will scrutinize every activity of a corporation, making it impossible to escape the absolute framework imposed by the CCP. How can such a situation be acceptable for those us in the democratic camp?
The important thing for Japanese to bear in mind is to leave economic interchange with China on a level that will not threaten our future. We must be determined to not yield critical technology that sustains Japan’s growth and survival. In other words, do not let the CCP’s intelligence operations get the better of us.
While we should not slight the outstanding abilities of individual Chinese in any way as we endeavor to seek mutually rewarding relationships with Chinese, we must develop a solid belief in Japan as a sovereign state with a proud heritage and continue untiringly to bolster our national strength. Let us think it over during this long and hot summer.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 913 in the August 13-20, 2020 issue of The Weekly Shincho)