The main objective of the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to Washington yesterday was to form a strong coalition against China. The Japanese Prime Minister has also said that the alliance between the United States and Japan needs to be strong as never before.
Three weeks ago, Joe Biden did not hesitate to say that, under his watch, he would never let China surpass the United States and become the first power in the world. In the years to come, all analysis of international politics will come through the prism of this cold war between the United States and China.
1. How powerful is the Japanese army?
In theory, Article 9 of the Japanese constitution prohibits Japan from owning an army. The country therefore has “collective self-defense forces”, but which in reality form the sixth most powerful army in the world. Japan could very quickly acquire nuclear forces. The Japanese military have not fought under conditions of real war since 1945. This is why the strength of the Japanese army remains theoretical.
2. Why does Japan agree to ally with the United States against China?
Japan has multiple reasons to ally with the United States against China. Historically, since the Korean War in 1950, the two countries have entered into a military alliance that has benefited them. This alliance has grown stronger over the decades, particularly in science and technology. On the other hand, Japan is a democracy. However, the crushing of the democratic movement in Hong Kong sent the world’s democracies a very clear signal that their future would be threatened if Xi Jinping’s China became the world’s leading power. Japan and the United States are therefore natural allies against a totalitarian China.
3. What are the weak points of the alliance between Japan and the United States?
South Korea poses a particular problem to the alliance between Japan and the United States. It is that the South Koreans and the Japanese retain a deep animosity which comes from the beginning of the XXe century, when Japan invaded Korea to make it a vassal state. The then Japanese state, which was comparable to Nazi Germany, inflicted abuse on Koreans that they have not forgotten. Except that, nowadays, Japan and South Korea pursue common interests which should encourage them to unite against China. But they are reluctant to do so.
4. What role does Taiwan play in this alliance?
Taiwan has become the perfect illustration of the danger of the rise of a totalitarian China. No one disputes that Taiwan is Chinese territory. But neither the Taiwanese nor the other allies of the United States want the island to fall into the hands of a dictator like Xi Jinping.
5. What does the Chinese government think of this alliance?
Xi Jinping’s government is enraged to see Japan and the United States ganging up against him. But Xi only has to blame himself. It is indeed his government that is trying to conquer the waters of the China Sea to the detriment of other coastal countries. It is also he who militarily attacks India or who sends daily planes and ships to violate Taiwanese borders. He who asks his diplomats to use a warlike language threatening and insulting against those who dare to oppose his designs.