Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

What does it mean for Japan to be “caught between the U.S. and China"?
Akio KAWATO / Former Ambassador to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Newsweek Japan Columnist

June 9, 2020
As the U.S.-China tensions have been further aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, the mood in Japan is to see the U.S. being at fault for its apparent insistence on maintaining its hegemony in competition with China. However, if you watch the totalitarian bent of China’s People's Congress, you will understand the need to restrain China. In addition, China's strength is overrated both by itself and others. If further restricted from acquiring advanced technology, China will suffer a serious handicap because of its out-dated semiconductor production technology. Way back in my career, I was once in charge of “COCOM” (The Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls), which was the international arrangement to restrict the transfer of advanced technology to the Soviet Union, and have a realistic feel for the effects that such restriction of technology transfer would have.

Nevertheless, Japan remains in a delicate position between the United States and China. This is because U.S. forces in the Far East are becoming increasingly vulnerable to attacks from China. In the event of a U.S.-China contingency, the U.S. military bases in Japan and Guam will most likely be destroyed by massive missile attacks from China. To avoid destruction by Chinese missiles, U.S. aircraft carriers will most likely stay out of the Far Eastern waters. This scenario was mentioned in the book, "The Kill Chain" by Christian Brose, a military expert, and most of the recent simulations show that the U.S. military is inferior in power in the region. To offset this imbalance, it would seem necessary to deploy a large number of medium-range missiles in Japan, Guam, and on U.S. nuclear submarines so as to enable preemptive strikes on Chinese bases in the event of a contingency. However, there would remain the possibility of China making preemptive and retaliatory strikes on the U.S. military bases in Japan.

On the other hand, should the U.S. move to join hands with China and agree to “do as they please”, Japan would be left in the lurch, as powerless as the proverbial fish on the cutting board.

If we look at the European Union, we notice a very important event. On May 18th, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron agreed in principle to issue a single EU bond to create a 500 billion euro post-Corona European Recovery Fund. This would allow the EU member countries, despite their disparate financial conditions, to issue a single EU bond with the economic power of Germany as collateral. Thus they would be able to increase their debt on far more favorable conditions than issuing bonds of their own. This is a hidden strengthening of the EU integration, and is in effect, a Germanic buy-out and integration of the Latin regions. However, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries may oppose the agreement.

The reason why this is interesting is that the influential EU (in essence, Germany), but not the U.S., China or Russia, with its commitment to democracy and the market economy, will gain power. As the U.S. is blatantly pursuing its own national interests and no longer actively advocating democracy, and the rift between the U.S. and Europe widens, it is particularly significant in providing a framework for "new non-aligned" alliances of medium sized developed countries that Japan could join. Incidentally, the combined GDP of small and medium sized developed democratic countries is about $24 trillion, which slightly exceeds that of U.S.

Of course, EU countries are diverse and not easy to rein in. They may treat us Japanese, who have a simpler way of thinking, with tact and may, in fact, end up taking advantage of us. Moreover, we probably cannot put too much hope on the diplomatic prowess of the current Abe and following administrations.

Still, as a start, why not consider holding a Zoom summit with the leaders of such countries as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, France, Benelux, and the Nordic countries?

Akio Kawato is a former ambassador to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and Newsweek Japan Columnist.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

河東 哲夫 / 元在ウズベキスタン・タジキスタン大使、日本版Newsweekコラムニスト

2020年 6月 9日

にもかかわらず、日本は米国と中国の間で微妙な位置に立たされています。と言うのは、極東の米軍が中国からの攻撃に対して脆弱性を高めているからです。米中有事の場合、日本やグアムの米軍基地は中国からのミサイル大量攻撃で破壊されるでしょう。空母も中国ミサイルにやられるのを防ぐために、極東海域には入れないでしょう。そこらへんは、Christian Broseという軍事専門家の「The Kill Chain」という本に書いてあるそうで、最近の図上演習では、ほとんどの場合米軍が劣勢に陥っているそうです。これを覆すには、日本、グアム、そして米原潜に中距離ミサイルを大量に配備し、有事には中国の基地を先制攻撃する体制を整えておくことですが、在日米軍基地が先制・報復攻撃を食らう可能性は残ります。






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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > What does it mean for Japan to be “caught between the U.S. and China"?