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

Meeting the Military Threat from China
MAGOSAKI Ukeru  / Former Director-General of the Department of International Information, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

May 13, 2010
In the March-April issue of the Foreign Affairs magazine, Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard University wrote that China's GDP will surpass that of the United States by 2027 according to one estimate, while others say that won't happen until 2040. Professor Nishimura Yoshimasa of Waseda University, in his lectures and elsewhere, has predicted that by 2020 the Chinese economy will expand beyond that of the United States to four times the size of the Japanese economy in terms of Purchasing Power Parity compared with levels in 2000. By the time this happens, China's desire to maintain a balance with the United States would have increased Chinese military spending to ten times that of Japan.

How are we to deal with a China that is becoming a superpower? Since the Meiji era, Japan has confronted China based on the approach laid out in "Datsu-A Ron (Argument for Leaving Asia)" published in 1885. The author of "Datsu-A Ron" argued that "it is better for us to leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with civilized nations of the West… Thos [who] are intimate with bad friends are also regarded bad, therefore I will deny those bad Asian friends from my heart."* The presumption then was that there was no hope of further development in China or in the Korean Peninsula. Today we are faced with a need to fundamentally revise this approach.

How are we to deal with a China that is becoming a Leviathan? The obvious course is to depend on the United States based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. In his major work "Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy," Henry Kissinger explored the extent to which we could rely on a 'nuclear umbrella.' Kissinger pointed out that when faced with an impending all-out war, few Americans would be absolutely convinced of the necessity of intervening, even if Europe itself was at stake, and there was a danger that people may begin to feel that regions outside the western hemisphere weren’t worth fighting for. Hans Morgenthau also voiced his doubts against the reliability of the 'nuclear umbrella' in his book Politics Among Nations. Furthermore, in a Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper article dated June 25, 1986, former CIA Director Stansfield Turner said that the idea of the United States firing nuclear missiles at the Soviet Union on behalf of Japan or Europe was a delusion, and argued that the United States has never provided a 'nuclear umbrella' for its allies.

If so, what about the case of the Senkaku Islands, a major point of dispute between Japan and China? The United States has stated its stance that the Senkaku Islands are currently under dispute and that it will ultimately take no side on issues of sovereignty. Walter Mondale, while serving as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, said the Security Treaty does not obligate the U.S. Forces to intervene in this issue. While his comments were not fully endorsed by his government, that still leaves us with no guarantee the U.S. Forces will fight alongside the Japan Defense Forces in any conflict over the islands. The United States has no doubt learned from Thucydides the lesson of Athens, destroyed as a result of offering military support to its ally Corinth, recounted in the classic "History of the Peloponnesian War." The United States is thus unlikely to risk being dragged into war against a superpower by helping its ally.

It is against such a backdrop that Japan must deal with Chinese military might. At present, there is a 1 to 10 gap in the military spending of Japan and the United States. This gap is unlikely to narrow in future. Considering that China will aim to equal the United States, the military power gap between Japan and China is expected to widen to more than 1 to 10. How are we to deal with such a future? One option would be to reinforce our defenses around the Senkaku Islands. However, we should realize that generally speaking, there is no way we can counter the Chinese through force. I am fond of playing the strategic game of Go, and believe the fastest way to mastering the game is to discard unrealistic options as quickly as possible, even if they seem desirable. It would be fine if Japan did have a military option. But no such option exists.

Well then, what should we do? We do have one advantage. In its 2008 annual report on China's military power, the U.S. Department of Defense wrote: The survival of the existing government plays a decisive role in shaping China's strategic future. Until now, the Communist Party has depended on economic success and nationalism to justify its claim to government. However, there are inherent risks on both fronts. While the Chinese government has manipulated the public to arouse nationalistic sentiments through anti-Japanese demonstrations and other means, it is aware that such protests can get out of hand. To maintain economic growth, Chinese leaders have begun to strengthen bilateral relations and multilateral policy coordination on a global scale.

Military attack severs any economic relationship with the enemy country. China's exports to Japan exceed 10 trillion yen each year. Taking military action against Japan would deprive China of the Japanese market and have a devastating effect on the Chinese economy.

Deterrence only works as long as the attacking country receives a greater blow than any advantages it hopes to gain from the attack. Attacking Japan would derail the Chinese economy and put pressure on its leadership. While we tend to consider deterrence from a military perspective, if we could forge closer economic ties to create a situation in which the Chinese government would be unable to pursue a military option in fear of losing the economic relationship, that would also constitute a worthy deterrent.

With no military options at hand, this is perhaps Japan's only course of action. Forming stronger economic ties with China and encouraging its leaders to understand the full political implications of losing the Japanese market seems to be the most realistic deterrent for Japan. And it also matches the course adopted by the Japanese after World War II. For Japan, the most desirable strategy would be to aim for maximum effect with the minimum effort.

The writer is former Director-General of the Department of International Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

*Note: Translation from Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datsu-A_Ron
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

孫崎 享  / 元外務省国際情報局長

2010年 5月 13日

孫崎 享 元外務省国際情報局長



巨大化する中国にどう対応するか。当然日米安保条約を基礎に米国に依存する道が考えられる。キッシンジャーは、代表的著書『核兵器と外交政策』の中で、「核の傘」はどこまで信頼に耐えるかを議論し、「 全面戦争という破局に直面したとき、ヨーロッパといえども、全面戦争に値すると(米国の中で)誰が確信しうるか、 西半球以外の地域は争う価値がないように見えてくる危険がある」と指摘し、モーゲンソーも著書『国際政治』で「核の傘」の信頼性に疑念を表明している。さらに、元CIA長官ターナーは「アメリカが日本や欧州のためにソ連に向けて核を発射すると思うのは幻想である」と述べ、米国が同盟国に「核の傘」を提供してきたことはないと論じている(1986年6月25日付読売新聞)。







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