Tensions between China and Japan

by ANKASAM Ekip
Kenan AĞAZADE

President Joe Biden states that he will restore a more normal rhythm in U.S.-Japanese relations.

The Asia-Pacific region often attracts the attention of China and the United States, mainly because of its unique geography. However, tensions between China and Japan, as a result of territorial disputes, continue to increase instability in the region.

For that reason, there is a big risk that this tension may escalate into a military confrontation. Japan may decide to protect itself from the Chinese threat. This can become the main motivation for the development of own nuclear arsenal. This will change the defence and security conception in the reign and become a bad precedent for all neighbours.

The position of the USA

If confrontation should escalate, how would the USA act? Beijing knows that Washington will try to support Tokyo and the USA has the necessary military force in the reign (including nuclear weapons) and they may help hypothetically Japan. Certainly, this is not a nice picture for China. On the other side, China understands that the U.S. has not always helped its own allies and may easily forget its undertaken duties.

For instance, during the Pakistan-India war, the USA regardless of the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement signed in 1954, did not give military aid to Pakistan. Furthermore, Americans accepted the military prohibitions on both Pakistan and India. Given their close economic cooperation nowadays, would the USA risk aggravating its relations with China for the implementation of their duties to Japan? Political science does not have an answer to this complex question.

The position of Japan

There have been discussions in Japanese society to the effect that, in response to the increasing Chinese power, Japan will implement the necessary tools. If all the traditional mechanisms may not stop the power of China, then Japan will decide to create nuclear weapons and mobilize all necessary technological resources.

This approach is very dangerous because of the foregone conclusion that all states will try to develop their own nuclear programs. It is obvious that Beijing is not interested in using the military navy against Japan because China does not want to engage in a full-scale armed conflict with Japan. There are many people who, remembering the catastrophe of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and they continue to strongly oppose the development of the nuclear program.

The position of Russia

The essential barrier to the escalation of tensions in the Asia-Pacific region is the position of Russia, which is interested in stability in the reign. The beginning of the conflict in the region will destroy the trade and economic relations between regional states and this goes against Russia’s plans. Russia mainly concentrates on the trade aspects, avoiding emphasis on political issues in the reign. In such a way, Russia avoids getting involved in regional conflicts between states.  This does not mean that Moscow will stay passive to the dangerous trends developing in the region. No one in Kremlin supports radicalization in Japan and South Korea. In addition, Russia is also interested in greater transparency in China’s nuclear arsenal but Moscow also needs the support of Beijing against western pressure.

Conclusion

Finally, all states should develop good relations with each other, but also especially with neighbours. China and Japan should help each other to solve collective global problems. Taking a long-term perspective, China and Japan could find common ground with each other when it comes to regional issues. However, in the short term, China and Japan are hardly ready for this.

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