Japanese authorities are again talking about the “occupied” territories and the need to renew the country’s military power. Such developments are dictated by several aspects.
History is a good place to start. Japan’s desire for revenge runs through the 20th and 21st centuries. At the moment, Japan does not feel that its interests have been fully realized strategically, economically and militarily. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has continued the rhetoric of his predecessors in defending the Kuril Islands and wanting to increase his influence in the region. After his tour to Asia and Europe, he had a conversation with the leaders of the United States and Australia, who were not satisfied with his attempts to get India to condemn Russia for its military operation. Subsequently, Kishida pressed Indonesia as well, but with U.S. interests in mind. This cooperation can be characterized as barter: the U.S. will create an “Eastern NATO” counterpart of QUAD and AUKUS, while Japan will take the lead in this hierarchy.
Political scientist and doctor of history Anatoly Koshkin explained why Japan has become so active in its foreign policy.
Koshkin believes that the United States is in no hurry to open the “Second Front” in the East. Even White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that U.S. President Joe Biden would travel to Tokyo and Seoul to negotiate with countries to support Ukraine. Most likely, this will affect China’s attempts to return Taiwan to the country.
As the second argument, the expert noted the reluctance of U.S. ground troops to participate in military operations against large countries. The maximum that can be expected is the continuation of arms supplies to Taiwan and an increase of the military contingent in Japan.
Anatoly Koshkin also doubts that Japanese forces will provide any assistance other than logistical or food assistance, since Japan objectively has no army and Japanese society has a negative attitude towards entering into any conflicts.
The next assumption the expert noted is the unwillingness of the large bloc of Japanese elites to worsen relations with Russia. This is primarily dictated by the possible negative effects on the Japanese economy and the contradictions in the interests of security. Although the first part of this argument can be challenged, since the Russian-Japanese trade turnover is not that significant.
Tokyo hoped that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government would make concessions to territorial demands in exchange for the promise of investment, loans, and economic cooperation. But since the Russian position on territorial issues was firm, the Japanese political leadership resumed its former anti-Soviet and now anti-Russian rhetoric.
The expert singled out the escalation of sanctions against Russia and the desire to involve ASEAN countries in the American policy plan to paralyze Russia’s economic activities in the region as the last argument.
On the one hand, Anatoly Koshkin’s arguments look very significant. On the other hand, one can look at the situation in the Asia-Pacific Region from a broader perspective. The U.S. is at least already preparing a bridgehead for the Eastern Front with the help of Japan. It would seem that this bloc is directed against China. But some contradictions arise: the U.S. declared a trade war against China back in 2018 and threatened to start military actions in the South China Sea, but in fact, five years have passed without any military operations; China has intensified military patrols in the Senkaku (Diaoyudao) Islands and the Taiwan area, while the U.S. again limited itself to threats; the United States has not imposed sanctions on China because of its neutral position on Ukraine and gas purchases from Russia through private companies. All these aspects may indicate that the coalition created by the US is not directed against the PRC, but the Russian Federation. The success of these U.S. plans will depend on Russia’s actions in the region, Japan’s ability to influence ASEAN countries, and India’s willingness to abandon its policy of non-alignment (which is unlikely).
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