12 August 2005

Why Japan Should Be Worried

In the increasingly unsettled far east, Taiwan has added to the fray by developing, testing and deploying cruise missiles, which are capable of reaching military targets in China. AFP reports:

TAIPEI, (AFP) - Taiwan has begun deploying home-made cruise missiles on mobile launchers and that they are capable of hitting major military targets in southeast China, a newspaper here reported.

The China Times said the Hsiung Feng missiles, which have a range of 1,000 kilometers (600 miles), were deployed across the island by the defense ministry's new missile command.

The missiles, which each cost some 100 million Taiwan dollars (3.13 million US), were developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, the paper said.

The institute was also developing cruise missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers for further deployment.

The China Times said President Chen Shui-bian had inspected the missile command and witnessed a mock launch of the cruise missiles.

The defense ministry declined to comment on the report.

Taiwan reportedly successfully test-fired its first cruise missile earlier this year which flew over 500 kilometers before hitting its target.

Now, why should Japan be worried? Simple. Japan is situated in an area dominated by two very irrational regimes and has it’s hands tied because of a treaty designed and implemented by the U.S. over 50 years ago. Sure, a pacifist Japan made sense at the end of World War II. In fact, it made perfect sense 50+ years ago. Today, it does not. NRO reports:

Japan has slowly been emerging from its shell over the last decade, and it is one of the diplomatic triumphs of the Bush administration that it has helped accelerate this process, strengthening the U.S.-Japanese bond and enhancing its usefulness. The Japanese will proceed at their own pace, but our response to every step they take toward becoming a more “normal” country should be nothing but encouragement: “More, please.” The goal, although it will never be fully achievable given historic, cultural, and other differences, should be to make Japan as reliable a partner of the U.S. in Asia as Britain is in Europe.

“There is no fear of Japan. The old cork-in-the-bottle theory is dead,” says an administration official, referring to the former fear in the U.S. government that any Japanese step toward rearmament would mean an inevitable slide toward aggressive militarism. “The old saw is that Japan is just an aircraft carrier, a jumping-off point for American forces. Well, we want to make it a jumping-off point for both U.S. and Japanese forces.”

The alliance is a natural. Japan broadly shares our values. The U.S. is the world’s number-one economy and Japan is number two, a powerful combination. We want to check China, and Japan feels threatened by China. Japan provides the basing the U.S. needs at a time when we have lost our bases in the Philippines and our relationship with South Korea looks shaky. We want to stay in East Asia, and the Japanese want to keep us there, in a dangerous neighborhood. Japan is surrounded by three nuclear countries that would make anyone nervous: North Korea, China, and Russia.

But nothing concentrates the mind like a few missile launches. In 1996, China tested ballistic missiles off Taiwan, with a few landing near Japanese shipping lanes. This led to a joint U.S.-Japanese statement pledging Japanese logistical support to the U.S. during "regional contingencies" and stipulating that the U.S.-Japanese alliance includes "situations in the areas surrounding Japan." The Chinese screamed--accurately--that "situations" was meant to cover a potential conflict over Taiwan. Two years later, the North Koreans launched a missile over northern Japan, spurring Japanese interest in cooperation with the United States on a missile-defense system.

Politically, Japan has become more conservative. Its Left has effectively collapsed. The Socialist party was never serious about governing, but existed as an obstructionist force in parliament (sound familiar?). After electoral reform in the early 1990s, it all but evaporated. Japanese politics has become more populist, and Japanese society more open and less risk-averse. A new generation of politicians both in the ruling Liberal Democratic party and in the opposition Democratic party is not so wedded to the old pieties. "Japan is tired of constantly apologizing, and it wants a place in the sun more than in a pure economic sense," says former State Department official Jim Kelly.

Links to this post:


BlogItemBacklinksEnabled> Links to this post