BEIJING, April 15 -- With carefully calculated steps, Japan has shown its tough stance to be that of a regional trouble-maker.
Igniting territorial disputes with neighbors, officials visiting a shrine honoring war criminals, trying to revise its pacifist constitution... with all these moves, the Japanese government has kept challenging Asia's peaceful order since 2012, turning deaf ears to neighboring countries' calls for justice.
Japanese politicians were puffed with pride following recent pledges by the U.S. defense minister and senior officers to stand by military alliance treaties with Japan. These comments sound especially promising to Japan, prior to U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to the island country later this month.
Why is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe busy beating war drums louder and louder, in stark contrast to regional wishes for maintained peace and stability?
The reason is simple: such troubles bring more votes.
Faced with a dormant economy and rising social conflicts and public dissatisfaction, the Japanese government is pandering to rightists to seek support.
Backed by its ally, Abe wants to go further by stretching the definition of self-defense to possess "normal" armed forces with "normal rights" to wage war.
For Abe, stirring up nationalism is a much easier way to win ballots and win re-election, even it defies international opinion.
Another drive for Tokyo to break the current order is containing China's development and pursuing regional hegemony.
Abe justifies his beefing-up of military muscles by pointing at China's growing military capabilities and doubts over China's intentions.
The trick of putting blame on others is similar to the one Japan used in 1937 when the Japanese aggressors claimed one of their soldiers was lost in Wanping County in Beijing and attacked the Chinese troops, thus opening the country's large-scale invasion of China.
However, the 21st-century world is different from seven decades ago. Fishing in troubled waters is not a game Japan can profitably win over the long term.
China is the world's second-largest economy, and the trend of peace, development and cooperation is prevailing in Asia. The fact cannot be denied whether Japan is willing to accept it or not.
The region cannot allow the rise of a war criminal which has yet to even acknowledge, let alone repent for, its wartime misdeeds.
Even for the United States, Japan's closest ally, Japan's turn to the right should be a worry as threats similar to the Pearl Harbor attack are not impossible in the long run.
Without due repentance for its past and correct awareness of its responsibilities for the future, Japan will finally find itself an isolated troublemaker in the international community.