It is common for Japan to release the "Defense White Paper" annually, yet this year's white paper has attracted particular attention. Upon the release of the "Defense White Paper" on Aug. 2, China expressed a condemnation of Japan. The South Korean government has also protested Japan's territorial claim over Takeshima, an island that is called Dokdo in South Korea. The dangerous signals sent out by Japan's white paper are worrying.
First, the release of the new defense white paper is aimed at implementing the national defense program outline issued at the end of 2010 and further regards China as a main target to guard against.
The white paper has not only continuously stressed that "the non-transparency in China's defense policy and military operations is a matter of concern for both the region including Japan and the international community," but also has made further explanation of the "Dynamic Defense Force" mentioned in the new national defense program outline and emphasized strengthening the defense capacities in southwestern Japan.
Therefore, Japan will improve its naval and air capabilities and enhance its overall deployment capacities so as to rapidly transfer its naval and air forces to southwestern Japan for defensive operations if necessary.
The new defense white paper has begun stressing the importance of preventing network attacks and quoted a report released by the U.S. Department of Defense as saying that most of the computer systems in the world have become exposed to attacks from China. This shows that Japan's defense white paper mainly targets China.
Second, the new defense white paper plays up the "China threat theory" in order to bridge the divide between Japan and the United States and to force local governments to continue to tolerate the presence of U.S. military bases.
Currently, disagreements concerning the relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, a major U.S. military airbase in Okinawa, remain unsolved. Due to considerable U.S. pressure, the Japanese government decided long ago that the Futenma base should be relocated to an offshore location at Henoko Bay in Nago, northern Okinawa. However, the relocation plan, which was supposed to be completed by 2014, has been shelved due to strong protest from Nago residents.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense played up the "China threat theory" for the purpose of forcing the Okinawa prefecture government and residents to endure the continued presence of the U.S. airbase. When China-Japan relations were showing signs of improvement in May 2010, the United States said that its security treaty with Japan applies to the Diaoyu Islands. With the strong backing of the United States, Japan soon arrested the crew of a Chinese fishing boat and took the chance to play up the "China threat theory."
When a major earthquake caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March this year, the United States immediately repositioned its aircraft carriers away from the areas possibly affected by nuclear leaks and designated a much larger evacuation zone than Japan did. In order to redeem the image of U.S. troops stationed in Japan, the two countries propagandized for U.S. troops' efforts in subsequent disaster relief work. Another purpose of the propaganda was to win the public's support for the continued presence of U.S. military bases in Japan, which has been underscored in the new white paper.
Third, the new white paper is aimed at pressing China by whipping up public opinions in order to restrain China's efforts of safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, safeguarding its maritime rights and interests and improving its national defense capacity.
The newly added South China Sea content in the paper accuses China of taking "high-pressure steps" for the Diaoyu Island dispute and South China Sea disputes. The paper claims China has worried its neighbors, including Japan, about "the direction in which China is headed," and says the reason for the increase in the defense budgets of Southeast Asian countries is that China's influence is growing.
The new white paper also emphasizes that China's navy has "expanded the extent of its activities and normalized its activities" in the East China Sea and South China Sea. It seems that Japan wants to these statements to resonate with the countries of Southeast Asia that have territorial disputes with China so that countries of the East China Sea and South China Sea could restrain China cooperatively.
The fundamental problem that Japan's new "National Defense Program Outline" and "Defense White Paper" has shown is that Japan's strategic orientation toward China in the security realm and its related military strategies towards China are mistaken.
Obviously, Japan's Ministry of Defense does not take China-Japan mutually beneficial strategic relations as the foundation for the cooperation between the two countries in the security realm. Instead, it regards China as the biggest "potential threat" and has made defense strategies based on it. It is ridiculous and furthermore dangerous.
China currently is the largest trade partner of Japan and largest source of tourists for Japan's travel industry. If China and Japan cooperate with each other, both counties will benefit. If China and Japan fight with each other, both counties will get hurt. Therefore, is it not clear which way Japan should choose?