The Three Big Vulnerabilities of the US-Japan Alliance

For the past few years, both the U.S. and Japan have repeatedly asserted that the Diaoyu Islands — which are inherently Chinese territory — fall under the protection of the U.S.-Japan security treaty. Recently, the Japanese media has revealed that the two countries have already made battle plans for defending the islands against attack. It seems Japan has already bound the U.S. to an agreement to go to war with China at Diaoyu. Japan’s expanding schemes to occupy the rightfully Chinese islands are leading the U.S.-Japan military alliance to a strategic misjudgment and into a dangerous situation.

The U.S.-Japan military alliance is a product of the Cold War: Since the 1990s, it has seen several large adjustments in accordance with the continuously changing international situation, which has become one of more peace, development, cooperation and win-win arrangements. Since then, the alliance’s preconditions could be viewed as being outdated these days. To maintain their military agreement, the U.S. and Japan need only comply with larger international trends toward safeguarding world peace, cooperating with every country’s economic development and prosperity priorities. If Japan attempts to pull the U.S. into engaging in military expansion, loosening of military restraint, resurrection of a militaristic Japan and concomitant activities, then the U.S.-Japan military alliance will surely fall apart. This is one of the big vulnerabilities of the alliance. It will not be changing in accordance with Japan’s subjective desires.

Since [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe came to power, Japan — ostensibly to restore positive military relations with the U.S. — has exerted great effort to involve the U.S. in its occupation of the Chinese Diaoyu Islands and rearmament as a militarized country. Abe has proclaimed with great fanfare that the U.S.-Japan alliance has made major progress in recent times. The U.S. and Japan frequently engage in joint military exercises, collaborate in developing new military technologies and strengthening Japan’s own missile-defense system and even engage in strategy planning for military operations against China in the Diaoyu Islands. Abe, despite heavy internal opposition from Japan’s general population, is braving political hazards to participate in negotiations around the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. Additionally, the U.S. has responded positively to Japan’s expressions of goodwill by supporting the development of the Japanese war machine and the unceasing strengthening of Japanese military power in order to maintain its status as a hegemon in the Pacific and the territory of Japan’s neighboring countries.

The U.S. and Japan’s mutual collusions echo each other and seem to be on the road to the continuous strengthening of military ties with nothing whatsoever likely to cause a falling-out. Actually, perceptive people have already sensed the efforts of Abe, [Shintaro] Ishihara and the others who represent the extreme-right influence in Japanese politics: They have tried to use the U.S. to help remilitarize Japan, made every effort to alter Japan’s peaceful constitution and set Japan down a dangerous path to military expansionism. At the same time, they have stubbornly insisted on trying to use the Yasukini Shrine to prevent Japan from reflecting on apologizing for its offenses committed during World War II in the name of militarism. They have challenged worldwide calls for just trials for war criminals, tried to overturn the worldwide victory against fascism, have disturbed Japan’s postwar order and altered the historical record on Japan’s militaristic history. If Japan were allowed to walk this path to it conclusion — if Japan were to remilitarize — it would mean the collapse of the U.S.-Japan military alliance. This is the second vulnerability in the U.S.-Japan alliance. At its root is the stern position of the U.S. toward nations it has defeated: Even if Japan regained military power in a manner than would briefly benefit the U.S., the American people would never stand for it.

Abe’s government is doing everything it can to manufacture an exaggerated “Chinese threat.” When it cannot find evidence to support its claims, it repeatedly attempts to draw attention to the supposed issue of Chinese warships lighting up Japanese warships on fire-control radar. Now, it is exaggerating about talks of U.S.-Japan battle plans involving the Diaoyu Islands. Japan is attempting to portray the Diaoyu Islands situation as one where China is on the verge of launching a military invasion. That China and Japan are on the verge of war over the Diaoyu islands is a false claim, spread to cast doubt on China’s advocacy of negotiating a peaceful resolution to the dispute, while at the same time, driving a wedge in the friendly U.S.-China relationship by creating the impression that the U.S. is ready at a moment’s notice to go to war with China — all in service to a hidden Japanese agenda. If Japan erroneously believes that binding the U.S. to a military alliance will allow it to do as it pleases and invades China again, history will prove that it will not be a war fought hand in hand with the U.S., but the end of the U.S.-Japan alliance. This is the third vulnerability in the alliance. If Japan really invades China again, as it did during World War II, it will surely be the losing country. History enjoys toying with invaders in this way.

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