The United States and China's Naval Review: The Welcome Value of Japan-US Alliances

The United States Navy has decided not to deploy any ships to a Chinese-hosted international naval review. The Chinese Navy invited over 20 nations’ navies from around the Asia-Pacific region to participate.

The specific reason for opting out of the event is not clear, but there are implications that it could be a protest against not inviting Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force to participate.

This newspaper wants to focus on this gesture by the United States, which attaches great value on the partnership with its ally, Japan. Japan must push for a stronger Japan-U.S. policy, starting with embracing the use of the right to a collective defense.

China will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of its navy with a naval symposium at the end of this month in Qingdao. The naval review will be held alongside this symposium; the leaders of many nations’ naval forces are expected to attend.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Katsutoshi Kawano received an invitation to the symposium and is expected to attend. However, Japanese maritime forces did not receive an invitation to the naval review. This is the second time China has held this event since 2009. Japanese maritime forces were also not invited to participate in the naval review at that time. At initial preparation meetings for the symposium, Japan reacted by stating, “It is rude not to invite Japan to an international event.”

It’s said China cited anti-Japanese sentiments within China as the reason for not inviting Japan in 2009 and Japan accepted this explanation, so the United States sent a warship that time to participate.

This time, it’s in the context of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s involvement in an anti-Japan campaign during his current tour of Europe, which itself is an attempt to normalize intrusions by Chinese boats into the territorial waters of Japan surrounding the Senkaku Islands. The decision to not invite Japan’s maritime forces has extremely strong shades of “removing Japan.”

In response to this situation, the U.S. government has decided to send a representative to the symposium, but hold back from dispatching any ships.

This decision — based on the fundamental principle of alliance — is extremely important and certainly has the effect of showing not only China, but the rest of the world, the strength of Japan-U.S. relations.

Japan-U.S. relations cooled after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Yasukuni Shrine, but these relations were strengthened and are now heading in a positive direction due to the recent U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea Trilateral Meeting. U.S. President Obama looked Mr. Xi in the eye and told him, “The U.S. will honor its security commitments to Japan.”*

After receiving such massive boosts both politically and in terms of security, there are a number of things Japan must do. The pressing issue is revisions to the Guidelines for Japanese-U.S. Defense Cooperation, determining the roles and cooperative efforts of the Japan Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Army. To give these guidelines greater meaning, acceptance of use of the right to a collective defense should be put on a fast track.

Because both sides of the Japan-U.S. alliance operate in lockstep, this alliance works.

*Editor’s note: This quote, accurately translated, could not be verified. However, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel was recorded making similar remarks.

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