Japan rearming for possible Chinese interference over the Senkaku Islands

China's latest intrusions into Japanese waters near the Senkaku Islands have prompted Japan to rearm militarily in order to maintain Japanese control over the islands
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PHOTO/REUTERS  -   Japanese Defence Soldiers during the exercises

Japan intends to deploy F-35B fighter jets to the Nyutaburu base area in 2024 to increase the defence capabilities of the Senkaku Islands as opposed to the deployment of eight fighter jets. Alongside this, in recent hours japanese defence ministry, Nobuo Kishi told the media that the government expected to deploy between 500 and 600 additional missile defence troops to Ishigakijima Island, one of its westernmost islands in the Pacific, in a move that would boost allied capabilities to counter China's military blockade. This deployment would come at the end of the Nansei island chain, located just 185 miles from Taiwan and close to the disputed Senkaku Islands. 

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PHOTO/FUERZA AÉREA DE EE.UU via REUTERS - US Air Force F-35A aircraft at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA.

With an area of just seven square kilometres and made up of five uninhabited archipelagos, the Senkaku Islands have become one of the main points of contention in bilateral relations between China and Japan over the past 20 years. In this context, framed by growing tensions in the rise of territorial disputes over certain archipelagos that have important geostrategic weight, several countries in the East and West China Seas are affected by these disputes. In addition, the dispute over the Senkaku Islands also concerns Taiwan, which claims sovereignty over these islands.

In this regard, China has on several occasions made maritime incursions into Japanese waters around the disputed islands that Japan describes as "totally unacceptable". Thus, last July Japan raised "serious concerns" about Chinese coast guard activities in the Senkaku Islands. 

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PHOTO/PIXABAY -  Japanese Vessel

The "Izumo" together with her sister ship "Kaga" are the largest ships of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and are officially classified as "multi-purpose operational destroyers", a designation intended to comply with the arms limitations imposed on Japan after the constitution adopted at the end of the Second World War.

On the other hand, the confrontation over the Senkaku Islands is not the only challenge that could lead to military confrontations in the region. The Japanese Defence has warned about China's rapprochement over Taiwan, as the Chinese military build-up in the country is "enveloping the island". For this reason, Japan has appealed to the international community to prevent "Taiwan's future from being decided by a military confrontation" as it is observing "various moves by China to envelop Taiwan" and asks that "more attention be paid to Taiwan's survival".

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PHOTO/REUTERS- Taiwanese soldiers take part in military exercises

The "Izumo" together with her sister ship "Kaga" are the largest ships of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and are officially classified as "multi-purpose operational destroyers", a designation intended to comply with the arms limitations imposed on Japan after the constitution adopted at the end of the Second World War.

On the other hand, the confrontation over the Senkaku Islands is not the only challenge that could lead to military confrontations in the region. The Japanese Defence has warned about China's rapprochement over Taiwan, as the Chinese military build-up in the country is "enveloping the island". For this reason, Japan has appealed to the international community to prevent "Taiwan's future from being decided by a military confrontation" as it is observing "various moves by China to envelop Taiwan" and asks that "more attention be paid to Taiwan's survival".

"Many countries have shown sympathy for our idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific," Kishi said. By showing a presence in the region, "together we can send a strong message about regional peace and stability".

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PHOTO/PIXABAY -  Vessel in the East Sea

Similarly, Tokyo is reportedly considering locating an 'electronic warfare unit' in Yonagunijima in 2023 within the 2023 defence budget. However, despite rising tensions in the region, Tokyo has no intention of forging a direct military agreement with Taipei, according to Kishi. 

n this vein, Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso explained that a crisis in Taiwan would pose "an existential threat" to Japan. "If a major incident were to occur in Taiwan, it would not be strange at all if it were to affect a situation that threatens survival," Aso said during a speech in Tokyo. "If that is the case, Japan and the United States must defend Taiwan together".

This statement came as a surprise given Japan's constitutional prohibition in Article 9 on the "use of force for the resolution of international conflicts" and the express prohibition on maintaining an army, despite the fact that it has more and better weaponry than nations such as Saudi Arabia or Iraq. 

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PHOTO/Koji Sasahara AP - Creating a military space organisation is one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's last major decisions before he stepped down a month ago due to illness.

These constitutional restrictions only allow Japan to mobilise the Japan Self-Defence Forces (SDF) for national defence, according to the latest defence measures approved by former minister Shinzo Abe. Previously, the only situation that allowed the SDF to be mobilised was "an armed attack", i.e. an organised and premeditated attack against Japanese land, sea or territorial airspace.

In this way, Japan aims to reposition itself in the international sphere in terms of armaments and cease to be marginalised in the military sphere in comparison with its Asian neighbours. Kishi also said that Tokyo would welcome a greater European role in the region, which would include the forthcoming visit of the UK's Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. In this regard, two British warships are expected to be deployed permanently in Asian waters in the face of China's growing territorial ambitions in the region, particularly in relation to Taiwan, British Defence Minister Ben Wallace and his Japanese counterpart said in a joint announcement in Tokyo.