Japan Suddenly Becomes a Major Military Power Again

Japan Has Blue Water Position on China

China has been creating artificial island fortresses in the South China Sea, but despite those advance bases, the dragon remains confined by the Japanese Islands, Taiwan, in part by South Korea, and the Philippine Islands. Clearly, Japan has blue water position on China, and Japan wants to make the most of that.

Japan’s navy — the Maritime Self-Defense Force — is the second largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world. It is also highly advanced technologically and is growing all the time. The two 27,000 ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, the largest in the fleet, with flat flight decks and islands on the starboard side of the vessels, are small compared to the United States Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers (approximately 100,000 tons) or Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers (65,000 tons). But if equipped with the new short-take-off-and-vertical-landing F-35B stealth fighter they will still pack a powerful punch. And Japan is considering adding more of these aircraft carriers to its fleet and advanced U.S.-style Aegis class destroyers, capable of shooting down medium-range ballistic missiles. __ https://nationalpost.com/opinion/david-j-bercuson-why-japan-is-building-its-military-fast

The Japanese people have become spooked by China’s precipitous turn to aggressive militarism. They have seen what China has done to Tibet and Xinjiang, what they are slowly doing to Hong Kong, and what they would do to Taiwan if they were able. Japan wants no part of such humiliating subjugation and destructive oppression at the hands of the Chinese.

China’s (and Japan’s) Chokepoint Problem

China’s economy is dependent on foreign trade, 90 percent of which travels by sea. China’s near seas — the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea — are bounded by what Chinese strategists call the “First Island Chain,” a series of islands (many of which are controlled by U.S. allies) that stretches from Japan to the Philippines to Indonesia. To reach ports on China’s eastern coast, seaborne trade from the west must pass through maritime chokepoints such as the Strait of Malacca (through which 82 percent of China’s crude oil imports passed in 2013). Passage through these maritime chokepoints is secured by another country: the United States, the world’s dominant naval power. __ https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/grand-design-chinas-new-trade-routes

It should be obvious that China’s little offshore faux-isle redoubts will do little to solve the much larger chokepoint problem — which is shared in part by Japan.

The big difference between China’s chokepoint problem and Japan’s chokepoint problem is that Japan has a huge bluewater shoreline, whereas China has none at all. This makes Japan a massive inconvenience to China, just by its existence.

But if Japan continues building its naval forces — and strengthens its military cooperation with other nations that are antagonistic to the idea of China as global hegemon — that inconvenience could become an unsolvable blockade.

China Has No Friends in the World

China has antagonized all of its neighbors, most of its business partners, and much of the rest of the world. China has trading partners of convenience, and it has frenemies of convenience such as Russia. But any and all of such partnerships could change in an instant, as the communist party feels its economy crumbling, or sees its people stirring in rebellious pose.

China seems fierce from the outside, but quite vulnerable from the inside. China’s military-industrial complex is corrupt and highly dependent upon pirated designs and methods. Its military is likewise corrupt and so beholden to the party that it has become crippled. China’s economy is hobbled by massive and overproducing state owned enterprises which are the definition of corrupt inefficiency and incompetence. High order turbulence at many levels of China lead to a chaotic buffeting and chipping away.

Not What CNN, RT, or Al Jazeera Will tell You

Most political analysts tend to sing together in a choir, focusing mainly upon what notes each other are piping — with their backs to the real world undertones that will determine the actual future. Even when in supposed disagreement, the singers are actually performing a carefully choreographed counterpoint.

This is why it is a mistake to expect to hear political wisdom from academics, media analysts, or other talking heads of social institutions. Wisdom is singularly rare in the public sphere, dominated as it is by loud echo choirs amply funded by elite special interests.

Hope for the Best, Work for the Better

The good is the enemy of the best, and nature has always operated on the “good enough” principle. Wise humans do not aim at utopias or perfect harmony under one wise leader. They plan for trouble each step of the way, and design methods for dealing with disagreements in hopes of avoiding perpetual war and bloodshed.

Make yourselves Dangerous for the dark days that the governments of the world are trying to bring down on you and your progeny. If you cannot tell who the good guys are, then it is best to make yourself and those you influence as informed and competent as possible — and don’t let your children become wilting, triggered snowflakes of perpetual helplessness.

It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .

Note on China’s blue water vulnerability:

The geographic enclosure of China’s near seas would make it relatively easy for an adversary to disrupt or interdict Chinese trade. China faces many challenges in developing the ability to project sufficient naval power to safeguard seaborne trade as it passes through distant chokepoints. Instead, China must rely on the United States to provide security of the sea-lanes. Although maritime security is ostensibly a public good, China worries that, as a potential peer competitor to the United States, it will not always be able to rely on the United States to protect its shipping. __ https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/grand-design-chinas-new-trade-routes

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