[Speaking Out] Japan Should Adopt “Three Wars” Concept to Defend Senkakus
Chinese Coast Guard ships frequently entered the waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, exposing the japanese islands to dangers. There is a country from which Japan should learn to exercise effective control over the Senkaku. It is none other than China.
The Chinese Communist Party revised the political work regulations of the People’s Liberation Army in 2003 to adopt the so-called “Three Wars” concept. Its goal: to exploit public opinion and wage psychological and legal warfare to undermine enemy powers. Japan should adopt its own concept of “three wars” to counter the increasingly aggressive China.
Biden: article 5 of the Japanese-American security treaty applies to Senkakus
Start with psychological warfare. On November 12, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke by telephone with former US Vice President Joe Biden, who declared himself the winner of the last US presidential election. After the talks, Suga announced that Biden considered the Senkaku Islands to be covered by Article 5 of the Japan-United States Security Treaty, which forces the United States to defend Japan.
During their telephone interview, the Japanese Prime Minister resumed the application of the article to the Senkakus and Mr. Biden responded positively. Amid fears that he might take a conciliatory stance towards China, the apparent president-elect has made it clear that the United States will remain committed to defending the Senkaku, putting psychological pressure on China.
Psychological pressure alone is not enough. Japan should step up its war of public opinion to underscore internationally that indigenous Japanese territory is threatened by China, and thereby get the international community to recognize the unreasonableness of China’s actions.
Then comes the legal war. While I recognize the efforts of the Japanese government to secure a verbal commitment from the President-elect of the United States to apply the security treaty to the Senkaku Islands, Japan should not rely solely on such verbal assurances. Japan should make self-help efforts, including legal warfare, as a first step.
China proposed revisions to its national defense law at a session of the National People’s Congress in late October, virtually declaring that the country would go to war if its economic interests are threatened. He also announced a bill to strengthen the power of the Chinese Coast Guard. China has therefore regularly waged its own version of legal warfare.
If China were to take control of the Senkaku, it would likely send special military forces to land on the islands taking Japan unattended. In such a case, it would be difficult for the Japanese government to mobilize the Self-Defense Forces to counter China’s action. Japan should develop its own laws and guidelines to enable the SDF to respond quickly to such an event.
Do not hesitate to occupy the Senkaku to strengthen control of Japan
Some lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are preparing a bill to investigate the ecosystems of the Senkaku Islands. The government plans to implement the study of ecosystems using satellites. This will not include human inspection of island ecosystems through landings.
Such satellite surveys would fail to strengthen Japan’s effective control over the islands. The government is avoiding landings on the Senkaku Islands, being careful not to provoke China. The result is that Chinese government ships trespassed more frequently and remained in the waters around the Senkakus.
Prime Minister Suga felt a sense of danger regarding the Senkaku Islands and attempted to facilitate communications between the Japanese Coast Guard and Maritime Self-Defense Forces when he was chief cabinet secretary under the former Abe administration. At that time, a basic maritime policy plan adopted by the cabinet in April 2013 called for the JCG and MSDF to quickly share information to develop vigilance and surveillance systems. However, it can be difficult to correct the sectionalism that hinders cooperation between government agencies.
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Author: Takashi Arimoto
Takashi Arimoto is editor of the monthly SEIRON magazine at Sankei Shimbun newspaper.