Japan’s anti-China ‘security diamond’ will prove useless delusion

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-12-23 19:48:02

Japan's annual defense budget will exceed 5 trillion yen for the first time in 2016, which was the most eye-catching part of next year's budget outlays released by the Japanese government on Monday. Meanwhile, according to a Kyodo News Agency report, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked with Indian and Australian leaders this month to advance the formation of an Asian "security diamond." Both moves are targeted at China.

Five trillion yen is more than $50 billion. The security diamond is envisaged as being shaped by Australia, India and the US state of Hawaii to counter China's rise.

Japan has openly opposed and taken countermeasures against a rising China more than any other country. With cutting-edge technologies and economic prowess, Japan is capable of countering China. But in the long run it will be unlikely to grow to be the No.1 strategic rival of China given Japan's relatively small territory and population, and limited resource reserves.

Japan's annual defense budget is less than half of China's. It can cause substantial troubles in China's rise, but is unable to threaten the existence of China. Nor can Japan become a major external factor that decides whether China's development can proceed smoothly.

Japan's right-wing politicians have long demanded an encirclement of China, and the "alliance of values" lays a foundation for it. Japan can strengthen its political and defense ties with the neighboring countries of China as long as it generously gives out money. But it remains questionable whether these ties can be elevated to an alliance that aims at China and can take real actions.

Confined by its national strength, Japan cannot be as charismatic as a true power. Its passionate call for encircling China basically goes unanswered as the whole region doesn't have the needs and motivation. Australia has been walking a fine line between the US and China, its largest trading partner. Concentrated on development, India's relationship with China is strategically independent and it doesn't intend to become a tool to counterbalance China. In this sense, Abe's envisioned diamond can hardly work out with Australia and India.

The US dominates its alliance with Japan, and it has forged a global strategic relationship with China. In this case, Japan is unlikely to play a leading role between the two powers. The US-Japan relationship will not see Washington serving Tokyo's interests.

In other words, Japan may not achieve dominance in Asia-Pacific geopolitics, but it can unsettle China. Specifically, today's Japan looks like a wall standing in the way of China's rise and insists on upsetting China despite being foundering.

The Abe administration has been obstinate and diplomatically unreasonable in confronting China since no other country would rather sacrifice its own interest to jeopardize others. The historical and territorial disputes between China and Japan shouldn't have developed into deeply entangled conflicts. For China, Japan has become a rather weird neighbor that can hardly be placated. We can only try to convince ourselves that Japan's rationality, possibly hidden now, will surface some day.

The security diamond will turn out to be a fantasy. By countering China Japan will pay no less a cost than us. If Japanese society willingly stands at the forefront of countering China simply because it worries about what China will do to Japan after its rise, then Japan has to take responsibility for its paranoia.

Under the circumstance, China needs to stay strategically composed. It should not indulge Abe's unreasonable moves, nor would reject its wishes to seek a thaw in bilateral relations. China has taken the upper hand in its relations with Japan and is well-positioned to cope with its neighbor calmly.

The article is an editorial of the Chinese edition of the Global Times on Wednesday. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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