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Japan Concerned over Chinese Aircraft Carrier

Japan Concerned over Chinese Aircraft Carrier

The Varyag, a refitted 300-meter Soviet-era aircraft carrier from Ukraine, is China's first aircraft carrier. (Getty)

Japan has voiced concern over the second trial of China’s first aircraft carrier, which started Tuesday.

Even though the refitted Soviet carrier is technologically pretty much what you’d expect from a third-world country, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said, “I am concerned about their reinforcement of national defense power, which lacks transparency, and their acceleration of maritime activities.”

Last week Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba asked China’s Premier Wen Jiabao to agree to set up a “crisis management mechanism” to avoid conflict in disputed waters.

Despite these recent events, I don’t think Japan is genuinely concerned about the Chinese navy. Even though Japan’s population is less than a tenth of China’s, Japan’s military expenditure is nearly half of China’s. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is technologically more sophisticated than the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China. And there’s no doubt that Japan has the capital and the technology to quickly expand its military. If necessary, the Japanese could easily brush aside anything China throws at them. I think Japanese politicians are playing up the threat in order to justify the country’s own military spending.

Article 9 of Japan’s constitution says:

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

“In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.” (emphasis added)

Despite the above article in Japan’s U.S.-penned constitution, the U.S. has ironically urged its former enemy to rearm, with the misplaced expectation that the Japanese military would become an extension of the U.S.’s. Interestingly, there has never been a debate in the Supreme Court of Japan over the constitutionality of the country’s so-called Self-Defense Forces (or any politically controversial issue for that matter). At this point it doesn’t really matter. Japan has rearmed whether it was constitutional or not. Despite rearming at Washington’s insistence, Tokyo has referred to Article 9 as an excuse not to come to the aid of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Even though China has an aircraft carrier, I think Japan is, and will continue to be, East Asia’s dominant maritime force.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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E-mail him: [email protected]