Japan pushes back against PRC’s maritime moves

Japan pushes back against PRC’s maritime moves

Voice of America

Japan is stepping forward as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) ramps up its military presence in Indo-Pacific waters, including near Japan’s coast and a group of disputed islands, analysts say.

In late April 2022, Tokyo protested after a Chinese navy survey ship entered Japanese waters for about three hours, Japan’s Kyodo News reported. Earlier that month, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force repositioned a mobile radar system in the nation’s outlying islands following increased Chinese activity in the region, the Stars and Stripes newspaper reported. (Pictured: Japanese destroyers sail in formation during the Keen Sword 21 exercise.)

The PRC has upped its naval and air presence in the East China Sea, which stretches between the two countries and expands into the western Pacific Ocean. The sea encompasses the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims as its territory.

Japan’s military scrambled its aircraft more than 1,000 times to respond to incursions by foreign aircraft, many of them Chinese, during the year ending in March 2022, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense. That was a jump of 279 such incidents over the prior year.

The PRC hopes to deter Japan and other countries from challenging it in the western Pacific, said Andrew Yang, secretary-general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, a Taiwan-based think tank. Japan and the United States, treaty allies since 1951, will “consolidate or update” their alliance to “fend off a Chinese incursion,” Yang said.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by phone in late March 2022, and six U.S. lawmakers met with Kishi a few weeks later to discuss “further strengthening” of the alliance, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry.

Japan worries about what the PRC’s close ties with Russia mean for Taiwan, said Jeff Kingston, a history professor at the Japan campus of Temple University. Russia invaded its sovereign neighbor Ukraine in late February 2022, and the PRC has not ruled out using force to control self-ruled Taiwan, Japan’s neighbor and informal ally.