Yep, I posted about it in the China Geopolitical & Geostrategic thread
last week. What now makes it more interesting is that it's the Deputy PM and Finance Minister Taro Aso making the comments. Last week it was the Minister of Defence Yasuhide Nakayama, so IMHO this has the appearance of a new Japanese policy being floated and one that will be contentious both at home and in three particular nations; the PRC, North Korea, and with the current South Korean administration. Undoubtedly Vlad the Red will also put his roubles worth and oar into it as well, decrying Japanese militaristic adventurism.
1. I suspect that PM Yoshihide Suga will not survive long in his post before domestic imperatives push forward a new LDP leader. But no matter what happens at a domestic politics level, Japan has woken up to a new dawn at the G7, where everyone (NATO included) wants to pivot to the East — with the French as first movers amongst the Europeans. In May 2021, Japan held a joint military drill with US and French troops in the country's southwest, the defence minister said, as China's actions in regional waters raise concern. The exercise, running from May 11 to 17, is the first large-scale exercise in Japan involving ground troops from all three countries, the JGSDF said in a statement.
2. As the most capable navy in the East, the JMSDF will be swamped with offers from European navies to collaborate. As Kurt Campbell recently explained that a “new cold war” was a not a suitable way to frame the U.S.-China relationship, even though it has adversarial aspects. “There will be periods of uncertainty — perhaps even periods of occasional raised tensions,” he said.
3. IMHO, what matters to China is the actual performance of Japan in concert with the US, at actually pushing-back firmly but not in a manner that shows over reaction to Chinese attempts to advance their interests [within the 1st island chain].
(a) Campbell stressed that the Biden Administration stands by the “One China Policy” and does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country — but he explained that the island should not be ignored by the international community or shut out of multilateral collaboration where it can make contributions. “We fully recognize and understand the sensitivities here,” he said.
(b) The conversation also covered trade policy, where the U.S. is “quietly exploring” trade initiatives in Asia, and China’s bullying approach to Australia. In this respect, the RAAF and RAN are will placed to collaborate with their American and Japanese counter-parts at intelligence sharing given the high levels of interoperability of naval and air forces. The RAAF has executed part of its modernisation strategy to remain relevant in a manner that gives me high confidence of their increasing relevance provided their strategic community consider adding to RAAF’s fighter numbers by buying a 4th squadron of F-35As.
(c) My concern continues to be RAN submarine and ship building plans that are being delayed due to various reasons. Given the presence of a performance driven culture, those who perform are on the inside track, those that don’t are wondering what comes next as Japan unfurls it’s military strategy with performing allies to cope with China’s rise.
4. What matters, in the period from 2021 to 2031, for the JSDF is execution (including the JMSDF’s superb ship building plans that see new models rollout like clockwork); and in this respect the USAF, RAAF, and ROKAF, as allies with tertiary air forces, are executing their respective buy plans for new weapons that warms my heart — but the ship building plans of these 3 navies are a rocky path.
5. To conclude, it is important to keep in mind that the rivalry or competition against China is fiercest not in the military sphere but in technology, 5G, robotics, life sciences and even areas like AI.