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In 30 Pages, Japan Has Put Chinese Leadership On Its Heels

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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China is outraged over the release of a defense white paper in Japan that criticizes China’s assertiveness and willingness to skirt international law.

According to a report from the Xinhua News Agency in China, Japan dedicated 30 pages of the 480-page Defense of Japan 2016 to “smearing China’s normal maritime activities to justify its own militarism.”

In its annual defense review, the Japanese government said that “China is poised to fulfill its unilateral demands without compromise,” and “unintended consequences” could result from China’s wanton disregard of international rules.

The recently-released defense white paper also goes into details on Japan’s increased military spending, the new National Defense Program Guidelines, and potential weapons sales, so China is now arguing that “by playing up the ‘China threat,’ the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is attempting to make excuses for the amendment of the post-war pacifist constitution and building up of Japan’s military.”

Japan says that its defense legislation “safeguards Japan’s peace and security,” but China isn’t buying it, perhaps because China is irritated that the Japanese are pulling plays from China’s usual playbook.

Back in April, China responded to Western criticisms that China’s National Security Law would negatively impact other regional actors by stating that the new legislation was designed to “safeguard national security,” as well as “safeguard stability and development for the country and the region as a whole.” This sounds surprisingly similar to the language the Japanese chose to use in their yearly defense review.

Interestingly, the Japanese may not be off in their assessments. Not only is China at the center of most maritime disputes in the region, but just yesterday, the PLA Navy organized a massive live-fire drill in the East China Sea, which China shares with Japan. This military drill was an intense training event for a potential “information technology-based war at sea,” which the PLAN described as “sudden, cruel, and short.” This training drill involved naval aviation forces, as well as submarines, ships, and coastguard troops.

In recent years, China has demonstrated a high degree of militarism, and now China is making preparations for war. Yet, China is shocked that the Japanese would have the audacity to express concerns over Chinese behavior.

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