By Global Times
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Friday. Before he does it, Japanese media outlets have already sent a signal – Kishida has come with ill intentions.
According to Japanese media, Kishida will stress the significance of bolstering maritime security cooperation, oppose unilateral changes to the status quo by force, no matter where they occur, including the Diaoyu Islands and the Taiwan Straits, as well as unveil Tokyo’s plans to further boost the country’s defense budget and military capabilities.
If that is the case, Kishida’s role in this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue cannot be more evident – fanning the flames on the platform, misleading the agenda, making excuses for its future increase of military spending and coordinating with the US to expand the latter’s gang in the region under the framework of the “Indo-Pacific Strategy.”
It is not surprising if Kishida will raise the issues in his speech, as he has made clear his stance multiple times in the past. In May, during British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Japan tour, Kishida warned that “Ukraine might be tomorrow’s East Asia.” This is blatant fabrication and dissemination of the fake urgency – a potential war may soon break out in Asia – to terrify regional countries and force them to take sides. It seems that Kishida does not mind sending more aftershocks of the ongoing European geopolitical earthquake to Asia in his speech during the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s defense summit.
The Diaoyu Islands issue and the Taiwan question are fundamentally different from the Ukraine crisis. The former two are about China’s core interests and the Taiwan question is China’s domestic affairs. When a Japanese prime minister makes such a comparison, he is either an amateur in diplomacy, or playing dumb, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told Global Times.
Kishida’s words do not represent just himself, but the Liberal Democratic Party, which has always been pursuing to turn Japan into a normal country again and to shake off the restrictions imposed by the Japanese pacifist constitution. By hyping the so-called regional threat, Tokyo will have more excuses to further increase its military budget and send troops overseas, forging its Self-Defense Force as an offensive army.
Japan wishes to be the big boss in the Asia-Pacific region again and it feels both uncomfortable and scared when facing China’s rise, as it is aware that Japan alone is not capable of dealing with China. Thus, Tokyo chose to rely on Washington, Song said.
To keep a hold on US support and endorsement, Japan puts its identity and responsibilities as an Asian power behind its back. When the US promotes its “Indo-Pacific Strategy,” Japan proactively cooperates by stirring up trouble and confrontation in the region.
On the other hand, the US has been taking advantage of Japan. Take the Shangri-La Dialogue. It is more of a platform to lead the regional agenda rather than simply a stage for communication. It is called Asia’s defense summit, but does it really represent the will of the Asian countries? The dialogue is organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a UK-based think tank. The topics and themes are naturally led by certain Western countries. And from past experience, more divergences and unstable factors in the region, rather than regional countries’ common interests, were raised on the platform, Lü Yaodong, a research fellow at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
Against the current geopolitical backdrop, inviting Kishida as the keynote speaker at the Shangri-La Dialogue opening ceremony shows what signal the US-led West wants to deliver on the multilateral occasion.
Yet when cooperating with the US strategy, Japan may need to sober up that “America First” is not and will never be Japan first. At any critical juncture, Washington will not hesitate to abandon Tokyo for the US’ own interests, just like how it abandoned Afghanistan and Syria. Be it the Diaoyu Islands issue or the Taiwan question, Japan’s and the US’ calculations differ. The US-Japan Security Treaty will never be Japan’s life-saving straw, as that is not in line with the nature of “America First,” Song told Global Times.
Japan is a small country in size, with no strategic depth. If it ever dares to launch a military attack overseas, there is no way it can dodge revenge. Provoking other countries and keeping such warmongering behavior may eventually turn Japan into a battlefield again, Song noted.