Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Will Okinawa once again become a battleground in a Japan-China military conflict?

19 Comments

After years of fretting over military buildups by China, North Korea and Russia, Japan has finally begun to make serious moves to augment its Self Defense Force. Last December Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced his intention to double defense expenditures from 1% of GNP to 2%.

This raises various questions, among which would be, what sort of scenarios would be likely if China were to make moves toward incorporating its territorial claims in Taiwan and the Senkaku Islands?

Asahi Geino (Jan 26) picked the brains of several military analysts, asking for their opinions on how a conflict might develop.

If China moves military against Taiwan, a prime concern is that Japan would be drawn in.

"The Chinese would determine how far the front lines of such a conflict would be extend," remarked Sugio Takahashi, head of the Defense Policy Division at the National Institute for Defense Studies. "Of course it's possible China would only confine its attack to Taiwan, but in war, it is advantageous to attack preemptively. In other words, the possibility exists that in order to knock the U.S. military out of the fight, China would engage in preemptive air assaults against targets outside Taiwan, in Japan's southwest island chain and on Guam. Such attacks would not only be aimed at military targets, but also civilian airports with the potential for military use."

On January 12, Japan's Ministry of Defense announced it had begun construction of a new base on eight-square-kilometer Mageshima, an uninhabited island administered by Nishinoomote City on neighboring Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture. Over the next four years, the island's two runways are to be upgraded to enable planes from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers to conduct touch-and-go training.

A news source added that guidelines also called for the posting of a missile detachment on the SDF base on Ishigaki island by the end of March.

"A U.S. Marine quick response unit on Okinawa will be reorganized and the GSDF 15th Brigade headquartered in Naha, Okinawa, will be augmented with the aim of establishing joint defense of other islands in the Ryukyu chain," the source added.

Plans call for the 15th Brigade's manpower to be boosted from its current level of 2,200 to 3,000.

"Naturally this is hoped to serve as a deterrent, but in the event of an actual war, the numbers are far too few, by a factor of 10," the source added. "It wouldn't have a chance of withstanding China's human wave tactics."

The aforementioned Takahashi pointed out that with its huge arsenal of missiles, China's strategy might not be limited to taking out military bases, seaports and airfields.

"China's objective would be to land troops and occupy Taiwan and the Senkakus," he said. "In other words, as long as these places can be defended against military occupation, China would not achieve a victory. To avoid a land war, Japan's best bet will be to adopt a "standoff strategy," which will require a large arsenal of long-distance missiles to counter seaborne invasions. And the SDF will also need to develop a unified command strategy for its land, sea and air forces."

Between 2023 to 2025, Japan plans to deploy an upgraded version of its Type 12 surface-to-ship missiles, whose range will be extended to between 900 to 1,200 km, compared with the previous type of only 200 km. In the short term it is procuring Tomahawk cruise missiles from the U.S.

Over the next five years, the government's mid-term defense infrastructure plan calls for outlays of over ¥43 trillion, which includes procurement of 500 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the U.S.

But Takahashi points out that even with the doubling of defense outlays, which would also include new fighter planes and Aegis-equipped destroyers, expenditures that provide Japan with a "counterattack capability" only account for one-tenth of the total budget.

"At present, China's air and sea military capability is around 70% that of the U.S.," Takahashi tells Asahi Geino. "However, American forces are deployed around the world and in East Asia the balance is tilted in China's favor by a ratio of 7 to 5. So if Japan can supplement the U.S. with the remaining 2, the ratio would achieve parity at 7 to 7.

"Wars typically begin with the anticipation of victory," Takahashi added. "Vladimir Putin ordered the attack on Ukraine wrongly believing the latter would collapse in three days. If China can be made to believe it won't win, war can be prevented. So that in itself serves as a deterrent."

In the upcoming Diet session, Asahi Geino concludes, much will depend on Kishida's ability to justify his proposed tax increase in order to boost Japan's defense expenditures.

© Japan Today

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
Login to comment

Will Okinawa once again become a battleground in a Japan-China military conflict?

What a ridiculous question. No, China is not a threat to Japan or Okinawa however much the US wants to encourage this falsehood. China is an economic threat to the economies of both Japan and the US, but sadly this is a war in which they cannot be defeated.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

Will Okinawa once again become a battleground in a Japan-China military conflict?

Of course it would dummy, case closed.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

japan should build a nuke all the provocation from Russia NK n China will b gone its very economical to have a few nukes rather than having to maintain a large army to deter the hostile neighbors n for economy Japan Us n all its allies together wont face a problem

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Definitely.

Next question.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

No, why that senseless effort? For the Chinese it’s simple and sufficient to only cut it off mainland and US supply routes. It’s not a self-sufficient area neither under economic nor military considerations. They come under China’s umbrella begging on knees within a few weeks or months when the few resources are emptied.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

China has certainly made statements in the past supporting the idea that Okinawa should be under its control. While this does not mean an invasion is forthcoming, it does mean that preparation for the possibility is a good idea.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

In the upcoming Diet session, Asahi Geino concludes, much will depend on Kishida's ability to justify his proposed tax increase in order to boost Japan's defense expenditures.

...To the public? Fat chance!

https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/d5c41753f3cd7d0e02f3972fc03c4f9030e10413

His approval levels crashed down yet another level of underground parking at 26.5pct.

How low can he go, our Limbo PM? (#sarcasm)

1 ( +4 / -3 )

As long as US, Japanese and allied nation forces are strong enough, and most importantly seen by the Chinese as strong enough, to defeat any Chinese military adventures there will be no war in the region. Keeping sufficient military forces trained, maintained and ready to fight is much less costly that being perceived as under-armed and unwilling to fight. The latter invites an attack. China under the CCP, like most dictatorships, does not respect weakness and peaceful intent. They sneer at the weak. They do however understand strength and won't pick a fight they might loose.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

his proposed tax increase

Blue,

The proposed increase is to 2% GDP from 1%. China has been spending about 1.7 of GDP, and that is expected to increase. The proposed plan won't be such a hard sell, and his approval ratings won't matter. He presents the plan to the Diet, not to the general population. It will pass, possibly with a little adjustment.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Desert Tortoise Great post very good logical explanation! Point in case China no longer see's Russia as a military power, they see Russia as broke down and needing their support.

As long as US, Japanese and allied nation forces are strong enough, and most importantly seen by the Chinese as strong enough, to defeat any Chinese military adventures there will be no war in the region. Keeping sufficient military forces trained, maintained and ready to fight is much less costly that being perceived as under-armed and unwilling to fight. The latter invites an attack. China under the CCP, like most dictatorships, does not respect weakness and peaceful intent. They sneer at the weak. They do however understand strength and won't pick a fight they might loose.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Japan is part of the Pacific US defense team. Nobody would attack any Japanese territories, except by a mistake. Okinawa is clearly included, since there are US military people there. Nobody is THAT stupid.

Similarly, Japan, Taiwan, US won't be attacking mainland China directly. That is equally stupid.

The real issues will happen at sea and near/on disputed, unoccupied, islands and "surface features".

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's about time Japan woke up to the reality of China and North Korea and start making preparations to defend their own country once again.

Possibly even consider arming themselves with nukes.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Wellington....

It's about time Japan woke up to the reality of China and North Korea and start making preparations to defend their own country once again.

It's about time Japan woke up to the reality of why the US wants it to militarize and start making preparations to become an independent country once again.

Fixed it for you.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Japan is part of the Pacific US defense team. Nobody would attack any Japanese territories, except by a mistake. Okinawa is clearly included, since there are US military people there. Nobody is THAT stupid.

If the Chinese thought they could win they might. If they attack Taiwan and Japan becomes involved in Taiwan's defense, even passively as a base for US and allied operations, China might decide to attack. Nations frequently in history have misjudged the abilities and of their adversaries and lost wars they started. Just me but I think we were headed there this decade with China thinking they could pull off an invasion of Taiwan until they saw the allied response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We will probably never know the truth unless there is a tell-all book by someone on the inside in the CCP but I think how the west pulled together to help Ukraine probably made the Chinese think twice about invading Taiwan, at least in the near future.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

If Xi decides to go to war, then yes, Okinawa will probably be targeted by Chinese missiles.

One would hope that Xi, and the Chinese, would have better things to do than needlessly go to war. That's the trouble with dictatorships; they don't behave rationally. Like Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which benefits no one, dictators do whatever dictators feel like doing.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The fact that this question is even asked should be enough for all of us to start marching in the street. I see plenty of hubristic comments here from people who have no idea of the level of suffering that war would bring.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Yes in fact Japanese citizens did protest and demonstrate en mass in the 60's to show their opposition to US bases on their soil as they feared it would actually destabilize the region and bring Japan into the crosshairs, which it has and has necessitated the rearming of Japan.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The whole point of keeping most US Forces in Okinawa is not to defend Okinawa but to make Okinawa the main target. That is why there is so much resistance to reducing the size of the US forces in Okinawa by moving them to mainland Japan. That is the main reason mainland politicians don't want the US military in their prefecture.

If they believed the US military would protect them, make them safer, the US military would be welcome to move bases to the mainland. As it is, no one wants bases in their prefecture, and that includes those on the frontline, Okinawans, because they don't ever want to be the sacrificial pawns again,

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The best way to keep peace in East Asia is to help Taiwan arm itself with Japanese military technology and hardware, and invest in its economy while decoupling from China, AND INVITE OTHER LIKE-MINDED COUNTRIES TO DO SO.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites