Leadership: Events In East Asia That Will Not End Well


October 18, 2014: Japan announced another increase in their defense budget, to $47.25 billion. This is a slight increase from what was proposed at the end of 2013. The reason for all this spending is concern over the growing Chinese aggression in the Western Pacific. In 2013 Japan raised defense spending 2.8 percent for 2014 (to $46.8 billion) and released a list of priorities for the new, improved and larger defense budget. The Chinese were not pleased with this list as it emphasized dealing with the Chinese threat and saying so publically is considered bad manners in China.

The Japanese plans involve improving reconnaissance around disputed (between China and Japan) islands and ocean areas that China has been asserting claims on with increasing aggressiveness since the 1990s. The Japanese also speak of improving their ability to move air, land and naval forces quickly to counter any future Chinese surprise moves. The Japanese planning document goes into some detail about how civilian and military resources would be mobilized for this, along with help from allied nations.

To get all this done the Japanese military wants more money in the future to buy twenty of the Japanese designed (by Kawasaki) P-1 aircraft to replace the current American built P-3Cs. Also on the wish list are UAVs for maritime patrol and a new dipping sonar for helicopters. The air force wants to increase the initial F-35 order from four to six aircraft.

This is all very upsetting for the Chinese who hate the Japanese mainly because of eighty years of humiliation inflicted on China until 1945. Before that China had considered Japan an occasional nuisance, a warlike people living on several large island off northeastern China who were best left alone. Most of the time the Japanese seemed content to fight each other rather than threaten the Chinese coast. But that all changed in the late 19th century when the Japanese decided to industrialize, arm themselves like Westerners and adopt a more aggressive attitude towards China. After all, that’s what the Westerners were doing. At the end of the 19th century the Japanese believed they were the best hope for making East Asia competitive with the West. The bad blood between Japan and China over this period in their history will poison relations between the two countries for many generations to come. China becomes angrier when threats directed at Japan are not received properly and the Japanese respond with more defense spending and plans to thwart Chinese aims. People in East Asia fear that all this will not end well.





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