Japan's "secret" defense plans


As the glow of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's stunning victory in recent parliamentary elections fades away, a newly uncovered report from the country's defense department is bound to fan the flames of anti—Japan sentiment across the rest of Asia.  The left—leaning Asahi Shimbun has uncovered a 'strictly confidential' report outlining likely military responses to a potential attack from China. 

While greater trade and capital flows making the two economies increasingly interdependent, conflicts over Japan's wartime aggression and disputed claims over natural resources continue to damage political relations between Beijing and Tokyo. This Asahi story is just the latest twist in a bilateral relationship plagued by mistrust and conflict.  As explained a previous American Thinker article, many Chinese blame Koizumi for creating much the bilateral turmoil after making repeated visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine near Tokyo.

Americans who are unfamiliar with Japan's postwar era should be strongly cautioned against overreacting to the Asahi's claims. Similar to many liberal American newspapers, the Asahi has a long history of anti—military views.  They have often worried about the growing American military alliance with Tokyo and expressed outrage at the small number of American military personnel found guilty of crimes against Japanese civilians, especially on the southern island of Okinawa.  

Labeling the possibility of an attack as 'small,' the secret military plan drawn up in 2003 or 2004 mainly envisions two cases concerning possible military action from China. 

Under both situations, American forces may be dragged into a military conflict between a strong ally led by Koizumi and a growing military power set on reclaiming its rightful position in the Pacific region after centuries of domination and humiliation.  

In the first scenario, Sino—Japan relations continue to deteriorate in the East China Sea, as the two Asian giants have a military showdown over natural resources in the area near the disputed Senkaku islands.  China is predicted to respond by sending troops into the area around the islands to secure it's interests.

In response, Japan's Self—Defense Forces (SDF) envisions sending more troops from Kyushu to Okinawa and to other islands in the southern tip of the country.  

In the second scenario, tensions spiral out of control between China and Taiwan after President Chen declares independence on the island.
The United States, supported by Japan, could possibly intervene to protect  military bases in Japan.

The GSDF would dispatch core troops to the islands south of Okinawa's main island, and send in other forces from Kyushu or Shikoku, depending on the situation.

To deal with possible Chinese guerrilla attacks in urban areas of Japan, the GSDF would transfer troops from Hokkaido to cities under siege, and prepare to dispatch specially trained forces to protect SDF and U.S. bases.
Some government sources said the GSDF has magnified the threat from China, which could exacerbate the current problem in relations.

"Military conflicts in Asia do not bring benefits to Japan, China or the United States," an SDF executive said. "None of them wants a conflict. What I fear most is the spread of distrust."

The defense plan says a potential military conflict with North Korea could occur if the economic situation in that country deteriorates or its relations with the United States worsen.

Pyongyang might then fire ballistic missiles at major political or economic facilities and U.S. bases in Japan, while ordering 2,500 armed spies to carry out terrorist attacks here, the GSDF plan said.

As for Russia, the defense plan's scenario starts with deteriorating relations between Tokyo and Moscow. Russia then launches ballistic missiles at Japan or dispatches troops to invade Hokkaido.

Brian Schwarz   9 28 05