Is war imminent between China and Japan?

The competing sovereignty claims over a number of islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, has been escalating dangerously over the last month or so.

The intensity of the threats and counter-threats has been remorselessly increasing, with China sending ships and warplanes into the disputed areas, and Japan increasing its military presence and threatening to fire warning shots at any intruding aircraft.

Recent news reports indicate that earlier this month, China sent fighter planes to shadow Japanese fighter planes that were shadowing a Chinese surveillance plane.  Japan has not tried to force Chinese commercial vessels out of the area, and China has so far refrained from sending  warships, but just one itchy trigger-finger will be all that is necessary for the present self-imposed limitations to instantly evaporate.

Japan is backed by the United States, and China appears to have solid Russian backing.  And North Korea is testing rockets capable of reaching the west coast of the U.S., and is planning to test nuclear weapons to put on them.

Taiwan, the Phillipines, and other lesser players are involved, and any military incident could quickly drag in the major powers in much the same way that the assassination of an obscure arch-Duke in Serbia resulted in the Great War of 1914-1918.

This is real, it is now, and it could get extremely nasty, very quickly.

There are two main underlying factors to keep in mind, as I see it:

Firstly, the disputed islands are surrounded by rich mineral, gas and oil resources.  And secondly, China is undoubtedly beginning to feel ‘empowered’ by America’s decline, and by its gradual military withdrawal from the Far East.

America is very thinly stretched, primarily because of its Middle Eastern involvement at the behest of its Israeli masters, and China may now think that it can realistically challenge America.

And, as Taiwan and Japan find themselves more and more exposed to Chinese bullying, they will inevitably ‘go nuclear’ and develop their own nuclear deterrents.

They are both quite capable of doing so, and as America declines, they would be foolish not to.

Jeff Goodall.

Here are some links to authoritative analyses of the situation, all published in the last week:

The drums of war: China and Japan square up (Jan 18th) here.

Inside China: War hysteria blamed on U.S. (Jan 24th) here.

Odds of military conflict between China, Japan increase as Xi calls for ‘actual combat’ training (Jan 22nd) here.

China’s Buying A Fleet Of Russian Bombers Perfect For Taking On The US Navy (Jan 20th) here.

U.S., Japan review defence guidelines amid tension with China (Jan 17th) here.

North Korea to carry out third nuclear test ‘aimed at US’ (Jan 24th) here.

Japan launching spy satellite to monitor North Korea (Jan 24th) here.

I wrote about this issue in my post “China and Japan: Dangerous escalation over disputed islands” (Sept. 17th, 2012) here.

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