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Japan’s “defence” budget serves US plans to counter China’s rise

(Contributed)

In mid-December, the Japanese government announced a new five-year defence plan with an increased budget. The brief nature of the small media release could easily have missed the attention of readers of the capitalist press here in Australia. Nevertheless, it provided insight into the bigger picture of US-led regional military planning.

The recent Japanese initiative forms part of wave after wave of US-led militarism sweeping the Asia-Pacific region; it has appeared increasingly likely the planning will become a future real-war scenario.
 
In mid-December the Australian newspaper carried a short hundred word official media release from the Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe which announced a new five-year defence plan together with information about the final stages of the re-interpretation of the pacifist constitution and massive arms deals with the US. (1) The new five-year defence plan formed part of a larger ten-year program; during the next five years Japan's defence budget will increase by 6.4 per cent over the previous five-year period. (2)
Another estimate, however, suggested the Japanese government had increased the defence allocation by 10 per cent through their new National Defence program Guidelines. (3)
 
A conspicuous part of the new five-year defence plan has included the re-fitting of two existing 'helicopter-carriers' for use with 42 US-manufactured F-35B stealth fighter jet-planes, which have short take-offs and vertical landing facilities, designed for use in the western Pacific as part of the Japan-US military alliance. (4)
 
Other media releases further elaborated upon the Japanese government 'buying advanced US weapons' having assessed the current regional situation and perceived China threat as a 'worsening security environment'. (5) The US weaponry concerned later proved to also include an Aegis Ashore land-based missile interceptor system, together with other equipment. (6)
 
The matter of the Japanese government re-interpreting their present pacifist constitution was deliberately down-played to avoid unnecessary publicity about the associated controversy: Section 9 of the present Japanese constitution was foisted upon the country by the US in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War with the specific intention of avoiding further aggressive military action. The section specifically renounced war and 'the threat or use of force as a means to settle international disputes'. (7) Those Japanese nationalists grouped around the Emperor were forced underground and into temporary silence. Many years later, however, the US required Japan to provide a more active role in defence and security of regional 'US interests'; Pentagon military planners had few qualms about drawing upon the expertise of those who had openly colluded with Japanese war-criminals, perpetrators of some of the worst human-rights abuses in human history.
 
As early as 2000, therefore, official media releases acknowledged Japanese military figures were beginning a five-year review of the controversial Section 9. (8) It was noted by observers that the fact the review was taking place was a 'victory for the nationalists'. (9) Emerging from the shadows, the nationalists wanted to rearm Japan, to regain their traditional leadership role in Asia.
 
It is, therefore, not surprising the review of Section 9 of the constitution also included a recommendation that the Japanese military had access to facilities for pre-emptive strikes 'to attack foreign enemy facilities, such as ballistic missile launch sites'. (10) The planned strikes drew upon aggressive forward military positions rather than from a defensive standpoint.
 
What was less well publicised, however, were moves in the late 1990s to re-organise the Japanese intelligence services. In 1998, the Japanese Defence Intelligence Office was established, which was responsible for, 'making recommendations on security and defence policy'. (11) The First Division was primarily concerned with domestic intelligence, whereas the Second Division was used for foreign intelligence. (12) The creation of the intelligence service was noted as part of longer-term 'overall restructuring to enhance the capability of the Japanese intelligence services in the 21st century'. (13)
 
Japanese foreign intelligence, Division Two, was also given the responsibility for liaison with over thirty other international intelligence bodies, including the US Five Eyes countries and MOSSAD. (14) There is little ambiguity: Japan forms part of the US-led alliance and is in the forefront of diplomatic hostilities with China. 
 
Once the Japanese intelligence services had consolidated their shadowy position within the corridors of power, the US began military planning to transform regional defence and security for 'US interests', which included Japan becoming a fully-fledged northern regional hub, with Australia as a southern counterpart. The trilateral diplomatic relationship is now fully operational, with Japan being allowed to extend the role of its own military 'to act when the US or countries US forces are defending are threatened'. (15) Japan now has no restrictions upon military action, with 'new rules that eliminate any geographical restriction'. (16)
 
Japan also has, in preparation for military action, established a centralised command over its five regional armies and a new amphibious brigade similar to the US Marines. (17) It is particularly important to note much of the military equipment used by Japan is US-manufactured, providing compatibility with the Pentagon. (18) Security relations between Japan and Australia have also strengthened since 2013 and the signing of agreements with 'trilateral co-operation with the US'. (19) It has been noted that 'the Japanese government sees closer security co-operation with Australia as integral to maintaining the existing US-led regional order'. (20)
 
This so-called “regional order” comprised traditional US hegemonic positions, which have been assessed by the Pentagon as being threatened by the rapid rise of China. At the behest of US-led military planning, 'Japan and Australia are understood to be pursuing deeper and broader defence co-operation, including joint exercises, strategic visits, trilateral co-operation with the US, and further sharing of defence equipment, science and technology'. (21)
 
The trilateral diplomatic relationship is not solely confined to a narrow definition of defence and security provision. It is also used to co-ordinate spurious aid programs, particularly in the Pacific, where considerations about development are promoted to include 'international standards covering transparency, openness, economic soundness as well as debt-sustainability', which also have their uses within military planning. (22) Such uses are, however, down-played to avoid unnecessary publicity although a recent media release did acknowledge that 'Japan, Australia and the US will continue to closely co-operate with each other under such a goal'. (23)
 
We are very likely to see a series of joint military exercises following the recent Japanese defence budget. It has been noted that 'the US military's favourite way of testing its assumptions and ideas is to run a war game'. (24) We should be on our guard that war-games do not deteriorate into real-war scenarios. We are, unfortunately, already well into the first, preparatory stages, with tense diplomacy with China and a new US-led Cold War position in Australia itself. A recent media release in the Australia, for example, quoted Professor Clive Hamilton of Charles Sturt University, stating: “There are hundreds of Beijing's agents throughout Australian politics, universities, public       service and business.” (25)
 
In a recently published book, Hamilton refutes any suggestion that the US is imperialist in its relations with Australia and paints an overly dramatic picture of various clumsy attempts by China to gain influence here. His views do not complement a scientific analysis of Chinese social-imperialism, but promote racism and crude anti-communism.
 
And, as for the promotion of war-games and military hostilities, in contemporary Australia, the new deputy director-general of the Office of National Assessments (ONA) in Canberra, Andrew Shearer is on record stating that Australia could not avoid being implicated in a major conflict involving the US in Asia: 'the idea Australia could somehow stand aside from a major conflict in the Asia-pacific region that involved the US is fanciful'. (26) 
         
We need an independent foreign policy to distance ourselves from calamity!

1.     Japan breaks with pacifist rule, orders aircraft carriers, Australian, 19 December 2018.
2.     Japan to spend more on defence, news.com.au., 18 December 2018.
3.     Abe defence plans vex China, Australian, 21 December 2018.
4.     news.com.au., op cit., 18 December 2018. 
5.     Japan Cabinet OK's record defence budget, US arms buy, The Washington Post, 21 December 2018.
6.     Japan government approves record defence budget, News / Japan, 21 December 2018.
7.     Quoted, Japan begins review of its pacifist constitution, The Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 27 January-2 February 2000.
8.     Ibid.
9.     Ibid.
10.   Japanese top brass plan for future pre-emptive strike, The Age (Melbourne), 21 October 2018.
11.   Japan, Cabinet Research Office, Espionage, Spies and Secrets, Richard M. Bennett, (London, 2002), pp. 163-65.
12.   Ibid.
13.   Ibid.
14.   Website: Public Security Intelligence Agency, Japan, Wikipedia; and, Global Security. Org.
15.   Japan to extend military reach beyond self-defence, The Age (Melbourne), 29 April 2015.
16.   Ibid.
17.   Japan unifies army for first time since WW2 to counter China, Australian, 6 April 2018.
18.   Ibid.
19.   Website: Comment, Japan in Australia's 2016 Defence White Paper,  Amy King, (Australian National University), page 177.
20.   Ibid., page 179.
21.   Japanese PM set to visit sub war grave,  Australian, 13 November 2018.
22.   Alliance to test Beijing's resolve in the Pacific, Weekend Australian, 17-18 November 2018.
23.   Ibid.
24.   Asia moves to forefront of Pentagon planning, Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 1-7 June 2000.
25.   Arrest escalates hi-tech cold war, The Weekend Australian, 8-9 December 2018.
26.   Key intel role for 'China hawk', Australian, 15 June 2018.

 

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