China-Japan relations

China's military 'odds and ends' no threat to Japan

Fired Japanese air force chief says PLA too weak to contest islands, and Beijing is just bluffing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 3:02am

The former head of Japan's air force, who was fired for saying his nation needed nuclear weapons and that China benefited from Japanese occupation, has resurfaced to dismiss the threat posed by a Chinese military he said consisted of "odds and ends".

Sacked from his post in 2008 for his outspokenly nationalist comments in a magazine article, Toshio Tamogami this week rejected suggestions that China is preparing to go to war over the disputed Diaoyu or Senkaku islands.

Interviewed by the Shukan Asahi Geino magazine, the former chief of staff of the Air Self-Defence Force said there were no indications Beijing was planning to make a grab for the islands. Therefore, he said all Japan needed to do was ignore the show of force being staged by Chinese warships and aircraft close to the islands.

Tamogami played down reports that a Chinese warship locked its radar onto a Japanese vessel and a helicopter as tensions escalated in January, suggesting the move was merely an effort on the Chinese side to escalate the situation.

"What would the advantage to China be of going to war with Japan?" Tamogami asked in the interview.

"I have said this previously, but the Chinese military in its present condition could not win against Japan."

He added that the Chinese forces at present were "a mish-mash of odds and ends".

Tamogami claimed that if Beijing was seriously considering an assault to take the islands, then its forces would need a minimum of three months to mobilise, but probably closer to six months to be ready.

And there would be visible signs, including large-scale movements of warships and aircraft. At present, there were none, he said.

Tamogami said another certain giveaway would be an increase in military communications, which had similarly not materialised.

"The [Japanese] TV news and comment programmes keep issuing alarming reports because they are trying to boost their ratings," he said.

Beijing was merely attempting to bully Tokyo into submission on the issue of the sovereignty of the islands, Tamogami said.

Tamogami was sacked five years ago after writing in an opinion paper that Japan should consider a nuclear arsenal of its own, and that if the military had been armed with atomic weapons in 1945, it should have used them against the Allies.

The essay, which Tamogami declined to withdraw, added that Japan's occupation and colonisation of Korea, mainland China and Taiwan were beneficial to the people of those countries and were "more gentle" than the policies of Western imperial powers.