China warned Japan may intervene militarily if it invades Taiwan
- A study says Tokyo’s recent activities indicate it has discussed the scenario with the US and wants to deter Beijing from any attempt to seize the island
- The country’s post-war constitution renounces the right to wage war, but Chinese researchers say a 2015 security law would allow it to get involved
“Japan has not only released signals through official and individual levels, but also tried to carry out practical response actions through the Japan-US alliance or partially acted alone under the existing legal framework,” said the paper published last week in the journal Asia-Pacific Security and Maritime Affairs.
“It is hard to imagine that in the short and mid-term future Japan will actively seek to be involved in an uncontrollable disastrous war regardless of the cost,” the article said, adding that it is more likely to consider providing logistical support to allies rather than becoming directly involved in combat.
“The question is not ‘whether’ Japan would intervene, but just ‘how’ to intervene,” it added.
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Meanwhile, other Chinese researchers have warned that Japan may try to use United Nations peacekeeping missions to become a major power.
“[China] must watch their attempts to use such opportunities to circumvent the Peace Constitution,” an article on the website of Tsinghua University’s World Peace Forum by researchers Hu Fangxin and Zhang Lihua warned.
Japan only started dispatching its armed forces to take part in UN missions abroad in 1992, and since restrictions on its mandates, access to weapons and peacekeeping activities have been gradually loosened.
The paper said these operations have increased public support for overseas action, improved the country’s ability to project military power and enhanced its diplomatic autonomy.
It said the 2015 national security law had given the Japanese Self Defence Forces the right to join “collective defence” operations and significantly expanded their mandate.
“The Japanese government has broken through the ‘exclusively defensive’ restrictions … forcing through the process of constitutional revision with a fait accompli,” it said.
Liu Jiangyong, a specialist in China-Japan relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, compared their core relationship to a chess game.
Liu argued that China was concerned that Japan had ambitions to become a global power, while Tokyo wanted to contain its neighbour.
He compared their respective strategies to a game of Go in which Tokyo was teaming up with the US, Australia, India, Nato and Association of Southeast Asian Nations to check China, while Beijing was counting on the Belt and Road Initiative, its transcontinental infrastructure project.
Zhang Jifeng, a Japanese studies specialist from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: “When [the Japanese Self Defence Forces] are having a drill in South China Sea, it would obviously be against the Peace Constitution.”