Japan protests after China patrol incursion: Early test for PM Suga

Japan protests after China patrol incursion: Early test for PM Suga

Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan is facing his first geopolitical test after two Chinese patrol ships entered the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands. This comes shortly after recent anti-China stances according to political elites in Beijing.

Of course, territorial tensions between China and Japan are nothing new. Yet, the timing implies that it is a mild warning to Japan not to overstep the geopolitical mark with outside nations that have ill-will towards China.

On September 30, the Modern Tokyo Times, uttered, “… it looks like the Japanese Foreign Ministry isn’t restrained to the same level during the early period of Suga’s leadership. Therefore, with his leadership being in its infancy, it certainly appears that China and the Russian Federation are watching carefully.”

The current intrusion in the waters of Japan by two patrol ships from China led to a protest by the Suga administration. China and Taiwan both lay claim to overlapping areas. However, for Japan, the area around the Senkaku Islands is an integral part of Japan.

The latest incursion is the longest since 2012 thus it isn’t a coincidence. On the contrary, the two-day incursion is a reminder to Japan that political elites in Tokyo should seek greater ties with China and refrain from outside meddling.

Of course, for Japan, this nation deems the democratic angle with America, Australia, and India – and other democratic nations – to be part of its national security. Equally, the modernization and reach of the armed forces of China are ongoing. Therefore, Japan, according to political elites in Tokyo, can’t just idly sit by.

Hence, under the leadership of Shinzo Abe, he sought fine-line diplomacy between America, China, and the Russian Federation. Yes, America was always given priority. However, Abe didn’t want to upset China or the Russian Federation needlessly.

Thus, even when Abe introduced policies aimed at strengthening the hand of Japan, he did this more diplomatically. However, in the early days of Suga, opinions expressed about Xinjiang and other areas weren’t warranted.

Modern Tokyo Times warned recently about hawks in the Suga administration. Thus it was stated to “expect more tensions over territorial spats with China and other convulsions. Likewise, the Russian Federation might become less amiable if Suga’s admin becomes too hawkish.”

It is hoped that China and Japan can work more closely together rather than petty nationalism in both directions. Hence, diplomacy and greater understanding – even when opposite aims are adopted – are needed based on diplomatic channels.

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