US provocation may encourage Japanese right-wing forces to take action on Diaoyu Islands: analysts

File Photo: Xinhua

US  promise of military support to Japan on the Diaoyu Islands is war deterrence to China in accordance with the Trump administration’s strategy to provoke regional disputes to contain China, Chinese analysts said, warning the Chinese military to prepare as some Japanese right-wing forces may be encouraged to take action over the issue. 

General Kevin Schneider, the commander of US Forces Japan, made the remarks on Monday when visiting a ship of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported Tuesday.  

He said that the capabilities of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the US military can be used to “deliver combat troops to defend.”

The remarks were war deterrence to China, and an encouragement to Japan as the Trump administration is actively provoking China’s relationships with neighbors, and using regional issues to contain China, Zhou Wensheng, a professor of China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Article V of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan states that the US could act if an armed attack against either party happened in the territories under the administration of Japan. 

The two sides claimed the article also applies to the Diaoyu Islands despite China’s declaration of sovereignty and administration of the islands.

But Chinese analysts noted that such a scenario would only happen if the Chinese military lands on Diaoyu first, which is of low possibility. 

China would not launch a military provocation on the Diaoyu Islands first, Zhou Wensheng, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Zhou noted that Japan won’t as well, because while it relies on the US in terms of politics and national security, it still wants to maintain economic cooperation with China. 

But if the US keeps provoking, it is possible that some radical right-wing forces in Japan would take action on the Diaoyu Islands. So the Chinese military should prepare, Zhou warned. 

The US and Japan conducted a joint drill on Monday, upon which Schneider was quoted by NHK as saying that the US military and Japan’s SDF are working to “develop new and better ways to operate and further integrate exercises like this one.”

Officials from Japan’s Defense Ministry view Schneider’s remarks as a warning to China, which has been stepping up its activities in waters near the Diaoyu Islands, NHK reported.

In response to Japan’s “protests” against China’s activities in waters near the Diaoyu Islands, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press conference in July that the Diaoyu Islands have been China’s inherent territory since ancient times. The patrol and enforcement of law by China Coast Guard vessels in waters of the islands is China’s inherent right. 

China does not accept Japan’s so-called “protest.” The two sides should act in accordance with the four-point principled consensus, properly manage the situation and prevent the escalation of tensions, Wang noted. 

Schneider had pledged support for Japan over the Diaoyu Islands as early as July, which Chinese analysts took as lip service to trick Japan to help it maintain its global hegemony and military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. 

But defending Japan is not the US’ top interest, so Washington will think twice before it sends troops to a war zone – should any emerge, analysts noted.

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