Chinese Military Drills Around Japan Before G-7, Triggering Strong Reaction From Japanese

Chinese Military Drills Around Japan Before G-7, Triggering Strong Reaction From Japanese
A jet fighter takes off from China's Shandong aircraft carrier, south of Okinawa prefecture, Japan, on April 10, 2023. (Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/Handout via Reuters)
5/28/2023
Updated:
5/28/2023
0:00

The Chinese Navy’s 12-day military exercise around the Japanese archipelago ahead of the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, likely in reaction to Japan’s warming relations with Taiwan, has caused a strong reaction from the Japanese populace.

From April 30 to May 12, five Chinese warships circled the Japanese archipelago and surrounded the Sendo Islands in Okinawa prefecture.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense announced on May 17 that five Chinese naval vessels, which had been sailing clockwise around the Japanese archipelago since late April, split in two and surrounded the Sendo Islands in Okinawa prefecture while staying outside Japan’s territorial waters. This was the first time a Chinese vessel had made such a move. According to the analysis by Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the move was intended to show off the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military force.

Okinawa prefecture is far closer to Taiwan than to Tokyo, putting it front and centre to growing tension in the region.

Yahoo Japan reported on May 20 that two CCP vessels intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture. When it tried to approach a Japanese fishing boat, a Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessel immediately warned it to leave its territorial waters and assured the boat’s safety.
The incident was the 14th time this year that a Chinese vessel entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands.

Strong Reaction from Japanese Society

Many readers commented on the report, objecting to the CCP’s provocations and threats, and saying that the Japanese government is too soft on the communist regime.

“The CCP may be trying to show its strength, or it may be threatening,” one reader wrote. “Just a few days ago, it threatened to turn Japan into a sea of fire.”

Jet fighters that took off from China's Shandong aircraft carrier are seen, south of Okinawa prefecture, Japan, in this handout released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan on April 10, 2023. (Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/Handout via Reuters)
Jet fighters that took off from China's Shandong aircraft carrier are seen, south of Okinawa prefecture, Japan, in this handout released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan on April 10, 2023. (Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/Handout via Reuters)

Another reader urged Japanese companies to leave China as soon as possible.

“The CCP is hated by many countries around the world due to its debt trap. Perhaps because of the economy, [it] turned into an invasion of Taiwan, and there is a high possibility that Japan could be involved,” read the comment.

“In some cases, Japanese companies in China are at risk of having their technology and property expropriated. They should leave China as soon as possible. At least move to other Asian countries or India.”

Others believe that the real purpose of the move was to probe the state of Japan’s radars and other radio waves.
In response to the Okinawa government’s silence, one Okinawan questioned, “Why did Denny Tamaki, governor of Okinawa, not comment on the CCP’s s invasion of [Japan’s] territorial waters? Do you really care about the Okinawan people?”

“In this situation, does Gov. Danny of Okinawa still say that the presence of the Self-Defense Force and U.S. forces is bad? What will Okinawans think of it? Does [he] still ask us to live in peace with our neighboring country?”

Tamaki, who was re-elected as governor of Okinawa in September 2022, ran on supporting less U.S. military presence on the island, backed by Japan’s left-leaning opposition parties. The U.S. military is a hot-button issue in Okinawa, which saw some of the bloodiest fighting in World War Two and has long resented the burden of hosting the majority of U.S. troops in Japan on facilities that take up 5 percent of Okinawa’s land.
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine and a U.S. Navy destroyer pictured in their first joint anti-submarine drill in the South China Sea, on Nov. 16, 2021. (The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force)
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine and a U.S. Navy destroyer pictured in their first joint anti-submarine drill in the South China Sea, on Nov. 16, 2021. (The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force)

Another reader wrote, “Okinawan media did not report on China’s invasion of [our] territorial waters and committing a crime, neither did the governor of Okinawa make a statement. It is unclear whether he is confused or weak.”

“Japan must strengthen its military forces in the area around the Senkaku Islands,” someone else said.

“The CCP’s military vessels keep harassing the outside during the G7 meeting, which can only make more democratic countries in the world recognize what it is facing,” Mitsuko Kurihara, an employee of Japan’s Mazda Motor Company, told The Epoch Times on May. 21.

Japan’s Naval Power Crushes CCP’s: Analysis

“If something happens to Taiwan, something happens to Japan,” Masakazu Nishikori, a resident of Naha City, Okinawa, quoted from late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Nishikori said as Taiwan is very close to Okinawa, he is very worried as a resident of the prefecture.

“[I] hope that Japan will reduce its economic dependence on the CCP so that it can break away from the CCP’s supply chain and build up its strength to compete with China,” he told The Epoch Times on May. 22. “But Japanese submarines are quite powerful in the world. If Japan sends submarines, the CCP’s vessels cannot cross the sea.”

According to Nikkei’s 2022 report, Japanese submarines are said to be the best in the world. With the improvement of the lithium battery performance of Japanese submarines, it will not make noise during navigation and can be navigated at a depth of 500 meters. Most submarines in the world, with the exception of U.S. nuclear submarines, have limits below 400 meters. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s submarine rescue vessels are equipped with deep-sea rescue boats that can operate at 1,000 meters, and crews have a record of diving to a depth of 450 meters.
The Chinese destroyer Jinan takes part in joint naval drills with Russia in the East China Sea on Dec. 22, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
The Chinese destroyer Jinan takes part in joint naval drills with Russia in the East China Sea on Dec. 22, 2022. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Xia Yifan, a Chinese democracy activist who lives in Japan, said he observed that Japanese media reports about China’s incursion into Japanese waters was very low-profile and do not make a big deal out of the incident, probably because they want to avoid falling into the propaganda of war mobilization.

“Once populism is aroused, it is prone to accidents. [The non-alarmist response to avoid stirring the masses] is also in line with practices of a democratic society,” Xia told the Epoch Times on May 23.

“In fact, no one now believes that Japan fears the CCP. A G-7 exchange between the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Japan’s ambassador to China was telling. It is clear from the G-7 communiqué that western opposition to and containment of the CCP is the general and strategic direction.

Li Yiming, a media professional in Japan, believes that Japan does not take the CCP seriously due to Japan’s superior naval power.

“Since the difference in strength is too wide, each side knows it very clearly,” Li told The Epoch Times on May. 23. “Just like last year, when the Chinese and Russian joint fleet sailed around Japan, the Japanese government did not make a strong statement either.”

“The Japanese are practical: [They] can pretend not to see it on the surface but secretly, they are stepping up preparations for war. This behavior of the CCP [encircling the Sendo Islands] is very humiliating: While it did it over and over again, no one cared about it. Finally, it felt bored and left,” he said.

Kane Zhang is a reporter based in Japan. She has written on health topics for The Epoch Times since 2022, mainly focusing on Integrative Medicine. She also reports on current affairs related Japan and China.
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