As UK sets out anti-China strategy, Japan sets up missile base in contested islands

Japanese missile carriers
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As the UK set out a new strategy on China, its partner Japan sent troops and missiles to a remote chain of contested islands. The Japanese and British agreed a major fighter jet deal in December. Japan has moved away from its post-war pacifist posture under western pressure.

Hundreds of Japanese troops are being sent to Ishigaki Island in Okinawa prefecture. CNN reported that this 570-strong unit included a missile capacity. China claims Okinawa Okinawa, and the region is a potential flashpoint for conflict. Furthermore, the US military colonises it heavily, with over 50,000 troops currently stationed there.

As CNN reported:

Japan has been ramping up the construction of military bases in Okinawa, the band of 150 islands that curves to the south of Japan’s main islands in the East China Sea.

The US sees China as a challenger to its global power. One outcome of this is tension over control of the seas around China.

Integrated review

The UK’s new Integrated Review update lays out military strategy. Once again, China is a high priority. And, since the last review, UK-Japanese defence relations have deepened.

Addressing the review, the UK government said:

Read on...

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The IR Refresh [Integrated Review] also sets out how the UK will adapt our approach on China to deal with the epoch-defining challenge presented by the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly concerning military, financial and diplomatic activity.

It added:

The Prime Minister has set the direction across government for a consistent, coherent and robust approach to China, rooted in the national interest and aligned with our allies.

Additionally, it spelled out specific measures to counter China:

Doubling funding for a government-wide China Capabilities programme, including investing in Mandarin language training and diplomatic China expertise.

Entangled defence

The UK, Japan, and Italy are thrashing out a fighter jet deal. Japan’s post-war pacificist defence policy is being re-written under pressure from the US. Japan is returning to a war footing, and the UK is a part of the transition. Indeed, with Europe in conflict, Japan’s military plans should be of concern to us all. It is only a matter of one misjudged missile, panicking commander or accidental discharge, and the world could be on the brink of a deadly war.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Miki Yoshihito, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under CC BY 2.0.

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