Amid fear of what China might do in the coming years, Japan is reaching out to turn a former enemy into an ally while increasing its military spending.
On Saturday, World War II foes Australia and Japan signed a security agreement to share intelligence and assist each other. The deal was inked by Prime Ministers Fumio Kishida and Anthony Albanese in the western Australian city of Perth, according to the Voice of America.
“This landmark declaration sends a strong signal to the region of our strategic alignment,” Albanese said, according to VOA.
Ken Kotani of Nihon University, an expert in the history of Japanese intelligence, called the deal “an epoch-making event,” VOA reported.
Meanwhile, according to Reuters, Japan is rebuilding its military in a way not seen since before World War II to prepare for what some policymakers fear is an inevitable showdown with China.
The Japanese Coast Guard has upgraded its operations with a new MQ-9B SeaGuardian drone with more early-warning aircraft soon to be deployed, according to DefenseNews.
Japan’s government “has the wind at its back and will use that to do whatever it can,” Takashi Kawakami, a professor at Takushoku University in Tokyo, said, according to Reuters.
Officials and analysts say that 2027, the next Communist Party Congress in China, could be the year China matches its bellicose rhetoric on Taiwan with action. China claims Taiwan is rightfully part of the mainland. The self-governing island became the home of the former Nationalist government when the Communists won China’s civil war in 1949.
“There are different shades of opinion, but generally, government officials share the same view of the significance of 2027,” Reuters quoted a senior Japanese government official it did not name as saying.
The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Japan of up to 32 Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) Block I missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $450 million. pic.twitter.com/SRBCLUERXS
— Guy Plopsky (@GuyPlopsky) October 21, 2022
Japanese officials fear any invasion of Taiwan will touch Japanese islands near Taiwan, much as Chinese missiles came within 100 miles of those Japanese-held islands when China was erupting in protest over the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
“If Japan can strengthen its defense capability … then China’s calculation to attack U.S. forces on Japan will be quite different, the cost and risk of a Taiwan operation will be quite high,” Yasuhiro Matsuda, an international politics professor at Tokyo University and former Ministry of Defence senior researcher, said, according to Reuters.
Kishida has called for increased spending for the Japanese military to buy longer-range missiles and new jet fighters.
He also is forging diplomatic ties with Australia, as noted by VOA.
Australia and Japan have signed a landmark new security pact scaling up military and economic ties. The declaration charting a path for closer cooperation over the next decade as China ramps up its sabre-rattling in the Indo-Pacific. https://t.co/OF81oZFF1j #auspol #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/dvNw1x4IWf
— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) October 22, 2022
Bryce Wakefield, director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, told VOA the Japan-Australia agreement is a sign that Japan wants and needs allies.
While Australia and Japan have forged strong economic ties in the decades since World War II, the document signed Saturday takes the country’s relations to a new level.
“It is a significant agreement in that Japan hasn’t overtly worked with partners outside the United States on security,” Wakefield said, noting the development might be just the first of Japan’s steps to strengthen its network of military and diplomatic supprt. “It may actually end up being a template for cooperation with other countries, for example, the United Kingdom.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.