Asia Times offers an analysis of a likely coming confrontation between China and Japan.
“Japan’s Sankei newspaper reports that Beijing has warned the Japanese government that many Chinese fishing boats may soon enter waters near the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands, which China also claims as its Diaoyu Islands.”
The ranking US military representative in Japan says the US will help the Japanese monitor incursions.
“The United States is 100 percent absolutely steadfast in its commitment to help the government of Japan with the situation,” Lieutenant General Kevin Schneider said during an online press conference.
“They (Chinese ships) would go in and out a couple of times a month and now we are seeing them basically park and truly challenge Japan’s administration,” he added.
What is going on?
- There are likely mineral resources in the EEZ around these islands which China would like to exploit.
- They would like to turn the South and East China Seas into sovereign Chinese territory to the exclusion of everyone else.
- The Chinese will always welcome a chance exact a bit of revenge on Japan for the aggression suffered during WWII and earlier.
- Perhaps most importantly, in the long run, taking over these islands would potentially complete the encirclement of Taiwan with Chinese bases with shore based missiles that could enforce a blockade.
The Chinese may actually have a valid claim to these islands, but they are unwilling to go to an international tribunal with their case, because they cannot add to the legitimacy of tribunal decisions when their other claims would not hold up in international court.
We can expect the Japanese will attempt to use their Coast Guard to deal with this. The Chinese will counter with their own Coast Guard.
We may end up see seeing more ramming than at any time since the Battle of Salamis.
What Japan is doing with its Ground Self Defense Forces in response. https://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2019/12/japan-mod-announces-new-deployment-training-plan-for-jgsdf-with-focus-on-island-defense/
There is a string of larger, inhabited, Japanese islands just 90-150 miles to the East and South of the Senkakus; much closer than the Chinese mainland. This provides staging areas, airfields, and long range AShM basing which gives a strategic advantage to Japan.
Even more interesting, is the recent (2011?) agreement between Japan and Republic of China over cooperative fishing rights. Nobody is satisfied with it, because both sides want it all, but if China comes in, neither Japan or Taiwan will have anything. Thus there is a chance for alliance-building here too, much as has happened farther South in the South China Sea.
Taiwan, seeking alliances. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-security/eyeing-china-taiwan-urges-alliance-against-aggressive-actions-idUSKBN25Z0IV
“China to allow coast guard to use weapons in waters it claims” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/11/05/national/china-coast-guard-weapons-senkakus/?fbclid=IwAR3rbzCBp0uO9hamZU8h5S0W0j3GbwknasMHGzPNhhqRU0OPJ_ml8v4qIVM
China Coast Guard entering Japanese territorial sea. https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2021/02/24/china-says-japan-us-security-treaty-a-product-of-cold-war/
“PRC intrusions near Senkakus risk engagement, escalation” –Indo-Pacific Defense Forum.
Japanese Defense concerns include Taiwan. https://ipdefenseforum.com/2021/07/chinas-military-incursions-policies-matter-of-grave-concern-to-indo-pacific-stability-japan-says/
Japan seems to be taking the lead in forming an alliance against Chinese overreach. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2021-08-06/why-quad-alarms-china
‘Extremely serious’: Japan says flotilla of gun-equipped Chinese ships appeared near Senkakus https://www.stripes.com/theaters/asia_pacific/2021-09-16/senkaku-islands-china-japan-coast-guard-2907687.html
The China CG cutter pictured in the article is on of these for PLAN frigates, all four of the armed vessels might be of the same class: https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2015/08/20/china-cg-gets-surplus-plan-frigates/
Taiwan Claims Chinese Warships Simulated Attacks On U.S. And Japanese Warships https://gcaptain.com/taiwan-claims-chinese-warships-simulated-attacks-on-u-s-and-japanese-warships/