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Commentary: "China threat" or "Japan threat" ?

A newly-published white paper by the Japanese defense ministry has again hyped up the so-called "China threat," even as Prime Minster Shinzo Abe's cabinet itself has been engaging in regional destablization.

Expressing strong concern about China's military build-up, the paper called for the cabinet's permission to enable a collective self-defense of "historic" significance, bolstering Abe's ambition to militarize the island country.

Such deliberate ignorance of the dangerous path the country has been led down looks even more alarming when noted that the paper referenced in particular China's declaration last November of an air defense identification zone.

It said China's move was extremely dangerous and could escalate tensions and trigger an unwanted clash. However, what has actually happened is Japan increasing its surveillance of the region and its aggressiveness in its military interactions with other countries.

Japan's self-defense forces scrambled fighter jets 810 times in the fiscal year of 2013, up 243 times from the previous year, according to the white paper.

It is the first time in 24 years that the number has topped 800, with roughly half of the total aimed at China, the ministry said.

The so-called "China threat" has, however, proved a failed attempt by Japan to forge a necessary fiend in order to justify its military expansion.

The trick is not new. Such claims have been recurrent in Japan's defense white paper for more than 20 years, and especially since Abe first became prime minister in 2006.

Instead of seeing China become a real threat, we have witnessed an increasingly aggressive Japan -- a country that has broken its post-war pacifist pledges and looks poised to assert its military presence over the Asia-Pacific.

Just as many in the Japanese media have pointed out, if Tokyo persists in its effort to become a military power, Japan itself could become a destabilizing factor in the region.

They also warned that the Abe cabinet's controversial move has caused the government's approval ratings to dip.

A recent poll shows that more than 60 percent of Japanese people surveyed object to the collective self-defense move, while over 80 percent believe the government has not provided sufficient explanation over related cabinet decisions.

Japan's defense policy is a mess. It needs a thorough and objective reassessment of public opinion as well as of regional situations. Instead of clinging on to certain impractical political values, the Abe cabinet has to reassure its people and neighboring countries of the future positioning of its national defense.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 05Aug14]

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