Japan's defense white paper for 2011 spares no pains in playing up the "China threat" theory. In fact, Japan is using the so-called theory as an excuse for its ambitious military buildup and to revise its pacifist constitution, something that will harm regional stability and security.
Tokyo is anxious over Beijing's rise because it is unwilling to accept the reality of a changing geopolitical landscape in the Asia-Pacific region and the fact that China has overtaken Japan as the world's second largest economy.
Japan has been exploiting the "China threat" theory and distorting China's intentions to hasten the pace of strengthening its Self-Defense Forces into a de facto military, which violates its "exclusively defensive defense" policy. Japan has two helicopter carriers, which it calls "destroyers", in service and is developing its own stealth fighters. It has set up a military base in Africa, too, to boost its power overseas without bothering to clarify its intentions.
It is clear that Japan has been bluffing the international community by alleging that it faces "external threats" and using the ploy for weapons' buildup.
China is committed to working for peace and stability, and is not even a potential threat to another country. China's development path, fundamental aims and history and culture show it has never used (and will never use) its military might against other countries. China's pursuit of a defensive national defense policy is not temporary but permanent.
The Japanese document, full of carping and irresponsible comments against China's defense policy, is detrimental to the smooth development of Sino-Japanese ties.
Besides alleging that China will try to make naval activities a routine affair in the waters off Japan, including the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese document also has, for the first time, a separate section on China's activities in the South China Sea. This is an overt attempt to stir up trouble between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors, which have territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
But the fact is China's long-standing policy of building friendship and partnership with its neighbors has been welcomed by other countries and has created a favorable environment for its peaceful development.
Japan's conjecture about threats or potential threats from China, Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and its zero-sum mentality can only lead to its isolation. A country cannot choose its neighbors, but it can establish friendly relations with them to ensure mutual benefit. Pursuing a policy that treats a neighbor as a threat is nothing but myopic.
If Japan insists with its harsh policies, it will continue to fumble to come to terms with a rising and confident China. It's time Japanese politicians understood that negative expectations can affect a person's or country's behavior, and realized that their indiscreet remarks on how China should deal with its neighbors can only be laughable.
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