A recent report suggests that Japan’s government is considering positioning over 1,000 ballistic missiles aimed towards China, a move that would mark a major escalation in tensions between Tokyo and Beijing.
It is unclear if this will ever materialize, given the threat to regional stability it would carry, as well as the limits imposed by Japan’s own constitution, but by this point it is undeniable that geostrategic competition between Japan and China is a new reality.
The two countries may well be vastly economically integrated, but they are old enemies at heart, and their geopolitical ambitions are increasingly clashing across the board.
The rise of China threatens Japan’s once dominant position in Asia, not least in terms of disputed territories, which if Beijing succeeds in retaking, would strategically checkmate Tokyo. While the East China Sea and the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands is one thing, the biggest and most urgent flashpoint is in fact a topical subject of late: the island of Taiwan.
Japan now makes it publicly known that the continued autonomy of Taiwan is critical to its own survival. Why? Because a reunification of the island with mainland China would result in Beijing gaining maritime dominance around all of Japan’s southwest periphery.
As a result, Japan is upping its own stakes concerning Taiwan. Both before and during the current streak of lawmaker visits to the island, parliamentary delegations from Japan have made similar trips of their own. The recently assassinated Abe Shinzo, an architect of Japan’s current revisionist foreign policy, was a huge supporter of Taiwan and was set to visit the island himself.