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Throughout history, relations between China and Japan have been complex. After decades of invasions into or annexation of their territories, the climax of the Second Sino-Japanese War was reached. In China, they still remember the Japanese occupation; So much so that being pro-Japan is a terrible crime that can bankrupt businesses. Things are not much better on the military and political spectrum.

The two countries are in dispute over control of the adjacent maritime area, and the situation is reaching potentially dangerous levels of tension. These are not crimes in the name of an aircraft carrier, but territorial violation and arms sales.

China and its neighbors. Land issues of the past are something that is still relevant. An example is Taiwan, which is an independent country, but China considers it its own territory. We have seen many times the Chinese government’s threats to the country, the revitalization of areas in Taipei for maneuvers, and defensive movements in Taiwan. Hong Kong’s situation is not very good either, and in recent months we have seen the strengthening of China’s military power, focusing on control of its seas.

Japanese rearmament. The Japanese are not lagging behind and have strengthened their armed forces in recent months, without the aggressiveness in their messaging that some Chinese representatives display when talking about regions such as Taiwan. Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution prevents state acts of war, but a Defense budget has recently been presented that signals a move to rearmament.

The new strategy is a 43 trillion yen investment plan over five years until 2027. This means going from failing to achieve 1% of GDP to investing 2% of GDP in the military branch. This amount in euros corresponds to 63 billion per year, and the aim is to position itself as the third military power in the world, behind only the USA and China.

Japan complains. Considering this current situation, Japan has recently reported the presence of Chinese ships near the Diaoyu Islands (or Senkaku as it is known in Japan). These are islands whose control was unclear until Japan nationalized them in 2012. The problem is that these are now Japanese waters and Tokyo complains about the Chinese Maritime Police constantly roaming the area.

China also claims this region and therefore considers the region under Japan’s control and Japanese officials’ trips to the islands as a provocation. Japan, on the other hand, believes that these islands belong to it and thinks that seeing Chinese ships within the 12 nautical mile limit for 158 consecutive days is an irresponsible behavior on China’s part. The previous record was set in 2021 when China maintained a presence in the region for 157 days, but this time they seem determined to stay in the region for longer.

Senkaku 2

they are there

in china. On the other hand, China also has complaints about Japan. In this disputed region, the United States generally acts as a control tool to deter China, but analysts predict that someone will have to take on the role of security provider in the region as they are preoccupied with both the Ukraine and Gaza wars. And that role may fall to Japan.

This is because Japan sold five patrol boats to the Philippines for approximately $507 million, which will be delivered between 2027 and 2028. According to Manila, this is a step forward in “the two countries’ unwavering commitment to enhancing our maritime security capabilities for the benefit of our nation and the maritime community at large.” This may represent an aggressive move towards China. They even claim that strengthening the Japanese military and gaining allies would harm regional peace and maintain American hegemony.

Escalation of tension. and power. At the moment, this tense calm seems to be dissolving with everyone’s statements, while they continue to make their moves. What is clear is that operating in the region will become increasingly complex. Between 2013 and 2022 alone, China added 148 warships; which was roughly Japan’s total number. Currently, China is estimated to have 370 ships, and this number is expected to increase to 435 by 2030. The USA has 280 ships.

But it’s not just about the ships, as the Philippines is arming itself with ships it bought from Japan, but also supersonic missiles it bought from India in a $375 million deal. We will see what all this will lead to, but another point that should be emphasized is that China has not forgotten Taiwan and is publishing propaganda videos showing that it is attacking the island in an action that may exceed the limit of provocation.

Pictures | Google Maps, Google Maps

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