Does 'biggest upgrade' in U.S.-Japan alliance mean enhanced security?

By CGTN   |    2024-04-11 16:01:10

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is undertaking his much-anticipated trip to Washington this week – the first state visit by a Japanese leader in nine years. "The U.S. and Japan are planning the biggest upgrade to their security alliance since they signed a mutual defense treaty in 1960 in a move to counter China," the Financial Times reported.

But does the "biggest upgrade" in the Tokyo-Washington alliance mean enhanced security?

To begin with, Kishida's ambition for strengthened security ties with Washington is, to a large extent, out of selfish calculations. Official data shows that Japan's core consumer price index hit a 41-year high in 2023. With his country ceding its place as the world's third largest economy to Germany and the LDP troubled by a slush fund scandal, Kishida, according to the Mainichi newspaper, is Japan's most unpopular leader since the newspaper started conducting monthly surveys on political sentiment in 1947. As the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is gearing up for the leadership election in September, Kishida is in urgent need of a diplomatic success to bolster his public support.

And Kishida is turning to diplomacy to give his approval rating a lift. For the Kishida government, an "upgrade" in ties with Washington is more a "life-saving straw" to regain public support than an attempt for enhanced security in the region.


U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife Yuko Kishida to the White House at the start of their state visit to Washington, April 9, 2024. /Reuters 

Washington and Tokyo claim that their bolstered security ties are in response to a growing "threat" from China. This is an old lie. The two countries have been adept at playing the "China threat" card in geopolitical games. While the U.S. uses the "China threat" to woo more countries into its anti-Beijing bloc and thus reinforce its hegemony in the region, Japan needs an "enemy" in order to drop the ban on its collective self-defense right.

Japan, in recent years, has become increasingly aggressive in breaching the constraints of its pacifist constitution so as to exercise the right to collective self-defense and to spur the country's defense industry. "In a break with Japan's postwar pacifism, the Kishida government has also moved away from the country's traditional ban on arms exports," said the Financial Times.

But facing heavy resistance, both at home and abroad, to the amendment of the constitution, the Japanese government needs to set up a hypothetical enemy to justify its attempts to acquire military capabilities to strike enemy bases. In this context, China has become the No.1 "threat" to regional peace and stability, and thus the revision of its constitution has turned out to be "compelling."

For the Kishida government, an "upgrade" in its alliance with Washington is an opportunity to further its agenda of altering the constitution. It is worth noting that Japan's potential inclusion in AUKUS – a trilateral security mechanism between the U.S., the UK and Australia – is reportedly to be high on the agenda in the Kishida-Biden summit later this week. The Japanese government is thinking to take advantage of "collective" security arrangements with the U.S. to lift the ban on its self-defense right.

Under the guise of regional peace and stability, closer security ties between Washington and Tokyo are, in essence, an attempt to fulfill the two allies' selfish political and military ambitions. Rather than being a foundation for peace, the U.S.-Japan alliance is instead the No.1 destabilizing factor in the Asia-Pacific region.

Kishida claimed earlier in an interview with CNN that spiraling geopolitical tensions have pushed the world to a "historic turning point" and are forcing Japan to change its defense posture. The truth is: military ambitions by Japan and Washington are instead what is pushing the world to a "historic turning point," with the so-called "China threat" a cover for the two allies' selfish ambitions.

Does 'biggest upgrade' in U.S.-Japan alliance mean enhanced security?