Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue Summit in Singapore, June 10, 2022. /VCG

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue Summit in Singapore, June 10, 2022. /VCG

Editor’s note: Sun Wenzhu, Associate Researcher, Department of Asia-Pacific Studies, China Institute of International Studies. The article reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On June 10, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivered a keynote speech at the opening of the Shangri-la Dialogue 2022, a major forum for security and defense in the Asia region. The last time a Japanese prime minister participated in the same event was in 2014, when Shinzo Abe proposed his doctrine of “proactive pacifism” at the start of his second term.

Similar to Abe, Kishida has also attempted to gain recognition for Japan’s role as a major contributor or even regional leader in security matters. He proposed a “Kishida vision for peace” with five pillars: maintaining and strengthening the free and open rules-based international order; strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities and multi-level security cooperation with other like-minded countries; achieving a world without nuclear weapons; advancing the reform of the UN Security Council; discuss international cooperation in new policy areas such as economic security.

Ironically, the essential part of this “peace vision” is only to strengthen Japan’s military posture in general and to return the Peace Constitution, which is Japan’s national pledge to refrain from all forms of war since the end of the Second World War, increasingly hollow. Kishida said that Japan would fundamentally strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities, including significantly increasing the defense budget and developing the so-called “counterattack capabilities”, making the “exclusively focused policy even more ineffective”. defense” of Japan. Japan is also keen to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance and security cooperation with other “like-minded partners,” aiming to expand its operational reach and influence. However, Japan’s goal of being a “flag bearer of peace” can hardly be more than mere talk, as it gradually ceases to be a true “peace country”.

Three Japan Self-Defense Force F-15 fighter jets (front) and four U.S. Armed Forces F-16 fighter jets fly over the Sea of ​​Japan, May 25, 2022. /VCG

Three Japan Self-Defense Force F-15 fighter jets (front) and four U.S. Armed Forces F-16 fighter jets fly over the Sea of ​​Japan, May 25, 2022. /VCG

Additionally, Kishida continued to tout the “grave situation” where the “rules-based international order” is at stake, and “the international community now stands at a historic crossroads”, as a way to cover up the Japan’s geopolitical ambition. With a sensational but unreasonable link between Ukraine and Asia, Kishida tried to highlight Japan’s contribution and importance in “resolving challenges and crises”, gathering support for the Japanese initiative “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)”, and said he was in the process of posting a version of “plan for peace” on FOIP next spring.

In addition to pointing to “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”, on which Japan is unable to intervene, Japan has also made accusations that distort the truth on the issues of East China Sea and South China Sea, while avoiding naming China directly. It was Japan that illegally claimed sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and surrounding waters, sparking the disputes between China and Japan in the East China Sea. As for the issue of the South China Sea, the so-called UNCLOS arbitral tribunal had no authority to define territories, so its “award rendered” is nothing more than a political maneuver, and does not never qualifies as a legally binding “international rule”. Despite this, the South China Sea has maintained a generally stable situation and has had no problems with freedom of navigation and overflight. Such groundless accusations are just Japan’s old tricks to prevent China from gaining regional influence for its own benefit. By providing more “assistance” to countries in the region to build their maritime security capabilities, including hardware equipment such as ships and software assets such as training, Japan is also trying to find new markets for its unfortunate military equipment export business to date.

It is also interesting to compare Kishida’s proposals with the actual acts of Japan. As a Hiroshima politician, Kishida claims to be dedicated to a “world without nuclear weapons”. However, when the Joe Biden administration planned to commit the United States to a “no first use” nuclear policy, Japan opposed it with the utmost vehemence.

Many influential Japanese politicians, including Abe, have advocated for Japan to strengthen its nuclear deterrent, advising the modification of the “three non-nuclear principles” – not to possess, not to produce and not to allow the introduction of nuclear weapons into the world. Japan – so that Japan can share nuclear weapons with the United States. Thus, it is hard to ignore Japan’s bizarre plea to encourage “the United States and China to engage in bilateral dialogue on nuclear disarmament and arms control”, given the incomparably large nuclear arsenal China’s smallest in the face of more than 3,000 US nuclear warheads.

A similar inconsistency can also be found in economic issues. Kishida mentioned that “exerting unjustifiable economic pressure on other countries to impose unilateral demands” can never be accepted, but that is exactly what Japan did to the ROK by restricting the export essential materials for the production of semiconductors.

In addition, Japan is also one of the most active countries in sanctioning Russia. Furthermore, despite asserting that no one “can be allowed to unilaterally change” the rules, Japan has just applauded and welcomed the United States for establishing an Indo-Pacific economic framework and restoring “the leadership US economic development in the region and presented to Indo-Pacific countries an alternative to the China approach,” quoted in the statement by US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

According to a recent opinion poll in ASEAN countries, Japan is no longer seen as the “most important current and future partner” as it was a few years ago. Asia, increasingly integrated, prosperous and confident, no longer needs a condescending leader, however gentle, to play “offshore balancing” at the expense of regional unity and stability. . Instead of its “vision for peace,” a Japan sincerely committed to repairing its relations with all its neighbors could contribute more to regional and global peace.

(If you would like to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected] Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to see the latest comments in the CGTN Opinion section.)