China Vs. Japan - Is This Going To Get Out Of Control?

Lots of rumbling about China vs. Japan in the past few days…and now the US wants to put in additional radar in Japan (supposedly to protect against North Korea).

A China vs. Japan war would make Iraq and Afghanistan seem like a biker bar fight in comparison, and lead to a major world disaster.

Is this threat of open warfare real? Or is this just breast beating and name calling to see who blinks first?

It’s my understanding that a Chinese attack on Japan would effectively equal a Chinese attack on the US due to various treaty and security agreements between the US and Japan. These agreements are no secret. China certainly is aware of this fact.

Also - these same treaties prohibit Japan from any aggression. It’s even written into their constitution.

It’s ritualistic dick-beating. China isn’t going to do squat and neither is Japan and everybody knows it. China doesn’t have the fleet to invade, and just lobbing a few missles at Japan is worse than useless, as that would give the US (and Russia, for that matter) an excuse to nuke the shit out of China.

It’s a non-starter.

The Japanese government, for its part, has been bending over backwards to try to calm the situation down. Hell, its decision to buy the islands (what supposedly started all this) was an attempt at damage mitigation by preventing them from falling under the control of that moron Ishihara.

The only real question here is why the Chinese government isn’t stepping in to bring things under control and the answers likely have more to do with internal Chinese politics (such as the upcoming change in government) than anything the Japanese are doing. The Chinese government seems to have done a foreign policy about-face recently; after years of assuring its smaller neighbors that it was committed to peaceful resolution of territorial disputes it’s started making aggressive moves in both the East and South China Seas.

For a bit more context, here is the common narrative here in Japan:

Much of the anti-Japanese sentiment can be attributed to changes in education policy in China following the aftermath of the Tiananmen protests. Having come close to losing its control of the country the Communist Party changed the curriculum to much greater emphasise nationalistic patriotism. Pre-1989 schoolbooks emphasised the heroic nature of the Chinese side in WWII, without much talk of Japanese atrocities, to paint the Chinese people as victors rather than weak victims. However, after 1989, the language used to describe the events of WWII changed markedly: emphasising the wickedness of the Japanese occupiers was an easy way to elicit strong patriotic feelings.

China’s education policies were successful in creating a generation of hyper-patriotic youths that harbour resentment towards Japan. Where they were much less successful, though, is in that this patriotism does not necessarily translate to blind support for the Communist party.

In many of the riots that are happening right now, some protesters have attacked police and government. The protests start as anti-Japan, and they sort of end as anti-government. I can’t find good videos right now, but on the news there was footage of a massive crowd attacking a hotel in Xi’an. When badly outnumbered policemen blocked the entrance, people started throwing stuff at them and set fire to police cars. It was a scene of near total mayhem.

The Chinese leadership looks at events like these and they see how easy it would be to lose control. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place: any sign of weakness towards Japan will make them more likely to become the target of protests. On the other hand, internationally, it’s not in their best interest to escalate the situation either.

My understanding is that there is a change of power in China and there is an election coming up in Japan and everyone wants to look tough.

The leadership change is causing lots of unnatural behavior. The “spontaneous protests” are allowed to happen and probably are being orchestrated by various players in the leadership drama. China cracks down pretty hard on protests unless someone wants the protests. (I saw that first hand with the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was bombed, and university students “spontaneously got on government provided buses, were transported to the US consulate, were lined up, given rocks and then went to throw the rocks in an emotional outpouring, and then got back on their buses.”

Sorry to say, but universities in China are full of rebels without a cause looking for something heroic to go do. When allowed, they are overjoyed to go protest whatever reason de jeure because they aren’t allowed in normal times to do anything construed as acting out.

I don’t believe it’s going to get out of control. I believe all three governments have a strong interest in letting things run their course and settle down. (Which is what seems to be happening now, by the way).

I don’t believe it’s driven by either the Japanese or PRC government trying to look tough in advance of an election (although neither wants to look weak).

It is a potentially dangerous situation, with some Chinese vessels patrolling near the Senkaku islands right now, but on the whole it seems that the PRC government is not stoking the protests, but rather would prefer to see things calming down. Trade links between PRC and Japan, and between ROC and Japan, are far more important than ownership of these remote and uninhabited islands.

The latest protests were provoked by the action of the Japanese government in buying the islands; however their aim in doing so was to prevent the governor of Tokyo from buying them and potentially engaging in more provocative behaviour.

What if China decided to take physical possession of the islands? Japan would have to either defend its territorial claim by attacking the Chinese positions on the islands and trying to dislodge them, or ignore it and accept that it had effectively lost the islands forever (as is de facto the case with Takeshima and Etorofu).

The first option would be reminiscent of an incident in the late 70s, where China invaded an island disputed with Vietnam; the Vietnam navy attacked, and was soundly and decisively defeated with significant loss of life on the VN side.

The USA, unwilling to go to war with China, would be strongly motivated to conclude that the Senkaku islands are not included in the USA-Japan defence umbrella.

China has ICBMs capable of reaching the US. Doubtful the US would “nuke the shit out of China” over an attack on Tokyo.

Maybe the Fallout series isn’t so outlandish after all. It certainly makes it creepier to play, thinking about this thread.