It has become belatedly known that the Japanese government did not even complain against China’s fighter bombers conducted military drills that simulated the targeting of Japanese Self-Defense Force destroyers.
The Japanese media reported on Monday that the administration led by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not protest to the Chinese government nor made the incident public in the country even though the administration was aware that Chinese fighter bombers conducted air-to-ship attack drills that used the escort vessels of the Self-Defense Force as targets in last May in the East China Sea.
Such inaction and silence by Tokyo are in stark contrast with its controversial claim in last December that a South Korean destroyer locked its fire-control radar on a Japanese patrol plane, which was flying at a threateningly low altitude. At that time, the Japanese defense minister held a press conference and even released aerial film footage. However, Tokyo simply dismissed China’s military drills in May, even after receiving a radio message from the Chinese side on its plan to conduct drills targeting Japanese warships.
Such an attitude of approaching even security issues with political interests by the Abe administration is nothing new. This year, China has been dispatching its coast guard vessels almost daily to the Senkaku Islands, which are in a territorial dispute with Japan. Japan is yet to make an active protest. When the South Korean military showed a strong response to a Russian warplane's July invasion into South Korea's sovereign airspace near the Dokdo Island, Japan nonsensically complained to South Korea claiming that the island is Japan's. Meanwhile, Tokyo remained silent in response to a Chinese combat aircraft's trespassing the Japan Air Defense Identification Zone (JADIZ). So much so that Beijing asks, "Why does South Korea overreact while Japan showed no response to the JADIZ invasion.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe is trying not to provoke China, citing the normalization of China-Japan relations after his visit to Beijing last year as one of his diplomatic achievements while going so far against South Korea to apply export regulations for political objectives. It is part of Abe’s strategy to “negotiate with faraway countries while fighting with those that are near,” but it only reveals how shallow Japanese diplomacy truly is.
Such unprincipled double standards of Tokyo cannot last long. Growing threats from North Korea’s nuclear missiles and China’s military aspirations are security challenged shared by both South Korea and Japan. Japan’s turning away from South Korea, which has been practically a shield for Japan, will turn out to be self-sabotage. Foreign ministers of the two countries shall meet in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss potential solutions for the current conflicts. The bilateral relations have gotten so worse that whether to extend the General Security of Military Information Agreement, a symbolic agreement for security cooperation between the two countries, is one of the agendas. Yet, further co-destruction must be stopped.