The Senkaku Islands are Japanese islands, uninhabited for the most part, and under which are massive deposits of natural gas and possibly oil. In addition, these islands are strategic. China has encroached on many other countries in the South China Sea – islands, shoals, reefs claimed by numerous countries like Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and other countries. But Communist China pulled it off so far.
Now they’d like the Senkaku Islands. Not likely as Japan has been beefing up its armed forces. And the US committed to defending these islands. My novel series, “Stealing Thunder” deals with the dynamics of China, Japan and the US in Asian geopolitics.
- Japan has quite a small military, in part because the Japanese constitution imposes a limit on Japan’s self defense forces, and in part because Japan has relied on the United States for its security. Last May Japan scrapped its 1% GDP cap on defense spending and increased its national budget to $51 billion to include purchase of more stealth fighters, missile systems and warships. Japan mainly relies on the US Patriot air defense system for land-based defense, and on AEGIS for ship based ballistic missile protection. The country is building up to a fleet of 147 F-35 stealth fighter jets and is retiring its F-15J’s, which are now reaching end of life. In particular, Japan is planning to equip two Izumo-class helicopter carriers with the F-35B, giving Japan the ability to project power around China.
- In 2020 Japan launched the first of the new Soryu-class submarines, planning to buy 22 in all. These are diesel electric submarines and the first to use advanced lithium ion batteries. These submarines also have hydrogen power packs enabling them to stay submerged for much longer periods. Coupled to sophisticated silencing techniques, as these submarines come onstream Japan will have a strong capability to counter China’s growing fleet. (The US does not have diesel-electric submarines and relies entirely on nuclear powered submarines.)