Sino-Japanese Territorial Disputes Could Pull the US into War in Asia

John Glaser, September 23, 2013

The crux of why the Obama administration’s Asia-Pivot strategy is reckless and stupid is contained in the first question and answer of Foreign Policy’s interview with Japan’s Defense Minister, Itsunori Onodera.

Foreign Policy: What kind of commitment has the United States given to you in terms of defending the Senkakus if China attacks? And what kind of commitment would you like?

Itsunori Onodera: We don’t have any assumptions that specific incidents will occur. But the area in and around the Senkakus is controlled by Japan, and the lands controlled by Japan are subject to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty Article V [which states that "an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety"]. The United States and Japan have agreed in talks that the United States is obligated to fulfill Article 5 in case anything happens.

Sino-Japanese territorial disputes over a set of island chains that China calls Diaoyu and Japan calls Senkaku were long dormant. China claims the islands belonged to mainland China going back to the Qing dynasty. At the end of the Sino-Japanese war in 1895, Japan annexed the islands. After WWII, when Japan was forced to adopt a pacifist government and the U.S. occupied several Japanese islands, the maritime territorial claims between China and Japan were not a hot issue.

About a year ago, the Japanese government bought the Senkakus from a private Japanese owner, pissing off China. And ever since, China and Japan have been engaging in brinkmanship to stake their claims on the disputed territory. It’s important to note that the islands became ever more important to each party after they were discovered to be rich in oil, gas, and mineral deposits, as well as being valuable fisheries.

According to many sources in both China and the U.S., Washington’s promise to go to war for the sake of Japan’s territorial integrity has emboldened right wing nationalists in Japan. China wields much more military and economic power than Japan, but Japan ain’t scared because America has her back.

A similar dynamic is taking place with Vietnam and the Philippines, who have comparable territorial disputes with China. As the Washington Post reported in July:

China’s most daring adversary in Southeast Asia is, by many measurements, ill-suited for a fight. The Philippines has a military budget one-fortieth the size of Beijing’s, and its navy cruises through contested waters in 1970s hand-me-downs from the South Vietnamese.

From that short-handed position, the Philippines has set off on a risky mission to do what no nation in the region has managed to do: thwart China in its drive to control the vast waters around it.

The Philippines ain’t scared, though, because the U.S. has a mutual defense treaty with them as well.

While it may be exciting hardliners in Japan and the Philippines, America’s meddling in Asian territorial disputes that have nothing to do with us isn’t perceived favorably in China. Last year, according to the New York Times, “a longtime Chinese diplomat warned…that the United States is using Japan as a strategic tool in its effort to mount a comeback in Asia, a policy that he said is serving to heighten tensions between China and Japan.”

“My biggest fear is that a small mishap is going to blow up into something much bigger,” says Elizabeth C. Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“If there is a use of force between Japan and China,” warns Sheila A. Smith, also of CFR, “this could be all-out conflict between these two Asian giants. And as a treaty ally of Japan, it will automatically involve the United States.”

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera is cocky and prepared for a military skirmish with China over these uninhabited islands, potentially pulling the U.S. into a destructive bout in Asia-Pacific.

Alternatively, we could stay the hell out of it.




78 Responses to “Sino-Japanese Territorial Disputes Could Pull the US into War in Asia”

  1. USA is already at war all over the world wanting to militarize it, they are in Africa, Middle East and have militarized part of Asia. The Third World War is already conducted by USA when Bush regime invaded Afghanistan and later Iraq, before that the Balkan by Clinton and Albright war was about paving the way for militarization of Central Asia and Eastern Europe and they have stationed their military all over that area. Japan is already occupied by us militarism regime, so is Europe and etc. In actuality, what is left is to conquer china and Russia. It is Obama responsibility to continue with Bush doctrine militarizing the world, that's why he already have started harassing china in Asia and Russia in Middle East (Syria), with help from Saudis they are using the same idea as Bush was saying, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and that's where the meaning of the word democracy is demolishing and that's where this surveillance and other related militarism acts are coming from, in another word, what you see and hear in reality is a preparation for the real time world war when the next president is elected, my guess is Hillary Clinton, she could always use her husband experience to follow through the act in warmongering and asking for help from Saudis and UAE where they can use their barbarians to activate their wars.

  2. Continue from above: USG will start using his lap dogs in South American countries for its economical and strategical interests in that part of the world, they all ready have started with the process, by not lifting the economic ban on Cuba and harassing Venezuela, Brazil, Nicaragua, Argentina and others are the sign is USG aggressions toward nations in this world but those whom are cooperating with USG. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Europe are all in this Neo trend of warmongering, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Balkan to Libya to Syria and later with Iran. This is USG, it has been, it is and will be what it is, a militarism regime can not and will not respect its own finding in democracy, which is the reason for every president to brake the law of the land, one way or the other just to have fun and start war with another nation, as Iraq oil for food program where over a million Iraqis were killed was a joke for Madeline Albright and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and now the Syrian war has become a joke for Hillary Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama, the Europeans and the Saudis and UAE allies in warmongering.

    All that is is the lack of intelligent which starts with lack of true and a meaning full education, which the USG don't want for its people to be educated due to "lack of funds" otherwise USA is the richest country in this earth yet there are millions upon millions homeless and rising poverty has become a social issue when Ronald Reagan started his economy by closing hospitals and other places living room for USG militarism to grow as it is today, a militarism regime with no ending to the system appetite for wars.

  3. [...] Sino-Japanese Disputes Could Pull the US into War in Asia [...]

  4. The Philippines ain’t scared, though, because the U.S. has a mutual defense treaty with them as well.

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  8. Amerika by it's warmongering actions will eventually be attacked from all directions…it will be AFLAME FROM NYC TO Cali and every state in between..duh

  9. It is very clear that the US is trying to push Japan into a military confrontation with China.
    See: http://original.antiwar.com/john-v-walsh/2013/02/
    AND http://original.antiwar.com/john-v-walsh/2013/02/

  10. Ikhwan IN = world$theft order OUT that is why oilee is Alamo Muslims

  11. Both treaties are easy to dispose of. Just pull the Taiwan Precedent – unilaterally abrogate the Treaty and withdraw all military forces. That's what we did to Taiwan in 1978/79.

  12. The USA won't be "pullled" into a war in Asia. It will be covertly pulling the puppet strings to provoke a war in Asia between all these nations–all the while America sits smugly half a world way as Asians slaughter each other.

    This is similar to what America is doing in the Middle East as it watches Muslims slaughter each other in Syria and Iraq.

    America is primarily using Japan, the Phillipines, etc as proxies to attack and contain China. Much in the same way, that America (and Israel) manipulates regional nations in the Middle East to attack and contain Syria and Iran.

  13. Japan is trying to extract revenge against the usa for ww2 and the best way they can achieve that is pitting two of its hated rivals against each other. Wake up. japan hasn’t changed its still the evil nation it was, past or present. A zebra never losses its stripes.

  14. [...] Sino-Japanese Disputes Could Pull the US into War in Asia [...]

  15. When the Japanese occuppied China in the 1930's war, they plundered many things from the Chinese, property, possessions, islands and their dignity. The Japanese were more brutal in torture practices than the Nazis ever were. The Americans bombed Japan in WWII, freeing the Chinese from their captives. In fact the emperor of Japan was pardoned from war crimes. Now in the present, the Americans owe China approx. 1.4 Triilion dollars in debt, and suddenly takes sides with Japan. America has no loyalty, even to their own people. Obama! fix your own country before you go out and pretend to force your foreign policy onto others. Obama is a dictator, bully tyrant and should be impeached for crimes against the american constitution.

  16. [...] Sino-Japanese Territorial Disputes Could Pull the US into War in Asia!  by John Glaser, http://antiwar.com/blog  The crux of why the Obama administration’s Asia-Pivot strategy is reckless and stupid is contained in the first question and answer of Foreign Policy’s interview with Japan’s Defense Minister, Itsunori Onodera. – Foreign Policy: What kind of commitment has the United States given to you in terms of defending the Senkakus if China attacks? And what kind of commitment would you like? – Itsunori Onodera: We don’t have any assumptions that specific incidents will occur. But the area in and around the Senkakus is controlled by Japan, and the lands controlled by Japan are subject to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty Article V [which states that "an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety"]. The United States and Japan have agreed in talks that the United States is obligated to fulfill Article 5 in case anything happens. – Sino-Japanese territorial disputes over a set of island chains that China calls Diaoyu and Japan calls Senkaku were long dormant. China claims the islands belonged to mainland China going back to the Qing dynasty. At the end of the Sino-Japanese war in 1895, Japan annexed the islands. After WWII, when Japan was forced to adopt a pacifist government and the U.S. occupied several Japanese islands, the maritime territorial claims between China and Japan were not a hot issue. – About a year ago, the Japanese government bought the Senkakus from a private Japanese owner, pissing off China. And ever since, China and Japan have been engaging in brinkmanship to stake their claims on the disputed territory. It’s important to note that the islands became ever more important to each party after they were discovered to be rich in oil, gas, and mineral deposits, as well as being valuable fisheries. – According to many sources in both China and the U.S., Washington’s promise to go to war for the sake of Japan’s territorial integrity has emboldened right wing nationalists in Japan. China wields much more military and economic power than Japan, but Japan ain’t scared because America has her back. – A similar dynamic is taking place with Vietnam and the Philippines, who have comparable territorial disputes with China. As the Washington Post reported in July: – China’s most daring adversary in Southeast Asia is, by many measurements, ill-suited for a fight. The Philippines has a military budget one-fortieth the size of Beijing’s, and its navy cruises through contested waters in 1970s hand-me-downs from the South Vietnamese. – From that short-handed position, the Philippines has set off on a risky mission to do what no nation in the region has managed to do: thwart China in its drive to control the vast waters around it. – The Philippines ain’t scared, though, because the U.S. has a mutual defense treaty with them as well. – While it may be exciting hardliners in Japan and the Philippines, America’s meddling in Asian territorial disputes that have nothing to do with us isn’t perceived favorably in China. Last year, according to the New York Times, “a longtime Chinese diplomat warned…that the United States is using Japan as a strategic tool in its effort to mount a comeback in Asia, a policy that he said is serving to heighten tensions between China and Japan.” – “My biggest fear is that a small mishap is going to blow up into something much bigger,” says Elizabeth C. Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations. – “If there is a use of force between Japan and China,” warns Sheila A. Smith, also of CFR, “this could be all-out conflict between these two Asian giants. And as a treaty ally of Japan, it will automatically involve the United States.” – Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera is cocky and prepared for a military skirmish with China over these uninhabited islands, potentially pulling the U.S. into a destructive bout in Asia-Pacific. – Alternatively, we could stay the hell out of it. [...]

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  18. [...] policy could easily exacerbate Sin-Japanese tensions and prompt a very dangerous escalation. “My biggest fear is that a small mishap is going to blow [...]

  19. [...] policy could easily exacerbate Sin-Japanese tensions and prompt a very dangerous escalation. “My biggest fear is that a small mishap is going to [...]

  20. [...] policy could easily exacerbate Sino-Japanese tensions and prompt a very dangerous escalation. “My biggest fear is that a small mishap is going [...]

  21. The US should stop meddling in Asian disputes. The pivot to Asia and the Pacific is emboldening Japan to deny that there is any dispute with China, while the whole world sees a dangerous dispute.

    The US thinks this is "smart" diplomacy, playing one nation against another, in an effort to remain the supreme hegemonic "bully" of the world. The US is descending into an immoral hypocrite, preaching human rights and democracy on the one hand, while practicing illegal killings of innocent women and children with drones. What has America become ?

  22. Just stop playing the blame game! The reality is that China was in a civil war and the United States gave control of the Sankaku Islands to Japan. China is bullying countries around by using its military. China has started an ARMS RACE by spending 100's of Billions on its military yearly and you criticize other countries for defending their sovereignty. China is running out of natural resources so they are looking too lash out to feed their ECONOMIC and MILITARY MACHINE…. China's politician's are puppets of their MILITARY!!!

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  25. China is a country that has two faces.__1/ its massive military build up is, it says, is for self defence only and to protect its interests, yet it is openly becoming aggressive in flexing its muscle in getting a foot hold pacific region. __2/ it shows the world that it is prepared to negotiate a settlement over those uninhabited islands, which on the surface has no really value to anyone, but the real issue is the vast resources in the area. a small military power like the Philippines, who is prepared to stand up to china over these disputed islands. _China cannot possibly believe it can take these islands by force, it cannot possibly believe that introducing a controlled air space exclusion zone around these islands will go unchallenged. __Think vey carefully china, you are entering an area that will no doubt bring other powers against you because of your dogmatic approach to this issue. Japan payed a heavy price for being openly aggressive during the second world war. You have not yet experienced a modern day military conflict with anyone, nor will you succeed in getting what you want. your navy will only create a new artificial reef for marine life.

  26. The Germans admit to wrong doing to the massive killing of the great Jewish people during the war. The Japanese killed over 20 million Chinese and many Koreans, Taiwanese, Pilipino, Malaysians, Singaporeans, Burmese and many other Asian people. They have not repent and told the truth about their atrocity to their own people by properly recording history. Many young Japanese grew up not knowing what actually happened during the 2nd world war. Now, the Japanese right wing conservatives are raising again to bring back the imperial militarism which is very scary for many Asian people who still gave fresh memories of the war. America must not over look this important fact just because Japan is now our ally in Asia. The Chinese people has never been expansionistic or much of Asia would have been China colonies. Instead, Japan, UK, America, Dutch, French and some other European countries have colonized much of Asia in the last 150 years. They too have not apologized to the Asian people.

    The world is still controlled by western narratives and western interpretation of world view. We will blind ourselves and be miscalculating the Chinese and the Korean's true motivations and their fight for real justice in the 2nd world war ( which is still not settled…. as far as they are concerned) if we continue on this dangerous path of encouraging the Japanese to rebuild their military against the wish of most Asian nations. The fact that they did not openly object to it because America is behind Japan does not at all mean that they support it. We are in for a big surprise soon…just wait and see…Asian countries still do not trust the Japanese, period. The Koreans and the Chinese are in it for a long sustaining fight and they will out last the Japanese because they are on the right side of history. America must persuade Japan to accept the truth and come to grips with history and settle their differences with China and Korea in a peaceful and truthful manner for world peace…..! Do not under estimate the will of the Korean people and the Chinese people in their quest for justice for what happened in the 2nd world war. It ain't over yet…till it is over. I hope we have enough wisdom to resolved our differences in a peaceful and forthright manner. America can play a role in it, but it must not be blinded by our closed relationship with Japan.

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