BY BEN ZHAO AND JENNIFER ZENG, May 19, 2021
As Japan, the United States, and France are conducting joint military exercises, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held a high-level meeting on May 12 to discuss how to tackle the threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The senior management of the LDP, representing both the national defense and the security ministry, discussed various situations at the Senkaku Islands (also known as Diaoyu), the South China Sea, and the Taiwan Strait.
The topics of the meeting were revealed by Takao Toshikawa, a well-known Japanese political and economic commentator, in an Japanese article entitled “Europe Joins Japan, U.S., Australia, and India in ‘Deterrence Strategy Against China’—Its Deep Implications for the Senkaku Islands.”
According to the article, Taku Otsuka, member of the House of Representatives of Japan for the LDP in charge of national defense, and Itsunori Onodera, chairman of security investigation and former minister of defense, chaired the meeting. The topics of the meeting included the following five areas:
(1) The operations of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the waters around the Senkaku Islands.
(2) The operations of Chinese naval vessels and helicopters.
(3) The Chinese Maritime Traffic Safety Law.
(4) The Chinese regime’s survey report on the topography of the Senkaku Islands.
(5) The situations in the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Although the article did not disclose more details of the meeting, it revealed that about 50 LDP members from the House and Senate attended the meeting. Other participants included Hiroyuki Onishi, parliamentary vice-minister, Masami Oka, director of the Defense Policy Bureau, and Mitsuko Hayashi, chief advisor to the Ministry of Defense staff office.
Attendees from the Self-Defense Forces included coordinating officials of the land, sea, and air staffs, as well as Deputy Director-General Kazuye Endo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of Asia Pacific affairs.
In the article, Toshikawa revealed that the topics of the meeting were related to France’s participation in the “ARC21” military exercise involving Japan, the United States, and France. The drill started on May 11 and included a military operation exercise to defend the Senkaku Islands in the case of a CCP invasion.
The French army conducted the first joint military exercise with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces on Japanese land from May 11 to 13.
France sent a large fleet of warships to demonstrate its determination to participate in the affairs of the Indo-Pacific region. Admiral Pierre Vandier, chief of the French naval staff, said last November that “Our message will be targeted at China.”
He highlighted the importance of freedom of navigation and respect for international law, and expressed France’s determination to be united with its allies including Japan, the United States, Australia, and India.
In addition, the German government said last year that it wanted to strengthen its operations in the Indo-Pacific region and participated, for the first time, in the 2+2 talks between the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Germany on April 13 this year.
Japan will also welcome a British aircraft carrier strike group—accompanied by a Dutch warship.
Toshikawa said the strategy of building deterrence against the CCP has gradually won acceptance from European countries such as France. The reason is that the CCP’s expansion of hegemony in the South China and East China Seas has made Japan, the United States, Australia, India, and even France and other European countries feel threatened.
The CCP’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang are also of deep concern to these countries. So there is a consensus among countries to curb the CCP’s infringement on international rules and human rights issues, according to Toshikawa, who is also the Tokyo bureau chief for The Oriental Economist Report, published by Japan Watchers in New York.