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Friday, August 27, 2010

China Post editorial makes no sense

In order to write an editorial for the China Post, a formula needs to be applied each time it's deemed necessary to comment on something related to Japan. To start things off, a head-scratching headline is required, something along the line of "Japan-US war scenario makes no sense" . Of course, there must be irrelevant references to the Second World War:

"...Japan's self-defense forces, which have inherited the venerable historic tradition of its once invincible Imperial Army 大日本帝国陸軍 and Navy 大日本帝国海軍, are planning to stage a joint air-sea maneuver with the United States based on a highly unlikely war scenario. The two countries that fought the bloody Pacific War are reported to have their joint naval exercise take place over waters near the Tiaoyut'ai Islands 釣魚台群島 in December..."

Later on, it is mentioned that:

"The Imperial Japanese Army sent an infantry regiment to occupy uninhabited Attu in the Aleutian Islands immediately after Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku's 山本五十六 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941."

No further reference is made on this subject, but suffice it to say it's enough to hang the war albatross around the Japanese neck, even if it is 2010 and not 1945, and the USA and Japan are staunch allies. Actually, the Japanese attacked the Aleutians six months after Pearl Harbor, but why quibble over unimportant matters like historical accuracy?

Next, you must ridicule your subject using tortuous logic:

"The scenario (of practicing to retake one of the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島 from a foreign invader) is naive, if not inane. Japan seems to believe Senkaku or likely to be occupied by either the People's Liberation Army (PLA) or Taiwan's marine corps. Is it possible for the People's Republic to mount an amphibious assault, on what our fishermen used to call 'No Man's Island,' without T'aipei's 台北 acquiescence? Taiwan's defense forces certainly cannot match the PLA in all-out hostilities, but is more than strong enough to hold their ground in denying safe-passage for easy access to Diaoyutai. Does Taiwan have any wish to occupy Tiaoyutai, which means Fishing Platform? Of course, not. As a matter of fact, the tiny islet isn't worth occupying. In other words, there is no ground whatsoever for fear that Senkaku may be invaded and occupied."

Let's the previous paragraph, the editorial states that:

"(the Senkaku archipelago), which lies only 120 miles northeast of Chilung 基隆 in the Western Pacific, is claimed not merely by Taiwan but by the People's Republic of China as well. It is important as a rich fishing ground, while geological surveys show there are huge petroleum reserves under its waters."

Rich fishing grounds? The possibility of huge petroleum reserves? The Post is right - what possible reason could any country have for wanting to seize the Senkakus, especially when two other states in particular lay claim to the Japanese-held islands? This group of rocks is obviously not worth the trouble of sending flotillas of Hong Kong Chinese protesters to assert sovereignty over it, let alone having some of them drown in the sea in the process (goodbye David Chan, we hardly knew ye).

Now it's time to show some ethnic pride. Behold the mighty dragon:

"Even if Senkaku were occupied, could a small 250-strong contingent drive out the invaders from China? Don't make us laugh...An airdropped company-size fighting group would be too lightly armed to fight off a much larger occupying force. Then, what would Japan want to do with Senkaku if its next-to-impossible recapture of the isle were successful? Station a larger garrison on a barren, habitable islet? It would be easily retaken by the PLA, if it so wished."

The last part of the formula is the most important - the writers must unintentionally provide the very rationale that justifies what they so casually dismiss in the first place:

"We fully understand the PLA is flexing its muscle in the East China Sea 東中國海 and planning to extend its influence past the Okinawa 沖縄 island chain into the Pacific. It's only natural for Japan to be concerned."

If it's only natural for the Japanese are be worried about the growing power of the Chinese military, especially its navy, in the waters surrounding Japan (including its territorial waters), then wouldn't it make sense for the Japanese security establishment to prepare for all possible scenarios? Apparently not if you write for the China Post. It helps not to have any grasp of reality:

"But that does not mean the Japanese have to ask Uncle Sam to take part in a joint maneuver against their potential enemy. How does the Pentagon want the Americans to participate in the joint exercise? The United States keeps a Marine division at an air station on Okinawa. Its Pacific fleet may send an aircraft carrier combat group. The United States may choose to show its flag around to alleviate Japan's newly acquired Sinophobia."

A brief history lesson is in order here. Japan occupied the Senkaku Islands in January 1895, four months before it took over Taiwan. The following year, administration over the islands was formally transferred to Okinawa Prefecture 沖縄県. In 1945, with Japan's defeat in World War Two, the Senkakus were handed over to the United States along with the rest of Okinawa. In 1972, when the Ryūkyūs 琉球諸島 were reunited with the rest of Japan, the Senkakus were part of the package, and have been under Japanese control ever since.

While all this was going on, neither Taiwan nor China made any claims to the islands. Not until a Japanese geological survey in the late 1960's suggested there might be oil reserves under the seabed there, that is. Suddenly, the Senkakus (or Diaoyutai/Tiaoyut'ai Islands) became an inviolate part of Chinese (or Taiwanese) territory, under the rubric of "Once a part of China (or Taiwan), always a part of China (or Taiwan)".

And why is Uncle Sam getting involved in this? Not to alleviate any Sinophobia, but to carry out the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty 日本国とアメリカ合衆国との間の相互協力及び安全保障条約, an obscure document dating from 1960 that obligates the United States to come to the defense of Japan in the event of an attack on territory under Japanese administration. Guess what, China Post? That includes the Senkaku Islands!

As usual, there is no mention made of China's ever-increasing military buildup and defense spending, of the aggressive actions of the Chinese navy in recent months in the waters around Japan, or of the concerns about Chinese intentions expressed by the U.S. government. No, it's all just "Sinophobia":

"The end result of the reportedly oncoming joint exercise will be to increase tensions between Japan and the People's Republic Of China. That's the worst scenario none of the countries involved hope to unfold."

In the world of the China Post, where the Republic of China 中華民國 still waits for the day it can resume control over the greater Chinese nation, where the heroic Chiang Kai-shek 蔣中正 single-handedly defeated the forces of the Empire of Japan 大日本帝国, it's just plain incomprehensible how a country like Japan would even consider measures to defend its so-called "territory" from the benign Chinese.

See, anyone can write like the editors of the China Post.

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