In an editorial on April 26, the Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper warned of “unbearable consequences for Japan” if it “continues down the path of military expansion“ and seeks to “contain and confront China”. A translation of the article is below.
This editorial is attributed to “Zhong Sheng” (钟声), a pen name used for important editorials on international affairs. "Zhong Sheng" (Sound of the Bell) is a homophone for “中声,” which stands for “中国之声” (Voice of China). “Zhong Sheng” editorials reflect the concerns of the Party leadership.
The strongly worded editorial blames Japan for exacerbating regional tensions and undermining Sino-Japan relations and calls on it to reflect and reassess:
Given the complexity of the international situation and the interference of a hegemonic country from outside the region, Japan must deeply consider where its true national interests lie and what path will genuinely benefit its national development.
If Japan continues to pursue its selfish interests by exacerbating regional tensions, it will be akin to “scavenging for valuables from a burning house.” This approach will not only fail to achieve Japan’s so-called “strategic freedom” and “great power status” but will also backfire and bring unbearable consequences for Japan.
The editorial is an example of how Party-state media invokes history for current political purposes. In this case, Japan’s shift in foreign and security policies in response to a changing strategic landscape is cast as a return to “militarism”. The subtext is that Japan should be forever shackled with guilt from the past and act with diffidence.
Japan Should Not Travel Further Down the Path of Military Expansion
If Japan continues to pursue its selfish interests by exacerbating regional tensions, it would be akin to “scavenging for valuables from a burning house.” Not only will it fail to achieve Japan’s so-called “strategic freedom” and “great power status,” but it will also backfire and bring unbearable consequences for Japan.
Japan has recently made repeated mistakes in words and deeds that harm its relations with neighbouring countries. During the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting hosted by Japan, a joint statement was issued that grossly interfered with China’s internal affairs and maliciously slandered and attacked China. This revealed sinister intentions to contain and confront China.
Japanese politicians have repeatedly made erroneous remarks regarding the Taiwan issue and the post-World War II settlement on international order. Such remarks are strategically shortsighted, politically wrong, and diplomatically unwise. They will only increase the vigilance of regional countries towards Japan’s strategic direction.
Recently, as a member of Asia, Japan has repeatedly “invited wolves into its home” — its foreign strategy is undergoing a dangerous transformation.
Against the backdrop of the United States’ declaration to “shape the strategic environment around China,” Japan has accelerated its foreign and security policy adjustment.
In December last year, Japan officially approved three security policy documents: updated versions of the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Defense Buildup Program. In these documents, Japan claims it should have “the ability to counterattack,” including “the ability to attack enemy bases.”
Based on these documents, Japan plans to significantly strengthen its defence forces by increasing defence spending by 1.6 times from fiscal years 2019 to 2023 compared to fiscal years 2013 to 2017. By the fiscal year 2027, Japan’s defence spending will reach 2 per cent of its gross domestic product.
This move signals that Japan, which once launched aggressive wars of militarism, has completely abandoned the principle of “defence-only” and has thoroughly deviated from the concept of peace in the Japanese constitution. Atsushi Koketsu, a professor emeritus at Yamaguchi University, points out that this shift poses a significant threat to countries in East Asia and represents a form of “new militarism.”
Moreover, Japan has characterised China as its “biggest strategic challenge to date” and distorted the truth on issues such as Taiwan, the Diaoyu Islands, and the South China Sea. It has propagated the “China threat theory” and used it as an excuse to accelerate the breaching of the [restrictions of the] post-war system to continue down the road of military expansion.