February 6, 2013
Japan sends dubious signals of war
Japan on Tuesday lodged a protest against China, claiming Chinese military frigates locked their fire-control radar on to a Japanese navy vessel as well as a helicopter.
Details of the situation remain unclear. The Japanese defense military reportedly said that the Japanese vessel sounded a combat alert after being locked on to and the situation reached quite a dangerous point. It prompted Japanese media to criticize China’s “offensive” and “provocative” act on the high seas.
China is not skilled when it comes to publicity efforts, thus far it has never taken the initiative in publicizing information on Sino-Japanese disputes. The first commentaries on Sino-Japanese conflicts have been always from the Japanese side.
But if Japan was a reasonable nation, the Diaoyu Islands dispute wouldn’t have become as tense as it is now.
Now, we only have Japan’s one-sided arguments over the radar incident. Since Japan often seizes opportunities to exaggerate these kinds of incidents to sway public opinion, the legitimacy of Japan’s arguments has come under question.
No matter how skilled Japan is in making use of public opinion, it’s Japan itself that is driving the Diaoyu dispute in the direction of a possible military clash. Japan has conducted several military exercises aimed at “safeguarding Diaoyu,” and it’s Japan’s fighter jets that first appeared in the air above the disputed islands to disperse Chinese civilian aircraft.
It was also Japan that first indicated that it might use tracer bullets against Chinese aircraft, and Japan’s fighter jets that were frequently scrambled to deal with Chinese aircraft that had allegedly entered into its air defense identification zone. Because of Japan, mutual military trust in the East China Sea has been destroyed.
The news disclosed by Japan on Tuesday hasn’t stirred up Chinese society. Many have mentally prepared themselves for the first shots between China and Japan, but fewer and fewer people still hold out hope for a peaceful solution to the escalating dispute.
Chinese people thought in the past war was unlikely, but now, we often hear extreme pledges from Japan like “Protecting Diaoyu at any cost” and “Negotiations are unacceptable” via media and the Internet, and we are also well informed of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ full preparations for a war. The information flow between China and Japan is increasingly narrowing the room for peaceful negotiation.
Japan’s attempts to highlight this radar incident only sound an alert between the Chinese and Japanese public, telling them that war is around the corner.
If the Abe administration’s real intention is to implant the idea of an imminent war in the minds of the public, China also must send the same message to the Chinese public. If this is not the case, Japan should try to dispel the Chinese public’s doubts and remove the harmful side-effects of its actions.
Photo: Casualties of a mass panic during a June 1941 Japanese bombing of Chongqing. More than 5000 civilians died during the first two days of air raids in 1939.