Why Japan Should Ignore China’s Okinawa Provocation
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Why Japan Should Ignore China’s Okinawa Provocation

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By now the narrative is familiar: China, brandishing a sheaf of faded maps and records, questions the basis of Japan’s authority over islands in the East China Sea. The dispute summons bitter memories of the Middle Kingdom’s humiliation at the hands of its neighbor starting in the late 19th century, but also heightens fears that Beijing is abandoning its decade-old mantra of “peaceful rise” to become the revisionist power its neighbors and Washington fear.

For the last year, this has been the tale of the Senkaku Islands, a remote cluster of rocks whose only mammalian inhabitants are goats and an endangered race of moles. China’s claim to the islets, which it calls Diaoyu, dates back at least four decades, but tensions have heightened since the Japanese government announced last year that it would purchase them from a private owner.

Just last week, however, Beijing opened up a new front in the dispute. On Wednesday, China’s leading state-run newspaper, the People’s Daily, ran a piece questioning the status of Okinawa, home to 1.4 million Japanese citizens as well as 25,000 U.S. troops. Its authors, two scholars at a government-backed think tank, surveyed the history of the Ryukyu Islands, of which Okinawa is easily the most important, and concluded that the legitimacy of Japan’s rule over the chain is “unresolved.” When pressed for comment, China’s Foreign Ministry refused to affirm that the Ryukyus are part of Japan, instead reiterating that “the Diaoyu Islands,” which sit to Okinawa’s west, “are China’s inherent territory,” and not part of the Ryukyus. This is hardly the first time that nationalists have attempted to sow doubt about Okinawa, but never before have questions about Japanese sovereignty been entertained at such a high level.

The Ryukyus arc from Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, towards Taiwan. Most of their residents are indigenous Ryukyuans, a group of peoples who have traditionally spoken their own Japonic languages and maintained political and trade ties with both China and Japan. Even before the unification of Okinawa and surrounding islands under a single king in the 15th century, the Ryukyuans were tributaries of the Ming Dynasty. But after their king refused to help the Japanese daimyo Hideyoshi invade Korea in the 1590s, the islands were subjugated by a feudal lord from Kyushu. For almost three centuries, the islands’ kings paid tribute to two masters, the shogun of Japan and the emperor of China.

The arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and his “black ships” in the 1850s rocked Japan, but the new state that emerged from this political turmoil was unified and assertive. In 1879, the young Emperor Meiji, a modernizing reformer, formally absorbed the Ryukyus, which became Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture. China’s Qing Dynasty ratified this action in 1895, but only under duress; the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the First Sino-Japanese War, not only provided that China would abandon any claims to the Ryukyus, but signed away Taiwan and severed China’s longstanding tributary relationship with Korea. (The treaty also helped set the stage for the Senkaku dispute, which turns in part on whether those islets were part of Taiwan, and thus reverted to China after 1945, or the Ryukyus.)

Okinawa was captured by Allied troops in the final months of the Pacific War, but this victory came at such a terrible cost that it may have influenced President Truman’s decision to use atomic weapons rather than mount a ground assault on Japan’s home islands. When the American occupation of Japan ended in 1952, the Treaty of San Francisco provided that Washington would continue to administer the Ryukyus. Okinawa became a key pedestal of American power in Asia, an idea that Commodore Perry had championed a century earlier. The chain reverted to Japanese control in 1972, but the U.S. military continues to maintain a constellation of bases on Okinawa under the terms of Washington’s security alliance with Tokyo.

Comments
289
flordel
December 8, 2013 at 09:17

The next move by China is to execute ” cabbage strategy ” Then the Chinese will deny the Japanese access.

AIKO-Japan Lacks Realistic Grand Strategy
August 27, 2013 at 14:11

@Nicole,

Japan is more tactical than strategical in thinking and she believes in power and the use of force. Her overemphasizing of militarism and warfare trechnology is the origin of her megalomaniacal overconfidence in her invasion history. she keeps making misjudgements in her history with this kind of overconfidence.

Due to her island mentality and her speculator character Japan always focus on immediate or short term gains. She lacks long term perspective in planning her grand strategy.

Japan acts like a perpetually swinging pendulum in her history.

She keeps swinging from an invader to a peaceful nation without a consistent mindset; and she keeps swinging from one goal to the other goals in her invasion history in 1930's and 1940's (e.g, whether to attack the USSR in the north or to attack the oil rich South East Asia in the South? Finally she made a surprise attack at USA at Pearl Harbor and it became a fatal mistake. Actually all three actions were unrealistic and were doomed to fail). Her overall invasion of China in 1937 was also another proved mistake.

Please review the comment of 'Another Voice Okinawa' on 8-1-2013: Japan does not really know where and how to stand in a scale to weigh herself against her rivals before going for a war or confrontation. She keeps making the same mistakes again and again later in her history……………

Japan gained no territory for her invasion of Korea in the 16th century and for her invasion history from 1894 to 1945. (Except for the gainning of Okinawa/Ryukyu)

Of course Japan does not has a good strategy mind. How can a country has a good strategy mind if she doesn't know how and where to position herself?

In the current situation Japan is more in inducing unnecessary confrontations with China than playing a major and positive role of power balancing in Asia.

However, Japan is still able to share USA's burden of keeping Asia in peace, militarily and finacially speaking, especially by providing the military bases to USA.

 

 

AIKO: Uncompromising
August 18, 2013 at 16:21

@Nicole,

The majority of the people of Japan have a unique characteristic: being adaptive but uncompromising.

This characteristic is not well known but is confusing especially to the westerners. I tried to find out how this characteristic is developed into our people's mentality but I can't find good answers. I can only say that our country is unique in many ways due to our geography, culture, social structure and our feudal history.

Being highly adaptive enables Japan to rise fast into a power in history. Being uncompromising also made Japan a tragic character in history.

With this uncompromising character Japan will have unstable relationship with her neighboring countries.

People who are uncompromising tend to think they are more right and they are better than the other people. They are also less likely to change their minds once a decision is made and even the decision is wrong. They may not consider options and alternatives when they need most during a crisis. 

They will keep going for an impossible target or mission at all costs without any mind changing. (This point is from another Voice Okinawa's comment on 8-1-2013) She actually wants the world to follow her and not for her to follow the world. She always prefer confrontation or war instead of making diplomatic efforts. 

Charles
August 16, 2013 at 12:47

This is an internal matter for the Japanese gavernment no doubt they'll do just as the article says and ignore the Chinese attempts at belligerence.

AIKO
August 14, 2013 at 16:04

@Another Voice Okinawa,

Thank you for your correction. The February 26 Incident in 1936 should be the end of the violence within Japan's politics and military during her period of invasion wars.

The warlike Japanese politicians and military officers of the era from 1870's to 1940's, especially the young officers who participated in the coups of the May 15 (1932) and the February 26 (1936) Incidents, had the same or similar mentality of that of the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi who invadeded Korea (1592-1598) and who actually INTENDED and DREAMED of conquering China.

These coup participating young officers are real fanatics of invasion wars and they are not normal people.

In order to achieve their goals of invasion they didn't even care about their own lives, no to mention the lives of the other innocent people they killed in the coups.    

 

 

Another Voice Okinawa
August 10, 2013 at 09:41

@Nicole, @AIKO,

I want to make a correction on AIKO's reply to Nicole on 8-9-2013 in the second last paragraph: 'The examples of assassinations and coups from Japan's Meiji Reform Period to the end of WW II'.

I believe the violence of assasination and coup in Japan happened from the begining of the Meiji reform Period to 1936, one year before the overall invasion of China by Japan. The violence did not last until the end of WW II.

The two famous coups are the 'May 15 Incident' (5-15-1932) and the February 26 Incident (2-26-1936). Both incidents of failed coups were organized by young Japanese military officeres who were fanatics of war (I won't even call them nationalists).

I strongly recommend the readers who are interested in Japan's mentality and militarism should study these facts of Japan's history for a clearer picture of the nation.

Please pay attention that these warlike officers were young.

Japan's unique environment (sometimes or frequently) creates leaders and citizens who have characrteristics of psychopaths. The leaders who are psychopaths also creates a lot of other psychopaths. The psychopath citizens also create more leaders who are also psychopaths. Chicken laid eggs. Eggs become more chicken. The cycles keep repeating. Of course during the process people become more and more psychopathic.

Don't just blame the leaders. The citizens and the lower class officers were also responsible for the nation's mistakes in history.

 

 

 

AIKO - More About Combat Mentality
August 9, 2013 at 16:35

@Nicole,

Underneath its humble and polite appearance Japan has an unusually aggressive, fanatical, and unstable character. Due to its unique georgraphy, culture, and social, structure, Japan may be the only country and people whose collective mentality is always in combat condition.

The counry has a peculiar character of being pessimistic about the future. In its history, survival is always the top priority and the country's survival is above everything. In order to survive or to satisfy the feeling of survival it can do anything, including using conspiracy, making war and invasion.

This combat mentality is not just seen in times of war. It also exists in our daily life. That's why I call it "Always Combat Mentality".

The purpose of combat is to win, to gain, to invade, to conquer, and to make achievements. This kind of combat mentality is always encouraged and advocated by the leaders of Japan.

It is this kind of "always combat mentality" which causes a unique eagerness of seeking national and personal achievements.

Not just the leaders, even many of the common people also have this kind of fanatical combat mentality.  This is probably due to the highly divided social class boundaries exist in the country' history.

To improve his life a common person can only make achievements which are recognized by the nation or by the group he belongs to.

In extreme situations if the roads to the destinations were blocked, violence such as assassination, coup, or even war may become possible measures to be taken.

Examples are the assassinations and even coups which can be seen frequently in Japan's history from the period of the Meiji Reform to the end of the WW II.

The origin of violence is not necessary the desire to change the society but more likely is the desire to change the policy or to influence the political decisions.  

 

AIKO
August 6, 2013 at 15:44

@Nicole,

It is not possible for me to answer all your questions in one single reply.

Let's begin with the "Always Combat Mentality".

Japan's "Always Combat Mentality" means: a mentality which is always in combat condition, always being ready to use FORCE or VIOLENCE; and also always being ready to compete; is always prepared to win or to beat the rivals. It is a unique aggressive character which is rarely seen in other nations. 

Sorry for a late reply, I probably brought up some topics which are too difficult for myself but I'll do my best.

I'll discuss more with you next time.

@Another Voice Okinawa,

Your reply to Nicole on 8-1-2013 is wonderful and is easy to understand. Your explanation of Japan's military history and its relation with Japan's mentality is one of the best I have ever seen. 

 

 

 

Nicole
August 5, 2013 at 15:15

@Another Voice Okinawa,

Thank you for your detail reply. You answered a lot of my questions about Japan.

I think Japan should make her people more happy and Japan's national leaders should be more realistic in international politics.

 

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