Yamaguchi: China Military Build-Up Risks Accident
Image Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Yamaguchi: China Military Build-Up Risks Accident


Inexperienced Chinese naval officers ran the risk of sparking a confrontation with Japan in the East China Sea, a leading Japanese military academic has warned.

Speaking at the Griffith Asia Institute in Brisbane, Australia, Lt. Gen. Noboru Yamaguchi of Japan’s National Defense Academy said China’s rapid build-up could see it match the United States in military expenditure by 2030, but the greater danger was an “accident” provoking an incident.

“Equipment can be expanded very rapidly, but navy captains take 20 years to train – and if that’s not the case, then many young captains and untrained sailors piloting ships and submarines may cause quite a dangerous situation,” he said in his June 13 speech.

“You have to talk to the Chinese to avoid any unnecessary accident which could escalate into a confrontation.”

The row over the uninhabited islands known as Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan has seen a number of incidents involving Chinese and Japanese vessels, including claims by Japan that a Chinese frigate locked weapons-targeting radar onto a Japanese destroyer and helicopter on two occasions in January.

China’s Ministry of Defense denied the reports, accusing Japan of “creating a tense atmosphere and wilfully misleading international public opinion.”

“A Chinese helicopter came within 90 meters of a Japanese destroyer – this was dangerous for them, as even our cadets could shoot them with their own eyesight,” said Yamaguchi, a former Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) aviator.

“One of our [Japanese] helicopters hit the mast of a Japanese vessel two years ago and all six crew members were killed. The only thing that happened to the ship was some cracked paint.”

Yamaguchi noted that both the Japanese and Chinese publics were aware of the row over the potentially resource-rich islands, despite claims by Tokyo that their sovereignty was unquestioned.

However, he said the Japanese public was misguided if it considered the United States would automatically come to the defense of the disputed isles.

Under the Japan-U.S. mutual security treaty, Yamaguchi said there were three conditions to U.S. intervention: it was in an area under Japanese administration; it was a military attack; and it required joint action with Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

The question is often asked, ‘Is the U.S. going to defend the Senkakus?’ My short answer is the question is wrong…If Japan does not stand up [to a foreign military incursion] then the U.S. has no reason to stand up,” he said.

U.S. v China?

Yamaguchi said China’s military spending had grown 18 times larger over the past 20 years, reaching $198 billion in 2011 compared to just $12 billion in 1991. Japan’s spending had barely grown over the same period, rising to $60 billion from $33 billion.

While U.S. military spending was $717 billion in 2011, Yamaguchi said China would match it by 2030 or 2050 at the latest, “but that does not necessarily mean the same military power.”

“Military strength and performance is not represented by how much money you’ve spent this year, but how much you’ve spent in the last 20 to 30 years,” he said, pointing to the U.S. F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft that took 20 years to develop.

“The U.S. has allies and friends so the question is not necessarily China versus the U.S., or in the worst case, China versus U.S. plus Australia plus Japan plus South Korea and other European countries. If we have better relations with China, we don’t have to compare Chinese military expenditure with ours,” he added.

On June 14, Australia’s defense minister Stephen Smith announced that 1,150 U.S. Marines would train in northern Australia in 2014, with the number to reach 2,500 by 2016.

Yamaguchi welcomed the decision by Australia to host U.S. marines, saying it would take the pressure off Japan and help ensure the “political sustainability” of the U.S. pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region.

“If we have another helicopter accident near Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, we will have a very serious problem with the continued stationing of U.S. forces in Japan as a whole. So [Australia’s] efforts to accommodate some Marines helps to reduce their presence in Japan, and that makes the U.S. presence more sustainable,” he said.

Nevertheless, the Japanese government advisor said he was optimistic on China’s rise, saying the two nations had common interests in securing sea lanes and in combating regional security threats such as North Korea.

August 12, 2013 at 12:02

with a potus who does things like end the Shuttle 2, try to privatixe satelite launches, continually defunding military infrastructure, continue to export our jobs into virtual slave nations eroding our independence, eliminating revenue to maintain  our infrastructure, ignoring the federal reserve increased looting our treasuries, abandoning treaties with most countries, spending a lot of effort in forcing his personal homosexual manifesto on our christian nation, while ruling as a dictator ignoring the constitution, ruling by executive order, with a democrat senate, the hands of congress are tied

This era will not end well for politica 

June 26, 2013 at 01:28

@qqq: "china has the world's fastest supercomputer".  Please tell me which CPUs are used in such computer?  Giving lessions from space is just a show off.  The space vehicle is a borrowed item from Russian design.

June 25, 2013 at 14:36

China`s economy will go strong for another 25 years NO PROBLEM!

Why cant any intellegent person accept what China has is common problems. And there is nothing

to write about.

Come on let hear something more intelligent. China has the world fastest supercomputer

and China is now giving lessons to school from space! 

Kim's Uncle
June 25, 2013 at 04:44


Only silly red Chinese hold that sort of belligerent view!  LOL.  China has enormous problems like pollution, corruption, wealth inequality, environmental degradation, etc. so the wise thing is to focus on those problems first before making war like statements anonymously on the internet!  Also, start worrying about China's banks and SOEs because a country can't really go to war if its financial system is in shambles.  

Ordinary Chinese do not hold your childish view of the world, they are more worried about local issue like if the water is safe, is the food safe, and lack of housing.  

June 23, 2013 at 15:28

US has goaded Japan to go against China. China knows the US`s grand strategy

of Asia/Pacific pivotal. There will be no accident if war is out but it is due careful planning. China will not go to war with any of its neighbours knowing even if China flatten Japan or Philipines US can not do a thing to China very much like Georgia and US had to shut up when Russia flatten Georgia a few years ago. Why? Cos the culprits were Georgia and US causing the trouble. So Japan or Philipines care to

attack China, China will crash them over nite.


papa john
June 23, 2013 at 09:16

Senkaka wasn't China's in the first place, not sure what you mean by "defending"? You better defend your Chinese women when a war breaks out between China and Japan because Chinese women would come to Japan en mass.

June 21, 2013 at 19:52

"If we have better relations with China, we don’t have to compare Chinese military expenditure with ours,” he added"

That's true. China doesn't have hostile intent towards Japan, but it would defend it's territory such as Diao Yu islands. 

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