News.com.au: The Senkaku Islands are tiny rocky spurs, part of a scattering of islands between the northern tip of Taiwan and the Japanese home islands. They are rapidly turning into a flashpoint for war…
[O]ngoing aggressive incursions by Chinese fishing boats — organised as a state militia — and a freshly militarised coast guard has seen tensions in the East China Sea flare.
Now, Japan and the United States are drawing up battle plans to enable their forces to fight together against any Chinese incursion. And their forces are engaged in their biggest combined war games, practising to do just that.
The biggest war games ever conducted around Japan are underway, demonstrating the interoperability of Japanese Self Defence Forces with those of the US and Canada. The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is the centrepiece of the Keen Sword exercise, which has mobilised more than 57,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel.
The Japan Times reports government sources as saying discussions are well underway to establish a joint response to any “emergency” on or around the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which China calls Diaoyu.
“The plan being drawn up assumes such emergencies as armed Chinese fishermen landing on the islands, and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces needing to be mobilised after the situation exceeds the capacity of the police to respond,” it reports. It’s a rapidly looming scenario.
China’s navy is undergoing an explosive expansion and modernisation program. Beijing has all but consolidated its arbitrary claims over the South China Sea through its aggressive artificial island fortress building campaign. Its navy and air force are venturing ever deeper into the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
So, the 2015 Bilateral Planning Mechanism agreement between the United States and Japan is upping the ante. It was established to “conduct bilateral operations to counter ground attacks against Japan by ground, air, maritime, or amphibious forces.” The operational procedures for defending the Senkaku Islands will be completed by March.
The United States is already bound by treaty to defend Japan in the event of an attack. And US President Trump has recently said this treaty includes Japan’s claims to the Senkaku Islands — despite previous US government assertions it wanted no part in the East China Sea sovereignty dispute. But, now, the militaries of the two allied states are discussing how to secure the contested waterway by force of arms…
ON A KNIFE-EDGE
The full extent of Beijing’s assertiveness has been revealed in freshly released footage and accounts of a near-collision between US and Chinese destroyers in the South China Sea.
The South China Morning Post reports a Chinese warship involved in a close encounter had warned the US Navy vessel would “suffer consequences” if it did not divert out of the contested waterway.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve had a direct threat to an American warship with that kind of language,” Chatham House international affairs analyst Bill Hayton told the Hong-Kong based news service.
The UN convention of the sea does not recognise sovereignty being established through artificial islands. And an international tribunal has rejected as groundless Beijing’s claims to have historical ownership of the entire South China Sea…
“We are conducting innocent passage,” the USS Decatur responded, shortly before the Chinese warship cut across its bows – forcing the US ship to dodge a collision.
The Post reports professor Ni Lexiong of the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law as saying “The US keeps testing our bottom line by sailing within 12 nautical miles… So by sailing close to their ship we show that we are ready.”
“Growing foreign interest in Asian security, including North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, coincides with greater Japanese willingness to back up its regional diplomacy with a show of military muscle,” the Japan Times writes.
Simulated combat is raging around the Japanese Home Islands. Jets are jostling for position in simulated air combat. Submarines are playing cat-and-mouse in the deep. Troops and tanks are rushing for shore in practice amphibious landings. Missile defences are being put through drill after drill…
Keen Sword “remains an expression of the commitment of like-minded allies and partners. To really see what we can do in terms of demonstrating advanced capabilities together to ensure peace and stability in the Indo Pacific,” the Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson told a news briefing.
He added the US would continue its freedom of navigation operations in the South and East China Seas to highlight its opposition to “illegitimate maritime claims.”
“And there shall be wars and rumours of war.” Matthew 24:6.