Home United States USA — Japan How could an Aukus role for Tokyo affect China’s ties with Japan?

How could an Aukus role for Tokyo affect China’s ties with Japan?


The relationship between the two Asian giants is already ‘complex and delicate’, despite their intertwined economies.
With Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington this week, the talk on both sides of the Pacific was of a potential tie-up between Tokyo and Aukus.
Aukus is a security partnership between Australia, Britain, and the United States but there have been suggestions for some time that Japan could contribute to the pact’s so-called Pillar II, which focuses on developing advanced capabilities such as quantum and undersea technology.
On Monday, Beijing was quick to dismiss the idea, saying the pact – which revolves around the transfer of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia – would “increase the risk of nuclear proliferation” and “escalate the arms race” in the region.
In the end, little changed, with Kishida saying “nothing has been decided at this moment” on Japan’s direct cooperation with Aukus.
Nevertheless, Chinese observers say that the direction of travel is clear: Tokyo is tilting more towards US-led security structures.
China and Japan are at odds over a range of issues, from the long-standing territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Islands – known as the Senkakus in Japan – to the discharge of water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Yet, China remains Japan’s biggest trading partner, with US$318 billion in total trade last year, according to Chinese data, and their economies are highly intertwined.
Zheng Zhihua, research associate professor of the Centre for Japanese Studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said the result of Tokyo’s tilting was a “complex and delicate” stalemate full of mistrust and suspicion.
The delicate strategic balance between the two countries would be unsettled by Japanese involvement in Aukus, even though their economic interdependence would remain strong, Zheng said.

Continue reading...