Second World War is regarded as the deadliest conflict in human history with more than thirty countries and their men involved in an all-out war. From holocaust to use of atomic bomb all crimes against humanity are said to have been conducted during this era.
As Japan was one of the major players of the losing side hence as a part of punishment it had to give up its military might. In the wake of Second World War Japan agreed to introduce article 9 in its constitution according to which it renounced its right to possess any kind of military or armament. Through the same pacifist constitution Japanese joined the United States nuclear umbrella and concluded the military agreement that United States will look after its need for defense. Apart from USSR threat in 1950’s there has been a relative calm in the security architecture of the East Asia.
China’s power in a regional context during the 1990s was less constrained by outside powers than at any time during the twentieth century. China gave much importance to what type of neighbor and state it wants to be. Apprehension about a possible ‘China threat’ became widespread in East Asia. The first reason was idea that rising powers assert their influence and China was a revisionist power and it had a classic model of authoritarian modernization. Throughout 90’s there was a major issue of how China would relate itself to bigger Asian picture. China has cooperated on some forums as Asean regional forum (ARF) but has a rigid stance on Taiwan and south and East China Sea. However, regionally and globally China portrays itself to be a soft power. Japan exported many of its lower-tech industries under the pressure of high wages and the high yen; it formed concentric circles of investment in its neighbors, with Korea and Taiwan in the first circle, and Southeast Asia and China further out. Alongside this Japan-centered economic system another phenomenon of ‘Greater China’ was present in which Chinese communities in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and elsewhere played a leading role in promoting trade with, and investment in, China. With economic revolution in Asia Pacific China and Japan has become one of the largest trading partners of each other. Their relation seems to be the best example of complex interdependence in Asia Pacific.
While talking about the complex interdependence United States has always been an important player in Asia Pacific, a negotiator and a broker but with increasing Chinese influence United States is not ready to let go its role. United States wants to contain increasing Chinese player which is not only challenging it regionally but also globally. Who could help contain China more than Japan? There has been a long history of Japanese and Chinese rivalry although it has been a relatively calm security arena for a while.
Shizo Abe, Japanese premier in 2014 announced how that Japan will be reviewing its pacifist constitution that restricts its military to self-defense operations only. Legislation allowing Japanese troops to be deployed in combat overseas. The Japanese government had announced plans to commence arms exports of its military technology and hardware. With an expanding Chinese military in the South China Sea, and an increasingly unstable North Korea to its West, these recent events represents Japan’s strategic response to a change in the balance of power and security in East Asia.
Back in 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama visited Japan as part of a regional tour and sought to reassure the Japanese government that any dispute with China over the Senkaku islands would be covered by the US-Japan security treaty. However, with America having been distracted by two wars in the Middle East for the past decade and its focus drawn away from East Asia it has increasingly put pressure on its Allies in the Pacific to share more responsibility for their own security in this region. But with the new administration in White House and Trump’s attitude towards Asia Pacific allies Japanese knew their dependence on United States had to be reduced now. With the increasing Japanese military might one thing clearly evident is how the long cold peace era between Chinese and Japanese is almost over. Japan would like to contain increasing Chinese military strength in South China Sea whereas China would like to maintain its dominance. One lesson which Chinese seem to have learnt from United States rise to global power is that they (Chinese) need to maintain their dominance in their own region and hence they (Chinese) under no circumstances would like to be challenged by Japanese.