ASPI suggests
19 Jul 2013|

A Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessel passes by Uotsuri, the largest island in the Senkaku/Diaoyu chain.

Japan has released Defence Of Japan 2013, its annual defence white paper—ASPI’s Ben Schreer had a piece on it earlier in the week. The document shows increasing tension in Tokyo over security in North East Asia. The main focus of that tension is, of course, China. The disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands have been a focus for particularly icy relations between Beijing and Tokyo since the release.

The Japanese white paper includes the observation that despite an expectation that China will act as a responsible major power:

…there have been disputes with other countries on issues relating to trade imbalances, currency rates, and human rights. In regard to the issues on conflicting interests with its surrounding countries, including Japan, China has attempted to change the status quo by force based on its own assertion which is incompatible with the existing order of international law.

Two days after the release of the paper, five Chinese Navy ships were seen sailing through the La Perouse Strait for the first time, after concluding exercises with Russia off Vladivostok on 12 July. The strait separates Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido from Russia’s Sakhalin Island.

Hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is looking set to win Sunday’s upper house election. While he promises to revive Japan’s underperforming economy, his nationalist stance on defence and suggested reforms to Japan’s pacifist constitution will do nothing to ease tensions.

The silent third party in this evolving dynamic is the United States, and its relationship with both China and Japan. Here’s a video of ASPI’s Executive Director Peter Jennings, and former director Hugh White debating the idea that Australia has to choose between the US and China.

Perhaps it won’t all come to that: from the Financial Times here’s an analysis in numbers of China’s economic slowdown.

In the nuclear sphere, CSIS has released Project on Nuclear Issues, a collection of papers on various nuclear topics including Ballistic Missile Defence, disarmament, strategic stability in Europe, Iran, and more.

Also in that vein, the National Bureau of Asian Research has an interesting piece on the development of China’s nuclear forces to be ‘a more credible nuclear deterrent’.

Closer to home, ASPI’s Karl Claxton has released his paper Securing the South Pacific: making the most of Australia’s renewed regional focus. You can see an interview with Karl on his new paper here:

The Australian strategic community has been kicking around the idea of the Anglosphere. Hugh White’s mention of the concept in The Age, and Peter Jennings’ riposte here, have sparked a bit of a debate. Here is the exchange on The Strategist, and Sam Roggeveen’s contribution on Lowy’s Interpreter. There’ll be more on this next week.

Speaking of the Anglosphere, a suggestion here that the Obama administration’s promise to deliver arms to the Syrian rebels is unlikely to make any significant difference to the civil war there, and that plans are ‘…far more limited that it has indicated in public and private’.

Image courtesy of Al Jazeera English.