National / Politics

Japan has no future if it only follows U.S.: Chinese military officer

Kyodo

A senior Chinese military officer has warned a group of senior Japanese politicians that Tokyo should avoid expanding its security alliance with Washington if it doesn’t want relations with Beijing to deteriorate, a source with direct knowledge of their meeting said+.

“Japan will have no future if it only follows the United States,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, quoted the officer as telling the group led by Masahiko Komura, vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party, last week in Beijing.

The officer, who belongs to a think tank affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, voiced opposition to an agreement between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama in late April to strengthen the Japan-U.S. military alliance in the face of China’s increasingly assertive military posture in the Asia-Pacific region, the source said Sunday.

The officer criticized Japan and the United States for constantly seeing China as “a threat” and urged the Abe administration to see how Beijing’s expanding clout in the region will benefit Tokyo and contribute to the development of their relations, the source said.

He said Abe’s government needs to rethink whether Japan wants to aggravate its relations with China by reinvigorating the alliance with the U.S., or establish a new type of partnership by attaching greater importance to Beijing, the source said.

The Diet members told the Chinese side that Tokyo welcomes China’s economic rise but that Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the East and South China seas is the underlying cause of Tokyo and Washington’s concerns, the source said.

The cross-party group discussed security issues with members of the China Institute for International Strategic Studies behind closed doors last Tuesday.

Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, heads the institute, which is tasked with making policy proposals to the Chinese military and government, as well as explaining Beijing’s views to other countries.

At a news conference after the meeting, Komura said the delegation had “very frank” exchanges with the institute’s experts but would not disclose what they talked about, citing a request from the Chinese.

Komura and Kazuo Kitagawa, deputy chief of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, who was also in the delegation, are two of the central figures coordinating the ruling parties’ discussions on new national security legislation aimed at allowing the Self-Defense Forces to play a greater role abroad in international affairs.