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With Beijing changing the law to allow its coast guard to resort to arms to defend areas it claims such as the Senkaku Islands, questions have arisen about how Tokyo should respond. China points out that being able to use force is common practice among the coast guards of other nations, including Japan and South Korea. Does it have a point? Eric Johnston examines the issues in a Q&A.

In any future conflict involving Japan’s outer islands, the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade would be the first responders. The unit made headlines last month when details were revealed of an alleged secret pact with the U.S. to station the troops at Camp Schwab in Okinawa. As Johnston reports, while the force has been dubbed “Japan’s Marine Corps,” there are some key differences between the ARDB and its U.S. equivalent.

Taiwan claims Chinese military aircraft violate its airspace again | THE WORLD (JAN. 25)
 | ABC NEWS (AUSTRALIA)
Taiwan claims Chinese military aircraft violate its airspace again | THE WORLD (JAN. 25) | ABC NEWS (AUSTRALIA)

Meanwhile, south of the Senkakus, increasing tensions over Taiwan between China and the U.S. are making the delicate balancing act Tokyo has kept up for decades in its relationship with all three parties ever more difficult to sustain, writes Brad Glosserman.

Just two weeks ago, the U.S. sent an aircraft carrier strike group into the South China Sea in a clear message to Beijing that not everything has changed with the advent of a new U.S. administration. The same day, China dispatched 13 warplanes — including nuclear-capable bombers — into the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, reports Jesse Johnson.

As military muscle-flexing around Taiwan escalates, so does the risk that an accident could trigger something much worse. One day soon, predicts Glosserman, Japan could be forced to take a clear stand one way or the other.

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)