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Japan’s quick response to Chinese threat

Japan’s quick response to Chinese threat

India and Japan have common objectives in forging military agreements beyond military exercises and trade

China poses an active threat to the countries of the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. By avoiding contact warfare, it wishes to avoid heavy casualties and the associated international repercussions, especially the tag of a 'war initiator'. Hence, its strategies of wolf warrior diplomacy and salami slicing aim for a fait accompli, i.e., situations in which the revisionist power can revise the current system without a direct confrontation.

Xi Jinping's ‘China Dream’ encompasses "informatised local wars" with disruptive technologies of artificial intelligence (AI), unmanned systems, and directed-energy weapons. Thus, adopting an 'Integrated Network Electronic Warfare' blends computer network attacks and electronic warfare. This dominance is seen as a force multiplier in the capabilities of the PLA.

For this purpose, China has adopted a leapfrog approach in making advancements in non-kinetic physical directed energy weapons (DEW), which could be a future game changer. A plethora of DEW platforms, such as targeted high-powered lasers and wave emitters or particle beam waves, enhance Beijing's electromagnetic warfare capabilities. DEWs can disable the satellite sensors and jam automated signal and communication systems.

Washington's Defence Intelligence Agency Report, Challenges to Security in Space (2022), assessed that Beijing owns "multiple ground-based laser weapons of varying power levels to disrupt, degrade, or damage satellites that include a currently limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors". Thus, it has the capability to produce reversible and non-reversible effects against the space systems of its adversaries.

Beijing's Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) satellite fleet, which has doubled since 2018, stood at 250 systems in 2022. These satellites allow the PLA to monitor and map the maritime and terrestrial bodies in the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Korean peninsula. At an international level, Russia and China are leaving no stone unturned in implementing their "no limits partnership" and jointly continue to develop and test their ASAT weapons in their military exercises. Given the technological developments related to the PLA, East and South Asia's overall balance of power has been disturbed.

In East Asia, Japan is trying to stand up against the Chinese threats to what it calls "the most severe and complex security environment since World War II". It understands that it is becoming crucial to counter China at two fronts simultaneously, i.e. first, to counter its naval expansion along with its numerical superiority, and second its expanding scope of electromagnetic warfare.

Consequently, the change in Tokyo's strategic stance on Beijing from an economic partner to an active military threat has given the leadership strategic clarity of its security requirements and policy formulation. By 2026, Japan intends to deploy Lockheed Martin's Tomahawk and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff missiles at several bases. On the other hand, it is also going ahead with its military-civil integration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, aiming to develop a surface-to-ship guided missile.

Moreover, Japan has contemplated a possible Chinese electromagnetic attack that can disable power grids and other critical military assets like jet aircraft even before hostilities are initiated. It has incorporated the new technologies under "multi-domain defence force" for "cross-domain operations". For its immediate need, Japan has plans to deploy an Electronic Warfare unit to Yonaguni, Okinawa prefecture, to enhance its analytical and data collection capabilities.

From an international political perspective, Japan has rapidly moved beyond the partnership domain and entered formal institutionalised security cooperation. Thus, it is no longer in the stage of a 'reluctant realist'. The foundations laid by late PM Shinzo Abe are now reaping fruits which make Japan more secure and allow it to stand up against the Chinese threat.

Two crucial developments last year are much appreciated. First, Japan and Germany agreed to set up a "legal framework to facilitate joint activities between Japan's Self-Defence Forces and the German military". With agreements in place for intelligence-sharing mechanisms and promoting transfers of defence equipment and technology, interoperability between Japan and Germany would be a welcome step.

Second, Japan signed a bilateral security agreement with Australia that encompasses "practical cooperation and interoperability" in the emerging domains. These areas include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance… advanced defence science and technology, defence industry and high-end capabilities".

Although 2023 has just begun, Japan is already in action. The recent Japan-UK Reciprocal Access Agreement for "cooperative activities" will expand the narratives of a "free and open Indo-Pacific", thereby having profound consequences for the region. Also, the US-Japan agreement for "exploration, science, and research" in deep space has provisions for joint activities between the two countries in various areas such as space operations and technology, space transportation, safety and mission assurance.

Against the above backdrop, there are important messages for India, as it also faces an aggressive China on the land and in the maritime domain. A possible Sino-Pak collaboration, apart from challenges from the sea, can make the situation for India worrisome. Thus, it is time for India to come out of its reluctant approach and initiate dual-use critical technologies agreements with credible partners like Japan, France and Germany.

India should not be left behind in institutionalising multi-faceted security agreements. Although there are unsaid similarities in the objectives of Quad and the AUKUS, a very different approach shouldn't make the geographical contours of Quad more vulnerable to the Chinese threat. Needless to say that Galwan and Tawang skirmishes have demonstrated that the future of the India-China relationship does not seem to be stable at all, thereby posing multiple tactical as well as strategic challenges for the country.

India and Japan have common objectives in forging military agreements beyond military exercises and trade. Various dimensions of security agreements, such as joint research and production of technologies in the electromagnetic spectrum, increase the interoperability between the two forces, apart from developing cyber offensive mechanisms that can bring stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific order.

China, in future conflicts, will provoke either of the two countries at one point in time and would naturally expect stability at the other international border. Thus, it becomes essential to frustrate China in its own game; hence, Indo-Japan defence relations need to be boosted.

(The author is Associate Professor in Central University of Punjab, Bathinda)

 

Japan’s quick response to Chinese threat

Japan’s quick response to Chinese threat

India and Japan have common objectives in forging military agreements beyond military exercises and trade

China poses an active threat to the countries of the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. By avoiding contact warfare, it wishes to avoid heavy casualties and the associated international repercussions, especially the tag of a 'war initiator'. Hence, its strategies of wolf warrior diplomacy and salami slicing aim for a fait accompli, i.e., situations in which the revisionist power can revise the current system without a direct confrontation.

Xi Jinping's ‘China Dream’ encompasses "informatised local wars" with disruptive technologies of artificial intelligence (AI), unmanned systems, and directed-energy weapons. Thus, adopting an 'Integrated Network Electronic Warfare' blends computer network attacks and electronic warfare. This dominance is seen as a force multiplier in the capabilities of the PLA.

For this purpose, China has adopted a leapfrog approach in making advancements in non-kinetic physical directed energy weapons (DEW), which could be a future game changer. A plethora of DEW platforms, such as targeted high-powered lasers and wave emitters or particle beam waves, enhance Beijing's electromagnetic warfare capabilities. DEWs can disable the satellite sensors and jam automated signal and communication systems.

Washington's Defence Intelligence Agency Report, Challenges to Security in Space (2022), assessed that Beijing owns "multiple ground-based laser weapons of varying power levels to disrupt, degrade, or damage satellites that include a currently limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors". Thus, it has the capability to produce reversible and non-reversible effects against the space systems of its adversaries.

Beijing's Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) satellite fleet, which has doubled since 2018, stood at 250 systems in 2022. These satellites allow the PLA to monitor and map the maritime and terrestrial bodies in the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Korean peninsula. At an international level, Russia and China are leaving no stone unturned in implementing their "no limits partnership" and jointly continue to develop and test their ASAT weapons in their military exercises. Given the technological developments related to the PLA, East and South Asia's overall balance of power has been disturbed.

In East Asia, Japan is trying to stand up against the Chinese threats to what it calls "the most severe and complex security environment since World War II". It understands that it is becoming crucial to counter China at two fronts simultaneously, i.e. first, to counter its naval expansion along with its numerical superiority, and second its expanding scope of electromagnetic warfare.

Consequently, the change in Tokyo's strategic stance on Beijing from an economic partner to an active military threat has given the leadership strategic clarity of its security requirements and policy formulation. By 2026, Japan intends to deploy Lockheed Martin's Tomahawk and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff missiles at several bases. On the other hand, it is also going ahead with its military-civil integration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, aiming to develop a surface-to-ship guided missile.

Moreover, Japan has contemplated a possible Chinese electromagnetic attack that can disable power grids and other critical military assets like jet aircraft even before hostilities are initiated. It has incorporated the new technologies under "multi-domain defence force" for "cross-domain operations". For its immediate need, Japan has plans to deploy an Electronic Warfare unit to Yonaguni, Okinawa prefecture, to enhance its analytical and data collection capabilities.

From an international political perspective, Japan has rapidly moved beyond the partnership domain and entered formal institutionalised security cooperation. Thus, it is no longer in the stage of a 'reluctant realist'. The foundations laid by late PM Shinzo Abe are now reaping fruits which make Japan more secure and allow it to stand up against the Chinese threat.

Two crucial developments last year are much appreciated. First, Japan and Germany agreed to set up a "legal framework to facilitate joint activities between Japan's Self-Defence Forces and the German military". With agreements in place for intelligence-sharing mechanisms and promoting transfers of defence equipment and technology, interoperability between Japan and Germany would be a welcome step.

Second, Japan signed a bilateral security agreement with Australia that encompasses "practical cooperation and interoperability" in the emerging domains. These areas include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance… advanced defence science and technology, defence industry and high-end capabilities".

Although 2023 has just begun, Japan is already in action. The recent Japan-UK Reciprocal Access Agreement for "cooperative activities" will expand the narratives of a "free and open Indo-Pacific", thereby having profound consequences for the region. Also, the US-Japan agreement for "exploration, science, and research" in deep space has provisions for joint activities between the two countries in various areas such as space operations and technology, space transportation, safety and mission assurance.

Against the above backdrop, there are important messages for India, as it also faces an aggressive China on the land and in the maritime domain. A possible Sino-Pak collaboration, apart from challenges from the sea, can make the situation for India worrisome. Thus, it is time for India to come out of its reluctant approach and initiate dual-use critical technologies agreements with credible partners like Japan, France and Germany.

India should not be left behind in institutionalising multi-faceted security agreements. Although there are unsaid similarities in the objectives of Quad and the AUKUS, a very different approach shouldn't make the geographical contours of Quad more vulnerable to the Chinese threat. Needless to say that Galwan and Tawang skirmishes have demonstrated that the future of the India-China relationship does not seem to be stable at all, thereby posing multiple tactical as well as strategic challenges for the country.

India and Japan have common objectives in forging military agreements beyond military exercises and trade. Various dimensions of security agreements, such as joint research and production of technologies in the electromagnetic spectrum, increase the interoperability between the two forces, apart from developing cyber offensive mechanisms that can bring stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific order.

China, in future conflicts, will provoke either of the two countries at one point in time and would naturally expect stability at the other international border. Thus, it becomes essential to frustrate China in its own game; hence, Indo-Japan defence relations need to be boosted.

(The author is Associate Professor in Central University of Punjab, Bathinda)

 

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