Fumio Kishida’s Speech At Johns Hopkins University Confirms Japan’s Hegemonic Ambitions

Fumio Kishida’s Speech At Johns Hopkins University Confirms Japan’s Hegemonic Ambitions

By Andrew Korybko

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida basically exploited the US-led Western Mainstream Media’s fearmongering about Russia’s special operation in Ukraine as the pretext for accelerating his country’s remilitarization of its people’s psyche in parallel with its armed forces’ physical capabilities, which he expects to facilitate US-backed but Japanese-led multilateral efforts to more effectively contain China.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida followed in German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s footsteps from just last month by sharing a de facto manifesto that amounts to confirming his country’s complementary hegemonic ambitions on the opposite side of Eurasia. He recently expressed such sentiments in detail during a speech that he gave at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies during his visit to the US last week that can be read in full here on his official website.

To summarize Japan’s contemporary grand strategy across the present decade’s “Age of Complexity”, Kishida basically exploited the US-led Western Mainstream Media’s (MSM) fearmongering about Russia’s special operation in Ukraine as the pretext for accelerating his country’s remilitarization. He claims that the first-mentioned endangers the so-called rules-based order by potentially inspiring similar potential rule-breakers in his part of the supercontinent, which is an obvious allusion to China.

It was upon that false basis that he unveiled Japan’s new military policy in November, which includes the explicit intent to obtain so-called “counterstrike” capabilities for the first time ever. The US’ “unsinkable aircraft carrier” as it’s previously been called also declared that it’ll “step up our defence posture in the Southwest region of Japan”, which refers to the Daioyu/Senkaku islands that are controlled by Tokyo but contested by Beijing. Quite clearly, Kishida is exploiting events in Europe in order to sabre-rattle in Asia.

What’s especially ominous about this observation apart from the fact that it greatly increases the risk of a conventional conflict by miscalculation, one that could also easily spiral into a Chinese-US War due to Washington’s obligations to Japan, is what the premier said about his home front. Kishida said that he wanted to reaffirm to his audience “the importance of the will of each and every citizen to proactively defend the country as precisely evidenced by the Ukrainian people at this moment in time.”

Considering Japan’s imperial-era history, this strongly suggests the remilitarization of its people’s psyche in parallel with the armed forces’ physical remilitarization, which can altogether lead to an even faster reversion to its infamous fascist ways than was previously expected. As cynics might have earlier suspected, Kishida clothed this dangerous trend in the false rhetoric of “freedom” and “democracy”, the advancement of which he said is integral to his so-called “realism diplomacy for a new era”.

About that concept, he envisages Japan working much more closely with its G7 partners in the US-led West’s Golden Billion so as to enable them all to more collectively and effectively function as a de facto New Cold War bloc. By reaffirming Tokyo’s support for Kiev and claiming that his country’s support for its allies’ anti-Russian sanctions meant that this proxy war transformed “from a Trans-Atlantic one to a global one”, he hopes to rope them into supporting Japan’s complementary efforts to contain China.

The rules-based pretext in this opposite part of Eurasia is upholding the concept of the so-called “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP), which is the brainchild of late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Kishida expects there to be closer comprehensive cooperation between Japan and the US, Japan and its other two Quad partners of Australia and India (both bilaterally and multilaterally), the G7, ASEAN (which he considers the focal point of the Indo-Pacific region and a Global South priority), and NATO.

The Japanese-American Strategic Partnership is regularly reaffirmed in Kishida’s speech as the enduring anchor of Tokyo’s grand strategy that he described as predicated on “reinforcing our deterrence” against China in the face of those visions and claims from Beijing that neither of them accepts. While military might is one means to that end, the premier also doesn’t downplay the importance of economic and supply chain cooperation, which hints at their joint desire to continue “decoupling” from China.

The overarching trend of everything that he spoke about at Johns Hopkins University is the place that he expects Japan to occupy amidst the global systemic transition. He of course won’t ever say so directly, but this can simply be summarized as it remaining among the declining US hegemon’s most loyal vassals in exchange for Washington supporting Tokyo’s regional hegemonic ambitions. The aforesaid won’t take the form they did during World War II, nor will its German counterpart’s, but the spirit is still the same.

Those two defeated fascist states whose unprovoked acts of genocidal aggression were responsible for plunging the world into war over eight decades ago are now lusting to restore some of their former geopolitical “glory” with their shared American patron’s approval per its “Lead From Behind” stratagem. In brief, they know that the US can’t simultaneously contain Russia and China on its own, ergo why German and Japan want to play the leading proxy roles in these Eurasian campaigns respectively.

In exchange, they expect to receive a privileged place within the US’ partially reasserted hegemonic “sphere of influence” across the Eastern Hemisphere, with Germany being “rewarded” as Washington’s outsourced anti-Russian enforcer in Europe while Japan receives a similar anti-Chinese role in Asia. The aforementioned insight becomes all the more compelling when remembering that Scholz’s written manifesto and Kishida’s oral one were only practically a month apart from one another.

This very strongly suggests that they were coordinated by their shared American patron for the purpose of more effectively containing Russia and China across the coming future. After all, it makes sense from a managerial standpoint for both pillars of the US’ unipolar strategy to begin playing their respective roles around the same time so that Washington can then divert resources between them as required by circumstances in order to put more pressure on one or the other multipolar target.

The present state of affairs is such that Russian-US relations will likely remain terrible for the indefinite future, but there’s nowadays a chance that Chinese-US ones might improve following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing from 5-6 February as part of their joint desire to clinch a New Détente. Details about this prospective series of mutual compromises aimed at creating a “new normal” between them are contained in the preceding hyperlink and should be closely reviewed by intrepid readers.

The relevance of that concept to the current analysis is that the US wants China to accept either the formal or informal expansion of the NATO-like AUKUS+ regional containment platform to at the very least include Japan. This demand is non-negotiable as evidenced by the details contained in Kishida’s oral manifesto from last week, which wouldn’t have been publicly shared – let alone at one of the US’ premier diplomatic academies – had they not been fully coordinated with Washington far ahead of time.

It’s unclear whether China will agree to this, or even what it could do if it doesn’t since Beijing’s practical options are limited by the relationship of complex economic interdependence that it retains with Japan as well as its “frenemy’s” mutual defence alliance with the US. Nevertheless, there shouldn’t be any doubt that accepting at least Japan’s informal membership in AUKUS+ is the precondition that Blinken will bring with him to Beijing for continuing talks on the Sino-American New Détente.

No matter how China reacts, the trend of partially reviving Japan’s fascist-era hegemonic ambitions in the current context will almost certainly continue with full US support since Washington regards its “unsinkable aircraft carrier’s” expanded regional role as indispensable to its 21st-century grand strategy. That’s the primary takeaway from Kishida’s speech last week, and it’s something that everyone in the Asia-Pacific should pay very close attention to, not just China.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.

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Categories: Analysis, Geopolitics, International Affairs

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