The ongoing tension in China and Taiwan has almost become the “new normal,” but the US government is also taking precautions. Europe’s NATO and Australia have also become involved. But it is China’s longstanding enemy that they sent words of warning to, Japan.

Chinese State-owned Media reported that Japan is “going further down a dangerous path” as Japan’s defense authority released an announcement that they will be producing long-range and hypersonic missiles as they increase their military budget in 2023. However, Chinese experts warn that this could pose as a threat to China and that Tokyo’s speeding up its plans to dominate the Indo-Pacific with its military.

“… Tokyo is speeding up the breakaway from its pacifist constitution and embracing expanding militarism, but that the country is also seeking to enhance its ability to strike.”

Chinese media also claimed that Japan’s plan to expand its arsenal means the country is gearing to break the peace and has other ambitions in the Pacific.

China is claiming Japan’s plan is to have these missiles modified to extend their range from 62 miles to 620 miles, which Chinese analysts say is quite close to China’s distance from Japan. Reports added that Japan will build these missiles to be launched either by ships or aircraft. These missiles will then be stationed around the Southern Nansei Islands, which could easily reach the coastal areas of China and North Korea, as noted by Yomiuri, another Chinese state-owned media.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships
Formation of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Source: Maritime Self-Defense Force/Wikimedia)

However, Japan’s announcement came after China started circling Taiwan a month ago. So, this can be analyzed as a defense strategy instead of actively participating in China’s political sparring with Taiwan. In addition, Japan’s Defense Ministry plans to extend their Ground Self-Defense Force’s Type-12 surface-to-ship guided missiles, as noted in their 2023 budget. The ministry is proposing a $40 billion addition for this acquisition.

“As an island nation, Japan will be attacked from afar. So it is necessary to have a number of missiles to counterattack,” Itsunori Onodera, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party’s Research Commission on National Security, said on a Fuji TV program.

The 2023 budget is also the highest proposal sent by the ministry.

China Warns Japan

In a video message during a diplomatic event between China and Japan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Japan should not “obscure” the events happening in Taiwan. Wang added that Japan should put “the political consensus of not becoming a threat against each other…based on strategic and long-term perspectives.”

Important matters of the principles related to the basis of the China-Japan relationship, such as history and Taiwan, must not be obscured, not even slightly,” Wang said in the video message at the event ahead of the 50th anniversary later this month of the two countries’ normalization of ties.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Foreign Ministers Guillaume Long (Ecuador) and Wang Yi (China) held fruitful cabinet meetings where they discussed issues of common interest between both nations. (Source: Agencia de Noticias ANDES/Wikimedia)

Wang added that Japan should be extra cautious with their words or actions, or else they could be interpreted differently. If the acquisition of long-range missiles were a red flag for China, apparently, each word from Japan’s foreign ministers was being closely watched as well.

We hope (the Japanese government) is cautious in its words and actions with regard to the Taiwan issue, not sending a wrong signal to people supporting Taiwan’s independence, as well as not participating in any provocative moves that use Taiwan to keep China in check,” said Kong Xuanyou, the Chinese ambassador to Japan.

Still, Kong said China is looking forward to a place where both nations can openly interact and cooperate peacefully. However, he acknowledges that “complex and sensitive aspects” exist in their relationship and that this is a tumultuous period “in which many new contradictions occur.”

On the other hand, Japan has been quite civil in its response. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi also sent a video message for the event, saying the decade-long progress in Japan-China relations has been built upon their ancestor’s efforts for peace.

“We regard it as our responsibility for our descendants, as well as our duty inherited from our ancestors, to build constructive and stable Japan-China relations through wisdom and experience and a conscious effort by both countries.”

Japan and China are currently holding the anniversary event virtually in Tokyo and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in China.