The history of China and Japan dates back to before the World Wars when Japanese were highly influenced by the Chinese ways of language, food habits and traditions. Despite the Tiananmen Square uprising commercial interests played a major role in Japan’s continuation of economic assistance to China. China on the other side has not forgiven Japan for the atrocities meted out on them during World War II by Japan, this is evident with China actively persuading many Asian and African countries to vote against a resolution to expand the number of permanent members in the UN Security Council, submitted by Japan, Germany, India, and Brazil in July 2005. Moreover, the Japanese Diet is now deeply concerned regarding China’s expansionist behaviour and military modernisation. Chinese “research vessels” and warships have been frequently intruding into Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East China Sea around the Senkaku Islands since 1990.
Japan in order to curb the expansion behaviour of China, which is aimed to conquer valuable territory for economic benefits by taking advantage of Japan’s pacifist policy restricted by Article 9 is now reconsidering the same. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his second term as PM of Japan has committed strongly to the Japan-US alliance, Indo-Japan alliance and his realistic foreign and security policy. These are reflected in the administration’s revision of the National Defence Program Guidelines, formation of the National Security Council (NSC), and issuance of Japan’s first National Security Strategy (NSS) in December 2013. The revision of Article 9 marks the end of the pacifist nature of Japan’s post war defensive military regime to now realising that it is an apt time to change so as to safeguard their territory.
Japan, once freed from the embargoes that Article 9 would adopt an offensive strategy, which would counter the ever-growing Chinese realism in the Asia-Pacific region. But the benefits do not end at Japan, as the removal of Article 9 in Japan would prove to be a milestone in the diplomatic ideology of the changing power structure of South Asia. India would benefit having a stronger friend in the region when it comes to containing China’s and their “Strings of Pearls” policy to encircle India. Having invested USD 360 million in development of Gwadar port facilities along with establishing a highway through Balochistan via Karakoram Highway linking Pakistan with China, are huge foreign policies taken by her. Chinese have also supported Pakistan at various international forums in order to safeguard her interest and investments in Pakistan. The claims of territory by China in South China Sea as a result on the nine dash line has led to having disputes with Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Japan. These disputes challenge the sovereignty of already existing nation-states, which threaten the security of the region, whilst undermining India’s position.
Japanese offensive policy with the removal of Article 9 would result in a military expansion of Japan in the region and be a counter narrative to China in the East. This extra front for China to handle in East whilst countering India’s move on the West will be an enormous task to sustain. China will have to divert her attention to tackling or subduing a powerful and rising Japan, which will necessarily compromise on the resources and investments made in the other disputes she has undertaken. For any nation, the balance of power comes with a cost and an ideology of rising to hegemony in the region is obviously an expensive prospect. China with her economy on a decline would have to rethink her options. For India, the diplomatic relations with Japan will make sure that China’s policies of harboring rogue nations; arbitrarily following the ‘nine dash line’ and claiming sovereign territories face stiff resistance with the removal of Article 9. India with Japan would be able to balance the power in the region whilst containing China.