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This piece is introduced by a scare quote from the People's Liberation Army which obviously tries to paint the situation in the most frightening colors. If China occupied Taiwan, sea routes to Japan would not be cut off.

As it is, the island of Okinawa is located 726 kilometers from the Chinese mainland. If Taiwan was conquered, Okinawa would be 641 kilometers from Chinese controlled territory. This is hardly a significant difference.

Japan would still be just as accessible from the west and north and still accessible to anything east or south by simply sailing around Taiwan at a safe distance Under cowboy by the Japanese or US Navy.

Remember that everything China says is maximized for propaganda affect, not for accuracy.

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Japan is in fact perfectly positioned to aid Taiwan, supply Taiwan if invaded and blockade the PRC's eastern seaboard too. Plus if (not impossible) Russia jumped in to help its Sugar Daddy, Japan could usefully grab Sakhalin and get control of the oil there because it's fairly clear that Russia has stripped its far east of military hardware and men to fight Ukraine.

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What military armaments do you think Japan could tool up quickly to build?

A. Start easier: leverage their rapid steel tool and die industry to make artillery shells.

B. Leverage Japan's electronics, servo controllers to make drones.

C. Leverage Japan's sophisticated optical industry, ie Canon and Nikon (both make or made semiconductor optical lithography like Zeiss/ASML)

D. Leverage some of Japan's automotive industry to make light fast armored vehicles. Or at least engines, chassis, drivetrains.

E. Shipbuilding. I think maybe S.Korea has more capacity here?

The US, NATO, could provide orders and grants. Milaproducts made for Japan, Taiwan, US, Ukraine

given big orders from the US or themselves;

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A. easy

B. Japan already makes agricultural drones (e.g. https://global.yamaha-motor.com/news/2022/1006/ymr.html ). Not sure how much is based on Chicom tech

C. ?

D. Make small vehicle drones

E. Japan has plenty of shipbuilding see my comment below regarding how they could easily adapt that

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D? they'd have to load them onto cargo ships and get them to Taiwan or China, good lulck with that.

Do we really think China is going to invade anyone?

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Fyi Noah.

I got a spoofing, phishing "like" from you from a non-account profile.

And a what's-up app invite.

What's whats up with that? 🐰

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I would hope (but have not seen evidence) that Japan is looking hard at drones and particularly using COTS gear like fishing boats as platforms for naval drones of the sort Ukraine has used in the Black Sea with great effect. An autonomous or semi-autonomous marine drone would be trivial for Japan to build and a lot of the components already standard in a fishing boat (radars, fish school detectors, GPS navigators) are things made by Japanese companies and easily adapted to being used in a naval drone.

Come to think of it fishing nets would be very useful for anti-submarine and anti mine protection too.

Noah pointed out in a previous article that Japan has a huge ship-building industry, I went to Kure a week ago to see the Yamato museum and was amused to note that right outside the museum in one of the docks where warships used to be built were two enormous Maersk container ships finishing fitting out. A container ship would make a great drone transport / air drone carrier. Mind you the Izumo and the Kaga would likely work well in that role too

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Taiwan should send money to Japan to buy 10 more F-35's, to own and operate on Taiwan's behalf. F-35's residing on Japanese land won't be as vulnerable as on Taiwan island, a likely first target.

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Most Japanese do not want to give any country an excuse to destroy its cities and slaugher unarmed civilians indiscrimately as happened during WWII. Paritipating in America's war with China when and if China invades Taiwan is not a move Japan should make for that purpose. This analyst seems to advocate Japan buys weapons from the US to confront China and protect American soldiers in Japan. American soldiers can escape to Guam, but not the Japanese civilians.

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About the only thing Japan is self-sufficient in nowadays is corrupt right-wing politicians.

Japan is in no position to go to war against or with anyone. It would take very little to destroy Japan's ability to import (and distribute) oil and coal. A few sunk ships, and no one could get insurance, and there'd be no boats coming anywhere near Japan.

Besides, if Japan were to lob a conventional weapon into anything China considers part of China or Chinese, the idea that China would hesitate more than a few nanoseconds to retaliate with everything they've got would be quickly demonstrated to be the incredible naivete it actually is.

Japan's only non-insane option is to sit out. Quitely.

My guess is that most of the Japanese population understand this.

Of course, the LDP really really really wants to do another war. So Japan not being insane isn't a done deal. Fortunately, the Japanese have realized how crooked the LDP is, so it's likely they'll be gone after the next election.

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founding

Has Noah been replaced with a chatbot being paid by the word?

“Raising debt to finance spending, a common practice in the past, now raises concerns due to Japan’s already substantial debt. There are concerns that Japan's significant debt levels are now too high and could undermine the Japanese economy. Japan already carries substantial debt, prompting warnings from some economists.”

The Noah Smith I know writes crisp concise prose.

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Noah didn't write this article: it's a "guest post by Jonathan Grady".

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I agreed with your assesemnt that Japan needs its own nukes....I simply don’t believe Biden or Trump will go to war to protect Japan....I mean real war where whole cites get destroyed and a few million Americans would die. If China invaded Okinawa....we really would have the means to dislodge them....it would time. Something we wouldn’t have much of. Japan as a sea nation needs a bigger Navy and offensive capabilities to break a blockade....They are functionally broke as are we. I wish them well but depending on America is bad bet these days with nationalism on one side and a risk averse geriatric on the other.

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Debt level: 214% of GDP.

Military budget: 1% of GDP ($60B annually).

Median age: 49.5 years.

Per capita GDP: -10% over 30 years.

The Japanese are the oldest people in the world, the most indebted in the world, they spend half the NATO minimum on their military, and their economy is dead flat. Japan is not a meaningful military ally against China.

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For comparison...

China:

Debt level: 100% of GDP (more or less)

Military budget: 1.3% of GDP ($290B)

Median age: 39.8 years

India:

Debt level: 53% of GDP

Military budget: 2.5% of GDP ($81B)

Median age: 29.5 years

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May 26·edited May 26

Why have these overt threats again Japan not been been more widely disseminated (this is the first I've heard of them) & pushed back upon? Is China taking a page from Russia's Ukraine playbook in threatening nuclear war for countries seeking to protect & arm their allies? If the world's nuclear dictatorships are offering a choice between subjugation under their thumb or death in a nuclear fireball, give me the fireball. And remind them the policy of MAD is still operative. Seems like we are reaping the harvest of the spinlessness we have displayed in Europe.

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They got coverage IN JAPAN.

But yes the Biden teams spinelessness is not helping anyone anywhere

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RemovedMay 26·edited May 26
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May 26·edited May 26

Most wars happen when one side (correctly or incorrectly) determines that the other side is vulnerable.

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May 26·edited May 26

Nobody needs China to collapse. We want China's leadership to look objectively at the situation and determine that continued engagement with the global economy is more valuable to them then invading nearby countries. We do that in two ways: (1) we make sure that global trade *is* more valuable than invading nearby countries, and (2) we make the costs of invading and occupying so substantial that China can't view the invasion as an economic success. And further we ensure that our other allies in the region can maintain a credible deterrent so that the costs become even higher if China attempts further expansion.

All of this depends on China having rational leadership. They may not! For an example of what bad leadership looks like, take a look at what Russia is doing to itself. But the hope here is that nobody lives forever. The current leadership will die eventually and/or cede power to other leaders, and we can hope that if we stave off war for now we'll be able to avoid it forever. (And there is also the population pyramid to consider: if we can stave off war for long enough, it may not be feasible in a couple of decades.)

The point here is that diplomacy is important, but it's not magic. Without an underlying economic and military deterrent, all we're doing is jawboning at each other and/or creating the conditions for a more vicious war down the future as both sides buy time to re-arm.

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I am entirely in favor of the creation of a global system of laws and international alliances that displaces the US military as a hegemonic force and gives us a just and peaceful world. The problem is that nobody has built that system.

Instead we're left with either the US, or a similar (and bloodier) vision envisioned by the China+Russia alliance. Looking at how Russia is prosecuting its war (hoovering up hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities from its provinces and sending them off in human wave attacks, kidnapping children, bombing shopping malls) I am not prepared to accept the evil as a replacement for the deeply imperfect.

Obviously you should enjoy Switzerland, but don't think for a second that would be a sustainable model without the US military protecting it.

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RemovedMay 26·edited May 26
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Truly unhinged stuff here, especially the Afghanistan and Ukraine parts.

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