Will a Gaffe-Prone Japan Start a War?

A gaffe-prone Japan is a danger to peace in Asia – FT.com

Last week provided another example. Japan unveiled the largest naval vessel it has built since the second world war. The ship is nominally a destroyer – but it is an aircraft carrier in all but name. Beefing up the Japanese navy is arguably a legitimate response to China’s arms build-up. But, at a time of rising tensions in Asian seas, Japan should tread carefully. So what genius decided to call this new ship “Izumo” – the same name as a Japanese warship that took part in the invasion of China in the 1930s?

A gaffe-prone Japan is a danger to peace in Asia – FT.com

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Threats to peace are lurking in the East China Sea – FT.com

Why such concern? There are a number of reasons why these circumstances are worrying.

First, there is a feel of 1914 in the air. Just as with tensions between European armies at the turn of the last century, both Tokyo and Beijing are absolutely certain of the rightness of their positions. More importantly, both believe that with a little further pressure, the other side is on the verge of blinking and backing down. This has led to both sides taking operational risks that could easily escalate.

Second, both sides underestimate the risks of a crisis and believe that the situation can be “managed” indefinitely. However, the constant everyday deployments by small numbers of commanders operating with little sleep and much pressure, combined with the inherent tensions of close-quarter interactions risks miscalculation and inadvertence.

Threats to peace are lurking in the East China Sea – FT.com