Another article, translated by a JSW pal, from the Japanese weekly tabloid Shukan Bunshun, October 4, 2012.

Senkaku Naval Battle: JSDF’s Secret Simulation

“China is definitely planning a strategy to conquer the Senkaku Islands,” claimed senior researcher of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Richard Fisher.  The chance of a Senkaku Battle is not “zero” — the question is: “Is Japan ready to respond?”

The U.S. has made it clear that the Japan-U.S. Bilateral Security Treaty is applicable to the Senkaku Islands.  However, former JMSDF member, Hideki Nakamura shared, “In reality, I doubt the U.S. would actually fight.  I believe their realm of support will be to provide information and logistical support only.”

What are the odds of JSDF winning?

Fisher shared his views, “If the battle is focused around the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands, I believe JSDF will have the advantage.  The JSDF members are far more professional, and their level of readiness is superior to that of Chinese military members.  The key in this battle will be the Japanese submarines.  Japan has the best conventional submarines in the world, and will be able wipe out the Chinese submarines at a stroke.”

Meanwhile, there are still concerns about air combat due to the fact that Chinese has Naval Air Fleet while JMSDF does not.  Fisher continued, “Although it may seem disadvantageous, JMSDF can respond with aegis ships.  Furthermore, there’s a 3000 meter runway on Shimoji Island.  If JASDF could dispatch F-15′s and F-2′s from there, it would actually be advantageous to Japan.”

China has increased its defense budget by over 10% for the last 20 years, yet their capabilities are still inferior to JSDF.  Fisher stated, “For example, China plans to deploy a stealth fighter jet, but the experts say the aircraft is a ‘mock-stealth’.  Furthermore, Chinese submarines are extremely loud so they are easy to detect.”

However, in order for Japan to score an emphatic victory, JSDF will have to be able to fully execute their capabilities.  Shigeo Hiramatsu, former professor of Kyorin University and long-time contributor to the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) in military research shared, “China will more than likely try to make it a long and drawn-out battle.  Although the quality of the equipage and capabilities are substandard in comparison to Japan, they will try to win by sheer force of numbers.  As soon as they see weakness in JSDF, they will throw in their most advanced weapons.  Also, they will attempt surprise attacks.  For example, they may line up over a thousand fishing vessels making it difficult for Japan to react.  They may even deploy old submarines to confuse Japan fleet.  The most important thing is to not be confused by their tactics.”

First of all, JSDF must receive orders to be able to take any action — they are not authorized to launch a preemptive strike.  Nakamura analyzed, “I believe it will take at least three days before defense mobilization is ordered.  The first step would be to launch a Special Response Committee to discuss how to respond to the situation.  If the committee recognizes that the nation is under ‘attack’, they will determine countermeasures, which will have to be approved by the Security Council of Japan, followed by the approval of the cabinet. Only after such approvals are received will the government finally give the defense mobilization order.  The process is time-consuming and complex.  This nation has not had the need to go through this process in the past 66 years, so it is unrealistic to think the process will go smoothly and expeditiously.  If Japan is faces an attack prior to the launch of the defense order, it would be a matter time before JMSDF is completely wiped out.  Furthermore, JSDF’s ammunition storage is very poor.  For example, JMSDF destroyers should be equipped with eight surface-to-surface missiles, but the current average onboard is only 4 to 5.”

What’s even more troubling is China’s nuclear missiles.

“Douglas Paal of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace suggests that although JMSDF would score a resounding victory, should a Naval battle breakout around the Senkaku’s, he doesn’t believe the battle will end in localized area.  His suggestion comes from the fact that China holds over 1800 mid-range nuclear warhead missiles — this is the most in the world.  These are pointed at Tokyo, Osaka, and all the U.S. military installations.  If matters escalate around the Senkaku’s, it is inevitable that China will threat Japan with nuclear and non-nuclear missiles.  At this time, Japan does not possess the capabilities to defend or deter China alone,” shared a journalist residing in the U.S., Yoshihisa Komori.

The only realistic counterplot against China’s threats would be for Japan to possess nuclear weapons.  International Political Analyst, Takashi Ito recommended, “China’s biggest fear is for Japan to possess nuclear weapons.  There are many experts in the U.S. that endorse the idea because increasing deterrence in Japan will only help the U.S. to protect its interest in the long-run.”

If China intends to play hardball, Japan must begin even the most taboo security debates.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch