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Kishida's NATO plan dubbed policy ploy

By WANG XU in Tokyo | China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-17 09:27

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan, June 15, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

What is happening in Ukraine is what Tokyo wants to happen in East Asia, said an analyst as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to attend a NATO summit this month and is likely to project Japan's greater power ambitions.

On Wednesday, Kishida said he will attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's summit in the Spanish capital Madrid from June 29 to 30, becoming the first Japanese leader to join a top meeting of the military alliance.

"I intend to make an appeal that changing the status quo unilaterally by force is unacceptable anywhere in the world and that security in Europe is inseparable from security in 'Indo-Pacific'," Kishida said after announcing the plan.

"That is total nonsense and untrue," said Wang Qi, a researcher of East Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. "The situation in Asia and Europe is totally different, and Kishida is using the crisis narrative to hype the 'China threat theory'."

Japan, a United States ally, has been stepping up military cooperation with the trans-Atlantic group in remarkable ways with back-to-back engagements recently.

During a meeting with NATO Military Committee chief Rob Bauer this month, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Japan hopes to strengthen its ties with European countries and welcomes NATO's expanded involvement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Wang said the upcoming summit will likely emerge as a critical summation of Kishida's recent foreign policy maneuvers, and that Japan has multifold objectives by cooperating with NATO.

"Apparently, inviting NATO to step into the Asia-Pacific region solidifies Japan's role as the foremost leader in regional geopolitics. Likewise, it gives Japan a greater presence in European policy. But above all this, Japan wants to achieve its great power ambitions," she said.

Wang said Kishida's favorite phrase "Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow" revealed Japan's real ambition of creating tension and trouble in the peaceful Asia-Pacific region, so that Japan can legitimize its longtime ambition to develop military force and push for an amendment of its Pacifist Constitution.

"That's why peace-loving nations should stay alert because the expansion of NATO is the root cause of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine," Wang said.

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