As the situation in the South-China Sea continues to detoriate, we should remember that it was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who took advantage of Japan’s role as host to the recent Group of 7 industrial nations’ annual summit to introduce a provocative resolution criticizing China’s presence in controversial islands of the East China Sea known in China as the Diaoyo Islands and in Japan as the Senkaku islands. The G7 resolution was part of a carefully orchestrated escalation of tensions, ultimately between USA and its Asian allies, proxy-led by Abe’s Japan against the Peoples’ Republic of China.
The US war “games” over the various largely uninhabited South and East China Seas islands, which have been getting very serious recently, must be seen in the light of parallel Washington war games aimed at militarily encircling Putin’s Russia with US troops stationed at the NATO-side of the Russian borders, US so-called anti-ballistic missile defense in Romania aimed at Russia, and the not-so-covert role of the CIA and Obama Administration via the State Department Über-warhawk Victoria Nuland to justify US and EU economic sanctions against Russia, itself a form of war.
The May 27 G7 Declaration states, “We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasize the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes.” Not the wording, but the fact that the G7, that was founded in the 1970’s to discuss economic problems, intervened in the issue is a significant escalation.
Why the fight over barren islands?
For decades following World War II the islands were uninhabited and, despite formal claims by China, Japan and Taiwan, no source of major tension. The Diaoyo (Senkaku) islands consist of eight uninhabited islands of 7 square kilometers in the East China Sea straddling China’s coast, Taiwan’s coast and Japan’s Okinawa, site of a major US military base. However, a close study of the map reveals that the three island groups have strategic and vital military significance in event of a future clash between Washington and China, and that they border international sea lanes that carry some $5 trillion annually of sea trade, mostly to China.
The Diaoyu Islands inside Chinese exclusive economic maritime zone are being used by Japan, with Washington egging on, to inflame tensions with China and justify larger US military presence in the vital sea lanes of China. China also asserts legal claim to the Paracels and Spratleys in South China Sea
Added to the Diaoyo claims of China are her claims to equally barren islands in the South China Sea–the Paracels and the Spratleys. (see maps). Because of proximity and conflicting claims of Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines and most especially Japan, the dispute makes a perfect instrument for Washington neo-conservative hawks to justify the Pentagon’s Asia Pivot military orientation against China. Add the reports that the region contains significant reserves of oil and gas, resources vital to China’s future, and the explosive cocktail is there waiting to be ignited. Who, then, is the igniter-in-chief?
Some unusual background
In regard to the three different groups of islands–Diaoyo in the East China Sea, and the Paracels and Spratleys in South China Sea–I want to deal with the ‘igniter’ to the present confrontation drama, Diaoyo, called Senkaku by Tokyo.
The search leads back to Washington and the war-hawks around Dick Cheney, who seems to be anything but retired, if his former Chief of Staff Victoria Nuland who runs the Ukraine war against Russia or his former Chief of Staff ‘Scooter’ Libby who runs the rising sun of Abe’s Japanese remilitarization aimed at China are any indication.
The tensions around Diaoyo Islands reached a boil in April, 2012 when the ultra-nationalist Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, co-author of “The Japan that can say No!”, made the surprise announcement that he would use Tokyo government funds to buy the entire eight Senkaku (Diaoyo) Islands from some mysterious Japanese who had purchased them privately. Howls of protest came not only from China but also from Taiwan which as well lays legal claim to the islands.
Ishihara made his announcement just weeks following his trip to Washington in December 2011, where he delivered a speech to the Hudson Institute, a neo-conservative think tank. In his remarks, Ishihara hinted that coming Japanese elections would “offer the opportunity to strengthen the US-Japanese alliance, and what a strengthened alliance could mean for the rest of Asia.”
Ishihara’s party, the now-ruling LDP of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was in opposition at the time to a moderate Japanese government of Yoshihiko Noda. Noda was alarmed at Ishihara’s provocative declaration to buy the disputed islands for Tokyo. Notably, at the time of Ishihara’s visit the Senior Vice President at the Hudson Institute greeting Ishihara was I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
The ominous rise of Nippon Kaigi
On the Japanese side Scooter Libby and the Cheney US war-hawks, which includes Obama Defense Secretary Ash Carter, are working with a Japanese masonic-like society called Nippon Kaigi. Both Ishihari and Abe are leading members of the organization, one of whose other leading members described their group so: “We are dedicated to our conservative cause. We are monarchists. We are for revising the constitution. We are for the glory of the nation.”
Nippon Kaigi supports revising the Japanese Constitution, especially Article 9 which forbids a standing army and calls for strengthening Japan’s Shinto roots. The group states that “the 1946-1948 Tokyo War Crimes tribunals were illegitimate”, and that “the killings by Imperial Japanese troops during the 1937 Nanjing massacre were exaggerated or fabricated”. They defend Japan’s claim in its territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands with China. Their website lists as “advisers” eminent Shinto priests leading key shrines, some of them belonging to the Imperial family. It was more than symbolic that at the recent G/ Summit in Japan, Abe chose to bring the other leaders to Ise Jingu, Japan’s most revered Shinto shrine.
Since his cabinet reshiuffle in 2014, 15 of the 18 Abe cabinet members, including the Prime Minister, are members of Nippon Kaigi. Most also belong to the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership’s Diet Members’ Caucus advocating State Shinto,a traditional nationalistic religious sect which was used by the monarchy until 1945 utilizing Shinto shrine worship to mobilize imperial loyalties. As of October 2014, a majority, 289 of the 480 Japanese National Diet members, were Nippon Kaigi. With little difficulty we can see an ominous echo of Japan prior to World War II and her savage invasion and occupation of China’s Manchuria in the 1930’s.
Scooter and Japan
Scooter Libby is one of the central figures of the cabal of war-hawks and ‘American Exceptionalists’ who formed the Project for the New American Century to shape the militarist war agenda of the 2001-2009 Cheney-Bush administration. Libby co-authored the draft of the Defense Planning Guidance for the 1994–99 fiscal years, dated February 18, 1992, together with Paul Wolfowitz for Dick Cheney, who was then George H.W. Bush’s Defense Secretary. That PNAC report of September, 2000 stated openly that it was based on the 1992 Cheney-Libby-Wolfowitz Defense Planning Guidance that was quietly tabled after being leaked to the New York Times. Scooter Libby has been closely associated with Dick Cheney since he joined Cheney’s Department of Defense in 1989.
The PNAC report called for a war to finish Saddam Hussein and called on the new President to restore the US military budget in order to wage “pre-emptive war” should any nation or group of nations challenge America’s sole superpower supremacy. American Exceptionalism briefly said is the delusion that, “We’re on top because our god is bigger and badder than your god…”
Members of the PNAC included Lewis Libby, Don Rumsfeld, J. Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney. All went on to serve key positions in the Cheney-Bush administration. Together they define a cabal that has worked stealthily since 1989, a kind of secret parallel government, to wage de facto imperial US wars for sole global dominance, from Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003, to Libya in 2011 to Ukraine in 2014 and now, increasingly in Asia, targeting the rise of China as an independent great power.
Since President G.W. Bush commuted Libby’s prison conviction for his role in exposing Valerie Plame as a CIA agent during the buildup to the 2003 Iraq War, Libby has based himself at the Hudson Institute. He is a specialist not only in military matters but also in Asia and, especially, in Japanese politics, and said to be very close to Japan’s Prime Minister Abe.
Abe and Scooter
On December 26, 2012 following the sudden resignation of the short-lived Noda government and new elections, Shinzo Abe, a close friend and associate of Ishihara and of Scooter Libby’s Hudson Institute, became new Prime Minister. Since that day Japan has been on a provocative, sabre-rattling collision course with China over the Diaoyo aka Senkaku Islands, echoing the rising nationalist agenda being promoted by his Nippon Kaigi and the closely tied Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership.
In September, 2013, less than a year in office, Abe was invited by the neo-conservative Hudson Institute to Washington. There he was the first non-American to receive the Herman Kahn Award. His speech was introduced not by the President of the Hudson Institute, but by Hudson Vice President Scooter Libby, indicating how close the two are. Abe’s greeting began “Thank you Scooter…”
In his Hudson Institute speech Abe made clear he was aiming to re-establish a Japan-US relationship that would displace US-China ties of the last two decades as Washington’s primary Asia-Pacific strategic partner.
Abe declared, “Japan and the US together should lead the Indo-Pacific Century.” He indicated that he would move to change Japan’s postwar Constitution that prohibits an active deployed military, indicating that China was the reason. Abe added that he was, “…working hard to reinvent our national security structure. For the first time ever, Japan will establish its National Security Council. For the first time ever, we will publish a national security strategy in which we will state what Japan is committed to, and what our aims are. Also, for the first time in eleven years, my government has increased its defense budget this year.”
Then Abe went on to tell his neo-conservative friends at Scooter Libby’s Hudson Institute: “We have an immediate neighbor (China-w.e.) whose military expenditure is at least twice as large as Japan’s and second only to the US defense budget. The country has increased its military expenditures, hardly transparent, by more than 10%, annually, for more than twenty years since 1989…So call me, if you want, a right-wing militarist.”
Since that September, 2013 speech, Abe has dutifully advanced the provocative anti-China agenda of his Washington neo-con friends, the Dick Cheney cabal around Scooter Libby and others.
Senkaku Nuclear Umbrella
The entire buildup of a resurgent militarist Japanese leadership behind Shinzo Abe and sabre-rattling against China over the Senkaku Islands, as the Japanese call it, just became seriously more dangerous following the Joint US-Japan Declaration issued by both nations in April, 2015.
There the US Defense Department announced it would locate 60 percent of its military fleet to the Pacific-Indian Ocean, with the newest and most capable weapons systems first going to the Asia-Pacific region. The US-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC), which includes Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and Japanese Minister of Defense General Nakatani, issued a joint statement declaring that there was an “ironclad US commitment to the defense of Japan, through the full range of US military capabilities, including nuclear and conventional.”
Then for the first time in the current international dispute between China and Japan over the islands, the US and Japan, in the April 6, 2015 Joint Statement stated: “The Ministers also reaffirmed that the Senkaku Islands are territories under the administration of Japan and therefore fall within the scope of the commitments under Article 5 of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.” In short, Washington claims readiness to go to nuclear war over the East China Sea islands with China.
Little wonder that China is responding with increased military presence in the East China and South China seas. They are being seduced into the Abe spider web as Cheney and friends had hoped.
On May 29, 2016 Beijing announced that China will send a nuclear missile armed submarine into the Pacific for the first time. And three days later on June 1, Beijing declared that if the United States continues its “provocative” actions in the South China Sea, China is ready to proceed with installing its planned air defense identification zone as it did earlier in the East China Sea. xviii
Earlier this year China’s Foreign Ministry said China’s deployment of missiles on Woody Island (also known as Yongxing Island and Phu Lam Island), the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, should not be a “pretext to make a fuss,” comparing it to the US defending its territory on Hawaii: “China’s deploying necessary, limited defensive facilities on its own territory is not substantively different from the United States defending Hawaii.”
And just to add a turbo charge to what is shaping up as Washington’s next nuclear confrontation once a new US Administration takes office in January 2017, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on May 27 that they were considering the possibility of building a base for units of the Russian Pacific Fleet on the Matua Island in the Kurils chain (see map). They announced that the Russian military and the Russian Geographic Society were making a joint expedition to the Kurils chain, with six ships and over 200 participants. During the Cold War, the Kuril Islands, stretching from the Kamchatcka Peninsula down to Japan, were the Soviet’s front line in the Pacific.
Russia and Japan are in ongoing dispute over settlement of the Kuril Islands sovereignty where the Soviet Union had military bases until the 1990’s
The ugly paw-prints of Dick Cheney and his acolytes like Scooter Libby and Victoria Nuland are very visible as Washington edges closer to a proxy two-front encirclement of both Russia and now of China, of course, using others to fan the flames of their conflicts.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”