Joint drill by US, allies on Japanese land insignificant: analysts

The ongoing joint exercises by Japanese, US, French and Australian troops, claimed to “serve as a deterrent to China,” is only symbolic and of little military significance, as the drill was put together by participants that have different agenda or are too weak, experts said on Wednesday, while slamming Japan’s outdated mindset of rallying alliances for confrontation.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) doesn’t even need to make pointed responses to the joint drill since it’s insignificant militarily. PLA should make concrete steps in its own development, like it did with recent drills and warship commissioning, said analysts.

Japan, the US and France kicked off their first-ever joint military drill in southwestern Japan on Tuesday, with an Australian naval ship also taking part in the week-long air, land and sea exercises, AFP reported.

Ten surface vessels from the four countries plus a Japanese submarine will participate in the drill, the report said.

Citing a Japanese scholar, the report claimed the drill is a deterrent to China’s moves in the East and South China seas, including those over the Diaoyu Islands, which are Chinese territories.

“The drill will not be a threat to China, because it was only scraped together,” Song Zhongping, a Chinese military affairs expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The French troops traveled from afar only to do the US a favor and show presence, and while foreign reports said France has strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific Region where it has territories, including the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean and French Polynesia in the South Pacific, it has no core interests in the West Pacific, let alone confronting China, analysts said.

If a military conflict breaks out in the region, France will wait and see and even prevent NATO from participating, Song predicted, noting that France and the US have many substantial differences, including on NATO’s eastward expansion.

Australia’s military is too weak to be a worthy opponent of China, and if it dares to interfere in a military conflict for example in the Taiwan Straits, its forces will be among the first to be hit, Song said. “Australia must not think it can hide from China if it provokes.”

Australia is within range of China’s conventional warhead-equipped DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile, observers pointed out.

AP said on Tuesday that the event will feature urban warfare drills followed by amphibious operation exercises under a scenario of defending a remote island from an enemy invasion..

While the amphibious exercises clearly point to the Diaoyu Islands and islands and reefs in the South China Sea, the urban warfare drills could indicate these foreign forces could be practicing interfering in the Taiwan question, because that is where urban warfare is required, analysts said.

Despite its severe domestic COVID-19 situation, Japan remains stubborn in hooking in “like-minded” countries for joint military exercises, which is an outdated Cold War mindset and will only build divisions and confrontation, Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

As an invading country defeated in World War II, why is Japan holding offensive exercises like this? Zhang asked. “Japan should learn from history and not let militarism come back to life.”

While it is possible that China will send a reconnaissance ship close to the site, China does not really need to react to the exercise, as it only needs to make concrete steps in strengthening its military and develop its science and technology capabilities, Song said.

The PLA has been making strides in its development, and recently held joint cross-sea landing exercises, conducted aircraft carrier drills and commissioned powerful new warships, all of which are pragmatic, analysts said.

Liu Xuanzun