The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

USA-Japan-China:
the Pacific, the Other Powder Keg

Jan 23, 2023

This article is translated from the January 19th issue, #2842 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

On Friday, January 13, U.S. President Biden received Japanese Prime Minister Kishida to announce the strengthening of their military alliance.

This alliance is aimed straight at China, which according to Kishida represents an “unprecedented strategic challenge,” and against Russia, also bordering the Pacific Ocean. The United States is therefore going to strengthen its presence in the Japanese archipelago and, in particular, install a heavily armed rapid intervention force in Okinawa. Okinawa is of course the closest island to China and also to Taiwan, an ally of the United States and claimed by China, around which rival navies maneuver constantly.

Japan, for its part, will continue its armament effort and plans to devote the equivalent of 300 billion euros by 2027. The so-called self-defense army set up after 1945 under close American supervision is increasingly being transformed into a real military instrument of an imperialist power, now allied with the United States.

The Japanese navy had already circumvented the 1945 treaty forbidding it to launch aircraft carriers—in 2013, it set out two large helicopter carriers. With Washington’s blessing, it is beginning to upgrade these two ships to make them capable of carrying F-35s, the American fighter aircraft that the Japanese army fields.

Western governments condemned the joint maneuvers of the Chinese and Russian fleets in the China Sea in early January. They also denounced the incursions of Chinese planes into the skies over Taiwan, and North Korea’s missile launches into those waters. Japan is obviously part of the anti-Russian front and Kishida reaffirmed his support for Biden, saying that "to let Russia do this in Ukraine would be to create a precedent." Thus, camps are emerging and with them the threat of war.

The clearest and most convincing demonstration was, as always, given by the real boss, the United States, whose military budget and firepower crushes all others by comparison. On the very day of the Biden-Kishida meeting, the aircraft carrier Nimitz and her group were on maneuvers in the South China Sea. Its mission statement, issued by the U.S. Navy, states that the wing is there to "demonstrate its ability to provide an unmatched maritime force, if required."

Behind the arms race and the profits of the gun merchants, the imperialist powers stand ready to maintain their order by force.