A Third Sino-Japanese War?

Static Chaos's picture

For centuries, the relationship between China and Japan may be best described as tense to turbulent with two Sino-Japanese wars all within the last century or so. The accord between the two neighboring Asian countries has progressed in recent years with official visits, trade pact and joint venture agreements.

Fishing Boat Incident & Border Dispute

However, the fuse was lit again this month when Japan seized a Chinese fishing boat near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea and the subsequent arrest of the captain. Japan government believes he intentionally rammed two Japanese vessels during a high-seas chase on September 7.

The islands in dispute--called Diaoyu in China, Senkaku in Japan-- are also claimed by Taiwan. They are uninhabited, but believed to have oil and gas deposits, and on rich fishing grounds. This has escalated to the worst tensions in years between the top two economies in Asia. Beijing is furious, and had summoned Tokyo's ambassador five times in a week while scrapping talks over a joint energy exploration project in the East China Sea.


An Eerie Reminder of The 9-18 Incident

September 18th History Museum
in Shenyang, China (via Wikipedia)

Curiously, either by coincidence or by orchestration, this fish boat/border incident is an eerie reminder of the 9-18 Incident. The 9-18 Incident or the Shenyang Incident, is mostly referred to as the Mukden, or Manchurian Incident by the West and Japan.

For people unfamiliar with this part of the world history, the 9-18 Incident was a border dispute escalated into a military conflict between China and Japan on Sep. 18, 1931. 

The 9-18 Incident took place near Shenyan City in Northern China, when the Imperial Japanese Army accused the Chinese of bombing a section of railroad owned by a Japanese company.  It resulted in Japan taking over all major cities in three provinces of Northern China and setting up the puppet state by the Last Emporer of China - PuYi.  

Saturday, September 18, 2010 is the 79th anniversary.

Currency War Already Waged

Actually, the fuse between the two countries was already getting shorter when China started buying Samurai bonds this year heading for a record annual increase. This propped up the yen, at a time when Japan--70% export dependent--is struggling with a slowing growth and decade-long deflation.

In an article dated Sep. 9, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported Japan’s government said it will seek discussions with China over the record purchases of Japanese bonds.

However, instead of a discussion, Japan initiated its first unilateral yen intervention in six years on Sep. 15. The surprise move immediately sent the US dollar, and the dollar-pegged Chinese yuan higher.

Network Hacking War – Not Yet

With the fish boat border dispute erupting so close to the anniversary of the 9-18 Incident, emotions are running high in China (as well as in Taiwan.)  In addition to organized protests around mainland China, both Chinese and Japanese media reported Honker Union of China had called on its members for a mass network attack of Japanese government sites.

Honker Union of China was formed in 2001 after a group of hackers brought down thousands of US websites in response to the collision of a US spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea. The group is believed to have 12,000 members.

Some were anticipating a big showdown between the Chinese and Japanese hackers. However, China Hush reported that it was apparently a rumor as Honker Union of China posted a public notice on its web site denying a planned mass hacking attack against Japan (English translation courtesy of China Hush):

"The real war on the networks has no smoke and fire....Any attack will be executed silently, rather than vigorously promoting it.”

China Hush also noted “Some said the rumor actually came from Japanese media, and it was deliberately reported to make China look bad…” Again, eerily similar to the Shenyang Incident seventy-nine years ago, where most believe the railroad sabotage was staged by Japan as a pretext for war.

History Repeating Itself?

The 9-18 Incident, which started not that differently from the recent tussles between China and Japan, is generally considered as the event officially unveiled The Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945, a very sad and cruel chapter of China's history, which has remained mostly little mentioned and grossly under-reporesented in the Western and Japanese versions of the history book.    

One would think Japan has enough on its economic front and would try very hard not to risk provoking China, which is an entirely different country from that of 79 years ago.  But as the old saying goes, history tends to repeat itself with short memory. The difference is that today’s interconnected world has made a full-blown actual military assault between two countries a less likely scenario.

Rather, the war between countries will be fought through currency and/or other monetary instruments, and stealth tech as intimated by the Honker Union’s message.


Static Chaos, Sept. 18, 2010

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AnAnonymous's picture

Those kind of articles are good in the way they go fishing for a public.

A war over a captured fisher? Either people are not very aware of fishing life, or part of self absorbed fishers. Fishers detained by a country because of fishing/border area issues happen regularly. Yet who depicts, I dont know, a similar incident involving Irish, Spanish, French fishers and their respective government as a brewing war?

People have to be serious one second. NK is suspected to have torpedoed a SK ship. Where is the war?

Currently, there is a gang of warmongers indeed. But neither China or Japan are members. To find their ganglord, you need to look westwards. There you'll find a country which has been lining wars like a yuppie lining fat Hollywood rails.

Quicksilver's picture

How significant are the oil reserves around Senkaku considered to be? I'm sure the US won't be too keen on China holding on to them, they'd probably keep it all for themselves.

Is there any connection between this and the M Star, a Japanese oil tanker suspected to have been hit by a warning shot from Iran in the Persian Gulf?

ego contemno TPTB's picture


1) 11th September 2016 (so we might still get one last Olympics - if we're lucky!)


What is the question? I sincerely hope it isn't this!


1) Date WWIII formally enjoined between the 'Nation of Islam - Global Division', Russia, China, India, N. Korea...and 'chums'


the 'NWO.com2/3rds-population-headcount-reduction-required-from-the-poor...' USA, GB, Most of Europe, Israel, Japan...and our 'friends'

Just waiting for the Gen 5 hardware to get built e.g. Sukhoi PAK-FA  vs. F-35



The Casino is now in full 'war-games' mode so the only way to win is not to play!


gnomon's picture

Has anybody else noticed this recurring theme?

China Against the World

This Mafia Clan won't stop at Financial Piracy.  Someday it will go "All the Way".

The Resource Wars have just started.

(And this player has no internal or external brake on the means to acquire those resources).




taraxias's picture

It's a nothingburger, folks, move along, nothing to see here.

Neither country wants a confrontation since they both know the dire consequences.

But it makes for a nice "hey, look of there" opportunity again to throw at the American sheeple.

Prof Quagmire's picture


  If Japan decides to prosecute the Chinese captain for deliberately causing a collision at sea, the Chinese could become seriously p.o.'d.  Retaliation would be simple, as has already been referenced above: sell $ denominated paper and use the proceeds to buy more JGBs, thereby kicking Uncle Sam while simultaneously thumbing the Japanese in the eye.  For China, it's a win-win proposition with little real risk.

laosuwan's picture
Navy personnel 43,800   [11th of 49]

personnel 272,000   [23rd of 170]

personnel > % of total labor force 0.41 %   [129th of 168]

WMD > Overview
Japan's 1947 constitution, which renounces the right to use force or the threat of force as a means of settling international disputes, sets important limits on Japanese security policy. Japan does not have any weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, although it has the technical capability to produce basic nuclear weapons and missiles in a relatively short time.



personnel 3,755,000   [1st of 170] Service age and obligation
18-22 years of age for selective compulsory military service, with 24-month service obligation; no minimum age for voluntary service (all officers are volunteers); 18-19 years of age for women high school graduates who meet requirements for specific military jobs WMD > Missile
China has produced and deployed a wide range of ballistic missiles, ranging from short-range missiles to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). China's missiles are operated by the Second Artillery Corps, and include about 650 DF-11 (M-11) and DF-15 (M-9) missiles opposite Taiwan; several dozens of DF-3, DF-4, and DF-21 medium-range missiles that can reach Japan, India, and Russia; and 18-24 DF-5 ICBMs that can reach the United States and Europe. A transition is currently underway from relatively inaccurate, liquid-fueled, silo/cave-based missiles (DF-3, DF-4, DF-5) to more accurate, solid-fueled, mobile missiles (DF-11, DF-15, and DF-21, and a new ICBM [the DF-31] and SLBM [the JL-2], which are currently under development). China is replacing its older DF-5 missiles with new DF-5A variants, which may eventually be equipped with multiple warheads. A key question is how US deployment of ballistic missile defense (former known as theater and national missile defense) will affect the pace and scope of Chinese strategic modernization. Chinese missile exports have been a problem for more than a decade. China transferred 36 DF-3 medium-range missiles to Saudi Arabia in 1988, and supplied Pakistan with 34 M-11 short-range missiles in 1992. China has provided technology and expertise to the missile programs of several countries, including Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea. China has not joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), but has pledged to abide by its main parameters. In November 2000, China promised not to assist any country in the development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. In August 2002, China issued regulations and a control list restricting the export of missiles and missile technology. Since 2004, China has been engaged in consultation with the MTCR; however, its application for membership was not successful in the regime's latest plenary meeting in Seoul, South Korea, in October 2004. Concerns about Chinese missile technology transfers continue. WMD > Nuclear
China's nuclear weapons program began in 1955 and culminated in a successful nuclear test in 1964. Since then, China has conducted 45 nuclear tests, including tests of thermonuclear weapons and a neutron bomb. The series of nuclear tests in 1995-96 prior to China's signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) may have resulted in a smaller and lighter warhead design for the new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) now under development. China is estimated to have about 400 strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, and stocks of fissile material sufficient to produce a much larger arsenal. China joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1984 and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1992 as a nuclear weapon state. China provided nuclear reactors and technology to several countries in the 1980s and early 1990s, including design information and fissile material that reportedly helped Pakistan develop nuclear weapons. Since the early 1990s, China has improved its export controls, including the promulgation of regulations on nuclear and nuclear dual-use exports and has pledged to halt exports of nuclear technology to un-safeguarded facilities. In 2002 China ratified the IAEA Additional Protocol, the first and only nuclear weapons state to do so.
chindit13's picture

The Japanese people have a saying, "the nail that sticks out too far gets hammered".

While this is true socially, and explains why the society has long been quite uniform, it is not true politically.  Japan tends to have factions that are virulently anti-something, such as anyone who believes the emperor is not divine, anyone who thinks the Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was not a noble anti-Colonial, anti-Western liberation movement, Russians who think the Sakhalin Islands belong to Russia, or Chinese upstarts who think they are culturally, economically, or historically more significant than the Yamato race.

The average Japanese politely ignores these political blowhards, which in effect grants the right wingers a stage and sometimes even a platform upon which to influence policy.  The recent leap of China passed Japan as the second largest economy has only fanned the flames of insecurity that drive these right wingers, and at the very least an international pissing contest is likely to unfold.

For its part, China has always used Japan as a whipping boy and a target toward which general Chinese anger or frustration could be directed, rather than allow the Chinese populace to vent frustrations against the Chinese government itself.  Often when there is some protest in China against Japan, it is really an indication of general unrest in China, but the government has found a way to redirect a diffuse rage against an external bogeyman.  Japan's history with China, in particular the events beginning with the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, makes this process easy.

Today, the stakes for both sides are higher than at any time since WWII.  The pinprick islands that dot Southeast Asia used to be a mere matter of national pride;  now they represent needed natural resources.  Fueling this is the loss of pride many Japanese feel for becoming but a bit player in the world compared to the high hopes they had in the late 1980's, as well as China's combination of new-found arrogance plus the government's constant fear that a billion dashed expectations could spell trouble for the self-appointed regime.

At the moment it is unlikely that tensions will move beyond the point of name calling or the occasional private act of computer hacking or beating a few Chinese tourists in Tokyo, but it bears watching.  Rather than the nail that sticks out too far, sometimes it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, and in the case of Japan it has long been the squeaky wheels that have driven foreign policy.  And while China has a poor record of victory in war, other than a civil one, their current arrogance might embolden them to piss on a few rocks.

JMcLeod's picture

Keen observations. Great post.

RockyRacoon's picture

Thanks for your valued insight. Good to see you contributing.

The average Japanese politely ignores these political blowhards, which in effect grants the right wingers a stage and sometimes even a platform upon which to influence policy.

I wouldn't say that is a solely Japanese characteristic!  Look at what goes on here in the same vein.

mikla's picture


Very interesting and insightful comment.

hamurobby's picture

Glad to see you are still here Chindit.

I believe I am agreeing with you. China's goal is to bring down the economic powerhouses in the Pacific with slow economic destruction. They hold all the cards and they know it, and they dont have to take anyone elses shit anymore. Japan is very frustrated, and its massive debt is showing.

anvILL's picture

Looking at the protests going on in China, I actually think that the Chinese government is trying to keep their own people toned down.
Their very popular slogan of "Barbaric acts you do for patriotism is not a crime" has not been seen in this protest for some mysterious reason unlike protests in the past. Since those protests are regulated by the government, I would say this is a sign of improvement in relationship between China and Japan.
I am still not sure how much the Chinese government want to improve their relationship with Japan, but their anti-Japanese citizens they educated themselves to hate Japan should definitely get in the way of improvement in any case.

purple's picture

China and Japan are not at the war stage but it's easy to see how they could get there. The problem with Asia is that a bunch export economies are incapable of developing any kind of real political union. So for the foreseeable you have this group of xeonophobic nation states developing under the umbrella of the 7th Fleet.

Precious's picture

Anything that the Japanese have done to the Chinese in the past century, pales in comparison to the atrocities that the Chinese themselves have cruelly inflicted upon millions their own citizens throughout the centuries.

ebworthen's picture

Don't think for a second that Japan doesn't have strategic nukes on land and in submarines; wouldn't doubt their posession and use of biological weapons either. 

And, the U.S. will back Taiwan and Japan.

anvILL's picture

Since you have zero information to support your opinion, I will think for a second.

First, Japan does not have hardly any incentives to hold nukes and biological weapons because, with all the tools and technology out here, it wouldn't take much time to make either nukes or biological weapons anyway.
Not counting the time consuming decision making part, maybe a few days or hours for some biological weapons and maybe a few month for a nuke.
So, why should Japan take the risk of being criticized globally to hold on to these items today?
The risk isn't matching returns.

Second, if the US don't back Japan or Taiwan, there will be nothing between China and U.S.
With their base at Okinawa, why shouldn't the U.S. back Japan?

gmrpeabody's picture

Well..., for one thing, the US is having trouble backing up the US.

Just saying....

anvILL's picture

But its not just the US having trouble backing their selves up in a world where "Everyone owes Everyone and No One Can Pay".

I guess we are all screwed.

Precious's picture

ebworthen, that Japan has such weapons is a pleasant thought, but you have zip to back it up.

NoVolumeMeltup's picture

And Russia might back China for several reasons: The SCO, to spite US (and retaliate for continued NATO expansions/color revolutions) and they have also fought a war against Japan.

(Gawd, I can't wait for Civ 5 to be released)

Eternal Student's picture

They well might. However,  I expect tensions to increase between China and Russia. Russia has a lot of land with a lot of resources. China has a lot of people. Those combinations don't usually end well.

But I wouldn't take China seriously until they really start issuing bonds. Bonds were originally created to finance wars, and the ones who issued them usually won, against those who didn't. Add military funding via bonds to their manufacturing base, and you have a contender which can, and will, take on all comers.

doggings's picture

er, dont they already have quite a lot of *somebody else's* bonds in hand?

could buy a lot of gold coins to pay your soldiers with that load of shite.

Howard_Beale's picture

So you have to issue debt to have a war? War bonds or no war? I don't think the Sino-Japanese wars in the past were based on that premise and is seems kind of lame to state that given that China has the cash to do it without creating a CGB market. Just saying...

eigenvalue's picture

Well, I should say the article overestimated the possibility of a war. A war with Japan will be a bane of the real estate in China, especially on the east coast, which is officially regarded as the "Pillar of the Chinese Economy". The Chinese communist government has great interest in real estate. Thus, I don't believe there will be a war.

Howard_Beale's picture

These guys have been going at it for nearly a thousand years (if I remember my history of China class in undergrad class correctly). It would be interesting since the Japanese don't really have the military might since WW2 and the only other options are financial. Time will tell.

Testicular Cancer's picture

Japan has a better navy & air force than the Chinese. They can fend off Chinese take-over of an island or pre-empt the Chinese from doing so. Japan may have the best, or at least the second best navy in that region next to Russia. A million-man army is useless if they can't cross the body of water.

anvILL's picture

The Japanese Navy, or the MSDF to be precise,  is extremely strong, but i think it would turn out to be useless.
Obviously, China has tons of ballistic missiles targeted towards Japan, including my neighborhood with an Mitsubishi factory.
But how many ballistic missiles does Japan has targeted towards China?

The MSDF can keep soldiers from entering for pretty long, it won't keep off missiles from entering.
A navy is useless if it can't defend the mainland.

Howard_Beale's picture

Well their spunky little feud might have to go back into full steam ahead, then. Funny, that's the way is has always been. Wars at sea.Go back through the dynasty's and have a look. There has never been much man to man combat on the ground throughout the centuries, except perhaps the Khans.

RockyRacoon's picture

How the hell can we manage to stay out of this fracas?

I believe we have enough military (or cyber) conflict on our plate.

This could be the final straw that moves the J6Ps over the edge.

NoVolumeMeltup's picture

BDI started dropping again. The continuing economic downturn will most certainly culminate in wars.