Another bogus "red line", I suppose.
Reuters' columnist Anatole Kaletsky's take on Obama's promise to defend Japan militarily against China over Senkaku Islands (that's how it is understood in Japan) is that the US president created false expectation he has no intention of actually fulfilling.
I see. So indeed China is Russia, and Ukraine is Japan, as Reuters Japan's article compared the other day (see my post on April 24, 2014 for the quote from the article).
From Reuters (4/24/2014; emphasis is mine):
Abe’s disturbing lack of focus
President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia this week has focused mostly on Japan’s territorial disputes with China. On this issue, Obama seems to be repeating the same mistakes he made in Ukraine.
By creating false expectations of U.S. support for the Japanese position, the president is encouraging Japan to escalate its belligerent rhetoric. That, in turn, makes Chinese military action to seize the disputed islands more likely. Everyone knows that there is no chance of the United States going to war with China to defend Japan’s claim to four uninhabited lumps of rock.
Luckily, a military confrontation in the East China Sea remains highly unlikely because the Beijing government’s top priority is economic and financial reform. Unfortunately, this seems less true of Japan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attention seems to have shifted from economics to diplomacy and military matters — and financial markets have started to notice this disturbing change of focus. The clearest evidence can be seen in the relative performance of the Japanese stock market.
...The second reason for the Abe government’s new-found tolerance for an economic slowdown is directly connected to the rise of China. When Abe was elected in late 2012, his determination to revive the Japanese economy was significantly motivated by fears about China.
The worry was not that China had overtaken Japan as the world’s second-biggest economy and would eventually overtake the United States’ — even the most ardent Japanese nationalists see both these trends as inevitable. More troubling was growing evidence that China’s economic might was shifting the balance of interest in Washington from the traditional postwar friendship with Japan to cultivating better relations with China.
Given Japan’s dependence on U.S. military power, the shift of U.S. attention to China was alarming. Particularly to a fervent nationalist such as Abe, who has always cared passionately about winning Japan’s territorial disputes and rehabilitating its wartime reputation.
But with Obama’s words, the United States has now shown its willingness to antagonize China by promising to defend Japan unconditionally in any territorial disputes. These promises will almost certainly prove false in the event of a genuine military confrontation. But for the moment, they seem to have reassured Japanese politicians that Washington will continue to pay attention to Japan — even if it slides back into economic irrelevance.
(Full article at the link)
Japan's Nikkei Shinbun's article on April 29, 2014 by Nikkei's Washington Bureau is right on, which surprises me that they actually get it.
From Nikkei Shinbun (4/29/2014; part):
Senkaku under US-Japan Security Treaty - President Obama's true intension
It would be an easy task, if he could do a favor to Japan with words only and receive a substantive gain in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in return. It makes one wonder, given Mr. Obama's words and deeds without gravity as symbolized (represented) by his handling of Syria.
Mr. Obama was all ready to go to war with Syria (backed by nuclear Russia) with youtube videos as evidence. Who needs gravity in this day and age?