TOKYO -- "East Asia is the Ukraine of tomorrow," has become one of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's favorite phrases. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, he has frequently repeated it, including during a visit to London earlier this month. Kishida fears that unless Russian aggression is appropriately punished, a second or third "Russia" could emerge on the world stage. And one of those "Russias" could be China.
Kishida made clear his worries about China in an exclusive interview with Nikkei on May 20: "We are seriously concerned about the rapid growth of Chinese military activities," he said. The prime minister advocated relying more on military deterrence for defense, departing from Japan's traditionally dovish security policy, which has been a staple of the country's identity since the end of World War II.