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Will China’s Central Military Commission be a target under Japan’s counter strike capability

Japan's Self Defence Maritime Force fires a missile from a vessel (Photo: Twitter)

Japan is currently debating whether its proposed counterstrike capability should also include targeting China's top decision-making body—the Central Military Commission (CMC).

In April, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party had urged the government to develop "counter strike capability" in an effort to strengthen national defence. Japan has been on the edge for the past many months as it witnesses the military rise of China accompanied by voluble threats to take over Taiwan by force.

Japanese news agency, Kyodo reported on Sunday that the question whether the CMC will be a target "came to light in a parliamentary meeting last week when the Defense Ministry did not answer directly a question from an opposition lawmaker seeking to know whether what has until recently been called "enemy base attack capability" targets would include China's CMC".

Kyodo reports that in a meeting of the House of Representatives Committee of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, Japanese Communist Party member Keiji Kokuta asked if the government is planning to include the CMC and China's Five Theatre Commands among the targets of a counter strike capability. The Japanese government did not directly answer the question but Makoto Oniki, deputy minister of defence, said, "Attacking the base of a guided missile would constitutionally fall under the scope of self-defence if (the government) perceives there were no other means (to defend Japan)."

The five commands are in charge of defence of the eastern, southern, western, northern and central regions of China. Its Eastern Theatre Command oversees Taiwan, Japan and the East China Sea. China has slightly less than 2,000 missiles that can reach Japan.

Currently, Japan possesses defensive capabilities that allow it to intercept enemy strikes. The lawmakers now want Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to develop "counterstrike capabilities" so that Japan can attack enemy bases and disable enemy weapons. The government has, however, not articulated its position on the counter strike ability.

There is a strong belief in Japan that in case China attacks Taiwan–which it considers a renegade province of the mainland, the attack could easily spill over to Japanese islands, many of which are located close to Taiwan. The Japanese believe that to take over Taiwan by force, China is likely to attack Japan as well, which could lead to a full-scale war in the region.

The fears of a Chinese military attack on Taiwan have become stronger after the Russian attack on Ukraine.

Since last year, Japan has hiked its defence budget, bought more weapons from the US and has been lobbying friendly Western countries about the spectre of a war in the region because of aggressive Chinese moves. 

Besides friction over Taiwan, Japan and China are locked in disputes over the Senkaku islands–currently with Japan, which are located in the proximity of Taiwan.  

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