22 August 2019
Kazuya Natsukawa (inset) says Chinese navy is yet to match up to the quality of its Japanese counterpart. Photos: Xinhua,
Kazuya Natsukawa (inset) says Chinese navy is yet to match up to the quality of its Japanese counterpart. Photos: Xinhua,

China cannot win sea battle as of now: Japan ex-army official

As Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to visit Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, a former top Japanese military official has said that there is no way China can win a sea battle between the two nations if there is one at the moment.

Kazuya Natsukawa, who had served for over 40 years in Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and is a former Chief of Staff at the JSDF’s Joint Staff Council, told Ming Pao Daily that the quality of Chinese military is far lower than that of its Japanese counterpart which is supported by the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan.

Japan will definitely win any sea war with China as of now, despite the latter’s strengthening of its military, he was quoted as saying in an exclusive interview.

In a book that he jointly wrote with other two former senior JSDF officials and which was published in October last year, Natsukawa said that there is still a large gap in strength between the JSDF and the People’s Liberation Army of China, and that any Chinese nuclear submarine and aircraft carrier would become perfect targets for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US military.

Natsukawa, 74, said in the latest interview that even though China now has more battleships than Japan, the latter has bigger vessels with stronger engagement capabilities. The quality of Chinese military is yet to catch up with the quantity while the JSDF, which has trained jointly with the United States, is of the best quality in the world, he said.

He believes that Japan is capable of containing China if both countries engage in war in the waters around the disputed Senkaku islands, known as Diaoyu in China. He was also confident that the US will send military to help Japan should a conflict arise.

That said, Natsukawa admitted that the situation could change in the future. Japan could find itself in a very dangerous position if a war with China breaks out ten years later, he said.

China’s military will keep enhancing both its quantity and quality but Japan is unable to go for arms expansion, he said, also pointing to other disadvantages such as Japan’s much smaller size and population.

Natsukawa believes China will have at least three aircraft carriers in the future, posing a big threat to Japan.

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