What’s motivating Japan and Prime Minister Kishida? The People’s Republic of China (PRC). Xi Jinping has succeeded in getting Japan to take its defense seriously—something the Americans never had much success at.
Some Japanese were concerned about the PRC’s military threat in the early 2000s, if not before. Indeed, then-Prime Minister Abe’s efforts in 2006-2007 to establish the “Quad” alliance between the major regional democracies—Japan, Australia, the United States, and India—owed to concerns around Chinese expansion.
Japan, however, had been quietly building up its defenses all the while. By the late 2000s, for example, Japan’s “anti-submarine helicopter carriers”—lightly modified aircraft carriers—were already on hand, and the next generation was already under construction. Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (GSDF) plans to “fortify” the Nansei Shoto island chain were developed around this time too….