Two days before Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s recent landslide electoral victory in Japan, five of China’s warships were spotted near a gas field in some contested waters between the two countries in the East China Sea. This probably helped Koizumi pick up extra votes from those Japanese who are increasingly worried about China’s not-so-peaceful rise.
If so, China contributed to a result it probably didn’t welcome. The stunning victory gave Koizumi a clear mandate to further advance his main objective of turning Japan into a “normal” nation. A key component of a normal Japan is to cease its habitual submissiveness to China, which has been the predominant attitude since the end of World War II.