Senior Defense Official Warns of Growing Anti-American Alliance in Pacific, Urges US to Beware of Pearl Harbor-Style Surprise Attack


It comes as little shock to anybody that Beijing has designs on Taiwan, which they consider a renegade breakaway province and not a country under the so-called “One-China Policy.” Likewise, China’s joint military exercises with Russia indicate Moscow would be a potential ally if war were to break out over the island.

However, in a speech delivered virtually to a conservative think tank last week, a senior Japanese defense official said he believed the Chinese-Russian alliance posed a danger to another group of islands: Hawaii.

Japan’s State Minister of Defense Yasuhide Nakayama told the Hudson Institute last Monday that a Pearl Harbor-style surprise attack on America’s 50th state wasn’t out of the question.

“[W]e have to show that the deterrence towards China and not just China, but also the Russians, because they, as I told you, that they are doing their exercises together,” Nakayama said, according to the event transcript.

“Seventy years ago, we [attacked] Pearl Harbor, but now U.S. and Japan [are] very good allies. Like it’s one of the best allies in the all over the world,” he said. He noted, however, that Russian naval drills were taking place that week close to Hawaii.


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“I don’t want to remind [us of the attack] 70 years ago, but we have to be careful of the exercising of the Russians. They are taking the place [off] the western side of the Honolulu, the Hawaii.”

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Moscow said the naval drills were their largest in the Pacific Ocean since the Cold War. While most ships operated several hundred miles away from the island, a U.S. Navy spokesman said “some ships operated approximately 20 to 30 nautical miles (23 to 34 statute miles) off the coast of Hawaii.”

In a story by official Russian news agency TASS, the Russian Pacific Fleet’s press office said they “held missile and artillery firings in the Pacific waters. In the course of practical measures, the warships jointly repelled a notional enemy’s air attack. The exercise was intended to check the reliable operation of shipborne weapons in a hot climate.”

Nakayama said this was indicative of a two-fold problem in the Pacific — one that didn’t just threaten Taiwan.

Should we be worried about an attack on Taiwan from China?

“Honolulu to Japan, this zone is becoming — the Chinese and the Russians come in this zone,” he said. “So, [for] the United States, the protection line is going to be backwards a little bit.”

Nakayama also questioned the soundness of the decision of most countries outside the Soviet bloc — including Japan and the United States — to recognize the government in Beijing as opposed to Taipei as officially representing China back in the 1970s.

“Was it right?” he said. “I don’t know.”

However, he said democracies referred to an invasion of Taiwan as a “red line” in the past.

“So we have to protect the Taiwan as a democratic country,” Nakayama said.


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“I think the Taiwanese are really concerned,” he said. “And also, [they’re] focusing on the two big countries collaborating and [presenting] a lot of threat towards Taiwan.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Wang Wenbin rebuked Nakayama during a media briefing the next day, although her outrage over what he said seemed to be asymmetrical.

“Some Japanese politicians, in disregard of the fact of China’s peaceful development, unjustifiably point fingers at China’s socioeconomic development and normal national defense building, portray China as a threat and openly stoke big-power confrontation with the sinister motive to find excuses to break free from the military restrictions imposed on Japan over crimes of aggression committed by Japanese militarism in history,” Wang said. “This is extremely irresponsible and dangerous.”

“The politician in question flagrantly refers to Taiwan as a ‘country’ on multiple occasions, severely violating principles set out in the four political documents including the China-Japan Joint Statement and its solemn and repeated commitment of not seeing Taiwan as a country. We ask Japan to make crystal clarification, and ensure that such things won’t happen again.”

Without specifics, Wang lamented Nakayama would “portray China as a threat and openly stoke big-power confrontation” over a speech in which he said Taiwan is under grave threat from Beijing, which may even have designs on Hawaii. Wang was very specifically outraged that Nakayama had the effrontery to call Taiwan a country on multiple occasions.

Well, I’m convinced he’s just trying to deflect and the potential for a surprise strike on either Taiwan or Hawaii is virtually nil.

In his speech, Nakayama implored both Japan and America to “wake up,” adding that the United States needed to get “stronger, stronger and stronger.” At least in the Pacific, where Chinese designs on territory influence have long been known and Russia’s are becoming clearer, that’s not unsound advice.

An attack on Taiwan would be dire enough. If Nakayama’s warning is accurate, though, that’s not the only attack we need to worry about.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).


Morristown, New Jersey


Catholic University of America

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish

Topics of Expertise

American Politics, World Politics, Culture

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