Carnegie Endowment has a 400+ page analysis of what the economic-military situation will be in 2030 between China, Japan and the US. Japan has crappy 0.6-0.8% annual GDP growth in all scenarios with the possibility that it could be worse. A China with 6-8% GDP growth through 2030 is dealing from strength in the scenarios. China would be more cautious with 4-5% GDP growth average and would be relatively weak with less than 4% growth. The stronger and richer China is then the more unaffordable it becomes for the US to dominate the Pacific militarily. Also, the US could end up not being able to economically afford or politically not wanting to dominate the Pacific militarily.
The most likely potential challenge to the U.S.-Japan alliance over the next fifteen to twenty years does not involve full-scale military conflict between China and Japan or the United States originating, for example, from Chinese efforts to expel Washington from the region. Instead, it derives from two other far more likely developments.
First, growing absolute or relative Chinese military capabilities could enable Beijing to influence or resolve disputes with Tokyo in its favor without resorting to a military attack. In particular, Beijing could use its growing coercive power with respect to contested territories and maritime resources in the East China Sea.
Second, an increase in the People’s Liberation Army’s presence in the airspace and waters near Japan and disputed territories could raise the risk of destabilizing accidents that could dangerously escalate into serious political-military crises involving the U.S.-Japan alliance.
The eroding balance scenario is marked by significant absolute Chinese gains in all military domains. Certain domains are especially likely to see such change: ground (via increases in the number, range, and sophistication of ballistic and cruise missiles), naval (via an antiship ballistic missile system, more advanced submarines, and both military and paramilitary surface vessels), air (via more advanced surface-to-air missiles, ballistic and cruise missiles capable of targeting U.S. air bases in Japan, and larger numbers of more advanced aircraft capable of operating over water), and command and control (via long-range radars and more sophisticated command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance—C4ISR—networks).
If Japan’s economy were to face severe difficulties beyond what it has experienced in recent years, with GDP growth falling below 0.6 percent, the probability of the two unlikely trajectories (strategic accommodation and strategic independence) would increase somewhat.
There is also an unlikely scenario for Sino-japanese rivalry
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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