Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’

Donald Trump ends his brief flirtation with TPP — Flip-flop on Twitter

April 18, 2018

US president’s second U-turn on Pacific trade adds to pressure on Japan’s Shinzo Abe

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Flip-flop: Shinzo Abe (left) will not be happy with Donald Trump’s rejection onTwitter of the Japanese prime minister’s invitation to the US to rejoin the TPP. The two leaders met with their wives in Florida on Tuesday © Reuters

Shawn Donnan in Washington

Donald Trump brought a quick end to his latest flirtation with rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, turning to Twitter late on Tuesday after a dinner with Japan’s Shinzo Abe to reject Tokyo’s invitation for him to rejoin.

“While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States,” he tweeted. “Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S.”

The president’s social media announcement came at the end of the first day of a two-day summit with Mr Abe at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club in Florida. Earlier, the two leaders exchanged pleasantries during an appearance in front of reporters. They are expected to play golf on Wednesday and continue talks on issues including North Korea and trade.

Mr Trump pulled the US out of the TPP on his first full working day in office last January after campaigning against it during his 2016 run to the presidency.

But he last week raised the possibility of rejoining for the second time this year during a meeting with politicians from agricultural states that have been pushing him to avoid starting a trade war with China and to consider re-entering the TPP. Earlier this year he also raised the idea of joining the TPP during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Mr Trump has already given Mr Abe an important victory at the summit by saying he will raise the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang. But Mr Trump’s decision to rule out the TPP, ahead of the second day of talks on trade, is bad news for the Japanese prime minister.

Japan is reluctant to enter bilateral trade talks, suspecting Washington will demand greater concessions than Tokyo gave in the TPP, with little on offer in return. Mr Abe, who prizes his relationship with the president, had hoped to channel Mr Trump’s demands on trade into talks about a return to the TPP. A blunt demand to start bilateral talks instead would place him in a difficult position.

The manoeuvres on the TPP have come as Mr Trump is embroiled in an increasingly tense trade stand-off with China, which was never included in the TPP. US officials have been working on a $100bn list of further tariffs designed to increase the pressure on Beijing. The US and China have each already announced $50bn lists for imports they would target for tariffs.

The 11 remaining members of the TPP led by Japan earlier this year signed the deal into existence. They suspended intellectual property and other contentious provisions sought by the Obama administration when it negotiated the pact when they did so. They have also, however, signalled that they would be open to the US rejoining.

But several TPP members, including Japan, have also indicated in recent days that they would not be open to a major renegotiation of the pact, something the US president had said he would seek.

Why Mr Trump mentioned South Korea is unclear. It is not a member of the TPP, though it has long been seen as a likely candidate to join what many in Washington still see as an important strategic bloc that the Obama administration had viewed as an economic bulwark against a rising China.

Mr Trump has argued since taking office that the US is better served by bilateral trade agreements. But he has yet to launch any such negotiations and Japan is among the countries that have so far resisted his administration’s approaches.

Japan also was pointedly not included in a list of US allies excluded from steel and aluminium tariffs that Mr Trump imposed last month even though the president said he was open to doing so for countries like Japan with which the US has security agreements.

Additional reporting by Robin Harding in Tokyo



Trump Slams TPP Again Ahead of Trade Talks With Japan’s Abe

April 18, 2018

President Donald Trump again soured on the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership ahead of planned trade talks on Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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“While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States,” Trump wrote. “Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S.,” he said referring to the World Trade Organization.

Last week, Trump directed U.S. officials to explore returning to the TPP. While his comments were welcomed by members of the trade bloc, ministers from countries including Japan, Australia and Malaysia said they opposed renegotiation of the deal to accommodate the U.S. should it decide to rejoin at a later date.

Abe has been a strong proponent of the TPP. Before leaving for the talks in Florida, he told reporters in Tokyo that Japan and the U.S. should “take the lead on growing the economy of the Indo-Pacific through free and fair trade and investment.”

Pacific Trade Deal Is a Big Deal, With U.S. or Not: QuickTake

The yen declined against all of its Group-of-10 peers on early signs the Trump-Abe meetings won’t see new trade demands from the U.S.

As for South Korea: While the nation isn’t in the TPP, it may look to become a member should the U.S. decide to recommit, Bloomberg Law reported Tuesday, citing a trade ministry official, who was not authorized to be cited.

Japan and China’s foreign ministers pledge to pursue improved ties

April 16, 2018

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Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) shakes hands with Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono at their meeting in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2018. Behrouz Mehri/Pool via Reuters

OKYO (REUTERS) – Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono and his Chinese counterpart have pledged to improve ties between their nations and affirmed a commitment to stick with U.N. resolutions aimed at forcing North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons.

Kono met the Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang YiWang Yi, in Tokyo on Sunday, having made his own official visit to Beijing earlier this year.

Wang is the first Chinese foreign minister to visit Japan in a bilateral context in the nine years since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to reset the sometimes fraught relations between Asia’s two largest economies.

“Through mutual visits between our two leaders we agreed to pursue wide-reaching cooperation and improved ties,” Kono said after Sunday’s meeting.

Economic ties between Japan and China are close, led by corporate investment. The neighbours remain at odds, however, over China’s growing military presence in the South China Sea, through which much of the region’s sea-borne trade sails, and a dispute over ownership of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku in Tokyo and the Diaoyu in Beijing.

Wang said his visit was in response to Japan’s positive attitude towards China.

“Since last year Japan has, in relations with China, displayed a positive message and friendly attitude,” he said.

The talks came ahead of a summit between the two Koreas this month and a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump. The U.S-North Korea talks are aimed at ending a stand-off over Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

“To establish a complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation of North Korea we agreed to continue to fully implement all relevant U.N. resolutions and to work closely together,” Kono said.

Wang, who spent eight years in Japan as a diplomat, including three as China’s ambassador, is scheduled to hold further talks with Kono and other Japanese Cabinet ministers on Monday.

On Tuesday Japanese Self Defense Force officers will meet counterparts from China’s People’s Liberation Army at a reception hosted by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in an effort to build trust between the military rivals.

(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; Writing by Tim Kelly and Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Sam Holmes and David Goodman)

Japan PM to visit U.S. from April 17 to 20 for talks with Trump

April 2, 2018


TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit the United States April 17-20 for talks with President Donald Trump, he said on Monday.

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Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader, delivers a speech during the LDP annual party convention in Tokyo, Japan March 25, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Abe said he would ask Trump to bring up the issue of past North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens, during the U.S. president’s expected summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Pence says U.S. to unveil toughest-yet sanctions on North Korea — Goal is “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization — U.S. Stands With Allies

February 7, 2018


TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that Washington would soon unveil its toughest ever economic sanctions on North Korea as part of a push to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

Pence, speaking to reporters after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said that the United States would soon unveil the “toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever.”

Calling North Korea the “most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet,” Pence said the United States and its allies including Japan would keep maximum pressure on Pyongyang until it took steps toward “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization.

reporting by Linda Sieg


U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday Washington stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Japan and other allies

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday Washington stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Japan and other allies as it seeks to achieve the goal of denuclearizing North Korea.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Franck Robichon/Pool

Pence, in Tokyo on his way to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, was speaking at the start of talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that were expected to showcase the U.S.-Japan security alliance in the face of the North Korean threat.

“We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Japan, the people of South Korea and our allies and partners across the region until we achieve the global objective of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Pence said.

Earlier, Pence visited a Japanese Patriot PAC-3 missile battery, Japan’s last line of defense against any possible North Korean missile strike.

Pence watched the battery raised to a firing position and got a briefing before shaking hands with members of the Self-Defense Forces, as Japan’s military is known. He was accompanied by Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera and Japan’s highest ranking military officer, Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano.

His trip to South Korea from Thursday will coincide with a visit to the Games by North Korea’s ceremonial leader, Kim Yong Nam, the most senior North Korean official to enter the South since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce.

Pence has stopped short of ruling out the prospect of meeting senior North Korean officials but President Donald Trump has cast doubt on U.S. negotiations with Pyongyang any time soon. The White House has also cautioned against reading too much into remarks Pence made en route to Japan.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe review an honor guard before their meeting at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai


Pence said before arriving his message to the North was clear: Washington and its allies would keep pressing Pyongyang to give up its missile and nuclear programs.

“… my message – whatever the setting, whoever is present – will be the same. And that is that North Korea must once and for all abandon its nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missile ambitions,” he told reporters during the flight to Japan.

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Abe’s close aide, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, reiterated Japan’s tough stance. “We must not be fooled by North Korea’s ‘smile diplomacy’,” Suga said.

North Korea test-fired ballistic missiles over Japan last year, as well as a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that climbed to an altitude of more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles) before splashing into the sea within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Concern about North Korea is pushing Japan to update its missile defense. Besides extending the range and increasing the accuracy of its Patriot system, it will add two U.S.-made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors and plans to add to its arsenal air-fired cruise missiles that can strike North Korean missile sites.

Pence was likely to stress the need for close coordination among the United States, Japan and South Korea over the North’s threat at a time when ties between Seoul and Tokyo have been frayed by the bitter legacy of a history that includes Japan’s 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean peninsula.

He will also meet Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as deputy premier and is Pence’s counterpart in economic talks, although trade friction is expected to take a backseat to security during his visit.

Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Paul Tait

Four Powerful Countries Plan Resistance To China in the South China Sea

February 5, 2018
By Ralph Jennings
U.S. Navy Adm. Harry Harris, left, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Navy Vice Adm. David Johnston take part in a ceremony marking the start of Talisman Saber 2017, a biennial joint military exercise.

U.S. Navy Adm. Harry Harris, left, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Navy Vice Adm. David Johnston take part in a ceremony marking the start of Talisman Saber 2017, a biennial joint military exercise.

A bloc of four powerful, Western-allied nations, intent on keeping the South China Sea open for international use despite growing Chinese control, will probably issue stern statements, help China’s maritime rivals and hold joint naval exercises near the contested waterway this year, analysts say.

Australia, India, Japan and the United States, a group known as the quad, are most likely to take those measures rather than directly challenging Chinese claims such as its military installations among the sea’s 500 small islets.

“Number one, presence is probably going be driven by the U.S.,” said Stuart Orr, professor of strategic management at Deakin University in Australia. “If I were to take a guess, I would say probably follow that by India, with Japan taking a little bit more of the same role as Australia does, at providing high-level logistical support.”

The quad countries want to keep the 3.5 million-square-kilometer, resource-rich sea open while protecting their own economic ties with Beijing, say experts who follow the issue. Multiple countries ship, fish and explore for oil in the South China Sea today.

Cautionary pronouncements

Heads of state from the four-way alliance met in Manila in November to discuss keeping the sea open. Australia and Japan separately called then for “rules-based order” and “respect for international law” in the sea.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told leaders from 10 Southeast Asian countries, including four that compete with China for maritime sovereignty, January 26 that India was committed to working together more on maritime matters.

Expect more statements designed to keep China on guard, analysts say.

“I think the most concrete thing they can do is to issue some statements on the South China Sea dispute, and even then I believe that China might not even be explicitly named in such a statement,” said Ben Ho, senior analyst with the Military Studies Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

World leaders at the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines.

World leaders at the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines.

China calls about 90 percent of the sea its own. Chinese expansion since 2010 has irritated rival claimants Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Those governments, all militarily weaker than Beijing, bristle when China fortifies disputed islets for military use and passes coast guard ships through contested waters.

Beijing says historical records prove its claim to the sea, an argument rejected in 2016 by a world arbitration court.

Joint military exercises

Combinations of the four countries might pass naval vessels through the South China Sea, especially along its perimeters or the coastal waters of smaller countries that want help resisting Chinese vessels, experts say.

The United States, the world’s top military power, has sent naval vessels to the South China Sea five times under President Donald Trump, extending a practice under his predecessor to assert Washington’s view that the sea should allow freedom of navigation.

Japan may follow as it tries to “break out of its self-imposed restraints,” said Oh Ei Sun, international studies instructor at Singapore Nanyang University.

Tokyo passed a helicopter carrier through the disputed sea in June 2017. Japan vies with China over tracts of the East China Sea, as well. Leaders are in Tokyo are studying constitutional changes to give the armed forces more power.

“You will see Japan trying to make more frequent port calls and indeed join military exercises, providing training and so on to these nations,” Oh said.

India and Australia would support any military movement aimed at warning China, analysts say. Australia could become a place to monitor “what’s going on” and become a platform for any follow-up, Orr said.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd arrives off the coast of India in preparation for Malabar 2017, a series of exercises between the Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and U.S. Navy.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd arrives off the coast of India in preparation for Malabar 2017, a series of exercises between the Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and U.S. Navy.

India will make port calls and join any naval patrols with other countries, said Sameer Lalwani, deputy director for U.S. think tank The Stimson Center’s South Asia program. India vies with China for geopolitical control in south and central Asia.

“India could also enhance the number of military exercises, both national and joint with other countries to improve proficiency, enhance cooperation, and signal capabilities,” Lalwani said. “Obviously more visible cooperation with the United States would send an even stronger message.”

Arms supplies

Japan will “continue to bolster the capacities” of allied Asian countries, said Stephen Nagy, senior associate professor in politics and international studies at International Christian University in Tokyo.

Expect military training, new equipment and two naval destroyer visits this year to Vietnam “as a message that their relations are deepening,” he said.

Vietnam has been the most aggressive South China Sea claimant aside from China. In January 2017 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to provide six patrol boats for Vietnam’s coast guard. The U.S. government is also planning to let one of its aircraft carriers visit the Southeast Asian country this year.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, right, waves to reporters at a meeting during the ASEAN Summit at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Nov. 13, 2017.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, right, waves to reporters at a meeting during the ASEAN Summit at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Nov. 13, 2017.

“With the U.S. sending ships as well, Vietnam and other countries are being courted for more security partnerships,” Nagy said.

India has previously helped Vietnam explore the sea for oil. It may look to the quad for chances to grow its economy, technology and foreign relations, experts believe.

Chinese reaction

China is expected to react to the quad one act at a time. If they make statements, China will use words in return, Ho said. If the other countries hold military exercises, China might double down on fortifying the islets it holds now in the Paracel and Spratly chains.

India and Japan are unlikely to push too hard overall as they grapple with their own disputes involving China, Ho said. India and China contest two tracts of their mountainous land border.

China’s chief deterrent for the quad players may be its economic might. Australia, for example, counts China as its No. 1 trade partner, with a 27 percent increase in exports in 2016 and 2017, official Australian data show. A naval drill is unlikely, Ho said.

“I think Canberra has too much at stake in terms of economic links with Beijing to take such a drastic measure,” he said. “After all China is Australia’s top trading partner, both in terms of imports and exports, and Canberra will not do anything drastic to damage its relationship.”



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China has no greater rights than any other in the sea. China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Hopes for talks grow with North Korea’s ceremonial leader to visit South Korea for Olympics — A “very tricky situation”

February 5, 2018

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s ceremonial leader will make an unprecedented visit to South Korea this week, officials said on Monday, as hopes grow for high-level inter-Korean talks during the Winter Olympics that begin in four days.

 Kim Yong-nam is the ceremonial head of state in North Korea

FILE PHOTO: Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea (L), attends the 17th Non-Aligned Summit in Porlamar, Venezuela September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File photo

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency confirmed on Monday that Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, would attend the Olympics’ opening ceremony on Friday in South Korea’s alpine resort town of Pyeongchang.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said on Sunday Kim would lead a 22-strong delegation that was expected to arrive in South Korea on Friday for a three-day trip.

Kim’s visit comes as Seoul pins its hopes on high-level talks during the Feb. 9-25 Games between not only the two Koreas but also the North and the United States.

The South’s presidential Blue House in Seoul said the visit by Kim, the most senior North Korean official to cross the border into the South since the Korean War ended with a truce in 1953, would create “various opportunities” for high-level talks.

“(Kim’s visit) shows North Korea’s resolve for improved inter-Korean relations and the success of the Olympics, as well as its sincere, earnest attitude,” Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing on Monday.

The Games opening ceremony will also be attended by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other world leaders.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in told his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in a phone call on Friday that the momentum of improved North-South relations would continue and that Pence’s visit would be an “important prelude for that”, according to the Blue House.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, followed by Kim Yong-nam 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, followed by Kim Yong-nam  CREDIT:  ED JONES SOURCE: AFP/ ED JONES

Trump said during a meeting with North Korean defectors on Friday that, despite a “very tricky situation”, North Korea’s participation in the Olympics could result in “something good”.

However, a White House official has said Pence planned to use his attendance to counter what he sees as Pyongyang’s efforts to “hijack” the Olympics with a propaganda campaign.


A North Korean art troupe would also likely travel by ship to perform during the Olympics under an exemption from bilateral sanctions, the South’s Unification Ministry said on Monday.With performances set for later this week, the North proposed on Sunday that the art troupe use a ferry for transportation and lodging, according to the Unification Ministry.

South Korea banned all North Korean ships from entering its ports in May 2010 and cut off most inter-Korean exchanges, including tourism, trade and aid, in response to a torpedo attack by the North on a navy ship that killed 46 sailors.

The Unification Ministry said no final decision had been made but it was in consultation with Washington and others to temporarily lift the ban to facilitate the North’s proposal.

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Workers install Olympic Rings at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre in Pyeongchang, South Korea, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

“We’re seeking to apply an exemption for the May (2010) measures to support a successful hosting of the Olympics,” ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a news briefing.

The North used the ship, the Mangyongbong 92, for similar purposes during the 2002 Asian Games in the South Korean port city of Busan. The ship now chiefly operates between North Korea and Russia.

The North had initially asked that the art troupe be allowed to cross the border by foot via Panmunjom, located in the demilitarized zone where a North Korean soldier staged a daring defection to the South in November.

The orchestra is scheduled to perform at Gangneung, near Pyeongchang, on Thursday and in the capital, Seoul, on Sunday.


A lawmaker in Seoul said some 36,000 foreigners had been banned from entering South Korea, including people connected with extremist groups such as Islamic State, to ensure security during the Games.

Lawmaker Yi Wan-young told reporters of the ban after being briefed by the nation’s spy agency on Monday. Yi said around 60,000 security personnel would guard Olympics venues.

Kim is North Korea’s nominal head of state, while the reclusive country is ruled by Kim Jong Un, the third-generation hereditary leader.

Kim Yong Nam also attended the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

He is not blacklisted by the United Nations or the United States because he is not involved in the North’s illicit nuclear and missile programs or associated with related research institutes.

In 2014, Pyongyang sent Choe Ryong Hae, a close aide to Kim Jong Un, as part of a high-level delegation to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Choe is subject to unilateral sanctions imposed by South Korea in 2016.

“Kim Yong Nam has little influence in North Korean internal politics, inter-Korean affairs or the nuclear issues, but has mainly been taking charge of summit diplomacy,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute think tank.

“This time, if he gets to meet Moon, he could convey Kim Jong Un’s message or invitation to Pyongyang,” Cheong said.

Tentative moves to improve China-Japan ties hit after Chinese nuclear submarine passes near disputed islands — “We urge Japan to stop stirring up trouble on the Diaoyu islands issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said

January 16, 2018

By Walter Sim
The Straits Times
January 16, 2018

TOKYO – The unprecedented entry of a Chinese advanced stealth nuclear submarine into waters near islets contested by Japan and China in the East China Sea has jeopardised tentative moves to improve bilateral ties.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera on Monday (Jan 15) slammed the Chinese action last Thursday as one that “unilaterally raises tensions”. Beijing, however, said that it was merely tracking and monitoring two Japanese naval ships passing through the area.

The Chinese submarine has been identified as a new Shang-class vessel that is 110m long and has a displacement of 6,100 tons. It can be equipped with torpedoes and cruise missiles longer in range than on conventional submarines.

In a separate incident on Monday, three China Coast Guard patrol vessels entered the territorial waters around the islets known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. It was the second such incident this year with the first occuring last Sunday (Jan 7).

Tokyo has lodged protests against these “incursions”, prompting Beijing to retort that it does not accept these representations as it considers the islets as Chinese territory.

“We urge Japan to stop stirring up trouble on the Diaoyu islands issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing on Monday, in response to questions posed by Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

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Earlier at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga had described the Senkaku islands as “Japan’s inherent territory legally and historically”. He also said the spate of incidents recently was “extremely regrettable”.

Last week, Mr Suga reaffirmed that Japan would “resolutely defend its land, territorial waters and airspace”, while handling the situation “firmly and calmly”.

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“We urge Japan to stop stirring up trouble on the Diaoyu islands issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing on Monday

Waters surrounding the uninhabited islets, which are administered by Japan, are said to be rich in oil and natural resources. The islets have, time and again, caused tensions between China and Japan and the latest incidents have come as ties were improving. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed a “fresh start” to relations in rare bilateral talks last November.

Last Thursday’s incident marked the first time since June 2016 that a Chinese military vessel had entered the so-called “contiguous zone” around the disputed islets. It also marked the first time that a nuclear submarine entered the area.

Mr Onodera, speaking to reporters on Monday, said: “Such nuclear-powered submarines are difficult to detect because they can remain far beneath the surface for extended lengths of time. We’ll keep our guard up to respond swiftly if a similar incident happens.”

Mr Suga, for his part, stressed on Monday the urgency to step up bilateral efforts to realise an air and maritime communication mechanism to avoid an accidental conflict in and over the East China Sea.

A nation’s “territorial waters” refer to an area extending out 12 nautical miles from the coast, while the “contiguous zone” refers to the band of water in an area between 12 and 24 nautical miles from land.

The submarine’s movement through the contiguous zone does not contravene international law. Beijing’s Ministry of National Defence had voiced “strong discontent with Japanese efforts to sensationalise a legitimate action by the Chinese navy”.

Nonetheless, Japan’s conservative daily Yomiuri Shimbun slammed the Chinese action as one that, while legal, “needlessly raises tensions” and said it was “unacceptable from the viewpoint of security”. It added that China’s unilateral claims over the islands were “irrelevant”.

Emeritus professor Shinya Murase of Tokyo’s Sophia University observed that Chinese ships had periodically entered Japanese waters as a means to “demonstrate its position that the islets belong to China”.

“Intrusion into territorial waters by the coast guard vessels is clearly a violation of the state’s sovereignty,” added Dr Murase, who is a visiting professor at China’s Peking University and is a member of the United Nations International Law Commission.

He said that China ought to resolve the issue by peaceful means, such as taking its claims up at the International Court of Justice.

The University of Tokyo’s Dr Shin Kawashima, who studies Sino-Japan ties, said the entry of a nuclear submarine into waters near the disputed islands marked a “new phase in Chinese escalation”.

He added: “China is sending a message to Japan that while on the one hand, it is willing to improve bilateral ties, on the other it will not loosen its stance on territorial and security issues in the East China Sea.”

Russia accuses US of breaking treaty by offering ‘Aegis Ashore’ defense system to Japan

December 30, 2017


© AFP | Japan has approved the installation of two Aegis Ashore missile defence systems to defend the country against North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov on Saturday accused the United States of violating a key arms treaty by selling a missile defence system to Japan.”The US is deploying them (missile defence systems) at their military bases in Romania and Poland, that is near our western borders, which goes against the 1987 INF Treaty banning the deployment of such systems on the ground,” Ryabkov said in a statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.

“The fact that such complexes could now appear on Russia’s eastern borders creates a situation that we cannot ignore in our military planning,” said Ryabkov.

On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the deployment of the US missile defence system would have a negative impact on relations between Tokyo and Moscow.

“We consider the step made by the Japanese side as going against efforts of ensuring peace and stability in the region,” Zakharova said, adding that Moscow has “deep regret and serious concern” over the move.

On December 19, the Japanese government approved the installation of two land-based US-made Aegis Ashore missile defence systems to defend the country against North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats.

Japan plans to increase its budget defence for the next fiscal year to strengthen its missile defence against the threat posed by its neighbour.

Earlier this month Japan’s defence minister, Itsunori Onodera, said the country plans to purchase long-range cruise missiles with a range of some 900 kilometres (560 miles) from US firms.

The move is controversial as Japan’s pacifist constitution bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes.

After North Korea launched a missile over Japan’s Hokkaido island in September, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would “never tolerate” North Korea’s “dangerous provocative action” and has urged the international community to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang.

North Korea has threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea.

Global anxiety about North Korea has steadily risen this year, with Washington calling on other UN members to cut ties with Pyongyang in order to squeeze the secretive regime.

The call, however, has fallen short of persuading key North Korea backers China and Russia to take steps to isolate the regime.

South Korea says ‘comfort women’ row with Japan unresolved despite 2015 deal — “The agreement failed to sufficiently reflect a victim-oriented approach” — Wounds that never heal

December 27, 2017


SEOUL (Reuters) – A 2015 deal with Japan over South Korean “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels failed to meet the victims’ needs, South Korea said on Wednesday, throwing ties into doubt as both countries seek to rein in North Korea.

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South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha speaks before a briefing of a special task force for investigating the 2015 South Korea-Japan agreement over South Korea’s “comfort women” issue at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea December 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool Reuters

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha apologized for the controversial deal as a panel appointed by her in July to investigate the negotiations leading up to the agreement unveiled its results.

“I apologize for giving wounds of the heart to the victims, their families, civil society that support them and all other people because the agreement failed to sufficiently reflect a victim-oriented approach, which is the universal standard in resolving human rights issues,” Kang told a news conference.

Under the deal, endorsed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s predecessor and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan apologized to former comfort women and provided 1 billion yen ($8.8 million) to a fund to help them.

The two governments agreed the issue would be “irreversibly resolved” if both fulfilled their obligations.

But Moon has said the South Korean people did not accept the deal.

The investigation concluded that the dispute over the comfort women, a Japanese euphemism for the girls and women, many of them Korean, forced to work in wartime brothels, could not be “fundamentally resolved” because the victims’ demand for Japan’s legal compensation had not been met.

South Korean former ‘comfort women’ Gil Won-Ok (L) and Kim Bok-Dong (C), who were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during the second world war. File photo: AFP

Tokyo says the matter of compensation for the women was settled under a 1965 treaty with Seoul.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the agreement that the issue had been resolved “finally and irreversibly” had been confirmed by both governments.

“It is extremely important that this agreement be steadily implemented,” Suga told a regular news conference before the report had been released.

“The government will continue tenaciously to urge the South Korean side at every opportunity to steadily implement this agreement.”

 A child touches a statue symbolising comfort women after it was unveiled in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, South Korea. Photo: EPA

South Korea and Japan are key to international efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs that it pursues in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The comfort women issue has been a regular cause for contention between Japan and neighbors China and North and South Korea since the war.

Japan colonized the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945 and occupied parts of China before and during World War Two.

The South Korean government will review the result of the investigation and translate it into policy after consulting victims and civic groups that support them, Kang added.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Editing by Nick Macfie

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