Posts Tagged ‘Senkaku Islands’

U.S. Pacific commander visits Japanese East China Sea listening post

May 18, 2017


Wed May 17, 2017 | 4:41pm EDT



China upset as Japanese minister visits self-ruled Taiwan — Most senior Japanese gov’t official in 45 years visits Taiwan — “Nothing China hates more than anybody talking to Taiwan…”

March 27, 2017

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Senior Vice Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Jiro Akama

Most senior Japanese official in 45 years pays visit to Taiwan

Senior Vice Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Jiro Akama visited Taiwan on Saturday, becoming the most senior government official to visit the island since the two sides severed diplomatic ties in 1972.

Although Akama is in Taiwan to attend a two-day event promoting Japanese culture and tourism, some expressed concern that his visit is likely to upset China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting unification, by force if necessary.

Welcoming Akama to Taiwan, Chiou I-jen, president of the Association of East Asian Relations, Taiwan’s semi-official agency for handling relations with Japan, said at the opening ceremony for the event that “it was not easy” for Akama to make the trip and that he had to “go through many difficulties.”

“Both Taiwan and Japan face many difficulties,” Chiou said. “But because we both face the same difficulties, it only shows how closely connected we are.”

Later, when asked about the difficulties he meant, he replied: “Isn’t that a rhetorical question?” Asked whether he could mention the obvious answer, he gave his trademark smile and said, “I will not tell.”

Through a translator, Akama avoided similar questions but acknowledged that Japanese officials sometimes encounter difficulties if they have to travel abroad.

When asked whether he received any pressure from China before making the trip, Akama said, “There was no big problem” but added it was rather difficult that he had to “factor in many international situations before making the final decision,” without elaborating.

Akama also urged the Taiwanese media to promote Japanese tourism and food.

He said he hopes his visit will help the Taiwanese public better understand that many food products from the region hit hardest by the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis have passed strict examinations and are safe to consume.

Taiwan and Japan continue to enjoy a close relationship despite the lack of official ties. Since severing diplomatic relations in 1972, the two sides have signed more than 60 trade deals, including a landmark fisheries agreement inked in April 2013 to mollify Taipei after Japan effectively nationalized the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed as Tiaoyutai by Taiwan and Diaoyu by China.

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Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China

Since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May last year, her administration has expressed hope of bringing bilateral relations to a higher level.

In January, Japan’s de facto diplomatic establishment, the Interchange Association, changed its name to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association. It was not surprising that the move angered Beijing, which urged Japan to uphold the “One China” principle, refrain from creating new disturbances in China-Japan ties and from sending a wrong message to Taiwan and the international community.

To reciprocate Japan’s goodwill, Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lee revealed earlier this month that Taiwan will change the name of the ministry-linked Association of East Asian Relations.

The ministry has also been negotiating with Tokyo on changing the name of Taiwan’s representative office in Japan, Lee said.



Mon Mar 27, 2017 | 4:20am EDT

China said on Monday it has complained to Japan after a Japanese minister visited self-ruled Taiwan over the weekend, warning this could hurt relations between Beijing and Tokyo.

Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said Deputy Minister Jiro Akama went to Taiwan to attend a tourism promotion event in his official capacity, leaving Japan last Friday and returning the following day.

Japanese media said Akama was the highest-level government official to officially visit Taiwan since Japan broke diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1972 and established them with Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the visit clearly ran contrary to Japan’s promises to only have non-governmental and local level exchanges with Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province.

“China is resolutely opposed to this and has already made solemn representations to Japan,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

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Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry

Japan has said it respects its promises on the Taiwan but actually it has been provocative, she added.

“This has caused serious disturbance to the improvement of Sino-Japanese ties.”

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a civil war with the Communists. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Taiwan is a core interest of China’s that can’t be challenged and Japan should recognize the seriousness of it, stop being “two-faced” and not go any further down the wrong path, Hua said.

Japanese broadcaster NHK showed Akama arriving at Taipei airport, telling reporters there will be no change in Japan-China or Japan-Taiwan ties.

China expressed dissatisfaction in December after Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan said it would change its name to include the word Taiwan.

Japan, like most countries in the world, maintains only informal relations with Taiwan while it has diplomatic, if uneasy, ties with Beijing.

Beijing has repeatedly urged Japan to show greater repentance for World War Two atrocities and the two sides have a festering territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

However, Japan’s 1895-1945 rule in Taiwan is seen by some as having been good for the island’s development, unlike perceptions of Japan in other parts of Asia, particularly in China and Korea, which are often deeply negative.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Ami Miyazaki in Tokyo; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Philippines Prepares Protest vs China Over South China Sea Island Grab

March 21, 2017
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the administration’s planned course of action was in accordance with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s suggestion that a strong formal protest against Beijing be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is preparing to formally protest China’s plan to install a radar station at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in violation of a ruling by a United Nations-backed international tribunal declaring the shoal a common fishing ground outside any country’s jurisdiction.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the administration’s planned course of action was in accordance with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s suggestion that a strong formal protest against Beijing be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague.

“I think so, there will be (a protest to be filed). Medyo malakas-lakas ang ifa-file (A stronger one will be filed),” Aguirre said when asked about the issue in a chance interview.

Aguirre’s statement came on the heels of President Duterte’s voicing helplessness against China’s continued buildup of its forces in waters within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

But Aguirre assured the public that Duterte is committed to protect and defend the nation’s sovereignty despite the latter’s pronouncement that he could not stop China from building a structure at the shoal. “Definitely, he will not let go of (Panatag shoal),” Aguirre stressed.

“As a matter of fact, we are strengthening the relationship with the US,” Aguirre pointed out, indicating a potential shift from Duterte’s earlier declaration of separation from the US and a pivot to China.

The filing of a protest was among the five-point strategy suggested by Carpio for dealing with China’s reported plan to set up facilities at Panatag shoal.

The SC justice has also suggested sending Philippine Navy vessels to the shoal.

“If the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, then invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty which covers any armed attack on Philippine Navy vessels operating in the South China Sea,” he pointed out.

Carpio also stressed the government may ask the US to declare the shoal part of Philippine territory and accept the superpower’s offer to hold joint patrols in the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

The SC magistrate also advised Duterte to “avoid any act, statement or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.”

Carpio stressed that Panatag is part of the national territory under Republic Act No. 9522 (Philippine Baselines Law) and that President Duterte has the constitutional duty to defend it from China’s incursion.

He earlier warned that the installation of a radar system at the Panatag shoal will complete China’s air defense identification zone in the South China Sea.

In 2012, the Chinese seized the Panatag Shoal after a tense standoff with Philippine Navy personnel who had tried to arrest Chinese poachers in the area. The poachers were allowed to return to China with their illegal harvest of baby sharks, endangered corals and giant clams. The Chinese have never left the shoal since then.

A ruling in July last year by the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague upheld the Philippines’ entitlements in the West Philippine Sea but declared Panatag a common fishing ground. The shoal is only about 230 kilometers from the nearest coast in Luzon and close to 2,700 kilometers from China’s nearest coast in Hainan.

Defending sovereignty

At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made it clear Duterte has not surrendered the country’s sovereignty over Panatag Shoal or any other area within the country’s EEZ either seized or being coveted by China.

“He has said time and again that he will defend and protect the interests of the Filipino people and will take necessary action at a time most fitting and advantageous to us,” Abella said.

“Furthermore, PRRD has repeatedly asserted that RP is not giving up its claims and our entitlements over the area,” Abella said, referring to Duterte by his presidential initials.

He noted even China has not issued an official stand on reports it was preparing to build a radar station at Panatag Shoal. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), he said, is verifying such reports.

“The DFA is in the process of verifying alleged announcements of proposals to build structures in WPS (West Philippine Sea), since these statements do not reflect the official position of China,” he said.

Duterte earlier declared that the Philippines – with its weak armed forces – cannot stop Beijing from building a radar station at Panatag Shoal.

This prompted Carpio to remind Duterte of his constitutional duty to defend the country from Chinese incursion.

Panatag is part of the national territory, Carpio pointed out, as stipulated under the Philippine Baselines Law.

In his speech in Myanmar Monday, Duterte again ruled out invoking the UN arbitration ruling when dealing with Beijing. But he also vowed to raise the matter if and when China starts extracting mineral resources like oil or uranium in disputed areas.

“Now, if China starts getting oil or uranium or whatever that’s inside the bowels of the sea, I will do something and tell them, ‘We own it. You claim it by historical right, by judgment I won and it’s mine,’” he said.

Duterte also stressed he would not send forces to confront the Chinese in disputed areas to avoid bloodshed.

“First hour, they are finished already. We are not in a position to declare war,” he said.

“But I said to China that someday during my term as President, I will have to confront you about the arbitral ruling and that would be maybe, during the time when you begin to extract minerals and the riches of what is inside the bowels of the earth,” Duterte added.

Not defenseless

Meanwhile, the lawmaker who filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte has asked the President not to portray the country as defenseless against China’s maritime incursion.

“His statement that we cannot do anything is not true. In fact, we have a lot of non-military and non-confrontational options. He just doesn’t want to do them,” Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo said.

During the campaign, then candidate Duterte said if the Chinese intruded into Panatag, he would rush there in a jet ski to confront the intruders.

Alejano has described as “treason” the President’s admission that he had allowed a Chinese research ship to survey Benham Rise, which is part of the country’s territory.

He said Duterte’s statement on China’s building plan at Panatag Shoal “is a defeatist narrative fitting squarely to what China wants us to feel.”

The lawmaker advised the President to listen to Carpio and revisit various recommendations proposed in the past by national leaders and security officials to address Chinese intrusions into Philippine waters.

“He can consult his national security team and other leaders,” he added.

Alejano lamented the Duterte administration is speaking with discordant voices in dealing with China.

He noted that while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has denounced the presence of China’s research ship in Benham Rise, the President admitted he had allowed it without informing his defense chief.

Alejano urged the President to send the Coast Guard or even the Navy to patrol the Panatag Shoal area.

“The shoal is located 230 kilometers from Luzon, while it is 2,659 kilometers away from the Chinese mainland. Logistically, the replenishing of supplies such as food and fuel will be a challenge for China, not so for our troops since it is closer to our shores,” he said.

“We can strategically deploy and train our fishermen to utilize the natural resources in the area. We could provide them with study vessels and advanced communication system so that we could aid or defend them should they be threatened by Chinese ships,” he said.

He said Duterte should learn a lesson or two from Vietnam in protecting the country’s interest.

Alejano recalled that in one confrontation with China near the disputed Paracels, Vietnam lost several troops.

The former Marine captain said the country could also invoke its security alliance with the United States, Japan and Australia.

In case of a shooting war, he said he would be “more than willing to fight for our country.”

The military, for its part, said it is ready to deploy a navy ship – recently acquired from the US – to conduct oceanographic survey of Benham Rise.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief, said they are just awaiting a written order from Lorenzana or from the President for the deployment of BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702) to Benham Rise.

“We have one survey vessel and the Philippine Navy has the capability to do maritime research, but so far we don’t have the instructions,” Arevalo said. The other survey vessel acquired from the US was BRP Andres Bonifacio.  – With Christina Mendez, Jaime Laude


 (Contains links to several previos articles on the South China Sea)

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Rodrigo Duterte And Kim Jong-un Save Peace In South China Sea, But For How Much Longer?

March 21, 2017

I cover global markets, business and investment strategy

Duterte said. Photographer: Veejay Villafranca/Bloomberg

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s flip-flops and North Korea’s leader Kim Jongun’s missile tests have saved South China Sea peace, for now, as both major players in the disputes China and the US have been softening their tone lately.

That’s good news for investors in the equities of the region, as it lowers geopolitical risks. And that may sound paradoxical to some. How is it that Duterte’s flip-flops and Kim Jong-un’s missile firings can advance peace in South China Sea?

By changing the parameters of the game for China and the US.

ETF/Fund 3-month Performance (%) 12-month Performance (%)
iShares MSCI iShares China  (FXI) 4.58 17.64
VanEck Vectors Vietnam ETF (VNM) 9.34 -2.81
iShares MSCI Philippines (EPHE) -7.28 -5.14
iShares MSCI Emerging Markets 14.08 17.47

Source:  3/20/2017

Last July Philippines and its close ally, the U.S., won an international arbitration ruling that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea. Yet Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte shocked the global community and financial markets by siding with China on the dispute, and seeking a “divorce” from the U.S. Duterte’s flip-flop left the US without a key ally to advance its cause in South China Sea, and therefore, no choice but to soften its tone.

Never mind that China continues its activities around the Scarborough Shoal. “So what do you want me to do? Declare war against China?” Duterte quoted in Chinatopix asking reporters. “I can but we’ll lose all our military and policemen tomorrow, and we are a destroyed nation. And we cannot assert even a single sentence of any provision that we signed.”  

Then came Kim Jongun’s missile tests to change America’s foreign policy priorities placing the Korean Peninsula and the containment of North Korea ahead of South China Sea; and China can make the difference as to whether America achieves this objective. This means that Washington must appease rather than antagonize Beijing at this point.

While Duterte’s flip flops and Kim Jongun’s missile tests have saved peace for the time being, it’s hard to see how they will save peace in the future, as both leaders are unpredictable.  

That’s why investors should constantly keep an eye on the geopolitical risks in the South China Sea region markets.


Philippines: Supreme Court Judge says the President is constitutionally mandated to defend the national territory — As China lurks in the West Philippine Sea

March 20, 2017
By: – Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 12:20 AM March 21, 2017
Supreme court Snr. Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Supreme court Snr. Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (CDN FILE PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

President Duterte should file a strong protest to block China’s plan to build on Panatag Shoal, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Monday.

Carpio, a member of the legal team that successfully argued the Philippines’ challenge to China’s claim to nearly all of the South China Sea before the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last year, offered an unsolicited advice to Mr. Duterte after the President said he could not stop Beijing from building permanent structures on Panatag Shoal.

Carpio said the President had at least five options in dealing with China’s provocative actions and incursions into Philippine territory in the South China Sea.

As Commander in Chief of the military, the President is constitutionally mandated to defend the national territory, Carpio said.

“Under RA (Republic Act) No. 9522, Scarborough Shoal is part of [the] Philippine national territory,” he said, referring to the law enacted by Congress in 2008 that established the country’s archipelagic baseline.

The same law declared Panatag Shoal and the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the Spratlys group parts of the Philippines’ territory as defined under Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Panatag Shoal, internationally known as Scarborough Shoal, is a rich fishing ground located 230 kilometers west of the coast of Zambales province, well within the 370-km exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines known as the West Philippine Sea.

Monitoring station

Xiao Jie, the top Communist Party official in Sansha City that has administered China’s South China Sea claims since 2012, was quoted in the official Hainan Daily on Friday as saying that preparations were under way to build an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal.

The preparatory work on the station and others on five other islands in the South China Sea is among the top priorities of China for 2017, Xiao said.

On Sunday, Mr. Duterte said he could not stop China from building on Panatag Shoal because it was too powerful. “We cannot stop China from doing [these] things,” he told a news conference in Davao City before leaving for Burma (Myanmar).

“What do you want me to do, declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we [will be] a destroyed nation,” he said.

Strong protest

“Any statement that the Philippines cannot stop China from building on Scarborough Shoal actually encourages China to build on Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio warned.

He said “the least” Mr. Duterte could do was to lodge a “strong formal protest” against Beijing’s planned construction of an environmental monitoring station on Panatag.

He said Vietnam protested after a Chinese-registered private cruise ship set sail for the Paracels, a group of islands claimed by Hanoi that China, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim as their own.

Carpio said Mr. Duterte could also deploy a Philippine Navy ship to patrol Panatag Shoal and solicit the help of the United States, the Philippines’ oldest military ally, to generate military muscle.

“If the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, then invoke the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which covers any armed attack on Philippine Navy vessels operating in the South China Sea,” Carpio said.

Regarded as the “mother” of all military deals between the two countries, the August 1951 agreement stipulates that “an armed attack on either of the parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of either of the parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific Ocean, its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.”

Carpio said the Philippines may follow the lead of Japan and ask the United States to recognize Panatag Shoal as “part of Philippine territory for purposes” of invoking the MDT.

He pointed out that Tokyo had asked the United States to declare the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea “as part of Japanese territory for purposes of the US-Japan mutual defense treaty.”

“[Panatag Shoal] has been part of Philippine territory even during the American colonial period,” Carpio said.

Mr. Duterte, he said, may opt to consider the Americans’ invitation for the United States and the Philippines to conduct joint naval patrols in the South China Sea.

“This will demonstrate joint Philippine and US determination to prevent China from building on Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio said.

Carpio said Mr. Duterte should “avoid any act, statement or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.”

“This will preserve for future generations of Filipinos their national patrimony in the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Mr. Duterte, however, is unlikely to take the US option, having adopted an “independent foreign policy” to steer the Philippines away from US influence and called then US President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” for criticizing his brutal war on drugs.

He has also scaled back military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States and threatened to scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that allows US forces increased access to Philippine military bases.

Carpio had earlier warned that China’s reported construction project on Panatag Shoal was a prelude to its plan to limit air travel in the region by declaring an air defense identification zone.

“These developments call for a national debate, and consensus, on how the nation should proceed with its bilateral relations with China,” he said.

The Hague ruling

China seized Panatag Shoal after a two-month standoff with Philippine vessels in 2012, but The Hague court declared in July last year that China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea had no legal basis and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereignty and right to explore for resources in waters within its EEZ.

China rejected the ruling, insisting that it had “undisputed sovereignty” over the South China Sea but offered to settle rival claims through bilateral negotiations.

Besides China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan claim parts of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in global trade passes every year and where islets, reefs and atolls are believed to be sitting atop vast energy reserves.

Mr. Duterte, a self-styled socialist, upended Philippine foreign policy after winning presidential election last year by deferring assertion of The Hague ruling and making friendly overtures to China and Russia and distancing himself from the United States. —WITH REPORTS FROM AFP AND AP

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Japan-U.S. Ties key in Asia for President-elect Donald Trump — “Expect the Relationship To Change Some”

January 10, 2017


U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on December 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich


With U.S. President-elect Donald Trump set to take office on Jan 20, Japan and other Asian countries are closely watching whether he will modify his stance on alliances and give U.S. allies an early and unequivocal reassurance of Washington’s security commitments.

While Trump may request that Japan increase its share for the cost of stationing U.S. forces in the country, as he pledged during the presidential campaign, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to affirm the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance for peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

After meeting with Michael Flynn, the incoming U.S. national security adviser, on Jan 6 in Washington, Katsuyuki Kawai, a special adviser to Abe, said the two sides agreed to “deepen and expand” the alliance under the new U.S. administration.

Kawai and Flynn also affirmed Abe and Trump should meet as early as possible after Trump is sworn in, following recent news reports that Abe plans to visit Washington in late January for talks with Trump.

However, there are uncertainties in Japan about Trump’s commitment to the alliance, given his suggestion during the campaign that he would withdraw U.S. troops from Japan, South Korea and other allies if they do not pay more of the cost of stationing U.S. forces there.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (R) at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 17, 2016. Cabinet Public Relations Office/Handout via Reuters

“We defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia…they do not pay us,” the Republican businessman said during presidential debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton last year. “We can’t defend Japan, a behemoth, selling us cars by the million.”

Such rhetoric led some experts to suspect that Trump may possess the view that allies are more of a liability than an asset to U.S. interests.

In contrast, outgoing President Barack Obama has valued alliances. He said last month the Japan-U.S. alliance “stands as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and a force for progress around the globe.”

American experts suggest Trump reassure Japan of U.S. commitments under the bilateral security treaty soon after his inauguration, especially as the regional security situation has become tense amid China’s military buildup and assertive territorial claims in the East and South China seas, as well as perceived progress in North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development.

More specifically, they urged Trump to affirm, as Obama did unequivocally, that the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan, fall under Article 5 of the treaty.

The affirmation means the United States will defend Japan in the event of emergencies over the islands.

“It will be looked at very closely, I think, not just by Japan but by other players in the region including China as whether or not there is continuity in U.S. commitment toward Japan,” said Rust Deming, an adjunct professor of Japan studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Deming, a former deputy chief of mission of the United States to Japan, said that to underscore such continuity, he hopes new secretaries of state and defense will visit Japan at an early date after the launch of a Trump administration.

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President-elect Donald Trump stands with Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma as they walk to speak with reporters after a meeting at Trump Tower. Evan Vucci/AP Images
BABA Alibaba Grp Sp ADS

As for Trump’s repeated calls for Japan and other U.S. allies to contribute more to deployment costs for the U.S. military, or else defend themselves, Abe is expected to explain to Trump that Japan regards its sharing of about 75 percent of the cost of stationing U.S. troops in the country as an appropriate level.

“We should think that both Japan and the United States benefit from the role played by U.S. forces stationed in Japan,” Abe said at a parliamentary session in November. “U.S. forces in Japan are the key to Washington’s forward deployment strategy and serve to protect various U.S. interests.”

As if to bolster the prime minister’s view, a telephone poll conducted in Japan by Kyodo News in late November showed that 86.1 percent of respondents said they do not think Japan should pay more for hosting U.S. troops in the country.

Bruce Klingner, the senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank, stressed merits for the United States, as a Pacific nation, to maintain military presence in Japan and other parts of the economically dynamic region.

“It’s not only cheaper to have, in many cases, troops over there rather than here. But far more important than the dollar cost, they are there for our interest including maintaining peace and stability in Asia,” Klingner said.

“And you can’t put a cost on the deterrence that they have—wars they deter, provocative actions they deter.”


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North Korea tests a long range ballistic missile

Trump Navy will be biggest fleet expansion since the Cold War

Donald Trump is demanding an even larger naval fleet than what he had promoted on the campaign trail. The 355-ship proposal could require an additional $5bn to $5.5bn in annual spending in the Navy’s 30-year projection. The Navy currently has 274 deployable ships, still fewer than it’s old goal of 308 ships.

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, Coast Guard and Police Conduct Exercise to Manage Armed Fishermen Illegally Entering Japanese Waters

November 14, 2016


Armed personnel of Philippine and Japanese Coast Guards subdue a “suspect” during a combined maritime exercise by the two nations in the waters off Manila Bay, south of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, May 6, 2015. The joint Maritime Law Enforcement exercise, known as MARLEN, was witnessed by coast guard officials from Asian nations including China. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, Coast Guard and police have conducted their first joint drill to cope with illegal entry of armed fishermen on a remote island, a government source said.

The exercise, which wasn’t announced to the media, was held Friday on an island in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Tensions have been high with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, and Beijing has repeatedly sent vessels into Japan’s territorial waters around the disputed islets.

The Japan Coast Guard reported the latest incursion Saturday.

The source said the drill, aimed at increasing the coordination and capability of the police, Coast Guard and SDF, was not directed at any specific country or designed to simulate any location.

The three parties examined their collaboration based on a scenario that armed fishermen illegally landed on the island — a situation known as a “gray zone” incident that is short of an organized, premeditated attack by another country but one that poses a threat to Japanese sovereignty.

The exercise could trigger a protest from China as it came after Beijing agreed in September to accelerate discussions for an early introduction of a maritime and aerial communications mechanism designed to avoid unintended clashes in the East China Sea.

According to the source, dozens of personnel from each party participated in the drill on Eniyabanare in the Amami chain off Kagoshima. A helicopter and patrol vessel were also used.

Under the scenario, the Coast Guard restricted armed fishermen approaching by boats, while police and the SDF responded to fishermen who had landed on the island, the source said.

In July last year, the Coast Guard and Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted a drill in waters around Izu-Oshima Island south of Tokyo based on a gray zone scenario in which a foreign military vessel was spotted making suspicious movements in Japan’s territorial waters.

Japan Prepared to Offer Philippines USD 48.2 Million “Agricultural Development” Next Week — President Rodrigo Duterte Suggests Japan Join China-Philippines South China Sea Talks

October 23, 2016
In this photo, President Rodrigo Duterte met with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the first Dureza, File
TOKYO (Philippine News Agency) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is looking to offer ¥5 billion (USD 48.2 million) in loans when he meets with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte next week, bilateral diplomatic sources said Saturday.
The financial support is aimed at helping facilitate agricultural development in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, according to the sources.
Duterte, who will make his first visit to Japan on Tuesday, was a longtime mayor of Davao City.
The deal will come after Duterte’s four-day visit to China this week underlined the Philippines’ diplomatic shift to move closer to Beijing and away from Washington.

MANILA, Philippines – Depending on “developments,” President Rodrigo Duterte said future talks with China over maritime disputes in the South China Sea might include Japan.

“We (Philippines and China) will find the day to talk about it – only on the issue of the South China Sea. It could be bilateral. It depends on the developments. It could be multilateral, and that would include Japan,” Duterte said Friday night, October 21, during a press briefing in Davao City upon his arrival from Beijing.

“Those are what I suggested (to China) [that we can do] in the future,” Duterte said.

Duterte is visiting Japan next week, his 6th foreign destination as Philippine president. His statement Friday night was a response to a Japanese reporter who asked about the agenda in Japan. (READ: Duterte’s Japan visit to focus on investments, defense)

“We can only agree to talk peacefully to resolve the dispute and maybe come up with something that is good for everybody. Just maybe,” Duterte said.

Japan also has maritime disputes with China, particularly over the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands located west of Japan and east of China. Taiwan is also a claimant.

Based on their common alliance with the US, Japan and the Philippines stepped up security cooperation during the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III, donating ships to beef up the fleet of the Philippine Coast Guard.

In 2015, Philippine and Japanese navies flew together over the West Philippine Sea for the first time since the World War 2. The two countries also began talks on a possible visiting forces treaty that will allow Japanese troops in the Philippines.

How the new Duterte administration is going to proceed with plans under the former administration with respect to cooperation with Japan remains unclear as his administration pivots to China and away from the US.

Duterte’s state visit to China has resulted in, among others, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of  “joint coast guard committee on maritime cooperation.”

Duterte resumed bilateral relations with China, years after the previous administration froze communications lines because of China’s practical occupation of Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines filed and won an arbitration case against China to junk its blanket claim of historic rights over the seas.

Duterte gave assurances that he will not give up the country’s sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea amid concerns that his pivot to China will allow the military superpower to dominate the South China Sea.

“I told everybody and I told China, I cannot surrender anything there,” Duterte said.

Duterte said his visit to Japan will focus on economic cooperation.

“My talks with the Japanese government would really be solely on, most of it really, is economic cooperation and, of course, shared interests,” he said.

Duterte said he also wants to visit Japan’s Congress, the Diet. –

80% of Japanese fear military clash with China

September 15, 2016

Japan Today

Chinese demonstrators hold national flags while marching on a street during a protest against Japan in Chengdu, China, in September 2012. | AP


SEP 14, 2016

Will the waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands see a Sino-Japanese conflict? Eighty percent of Japanese think so.

A poll by the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based think tank, found 35 percent of Japanese respondents are “very concerned” and 45 percent “somewhat concerned” that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors — namely the Senkakus row — could erupt in conflict.

The isles, located about 400 km west of Okinawa’s main island, are administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan, which call them Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

Last month saw China send a record number of government ships — as many as 15 — and about 300 fishing boats close to waters near the islands. Some of the vessels were armed, a scene that has grown more common as Beijing has become more assertive in the area.

But while the survey found 80 percent of Japanese were worried, only 59 percent of Chinese voiced similar concerns.

China’s Xi Jinping and Japan’s Shinzo Abe — at a happy meeting on November 10, 2014.

“Notably, intense concern among the Japanese about a potential conflict is about twice that found among the Chinese,” the survey report said.

According to Tessa Morris-Suzuki, an East Asian specialist at Australian National University in Canberra, an underlying issue of these views is “a major power shift in East Asia” — with Japan becoming economically less dominant and China becoming economically and politically more powerful.

FILE- In this Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, file photo, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, poses with China's President Xi Jinping for a photo before a group photo session for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. Four years after they went into a nosedive, tense relations between China and Japan may finally be headed for a sustained return to some semblance of normalcy. Those hopes rest largely on a statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that it was time to “put aside disruptions" and bring ties “back on the normal track.” (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, poses with China’s President Xi Jinping for a photo on Sept. 4, 2016, before a group photo session for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. Four years after they went into a nosedive, tense relations between China and Japan may finally be headed for a sustained return to some semblance of normalcy. Those hopes rest largely on a statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping at a meeting Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that it was time to “put aside disruptions” and bring ties “back on the normal track.” (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)(The Associated Press)

“This creates uncertainty and provokes nationalist sentiments on both sides, as people in Japan feel anxiety at China’s rising power, and people in China feel that the rest of the world does not sufficiently respect their country’s newfound status,” Morris-Suzuki said.

Historical issues also remain an obstacle to improving Sino-Japanese relations, the survey noted.

More than 70 years after the end of World War II, the two nations have starkly differing perceptions of whether Japan has expressed adequate regret for its wartime behavior, it found.

It said 53 percent of Japanese respondents believe the country has sufficiently apologized for the country’s wartime acts during the 1930s and 1940s, when its military rampaged through much of Asia. That figure was up 13 percentage points from the 40 percent registered in a 2006 survey.

The Chinese, however, view the issue quite differently, with just 10 percent saying Japan has apologized enough.

Time also appears to heal old wounds — at least for Japanese.

Over the last decade, the proportion of the Japanese public that believes the country has not apologized sufficiently has dropped to 23 percent from 44 percent, the survey said.

This comes a little over a year after the 70th anniversary of World War II’s end last August, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose policies are seen as hawkish, issued a powerful statement upholding Japan’s past apologies for its wartime actions.

While expressing “deep remorse” over the war, the Abe statement referred to a “heartfelt apology” to the people of Asia for suffering caused by Japan’s “aggression” and “colonial rule.” The statement retained four key phrases used in a 1995 landmark statement issued by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.

Alexis Dudden, an expert on Japanese history and a professor at the University of Connecticut, said that despite his reiteration of Japan’s position on the war, Abe has increasingly ramped up the China threat theory and the country’s Senkaku claims “as the imminent danger to Japanese national existence — even while Chinese tourists keep alive many sectors of the Japanese economy.”

“With so many Japanese feeding on a daily television diet of Chinese ships sailing around what announcers unquestioningly repeat as ‘Japanese inherent territory,’ while at the same time hearing over and over how Chinese and other Asians continue to demand that Japan apologize for its belligerent behavior long, long ago, it is not at all surprising that general Japanese perceptions would increasingly head south as far as their feelings about their neighbors,” Dudden said.

This year’s survey found that 77 percent of Chinese respondents believe Japan has yet to adequately express regret — a figure that has remained largely unchanged since 2006. Just 10 percent believe Japan has apologized enough, the poll showed.

The survey also found that just 11 percent of Japanese respondents expressed a favorable opinion of China, while a mere 14 percent of Chinese said they have a positive view of Japan. In both countries positive views of the other have decreased since 2006, it added.

The survey pointed to stereotypes as the reason for the low figures.

“In the case of China and Japan, publics tend to hold largely negative stereotypes of one another,” it said.

“The Chinese and the Japanese see each other as violent. Roughly eight-in-10 Japanese describe the Chinese as arrogant, while seven-in-10 Chinese see the Japanese in that light,” it said. “Neither public sees the other as honest.”

According to Jessica Chen Weiss, an associate professor of government at Cornell University who has studied grass-roots nationalism in China, at least some of the blame lies with Beijing.

“Chinese state-run media and patriotic education are partly to blame for encouraging negative views and stereotypes of Japan,” Weiss said. “But there is also a grass-roots strain of anti-Japanese sentiment in China that has sometimes spilled into street protests.”

Morris-Suzuki concurred, noting that governments and political interest groups in both countries stir up these nationalist sentiments to shore up their own positions, a process that is often inflamed by mass media and by online media.

“Particularly since 2012 there has been a vicious cycle of such nationalist rhetoric in both China and Japan,” she said. “This has involved, on the Chinese side, reviving and reinforcing memories of Japan’s wartime aggression and, on the Japanese side, efforts to obscure or deny aspects of wartime history — which in turn provokes reactions from Japan’s Asian neighbors.”

The survey also found that something of a generation gap exists among the Japanese in their views of the Chinese, with Japanese animosity toward China varying by generation. Older Japanese — those 50 years old and over — are particularly unfavorable toward China, with 48 percent of respondents reporting a “very unfavorable” view. Japanese between 18 and 34 years old are less intensely negative, with 32 percent voicing the same view.

“Governments and other public institutions in both countries do not do enough to promote mutual understanding at the person-to-person level,” Australian National University’s Morris-Suzuki said.

“There are huge wasted opportunities. For example, very large numbers of Chinese tourists now visit Japan, but these visits seldom include real opportunities for personal encounters and interaction between Japanese and Chinese. Much more could be done to promote this interactions, particularly between young people.”

The survey of 1,000 Japanese was conducted between April 26 and May 29 using landline telephones and cellphones. The survey in China was conducted face-to-face with 3,154 people.



China Coast Guard — In this photo released by the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters of Japan, a Chinese coastguard vessel sails near the disputed islands in the East China Sea on August 6, 2016. Japan said this ship was watching over more than 200 Chinese fishing boats fishing illegally in Japanese waters. AP

Japan Upgrades Air Power To Counter China

August 23, 2016


22 Aug, 2016

Japan’s Defense Ministry wants its 200 F-15 fighter jets to carry twice as many air-to-air missiles as they do now, in a bid to prepare for a possible confrontation with Chinese Air Force around disputed East China Sea islands.

The Defense Ministry is likely to request more budgetary allocations to upgrade capabilities of its US-built F-15 fighter jets operated by Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF), Nikkei Asian Review reported on Sunday.
Read more
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer Kurama. © Toru Hanai‘Red line’: China warned Japan against joining US freedom of navigation stunts
These upgrades would double the number of air-to-air missiles carried by ASDF F-15s, from eight to 16 per each aircraft. In addition, damaged wings and other parts of the fighter jets will be repaired to extend their lifespan.

Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-15 fighter. Photo by Toru Hanai, Reuters
Currently, the Japanese Air Force operates 200 F-15s in combat and trainer variants as well as roughly 90 Mitsubishi F-2 multirole fighters, a development of F-16 design.
Japanese F-2 fighter

The 2017 military budget worth $51 billion will reportedly include a separate purchase of an undisclosed number of controversial fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jets, said to be deployed at the Misawa Airbase at the northern tip of Honshu, Japan’s main island.Tokyo says China’s “assertive” actions near the disputed Senkaku Islands – or Diaoyu in Chinese – makes Japan’s military to respond with re-deploying forces closer to the troubled area and investing into strengthening combat capabilities.

F-35 fighters

“As the cruising range of Chinese military aircraft has gotten longer, they are coming ever closer to our territories,” a Japanese Defense Ministry official was cited by Nikkei Asian Review.

The ministry also added the ASDF has been scrambling fighter jets 199 times from April until June to intercept Chinese planes over the East China Sea, a 75 percent increase from the same period last year.


Senkaku Islands