More than half of Chinese see war with Japan: poll

NATIONAL SEP. 11, 2014 – 06:50AM JST ( 25 )


A Japanese F-15 jet approaches a Chinese plane (out of frame) in a spot where the two countries’ air defense zones overlap, in June.AFP
TOKYO —

More than half of Chinese people think their country could go to war with Japan in the future, a new poll revealed Wednesday, after two years of intense diplomatic squabbles.

A survey conducted in both nations found that 53.4% of Chinese envisage a future conflict, with more than a fifth of those saying it would happen “within a few years”, while 29% of Japanese view military confrontation as a possibility.

The findings come ahead of the second anniversary Thursday of Japan’s nationalisation of disputed islands in the East China Sea that have formed the focus of tensions between the Asian giants.

Underlining the lingering row over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands, four Chinese coast guard vessels sailed into their territorial waters on Wednesday morning.

China regards them as its territory and calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

The survey was conducted by Japanese non-governmental organisation the Genron NPO and the China Daily, a Chinese state-run newspaper, in July and August.

It questioned 1,000 Japanese aged 18 or older and 1,539 Chinese of the same age range in five cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenyang and Xian. Continue reading “More than half of Chinese see war with Japan: poll”

Tank-commanding anime girls capture fans for SDF ( Japan )

–  decade ago, around one in 10 candidates said they wanted to be a soldier for love of country. These days it’s closer to one in three

TOKYO —

By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo Mar. 16, 2014 – 06:25AM JST

Being a soldier in Japan after World War Two was seen as a job for failed police recruits and unemployed youth from depressed rural towns. But as tension with China chips away at Japan’s postwar pacifism, the military is regaining its prestige – helped by a blitz of television dramas, movies and anime.

Patriotic zeal is now a more compelling reason to enlist. A decade ago, around one in 10 candidates said they wanted to be a soldier for love of country. These days it’s closer to one in three, according to recruitment data obtained by Reuters. Continue reading “Tank-commanding anime girls capture fans for SDF ( Japan )”

China Japan Diplomacy quickly crossing the Rubicon

China hits back at Abe over World War I analogy

Jan. 25, 2014 – 04:18PM JST

China hits back at Abe over World War I analogy
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on January 22, 2014 in MontreuxAFP

DAVOS —

China has hit back at Japan’s Prime Minister over a claim that current tensions in East Asia are akin to those between Britain and Germany on the eve of World War I.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he believed the analogy employed by Japanese premier Shinzo Abe was misplaced.

In the latest salvo in a simmering diplomatic spat, Wang also reiterated China’s anger over Abe’s recent visit to a shrine which honors the memory of 14 convicted war criminals along with millions of other Japanese war dead. Continue reading “China Japan Diplomacy quickly crossing the Rubicon”

China warns foreign military planes entering defense zone

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN

Jan. 25, 2014 – 06:46AM JST ( 14 )

BEIJING —

China said Friday it has begun issuing warnings to foreign military planes entering its self-declared air defense zone over the East China Sea amid heightened tensions with its neighbors, especially Japan.

Bitter rhetoric between the neighbors has spiked since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a late-December visit to a war shrine in Tokyo that outraged Beijing. Abe this week compared the tense relationship to the pre-World War I rivalry between Britain and Germany. Japanese officials say the comment was meant as a warning to avoid war. Continue reading “China warns foreign military planes entering defense zone”

Abe tells world to stand up to China or face consequences

 Jan. 23, 2014 – 06:55AM

Abe tells world to stand up to China or face consequences
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his special address at the opening session of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.AFP

DAVOS, Switzerland  —

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday told the world it must stand up to an increasingly assertive China or risk a regional conflict with catastrophic economic consequences.

In a landmark speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Abe issued what amounted to an appeal for international support in a potentially explosive dispute with its superpower neighbor over islands in the East China Sea.

“We must restrain military expansion in Asia … which otherwise could go unchecked,” Abe told the annual meeting of global business and political leaders, which Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due to attend on Friday. Continue reading “Abe tells world to stand up to China or face consequences”

Dropping ‘no-war’ pledge a part of Abe’s strategy

 

By CAI HONG, ZHOU WA and REN QI (China Daily) 08:41, January 20, 2014

Increases the bookmark digg Google Delicious buzz friendfeed Linkedin diigo stumbleupon Qzone QQ Microblog Experts say move represents another gesture embracing militarist past

A longtime no-war pledge has disappeared from Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s annual working policy revealed on Sunday, while the ruling party vowed to continue visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and push ahead constitutional revision, in another move leading the country in a far-right direction, observers said.

At its 81st LDP annual convention in Tokyo, the party removed the pledge that Japan would “never wage a war”, China Central Television reported on Sunday. Continue reading “Dropping ‘no-war’ pledge a part of Abe’s strategy”

China memorial to Korean assassin sparks Japan feud

Politics Jan. 20, 2014 – 02:59PM JST

China memorial to Korean assassin sparks Japan feud
South Korean conservative activists burn placards during a protest to complain against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting the Yasukuni war shrine, in Seoul on Dec 27.AFP

BEIJING —

A new Asian diplomatic row broke out Monday after China unveiled a memorial to a Korean national hero who assassinated a Japanese official a century ago—with Tokyo condemning him as a “terrorist”.

In 1909, Ahn Jung-Geun shot and killed Hirobumi Ito, Japan’s first prime minister and its top official in Japanese-occupied Korea, at the railway station in the northeast Chinese city of Harbin.

Ahn was hanged by Japanese forces the following year, when Korea also formally became a Japanese colony, heralding a brutal occupation that lasted until the end of World War II in 1945. Continue reading “China memorial to Korean assassin sparks Japan feud”

Chinese leaders will not speak with Abe / the Chinese people will certainly not welcome him

(Xinhua) 07:11, December 31, 2013

BEIJING, Dec. 30 — Chinese leaders will not have any dialogue with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said here Monday.

“In regard to such a Japanese leader, the Chinese people will certainly not welcome him, and the Chinese leaders will unquestionably not speak with him either,” Qin said at a regular press briefing.

Qin made the remarks in response to a question on whether China will allow Abe to visit China or whether Chinese leaders will meet with Abe.

“Abe has made wrong calculations on China-Japan relations and made one mistake after another,” Qin said. Continue reading “Chinese leaders will not speak with Abe / the Chinese people will certainly not welcome him”

China must retaliate for Japanese prime minister’s war shrine visit: official media

Official media warns China will become a ‘paper tiger’ if countermeasures against Japan are not taken over Yasukuni visit

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 December, 2013, 11:46am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 December, 2013, 12:16pm

Agence France-Presse in Beijing

abe_pek50_40011785.jpg

Japan’s ambassador to China Masato Kitera (centre) in Beijing after being summoned by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Photo: Reuters

China must take “excessive” counter-measures after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial war shrine visit, state-run media urged on Friday, reflecting the smouldering resentment among Chinese at its onetime invader. Continue reading “China must retaliate for Japanese prime minister’s war shrine visit: official media”

China bitterly attacks Japanese prime minister over air zone remarks / “The Diaoyus are an inherent territory of China. Japan’s seizure and occupation of the islands are illegal and invalid”

China bitterly attacks Japanese prime minister over air zone remarks

Shinzo Abe’s comments that Beijing is violating freedom of aviation are condemned as ‘malicious slander’

Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister

Staff and agencies in Beijing

theguardian.com, Sunday 15 December 2013 00.02 EST

 

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, at an Asean meeting in Tokyo where he criticised China’s air zone over islands claimed by both countries. Photograph: Toru Hanai/Reuters

China has condemned Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, for “maliciously slandering” its self-proclaimed air defence zone, ratcheting up the war of words between the neighbours over Beijing’s annexation of the skies over a group of disputed islands.

Abe told a news conference that China’s recent announcement of the air defence identification zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea was “unjustly violating the freedom of aviation over the high seas” and demanded Beijing rescind it.

In the most bitter remarks so far in the dispute, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei defended the zone, which has triggered protests from Japan, the United States and South Korea.

“We express strong dissatisfaction with Japan’s leader using an international occasion to maliciously slander China,” Hong said in a statement seen on the ministry website on Sunday.

The islands are claimed by Beijing as the Diaoyus and by Tokyo as the Senkakus.

“The Diaoyus are an inherent territory of China. Japan’s seizure and occupation of the islands are illegal and invalid,” Hong said, arguing that the air zone was in line with international laws and practices, and did not affect aviation freedom. Continue reading “China bitterly attacks Japanese prime minister over air zone remarks / “The Diaoyus are an inherent territory of China. Japan’s seizure and occupation of the islands are illegal and invalid””

Thousands protest against tough new official secrets law ( Japan )

By Kiyoshi Takenaka

Politics Nov. 22, 2013 – 06:42AM JST ( 23 )

TOKYO —

Thousands of people protested in Tokyo on Thursday against a proposed secrets act that critics say would stifle information on issues such as the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The law, proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, would significantly broaden the definition of official secrets, which Abe says is vital for strengthening security cooperation with main ally the United States and other countries.

Tough secrecy regulations before and during World War Two have long made such legislation taboo, but the law is expected to pass when it comes to a vote next week, given the comfortable majority the ruling coalition has in both houses of parliament.

Continue reading “Thousands protest against tough new official secrets law ( Japan )”

China accuses Japan of interfering in naval drills

Nov. 01, 2013 – 06:17AM JST

BEIJING —

China’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday it has lodged a formal diplomatic complaint over what it called “dangerous provocation” by Japan for shadowing Chinese military exercises in the western Pacific.

Sino-Japanese ties have been strained for months by a dispute over tiny islands in the East China Sea believed to be surrounded by energy-rich waters. They have also been overshadowed by what China says is Japan’s refusal to admit to atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in China between 1931 and 1945.

Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said that a Japanese naval and air patrol disrupted a Chinese live ammunition military drill last Friday, without giving the precise location.

Yang also said Japanese patrols of ships and aircraft were gathering information about the exercises.

“Not only did this interfere with our normal exercises, but endangered the safety of our ships and aircraft, which could have led to a miscalculation or mishap or other sudden incident,” Yang told a news briefing.

“This is a highly dangerous provocation, and China’s Defense Ministry has made solemn representations to the Japanese side,” he added, according to a transcript of his remarks on the ministry’s website.

Diplomatic complaints are normally lodged by the Foreign Ministry, so the Defense Ministry’s unusual move signals the military’s anger.

A former Japanese military officer told Reuters this week that the situation in the East China Sea was worrisome.

“As the Chinese are getting more active, we have more opportunities to confront each other,” he said. “If something happens accidentally, it may very seriously deteriorate the bilateral relationship.”

Ties between the two countries took a hit in September 2012 after Japan bought two of the disputed islets from a private owner, setting off a wave of protests and boycotts of Japanese goods across China.

China on Saturday criticised a Japanese media report saying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had approved a policy for Japan to shoot down foreign drones that ignore warnings to exit its airspace.

Abe has said Japan is ready to take a more assertive stance toward China.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

 

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/china-accuses-japan-of-interfering-in-naval-drills-2

Japan’s PM warns China on use of force as jets scrambled

By AFP | AFP – 8 hours ago

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) delivers a speech next to Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (L) during military review at the Ground Self-Defence Force's Asaka training ground, on October 27, 2013

 

AFP/AFP – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) delivers a speech next to Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (L) during military review at the Ground Self-Defence Force’s Asaka training ground, on October 27, …more  2013  less 

 

Japan’s leader warned China on Sunday against forcibly changing the regional balance of power, as reports said Tokyo had scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese military aircraft flying near Okinawa.

Verbal skirmishing between Asia’s two biggest economies, who dispute ownership of an island chain, escalated as Beijing warned Tokyo that any hostile action in the skies against Chinese drones would be construed as an “act of war”.

“We will express our intention as a state not to tolerate a change in the status quo by force. We must conduct all sorts of activities such as surveillance and intelligence for that purpose,” Abe said in an address to the military.

“The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe. This is the reality,” he said. “You will have to completely rid yourselves of the conventional notion that just the existence of a defence force could act as a deterrent.”

Abe presided over an inspection of the military at which a US amphibious assault vehicle was displayed for the first time, an apparent sign of Japan’s intention to strengthen its ability to protect remote islands.

The defence ministry plans to create a special amphibious unit to protect the southern islands and retake them in case of an invasion.

“There are concerns that China is attempting to change the status quo by force, rather than by rule of law,” Abe earlier told the Wall Street Journal in an interview following a series of summits this month with regional leaders.

“But if China opts to take that path, then it won’t be able to emerge peacefully,” he said in the interview published Saturday.

“So it shouldn’t take that path, and many nations expect Japan to strongly express that view. And they hope that as a result, China will take responsible action in the international community,” Abe added.

On Sunday Jiji Press and Kyodo News reported that Japan had deployed jets for two days running in response to four Chinese military aircraft flying over international waters near the Okinawa island chain.

Two Y8 early-warning aircraft and two H6 bombers flew from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean and back again but did not violate Japan’s airspace, the reports said.

The Japanese defence ministry was not immediately available for confirmation.

Japan’s military is on increased alert as Tokyo and Beijing pursue a war of words over the disputed islands in the East China Sea that lie between Okinawa and Taiwan.

On Saturday China responded angrily after a report said Japan had drafted plans to shoot down foreign drones that encroach on its airspace if warnings to leave are ignored.

Tokyo drew up the proposals after a Chinese military drone entered Japan’s air defence identification zone near the disputed islands in the East China Sea last month, Kyodo said.

“We would advise relevant parties not to underestimate the Chinese military’s staunch resolve to safeguard China’s national territorial sovereignty,” China’s defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said in comments posted on the ministry’s website.

“If Japan takes enforcement measures such as shooting down aircraft, as it says it will, that would constitute a serious provocation, an act of war of sorts, and we would have to take firm countermeasures, and all consequences would be the responsibility of the side that caused the provocation.”

Tokyo and Beijing both claim the small uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Japan administers them and calls them the Senkakus. China refers to the islands as the Diaoyus.

One of Abe’s first decisions as prime minister was to increase the defence budget for the first time in 11 years.

Tokyo also plans to hold a major air and sea exercise next month to bolster its ability to protect its remote islands.

In the Wall Street Journal interview, Abe said Japan had become too inward-looking over the past 15 years, but as it regains economic strength “we’d like to contribute more to making the world a better place”.

The Journal said he made it clear that one way Japan would “contribute” would be countering China in Asia.

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/japans-pm-warns-china-force-jets-scrambled-064532251.html#fyVOiRM

 

Abe says he is ready to be more assertive against China / “If Japan does resort to enforcement measures like shooting down aircraft, that is a serious provocation to us, an act of war.” China’s Defense Ministry

Politics Oct. 27, 2013 – 06:00AM JST ( 12 )

TOKYO —

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in an interview published on Saturday, said Japan was ready to be more assertive towards China as Beijing threatened to strike back if provoked.

A top retired Chinese diplomat said any move by Tokyo to contain China could amount to an attempt to conceal ulterior  motives in the region and prove to be “extremely dangerous”. And the defense ministry warned Japan not to underestimate China’s  resolve to take whatever measures were needed to protect itself.

Abe, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, said Japan should take the lead in guarding against what he said might be an attempt by China to use force to attain its diplomatic goals.

He said he had realized at recent meetings with South East Asian leaders that the region sought leadership from Tokyo in terms of security amid China’s more forthright diplomacy.

“There are concerns that China is attempting to change the status quo by force, rather than by rule of law. But if China opts to take that path, then it won’t be able to emerge peacefully,” he told the newspaper.

“So it shouldn’t take that path and many nations expect Japan to strongly express that view. And they hope that as a result, China will take responsible action in the international community.”

China took issue with a Japanese media report saying Abe had approved a policy for Japan to shoot down foreign drones that ignore warnings to leave its airspace.

“Don’t underestimate the Chinese army’s resolute will and determination to protect China’s territorial sovereignty,” Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said on the ministry’s website. “If Japan does resort to enforcement measures like shooting down aircraft, that is a serious provocation to us, an act of war.

“We will undertake decisive action to strike back, with every consequence borne by the side that caused the trouble,” Geng added.

Relations have deteriorated sharply in the past year, with the main sticking point being conflicting claims to uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, known in Japan as the Senkaku islands and in China as Diaoyu.

Ties have taken a further battering over visits by Japanese lawmakers this month to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo honoring both war dead and Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals.

China is also at odds with several South East Asian states contesting its claims to large swathes of the South China Sea.

Former Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan, addressing a forum in Beijing, said that Japan hoped to enlist the United Nations and the international community to curb China’s actions in the region, according to media reports.

Tang made no reference to Abe’s latest comments, but said any attempt to contain China either amounted to a distorted view of China or “the rendering of an image of the ‘Chinese menace’ to achieve an ulterior political goal”.

“I hope it’s the former, because if it’s the latter, not only is it futile, it is also extremely dangerous.”

President Xi Jinping adopted a more conciliatory tone at a conference on diplomacy this week, saying good relations with neighbors were crucial to a stable foreign policy.

Abe took office last year for a rare second term and is seen as a hawkish nationalist with a conservative agenda that includes revising a post-war pacifist constitution drafted by the United States, strengthening Japan’s defense posture and recasting wartime history with a less apologetic tone.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/abe-says-he-is-ready-to-be-more-assertive-against-china

 

All Chinese journalists ordered to censor supportive stances toward Japan

Kyodo

  • Oct 20, 2013

BEIJING – China’s Communist Party has begun ordering all Chinese journalists not to take supportive stances toward Japan when writing about territorial and historical issues between the two countries, participants of a mandatory training program revealed Saturday.

Around 250,000 journalists who work for various Chinese media organizations must attend the nationwide training program to learn about such topics as Marxist views on journalism, laws and regulations and norms in news-gathering and editing, in order to get their press accreditation renewed. The unified program started in mid-October and will run through the end of this year.

It is believed to be the first time the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which tightly controls the country’s media industry, has carried out this kind of training program before renewing press credentials.

On Japan, the instructors denounced Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “right-leaning” policies and urged reporters from newspapers, news agencies, broadcasters and online media to refrain from concessionary comments regarding China’s claims over the Japan-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the participants said. China claims the islets as Diaoyu.

But at the same time, they warned participants not to adopt overly belligerent positions vis-a-vis Japan.

In addition to Japan, the instructors said the United States is “trying to undermine our country” and criticized the Philippines and Vietnam, which are mired in territorial disputes with China, the participants said.

They were also told to reject democracy and human rights, as these values, the instructors said, are claimed by “the West as universal (but) are targeting China’s Communist Party.”

One group of instructors praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the Chinese government has been trying to promote images of close relations with him, according to the participants.

After taking the program, Chinese journalists are required to pass an exam, seen taking place between January and February, to obtain press cards.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/20/national/all-chinese-journalists-ordered-to-censor-supportive-stances-toward-japan/#.UmNE7MHn_Vg

Secret Japan-China talks held over island dispute

Oct. 16, 2013 – 07:01AM JST

TOKYO —

A senior Chinese government official has secretly visited Japan for talks with Japanese officials aimed at improving bilateral relations damaged by an ongoing territorial row, a report said Tuesday.

The talks involving a high-ranking official from the Chinese foreign ministry’s Asian division were thought to have been held in early October, Japanese news agency Jiji Press reported from Beijing quoting Chinese government sources.

A high-ranking official from the Japanese foreign ministry attended the meeting, the report said.

A Japanese foreign ministry official declined comment on the content of the report, saying: “Japan and China have been making various exchanges at various levels.”

The Tokyo-Beijing ties took a nosedive in September last year over the ownership of the Japan-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

The row over the islands in the East China Sea has led to warnings of a possible armed confrontation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe managed a brief encounter and shook the hand of Chinese President Xi Jinping last week on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Indonesia. But China rejected a formal sit-down meeting between them due to the island dispute.

Abe has not held formal talks with Chinese and South Korean leaders since taking office last December. Tokyo also has a dispute with Seoul over a group of South Korea-controlled isles.

The legacy of Japan’s 20th century wartime aggression has also been souring Tokyo’s ties with the neighbors.

(C) 2013 AFP

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/secret-japan-china-talks-held-over-island-dispute

Japan could be ‘main player’ if Asia conflicts break out: defense minister

 

By Harumi Ozawa

Politics Aug. 27, 2013 – 02:01PM JST ( 6 )

TOKYO —

Japan could be a key participant if conflict breaks out in Asia, the defense minister said Monday, warning China is seeking to exploit difficulties between allies.

The comments by Itsuno Onodera, who said Japan needs new equipment and must reconfigure its defense, come as Tokyo is embroiled in an ongoing spat with Beijing over disputed territory that has sparked warnings of a possible armed skirmish.

“The crisis that Japan faces now may lead to situations in which the country may have to be involved as a main player,” Onodera told a symposium in the capital.

“Before, it was expected that Japan would only be part of a group (involved in any confrontation),” he said, in apparent reference to the U.S.-Japan security alliance.

“Or that a conflict might occur only in areas surrounding the country,” he said. “Japan’s defense has been designed for that scenario.

“But Japan (now) needs to have a good defense to protect the country, which can mean equipment, new aircraft, defense systems or cyber protection.”

Onodera said Tokyo needed to be wary of China’s maritime expansion in the South and East China Sea.

“China has made more and more advancement into the seas,” he said. “When it did not have as much military capability, China tried to promote dialogue and economic cooperation, setting territorial rows aside. But when it sees a chance, any daylight between a nation and its ally, it makes blunt advancements. This is what is happening and what we should learn from the situation in Southeast Asia.”

Onodera’s speech came as he readied to head to Brunei to participate in the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) starting on Wednesday.

The group gathers defense ministers from Southeast Asian nations and eight other regional powers—Japan, China, South Korea, the U.S., Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Onodera said he will “repeatedly explain Japan’s position to his Asian counterparts” and that Tokyo’s motives were entirely defensive.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this year boosted Japan’s defense budget for the first time in over a decade against the backdrop of growing concerns among many countries in the region about China.

But any move to strengthen military capabilities rouses hostility and suspicion in the region, much of which labored under the brutal yoke of Japanese occupation until the end of World War II.

Since coming to power in December, Abe has repeatedly made noises about altering Japan’s pacifist constitution, which bars the country from offensive action.

The defense ministry last month published a paper saying Japan needed amphibious units and surveillance drones to protect its outlying islands.

Japan’s moves come against a backdrop of increasing Chinese activity in waters far from its mainland coast.

The two countries have spent the last year involved in a dispute over the sovereignty of the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus.

Vessels and planes from both sides have played cat and mouse in their seas, with some observers warning a slip from either nation could provoke a military confrontation, with possibly wide-ranging ramifications.

On Monday, Tokyo scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese government plane approached airspace Japan claims as it own.

(C) 2013 AFP

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/japan-could-be-main-player-if-asia-conflicts-break-out-defense-minister

 

Japan eyes first-strike capability, Marines in defense policy update

By Linda Sieg

National Jul. 25, 2013 – 05:10PM JST ( 41 )

TOKYO —

Japan is likely to start considering acquiring the ability to launch pre-emptive military strikes in a planned update of its basic defense policies, the latest step away from the constraints of its pacifist constitution.

The expected proposal, which could sound alarm bells in China, is part of a review of Japan’s defense policies undertaken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, an interim report on which could come as early as Friday. The final conclusions of the review are due out by the end of the year.

Abe took office in December for a rare second term, pledging to bolster the military to cope with what Japan sees as an increasingly threatening security environment including an assertive China and unpredictable North Korea.

Article 9 of Japan’s constitution, drafted by U.S. occupation forces after its defeat in World War Two, renounces the right to wage war and, if taken literally, rules out the very notion of a standing army. In reality, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are one of Asia’s strongest militaries.

The Defense Ministry will call in the interim report for a study of how to “strengthen the ability to deter and respond to ballistic missiles”, the Yomiuri newspaper and other media said on Thursday.

But in a sign of the sensitivity, the report will stop short of specifically mentioning the ability to hit enemy bases when the threat of attack is imminent, the Yomiuri newspaper said.

The ministry will also consider buying unmanned surveillance drones and creating a Marines force to protect remote islands, such as those at the core of a dispute with China, media said.

“The acquisition of offensive capability would be a fundamental change in our defense policy, a kind of philosophical change,” said Marushige Michishita, a professor at the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies.

Obtaining that capability, however, would take time, money and training, meaning any shift may be more rhetorical than real. “It’s easier said than done,” Michishita added.

The updated guidelines could also touch on Abe’s moves toward lifting a self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense, or helping an ally under attack, such as if North Korea launched an attack on the United States.

The defense review may also urge replacing a self-imposed ban on arms exports, that has been eased several times, making it easier for Japan’s defense contractors to join international projects and reduce procurement costs.

Some experts stressed that the changes were evolutionary rather than a sudden transformation in Japan’s defense posture.

“It’s all part of a process of Japan edging away from the most restrictive interpretation of Article 9,” said Richard Samuels, director of the MIT-Japan program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Still, given Japan’s strained ties with China over disputed isles and how to frame the narrative of Japan’s wartime history, China is likely to react strongly to the proposals, which come after Abe cemented his grip on power with a big win in a weekend election for parliament’s upper house.

“No matter how Japan explains things, China will attack it pretty harshly,” said Michael Green of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Although China has been a nuclear power for decades and North Korea is developing nuclear arms, Japan says it has no intention of doing so.

Support has grown in Japan for a more robust military because of concern about China, but opposition also remains.

Japan last updated its National Defense Program Guidelines in 2010 when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power.

Those changes shifted Japan away from defending areas to its north, a Cold War legacy, to a defense capability that could respond with more flexibility to incursions to the south, the site of the row with China over tiny, uninhabited islands.

Japan has for decades been stretching the limits of Article 9 and has long said it has the right to attack enemy bases overseas when the enemy’s intention to attack Japan is evident, the threat is imminent and there are no other defense options.

But while previous administrations shied away from acquiring the hardware to do so, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in June urged the government to consider acquiring that capability.

Just what hardware might come under consideration is as yet unclear. And with a huge public debt, Japan may be in no position to afford the bill.

Japan already has a very limited attack capability with its F-2 and F-15 fighter jets, mid-air refueling aircraft and Joint Direct Attack Munition guidance kit. Tokyo also plans to buy 42 Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighters, with the first four due for delivery by March 2017.

Acquiring the ability to hit mobile missile launchers in North Korea – the most likely target – would require many more attack aircraft as well as intelligence capability for which Japan would most likely have to rely on the United States, Michishita said. Cruise missiles might also be considered.

Obtaining the ability to strike missile bases in mainland China would be an even bigger stretch, experts said, requiring for example intercontinental missiles. “It would cost lots of money, and take time, training and education to acquire a robust and meaningful capability,” Michishita said.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-eyes-first-strike-capability-marines-in-defense-policy-update

 

Japan to deploy ships after China detected drilling in disputed waters – report

Published time: July 18, 2013 16:50                                                                            

An aerial view shows a Chinese facility under construction (top R) for natural gas exploration and a large crane ship are seen near what Tokyo claims to be the median line between the overlapping exclusive economic zones of Japan and China, in the East China Sea, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 5, 2013. (Reuters/Kyodo)An aerial view shows a Chinese facility under construction (top R) for natural gas exploration and a large crane ship are seen near what Tokyo claims to be the median line between the overlapping exclusive economic zones of Japan and China, in the East China Sea, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 5, 2013. (Reuters/Kyodo)

Japan has allegedly ordered geological survey ships to prepare for possible deployment after the Chinese were reportedly detected drilling in Japanese waters near the disputed area of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, a source told Reuters.

The Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has  been ordered to put both its survey ships , the Shigen and the  Hakurei, on standby and to prepare to deploy without any foreign  members of staff on board, according to the source .

Japan warned China not to expand gas exploration in the East  China Sea on Thursday, following a media report according to  which Chinese state-run oil companies plan to develop seven new  gas fields in the sea, possibly siphoning gas from the seabed  beneath waters claimed by Japan, Kyodo news agency reported.

“We will never accept development of gas fields in the area  over which there are conflicting claims in a unilateral  manner,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a  press conference. Though he added that officials are still  gathering information to confirm the report.

After in 1968 it was discovered that oil reserves might be found  under the sea near the territory of the islands in the East China  Sea, sovereignty over them has been long disputed by  Japan  and China.

Meanwhile, three Chinese maritime vessels were spotted entering  Japan’s territorial waters on Thursday morning, the Japanese  Coast Guard reported. Beijing said was a routine surveillance and  the ships later left the Japanese waters, but remain in the  contiguous area, the coast guard added.

This particular intrusion came the day after Prime Minister  Shinzo Abe paid a visit to Japan’s southern island of Ishigaki,  only 160 km away from the islets claimed by both China and Japan.

A Japan Coast Guard patrol ship sails around Uotsuri island, part of the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku isles in Japan, Diaoyu islands in China (Reuters/Kyodo)A Japan Coast Guard patrol ship sails around Uotsuri island, part of the disputed islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku isles in Japan, Diaoyu islands in China (Reuters/Kyodo)

 

During the visit, the Prime Minister repeated Tokyo’s stand that  the nearby disputed Senkaku Islands are Japanese  territory.  He added that Japan will not back off on  the issue of their sovereignty over the territory which China  calls the Diaoyu Islands claiming they were“stolen” from  the country at the end of the Sino-Japanese war in 1895.

It is rare for a prime minister to visit Ishigaki, and “it is  a strong message for China”, Japan’s Asahi Television said.

Abe’s statement followed a strong reaction in the Chinese media  which accused the Japanese Prime Minister on Thursday of  dangerous politics in the period of heightened relations between  the two countries.

The People’s Liberation Army Daily said Abe was trying to play  the “China threat” angle, to win votes in July 21 upper  house of parliament elections by paying the visit to the island.

“This kind of ‘drinking poison to slake ones thirst’ not only  threatens regional stability, it gives encouragement to Japan’s  ‘turn to the right’,” said the Daily.

The ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily warned that  China would never allow itself to be trampled on again, referring  to the 1931 Japan invasion and the establishment of a  Manchukuo  puppet state located in what is now  northeast China.

The newspaper claimed that the prime minister is “provoking  incidents” aimed to create tension to “push Japan’s  military development.”

Surveillance ships from both nations routinely monitor the  disputed area. The last time that Chinese ships were spotted  there was July 7.

In response to the island dispute and the growing nuclear threat  from the Korean Peninsula, Tokyo has raised its defense budget  for the first time in 11 years. Moreover, Abe wants to revise  Japan’s constitution drafted by the United States after World War  Two to allow for collective military action. If the Prime  Minister’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) obtains the majority of  votes it will be a step closer to pushing through the amendment.

http://rt.com/news/japan-china-disputed-islands-271/

 

Japan mulls nationalising unclaimed islands

National Jul. 16, 2013 – 06:52AM JST ( 32 )

Japan mulls nationalising unclaimed islands
A Taiwan fishing boat is blocked by the Japan Coast Guard near the disputed Diaoyu / Senkaku islands, September 2012AFP

TOKYO  —

Japan may nationalise any unclaimed remote islands in its waters in a bid to bolster its territorial claims, a newspaper said Monday amid a dispute with China over one set.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is to establish a task force to research owners and names of some 400 remote islands, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

If their ownership is unclear, the government will give official names to the islands and nationalise them, the mass-circulation daily reported.

“Japan plans to end the  research next year and quickly take action, including nationalisation, to remote islands with no ownership,” the daily said.

The 400 islands are scattered across waters surrounding the Japanese archipelago.

The task force will comprise officials from the finance and justice ministries as well as the coast guard.

The move is part of Japan’s efforts to preserve maritime resources as the country faces ongoing territorial disputes with its neighbors, the newspaper added.

In 2012, ahead of the planned project, Japan announced plans to give names to some 40 other islands, including some near those at the center of a dispute with China, in an effort to verify the extent of the nation’s exclusive economic zone.

Tensions have steadily risen between China and Japan, which accuses its powerful neighbor of sending an increasing number of ships to exert its claim over sparsely populated islands managed by Tokyo in the East China Sea.

The territorial row over the islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, was reignited last September when Tokyo nationalised three islands in the chain in what it said was a mere administrative change of ownership.

Beijing has also disputed Tokyo’s claim to Okinotorishima, which lies 1,700 kilometers south of Tokyo, saying the wave-swept atoll cannot be regarded as an island under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

© 2013 AFP

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-mulls-nationalising-unclaimed-islands

 

Japan: Risk of Incident From ‘Coercive’ Acts By China / fighters were scrambled more than 300 times against Chinese planes flying near Japan’s airspace for the year to March

Jul. 9, 2013 – 08:48AM   |
By SHINGO ITO for AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE   |

TOKYO — China’s “coercive” behavior in waters around islands at the center of a bitter dispute with Japan is dangerous and could trigger an incident, Tokyo said Tuesday in a new defense paper.

At a cabinet meeting, hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ministers adopted the white paper, the first annual report on Japan’s defense capabilities and regional security since the islands dispute flared anew last year.

Tokyo nationalized three of the five Senkaku islands in September. Beijing lays claim to the islands and calls them the Diaoyus.

“China … has taken action described as coercive, which includes risky behavior,” the 450-page report said.

“China’s activities include its intrusion into Japan’s territorial waters, its violation of Japan’s territorial airspace and even dangerous actions that could cause a contingency,” it said.

In particular, the paper said a Chinese frigate locked weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer in January — a claim Beijing has denied.

“These acts are extremely regrettable and China should accept and stick to the international norms,” it said.

Chinese and Japanese ships have for months traded warnings over intrusions into what both governments regard as their sovereign areas around the islands, which are strategically sited and rich in resources.

Chinese government ships have regularly sailed into the 12-nautical-mile territorial waters of the islands, where they are confronted by Japan’s well-equipped coastguard.

The most recent incident was Sunday.

Masayoshi Tatsumi, press secretary at Japan’s defense ministry, said the ministry was stepping up efforts to boost cooperation between the armed forces and coast guard in patrolling Japanese waters.

“We are taking all possible measures to maintain full readiness toward issues surrounding our country by using aircraft and other equipment in a flexible manner,” Tatsumi said.

Japanese fighters were scrambled more than 300 times against Chinese planes flying near Japan’s airspace for the year to March, a new record, the paper said.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said the white paper “makes some unfounded accusations against China.”

“Recently Japan has often played up the so-called China threat and unilaterally caused tensions and confrontations,” she said.

“Given that some political forces and politicians in Japan clamor for war preparations, military build-up and frequent military exercises, the international community cannot but be worried about where Japan is heading.”

Japan has officially been pacifist since World War II but has 140,000 troops, 140 military ships and 410 aircraft as part of its “self-defense forces.” It raised its military budget by 0.8 percent for the year to March, the first annual gain in 11 years, citing the need to boost island defenses.

The defense paper also stressed the need to enhance the country’s alliance with the United States in the face of China’s increasingly assertive behavior.

Ties with Washington had been strained under Japan’s previous center-left government, which pushed for the relocation of US bases in Okinawa. But under the conservative Abe, Japan has adopted a more nationalistic tone, to Beijing’s concern.

Commentators say the disputed islands are a potential flashpoint for a possible military confrontation between Asia’s two largest powers.

“Senkaku is strategically important for Japan, China and Taiwan,” said Takehiko Yamamoto, professor of international politics at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Taiwan also claims the islands.

“Japan may need to work together with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries to jointly bring China to an arena of dialogue, but it will take some time,” Yamamoto said.

Several members of ASEAN are also at loggerheads with China over separate territorial disputes in the South China Sea, which contains some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and is believed to be rich in fossil fuels.

ASEAN has been pushing a reluctant China for talks on a set of rules governing conduct at sea meant to avert unilateral actions that could spark trouble.

At annual Asia-Pacific security talks a week ago, the Philippines warned that China was engaging in a military buildup at sea that threatened regional peace. China agreed at the talks to begin discussing a code of conduct with ASEAN.

The white paper is an assessment and summary of Japan’s thinking on defense matters and is intended as an effort at transparency aimed at both the public and at neighboring countires.

A policy paper that will discuss specifics on deployment of forces is expected later in the year.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130709/DEFREG03/307090011/Japan-Risk-Incident-From-Coercive-Acts-By-China?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Poor English saved Japanese bankers during 2008 crisis: Aso

Politics Jun. 29, 2013 – 03:00PM JST

TOKYO  —

Japan’s banks emerged from the 2008 global credit crisis largely unscathed because senior employees did not speak English well enough to have got them into trouble, Finance Minister Taro Aso says.

Aso, who also serves as deputy prime minister, said bankers in Japan had not been able to understand the complex financial instruments that were the undoing of major global players, so had not bought them.

“Many people fell prey to the dubious products, or so-called subprime loans. Japanese banks were not so much attracted to these products, compared with European banks,” Aso told a seminar in Tokyo on Friday.

“There was an American who said Japanese banks are healthy, but that’s not true at all. Managers of Japanese banks hardly understood English, that’s why they didn’t buy,” he said.

Aso’s comments are the latest in a line of pronouncements that have raised eyebrows.

The one-time prime minister said in January the elderly should be allowed to “hurry up and die” instead of costing the government money with expensive end-of-life medical care.

In 2007, he had to apologize for a quip about patients with Alzheimer’s disease and for making light of flood damage in central Japan.

But the deputy prime minister, who is known as a dapper dresser and often seen sporting a jauntily-angled hat, on Friday boasted he had managed to keep his foot out of his mouth since Shinzo Abe came to power as premier in December.

However, the boast was somewhat undermined when he initially got the name of the prime minister wrong.

“I have made no gaffes in the past half year even as newspapers said the Aso administration’s… No, the Abe administration’s biggest problem is Taro Aso’s gaffes,” he said.

© 2013 AFP

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/poor-english-saved-japanese-bankers-during-2008-crisis-aso

 

10 million sign petition for rescue of abductees from N Korea

National Apr. 27, 2013 – 07:10AM JST ( 10 )

TOKYO —

An association started by the family of Megumi Yokota who was abducted by North Korea, is preparing to present a petition calling for the rescue of her and other abductees to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The association said Friday it had received from Saitama Gov Kiyoshi Ueda a petition containing 356,192 signatures, taking the total number of signatures to over 10 million. The association is planning to hand the petition to Abe at a public gathering on Saturday.

Yokota’s parents are still campaigning for her return, despite persistent claims that she committed suicide as the result of depression after being abducted and taken to North Korea in 1977. However, her death was later disputed by a North Korean defector in 2011. Yokota was one of at least 17 Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The North Korean government admitted to kidnapping Yokota 20 years after her initial disappearance. Yokota’s parents and others in Japan refuse to believe reports of her death and a controversial DNA test on her cremated remains was inconclusive. Her parents believe their daughter, who would now be 49 years old, is still alive in North Korea and and they and relatives of other abductees have been collecting signatures as part of a public campaign seeking their return to Japan.

Japan Today

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/10-million-sign-petition-for-rescue-of-abductees-from-n-korea

 

China slams Abe over comments in Washington Post

Feb. 22, 2013 – 04:10PM JST

BEIJING —

China on Friday slammed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for telling a U.S. newspaper that Beijing had a “deeply ingrained” need to challenge its neighbors over territory.

Abe, visiting the United States for talks with President Barack Obama, told the Washington Post in an interview published Thursday that Beijing uses disputes with Japan and others to shore up its domestic support.

The Japanese leader’s trip comes as tensions between the Asian giants escalate over rival claims to a group of small islands in the East China Sea that the Chinese call the Diaoyus and the Japanese refer to as the Senkakus.

China’s confrontational stance risked eventually harming its economy and scaring off foreign investors, Abe added.

“Such behavior is going to have an effect on their economic activity at the end of the day,” the paper quoted him as saying. “In the case of China, teaching patriotism (is equivalent to) teaching anti-Japanese sentiment.”

Beijing fired back, with foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei saying Chinese officials were “shocked” at the comments, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper.

“It’s rare that a country’s leader would brazenly distort facts, attack its neighbor and instigate confrontation among countries in the region,” it quoted Hong as saying.

China was demanding a clarification and explanation over the comments, he added.

Japan administers the uninhabited islands, though China and Taiwan also claim them. The dispute has simmered for decades but tensions spiked last year after the Japan nationalised islets in the chain it did not already own.

China responded angrily, with violent street demonstrations damaging Japanese businesses and property, with some Japanese citizens reporting being harassed and physically attacked.

Beijing and Tokyo have both scrambled jets to ward off moves by the other side and fishing boats and government maritime ships have played cat-and-mouse in the vicinity of the islands.

Earlier this month, Tokyo alleged that a Chinese frigate locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer in what it characterised as a dangerous escalation. Beijing denied the charge.

© 2013 AFP

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/china-slams-japans-abe-over-comments-in-washington-post

 

China sends three Warships to disputed Islands

Wednesday, 30 January 2013
 Three Chinese government ships were sailing in  waters around islands disputed with Japan today, a day after the  Japanese premier suggested a summit could help mend frayed ties.

Japan’s coastguard said the maritime surveillance  boats were sailing in waters around a chain of Tokyo-controlled islands  known as the Senkakus in Japan for about an hour and a half, AFP  reported.

They all left the waters by 1:32 pm, coastguard officials said.

China, which calls the islands the Diaoyus, has  repeatedly sent ships to the area since Japan nationalised some of the  chain in September. The move triggered a diplomatic dispute and huge  anti-Japan demonstrations across China.

Beijing has also sent air patrols to the archipelago  in the East China Sea and recently both Beijing and Tokyo have scrambled fighter jets, though there have been no clashes.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested a  summit with China would improve a relationship that has been badly  troubled for months.

“A high-level meeting should be held because there is a problem. If necessary, there might be a need to build the…  relationship again, starting with a summit meeting,” he told a  television show.

 

http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/22610/53/

 

“Regarding Senkaku, there is no change to my position to resolutely protect this water and territory. There is no room for negotiation on this,”

Japan PM criticises targeting of firms in China row

AFP Friday, Jan 11, 2013

TOKYO – China was “wrong” to deliberately target Japanese business interests as part of a state campaign in a row over disputed territory, Japan’s hawkish new prime minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday.

“For political ends, harming Japanese companies and individuals in China that contribute to the Chinese economy and society – I want to say it is wrong for a responsible nation state in the international community,” Mr Abe said.

“It not only harms bilateral relations, it has a significantly negative influence on China’s economy and its society,” he said at a news conference in the latest barb aimed at China.

Japan’s ties with China have remained tense for months as the two nations repeatedly stage maritime standoffs in waters around disputed isles called the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China.

Chinese government ships have been seen off the disputed islands numerous times since Japan nationalised them in September, sometimes within the 12 nautical mile territorial zone.

A state-owned Chinese plane flew through airspace over the islands early last month. Tokyo responded by scrambling fighter jets and said it was the first time Beijing had breached its airspace since at least 1958.

“Regarding Senkaku, there is no change to my position to resolutely protect this water and territory. There is no room for negotiation on this,” Mr Abe said.

http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20130111-394768.html

 

China ‘highly vigilant’ over Japanese fighters flying over disputed islands

AFP Thursday, Dec 27, 2012

BEIJING – China is “highly vigilant” about Japanese jet fighter flights over islands claimed by both countries and Japan must bear responsibility for any consequences, Chinese military and maritime officials said on Thursday.

The officials, speaking a day after a new hawkish Japanese prime minister took office, were responding to Japan sending jet fighters several times in the past two weeks to intercept Chinese patrol planes approaching airspace above the islands.

The situation in the volatile East China Sea region has severely strained relations between Beijing and Tokyo.

“We will decisively fulfil our tasks and missions while coordinating with relevant departments…so as to safeguard China’s maritime law enforcement activities and protect the country’s territorial integrity and maritime rights,” Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a news conference.

Japan’s Defence Ministry has acknowledged scrambling F-15 jets on several occasions in recent weeks to intercept Chinese marine surveillance planes approaching the islands, called the Diaoyu in Chinese and the Senkaku by Japan.

It says a Chinese aircraft breached what it considers Japanese airspace for the first time on Dec. 13.

The Japanese government administers the islands and purchased three of them from a private owner this past summer, sparking violent anti-Japanese protests across China.

New Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised not to yield in the dispute over the islands and boost defence spending to counter Beijing’s growing military clout.

“The Japanese side is using military aircraft to interfere with planes on normal patrol in undisputed Chinese airspace,”said Shi Qingfeng, director general of the Administration Office

of the State Oceanic Administration, the agency whose ships patrol disputed waters in the South and East China Seas.

“This is highly unreasonable conduct and the Japanese side is consciously trying to escalate the situation,” Shi said at a presentation for Chinese media and diplomats. “The Japanese side must assume responsibility for the consequences.”

China has been increasingly flexing its military and political influence in the western Pacific, forcefully asserting territorial claims while it builds up its military forces.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the South China Sea.

To China’s east, the island conflict with Japan has led to tense confrontations in the waters around the islands.

“China-Japan defence relations are an important and sensitive part of bilateral ties, and the Japanese side should face up to the difficulties and problems that currently exist,”Yang said.

 

http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20121227-392000.html

Island plans by Tokyo’s nationalist governor may stoke fresh China tensions

By Antoni Slodkowski and Junko FujitaPosted 2012/10/03 at 11:42 pm EDT

TOKYO, Oct. 3, 2012 (Reuters) — Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a fiery nationalist whose failed bid to buy a group of disputed islands ignited a crisis with China, is pushing ahead with a plan to build structures there to hammer home Japan’s claim, officials involved told Reuters.

Although such a move is not imminent, it would be certain to strain Japan’s already shaky relations with China and could prompt a rebuke from the Obama administration, which has urged both sides to ease tensions by setting aside the dispute.

Ishihara’s gambit appears aimed at forcing a new showdown in the island dispute with China. It is based on the view that Japan’s main opposition — the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) — is likely to take power in an election in the coming months and that it would be receptive to his hard-line policies, two officials close to Ishihara said.

Akiko Santo, a member of the House of Councillors from the LDP, said Ishihara would try to win support from a new government to use about $19 million he has raised from contributors to build some basic infrastructure on the islands.

Ishihara’s deputy, Naoki Inose, has confirmed the plan.

They claim that construction of a lighthouse, radio transmitter or basic harbor facilities would increase safety for Japanese fishermen. It was not clear how — or even whether — such private funds could be used for construction on government property.

Ishihara set off the slide in Japan-China relations with his initial bid to buy the islands, ensuring his next steps in the dispute will be scrutinized.

Narushige Michishita, an associate professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, said Ishihara’s push could “re-create the situation we have just gone through — strong reaction from China followed by demonstrations and attacks on Japanese companies.”

That effort was thwarted when the national government outbid Ishihara last month with a taxpayer-funded bid to acquire three of the isolated islands called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s nationalization of the islands was intended to keep them from Ishihara and to head off a more damaging confrontation with China.

But the Japanese government’s move triggered a wave of protests in China that shuttered Japanese factories and stores, disrupted trade and prompted Beijing to strengthen its own claim to the disputed territory.

‘SACRED TERRITORY’

China has claimed the islands as its “sacred territory” and says its claim predates Japan’s. Patrol ships from the two countries have been circling in a standoff in the waters off the disputed islands, raising concern that a collision or other incident could escalate into a bigger clash.

Now an independent, Ishihara has been governor of Tokyo since 1999. A former LDP member and author, he is best known for writing “The Japan that Can Say No,” a 1989 book that urged Japan to step away from reliance on the United States.

The LDP is expected to capitalize on frustration with Noda’s government and his Democratic Party of Japan, which took power in 2009 but has been criticized for its response to last year’s earthquake and nuclear disaster and its economic stewardship.

Last month, former prime minister Shinzo Abe was elected to lead the LDP as the party heads into an election that could be called before year end. Abe’s selection as his chief aide, Shigeru Ishiba, is a defense expert who has argued Japan should take stronger action to protect territory it claims in disputes with China and South Korea.

Ishihara began raising private contributions from supporters earlier in the year to buy the islands in the East China Sea.

“The funds will be used when something can be done together with the LDP,” said Santo, an Ishihara ally who had tried to broker Tokyo’s effort to buy the islands from the family that has owned them since the late 1970s.

Tokyo vice governor Inose added: “With an Ishiba or Abe government we could use the funds we have raised to build some kind of shelter for ships or a transmitter or lighthouse.”

Ishihara, 80, had said on September 11 — the day the national government signed a contract to buy the islands — that the Tokyo government could hand over the money it raised “if the next administration agreed to build a minimum of infrastructure” on the disputed territory.

Inose and Santo indicated those plans were still moving ahead even after the wave of costly protests in China and the escalating tension between the two sides over the past month.

Recent opinion polls show the LDP as more popular than the center-left DPJ and Abe as having more support than Noda among Japanese voters. That could create a new opening for Ishihara to push his plans for the disputed islands.

Noda, 55, said last month his priority was to “maintain stable administration” over the islands and questions of any construction on the property should be taken up later.

“We are already maintaining and controlling (the islands) in a calm and stable manner,” Japan Foreign Koichiro Gemba said on Wednesday when asked about proposals to build on the islands.

Now that Abe has taken the LDP’s helm, his stance on territorial disputes will be reflected in the party’s policy, an LDP official in the party’s policy planning wing said.

“I think Abe and Ishiba are of the same mind here (as Ishihara),” Santo told Reuters. “Of course, all of this depends on the LDP taking back power in the next election.”

($1=78.04 yen)

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, writing by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/bre89307e-us-japan-china-islands/#