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

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”

Chinese ships sail in disputed waters after Japan warning ” fears grow over a potential military clash “

→National Aug. 07, 2014 – 06:30AM JST ( 25 )


Chinese coast guard ships sailed into waters off Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea on Wednesday, officials said, after Tokyo’s annual defense paper warned over China’s “dangerous acts” near the disputed archipelago.

The report, published Tuesday, said frequent appearances by Chinese ships in the area could lead to “unintended consequences”, as fears grow over a potential military clash between the Asian powers.

English: Aerial Photo of Kitakojima and Minami...
English: Aerial Photo of Kitakojima and Minamikojima of Senkaku Islands, Ishigaki City, Okinawa, Japan, 1978. 日本語: 北小島・南小島(尖閣諸島):沖縄県石垣市、東シナ海 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three Chinese vessels sailed into territorial waters that extend 12 nautical miles around one of the Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus, the Japanese coast guard said.

The ships entered the area around 10 a.m. and left about two hours later, it said.

Continue reading “Chinese ships sail in disputed waters after Japan warning ” fears grow over a potential military clash “”

Japan, China trade claims over latest aerial provocation


by Reiji Yoshida and Mizuho Aoki

Jun 12, 2014

Tokyo and Beijing traded blame Thursday over the second close and potentially dangerous encounter in just over two weeks between Chinese SU-27 fighter jets and Japanese reconnaissance planes over the East China Sea.


The close encounter took place Wednesday where the air defense identification zones of China and Japan overlap due to their claims to the Senkaku Islands, a defense official told The Japan Times.

Senkaku Islands(Diaoyu Islands) Left:Uotsuri J...

Continue reading “Japan, China trade claims over latest aerial provocation”

Diaoyu Islands vow ‘may backfire / Obama’s remarks may lead to unforeseen problems because the military commitment

‘By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily) 07:26, April 25, 2014

The PLA is fully capable of safeguarding China’s Diaoyu Islands, says spokesman

US President Barack Obama’s promise of military cover for Japan’s claim on the Diaoyu Islands faces the potential of backfiring, observers said.

Senkaku Islands(Diaoyu Islands) Left:Uotsuri J...

Continue reading “Diaoyu Islands vow ‘may backfire / Obama’s remarks may lead to unforeseen problems because the military commitment”

Japan warns China that seizure of ship could have consequences

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 5:12pm

 Agence France-Presse in Tokyo

Tokyo warned on Monday that the seizure of a Japanese ship in Shanghai over pre-war debts threatened ties with China and could undermine the very basis of their diplomatic relationship.

Authorities in Shanghai seized the large freight vessel in a dispute over what the Chinese side says are unpaid bills relating to the 1930s, when Japan occupied large swathes of China. Continue reading “Japan warns China that seizure of ship could have consequences”

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


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 warns foreign military planes entering defense zone


Jan. 25, 2014 – 06:46AM JST ( 14 )


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”

Japan agency offers travel for your teddy bear

Travel Dec. 07, 2013 – 06:12AM JST

Japan agency offers travel for your teddy bear
Tour operator Sonoe Azuma holds a stuffed toy during a visit to a station in Tokyo, on October 4, 2013

Tokyo (AFP) —

Unable to get to that must-see tourist site but can’t bear for your teddy to miss out? Then Japan has just the thing for you—a travel agency that takes stuffed toys on package tours and even provides the holiday snaps to prove it.

Tokyo-based Unagi (Eel) Travel has a range of offers to suit every cuddly companion’s purse.

For instance, a day trip around sightseeing spots in the Japanese capital is $45, plus travel—by parcel post—from and to the toy’s home address.

The more adventurous bear might like to see some of the grand temples and shrines of the ancient capital of Kyoto for $95, or unwind in the hot spring baths that dot volcanic Japan—a snip at $55.

“Some clients join tours simply because it seems fun but there are also people who want to send stuffed animals as their proxies since they can’t travel by themselves, because they are in hospital, handicapped or too busy,” tour operator Sonoe Azuma told AFP.

“A client asked me to take her companion up some stairs and walk through narrow streets she can’t go into with her wheelchair.

“Another client wanted her animal to get a lot of sunshine as she can’t go outside because of a skin disease.”

Continue reading “Japan agency offers travel for your teddy bear”

State media calls for ‘timely countermeasures’ against Japan over air zone “We are willing to engage in a protracted confrontation with Japan.”

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 4:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 5:56am

Agence France-Presse in Beijing


Japan and South Korea both said on Thursday that they had disregarded the air defence identification zone that Beijing declared last weekend, showing a united front after unarmed US B-52 bombers also entered the area. Photo: EPA

State media yesterday called for “timely countermeasures” to be taken “without hesitation” if Japan violates the country’s newly declared air zone, after Beijing sent fighter jets to patrol the area following defiant military overflights by Tokyo.

Japan and South Korea both said on Thursday that they had disregarded the air defence identification zone (ADIZ) that Beijing declared last weekend, showing a united front after unarmed US B-52 bombers also entered the area.

The Global Times newspaper, which often takes a nationalistic tone, said in an editorial: “We should carry out timely countermeasures without hesitation against Japan when it challenges China’s newly declared ADIZ.

Continue reading “State media calls for ‘timely countermeasures’ against Japan over air zone “We are willing to engage in a protracted confrontation with Japan.””

Criticism of China’s ADIZ increases; Japanese airlines do a policy U-turn / All Nippon Airways now refuse to comply with China

An All Nippon Airways Co. jet taxis at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Oct. 27. Japanese airlines reversed their earlier announcements that they would follow rules set by China over its air defense identification zone. | BLOOMBERG


Several governments joined Japan Tuesday in criticizing China’s latest bid to carve out a zone of control in the East China Sea, including Australia summoning Beijing’s ambassador to voice opposition over the move.As administrations around the world began lining up against Beijing over its unilaterally declared Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), dismissing it as invalid, Japan called on its airlines to refuse China’s demands that they obey new rules when entering the zone.

China’s declaration of an air defence zone has sharply escalated tensions in the region.

The rules Beijing announced at the weekend mean China has effectively demanded control over the airspace above a swathe of the East China Sea criss-crossed by vital transport lanes.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) initially said that since Sunday it has been submitting flight plans to Chinese authorities for any plane that was due to pass through the area, which includes islands at the centre of a bitter territorial row between Tokyo and Beijing.

Its affiliate Peach Aviation said it was doing the same “for now” and Japan Airlines said it was also complying with the rules.

But late Tuesday the Kyodo and Jiji news agencies reported that both All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines had reversed that decision, giving no further explanations.

Continue reading “Criticism of China’s ADIZ increases; Japanese airlines do a policy U-turn / All Nippon Airways now refuse to comply with China”

South Korea caught in crossfire amid air defence zone row / China’s air defence zone overlaps with some 3,000 square kilometres of South Korea’s

UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 November, 2013, 3:13pm Audrey Yoo

China’s air defence zone aimed at Tokyo puts South Korea in an awkward position


South Korea is finding itself caught in the crossfire amid growing Sino-Japanese tensions after Beijing’s declaration of a new air defence zone (ADIZ) that overlaps with those of Japan and Korea.

Local media reported that although China’s air defence zone was aimed at Japan, it turned Korea into a “piggy in the middle” as Beijing tries to expand its defence zone to the east and Tokyo to the west.

“Korea has become sandwiched [between Beijing and Tokyo] as China and Japan flex their muscles,” said a report in the conservative Seoul-based newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.

On Thursday, South Korea’s foreign minister Yun Byung-se said the issue of China and Japan’s ADIZ had emerged as a situation that further intensified tensions in Northeast Asia.

China’s air defence zone overlaps with some 3,000 square kilometres of South Korea’s and Seoul has told Beijing that it cannot accept what it sees as Beijing’s unilateral decision.

Continue reading “South Korea caught in crossfire amid air defence zone row / China’s air defence zone overlaps with some 3,000 square kilometres of South Korea’s”

Chinese embassy in Tokyo has called on all Chinese citizens in Japan to voluntarily register with its consular section as tensions between the two countries reach new heights


PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 12:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 6:16pm

Patrick Boehler

The Chinese embassy in Tokyo has called on all Chinese citizens in Japan to voluntarily register with its consular section as tensions between the two countries reach new heights over a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

The embassy called on all the Chinese living in Japan to register “to facilitate consular assistance” in case of “a major unexpected emergency”, according to a statement on its website. Chinese living in Japan were asked to submit contact details of next of kin in Japan and China.

According to Japanese census data, there are more than 600,000 people of Chinese descent living in Japan. Chinese media have reported the majority of this group are students, business people and employees of Japanese companies, but it is unclear how many of them have retained Chinese citizenship.

A registration form was uploaded on the diplomatic mission’s homepage in early November, but attracted widespread attention over the weekend after China announced on Saturday it was setting up an “air defence identification zone” in the East China Sea, which covers the disputed Diaoyu Islands.

The zone, which overlaps roughly in half of Japanese airspace claims, requires all airplanes crossing it to report to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the civil aviation administration. China launched an aerial patrol to enforce the claims on Saturday, while Japan deployed two fighter jets to intercept the patrols.

China’s leaders are determined to pursue their interests with little heed to their neighbours
Dr Sheila A. Smith

The US and South Korea has expressed concern over the move. Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida warned of the “danger of unpredictable events on the spot” in a reaction on Sunday.

Read More:

U.S. vows to defend Japan after China announces new air zone


Nov. 24, 2013 – 03:00PM JST ( 18 )

U.S. vows to defend Japan after China announces new air zone The disputed islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in ChinaAFP


The United States said Sunday it was “deeply concerned” and committed to defending Japan after China announced an air zone in the East China Sea that includes disputed islands.

In a move that U.S. ally Japan branded as “very dangerous,” China said it was setting up the “air defense identification zone” over the islands administered by Tokyo to “guard against potential air threats.”

In similar statements, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Geneva, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Sunday that the United States was “deeply concerned” about the moves by China, which also scrambled air force jets to carry out a patrol mission in the newly declared zone.

Continue reading “U.S. vows to defend Japan after China announces new air zone”

Thousands protest against tough new official secrets law ( Japan )

By Kiyoshi Takenaka

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


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 )”

Japan, Russia Cosy Up As China Dispute Simmers

Oct. 31, 2013 – 02:28PM

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, pictured, and Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with Russian counterparts Friday.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, pictured, and Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida will meet with Russian counterparts Friday. (Toshifumi Kitamura / AFP)

TOKYO — Tokyo will play host to the foreign and defense ministers of Russia from Friday, the latest stage of a burgeoning relationship that represents a rare neighborly entente for Japan.

Sergei Lavrov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will meet their Japanese counterparts Fumio Kishida and Itsunori Onodera in Tokyo in a so-called “2+2,” something that Japan has only ever done before with the United States and Australia.

The visit comes after four separate summit talks between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the past six months, an unusual frequency for such high-level exchanges.

In their one-on-one meeting Friday, Lavrov and Kishida are expected to discuss a decades-old territorial row that has prevented the two countries ever signing a peace treaty after World War II.

The following day, the 2+2 will touch on ways to strengthen security co-operation, a Japanese foreign ministry official said.

The meeting “is expected to have an indirect, but positive impact on future talks towards a peace treaty, by building trust between the countries,” the official said.

Despite an important commercial relationship, which includes a growing trade in fossil fuels, Tokyo and Moscow remain at odds over the sovereignty of islands north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, but Russia administers as the Southern Kurils, were occupied by Soviet troops in the dying days of World War II.

The small Japanese population was evicted and the USSR peopled the archipelago as part of a drive to consolidate control over its wild east. They remain under-developed, but harbor rich fishing reserves.

“We’ve seen President Putin’s enthusiasm towards improving ties with Japan, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Russia is ready to make a compromise on the territorial issue,” the official said.

Relatively warm relations with Russia stand in marked contrast with Japan’s ties to China and South Korea.

Tokyo is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Beijing over the ownership of a chain of islands in the East China Sea which is largely being played out by cat and mouse games between coastguards from both sides and occasional invective.

The row took a sharp turn for the worse last week when Beijing said Tokyo’s reported plan to shoot down drones encroaching on its airspace would be “an act of war”.

Japan parried with accusations that China was endangering peace in the region.

A pair of sparsely populated islets that sit between Japan and the Korean peninsula are the focus of a separate squabble between Tokyo and Seoul.

While the disputes are nominally territorial, they are fanned by unresolved historical differences and growing nationalism.|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

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.


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 )


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.


Secret Japan-China talks held over island dispute

Oct. 16, 2013 – 07:01AM JST


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

Radiation levels near Japan’s damaged Fukushima reactor hit two-year high

Friday, Oct 11, 2013 Reuters

TOKYO – Radiation levels in seawater just outside one of the damaged Fukushima reactors spiked this week to the highest level in two years, the operator of the crippled Japanese nuclear plant said on Thursday.Radiation levels on Wednesday, the day six workers were exposed to highly radioactive water, jumped 13 times the previous day’s reading, the highest levels since late 2011.

A massive quake and tsunami hit the power station, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co, also known as Tepco, in March 2011, causing three reactor meltdowns and hydrogen explosions.

Tepco, which is pouring hundreds of tonnes of water to keep reactors cool, has struggled to contain the build up of radioactive water at the plant.

In the latest incident, a worker on Wednesday mistakenly detached a pipe connected to a treatment system, releasing seven tonnes of highly radioactive water.

The accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 220 km (130 miles) north of Tokyo, are adding to the crisis and stirring doubt over Tepco’s abilities to carry out a complex cleanup widely expected to take decades.

Tepco said combined Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 readings just outside the damaged No. 2 reactor spiked to 1,200 becquerels per litre on Wednesday, more than 13 times the level on Tuesday.

Cesium-134 readings were 370 becquerels per litre while Cesium-137 was 830/litre within a silt fence right outside the reactor building. Regulatory limits for Cesium, which emits a strong gamma radiation and is harmful to the human body, is 90 bq/litre for Cesium-137 and 60 bq/litre for Cesium-134.

A Tepco spokesman said the sudden spike in radiation was caused by construction work near the No. 2 building.

Workers are injecting chemicals to harden the ground on the seaside of the Fukushima reactor buildings to prevent contaminated water from flowing out to the ocean. The pressure from pumping chemicals into the ground pushed some contaminated soil out into the port area, the spokesman said.

Tepco also said Cesium-137 readings just outside the silt fence next to the No.2 reactor rose to 160 bq/litre, also above the regulatory limit and almost double the previous day’s level.

The readings were taken right next to the Fukushima plant but hundreds of meters from the port entrance that connects to the Pacific Ocean.

Radiation from water leaking from the facility is mostly confined to the harbour around the plant, officials have said.

Last week, Tepco said 430 litres (113 gallons) of contaminated water had spilled out of a storage tank at Fukushima and probably flowed to the ocean.

Cesium readings further out in the Pacific Ocean remain non-detectable and officials say there is no environmental threat to other countries as radiation will be diluted by the sea.

In September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised the International Olympic Committee that radioactive water problems at Fukushima were “under control” and any contamination is limited to the harbour next to the Fukushima plant.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority last week ordered Tepco to draft in additional workers and report within a week on its measures to tackle the hazardous clean-up.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi and Mari Saito; Editing by Michael Perry)


Print a working paper computer on an $80 inkjet


Ink laced with silver nanoparticles could make it a reality, to the joy of hobbyists

“IMAGINE printing out a paper computer and tearing off a corner so someone else can use part of it.” So says Steve Hodges of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK. The idea sounds fantastical, but it could become an everyday event thanks in part to a technique he helped develop.

Hodges, along with Yoshihiro Kawahara and his team at the University of Tokyo, Japan, have found a way to print the fine, silvery lines of electronic circuit boards onto paper. What’s more, they can do it using ordinary inkjet printers, loaded with ink containing silver nanoparticles. Last month Kawahara demonstrated a paper-based moisture sensor at the Ubicomp conference in Zurich, Switzerland.

Kawahara says the idea is perfect for the growing maker movementMovie Camera of inventors and tinkerers. Hobbyists will be able to test circuit designs by simply printing them out and throwing away anything that doesn’t work. That will reduce much of electronics to a craft akin to “sewing or origami”, he says.

Kawahara and Hodges say the idea also fills a gaping void in the capabilities of 3D printers, which can print the casing for a gadget but not the printed circuits that go inside it. Research on 3D printing conductive elements inside structures has not yet reached a level of sophistication for it to be useful.

“Designing a printed circuit board is not a trivial thing at all. So many people talk about 3D printing an iPhone, when all you can actually do is print a few limited components of one,” says Matt Johnson, founder of London firm Bare Conductive, which makes conductive ink for hobbyists. He says there need to be easier ways for people to create circuitry that could lend itself to novel applications such as packaging (see “Ink gets wired for sound“).

The ink used by Kawahara’s team is a silver suspension recently developed by Mitsubishi Chemical in Tokyo. Kawahara tried it out in an $80 inkjet printer and discovered that it worked well on photo-quality paper. The ink needs no heat to release its silver, and the particle size, viscosity and surface tension were just right for it to deposit flat silver conductors onto the paper. To turn these into working circuits, the team avoided soldering – which would have burned through the paper – and instead used a conducting glue to attach components like resistors and capacitors.

The moisture sensor the team has printed is meant for use on plants (see picture). It detects rainfall with one circuit and soil humidity with another, transmitting its readings via a printed Wi-Fi antenna. Hodges has printed paper wiring to connect the switch, LED and battery of a 3D-printed flashlight.

In addition, the team has shown off more complex inkjet-printed circuits, with microprocessors and memory chip connectors. In principle, these could be used to create paper-based computers that would continue to work even when broken into smaller pieces. Jürgen Steimle at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is already developing “redundant” circuit layouts with this capability, including circuitry for touchpad-like devices that work even if one part has been cut out. It raises the prospect of printed devices that people could simply tear to share.

If silver-based inkjet printing can be made affordable, Hodges says it will be a natural follow-on to Bare Conductive’s hand-drawn and paintable circuitry. Kawahara goes further: “In 20 years you really will be able to hit ‘Print’ and make yourself a mobile phone”.

This article appeared in print under the headline “Tear me to share me”

Ink gets wired for sound

Bare Conductive is a London-based start-up that makes conductive ink (see main story). This allows touch-sensitive light switches to be painted on worktops, for example. The firm also makes greeting cards that children can draw on using pens filled with the ink, connecting up batteries to LEDs to make them flash.

Now the firm wants to add audio output to its cards – and future interactive packaging – using a circuit it calls a TouchBoard. The size of a playing card, it features a simple to use Arduino processor and an MP3 chip that plays music, stories and sound effects when someone taps the painted-on, conductive buttons. A Kickstarter campaign to build TouchBoard is about to be launched.

Stop lending money to the yakuza, FSA tells Mizuho

Criminals’ bank of choice: Pedestrians walk by a sign for Mizuho Bank in Tokyo. Financial regulators on Friday ordered the mega-bank to stop lending money to yakuza. | BLOOMBERG


The Financial Services Agency on Friday ordered Mizuho Bank to stop lending money to yakuza and said it appeared to be making little progress in addressing the problem.Mizuho, one of the country’s biggest banks, has processed about ¥200 million worth of transactions for “anti-social forces,” a wide-ranging term Japan commonly uses to refer to mobsters.

The financial watchdog scolded the nation’s third-biggest bank for taking “no substantial steps” to deal with the issue after it was revealed two years ago and pointed to “serious problems” with its compliance monitoring.

Mizuho has a month to draft a plan to address the issue, the FSA said.

Mizuho said it “takes this order very seriously and deeply regrets these occurrences.”

It also issued a statement that said it “expresses its deepest and most sincere apologies to its clients and all related parties for any concern or inconvenience this may have caused.”

Like the Italian mafia or Chinese triads, the yakuza engage in activities ranging from gambling, drugs, and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets, white-collar crime and business conducted through front companies.

The gangs, which themselves are not illegal, have historically been tolerated by the authorities, although there are periodic clampdowns on some of their less savory activities.

Japan to raid Novartis over alleged data fabrication

27    Sep   2013
Tokyo (AFP)

Japanese authorities are preparing to raid the local arm of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis over data fabrication claims, reports said Friday.

A health ministry panel of experts has concluded that Novartis Pharma KK should be held responsible for studies at various universities that used manipulated data on a popular blood pressure drug, the Asahi Shimbun and other media said.

The studies suggested the drug — sold under the name Diovan in Japan and licensed for use in more than 100 countries — had some prophylactic effect on strokes and angina.

The firm used data from the studies to market its drug, playing up its supposed additional benefits.

“The panel is examining the possibility of exaggerated advertisement which is a violation of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act and will urge the government to take strict actions,” against Novartis Pharma KK, the Asahi said.

Upon receipt of the panel’s interim report next week, “the health ministry plans to carry out an on-site investigation” into the company, the Asahi said.

The panel’s report will also say the company and the universities must be held accountable for the faulty studies, regardless of the degree of their involvement, the Mainichi Shimbun said.

The panel will also urge the authorities to estimate the financial impact of the studies on the nation’s health insurance finances, the Mainichi said.

Novartis has maintained that the company had no knowledge of episodes in which a now-former employee allegedly used bogus data in a string of Japanese university studies that exaggerated the drug’s effectiveness in preventing strokes and angina.

The worker had hidden his affiliation with Novartis during the studies at various institutions that used incomplete clinical data to demonstrate the effects of the drug, hospitals and media reports have said.

The worker and other researchers involved in studies have denied to the panel that they manipulated the data, the Mainichi previously said.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals chief David Epstein was called to meet with Health Minister Norihisa Tamura and promised Thursday to cooperate with Tokyo’s probe into the matter.

Epstein apologised for the concern the incident has caused, but did not admit the company’s role in the data fixing allegations, a company spokeswoman said.

Tokyo’s Jikei University School of Medicine has retracted research that appeared in respected medical journal The Lancet six years ago due to data fabrication.

Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine also concluded that its studies on the drug used incomplete clinical data.

Ships patrol Diaoyu Islands in advance of anniversary

China sends large coastguard flotilla to mark Japan’s purchase of disputed islands last year

    Wednesday, 11 September, 2013 [Updated: 10:00AM]
  • _tok520_38015161.jpg
Vessels from the China Maritime Surveillance and the Japan Coast Guard near the disputed Diaoyu Islands. Photo: Reuters

China and Japan entered into a fresh round of bitter exchanges over their territorial row in the East China Sea yesterday – one day ahead of the anniversary of Japan’s purchase of the disputed Diaoyu Islands.

Beijing sent seven coastguard ships to patrol around the islands, which are known as the Senkakus in Japan, prompting Tokyo to lodge a formal protest and raise the possibility of stationing Japanese government workers on the island.

The latest Chinese patrol was the 59th since last September, when Tokyo announced that it would buy several of the islands, China’s State Oceanic Administration said.

In response, Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki summoned China’s ambassador in Tokyo, Cheng Yonghua, to protest against the patrol. Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the ministry was strengthening its surveillance of the islands.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said stationing government workers on the islands was an “option”..

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei hit back at Tokyo’s claims, saying Japan has to “remedy mistakes” and China was “seriously concerned” about Japan’s plans.

“Japan has to bear all the consequences if it recklessly takes provocative moves,” Hong said.

The State Oceanic Administration gave detailed accounts of its law enforcement since last September. It said vessels had gone within 0.28 nautical miles of the islands during the patrols. Japanese vessels had come within 10 metres of Chinese ships.

President Xi Jinping told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a brief encounter on the sidelines of a G20 summit in St Petersburg last week that Sino-Japanese ties faced “grave difficulties”.

A report by Kyodo, citing Japanese government sources, said Japan was exploring a formal meeting between the two leaders at next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Indonesia, but Tokyo was also planning to set up by 2015 a special military unit dedicated to “reclaiming islands”.

Da Zhigang, an expert in Japanese affairs at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said a quick improvement in relations is unlikely. “No one is sure if Abe is sincere or not,” he said.

Japan scrambles jets in response to drone — Sep 10

Japan scrambled fighter jets Monday after an unidentified drone flew near Tokyo-controlled islands at the centre of a bitter dispute with China, a defence ministry spokesman said.

It was the first reported incident of its kind.Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force sent an unspecified number of jets to the area, the official said.The drones did not enter Japanese airspace, the official said.


Chinese bombers prompt Japanese jet scramble

Kyodo News InternationalSeptember 8, 2013 12:18

     Japan’s Defense Ministry said Sunday two Chinese H-6 bombers flew round trip from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean without violating Japanese airspace the same day after overflying waters between Okinawa islands.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter aircraft, the ministry said. It was the first time the ministry has made an announcement after confirming the passing of Chinese bombardment aircraft through a chain of islands off the southwest coast of Japan.

Japan has scrambled fighter jets to head off a number of Chinese military planes since Tokyo put a group of East China Sea islands at the center of a territorial row under state control on Sept. 11, 2012.

Japan has been on alert against Chinese action prior to the first anniversary of its move on the uninhabited islands.

According to the ministry, the two H-6 bombers headed back to China after flying in skies between Okinawa’s main and Miyako islands.

In late July, a Chinese early warning aircraft overflew waters between the two islands, making it the first-ever Chinese military plane to do so.


Copyright 2013 Kyodo News International.

All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

China rules out talks with Japan on disputed Diaoyus

    Wednesday, 28 August, 2013 [Updated: 5:28AM]
  • japan_coast.jpg
A Japan Coast Guard vessel patrols off the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Photo: Reuters

China sees no reason to hold talks with Japan over their dispute about ownership of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong said.

Li said Japan’s call for high-level talks was not genuine, but merely grandstanding.

A meeting between leaders is not simply for the sake of shaking hands and taking pictures, but to resolve problems. If Japan wants to arrange a meeting to resolve problems, they should stop with the empty talk and doing stuff for show
Deputy Foreign Minister Li Baodong

“A meeting between leaders is not simply for the sake of shaking hands and taking pictures, but to resolve problems,” Li said ahead of President Xi Jinping’s attendance at the G20 summit next week.

“If Japan wants to arrange a meeting to resolve problems, they should stop with the empty talk and doing stuff for show,” Li said, when asked about the possibility of a meeting of Chinese and Japanese leaders at the G20.

China’s blunt rejection came as Japan yesterday voiced irritation over a remark by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called on Tokyo to face up to the past and improve ties with its neighbours. Speaking in Seoul on Monday, Ban called for “very deep introspection” by Japanese leaders, especially with regard to moves in Japan to revise its pacifist constitution. “I find it very regrettable that the tension [among the three northeast Asian countries] continues on due to issues of history and other political reasons,” Ban said.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he doubted if Ban was fully aware of the efforts Japan was making towards dialogue with China and South Korea.

“Prime Minister [Shinzo Abe] has called for dialogue with South Korea and China despite issues of concern,” Suga said. “I feel a strong sense of doubt as to whether the remark was made with full understanding of our country’s position.”

However, Professor Lian Degui , of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said it was unlikely that a Chinese state leader would meet Abe if Japan did not address Beijing’s concerns over Tokyo’s nationalising of the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan refers to as the Senkakus.

“If Japan really wants to improve ties with China, then it should address our concern,” he said. “It makes no sense for Tokyo to ask for a dialogue if Japan does not change its stance.”

Japan’s coastguard said yesterday that three Chinese coastguard vessels had entered what Japan considered to be its territorial waters near the disputed islands. China said the trip was a routine patrol in its own waters.

Reuters, Agence France Presse; additional reporting by Teddy Ng


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


By Harumi Ozawa

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


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


Japan Scrambles Jets After Russian Bomber Breaches Airspace

Aug. 22, 2013 – 10:54AM   |

TOKYO — Japan scrambled fighter jets Thursday after a pair of Russian bombers briefly intruded into the country’s airspace, officials said.

The two Tu-95 planes breached airspace near the isle of Okinoshima off Fukuoka in southern Japan for nearly two minutes shortly after midday, a defense ministry spokesman said.

“A total of four F-2 planes from the Air Self-Defence Force scrambled against them,” the official said.

The Japanese foreign ministry said it filed a formal protest with the Russian embassy in Tokyo over the violation and urged it to investigate.

In February, two Russian Su-27 fighters breached Japan’s airspace for just more than a minute off the northern island of Hokkaido, Japanese officials said at that time, in what was reported to be the first such incident in five years.

Tokyo and Moscow never signed a peace treaty after World War II. Despite an important commercial relationship, they remain at loggerheads over the sovereignty of islands north of the Japanese main island of Hokkaido.

Japan is also at odds with China over the sovereignty of an island chain near Taiwan, in a particularly bitter dispute that has seen both sides scramble aircraft.|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Japan moves to safeguard border islands



Construction of port facilities is under way at Okinotorishima island in Ogasawara village, Tokyo.

News Desk

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Publication Date : 05-08-2013

These remote islands serve as points for defining territorial waters and exclusive economic zones

With repeated incursions by Chinese government ships into Japanese waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, local and national authorities in Japan are intensifying efforts to safeguard remote islands, which serve as points for defining territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.

The nation’s southernmost island, Okinotorishima in Tokyo’s Ogasawara village, is one such example.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has begun constructing a port facility there for various purposes, including the development of maritime resources.

Another example is a group of remote islets off the Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, which is located near prime fishing grounds. There are growing calls among local residents to rename them. Because the isles currently bear names that include “iwa” (rock), the locals are concerned that such names could be misleading to other nations.

There are 6,847 remote islands in the country, according to the ministry and others. More than 90 of the islands are uninhabited. In many cases, the owners or management status are unknown.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that “…rocks which could not sustain human habitation or economic life of their own would have no economic zone or continental shelf.”

The government has decided to safeguard about 400 remote islands around the country.

Wharf under construction

Okinotorishima is an oval-shaped territory located about 1,700 kilometres south of central Tokyo. Under a land ministry construction project, a pier about 160 metres long will be built in its western region along with a portside road to allow access to the island’s interior.

Work began in April with the building of a cargo loading area to serve as a temporary holding space for cargo unloaded from ships. Due to severe seasonal weather such as typhoons and seasonal winds, the period for construction work is restricted to spring and summer. About 100 construction workers have been working on the project. The entire port facility is expected to be completed in three years, according to the ministry.

The territory, which measures about 11 kilometres in circumference, comprises two small islets that are not submerged at high tide. Their combined area is about nine square metres. Their concrete encasings, designed to prevent erosion from waves, require annual maintenance. Because large ships cannot approach the island, construction materials are loaded onto small boats on the ocean. After the wharf is completed, a 130-metre-class vessel can enter a port about eight metres deep.

The total project cost is about 75 billion yen. According to one estimate, about 116 billion yen in profits will be generated if cobalt and nickel desposits believed to exist on the seafloor near the island are successfully exploited.

China has claimed that Okinotorishima is an area consisting of rocks. A senior Japanese ministry official said: “After a port is constructed, it will serve as a hub for research vessels. If economic activity based on resource development picks up, it will become clearer that it is an ‘island.’”

‘Rocks’ a misnomer

Due to its abundance of prime fishing spots, the waters around the Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture have attracted foreign fishing boats, including those from China. Hizen Torishima is located about 61 kilometres southeast from Fukuejima island, which is at the centre of the city of Goto. It consists of three uninhibited islets–Minamiiwa, Iwasenakaiwa and Kitaiwa. Locals have been strongly hoping the names of the islets will be changed.

Because all the islet names contain the word “rock”, some are concerned that it may invite a misunderstanding in the international community amid heightened tensions between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands.

A local association comprising representatives of the business community and other organisations has been seeking to preserve and develop the islets. It asked the Goto municipal government to change their names. The Nagasaki prefectural government also announced that it will work together with the central government to help the city to facilitate the name changes. The city will ask its residents to consider new names for the islets. It plans to file a name change application with the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan as early as autumn.

Prefectural assembly member Hiroshi Yamada, an adviser to the association, said, “By changing their names, each of the islands will be recognized as an ‘island at the national border,’ not only by the Japanese people but also the international community.”

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.


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


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


Japan seeks to ‘nationalize’ islands

With an Upper House election looming this weekend, the Japanese cabinet plans to strengthen territorial claims on hundreds of remote islands in the East China Sea. -China

Daily/ANN  Tue, Jul 16, 2013    China Daily/Asia News Network

With an Upper House election looming this weekend, the Japanese cabinet plans to strengthen territorial claims on hundreds of remote islands in the East China Sea, observers said.

Tokyo will “nationalise” some islands that have no private owners shortly after a survey of islands is completed in 2014, leading Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun quoted an unnamed government source as saying on Monday.

The Japanese government plans to establish a task force to research the ownership and names of around 400 islands, a move described by Agence France-Presse as an attempt to bolster Japan’s territorial claims.

The latest move is designed to establish more reference points in territorial waters, and if the islands’ ownership is unclear, the government will officially name and nationalise them, the newspaper reported.

Wu Hui, an international law expert at the University of International Relations in Beijing, said if part of these islands falls into the scope of territorial disputes, other countries may lodge serious protests.

“Moreover, a unilateral move to nationalise islands will raise questions over the legitimacy of such a move.”

China-Japan relations were greatly damaged after Tokyo illegally nationalised part of China’s Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea in September.

As far as Tokyo is concerned, nationalizing controversial remote islands is part of legislative preparations for further claims, Wu said.

The island survey was announced shortly after the Japanese defence authorities indicated that they may “guard and retake” remote islands, analysts said.

The Japanese Defence Ministry is proposing “boosting the marine functions of the Self-Defence Forces” in its interim report for a planned revision of the country’s long-term defence policy, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported on Sunday.

The move underscores the importance attached by the ministry to strengthening the Self-Defence Forces’ ability to defend remote islands, Kyodo said.

Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, “Tokyo is now attempting greater control of maritime areas in order to give it an advantage in territorial disputes.

“Japan is seeking to be a political and military power with its moves on maritime disputes and its so-called measures to secure maritime interests,” Li said.

In mid-June, the Japanese armed forces participated in a joint military drill with the US Army, which involved the simulated retaking an airport occupied by an “enemy”.

These moves highlight Tokyo’s “desperation” to defend and retake remote islands at an early date, said major Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to visit Okinawa Prefecture in the southwest of the country on Tuesday.

The trip seems to demonstrate his determination to enhance the defence of remote islands amid the flaring up of tension with China, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper said.

“It is rare for a prime minister to visit remote islands during an election campaign,” Japan’s Jiji Press News Agency commented.


Caroline Kennedy to be named ambassador to Japan

NHK — Jul 13


US President Barack Obama is set to name Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former president John F. Kennedy, as the new ambassador to Japan.


Sources in Japan and the United States revealed on Friday that Obama is expected to announce soon that Kennedy will succeed Ambassador John Roos in Tokyo.Kennedy is 55 years old. She is an author and also manages a library honoring her father.

Some people have questioned whether she is a good choice for the ambassadorial post, citing her lack of experience in politics and diplomatic affairs.


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   |

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.|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Fukushima Nuke Plant manager dies of cancer


Tuesday, 09 July 2013

Masao Yoshida (AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press)



Masao Yoshida (AFP Photo / Japan Pool via JIJI Press)

The ex-head of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant Masao Yoshida, 58, died at a Tokyo hospital of esophageal cancer on July 9, 2013. Doctors have maintained repeatedly that Yoshida’s illness has had nothing to do with exposure to high doses of radiation.

Yoshida is believed to have prevented the world’s worst atomic accident in 25 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.

After March 11, 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima nuclear plant, General Manager in the Nuclear Asset Management Department of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. (TEPCO) Masao Yoshida remained in charge of the rectification of the consequences of the disaster for more than six months, barely leaving the station.

It was Yoshida’s own decision to disobey HQ orders to stop using seawater to cool the reactors. Instead he continued to do so and saved the active zones from overheating and exploding. Had he obeyed the order, the whole of north eastern Japan would possibly have been uninhabitable for decades, if not centuries.

After the catastrophe, the Japanese government ordered the forced evacuation of about 80,000 residents from a 20km no-entry zone around Fukushima plant which became unlivable.

On November 28, 2011, Yoshida was admitted to hospital, where cancer was diagnosed.

Five months after the tsunami, Yoshida testified to a government disaster investigation team.

In December 2011, he stepped down as head of Fukushima nuclear power plant.

He underwent several operations including an emergency brain surgery when intracranial bleeding was detected in late July 2012. He also suffered a non-fatal stroke.

Though it was announced later that Yoshida could not be questioned by prosecutors due to his failing health, the testimony he gave to the investigation team was thoroughly inspected as filing a criminal case against him was considered.


Poor English saved Japanese bankers during 2008 crisis: Aso

Politics Jun. 29, 2013 – 03:00PM JST


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


Hollande tells Japanese business leaders eurozone crisis is over


Politics Jun. 09, 2013 – 06:34AM JST ( 7 )

Hollande tells Japanese business leaders eurozone crisis is over
French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech during his lecture in Tokyo, Saturday.AP Photo/Koji Sasahara            


French President Francois Hollande sought reassure Japanese business leaders Saturday that the eurozone debt crisis is over but acknowledged that steps to boost the region’s growth and competitiveness need to be taken.

In a speech on the final day of his visit to Japan, Hollande said that the potentially destructive debt crisis has served to “reinforce” Europe and foster greater integration of the 17 member economies that use the euro currency.

He said authorities are developing tools to ensure greater stability and solidarity such as a Europe-wide “banking union” and budgetary rules.

“What you need to understand here in Japan is that the crisis in Europe is over. And that we can work together, France and Japan, to open new doors for economic progress,” he said in the speech at the Imperial Hotel organized by The Nikkei, a major financial newspaper.

Although the eurozone debt crisis that erupted at the end of 2009 has eased, the region’s collective economy has shrunk for six straight quarters and unemployment has reached 12.2%, the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999.

Hollande said Europe needs to put more emphasis on taking steps to promote growth and competitiveness “so that we can have a better presence in the world.”

He also highlighted his proposal to create a common economic government for the eurozone that would set economic policy.

Hollande called Japan an “exceptional partner” and urged both countries to invest more in each other. France’s annual exports to Japan total about 7.5 billion euros ($9.8 billion), while its imports are just over 9 billion euros. Both rank 11th as respective trade partners.

In response to a question about China, Hollande said that while France does have trade disputes with China — and a yawning trade deficit of 25 billion euros — Paris needs to “work with” Beijing and shouldn’t be expected to choose between Japan and China as they were both important regional economic powers.

Japan has expressed concern over French exports to China of equipment that potentially might have military uses, including the sale last year of equipment used to help helicopters land on ships. Providing China with such a capability alarms Tokyo given its tensions with Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Hollande repeated France’s insistence that the helicopters were not for military use.

“We have the will to work with Asia, and not to oppose any particular country,” he said. “We have a friendly relationship with China for a long time now, and a relationship of exceptional partnership with Japan,” he said. “Please do not ask us to choose.”


China trying to strengthen its claim to Okinawa



National May. 20, 2013 – 06:49AM JST ( 25 )



China is trying to strengthen its claim on tiny, uninhabited, Japanese-controlled islands by raising questions about the much larger Okinawa chain that is home to more than a million Japanese along with major U.S. military installations. The tactic, however, appears to have done little but harden Tokyo’s stance.

Japan refuses to offer any concessions to China over Tokyo’s control of the uninhabited East China Sea islands, which are called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan. Tokyo issued a formal protest to Beijing over the comments about Okinawa, made last week in the ruling Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily.

Scholars in Japan and elsewhere, meanwhile, warn Beijing may be shooting itself in the foot by arousing fears of a creeping campaign to nibble away at Japanese territory.

“If China’s goal is to hold talks with Japan over the Senkakus, articles like these are counterproductive,” said M. Taylor Fravel, a Chinese foreign policy expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “As a result, Japan has an even stronger incentive now to stand firm with China and not hold talks.”

The Diaoyu issue has rarely been out of the headlines in China since Japan’s government bought the islands in September to preempt Tokyo’s pugnacious former mayor from doing so.

Although the Japanese government purchase was ostensibly aimed reducing tensions, the move was seen in China as an attempt to solidify Tokyo’s sovereignty over the islets. Outraged Chinese staged violent street protests and attacked Japanese property, while the government backed up its objections by dispatching patrol boats to confront Japanese ships and sending a surveillance plane into Japanese airspace. While the sides have avoided clashes, the situation remains tense and neither side has backed down.

The comments about Okinawa appeared in a scholarly editorial in People’s Daily, in an apparent attempt to weaken the historical basis of Japan’s claim to the Senkaku islands by questioning the legitimacy of its control over the entire Okinawa chain. Its authors, Li Guoqiang and Zhang Haipeng, are prominent academics at the government’s Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the editorial is believed to have received high-level approval.

Li and Zhang wrote that Japan’s annexation of the formerly independent kingdom of the Ryukyus, including Okinawa, in 1879 amounted to an invasion and the question of sovereignty remains open. The kingdom had also been a Chinese vassal, giving Beijing a say in its political status, although the ruling Qing dynasty was too weak at the time to oppose Japan, the two wrote.

“Not only is Japan obliterating the truth about the Ryukyu issue, but it is doubling its aggressiveness and making provocations over the Diaoyu issue. Therefore it is necessary to revisit the Ryukyu issue,” Li wrote in a follow-up article in a sister newspaper, Global Times. Neither scholar said what, if anything, China should do about the Okinawa chain.

Japan added the Senkaku islands to its territory in 1895, but China refuses to consider them a part of Okinawa. It claims that they were always part of Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by Beijing.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said last week that the Chinese remarks about Okinawa were “totally unacceptable to us.”

China’s increasingly combative stance is seen as reflecting the attitudes of the country’s new leader Xi Jinping, who espouses a muscular nationalism and an aggressive approach to China’s territorial claims. China has sparred with the Philippines and Vietnam over overlapping claims in the South China Sea and recently engaged in a three-week standoff with Indian troops along a remote Himalayan section of their disputed border.

China’s navy and air force have also been increasingly active around Okinawa, passing through on their way to the West Pacific and conducting missions over the East China Sea that regularly force Japan to scramble its own jets.

The Chinese assertiveness has prompted a rebalancing of forces to the Asia-Pacific region by the U.S., which already maintains Air Force, Marine, Navy and Army bases on Okinawa, along with about 25,000 troops.

The U.S. occupied Okinawa from the end of World War II until May 15, 1972, and the military’s continued presence there remains a source of tension for Okinawans. Wednesday’s anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan was marked with no official ceremonies in the prefecture (state).

Although Washington doesn’t take a formal stance on the Senkakus’ sovereignty, it recognizes Japanese control over them and says they fall within the scope of the U.S.-Japan mutual defense pact.

Washington’s stance has drawn rebukes from Beijing, which already resents the U.S. for emboldening Japan on the issue and is highly criticial of what is referred to as the American military’s “pivot” to Asia.

The U.S. rebalancing “has aroused a great deal of suspicion in China,” former Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei wrote in Foreign Policy magazine this week. “These suspicions deepen when the United States gets itself entangled in China’s dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu islands,” He wrote.

Liang Yunxiang, a Japan expert at Peking University, said China’s questions about Okinawa are in part intended to win over global public opinion by “raising awareness of Japan’s invasion history that Japan has tried so hard to obscure.”

However, Liang said that “the move will, of course, frustrate Japan and the stances of the two sides may get tougher.”

Beijing will likely take further such moves as part of a calculated strategy to increase pressure on Japan and strengthening China’s bargaining position, said Paul O’Shea of the Center for East and Southeast Asian Studies at Sweden’s Lund University.

June Teufel Dreyer, a China expert at the University of Miami, said the danger for Beijing is not only that it could alienate Japan, but that it could raise expectations among Chinese activists. That could make it harder for the government to back away from the issue, posing the “first serious test of Xi Jinping’s leadership abilities,” she said.


AP writer Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Chinese general says Ryukyu islands do not belong to Japan

Politics May. 17, 2013 – 06:45AM JST ( 72 )


A senior Chinese military officer has said the Ryukyu Islands—which include Okinawa and its U.S. military bases—“do not belong to Japan”, as a territorial row mounts between the Asian powers.

The comments by People’s Liberation Army Major General Luo Yuan were published by the China News Service website Wednesday, after the country’s leading newspaper last week carried a call to review Tokyo’s sovereignty over the chain.

Luo emphasised that the islands were historically in a vassal relationship with imperial Chinese dynasties.

Those ties did not necessarily mean they were part of China, he said, adding: “But we can be certain of one point. The Ryukyus don’t belong to Japan.”

“If the Ryukyus don’t belong to you,” he said, referring to Tokyo, “how can you talk about the Diaoyus?”

China and Japan have been in a long-running dispute over islands in the East China Sea that Tokyo administers as the Senkakus, but Beijing claims as the Diaoyus.

The row intensified last year after Japan purchased islands in the chain it did not already own, sparking outrage in China, with anti-Japanese demonstrations taking place in Chinese cities.

Chinese vessels regularly enter waters around the islands and Japan has scrambled jets to ward off Chinese flights in the area, stoking fears of armed conflict.

Analysts have said questions in China about the Ryukyus’ status are probably aimed at pressuring Japan to make concessions in the dispute over the islands, which are administratively part of Okinawa Prefecture.

Luo seemed to back up such a view, saying that by raising the issue of the Ryukyus, China struck a blow at Japan’s “soft spot.”

Last week, the People’s Daily, China’s most-circulated newspaper and the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party, carried an article by scholars arguing that the country may have rights to the Ryukyus.

Japan says the islands are its territory and are accepted as such internationally.

Before being annexed into Japan in the late 19th century, the independent Ryukyu kingdom, centered on Okinawa, paid tribute to China for centuries—as did numerous other traditional Asian states—often receiving favourable trading rights in return.

Okinawa is home to 1.3 million people. The U.S. military occupied Okinawa and some other islands in the Ryukyu chain for 27 years after the end of World War II, returning them to Japan on May 15, 1972.

© 2013 AFP


China-Japan Island Dispute Could Become Flashpoint

May. 4, 2013 – 11:15AM


TAIPEI — While North Korea has garnered attention as Asia’s top hotspot, experts worry that the real problem is between Beijing and Tokyo over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China calls the Diaoyu Islands.

Over the past month, rhetoric has soared between new nationalistic leaders in China and Japan as each deploys hardware to the region.

China’s increased ship and air patrols to the islands have prompted an unprecedented response from Japan: Keep out or we will use force to keep you out. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, “Japan is determined to protect its land, water and air.”

And to help its key ally, America’s top military leaders have told Beijing that if the shooting starts, Washington is treaty- and duty-bound to back Tokyo.

That, in turn, has prompted China to declare the islands a “core interest” in a bid to force Tokyo and Washington to back down, a move that’s unlikely to work.

“I think the potential calculated escalation is high,” said Wallace “Chip” Gregson, former assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs under President Barack Obama. “China seems to feel it is in their interests to keep tensions high, and Japan’s tough response meets with political approval across the country. The potential for miscalculation is always there with so many ships and airplanes confronting each other.

“I think China takes US obligations seriously, and they are working to drive a wedge between the US and Japan. I don’t think they expected a strong response from Japan, but now that national prestige is involved in each country, they are stuck,” Gregson said.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s reaffirmation of US sup-port for Japan came last week after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a Japanese reporter April 26 that the “Diaoyu Islands are about sovereignty and territorial integrity. Of course, it’s China’s core interest.”

The “core interest” declaration rattled Tokyo and Washington. The phrase is usually reserved for sensitive Chinese territorial concerns. In March 2010, Chinese officials began declaring the South China Sea as a “core interest” on par with its claims over Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.

Hua’s statement was deleted from the official transcript issued by China’s Foreign Ministry.

“It is on the tape,” said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “However, when the transcript was issued, that sentence was deleted. The transcript remains the official account. Obviously, someone believed it should not have been said.”

“China is cautious in using the term ‘core interest,’ ” said Su Xiaohui, strategic studies research fellow, China Institute of Inter­national Peace, Beijing. “The reason is that when we define something as a ‘core interest,’ it means that it is not negotiable and China will defend it with all our might.”

A Chinese Foreign Ministry source echoed Su’s comments by saying Hua’s comments were a “signal to the world that the Chinese government attaches more importance to this sovereignty issue and is willing to defend its sovereignty. Whatever it takes.”

Su said China’s definition is not important.

“The reality is that it is difficult for China to step back. It is not only a problem between China and Japan. It is related to the US position, the South China Sea issue, etc. If we failed in dealing with the problem appropriately, the spillover effect would be disastrous.”

China has been ramping up tensions near the islands for the past 16 months. The most recent incident occurred April 23 when eight Chinese marine surveillance ships entered the 12-nautical-mile ter­ritorial zone off the islands.

Hua’s statement was both “surprising” and “expected,” said Jingdong Yuan, a China security specialist at the Centre for International Security Studies, University of Sydney. There is a possibility China has a new policy regarding territorial disputes.

“China would keep the status quo if one challenges it; otherwise, it will now seek to set a new benchmark or redefine the status quo, as it has been doing with regard to Senkaku,” Jingdong said.

There were relatively few intrusions into the vicinity of the island group before September 2012; now it has become a matter of fact where China is “basically demonstrating its de facto, at the minimum, co-administration while ever more loudly claiming its sovereign rights to these islands,” Jingdong said.

Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of the Center for National Strategy Studies, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, had a different take on the Hua comment. Zhuang said the Diaoyu Islands dispute is different from Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.

“Though it touches upon sovereignty and territorial disputes, the importance of this issue in the sense of a core interest is less than the previous ones,” he said. China is willing to discuss the island dispute with Japan, whereas there is no room for negotiation on the “other three.”

10 million sign petition for rescue of abductees from N Korea

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


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


China calls Japan-U.S. island drill ‘provocative’

Reuters — Apr 25


China said on Wednesday that “provocative actions” would not sway it from defending its territory, after Japan confirmed it would conduct military drills with the United States amid tension between Beijing and Tokyo over disputed islands.


Japan said on Tuesday that the joint drill, scheduled for June off California, involved the recapture of an isolated island but was not aimed at scenarios involving a specific country, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said “foreign pressure” could not sway China from protecting its territorial sovereignty in the East China Sea.

“For any related provocative actions, the Chinese government will maintain a resolute response,” Hua told reporters at a regular news briefing when asked about the drills.

“We have always upheld the same stance on issues related to the Diaoyu Islands: to appropriately solve, manage and control the relevant issues through bilateral dialogue and negotiations.”

News source: Reuters

China, Japan tense over disputed islands : Eight Chinese government ships had entered waters near the contested islands

CNN — Apr 24


The fragile relationship between China and Japan came under fresh strain Tuesday as ships from both sides crowded into the waters around a disputed group of islands and nearly 170 Japanese lawmakers visited a controversial war memorial.


The Japanese Coast Guard said eight Chinese government ships had entered waters near the contested islands in the East China Sea on Tuesday morning, the largest number to do so at any one time since tensions surrounding the territorial dispute escalated last year.China said its ships were there to monitor the movements of Japanese vessels in the area after a Japanese nationalist group chartered a flotilla of fishing boats to take dozens of activists there.

The Japanese foreign ministry responded by summoning the Chinese ambassador in Tokyo to lodge a strong protest about the Chinese ships’ presence near the uninhabited islands that lie between Okinawa and Taiwan and are known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

A day earlier, Beijing had made its own protest to Tokyo about a visit at the weekend by three Japanese cabinet ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japanese people killed while fighting for their country, including convicted war criminals.

Countries that suffered heavily at the hands of the Japanese military before and during World War II, such as China and South Korea, consider the shrine as an emblem of that aggressive period in Japanese history.

Tensions rise over Asian islands Why is Japan feuding over islands? Japan scrambles fighter jets But China’s representations failed to deter 168 Japanese members of parliament from visiting the shrine on Tuesday to pay their respects to the war dead, the most to do so in recent years.


Chinese ships track Japanese nationalist flotilla — Apr 23


Eight Chinese government ships have entered Japanese territorial waters near disputed islands, the most in a single day since Tokyo nationalised part of the archipelago, the Japanese government says.


A flotilla of boats carrying more than 80 Japanese nationalists had arrived in waters near the islands on Tuesday, risking further straining Tokyo’s already tense relations with its Asian neighbours. Japan’s coastguard confirmed the Chinese vessels had entered waters near the East China Sea island chain.The maritime surveillance ships entered the 12-nautical-mile zone off the Senkaku chain of islands, which China calls the Diaoyu, about 8am (9am AEST), the Japan Coast Guard said in a statement.

News source:

Abe vows to expel by force any Chinese landing on disputed isles

National Apr. 23, 2013 – 01:20PM JST ( 3 )

Abe vows to expel by force any Chinese landing on disputed isles
A Chinese marine surveillance ship cruises near the disputed islets in the East China Sea.;AFP


Prime minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday vowed to “expel by force” any Chinese landing on disputed islands.

“We would take decisive action against any attempt to enter territorial waters and to land” on the islands, Abe told parliament in response to questions from lawmakers. “It would be natural for us to expel by force the Chinese if they were to make a landing.”

Abe made the remarks after eight Chinese government ships entered Japanese territorial waters near the islands on Tuesday, the most in a single day since Tokyo nationalised part of the archipelago, the Japanese government said.

Japan’s coast guard confirmed the vessels had entered waters near the East China Sea island chain, while the government’s top spokesman said the flotilla was a one-day record since Tokyo’s nationalisation in September.

Japan summoned the Chinese ambassador in protest.

The maritime surveillance ships entered the 12-nautical-mile zone off the Senkaku chain of islands, which China calls the Diaoyu, around 8 a.m., the Japan Coast Guard said in a statement.

State-owned Chinese ships have frequently spent time around the five disputed islands, also claimed by Taiwan, in recent months.

“It is extremely deplorable and unacceptable that Chinese government ships are repeatedly entering Japanese territorial waters. We have made a firm protest against China both in Beijing and Tokyo,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

© 2013 AFP

Japan scrambled jets against China planes record 306 times in 12 months

National Apr. 18, 2013 – 08:15AM JST ( 29 )


Japan scrambled fighter jets in response to Chinese aircraft a record number of times in the year to March 2013, mostly after the nationalisation of disputed islands, the government said Wednesday.

Jets were sent airborne 306 times over the 12 months, double the previous year and more than the number of times they reacted to Russian planes—247—for the first time on record, the Defense Ministry said in a press release.

In September last year, the Japanese government bought three of the five Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, known and claimed as the Diaoyus in China.

More than three-quarters of the mobilisations against Chinese aircraft, a total of 237, were in the October to March period.

On December 13, a Y-12 turbo-prop plane from China’s State Oceanic Administration breached airspace over the disputed islands, prompting the launch of Japanese F-15s.

It was the first known incursion ever by a Chinese plane into Japanese airspace, the government said at the time.

State-owned Chinese ships have sailed close to the disputed islands dozens of times since September, sometimes moving into 12-nautical-mile territorial waters around them.

In recent years Russian fighter patrols near islands that Moscow and Tokyo both claim have been the most common cause of Japanese airborne responses.

© 2013 AFP

N. Korean missile launchpad moved into firing position – report

Published time: April 11, 2013 01:38   Edited time: April 11, 2013 03:45                                                                            

AFP Photo / Ed Jones

AFP Photo / Ed Jones

A North Korean missile launcher has moved into the firing position with rockets facing skyward, Kyodo reports, citing a Japan defense official.

The Japanese government is on high alert, citing indications that Pyongyang might soon launch ballistic missiles at its island neighbor.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Thursday morning that so far Tokyo was responding by “gathering a variety of information … with a sense of tension,” according to Kyodo.

Several Patriot Advance Capability-3 missile interceptor units have been deployed in Japan over the last few days to defend key military units and the country’s capital city, Tokyo. One of the units was set up at the Defense Ministry’s headquarters in Ichigaya, in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

The Patriots’ deployment followed Japan’s deployment of Aegis destroyers equipped with SM-3 interceptor missiles.

Japan authorized its forces to shoot down anything fired at it from North Korea.

A Japan Self-Defence Forces soldier stands near units of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo April 10, 2013. Japan has deployed ground-based PAC-3 interceptors, as well as Aegis radar-equipped destroyers carrying Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors in response to North Korea's threats and actions, according to its government.(Reuters / Issei Kato)

A Japan Self-Defence Forces soldier stands near units of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo April 10, 2013. Japan has deployed ground-based PAC-3 interceptors, as well as Aegis radar-equipped destroyers carrying Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors in response to North Korea’s threats and actions, according to its government.(Reuters / Issei Kato)

The indication of the new North Korean readiness follows South Korean and US forces’ announcement of an upgrade of their surveillance alert status to the highest possible level before coming into a state of war.

It also comes amid revelations from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, with a government source saying Pyongyang is preparing multiple launches of shorter-range Scud and Rodong missiles. “There are clear signs that the North could simultaneously fire off Musudan, Scud and Nodong missiles,” an anonymous military source was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

The military alert status is now at Watchcon 2, reflecting a perceived “vital threat” from North Korean missiles after the North warned of a ‘thermonuclear’ war and asked foreigners to leave South Korea.

To counter the threat, two Aegis destroyers with SPY-1 radar have been placed on standby by the South along the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean military is also operating early warning aircraft Peace Eye and ground-based missile defense radar system Green Pine to counter a potential rocket launch from the north.

On Tuesday, the commander of US Pacific Command said that the US is ready capable of countering the missile threat.

Japan seizes nuclear-related materials from N Korea cargo : ( Singapore-flagged ship )

Crime Mar. 19, 2013 – 06:50AM JST ( 5 )


Japan has seized aluminium alloy rods which can be used to make nuclear centrifuges from a Singapore-flagged ship which was carrying cargo from North Korea, a government spokesman said Monday.

The five rods were discovered on the ship during its call at Tokyo port last August and were confirmed to be aluminium alloy through tests conducted over the past six months, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

“The aluminium alloy is extremely strong and can be used in centrifuges, that are products related to nuclear development,” Suga told a regular news briefing.

The rods had been stored at a private warehouse and the Japanese government ordered the firm Monday to hand them over.

It was the first such handover under a special law passed in 2010 to enable Tokyo to inspect North Korea-related ships suspected of carrying materials that could be used in nuclear and missile programs.

According to media reports, the ship was on its way to Myanmar when it arrived in Tokyo via the Chinese port of Dalian.

The spokesman confirmed the ship arrived via Dalian but said only that the cargo was bound for a “third country”.

The North has conducted three nuclear weapons tests, in 2006, 2009 and last month, and disclosed in 2010 that it is developing a program to enrich uranium using centrifuges.

Such a program would give it a second way to produce material for atomic weapons, in addition to its longstanding plutonium program.

United Nations sanctions resolutions require member states to inspect cargo suspected to be linked to the North’s nuclear development.

Myanmar was suspected of pursuing military and nuclear cooperation with North Korea during long years of junta rule which ended in 2011 in the Southeast Asian state.

But the White House said last November the nation had taken “positive steps” to reduce its military relationship with the North.

© 2013 AFP


Japan cracks seabed ‘ice gas’ in dramatic leap for global energy / radically change the world’s energy outlook.

Japan has extracted natural “ice” gas from methane hydrates beneath the sea off its coasts in a technological coup, opening up a super-resource that could meet the country’s gas needs for the next century and radically change the world’s energy outlook.

Japanese flag

The breakthrough comes after 17 years of research and several hundred million dollars of investment.


2:04PM GMT 12 Mar 2013

The state-owned oil and gas company JOGMEC said an exploration ship had successfully drilled 300 metres below the seabed into deposits of methane hydrate, an ice-like solid that stores gas molecules but requires great skill to extract safely.

“Methane hydrates available within Japan’s territorial waters may well be able to supply the nation’s natural gas needs for a century,” said the company, adding that the waters under exploration also contain large reserves of rare earth metals.

Government officials said it was the world’s first off-shore experiment of its kind, though Japan been working closely with the Canadians. The US and China have their own probes underway.

The US Geological Survey said methane hydrates offer an “immense carbon reservoir”, twice all other known fossil fuels on earth (illustrated in pie chart below). However, it warned that the ecological impact is “very poorly understood”.

The immediate discoveries in Japan’s Eastern Tankai Trough are thought to hold 40 trillion cubic feet of methane, equal to eleven years gas imports. The company described the gas as “burnable ice”, saying the trick is free it from a crystaline cage of water molecules by lowering the pressure. Tokyo hopes to bring the gas to market on a commercial scale within five years.

Projected distribution of methane hydrate in seas around Japan (Source: Jogmec)

The breakthrough comes after 17 years of research and several hundred million dollars of investment. It could be the answer to Japan’s prayers, ending its reliance on expensive imports of fuel to meet almost all energy needs.

The country’s trade surplus has vanished since the government shut down all but two of its 54 nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and switched to other fuels, mostly liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Projected distribution of methane hydrate globally (Source: Jogmec)

It imported a record 87m tonnes of LNG last year at roughly five times the cost of shale gas available to US chemical companies and key industries, putting Japanese firms at a huge disadvantage.

Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics said methane hydrate could be the “game-changer” that restores Japan’s flagging fortunes, acting as a catalyst for revival much like the shale revolution in the US.

The state oil group plans to drill as deep as 7,000 metres below the sea floor eventually, going out in seas with depth of up to 4,000 metres.

Environmentalists are deeply alarmed by new focus on ice gas, fearing that it will set off a fresh energy race in the fragile eco-systems of the oceans and may cause landslides on the seabed.

The risk of methane leakage into the atmosphere could be a major snag. The US Geological Survey says the gas has ten times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide.

China stands firm on islands: Tokyo must “shoulder all consequences” if it prompts any friction by using military vessels and planes to harass regular Chinese patrols








Zhang Yunbi and Ding Qingfen


China Daily


Publication Date : 03-03-2013


Tokyo must “shoulder all consequences” if it prompts any friction by using military vessels and planes to harass regular Chinese patrols around the Diaoyu Islands, a Chinese official warned on Saturday, as tension over territorial dispute continued.


Lyu Xinhua, the newly appointed spokesman for the first session of the 12th National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks in his debut briefing in response to a question from China Daily regarding the islands situation.


Beijing urged Tokyo to stop any territory infringement, especially “irresponsible remarks” by Japanese leaders, and make significant efforts in improving relations, the spokesman said.


Yang Bojiang, an expert on Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the spokesman’s remark signals a solemn warning against Tokyo’s recent provocations, as “in the past year, Japan has taken initiatives at every key timing to escalate the islands situation”.


The Japanese government last September illegally “purchased” part of the islands, a move that has dramatically strained Sino-Japanese ties.

Beijing has enhanced regular patrols around the islands since, and in December Japan scrambled fighter jets in an effort to prevent China Marine Surveillance aircraft from flying.


Chinese officials have also charged that Japan tarnished the image of the Chinese military by spreading groundless allegations about the so-called radar targeting a Japanese gunboat by China.


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a policy speech on Thursday to his country’s lower legislative house, cited the alleged ‘radar lock-on’ incident as “a dangerous move that may escalate the situation”.


Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Japanese studies and deputy dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, said Japan has broadcast its baseless allegations against China to induce the international community to step up pressure on China.


“Consensus has been reached within Japan that blaming China and hyping the threat of China can help the government win more domestic public support,” Liu said.


As a peace-loving country, China will not incite trouble, “nor will it be afraid of any troublemakers”, said Lyu, the spokesman of the top political advisory body’s annual session.


“We will never back down on issues related to China’s territorial sovereignty,” Lyu said.


During Abe’s latest trip to Washington in late February, his appeal for greater support from Washington received a cold response from President Barack Obama on issues regarding the dispute and policies toward China.


Wang Fan, assistant president of the China Foreign Affairs University, warned that some key territorial issues, including the Diaoyu Islands dispute, have been utilized as “bargaining chips” to rein in China.


“Some countries are resorting to territorial issues to derail China’s steady pace of development and even prompt it to change its peaceful development strategy,” Wang warned.


The spokesman confirmed that diplomatic communications have continued between Beijing and Tokyo in an ongoing effort to manage the crisis.


China has been hyped as a threat to neighbours, but China has never posed a threat in its defense positions, Wang said, and it is “never a stumbling block but a protector” of navigation freedom in the region.


“It is also necessary to clarify that China has shown consistency in guarding sovereignty in the past century, and this has nothing to do with the rising strength of the country,” Wang said.


Meanwhile, analysts predicted that it is unlikely for Tokyo, in the near future, to change its stance on the islands dispute.


As the Japanese upper house election will probably be held in July, coming out on top in the power reshuffle is the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s top priority. That means Tokyo will give little ground while trying to pit its strength against Beijing, Yang Bojiang said.


“We are still unlikely to see major conflict between China and Japan taking place over the islands, as China has upheld dialogue as the best option while the US has told Japan to act calmly,” Liu Jiangyong said .


The sessions of the National People’s Congress, which is China’s legislature, and the National Committee of the CPPCC, the top political advisory body, will open on Tuesday and Sunday, respectively