TOKYO—Yuka Hayashi reports: Japan plans to establish a 3,000-troop unit specializing in amphibious operations “as swiftly as possible,” the defense minister said, publicly outlining details of the new unit for the first time as tensions with China continue over disputed islands.
“Our nation has numerous remote islands and islands of various sizes, and they give us the basis for our exclusive economic zone that ranks sixth in the world…That makes it important to provide defense for islands over the coming years.”
Japan has undertaken an ambitious project to create a force similar to the U.S. Marine Corps, and Japanese Self-Defense Force Troops have been receiving increasingly frequent training from their U.S. counterparts in the past few years.
A plan to strengthen amphibious capabilities was laid out in Japan’s new defense guidelines released in December. In detailing some of the specifics Sunday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the new force is expected to include units specializing in handling types of equipment currently unfamiliar to Japanese troops, such as amphibious vehicles and the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Toko Sekiguchi writes: Standing with its western allies, Japan has criticized Russia over its decision to put troops in Ukraine, but at the same time has taken a softer line than others amid recently improved ties with Moscow.
Japan, whose diplomacy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has focused on ameliorating ties with President Vladimir Putin’s administration, did join in a statement from the Group of Seven industrialized nations that it was suspending preparations for the scheduled G-8 Summit in Sochi in June. The G-7 statement said that this would stay in place “until the environment comes back where the G-8 is able to have meaningful discussion.”
I was disappointing to discover that actual members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces aren’t featured in this calendar, but bikini models and pop sex-symbols from the civilian world. Still, it’s an effective recruitment campaign…
Images of the 2014 Japan Self-Defense Forces calendar depicting beautiful women in uniform have been popping up on portal sites around Japan. The calendars were created to raise awareness of the JSDF and to “lift morale.” However, with this year’s choice to use, not actual members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, but bikini model Azusa Yamamoto, among others, we have a feeling this calendar will be lifting a lot more than morale.
Here’s a sample:
Applications for the Self-Defense Forces increased by 20 percent with the addition of three moe mascots on their recruitment posters. We wonder how many young men and women this models-turned-military calendar will inspire…
For seven decades the US-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of peace in Asia. Never has it been as vital as today
Rep. J. Randy Forbes writes: For nearly seven decades, the U.S. alliance with Japan has been the cornerstone of the American-led security order in East Asia. Together, our two countries have helped to usher in an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in a region formerly identified with persistent conflict and endemic poverty. Working together through the long years of the Cold War to resist the Soviet Union’s attempts to gain influence in the region, followed by more recent cooperation on everything from counterterrorism to disaster relief, the United States and Japan have established one of the most enduring alliances in modern times. Now, as Asia takes on a newfound importance in international relations, the alliance is poised to play a consequential role in shaping the security architecture of the region. More specifically, the strength of the alliance will help determine the course of the region’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China in the decade ahead.
China’s announcement last November that it would establish an “air defense identification zone” (ADIZ) in the East China Sea was another test of the U.S.-Japan alliance and, more broadly, America’s appetite for sustaining its commitments to the region. Since 2010, Beijing has consistently resorted to forms of coercion to patiently challenge the United States and its allies. I believe strongly that the United States should neither recognize nor accept China’s unilateral declaration of an ADIZ and we should continue to conduct our military exercises and operations in the region so as to maintain the status quo.
If you spend some time walking around the Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Ikebukuro districts of Tokyo, at some point you’re bound to spot a lavishly decorated truck blasting music from its speakers. These “ad trucks” as they’re known in Japanese are just what they sound like - gigantic, mobile billboards with no purpose other than to drive around promoting the latest music and products.
…While these trucks do raise some legitimate environmental concerns, there’s no denying that this eye-catching (and deafening) marketing strategy is an effective way to grab everyone’s attention…. You might be surprised by some of the wacky and suggestive things they can get away with…
Earth brand bug killer: “If it’s a bad bug, we’ll kill them all”
Tokyo: During the heaviest and worst Snowfall in a decade, 11 people were killed while 1200 other were injured in Tokyo. As much as 27cm of snow was recorded in Tokyo by late Saturday, the heaviest fall in the capital for 45 years, according to meteorologists. The storm hit Tokyo on the eve of its gubernatorial election…
Observers say the weather may affect voter turnout in the city of 13 million people. As this is a rare phenomenon in Japan, people seem to be enjoying the snow. They are carving cute and awesome snowman and uploading the pictures on Twitter. See more here…
From the comically gruesome…
A snow storm hit Japan on Friday, disrupting rail and road travel, grounding more than 100 flights and adding to the piles left behind by an earlier blanketing.
Up to 30 centimetres (12 inches) of snow was forecast for some parts of the country by Saturday morning, a week after the heaviest snowfall in decades left at least 11 people dead and more than 1,200 injured.
Tokyo had a thin covering by early Friday afternoon and the weather agency was warning it would continue into the night.
US court has ordered conservation group Sea Shepherd to stay at least 500 yards away from Japan’s whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean.
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit banned the group from “physically attacking any vessel engaged by the plaintiffs”.
The court was responding to an appeal by Japan’s whalers, after an earlier case was rejected. The injunction remains in force until the court formally rules on the appeal.
The ruling by the court also bans Sea Shepherd from “navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger the safe navigation” of any whaling vessel.
Translated – ”Moon of Hatred: Era of Monsters”
A Japanese zoo staged an emergency response training exercise on Thursday, simulating a scenario in which the zoo’s gorillas escape following an earthquake
Dressed in a gorilla-like costume, one member of staff runs through the zoo before being overwhelmed by other zoo workers with nets and ‘sedated’.
More than 150 members of staff were joined by members of local police and fire departments during the escape drill at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.
Listen to an excerpt from Symphony No. 1 Hiroshima: Tokyo Symphony Orchestra / Naoto Otomo, courtesy DENON
BBC News reports: A deaf composer who has been dubbed “Japan’s Beethoven” has admitted hiring someone else to write his music for nearly two decades.
Mamoru Samuragochi shot to fame in the mid-1990s and is most famous for his Hiroshima Symphony No 1, dedicated to those killed in the 1945 atomic blast.
The 50-year-old has now confessed he has not composed his own music since 1996.
The real composer of the musician’s “hits” has not been formally named.
ALERT THE NSA: SUSPICIOUS MILITARY-INSPIRED DESIGN RAISES THREAT LEVEL FROM JAPANESE FRUIT-TERROR CAMPAIGN’S SECRET CITRUS-ENGINEERING HEADQUARTERS
From creepy pears in the shape of a baby to heart-shaped and watermelons, Japan has the market cornered on unusually shaped fruit. Now we’ve come across a five-sided orange produced in Ehime Prefecture.
[Check out Amazon's Herbie Hancock selection]