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This Day in History: Soviet pilot lands Russian MIG fighter plane in Japan, Sep 06, 1976 

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A Soviet Air Force pilot lands his MIG fighter jet in Japan and asks for asylum in the United States. The incident was a serious embarrassment for the Soviets, and also provided a bit of a surprise for U.S. officials.

When the Soviets first put the MIG-25 (known as the Foxbat) into production in the 1960s, U.S. officials became nearly hysterical. The new plane, they claimed, was the fastest, most advanced, and most destructive interceptor jet ever built. Its debut, they argued, meant that the United States was falling dangerously behind in the race to control the skies. On September 6, 1976, those officials got a close-up look at the aircraft.

Soviet Air Force Lt. Viktor Belenko took his MIG-25 out of Soviet airspace and landed it at a Japanese airfield at Hakodate on the island of Hokkaido. Japanese police took the pilot into custody, where he immediately asked for asylum in the United States. Experts from the U.S. quickly arrived on the scene to get a firsthand look at the aircraft. After being questioned extensively by both Japanese and U.S. officials, Belenko was flown to the United States and granted political asylum.

For the Soviets, the MIG-25 incident was a major diplomatic and military embarrassment. To have one of their most advanced planes delivered into the hands of their enemy was mortifying and was viewed as a serious setback to the Soviet weapons program. Read the rest of this entry »

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Executive Arrested in Japan Over Disappearance of $390 Million in Bitcoins

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The global virtual currency community was shaken by the shuttering of MtGox, which froze withdrawals in February 2014 because of what the firm said was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoin that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

Japanese police on Saturday arrested Mark Karpeles, head of the collapsed MtGox Bitcoin exchange, over the disappearance of about $390 (£250 million) worth of the virtual currency, local media said.

France-born Karpeles, 30, is suspected of having accessed the exchange’s computer system and falsifying data on its outstanding balance, Kyodo News and public broadcaster NHK said.

“They say it’s under investigation. That’s all they say. They seem to refuse to make public more precise information about MtGox’s own (information) and how and when it was stolen, if it was really stolen.”

—  French investor, to AFP last year at a creditors’ meeting in Tokyo

The global virtual currency community was shaken by the shuttering of MtGox, which froze withdrawals in February 2014 because of what the firm said was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoin that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

Police did not immediately confirm Karpeles’ arrest but local television footage showed authorities taking him into custody.

The exchange – which once boasted of handling around 80 percent of global Bitcoin transactions – filed for bankruptcy protection soon after the cyber-money went missing, admitting it had lost 850,000 coins worth 48 billion yen ($387 million at today’s exchange rate).

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Ross Ulbricht Silk Road mastermind

“A cloud has been hanging over the Tokyo-based exchange and Karpeles as investors have demanded answers, and called on the firm to publicise its data so that hackers around the world can help analyse what happened at MtGox.”

Karpeles later said he had found some 200,000 of the lost Bitcoins in a “cold wallet” – a storage device such as a memory stick that is not connected to other computers.

Bitcoins are generated by complex chains of interactions among a huge network of computers around the planet and are not backed by any government or central bank.

A cloud has been hanging over the Tokyo-based exchange and Karpeles as investors have demanded answers, and called on the firm to publicise its data so that hackers around the world can help analyse what happened at MtGox. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan: Elderly Crimes Exceed Teen Crimes?

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Over 23,000 criminal seniors busted this year

Police in Japan have dealt with more elderly crime than juvenile crime in the past six months, it’s reported.

It’s the first time that people over the age of 65 have surpassed teenagers in crime statistics since 1989, when Japan’s National Police Agency started publishing age-related crime data, the Kyodo News Agency reports. Officers took action against more than 23,000 elderly people in the first half of the year, compared to fewer than 20,000 youngsters aged between 14 and 19, officials figures show.

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Japan has seen a fall in overall crime rates over the past 10 years, but not among its growing elderly population. The new figures show that violent crime committed by the over-65s rose by more than 10% compared to the same period last year. Of the country’s 127 million people, more than a quarter are now of retirement age, but the government has warned that the figure is likely to grow significantly in the coming decades. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Successfully Launches New Spy Satellite

Japan successfully completed the launch of a radar reconnaissance satellite on Sunday morning, the Kyodo news agency reports. The launch was performed from the Tanegashima Space Center in the Kagoshima Prefecture in the south of Japan at 10:21 local time (01:30 GMT). The satellite was taken into orbit by the H-2A (H-IIA) carrier rocket.japan-h2-palms-day-lg

This is the fifth spy satellite that Japan has launched into the  Earth’s orbit. It will allow to capture objects on the surface of the Earth at high resolution during nighttime and through clouds. The other four Japanese satellites that are orbiting the Earth include two optical imaging spacecraft and two radar imagers.

Japan plans to launch another reconnaissance satellite in March, as part of the Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) series. The IGS program was initiated after North Korea attempted to launch a satellite in August 1998. The rocket carrying the satellite overflew Japan and fell into the Pacific Ocean.

Source: Sputnik News

 


Hammer Cocked: Satellite Photos Reveal China Military Buildup on Island Near Senkakus

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 reports: Recent satellite photos of an island off the coast of China confirm Beijing’s buildup of military forces within attack range of Japan’s Senkaku islands.

“If you want to rate the level of tension, this is the PLA reaching for its holster. When forces start deploying to Nanji Island, that means the hammer is cocked.”

— Rick Fisher, a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center

Construction of a helicopter base on Nanji Island was observed by a commercial spy satellite in October. The island is off the coast of Zhejiang province—some 186 miles northwest of the Senkakus, a group of resource-rich islets China calls the Diaoyu Islands.

The imagery, obtained from the Airbus Defense and Space-owned Pleaides satellite, reveals China is constructing an airfield with 10 landing pads for helicopters on Nanji Island.

The Pléiades system was designed under the French-Italian ORFEO program (Optical & Radar Federated Earth Observation) between 2001 and 2003

The Pléiades system was designed under the French-Italian ORFEO program (Optical & Radar Federated Earth Observation) between 2001 and 2003

Military analysts said the new military base appears to be preparation by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for an attack or seizure of the Senkakus.

“China’s new heli-base on Nanji Island demonstrates that the PLA is preparing for an offensive military operation against the Senkaku/Daiyoutai Islands,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“If you want to rate the level of tension, this is the PLA reaching for its holster. When forces start deploying to Nanji Island, that means the hammer is cocked.”

© CNES (2014), Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image / IHS

© CNES (2014), Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image / IHS

The military buildup on Nanji was first disclosed by Japan’s Kyodo News Service last month. Kyodo, quoting Chinese sources, said a landing strip was being built.

However, the satellite photos, reported last week by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, a trade publication, did not indicate construction of an airstrip, only helicopter landing pads. The helicopter pads are an indication that China plans to use the base for transporting troops and forces by helicopter and not for longer-range air transports or fighter jets.

China has been engaged in a tense confrontation with Japan over the Senkakus since 2012, when Tokyo, in a bid to clarify the status of the uninhabited islands, purchased three of the islands from private owners in a bid to prevent Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara from buying them.

Since then, Chinese ships and warplanes, as well as unmanned surveillance drones, have been flying close to the islands, prompting numerous Japanese maritime and aerial intercepts.

Jane’s reported the helicopter base construction is new. The construction is not visible in photos taken earlier than October 2013.

Google Earth screenshot

Google Earth screenshot

Wind turbines also are visible additions to the island that are located on a ridge on the southeast part of the island. Radar and communications equipment also is visible.

China’s Defense Ministry did not dispute the military buildup on Nanji. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Volcano Erupts In Central Japan, Hiker Dead, Dozens Reported Stranded | 御嶽山 大噴火 山頂火口付近 衝撃の山小屋

Dozens of hikers were stranded Saturday on the slopes of an erupting Japanese volcano that has reportedly killed one person and left 30 more seriously injured.

A manager of Japan Meteorological Agency speaks at a press conference to explain the eruption of Mount Ontake, in Tokyo on September 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jiji Press)

A manager of Japan Meteorological Agency speaks at a press conference to explain the eruption of Mount Ontake, in Tokyo on September 27, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jiji Press)

Ash, rocks and steam continued to spew from Mount Ontake more than nine hours after it sprang violently to life as around 250 people were trying to scale its peak.

“The speed of the smoke was too fast. You can’t escape.”I’m worried that many more people are still on the mountain.”

— A climber, reported by NHK

Four people were buried by the ash, with one having been dug out, Kyodo News reported.

“I first thought it was thunder as I heard a bang and another bang, two or three times,” a trekker told public broadcaster NHK. “Then volcanic dust fell noisily.”

A picture taken by Nagano Prefectural Police on September 27, 2014 shows ash and smoke billowing from Mount Ontake (AFP Photo/)

A picture taken by Nagano Prefectural Police shows ash and smoke billowing from Mount Ontake (AFP Photo)

“Amateur cameraman Keiji Aoki told Jiji Press: “It was tremendous. I prepared for death when I got caught in the dust under a pine tree.”

— Amateur cameraman Keiji Aoki, to Jiji Press

A suffocating blanket of ash up to 20 centimetres (8 inches) deep covered a large area of the 3,067 metre (10,121-foot) volcano, trapping climbers and forcing up to 150 into mountaintop shelters at one point.

Around 230 people have now reached the bottom but a further 40 are trapped at the summit where they will spend the night in shelters, local media reported.

Aerial footage of Mt. Ontake showed several cabins smothered with the thick dust, some with windows that appear to have been shattered by the force of the eruption. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: Tokyo Suspects North Korea of Abducting 883 Japanese Nationals

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TOKYO, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – The number of Japanese nationals, who may have been abducted in North Korea, has risen to 883, Kyodo News Agency reported Tuesday, citing a high-profile security official.

“We are saying that there could be as many as 860 abductees. The government’s policy is to retrieve every single abductee.”

Japan cannot exclude the possibility of the abduction of a further 23 Japanese nationals by Pyongyang, making the total number 883, the country’s National Public Safety Commission Chairman Keiji Furuya was quoted as saying.

Earlier, Furuya said there have been 860 Japanese citizens, missing and possibly kidnapped and taken to North Korea over the last few decades. Read the rest of this entry »


Report: China Plans for North Korean Regime Collapse Leaked

Documents drawn up by planners from China’s People’s Liberation Army that were leaked to Japanese media include proposals for detaining key North Korean leaders and the creation of refugee camps on the Chinese side of the frontier in the event of an outbreak of civil unrest in the secretive state.

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Photo: Getty

“What we have learned from the collapse of other dictatorships – the Soviet Union, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya – is that the more totalitarian the regime, the harder and faster they fall”

— Jun Okumura, a visiting scholar at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs

For The TelegraphJulian Ryall reports: China has drawn up detailed contingency plans for the collapse of the North Korean government, suggesting that Beijing has little faith in the longevity of Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Beijing’s lack of faith in rule of Kim Jong-un exposed in contingency plans to detain key North Korean leaders, set up border refugee camps and respond to “foreign forces”

Any senior North Korean military or political leaders who could be the target of either rival factions or another “military power,” thought to be a reference to the United States, should be given protection, the documents state.

The report calls for stepping up monitoring of China’s 879-mile border with North Korea.

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

North Korean soldiers patrol the bank of the Yalu River which separates the North Korean town of Sinuiju from the Chinese border town of Dandong, northeast China (Getty)

According to Kyodo News, the Chinese report says key North Korean leaders should be detained in special camps where they can be monitored, but also prevented from directing further military operations or taking part in actions that could be damaging to China’s national interest. Read the rest of this entry »


Gunboat Economics: China Seizes Japanese Ship — As Payment for Pre-World War II Debt

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(AFP) — Tokyo warned 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.

[ALSO SEE: CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW: “GUNBOAT ECONOMICS”]

The move is the latest to illustrate the bitter enmity at the heart of Tokyo-Beijing ties, with the two sides embroiled in a dispute over the ownership of a small archipelago and snapping at each other over differing interpretations of history.

Mr Suga said Japan was "deeply concerned" about the seizure of a cargo ship in China

Mr Suga said Japan was “deeply concerned” about the seizure of a cargo ship in China

Shanghai Maritime Court said Saturday it had seized “the vessel Baosteel Emotion owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines… for enforcement of an effective judgement” made in December 2007.

“The arrested vessel will be dealt with by the law if Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. still refuses to perform its obligations,” the court said.

Chinese and Hong Kong media said the seizure was related to a verdict by a court in Shanghai that said Mitsui must pay about 2.9 billion yen ($28 million) in relation to the leasing of two ships nearly 80 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »