Shinzo Abe moved closer Thursday to securing passage of legislation that will allow Japan to participate in collective self-defense. After seven decades of sheltering under the U.S. security umbrella, the Prime Minister’s move would give Tokyo the ability to fight alongside an ally when either one is threatened, while protecting stability and democracy in East Asia.
The Cabinet adopted a new interpretation of Japan’s postwar Constitution last July allowing this cooperation. In April the U.S. and Japan announced new defense guidelines to put it into practice. On Thursday the lower house of the Diet approved the plan, and now the legislation moves to the upper house.
Progress hasn’t come easily. Most Japanese oppose the plan, and according to an Asahi poll, Mr. Abe’s approval rating has fallen sharply to 39%. There have been tussles on the Diet floor and raucous protests outside it. Mr. Abe will need the support of coalition partners with pacifist tendencies to prevail in the upper house, though he could still overcome a defeat there with a two-thirds majority in the lower one. Read the rest of this entry »
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: Godzilla is playing a leading role again — this time as a tourist attraction in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, where the monster is working to resurrect the area’s reputation as a film hub.
“The 12-meter-high Godzilla head is a centerpiece of the building. The sculpture is installed 52 meters above ground level — matching the height of the original monster that appeared in the first film in 1954.”
The 30-story Shinjuku Toho building opened Friday in Kabukicho on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater. Thanks to the installation of a colossal sculpture of Godzilla’s head, the monster himself appears to be hovering over a terrace on the eighth floor. The new building houses a fancy movie theater and a hotel with rooms from which Godzilla can be observed close-up.
Kabukicho shopkeepers, restaurant owners and other business operators expect the new building to help reinvigorate the district as a center for cinema lovers. “We’ll do our best to make Kabukicho a safe, secure place,” said Mototsugu Katagiri, the 66-year-old head of the district’s commerce association, at a dedication ceremony Thursday.
Kabukicho was formerly home to more than a dozen movie theaters, but that number has dwindled as fewer people have been going to the cinema. Shinjuku Milano Theater was shuttered at the end of last year, leaving the district without a single movie house.
The Shinjuku Toho building was constructed on the site of the former Shinjuku Koma Stadium theater, which closed in 2008. The new facility features a hotel and a movie complex.
With 12 screens and 2,347 seats, Toho Cinemas Shinjuku occupies the third to sixth floors. The theater features deluxe seats equipped with marble tray tables and power recliners. Read the rest of this entry »
Bill Gertz 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.
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.”
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.
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 »
Frances Martel reports: 2013 was a banner year for uncalled for expansion of China’s borders, from the Senkaku Islands Air Identification Defense Zone to a state TV show claiming the entirety of the Philippines for China. But on the economic front, China plans an expansion of a completely different kind: the use of robots to make manufacturing even cheaper.
Canada’s Globe and Mail has a feature out this week on China’s increased push to replace human labor with automated work. While China boasts some of the cheapest labor in the world–hence their domination of the manufacture of many simple to make items–salaries are, by necessity, increasing. This, argues author Scott Barlow, is pressuring the Chinese government to stay competitive economically with other nations by suppressing the growing wages. And to do that, he continues, businesses need to hire fewer people.
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.
Beijing’s bellicose rhetoric intensifies
Chinese state media is once again bragging about Beijing’s military prowess, touting the fact that China’s new H-6K strategic bomber can attack U.S. military bases in South Korea as well as the Japanese mainland using long range nuclear cruise missiles.
“With a range of between 1,500 and 2,000 kilometers, the CJ-10 meets the requirements of the PLA Air Force to possess the capability to launch strategic missile attacks against US military facilities and those of its allies in the Western Pacific,” states the report.The report features on the prominent pro-Communist Party news website Want China Times.
The article also lauds the fact that the H-6K can target the Japanese mainland without even leaving Chinese airspace, in addition to Russian cities in the far east, all major cities in India, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, “in a potential war against Southeast Asian neighbors over territories in the South China Sea.”
“An H-6K taking off from the air base of the PLA’s 10th air division in Anqing, Anhui province, would be able to strike at all US military bases in South Korea,” states the report, noting that “the long-range cruise missile has become a crucial part of China’s nuclear arsenal.”
This is just the latest example of aggressive and bellicose rhetoric emerging out of China.
Awr Hawkins reports: A U.S guided missile warship was confronted by a Chinese warship in international waters last week in the South China Sea.
The incident happened December 5th in the wake of China’s declaration of a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
According to Reuters, the confrontation led to a “near-collision” between the two vessels.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the USS Cowpens was ordered to stop, and when it refused the order—because it was in international waters—a Chinese Navy vessel “sailed in front of Cowpens and stopped, forcing the [U.S. vessel] to abruptly change course in what officials said was a dangerous maneuver.”
Chriss W. Street reports: China’s Ministry of Defense on November 30th began enforcing an expanded Air Defense Identification Zone, which now covers a huge off-shore expanse that includes the disputed oil rich Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Forced to rely on the Middle East for oil for electrical production, Asian energy costs are surging, and supply has become unstable due to the continuing Arab Spring turmoil. With American domestic energy costs falling as supplies surge due to the boom in fracking for shale oil and gas, Chinese manufacturers are becoming economically uncompetitive on a cost basis compared to the U.S. producers. With China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea equally desperate to save jobs by exploiting potentially cheap and abundant off-shore oil, energy economics will drive military confrontations in Asia.
The Chinese claim the discovery and control of the Diaoyu islands from the 14th Century, but Japan took control of the islands from 1895 until its surrender to the U.S. at the end of World War II. During the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands after 1945, it was discovered that oil reserves might be found under the sea near the islands. In anticipation of the turnover of the Senkaku islands, Japan declared a 100 mile ADIZ around the islands in 1969. Since reverting back to Japanese control under the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement, sovereignty around the islands has been disputed by the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and South Korea. Read the rest of this entry »
Tensions are escalating as China tries to claim a new zone of airspace authority—which the U.S. promptly ignores. Here’s what to expect if this cold war involving Japan, China, the U.S., and other East Asian nations heats up.
Joe Pappalardo writes: This past weekend China escalated tensions in the East China Sea by unilaterally establishing what it calls an Air Defense Identification Zone that includes islands claimed by other nations. China released a map and coordinates of this zone, demanding that any aircraft report to China before entering the airspace, declaring that its armed forces “will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.”
This posturing got an early test on Monday when the United States flew two B-52s straight through the zone China has claimed, with no response from China. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said the flight, which took off from Guam, was part of a prescheduled exercise. But it seems clear that the U.S. is also sending a message that it won’t respect such a claim. “We view this development as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this weekend. “This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.”
BEIJING — Jane Perlez and Martin Fackler report: China sent fighter jets on the first patrols of its new air defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea on Thursday, the state news agency, Xinhua, said.
The patrols followed announcements by Japan and South Korea that their military planes had flown through the zone unhindered by China.
The tit-for-tat flights between China on one side and South Korea and Japan on the other heightened the tensions over the East China Sea where China and Japan are at loggerheads over islands they both claim.
The airspace in the new zone announced by China last week overlaps a similar zone declared by Japan more than 40 years ago. Both zones are over the islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.
China has said that noncommercial aircraft entering the zone without prior notification would face “defensive emergency measures.”
China would take “relevant measures according to different air threats” to defend the country’s airspace, Xinhua reported.
BEIJING — A Chinese professor who specializes in Japanese affairs appears to have been detained by the Chinese government since late July and is being questioned about his activities in Japan, according to Chinese academics and Japanese news media reports. Read the rest of this entry »
TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – China said it would not tolerate provocation after Japan’s top government spokesman said on Tuesday Japan might station government workers on disputed islands in the East China Sea to defend its sovereignty. Read the rest of this entry »
Chinese hackers break in to White House military office network in charge of nuclear commands
Hackers linked to China’s government broke into one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive computer networks, breaching a system used by the White House Military Office for nuclear commands, according to defense and intelligence officials familiar with the incident.
One official said the cyber breach was one of Beijing’s most brazen cyber attacks against the United States and highlights a failure of the Obama administration to press China on its persistent cyber attacks.
Disclosure of the cyber attack also comes amid heightened tensions in Asia, as the Pentagon moved two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups and Marine amphibious units near waters by Japan’s Senkaku islands.
China and Japan—the United States’ closest ally in Asia and a defense treaty partner—are locked in a heated maritime dispute over the Senkakus, which China claims as its territory.
“This is the most sensitive office in the U.S. government” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the work of the office. “A compromise there would cause grave strategic damage to the United States.”
U.S. officials familiar with reports of the White House hacking incident said it took place earlier this month and involved unidentified hackers, believed to have used computer servers in China, who accessed the computer network used by the White House Military Office (WHMO), the president’s military office in charge of some of the government’s most sensitive communications, including strategic nuclear commands. The office also arranges presidential communications and travel, and inter-government teleconferences involving senior policy and intelligence officials…
- Safeguarding against cyber attacks (security.blogs.cnn.com)
- Obama’s ‘China syndrome’: Cyber insecurity … (triblive.com)
Ms. Aoi is not your average retired adult film actress
A megastar throughout Asia, she boasts more than 13 million followers on Sina Weibo and is popular enough in China that the country’s film and TV regulator singled her out in announcing new restrictions on “vulgar” content in April (to which she responded with a defiant picture of herself in dress)–>
Ms. Aoi’s call for calm has certainly been heard: By Saturday afternoon, the two posts combined had been forwarded more than 110,000 times and attracted more than 150,000 comments – a viral performance even by China’s high standards.
How much of her audience got the message is another question.
To be sure, some of the actress’s Chinese fans on the site supported her, in many cases by simply forwarding or repeating the call for friendship. Others, however, were more conflicted. “Although I like you and support your work, in the end I am Chinese,” one fan wrote in response. “On territorial disputes, I will never back down!”
“I deeply suspect you’re a spy,” wrote another, perhaps thinking of the Yoshiko Kawashima, a beguiling Manchurian princess who served as a spy for the Japanese during World War II and later became a celebrity in Japanese-occupied parts of China.
Many responded with outrage — often using language not fit to publish on a family-friendly news website – but an equal number seemed keen to enjoy Ms. Aoi and have their islands, too. “The Diaoyu islands belong to China, Sola Aoi belongs to the entire world,” went one commonly repeated refrain.
“I deeply suspect you’re a spy”
A group of small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, the Senakaku are administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan. In China, they are known as the Diaoyu islands. Tensions over the islands have been rising steadily since April, when Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara first tabled the idea of purchasing some of them from their private owners.
Ms. Aoi was not the only popular microblogger to challenge the convictions of China’s Japan-bashers in recent days…
More via China Real Time Report – WSJ…