HONOLULU — Hiroshi Tajima and Mai Fukuda report: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid flowers for American soldiers, including those killed in Japan’s 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, at a cemetery in Hawaii on Monday, the day before his scheduled visit to the harbor with U.S. President Barack Obama.
After arriving on the island of Oahu in the morning, Abe visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in which remains of about 50,000 officers and soldiers — including those who lost their lives during the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy — are buried.
The prime minister offered flowers and a moment of silence, before signing his name in a visitors’ book.
At the facility, Abe also laid flowers at the grave of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who had worked hard to promote the U.S.-Japan relationship until his death in December 2012.
The prime minister then visited a Japanese cemetery in Honolulu’s Makiki district, which houses a memorial for Japanese emigrants to Hawaii and soldiers killed at Pearl Harbor.
Abe showed his determination not to fight a war again by praying for both Japanese and American war dead. Read the rest of this entry »
According to government sources, Mattis likely did a stint in Okinawa for training during his career in the marines, but his views on Japan-U.S. relations are not known. The government is striving to gather Mattis’ remarks on the Asian-Pacific region and other matters.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: The Japanese government is hastening to gather information on retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, whom U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen as the next secretary of defense. Mattis is said to have had hardly any contact with Japan and his stance toward Japan is unknown.
“The top brass of the U.S. forces has always valued the U.S.-Japan alliance. I don’t think [Mattis] is going to propose a reduction of U.S. bases in Japan.”
— Senior official of the Defense Ministry
In Japan, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told reporters on Friday that she intends to build a good relationship with the United States “regardless of who [the next U.S. secretary of defense] is” by helping the new secretary to “fully recognize the importance of our ties.” Inada was inspecting the Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base on the day.
According to government sources, Mattis likely did a stint in Okinawa for training during his career in the marines, but his views on Japan-U.S. relations are not known. The government is striving to gather Mattis’ remarks on the Asian-Pacific region and other matters. Read the rest of this entry »
It was the first time Beijing is known to have sent fighter jets through the area, and comes days after Japan’s defense minister announced plans to step up engagement in the disputed South China Sea.
Jesse Johnson reports: The Air Self-Defense Force scrambled aircraft on Sunday as at least eight Chinese fighters and bombers — and possibly more than 40 — passed through a critical international entryway into the Western Pacific.
They used a legal but politically sensitive passage through Okinawa, apparently to send a message to Tokyo.
“This is a response to what Beijing will allege is a provocation by Japan in joining the U.S. in South China Sea drills despite Beijing warning Tokyo against participating.”
— University of Miami political science professor June Teufel Dreyer
The Chinese aircraft, which also included refueling tankers, flew over the Miyako Strait in Okinawa Prefecture but did not infringe Japanese airspace, the Defense Ministry said in Tokyo.
China said more than 40 aircraft were involved. They flew between Miyako Island near Taiwan and Okinawa’s main island on the way to “regular” patrols and drills in the Western Pacific, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement posted to its website.
People’s Liberation Army Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke said the massive show of force, which included H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and tanker aircraft, conducted reconnaissance and early warning exercises, attacks on sea surface targets, and in-flight refueling “to test the air force’s fighting capacity on the high seas.”
Chinese bombers and fighters also conducted what Shen called a “regular patrol” in the East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that China unilaterally declared in 2013.
“The regular Western Pacific drills and ADIZ patrols are necessary to safeguard national sovereignty, the country’s security and maintain peaceful development,” Shen said.
The air force will continue patrolling the East China Sea ADIZ and conduct training to improve its combat capacity in order to “uphold the legitimate rights and interests of China,” Shen added.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, told a news conference Monday that although the aircraft never violated Japanese airspace, Tokyo “will continue to devote every effort to vigilance and surveillance and rigorously enforce steps against intrusions into our airspace based on international law and the Self-Defense Forces law.”
While it was apparently the first time for Beijing to send fighter jets on the route, its air force first flew other types of jets over the strait in May 2015, China’s Defense Ministry said.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada angered Beijing with a speech last week, in which she said Tokyo would “increase its engagement in the South China Sea through … Maritime Self-Defense Force joint training cruises with the U.S. Navy.”
There was a fiery reaction in Chinese state media, but experts said she had not broken new ground in Japan’s approach to the South China Sea.
Still, according to University of Miami political science professor June Teufel Dreyer, the Chinese flights were meant to send a message to Japan not to meddle in the South China Sea issue. Read the rest of this entry »