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Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #50 on: March 02, 2012, 10:30:35 AM »


Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda recently visited the island of Okinawa, where the issue of relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma has created notable controversy. Noda's visit preceded a two-day meeting between Japanese and U.S. officials in Tokyo over the issue. Washington's relocation plan has prompted strong opposition, hindering its implementation. This matter has helped keep U.S.-Japanese relations cooled, but deeper geopolitical imperatives and shared interests guarantee that the alliance between Tokyo and Washington will remain strong.


Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made his first official visit to the island province of Okinawa the weekend of Feb. 25-27. The visit came ahead of a two-day meeting between Japanese and U.S. officials about the fate of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is currently located in Okinawa and set for relocation within the province. The plans to relocate the base have fueled a powerful controversy -- Okinawans vocally oppose both the continued presence of Futenma in its current location and the 2006 U.S.-Japanese agreement calling for the base to be moved to a more rural location. This opposition is delaying the execution of the 2006 agreement, and officials from both countries are in negotiations to try to overcome this impasse.

The episode comes during a stalled period in U.S.-Japanese relations. At least six years of frequently changing Japanese Cabinets have made it difficult to move forward with the planned U.S. realignment of forces and with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement -- two strategic parts of Washington's re-engagement with the Asia-Pacific region. Though the Futenma issue has become problematic, the United States and Japan have too many shared interests and geopolitical imperatives for their alliance to crumble.

Okinawa's Importance

Okinawa, which saw the last major World War II battle in the Pacific theater, was a de facto U.S. protectorate for almost 30 years. Its strategic location near Taiwan, the Chinese mainland, the Korean Peninsula and Japan made Okinawa important in U.S. forward deployment of forces in the western rim of the Pacific Basin. The island was a regional hub for U.S. armed forces in both the Korean and Vietnam wars, giving the United States a logistical base from which to project air power over the East and South China seas.

However, since the adoption of Japan's pacifist Constitution, there has been local opposition to military use of the province, especially since the number of U.S. bases it hosts is disproportionate to its size (Okinawa is 1 percent of Japanese territory but hosts 70 percent of the bases in the country that are used exclusively by the United States). Since Okinawa returned to Japanese rule in 1972, opposition to U.S. bases on the island has increased.

Controversy and Current Developments

Partly as a response to local concerns, but also with the broader goal of updating the strategic alignment of U.S. forces in the region, the Japanese and U.S. governments reached an agreement in 2006 that would send approximately 8,000 Marines of the III Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Okinawa to Guam. According to the agreement, the transfer would be finalized by 2014. But the agreement had an important condition: Japan would be responsible (logistically and financially) for transferring Futenma's equipment and facilities from Ginowan City to its new location in Henoko Point, a more rural part of northern Okinawa. Opposition to this agreement has delayed the relocation.

The main point of contention is that the original relocation plan called for the construction of an offshore runway that would sit atop a coral reef -- the home of the dugong, an endangered marine mammal. Opposition has come not only from locals concerned for their natural environment (and in some cases livelihood), but also from outside environmentalist, left-wing and pacifist groups calling for a total U.S. withdrawal from Okinawa. Local resistance became particularly strong after successive Democratic Party of Japan Cabinets were seen as mishandling the issue.

Okinawan Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, who holds de facto veto power over the decision, is pressuring the central government to move the Futenma base out of the province, though there are not many other places where the base could feasibly go. Futenma is not a stand-alone facility -- it is linked to the network of U.S. facilities elsewhere in the region, particularly the other Marine bases in Okinawa (including Camps Courtney, Foster, Hansen, Lester, Kinser and Schwab) -- making relocation outside of the province tactically problematic for Washington. Moreover, very few governors of other provinces seem willing to host the base, which leaves Henoko as the only viable option.

The U.S.-Japanese Alliance

In February, U.S. and Japanese officials engaged in negotiations about revisions to the 2006 agreement. The first revision announced stated that the United States will move only approximately 4,700 Marines to Guam, with the remaining 3,300 being sent to different Asia-Pacific locations on a rotational basis. Moreover, the proposed move will be detached from the Futenma part of the agreement, meaning it will take place regardless of further delays in the base's relocation. Negotiations have continued in what Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba called a "flexible manner," which indicates that more changes can be expected.

The outcome of this issue is uncertain, and although the Noda Cabinet has declared the U.S.-Japanese alliance the cornerstone of its foreign policy, so far the Cabinet has not been able to dispel the general sense of stagnation and frustration in the relationship. Despite the seeming intractability of this issue, it is not likely to lead to an unraveling of the U.S.-Japanese alliance, which is governed by many underlying regional strategic imperatives.

First, the United States wants to distribute its forces in a manner that is more sustainable politically and economically, which means spreading its forces more broadly across multiple countries. Moreover, the need to make the U.S. presence in the region resilient against both political and military threats dictates the need to distribute U.S. forces evenly throughout several countries. This likely will mean an eventual reduction in the area occupied by U.S. bases in Okinawa and the number of forces based there.

Second, although Japan is seeking to improve its relationships with its Asian neighbors (particularly China), tensions within the region tie Japanese interests to those of the United States. The divergent Japanese and Chinese geographic and economic imperatives in the region (such as control over disputed territories and resources) and historical rivalry give Tokyo reason to continue its close cooperation with Washington. More importantly, Japan's desire to increase its influence in the region both economically and militarily coincides with Washington's plans for Tokyo to play a greater role in the United States' Asia-Pacific re-engagement.

Third, Japan faces a continued threat from a seemingly erratic North Korean regime and, more important, from the ongoing growth of China's navy and repeated incursions of both civilian and military Chinese vessels into territory that Japan either claims or controls. China's strategic imperative to control its "first island chain," of which the southern archipelago of Okinawa and Taiwan are a part, emphasizes the value of the U.S.-Japanese alliance and the basing of forces in Okinawa. Japan benefits from the deterrent power of an armed U.S. presence, while the United States gains the capability to project its power into the Far East from bases in Japan. The U.S. presence is particularly important given Japan's traditional reluctance to engage in military ventures that could raise the ire of neighboring countries that harbor deep anti-Japanese sentiments.

Potential Developments

Though political inertia in Japan's central government and strong opposition in Okinawa are complicating the Futenma issue, the relocation controversy is not insurmountable. Most local citizens are opposed to the original relocation plan mainly because the new location would involve building offshore, which would damage the environment and the livelihoods of local fishermen. Changes in the plan could make relocation more palatable to the locals, especially since the base's presence could help reactivate the local economy. This would be an important step, since local politicians' opposition to the relocation plan stems more from political need than personal opinion. If the locals agree to it, then provincial and municipal officials could agree to it as well.

Although the Futenma controversy might seem like a hindrance to U.S. forces' capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region, other regional hubs in Japan -- such as the Kadena and Misawa military facilities -- will still give the United States robust power projection capabilities, even if Futenma ceases to provide basing for Marine air assets in Okinawa. Moreover, current political dynamics could lead this issue to evolve in such a way that the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) assumes more responsibility for national and regional security. The JSDF is gradually moving toward greater involvement in security matters outside Japan's immediate vicinity. Furthermore, Chinese incursions into waters claimed by Japan have sparked a domestic debate on whether Japanese security services, such as the Coast Guard, should have broader authority. This trend would only grow if the United States seems to have less of a presence in the area because of a continued impasse over Futenma. (Similar trends have emerged in Taiwan, where a potential reduction of the U.S. presence in Okinawa is seen as necessitating stronger, independent Taiwanese defense capabilities.)

The Futenma controversy does not pose a long-term threat to the U.S.-Japanese alliance, nor does the current Japanese political landscape. Though there is a sense that the U.S.-Japanese relationship has stalled because of difficult issues like domestic resistance to the Okinawa bases and the TPP, regional dynamics and more than half a century of close relations will help ensure the endurance of the security alliance between Tokyo and Washington.
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #51 on: July 26, 2012, 07:38:31 AM »



A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter flies beside a Japanese destroyer

As an island nation, Japan is by necessity a maritime power. For the last half-century, its maritime strategy has been primarily mercantile in nature. But as both China and the United States expand their naval presence in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan will increasingly seek to reinforce its commercial, territorial and energy interests through a more proactive, open maritime military strategy.


Japan comprises four major islands and roughly 6,800 minor ones. For as long as it has been a unified political entity, Japan has been a maritime nation, though it has not always been a maritime power.

The arrival of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry in the second half of the 19th century catalyzed a group of forward-looking oligarchs under the Meiji emperor to radically reform Japanese military practices; only then did Japan emerge as a capable naval power. As a resource-impoverished island nation undergoing modernization, Japan possessed a vibrant maritime culture and a strong need to acquire the energy and raw materials it lacked at home. These qualities, along with Meiji leaders' insecurity and sense of purpose over Japan's changing position in Asian affairs, fueled the nation's drive toward empire.

In the power vacuum left by China's crumbling Qing dynasty, the Japanese Empire grew quickly. In 40 years starting in 1868, Japan built an industrial base and a fleet to rival those of most European empires. In 1905, the Imperial Japanese navy defeated the Russian navy, and by 1942 the Japanese Empire included nearly all of East and Southeast Asia. Japan's core imperative, to control the Asia-Pacific maritime sphere, began to clash with the United States' need for dominance in the Pacific Ocean. Conflict was inevitable unless one country or the other ceded its claim to control maritime flows in East Asia. World War II decided the balance of power in the Western Pacific, forcing Tokyo to relinquish the Japanese Empire's military maritime strategy and shift toward a post-war mercantilist maritime strategy.

Japan's Post-War Strategy
After World War II, Japanese leaders moved quickly to embed Tokyo firmly within the United States' emerging Cold War security framework in East Asia. In making itself crucial to the United States' Asia-Pacific strategy, Japan laid the foundation for an industrial resurgence.

Taking advantage of the U.S.-imposed constitutional ban on military activity, Japan instead relied on support from and favorable trade policies with the United States to rebuild itself as Asia's key economic buffer against Soviet and Chinese communism. On Washington's prodding, Japan gradually rebuilt its navy, with its new name -- the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force -- reflecting its ostensible defensive orientation. During the Cold War, these forces operated fully within America's security framework for the Asia-Pacific region. Japan remained a maritime power, but its influence was built on growing economic might and on its increasing importance as Asia's merchant power.

The fall of the Soviet Union triggered a massive shift in the geopolitical dynamics of East Asia and affected Japan profoundly. First, it removed Washington's incentive to maintain preferential trade conditions with Tokyo. Decreased attention from Washington was one factor that triggered Japan's "Lost Decade." Second, throughout the 1990s and especially after 2001, the United States dramatically reoriented its foreign policy focus toward the Middle East, withdrawing much of its military presence from East Asia. With its primary patron shifting its attention elsewhere, Japan gradually ceded influence in East and Southeast Asia to China, the rising regional power. This process coincided with Tokyo's realization, especially after the 1996 Shining Path incident in Peru, that it could no longer rely on the U.S. Navy to protect its economic and political interests abroad.

Over the fifteen years that followed, Japanese efforts to revive economic growth moved alongside a quiet but steady build-up of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force -- not only as a key component in a U.S. maritime strategy increasingly focused on containing China, but also as an independent national security force. This process has proceeded apace despite some domestic criticism for its perceived noncompliance with Japan's "pacifist" constitution. For Japan, every step toward normalizing the Self-Defense Force reflects Tokyo's deeper need to secure and expand its sphere of influence and its access to resources in an increasingly competitive, crowded environment.

Contemporary Japan's Maritime Strategy
Today, Japan's maritime strategy is determined by its security and economic needs and their proximity to the core Japanese islands. Tokyo's geopolitical environment unfolds in concentric circles moving outward from these islands.

.The first ring includes the East China Sea, the Sea of Japan, parts of the Yellow Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. This is Japan's immediate sphere of influence, and historically has been the source of or gateway for existential threats to the islands. Tokyo's interests here are shaped primarily by two factors. One is the need to protect the islands themselves from any form of attack, and to guarantee security for the immediate shipping lanes that carry resources and raw materials into the country. Another is Tokyo's growing desire to explore for undersea energy and mineral resources in its immediate territorial waters, and the resulting need to provide security for those assets.

The East China Sea is at the core of Japan's maritime strategy. It brings Tokyo into contact with most of its major near- and long-term strategic threats, from North Korea to China, South Korea, Taiwan and even the United States. Japan is active in the other seas of the first ring, especially the Sea of Japan, where it faces North Korea, but its long-term strategic interests center on the East China Sea and on China. While North Korea does represent a threat to Tokyo, it is not an existential threat. China and to a lesser extent South Korea and Russia pose significant threats, especially to Japan's underwater energy and mineral assets in the region. The ongoing low-level tensions over the Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China) and the Takeshima islets  (known as the Dokdo islets in Korea) manifest the underlying geopolitical dynamic that governs the East China Sea and Sea of Japan.

The next concentric ring centers on the South China Sea. About 88 percent of the goods that reach Japan pass through this sea first. Japan has significant bilateral trade relationships throughout the region, and much of its industrial base now sits in countries that border the South China Sea. Moreover, much of the sea is claimed by Tokyo's greatest strategic threat: China. Japan has a direct interest in making sure that China does not gain a naval and commercial monopoly in the region -- either through overwhelming maritime power, energy exploration, trade or diplomatic influence. Tokyo has stepped up its naval relationships with countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines, even as it works to maintain a cordial political and economic relationship with Beijing.

The third concentric ring includes the larger Pacific Rim, from Hokkaido to the Arabian Peninsula and south to Australia. These represent the real limits of Japan's strategic environment. While Tokyo is actively working to enhance long-range naval capabilities, as seen most clearly in its participation in counterpiracy exercises off the Somali coast, it is not yet building the capacity to sustain significant, protracted global force projection. While the Maritime Self-Defense Force possesses highly sophisticated diesel-electric submarine, anti-submarine, and ballistic-missile defense systems, it does not have a single fleet aircraft carrier, not to mention the vessels required to refuel and resupply its fleet when operating far from the home islands. For now, Japan's maritime expansion is focused on providing immediate territorial security, protecting proximate assets and supply lines and guarding against China's aggressive maritime push.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force eventually may prove to be less defensive in orientation than its name suggests. China's economic, political and naval expansion will probably continue to be a threat for at least a decade, but it also hinges on Beijing's ability to maintain internal stability. If China were to suffer a political crisis or economic collapse that derailed its rise, Japan would have an opportunity to reassert itself as the economic and military hegemon in the Asia-Pacific region. This could dramatically alter its place within the U.S. security framework and even bring it into conflict with the United States.


Read more: Japan's Maritime Strategy | Stratfor
Power User
Posts: 90

« Reply #52 on: July 26, 2012, 09:46:43 AM »

Japan has a modern Naval force with a lot of ships and interaction with US Naval Operations in the Pacific.  I would not be surprised if they step up their activities in the region to assert their power in the face of an increasing Chinese threat, a threat that has not yet matured in terms of its physical assets (i.e.. air craft carriers).

C-Bad Dog, Lakan Guro DBMA
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #53 on: July 26, 2012, 10:04:31 AM »

Sounds like a good thing to me!

I have no idea what Stratfor is talking about in its last line.
Power User
Posts: 90

« Reply #54 on: July 26, 2012, 11:47:20 AM »

Stratfor's policy on China is that its domestic stability in terms of rural uprising and political dissent will dictate whether or not it can successfully assert itself internationally.

This is wishful thinking on Stratfor's part, but has a historical basis in CHinese society.

China has a ton of subs that spreads its sea coverage, but not an effective long range fleet yet.  However, that is changing fast.

Japan will need to assert itself sooner rather than later.

C-Bad Dog, Lakan Guro DBMA
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #55 on: April 02, 2013, 05:34:58 AM »
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #56 on: April 24, 2013, 09:57:58 AM »

Japanese Nationalism and Shifting Policies
April 24, 2013 | 0601 GMT

The dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands still risks triggering trade tensions, boycotts and confrontations at sea. Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, warned Tuesday that his country would use force to repel any Chinese nationals who landed on the disputed islands. Abe's statement was just one headline amid a flurry of activity surrounding this perennial source of strain on Sino-Japanese relations. On Tuesday, the Japanese Coast Guard prevented Japanese protesters from a group known as Ganbare Nippon from landing on the islands, around which they were sailing as a way of expressing Japanese sovereignty. Eight Chinese patrol vessels also wound their way through the islands, prompting Abe's warning. Japanese and Chinese diplomats and ministers swiftly filed complaints.

Meanwhile, in Tokyo, 168 lawmakers paid homage to those who died in the service of the Japanese Empire. The action stirred controversy especially because it took place at the Yasukuni Shrine, a site that commemorates, among many others, 14 Japanese soldiers convicted of war crimes at the end of World War II. This visit was reportedly the largest since 1989 -- though comparable to a visit in 2005 that triggered a period of rough Sino-Japanese relations that Abe himself helped to smooth over.
Visits by Japanese citizens to Yasukuni always spark outcries from those who suffered under Japanese occupation during the war, especially Korean and Chinese citizens. The visits are also interpreted as indications of a broader Japanese refusal to recognize the misdeeds of the past. South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se has already canceled a scheduled trip to Japan as a result of the latest visit.
Japanese nationalism has been a prominent topic since the country's December elections, not only because the Liberal Democratic Party -- the dominant party in postwar history -- regained the lower house, but also because the Japan Restoration Party -- an alliance of nationalists led by a few popular governors in major cities -- won more than 50 seats, putting unprecedented pressure on the right wing. Thus, while the ruling party is following a time-tested tactic in stirring up national passions, it now must win back political turf that it once considered its own.
The ruling party has its sights set on the upper house elections in July, when it hopes to regain total control of the legislature. The party has therefore gone to great lengths to distance itself from the perception that it is a collection of elderly lifelong politicians. The Liberal Democratic Party hopes to appear bold and unconventional by rolling out an economic revitalization plan and showing unparalleled devotion to its country. So far the effort has succeeded, especially on the economic front by means of new fiscal stimulus and redoubled monetary easing.
Nevertheless, the emergence of a popular nationalism beyond the party's control points to a development far more significant than a mere turning of the political cycle. Japan's response to population decline and to the economic crisis of the early 1990s saw the government borrow funds to support the country's aging population and prevent retrenchment in the corporate sector; hence the buildup in debt that surpasses all other rich countries.
Since the early 2000s, a range of factors have challenged this strategy. Some of these factors relate to increased geopolitical competition -- from China's rise and Russia's resurgence to economic competition from the likes of South Korea. Japan has also dealt with a drop in global demand for Japanese goods after 2008, a domestic political shakeup in 2009, and a massive earthquake and nuclear crisis in 2011. Popular nationalism has thus emerged as a response to two decades of socioeconomic malaise and a shifting international environment. This trend is now forcing the traditionally dominant party and bureaucracy to revise old-fashioned policies.
The political elite, regardless of party, has the unenviable task of revising policies while challenged by population decline. It must do so while moving within the confines of a political model focused on preserving wealth rather than pursuing growth and of an increasingly threatening geopolitical environment. In this context, it is notable that there is one area in which the new government has avoided harping on nationalist themes: Russia. Japan's history of enmity with Russia goes back to the 1904 war. The two countries never signed a peace treaty at the end of World War II, and Japan continues to claim the Russian-controlled Kuril Islands.
However, learning from the previous administration's botched attempt to win back the islands, the Liberal Democratic Party has decided to try a different tack and negotiate with the Russians on investment and trade, with a special focus on energy. Japan needs to contain energy costs as part of its attempts to reinvigorate growth, and Russia is looking at Pacific markets as a destination for its energy exports.
Abe and a large business delegation will head to Moscow in the coming days. The two still have deep differences and cannot normalize relations overnight, but Japan has at least signaled a willingness to become more pragmatic.

Read more: Japanese Nationalism and Shifting Policies | Stratfor
Power User
Posts: 9481

« Reply #57 on: July 25, 2013, 08:34:00 AM »

I recall the same publication, WSJ editorial page, writing at the beginning of this 20 year funk that what Japan needed was bold economic reforms and what Japan's political system was totally incapable of was bold reform, hence the 20 years of stagnation.  One thing that makes the current situation more interesting is the trouble in China, since China only very recently surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy (using cooked books).  Also interesting to me is that Japan lowered its corporate income tax rate, a pro-growth move, making the US rate the highest in the developed world.

The Prime Minister's party and allies just won a majority in the upper house, in addition to the lower house, now they need to carry out unspecified reforms that he promised.  They already are doing the easy part, more spending and monetary devaluation - dubious strategies.

The third leg is deregulation.

"Now the question is how strongly Mr. Abe will move on what he calls the "third arrow" of Japanese reform. These include deregulatory changes that go beyond the free-lunch appeal of more spending and easy money. That means opening up Japan's economy to more competition with free trade, making it easier to fire and thus also hire workers, busting up domestic cartels such as in retailing, reforming laws on land use to allow more development, and cutting corporate taxes.  Mr. Abe was circumspect on most of these fronts during the campaign, no doubt because they challenge powerful domestic constituencies. One exception was Mr. Abe's endorsement of Japan's entry into the trans-Pacific free trade talks, for which he now has a clear mandate. Such a trade opening could be precisely the foreign shock Japan needs to stimulate more domestic animal spirits. That assumes Mr. Abe won't now try to limit how far the pact goes on agriculture, among other protected parts of Japan's economy. He should consider trade to be his political ally in driving reform."
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #58 on: February 10, 2014, 01:22:40 PM »

A 'Collective' U.S.-Japan Defense
Tokyo steps into Asia's security breach to counter rising China.
Feb. 5, 2014 10:20 a.m. ET

U.S. and Chinese officials continue to spar over China's recent declaration of a huge new air-defense zone, which makes even more important Shinzo Abe's move to reinterpret the Japanese constitution and end a 67-year ban on collective self-defense. The Japanese Prime Minister has said he'll follow the recommendations of a government panel due to report in April, and last week the panel signaled it will recommend a new gloss on the pacifist constitution written by Gen. Douglas MacArthur's aides after World War II.

So what is collective self-defense and why does it matter? Under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, American forces are supposed to aid Japan if it is attacked. But the obligation doesn't go the other way. Because of the way the constitution's Article 9 is interpreted now, Japanese forces could do nothing to help the U.S. if it were under attack. That's especially relevant given North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. If a nuclear-tipped missile flew over Japan toward the U.S., Japan's warships equipped with missile interceptors would have to let it pass.

The two countries are now revising their bilateral defense guidelines, and past revisions have expanded Japan's role in support of U.S. operations in a regional crisis. However, these are make-shift arrangements, and the U.S. has in the past urged Japan to move toward collective self-defense to end these difficulties.

The principle that democracies should band together to face the threat of dictatorships is a linchpin of the post-World War II world order. In Europe, the NATO was founded on this idea to deter the Soviet Union. In Asia, by contrast, the U.S. was able to keep the peace and contain the spread of communism through bilateral treaties and coalitions of the willing. Until now. The rise of China is putting stress on this Pax Americana, as the Obama Administration's "pivot" implicitly acknowledges. Washington now needs its allies to work cooperatively, not merely as spokes on a security wheel.

Asia lacks an equivalent of the France-Germany entente at the heart of Europe, around which economic and security organizations can grow. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is the closest Asia has now, but Asean is ineffectual at the best of times. A coalition of democracies could be a more effective counterweight to China's encroaching militarism.

That is still some way off, but in the meantime Japan can fill the breach if it can navigate the tricky politics. The majority of the Japanese public is against collective self-defense, and Mr. Abe's Liberal Democratic Party governs in coalition with the pacifist New Komeito Party. While Mr. Abe probably can get the votes, New Komeito might then leave the government. One possible scenario is a reorganization of Japan's parties in which right-of-center elements in the opposition come over to the LDP.

Mr. Abe's moves may also provoke a regional backlash, at least at first. His Dec. 26 visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where class A war criminals are honored, and statements by other officials denying war atrocities raise suspicions that Japan's militarist ghosts haven't been exorcised. South Koreans harbor many grudges for Japan's colonial rule, and Seoul's ties to Beijing are especially strong.

A new constitutional interpretation wouldn't entirely remove the post-war limits on Japan's armed forces, and Mr. Abe also wants to pursue an amendment. While Beijing will kick up a fuss, China's leaders might consider that their own actions opened the door. If they keep trying to change the status quo by force in the disputed Senkaku Islands and the South China Sea, Mr. Abe or his successor may cut Article 9 altogether.

Mr. Abe deserves praise for trying to make Japan into a normal nation that can play a leadership role in Asia. Tokyo has contributed to peace and made amends for past behavior over the last seven decades. It's time Japan carries its weight keeping its neighborhood safe for democracy.
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Posts: 42520

« Reply #59 on: February 20, 2014, 10:40:01 AM »

TOKYO — A series of defiantly nationalistic comments, including remarks critical of the United States, by close political associates of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led analysts to warn of a growing chill between his right-wing government and the Obama administration, which views Japan as a linchpin of its strategic pivot to Asia.

Rebuttals from the American Embassy in Japan have added to concerns of a falling-out between Japan and the United States, which has so far welcomed Mr. Abe’s efforts to strengthen Japan’s economy and military outreach in the region to serve as a counterbalance to China. The comments, which express revisionist views of Japan’s World War II history, have also led to renewed claims from Japan’s neighbors, particularly China and South Korea, that Mr. Abe is leading his nation to the right, trying to stir up patriotism and gloss over the country’s wartime history.

One of the most direct criticisms of the United States came this week, when Seiichi Eto, a governing party lawmaker and aide to Mr. Abe, posted a video online in which he criticized the Obama administration for expressing disappointment in the prime minister’s recent visit to a shrine. The visit to the shrine, which honors the war dead including war criminals, stoked anger in South Korea and China, which both suffered under Imperial Japanese rule.

“It is I who am disappointed in the United States,” said Mr. Eto in the video on YouTube, which was removed on Wednesday as the prime minister’s office sought to control the diplomatic damage. “Why doesn’t America treat Japan better?” he added.

The disconnect between Washington and its strongest Asian ally comes at a time of rising regional frictions that Mr. Abe has likened to Europe on the eve of World War I. The disputes over history and territory have complicated the United States’ already fraught attempts to persuade Japan and Korea to present a united front to a more confident China, while also trying to avoid antagonizing the Chinese.

American officials express frustration that Mr. Abe is not doing enough to allay fears in South Korea, a crucial American ally in Asia, about a conservative agenda they worry includes rolling back the apologies that Japan made for its early 20th-century empire-building. American officials also fear he could undermine his own efforts to restore Japan’s standing in Asia by playing into what they call Chinese efforts to paint the Japanese as unrepentant militarists.

Analysts say such concerns are behind the United States Embassy’s taking the unusual step of publicly criticizing Mr. Abe’s trip to the shrine.

For their part, Japanese officials express their own exasperation that the United States does not take a clearer stand in favor of Japan in its continuing dispute with China over the control of islands in the East China Sea. They also complain that the Obama administration has not rewarded Mr. Abe enough, despite his self-proclaimed efforts to improve ties with Washington by taking such politically difficult steps as pushing to restart a stalled base relocation in Okinawa.

“Prime Minister Abe feels frustrated,” said Yuichi Hosoya, an expert on United States-Japan relations at Keio University in Tokyo. “He feels he is not being thanked enough for expending his political capital to strengthen the alliance.”

One of the most provocative comments from Abe allies came this month, when an ultraconservative novelist, Naoki Hyakuta, who was appointed by the prime minister himself to the governing board of public broadcaster NHK, said in a speech that the Tokyo war tribunal after World War II was a means to cover up the “genocide” of American air raids on Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States Embassy called the comments “preposterous.”

Mr. Hyakuta’s comments came days after the new president of NHK, who was chosen last month by a governing board including Abe appointees, raised eyebrows in Washington by saying that Japan should not be singled out for forcing women to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during the war, saying the United States military did the same. Most historians say the Japanese system of creating special brothels for the troops, then forcing tens of thousands of women from other countries to work there, was different from the practice by other countries’ troops in occupied areas who frequented local brothels.

The Japanese discontent with treatment by the Obama administration goes back to early last year, when a newly elected Mr. Abe tried to arrange an immediate trip to meet the president, only to be told to wait a month. More recently, Japanese officials have appeared hurt that Mr. Obama wants to spend only one night in Japan during a visit to the region in April.

Some analysts say this feeling of being held at arm’s length may be driving some of the recent criticisms of the United States.

“This is one of the most dangerous moments in U.S.-Japan relations that I have seen,” said Takashi Kawakami, an expert on international relations at Takushoku University in Tokyo. “Japan is feeling isolated, and some Japanese people are starting to think Japan must stand up for itself, including toward the United States.”

Analysts note that many of the comments are being made by relatively minor figures, and not members of Mr. Abe’s cabinet. They also say that Japanese public attitudes remain overwhelmingly favorable toward the United States, which has been the guarantor of Japan’s postwar security with its 50,000 military personnel stationed in the country.

At the same time, the analysts say, frustrations on both sides are real. In the United States, they reflect an ambivalence toward Mr. Abe, as some worry that he is returning to the agenda he pursued the last time he was prime minister — trying to revise the country’s pacifist Constitution and downplay wartime atrocities in the name of restoring lost national pride.

“I think the Yasukuni visit was a turning point in U.S. attitudes toward Abe,” Daniel C. Sneider, associate director for research at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, said of the visit to the shrine. “It was a reminder that he is still trying to push his patriotic remake of postwar Japan.”

The Yasukuni Shrine visit, and the American criticism of it, also appeared to unleash the current wave of revisionist statements.

American analysts and officials have faulted Mr. Abe for failing to sufficiently distance himself and his administration from the nationalistic statements. Instead, his government’s spokesman has merely said the statements represented the speakers’ “personal views” without criticizing them, though the spokesman did say the administration had asked Mr. Eto to remove the video expressing disappointment in the United States.

Visiting members of Congress have also warned that revisionist statements as well as Mr. Abe’s visit to Yasukuni would only benefit China. They added, however, that the American relationship with Japan is still sound enough to be easily fixable.

“There are always unfortunate statements and unfortunate comments even among the best of friends, and this is something that is going to have to be worked out and gotten over with,” said Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, who was part of a group of visiting Congress members in Tokyo who met on Wednesday with Mr. Abe. “It is important that we have an economically vibrant and strong Japan to act as a counterbalance to China.”

Doctors of Depravity

After more than 60 years of silence, World War II's most enduring and horrible secret is being nudged into the light of day. One by one the participants, white-haired and mildmannered, line up to tell their dreadful stories before they die.

Akira Makino is a frail widower living near Osaka in Japan. His only unusual habit is to regularly visit an obscure little town in the southern Philippines, where he gives clothes to poor children and has set up war memorials.

Mr Makino was stationed there during the war. What he never told anybody, including his wife, was that during the four months before Japan's defeat in March 1945, he dissected ten Filipino prisoners of war, including two teenage girls. He cut out their livers, kidneys and wombs while they were still alive. Only when he cut open their hearts did they finally perish.

These barbaric acts were, he said this week, "educational", to improve his knowledge of anatomy. "We removed some of the organs and amputated legs and arms. Two of the victims were young women, 18 or 19 years old. I hesitate to say it but we opened up their wombs to show the younger soldiers. They knew very little about women - it was sex education."

Why did he do it? "It was the order of the emperor, and the emperor was a god. I had no choice. If I had disobeyed I would have been killed." But the vivisections were also a revenge on the "enemy" - Filipino tribespeople whom the Japanese suspected of spying for the Americans.

Mr Makino's prisoners seem to have been luckier than some: he anaesthetised them before cutting them up. But the secret government department which organised such experiments in Japanese-occupied China took delight in experimenting on their subjects while they were
still alive.

A jovial old Japanese farmer who in the war had been a medical assistant in a Japanese army unit in China described to a U.S. reporter recently what it was like to dissect a Chinese prisoner who was still alive.

Munching rice cakes, he reminisced: "The fellow knew it was over for him, and so he didn't struggle when they led him into the room and tied him down. But when I picked up the scalpel, that's when he began screaming. I cut him open from the chest to the stomach and he screamed terribly, and his face was all twisted in agony.
"He made this unimaginable sound, he was screaming so horribly. But then finally he stopped.

"This was all in a day's work for the surgeons, but it really left an impression on me because it was my first time." The man could not be sedated, added the farmer, because it might have distorted the experiment.

The place where these atrocities occurred was an undercover medical experimentation unit of the Imperial Japanese Army. It was known officially as the Anti-Epidemic Water Supply and Purification Bureau - but all the Japanese who worked there knew it simply as Unit 731.

It had been set up as a biological warfare unit in 1936 by a physician and army officer, Shiro Ishii. A graduate of Kyoto Imperial University, Ishii had been attracted to germ warfare by the 1925 Geneva Protocol banning biological weapons. If they had to be banned under international law, reasoned Ishii, they must be extremely powerful.
Ishii prospered under the patronage of Japan's army minister. He invented a water filter which was used by the army, and allegedly demonstrated its effectiveness to Emperor Hirohito by urinating into it and offering the results to the emperor to drink. Hirohito declined, so Ishii drank it himself.

A swashbuckling womaniser who could afford to frequent Tokyo's upmarket geisha houses, Ishii remained assiduous in promoting the cause of germ warfare. His chance came when the Japanese invaded Manchuria, the region in eastern China closest to Japan, and turned it into a puppet state.

Given a large budget by Tokyo, Ishii razed eight villages to build a huge compound - more than 150 buildings over four square miles - at Pingfan near Harbin, a remote, desolate part of the Manchurian Peninsula.

Complete with an aerodrome, railway line, barracks, dungeons, laboratories, operating rooms, crematoria, cinema, bar and Shinto temple, it rivalled for size the Nazis' infamous death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The numbers of prisoners were lower. From 1936 to 1942 between 3,000 and 12,000 men, women and children were murdered in Unit 731. But the atrocities committed there were physically worse than in the Nazi death camps. Their suffering lasted much longer - and not one prisoner survived.

At Unit 731, Ishii made his mission crystal clear. "A doctor's God-given mission is to block and treat disease," he told his staff, "but the work on which we are now to embark is the complete opposite of those principles."

The strategy was to develop biological weapons which would assist the Japanese army's invasion of south-east China, towards Peking.

There were at least seven other units dotted across Japanese-occupied Asia, but they all came under Ishii's command. One studied plagues; another ran a bacteria factory; another conducted experiments in human food and water deprivation, and waterborne typhus.

Another factory back in Japan produced chemical weapons for the army. Typhoid, cholera and dysentery bacteria were farmed for battlefield use.

Most of these facilities were combined at Unit 731 so that Ishii could play with his box of horrors. His word was law. When he wanted a human brain to experiment on, guards grabbed a prisoner and held him down while one of them cleaved open his skull with an axe. The brain was removed and rushed to Ishii's laboratory.

Human beings used for experiments were nicknamed "maruta" or "logs" because the cover story given to the local authorities was that Unit 731 was a lumber mill. Logs were inert matter, a form of plant life, and that was how the Japanese regarded the Chinese "bandits", "criminals" and "suspicious persons" brought in from the surrounding countryside.

Shackled hand and foot, they were fed well and exercised regularly. "Unless you work with a healthy body you can't get results," recalled a member of the Unit.
But the torture inflicted upon them is unimaginable: they were exposed to phosgene gas to discover the effect on their lungs, or given electrical charges which slowly roasted them. Prisoners were decapitated in order for Japanese soldiers to test the sharpness of their swords.

Others had limbs amputated to study blood loss - limbs that were sometimes stitched back on the opposite sides of the body. Other victims had various parts of their brains, lungs or liver removed, or their stomach removed and their oesophagus reattached to their intestines.

Kamada, one of several veterans who felt able to speak out after the death of Emperor Hirohito, remembered extracting the plague-infested organs of a fully conscious "log" with a scalpel.

"I inserted the scalpel directly into the log's neck and opened the chest," he said. "At first there was a terrible scream, but the voice soon fell silent."

Other experiments involved hanging prisoners upside down to discover how long it took for them to choke to death, and injecting air into their arteries to test for the onset of embolisms.

Some appear to have had no medical purpose except the administering of indescribable pain, such as injecting horse urine into prisoners' kidneys.
Those which did have a genuine medical value, such as finding the best treatment for frostbite - a valuable discovery for troops in the bitter Manchurian winters - were achieved by gratuitously cruel means.

On the frozen fields at Pingfan, prisoners were led out with bare arms and drenched with cold water to accelerate the freezing process.

Their arms were then hit with a stick. If they gave off a hard, hollow ring, the freezing process was complete. Separately, naked men and women were subjected to freezing temperatures and then defrosted to study the effects of rotting and gangrene on the flesh.

People were locked into high-pressure chambers until their eyes popped out, or they were put into centrifuges and spun to death like a cat in a washing machine. To study the effects of untreated venereal disease, male and female "logs" were deliberately infected with syphilis.

Ishii demanded a constant intake of prisoners, like a modern-day Count Dracula scouring the countryside for blood. His victims were tied to stakes to find the best range for flame-throwers, or used to test grenades and explosives positioned at different angles and distances. They were used as targets to test chemical weapons; they were bombarded with anthrax.

All of these atrocities had been banned by the Geneva Convention, which Japan signed but did not ratify. By a bitter irony, the Japanese were the first nation to use radiation against a wartime enemy. Years before Hiroshima, Ishii had prisoners' livers exposed to X-rays.

His work at Pingfan was applauded. Emperor Hirohito may not have known about Unit 731, but his family did. Hirohito's younger brother toured the Unit, and noted in his memoirs that he saw films showing mass poison gas experiments on Chinese prisoners.

Japan's prime minister Hideki Tojo, who was executed for war crimes in 1948, personally presented an award to Ishii for his contribution in developing biological weapons. Vast quantities of anthrax and bubonic plague bacteria were stored at Unit 731. Ishii manufactured plague bombs which could spread fatal diseases far and wide. Thousands of white rats were bred as plague carriers, and fleas introduced to feed on them.

Plague fleas were then encased in bombs, with which Japanese troops launched biological attacks on reservoirs, wells and agricultural areas.

Infected clothing and food supplies were also dropped. Villages and whole towns were afflicted with cholera, anthrax and the plague, which between them killed over the years an estimated 400,000 Chinese.

One victim, Huang Yuefeng, aged 28, had no idea that by pulling his dead friend's socks on his feet before burying him he would be contaminated.

All he knew was that the dead were all around him, covered in purple splotches and lying in their own vomit. Yuefeng was lucky: he was removed from a quarantine centre by a friendly doctor and nursed back to health.

But four relatives died. Yuefeng told Time magazine: "I hate the Japanese so much that I cannot live with them under the same sky."

The plague bombing was suspended after the fifth bacterial bombing when the wind changed direction and 1,700 Japanese troops were killed.

Before Japan surrendered, Ishii and army leaders were planning to carry the war to the U.S. They proposed using "balloon bombs" loaded with biological weapons to carry cattle plague and anthrax on the jet stream to the west coast of America.

Another plan was to send a submarine to lie off San Diego and then use a light plane carried on board to launch a kamikaze mission against the city. The war ended before these suicidal attacks could be authorised.

As well as Chinese victims, Russians, Mongolians, Koreans and some prisoners of war from Europe and the U.S. also ended up in the hands of Ishii, though not all at Unit 731.

Major Robert Peaty, of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, was the senior British officer at Mukden, a prisoner-of-war camp 350 miles from Pingfan. Asked, after the war, what it was like, Peaty replied: "I was reminded of Dante's Inferno - abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

In a secret diary, Peaty recorded the regular injections of infectious diseases, disguised as harmless vaccinations, which were given to them by doctors visiting from Unit 731. His entry for January 30, 1943, records: "Everyone received a 5cc typhoid-paratyphoid A inoculation."

On February 23, his entry read: "Funeral service for 142 dead. 186 have died in 5 days, all Americans." Further "inoculations" followed.

Why, then, after the war, were nearly all the scientists at Unit 731 freed? Why did Dr Josef Mengele, the Nazi 'Angel of Death' at Auschwitz, have to flee to South America and spend the rest of his life in hiding, while Dr Shiro Ishii died at home of throat cancer aged 67 after a prosperous and untroubled life?

The answer is that the Japanese were allowed to erase Unit 731 from the archives by the American government, which wanted Ishii's biological warfare findings for itself.
In the autumn of 1945, General MacArthur granted immunity to members of the Unit in exchange for research data on biological warfare.

After Japan's surrender, Ishii's team fled back across China to the safety of their homeland. Ishii ordered the slaughter of the remaining 150 "logs" in the compound and told every member of the group to "take the secret to the grave", threatening death to anybody who went public.

Vials of potassium cyanide were issued in case anyone was captured. The last of his troops blew up the compound.

From then on, a curtain of secrecy was lowered. Unit 731 was not part of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. One reference to "poisonous serums" being used on the Chinese was allowed to slip by for lack of evidence.

Lawyers for the International Prosecution Section gathered evidence which was sent directly to President Truman. No more was heard of it.

The Americans took the view that all this valuable research data could end up in the hands of the Soviets if they did not act fast. This was, after all, the kind of information that no other nation would have had the ruthlessness to collect.

Thus the Japanese were off the hook. Unlike Germany, which atoned for its war crimes, Japan has been able to deny the evidence of Unit 731. When, as now, it does admit its existence, it refuses Chinese demands for an apology and compensation on the grounds that there is no legal basis for them - since all compensation issues had been settled by a treaty with China in 1972.

Many of the staff at Unit 731 went on to prominent careers. The man who succeeded Ishii as commander of Unit 731, Dr Masaji Kitano, became head of Green Cross, once Japan's largest pharmaceutical company.

Many ordinary Japanese citizens today would like to witness a gesture of atonement by their government. Meanwhile, if they want to know what happened, they can visit the museum that the Chinese government has erected in the only building at Pingfan which was not destroyed.

It does not have the specimens kept at Unit 731: the jars containing feet, heads and internal organs, all neatly labelled; or the six-foot-high glass jar in which the naked body of a Western man, cut vertically in two pieces, was pickled in formaldehyde.

But it does give an idea of what this Asian Auschwitz was like. In the words of its curator: "This is not just a Chinese concern; it is a concern of humanity."

Read more:
« Last Edit: February 20, 2014, 10:49:25 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #60 on: February 20, 2014, 11:09:18 AM »

Attention American allies: If you are shocked when Obama fcuks you over, you haven't been paying attention.
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« Reply #61 on: May 16, 2014, 09:40:15 PM »

 Japan Reinvents the Role of Its Military
Geopolitical Diary
Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 19:19 Text Size Print

Japan has claimed that it is preparing for war to preserve peace. After receiving the findings of a constitutional advisory panel on May 15, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a televised address to the nation outlining his vision for expanding the Japan Self-Defense Forces' global reach. To do so, Abe's government will seek to reinterpret the constitution -- particularly Article Nine, which forbids Japan from maintaining armed forces or engaging in war -- to allow for "collective self-defense," or the use of force in defense of other nations.

Neither the panel's report nor Abe's speech are unexpected. They are simply another step in the careful political and legislative path that Abe is following to take advantage of a rare moment of parliamentary strength to make changes that he and other advocates of military normalization have long desired. Because of Japan's militaristic past, Abe's mission is highly controversial, both at home and abroad. Abe's Cabinet will have to decide how to proceed, and relevant legislation will have to be debated and approved by the Japanese Diet. While the entire process may not wrap up by the end of the year, it looks increasingly likely that Japan will move to allow collective self-defense to some degree in the near future.

On a fundamental level, Thursday's report shows that Japan is igniting a national debate about the nature of war and peace. The purpose of Japan's constitutional pacifism is to preserve peace, but what if preserving peace requires the threat or use of force? Should Article Nine be interpreted literally, as an absolute renunciation of the use of force and maintenance of arms, or should it be interpreted more loosely as an imperfect articulation of Japan's desire to preserve peace? Abe's legal advisers argue that constitutional interpretations have evolved over the past several decades, and that now is the time for further evolution. They have come down decisively in favor of the belief that the constitution's pacifist principle is an end rather than a means -- in other words, an exclusively nonviolent stance cannot adequately discourage war, but developing greater war-fighting capabilities can. From this perspective, emerging threats abroad will force Japan to develop new ways of countering those threats to preserve its end goal: peace.

Details of the new constitutional interpretation still need to be hashed out and will likely go through several iterations before the Diet will approve the new laws. The advisory panel argues that Japan can and should exercise its right to collective self-defense when under direct attack or when direct harm is done to the U.S.-Japan alliance, the international order or the rights of the Japanese people. These conditions seem as if they could be interpreted to justify action in almost any scenario, but a range of restrictions would still be in place to constrain Japanese military action. For example, Tokyo may need to receive a request for aid from a fellow nation and gain Diet approval before taking action.

It is still too early to say what the new rules will be and what will concretely change. One can argue that the question of formal constitutional interpretation is moot because of the way power works in reality. Would Japan really have refrained from using force if the United States was attacked? Would other countries really refrain from attacking the United States because Japan has pledged it would rise to the defense? In most wartime scenarios, Japan's national interests would likely have compelled emergency legislation or de facto action to respond to any scenarios that threatened the United States or Japan's immediate security. Ultimately, a new legally sanctioned interpretation of the constitution remains merely an interpretive matter. It can try to influence, but it cannot guarantee, any particular course of action in the real world.

On the other hand, adopting collective self-defense would be significant in several ways. First, legal changes could help shift domestic perceptions of the Japanese military's purpose and legitimacy. The Japanese have long held closely to the country's pseudo-pacifist doctrine, making it likely that any leader flouting the restrictions would face debilitating political backlash. But China's economic rise, military modernization and emerging naval power, as well as North Korea's missile program and nuclear tests, have helped to change the Japanese public's perception of external threats over the past two decades. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami have also helped frame the Japanese military as a force for good. Now, by carefully amending the laws surrounding the military's actions, Japanese leaders are encouraging the public to think of the military as an institution that can be trusted with wider responsibilities and powers while remaining under close political control. The debate will only intensify with the proposed legal changes, but the grounds of debate may shift toward those who favor a stronger military.

The legalization of collective self-defense also opens the door to a faster evolution of the Japanese military's role. Depending on what form the laws take, Japan could make formal alliances or other security arrangements with smaller powers that would benefit from its deterrent capability. The most likely path would be for Tokyo to try to fill gaps between the U.S.-Japan alliance and the United States' bilateral alliances with other nations friendly to Japan, particularly U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan could also seek to form stronger ties with European states, especially France and the United Kingdom, with whom Japan has a long history of alliances and naval interaction. Tokyo could also look to form closer security relations with powers outside the U.S. system. Vietnam -- whose long-standing troubles with China are on the rise -- would be a contender, though such an alliance would likely only take shape under more extreme circumstances, given its hostility toward China.

Thus in the short term, Japan's legal changes will mostly consist of altering the terms of the domestic debate, but they will later open up new options for decision-makers to respond to a wider range of eventualities. In particular, Japan's Self-Defense Forces could gain more freedom to intercept missiles aimed or launched at allies; search or apprehend vessels at sea that lend support to allies' enemies; help allies with military logistics such as refueling; engage in self-defense operations while on international peacekeeping missions; rescue foreign nationals; and respond to actions by small unidentified groups or "infringements" that fall short of an attack. Because of Tokyo's inherent institutional and technological advantages, these changes will spur serious reassessments of Japan by its neighbors and allies. China will view Japan's evolving posture as the newest and most consequential attempt at containment, made all the more threatening because Japan could become less susceptible to U.S. control. Japan has made no secret that China's growing military capabilities and desire to change the status quo are providing the most compelling reasons for its military normalization.

Meanwhile, the United States will welcome a Japan that is finally taking on a greater international security burden, but it will also recognize the risk that Japan's increasing influence over regional security decisions could pose to U.S. interests. As Japan takes on more responsibility in maintaining regional security, it will extend its own chains of security relationships, which could antagonize China and raise the risk of entangling the United States in conflicts that Washington would rather avoid.

Read more: Japan Reinvents the Role of Its Military | Stratfor
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« Reply #62 on: May 18, 2017, 12:56:07 PM »

Bringing some of this over from Michael Yon thread:

CD: "Any discussion of Japan must include the subject of demographics.  That the birth rate falls FAR short of the replacement rate has profound implications.  The median age of the Japanese population is rising rapidly.  Among other things this means that the ratio of workers to retirees is falling.  Is this sustainable?  Or does the implied push to ever higher tax rates stifle the Japanese economy as its export driven model is increasingly challenged by anti-globalist winds?"

GM: "Japan is on the path to becoming the first all robot nation."

Crafty, that's right.

GM perhaps got the answer before I could ask the question.   )

Japan went from an expanding retiree to worker ratio to where the population is actually shrinking too.  Could they grow their way out?  Sure, but why would they with tax rates increasing.

Immigration is essentially zero.  This is good and bad...  And not easily changeable.

They are already in fiscal stimulus mode, pumping up with infrastructure spending and (short term?) deficits without getting out of the multi-decade slump.

They have run QE past the point of zero interest rates, to negative interest rates, to government buying assets.  A necessary attempt perhaps but not healthy, not good and not working.

They already faced two rounds of consumption tax rate increases - while in stimulus mode ??

Now they need to provide for their own defense, and maybe even pay for it.  With what?  They need additional, growth killing, tax rate increases while in stimulus mode??!!

They were cutting their corporate tax rate from highest in the world.  Now we are highest in the world.  If we passed the current US proposal, would Japan again be highest?  If so, hard to compete.  Better to manufacture in lower wage, lower tax countries.

The (consumption) tax rate increases already in place and coming most certainly rule out economic growth.  Is the goal now just survival?

Yet they are still the second third richest country in the world(?)

They are on the leading edge of having to figure out what a lot of other places have to figure out.

Yes, robots robotic functions are part of the answer.  But that leaves jobs like nurses and personal care attendants, needs that don't go away leading the measure of labor income rates.  Unionization and artificial hikes are the only gains to be made there, a zero sum game.  The additional wage that one person makes, another person (or government) pays.

Consumer spending is never going to lead them out of the funk as consumption tax rates escalate.  The export economy of the great Japanese companies like Honda, Toyota, Sony either shifted manufacturing to lower wage countries, destination countries like US, and/or robotics.  Canon, where I once worked, is dominating its main product category yet declining in sales and profits:

There was a period in Hong Kong where they lowered tax rates, took in more revenues as a result, lowered tax rates further, took in even more revenue, etc and had phenomenal growth.  This spiral is in the opposite direction with no macro-economic or demographic solution in sight.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 01:02:30 PM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #63 on: December 08, 2017, 08:15:26 AM »

By Alastair Gale
Dec. 8, 2017 7:48 a.m. ET

Japan plans to make its first purchase of missiles that could target North Korean military bases from long distance, a major military upgrade as a rising nuclear threat from Pyongyang sparks a regional arms race.

The decision, announced Friday, includes the potential purchase of missiles from Lockheed Martin Corp. and is likely to be welcomed by President Donald Trump. During a visit to Tokyo in November, Mr. Trump called for Japan to buy “massive” amounts of military equipment from the U.S.

Under Mr. Trump, the U.S. has sought to push Japan to upgrade its military capabilities and shoulder more of the burden of its defense. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is largely in agreement as he seeks to loosen restrictions on the Japanese military.

However, the introduction of new offensive military hardware may meet political opposition from those in Japan who object to any change to the nation’s official pacifism. Following its defeat in World War II, Japan renounced war and has primarily relied on the U.S. military umbrella for its defense since then.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said it would request around $19 million in next fiscal year’s budget to buy the Norwegian-built Joint Strike Missile for Japan’s F-35 jet fighters. The JSM cruise missile has a maximum range of around 300 miles.

The ministry will also seek funding to research how to modify its F-15 jet fighters to carry cruise missiles developed by Lockheed Martin Corp., including the extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. The JASSM-ER has a maximum range of around 620 miles, meaning Japan would be able to reach North Korean land targets with missiles fired from aircraft flying close to Japan.

The ability to target North Korea from long distance would help avoid danger from Pyongyang’s antiaircraft missile systems. In May, Mr. Kim oversaw a test of a new surface-to-air missile system estimated by security scholars to have a range of around 90 miles.

In a press conference, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera played down the use of the missiles against North Korea, saying Japan would continue to rely on the U.S. to target Pyongyang’s bases in a conflict. But before becoming defense minister for a second time earlier this year, Mr. Onodera was a leading advocate of Japan acquiring the ability to respond to any North Korean offensive with an attack on the source.

“The missiles are a piece of the puzzle of developing the ability to strike enemy bases,” said Kunio Orita, a retired general in Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force. But Mr. Orita said Japan still lacks real-time surveillance ability to monitor bases of nearby countries.

The plan by Japan to buy cruise missiles is the latest step in an arms buildup in Northeast Asia as North Korea has accelerated its missile and nuclear development in the last few years. North Korea has tested three intercontinental ballistic missiles this year, as well as other missiles that could hit Japan and South Korea.

Last year, South Korea deployed a U.S.-built missile defense system and is currently working on a new ballistic missile capable of destroying North Korea’s underground military facilities. Japan also intends to purchase a new land-based missile defense system from the U.S.

Mr. Onodera highlighted how the planned purchase of cruise missiles would help Japan respond to hostile amphibious forces before they could reach any of Japan’s islands. Japanese officials have long been concerned that China may challenge Japan’s sovereignty on its southern island chain by force.

The two countries are currently in a dispute over sovereignty of a collection of uninhabited islets in the same region.

In a response to a faxed request for comment about the Japanese announcement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: “We urge the Japanese to act prudently in military and security matters, so as to play a positive and constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability.”

North Korea’s state media had no immediate statement on the Japanese announcement and its foreign ministry couldn’t be reached for comment.
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« Reply #64 on: December 08, 2017, 12:25:42 PM »

This also means Japan will acquire missiles capable of hitting Beijing.  And capable of hitting eastern Russia.
For the umpteenth time, Mr Xi Jinping, why is this necessity in the best interest of the Chinese politburo?

When South Korea and Taiwan deploys missiles and missile defense, go nuclear, will they then get it?

The NK issue and Trump's dealing with it, telling allies they need to share in the burden of their own defense, has been turned on its ear - against China.

This threat was made possible over these decades by China.  China enjoyed a good laugh over the American agony of the situation.  Now it has spun out of their control, assuming they are still unwilling to resolve it -
 forcefully in Pyongyang.
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« Reply #65 on: February 15, 2018, 11:09:03 AM »

By Phillip Orchard

Japan’s North Korea Strategy: A Solid Defense

Peripheral to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Japan is slowly building up military capabilities.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe isn’t having the best Olympics. Over the weekend, at a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in ahead of the opening ceremonies, Abe’s goal was to secure a commitment that Seoul would resume joint military drills with the U.S. after the Paralympics end in March and to sustain sanctions pressure on Pyongyang, while refraining from spiking a 2015 accord intended to resolve lingering animosity over Japanese abuses in World War II. According to South Korean media, Moon told Abe not to meddle in the South’s “sovereignty and internal affairs,” and essentially sent Abe to his room to think about Japan’s past bad behavior.
Abe also had to watch as the nascent detente between the two Koreas picked up pace, culminating with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inviting Moon to an inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang. During his meeting with the North Korean delegation headed by Kim’s sister, Moon reportedly declined to press Pyongyang to denuclearize, heightening concerns among the U.S., Japan and hawks in South Korea that Moon’s government may be laying the groundwork to weaken sanctions pressure on the North and potentially extend the temporary freeze in U.S.-South Korea joint exercises. Adding apparent insult to injury was yet another show of support from the Chinese for South Korea’s pursuit of reconciliation with the North, stoking concern that Beijing is succeeding in using the Korean crisis to drive a wedge between Seoul and its stalwart allies.

All of this highlights an uncomfortable reality for Japan: It is perhaps the country most vulnerable to a nuclear North Korea – including even South Korea – but also, of all the key players involved in the standoff, the one with the least ability to independently shape the outcome of the crisis. It’s a peripheral player and likely will be until the crisis is settled one way or another. But it’s also on a path to ensure that it doesn’t find itself confined to the sidelines in this sort of situation again.

Seoul Keeps Its Enemies Closer

The weakness of Japan’s hand is reflected in the peculiar dynamic that has emerged between South Korea and the two rivals on its flanks.

Seoul’s apparent embrace of Beijing while giving the cold shoulder to Tokyo may seem mystifying. After all, it was China that implemented informal economic sanctions on South Korea last year over Seoul’s decision to go forward with the U.S. deployment of the THAAD ballistic missile defense system – a strategically dubious (and ultimately futile) attempt to coerce Seoul into prioritizing Chinese security over its own in the middle of a crisis.  During a high-profile visit to Beijing last fall, when the two sides made a show of unity by jointly declaring that war could not be allowed on the peninsula, Beijing signaled that it would continue to inflict economic pain on the South whenever it strayed from Chinese wishes – despite Seoul agreeing to refrain from additional THAAD deployments. And it’s China that is helping keep the North Korean regime afloat more than any country, except possibly Russia, by blocking U.S.-led attempts to strengthen U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang, particularly with regard to oil imports.

Yet South Korea has reportedly remained reluctant to implement parts of a landmark intelligence-sharing pact with Japan brokered by the U.S. in 2016. Some of this has to do with Seoul’s lingering resentment over Japan’s prewar occupation of Korea and unease about Japan’s growing determination to shed its postwar pacifist constraints. Some of it has to do with the perception that Japan is acting merely as a U.S. proxy to pave the way for a U.S. military operation on the peninsula over Seoul’s objections – a move that would put the South Korean capital region at risk of massive North Korean shelling. But mostly it has to do with the fact that China simply matters more than Japan in the current crisis.

That said, Chinese influence in Pyongyang has waned considerably since Kim Jong Un came to power. Though China has thrown its rhetorical support behind Moon’s detente with Pyongyang, it’s unclear what Beijing could really do to push talks toward a resolution that both it and Seoul would find acceptable. China’s overriding goals are to expel the U.S. from the peninsula and to ensure that a friendly, or at least not overtly hostile, government rules the North. These, along with the long-term threat China poses to South Korea, limit how far Seoul can align itself with Beijing in the current crisis – especially if Seoul succeeds in persuading the U.S. to refrain from a unilateral operation to disarm the North.

Nonetheless, Beijing still has as much leverage over North Korea as anyone. Even if it cannot bring Pyongyang fully to heel without harming its own core interests on the peninsula, it at least has some latent ability to alter Pyongyang’s cost calculations and, if enough stars align, potentially help the North Koreans save enough face to be willing to stand down. At minimum, China doesn’t want to see a war on the peninsula that puts U.S. forces on the Yalu River and a pro-U.S. government in Pyongyang, which means Beijing certainly isn’t going to try to thwart Seoul’s efforts to forestall a conflict through dialogue. This makes Seoul’s alignment with Beijing at this stage low risk. As was made clear when Vice President Mike Pence said that the U.S. was open to talks with the North without preconditions, at this point, “maximum pressure” and dialogue need not be seen as automatically conflicting.

Japan, in comparison, just doesn’t have the ability to either substantially further or frustrate Seoul’s objectives. Of all the relevant players, it has the least leverage over Pyongyang. It cannot yet act on its own militarily to eliminate the threat, as its slow remilitarization is still in its very early stages. Even new landmark procurements that would give it at least limited ability to strike the North, such as long-range cruise missiles, are expected to take years to complete. The best it can do for the foreseeable future is align itself with the U.S.

Thus, to South Korea, Japan may either lend a helping hand or become a threat, but at the moment there’s little downside to pushing Tokyo on politically explosive but strategically unimportant issues such as wartime “comfort women” and tiny islands in the Sea of Japan. In fact, it’s convenient to do so at a time when Moon is facing heavy criticism from South Korean conservatives and widespread public skepticism about his hearty welcome of the North Koreans at the Olympics.

Japan’s Long Game

To be clear, Japan can be a pivotal player in support of how the U.S. and South Korea decide to proceed. The Americans would lean heavily on Japanese help to facilitate and contain the fallout of a U.S. military operation. Short of war, Japan could play a valuable role in implementing a blockade on the North. It’s already using its diplomatic and economic influence across Asia and beyond to quash North Korea’s efforts to circumvent sanctions. If and when everyone simply decides to live with a nuclear North, Japan’s superb intelligence, submarine warfare, anti-ballistic missile systems and anti-mining capabilities would be invaluable in deterring Northern aggression.

But no country with Japan’s combination of untapped power and inherent vulnerabilities would be content with the role of good team player executing someone else’s strategy indefinitely. Tokyo is certainly not sitting on its hands. Japan may not have many options today, but it’s moving to ensure that it doesn’t find itself in this sort of situation in the future.

This is why Japan has been spearheading efforts to lay the groundwork for a tightened defense framework anchored by Australia and India, while also gradually ramping up security and economic assistance to strategically important ASEAN states locked in territorial disputes with China. Alongside this effort, Japan has also been the driving force behind the revival of the strategic Trans-Pacific Partnership, that, despite appearing dead following the U.S. withdrawal early last year, appears set to be finalized by the remaining 11 members later this year. Finally, at home, Japan is moving methodically to shed legal and political constraints on remilitarization, while slowly building up military capabilities that will give it greater ability to step out from under the U.S. security umbrella and secure its vital interests farther afield.

None of these efforts appears ready to come to fruition quickly, whether due to conflicting interests among the regional states Japan is trying to shepherd toward tighter cooperation, or due to powerful and unpredictable political currents at home. Nevertheless, the disquieting realities exposed by the Korean impasse – the limits of U.S. power in the Indo-Pacific, uncertainties about whether South Korea will remain a part of the U.S.-led alliance structure, and Chinese disinterest in working to preserve the established order – have certainly helped them gain traction. In this way, being confined to the sidelines in today’s crisis may ultimately help Japan get where deeper geopolitical forces are urging it to go.

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