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Topic: Japan (Read 4623 times)
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, 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.
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.
Stratfor: Japan's Naval Strategy
Reply #51 on:
July 26, 2012, 07:38:31 AM »
TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images
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
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
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.
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
Japan shifting further away from pacifism
Reply #55 on:
April 02, 2013, 05:34:58 AM »
Japanese Nationalism and Shifting Policies
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
Re: Japan - Deregulation? WSJ
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."
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