Japan from the inside out

The Senkaku plot thickens

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 29, 2010

THE PLOT for the story about the Japanese arrest and non-trial of Zhan Qixiong, captain of the Chinese fishing boat Minjinyu 5179, near the Senkaku islets for deliberately ramming two Japanese Coast Guard vessels earlier this month has just gotten thick enough to cut with a knife.

There is now a report that Mr. Zhan is not really a fisherman, but a captain in the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China.

This arose during an interview on the John Batchelor radio program in the United States between the host and Gordon Chang on 26 September.

Mr. Chang is an attorney and author who follows events in China and East Asia. I’ve linked before to a few of his blog posts on the Commentary website. One of his books, The Coming Collapse of China, was published in Japan as Yagate Chugoku no Hokai ga Hajimaru. (He thought it would happen in 2006.) Mr. Batchelor has a three-hour daily radio program based in New York City that is also broadcast in several other cities.

Mr. Chang said that he had been told the information by two sources he did not identify by name, one of whom is from Japan’s Defense Ministry. He said he is trying to confirm it with a third source.

He didn’t mention that Japanese reporters in Beijing conducted their own investigation into Mr. Zhan’s background and concluded that he was a fisherman. Then again, his sources might be a lot better. I’ve already cited two sources here–Paul Lin for the Taipei Times, and an undentified Chinese quoted in Diamond On-Line–who think the story about Mr. Zhan being just a fisherman is a bit fishy itself.

You can listen to the interview at the program’s podcast site here. Scroll down to the link for September 26, 2010, Hour 2. On my computer it came up in Windows Media Player. Fast forward the program to the 29:00 minute mark. The interview lasts about five minutes.

Mr. Chang’s area of expertise is China, so the interview is conducted from that perspective. He’s been talking about Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea for some time, and he has concluded that the Chinese military now controls foreign policy in that country. In regard to the story about Mr. Zhan, he said, “It really makes sense.”

If true, it would also make sense that the left-wing/pacifist Kan-Sengoku administration in Japan did not want the information to be made public. It might also explain the strange circumstances under which the Chinese captain (fishing boat or navy) was released. It would also make sense that people concerned about the integrity of Japanese national sovereignty would want the information to become widely known. And considering that the government has a certain amount of control over major media outlets in Japan through the kisha club system, it would also make sense that the leakers chose to provide the information to a source overseas.

They spend a little time discussing Foreign Minister Maehara Seiji, whom Japan watchers know to have more robust foreign policy and defense views than the leaders of the oil-and-water Democratic Party of Japan. Is this a hint that he might have had a hand in the leak?

Those unfamiliar with the American media environment might be taken aback by Mr. Batchelor’s semi-sensationalist tone, but he’s actually restrained in comparison to some other people, such as Keith Olbermann and Rush Limbaugh.

Therefore, be prepared to hear comparisons to the start of World War II in Europe. Mr. Batchelor can’t stop himself from saying that “Japan, once aroused, is aggressive,” adding that we’ve already seen what they did in that war. He unfortunately cuts off Mr. Chang when the latter reports that Japan has enough plutonium on hand to build 4,000 nuclear weapons, not to object, but to hear himself talk.

It’s beginning to look as if this ship is about to sail into much deeper waters.

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10 Responses to “The Senkaku plot thickens”

  1. Roual Deetlefs said


    Have you seen this ?

    The Center for Safety and Security Research (CSSR), a research institute under the Education, Science and Technology Ministry, will release next month a report on two crisis scenarios concerning China that predict China’s actions regarding energy and their impact on Japan.

    The first scenario is a battle over energy sources. It assumes that if China reinforces its procurement of energy without taking cost-efficiency into consideration, the world will be plunged into a situation in which each country competes for oil by ignoring international market mechanisms.

    As a result, political tension between the two countries over resources in the East China Sea will mount.

    The second scenario assumes the isolation of Japan. If China succeeds in concluding free trade agreements with Southeast Asian countries, their reliance on China will increase, leading to the isolation of Japan.

    Both scenarios portray shocking futures for Japan.

    Tokyo University Prof. Hideyuki Horii, head of the center, said that the crisis scenarios modeled worst-case situations in order to work out what measures Japan should take.

    There is no guarantee that one of the worst-case scenarios will not come true if Japan sits on its hands.

  2. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

  3. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Apology sometimes equals to apathy.
    The party’s internal poll numbers must be really bad.

    – A.

  4. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

  5. PaxAmericana said

    I think you should be careful with your sources. The military-industrial complex and CIA folks have a great deal of influence within the US media, NGOs, religious groups, and ethnic organizations. This particular story may simply be a case of Maehara trying to justify his actions. Taking someone to court over actions in a contested region is definitely an escalation, and people want to know why he escalated things. These leaks will “justify” his actions in the eyes of lots of right-leaning/anti-Chinese/pro-American folks.

    Finally, what would China have to gain by this? Time is on their side, or at least that is the conventional wisdom. Just a case of the military being out of control to get more influence?

    Not trying to make China out to be a nice empire or anything, and it’s certainly possible that the hard liners there could cause trouble, just as the hard liners in Japan or any other country could.

  6. Aceface said


  7. […] * Was Chinese fishing boat captain a PLAN agent? […]

  8. […] point if China says one thing, the exact opposite is probably worth investigation. As blog Ampontan pointed out in September, Gordon Chang, a frequent guest on the John Batchelor show, said that he had heard from two sources […]

  9. Mac said

    The full video of the ramming is here:

    (How does one embed video here?)

  10. Roual Deetlefs said

    @ Mac.

    I got a link to this video from a friend on facebook. This is how a part of the conversation went …

    🙂 and thank you for the video, I am watching it now. Those chinese are a bit baka ?!

    [Midori ]
    i don’t know.. Japanese government is a bit baka, too, they were released on vail, and went back to China.

    Well Midori-san, then you must go and vote for some tough guys in your next election. People that will not kow-tow to the Chinese and the kasumigaseki …

    yes, now our government has chicken hearts:)

    This is the link she gave me …

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