Japan from the inside out

Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Ichigen koji (88)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, January 2, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

Japan and India – as energy-poor countries heavily reliant on oil imports from the Gulf – are seriously concerned by mercantilist efforts to assert control over energy supplies and the transport routes for them. Indeed, despite their messy domestic politics and endemic scandals, India and Japan have the fastest-growing bilateral relationship in Asia today. Since they unveiled a “strategic and global partnership” in 2006, their political and economic engagement has deepened remarkably. A free-trade agreement between Japan and India, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), entered into force in August. And, in response to China’s punitive use of its monopoly on rare-earths production to cut off such exports to Japan during the fall of 2010, Japan and India have agreed to joint development of rare earths, which are vital for a wide range of green-energy technologies and military applications.

Today, the level and frequency of official bilateral engagement is extraordinary.

Brahma Chellaney in the Khaleej Times, 2 January 2012

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Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, December 28, 2011

THE United States is displeased with Japanese behavior in financial markets, reports Reuters:

The report…criticiz(ed) Tokyo for its solo yen-selling interventions in August and October that followed a joint Group of 7 action in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake.

“The unilateral Japanese interventions were undertaken when exchange market conditions appeared to be operating in an orderly manner and volatility in the yen-dollar exchange rate was lower than, for example, the euro-dollar market,” the report said.

“In contrast to the post-earthquake joint G7 intervention in March, the United States did not support these interventions,” the Treasury said, adding that Tokyo should pursue reforms to revive its domestic economy rather than try to influence the exchange rate.

Isn’t that last sentence rich? One of the reasons for the yen appreciation is that the Americans are using a weak dollar to revive their own domestic economy. Who do these foreigners think they are, anyway?

There’s a reason Japan intervened:

Japanese exporters have complained that the ultra-strong yen puts them at a competitive disadvantage. The yen was trading at just under 78 to the U.S. dollar on Wednesday morning, about 3 percent weaker than it was on October 31, when Tokyo aggressively intervened to cap the rise.

That should read, “the ultra-strong yen puts them at an ultra-strong competitive disadvantage”. The exchange rate is forcing Japanese manufacturers to shift production overseas. The effect that will have on domestic employment and the economy should be obvious. Indeed, the yen has appreciated by more than 30% against the dollar since the fall of 2008 — just three years. Had those figures been reversed, the Internet would have collapsed from the pixel overload generated from the North American continent warning that the sky was about to fall.

The article notes the Americans also had sharp words for the South Koreans.

In short, the United States expects the Japanese and the South Koreans to act in the best interest of the United States rather than in the best interest of Japan and South Korea. The U.S. also expects Japan to conform to its expectations if it is to participate in the TPP.

Meanwhile, there was a report in Japan yesterday that the government will conduct serious talks with China and South Korea next year about a trilateral free trade agreement. Japan will also step up purchases of Chinese government debt, and the Chinese will facilitate Japanese yuan investment in China and Japanese corporate issues of yuan-denominated bonds. That shouldn’t be surprising:

* China is Japan’s largest trading partner.

* China is the country with the largest number of overseas Japanese subsidiaries.

* China in particular, and the rest of East Asia in general, is the primary focus of international expansion for Japanese SMBEs.

That’s not to mention such subsidiary elements of bilateral ties as the 70,000 Chinese students in Japanese colleges and universities.

The report did not seem to have the desired effect, however:

“This report does not make it more difficult for Japan to intervene,” said (a senior Japanese government) official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic. “We are committed to doing whatever is necessary.”

Did the Americans notice that Prime Minister Noda visited India after leaving China? One could almost hear the NHK radio announcers and guest commentators drooling yesterday over the potential for the contracts to improve the Indian infrastructure.

It would behoove the United States to wise up and realize they no longer have the leeway to push their luck. In today’s climate, copping that Attitude isn’t going to win them friends or keep the ones they have. It’s getting old, faster than some people might think.


The article about India states that the Japanese approach to that country began with Aso Taro. It actually started with Abe Shinzo, who outlined the idea in the book he published before becoming prime minister.

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Japan to sign free trade pact – with India

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, February 12, 2011

WHILE people are noogling on the question of whether those insular Japanese will ever be able to get over themselves long enough to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade discussions, the country will quietly sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India next week, as New in Malaysia reports.

The agreements are aimed at reducing or eliminating tariffs on over 90 per cent of the goods India trades with Japan…The pacts also aim at liberalising trade in services, an area of particular interest to India.

The agreement would boost the two-way commerce which stood at about USD 11 billion in 2009-10.

That amount isn’t enough to place India in the Top 10 of Japan’s trading partners, but the pact does show the country is capable of signing up for a free trade regime with zero-level fuss.

The agreement has flown under the radar of most observers only because they’ve turned their detection equipment in the direction of the United States, with occasional sweeps toward China and the EU. The other sectors are disregarded.

The prime minister who in recent years made closer ties with India part of his agenda, by the way, was Abe Shinzo.

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Letter bombs (11): Boomerangs

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, September 26, 2010

It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshipers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness. They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exultation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.
– Calvin Coolidge

READER M-BONE has given me permission to quote his comments before, so I’ll take the liberty of quoting two more, because they’re quite good. This time he writes about the reaction outside of East Asia to Japan’s problems with China in the Senkaku dispute. Here’s the first:

China is making like Gamilus – fighting against their own interests in a state of sublime belligerence. (Amp. note: Space Battleship Yamato reference)

They’ve given a huge boost to the US-Japan alliance (arguably at its shakiest since 1960 during the DPJ tenure, now likely to be coming on like gangbusters), spat on some of their best friends in Japan, and this time it isn’t just (Martin) Fackler – everyone from The Economist to tea party trolls on Yahoo comments seem to be calling China the petulant child of current international relations – many of these are the same people who gave China a free pass in 2005 because of the emotive history issue. And for what? A petty domestic PR coup in a media environment that the Chinese government runs anyway? AND Japan gave them the perfect out by releasing the captain and they STILL found a way to screw the pooch by demanding apology and compensation doubling down on their domestic propaganda but leaving much of the rest of the world shaking their heads.

How long before China pisses off Russia and India and finds itself surrounded on all sides by a FCL (F**k China League)?

Two from me:

1. India and Russia have been wary of China for some time, and are probably charter members of the FCL. India came to blows with them in the early 60s, and the Soviet Union almost did.

2. I don’t think it’s just for domestic consumption. As I tried to argue in my Friday post, and as Michael Turton does on his Taiwan website, this is how China will behave as it tries to recreate its hegemony/suzerainty in the future. It’s how they’ve always behaved when they’ve had the wherewithal in the past. The DPJ played into this Chinese conceit with their fawning behavior. The Chinese do not treat other countries as equal partners, and they have no intention of doing so with “Little Japan”.

M-Bone Comment #2

China has not been anxious to get into scuffs with India and Russia yet and if you want to beat on a country for no good reason with no chance of retribution, Japan is probably the world’s best candidate. However, when you think about it, if ANY part of this latest Chinese show was designed to improve their geo-political position and to increase their chance of actually ending up with the Senkakus (instead of a rather banal ‘the captain came home’ moment) what transpired can only be considered a huge failure. China will now (likely) face a surging Japanese-American partnership where it was once waning and the greatest lasting legacy out of all of this will likely be the US’s unambiguous statement that the islands are covered by the security treaty. If the Chinese leaders were really dumb enough to catalyze this, who is to say that some colossal f%”k up with another neighbor won’t be coming down the line?

…Even the domestic Japan bashing to distract from Chinese government problems blah blah argument isn’t a good one in this case. If they had played it stern and waited, the Japanese would still have likely released the captain, giving them a victory without all of the hotheads taking to the streets. Then, if they really wanted to, they could have waited a bit and jumped on a random history issue a few weeks or months on.

My general feeling is that most people are more pissed at China than supportive of Japan, but it seems to me that China, obviously used to manipulating nationalism, doesn’t seem to grasp how quick and how powerful turns in American nationalism can be.

Two more from me:

1. Someone in the Japanese print media (in the flood of information over the past few days) noted that during the Koizumi administration, there was an official with a high position in the Chinese leadership who had a good understanding of Japan. He’s not there anymore, and no one’s replaced him.

2. I suspect Chinese leadership concluded that the U.S. under the Obama administration and with its financial problems became a paper tiger and behaved accordingly. (Or, they suspected it had become a paper tiger and wanted to make sure.) The Futenma issue gave them another opportunity to test that theory.

I think Chinese imperial ambition, hubris, nouveau riche / narikin environment, lack of understanding (at the top) of other countries, and a general we-don’t-give-a-sh*t-what-you-think attitude are all part of the mix.

21st Century Schizoid Man sent in a good comment from a Japanese forum. Here it is in English:

“There is no question that Japan caved in to the Chinese this time, but nevertheless, the negative aspects for the Chinese are by no means inconsiderable. The argument that the Chinese are a threat is bound to increase, so it will be argued that Japan must also strengthen its military capabilities. Japan’s relationship with the U.S. will grow stronger and resemble conditions during the Koizumi era. Even more, the world now knows that if anything should occur, (China is a) country that will respond as if hostages had been taken. This will likely open the eyes of those who harbored fantasies about the Chinese.

“In short, it would be a good idea not to have any fantasies about the Chinese, eliminate any sentimental emotionalism, and create a cool relationship in which we use those aspects we can use.

“Japan has effective control of the Senkakus, If the Chinese seize them it will rupture Sino-Japanese relations, and would, in a real sense, be an act of war, so that is likely impossible right away. For now, we should quietly build up our military capabilities to prepare for any contingencies. It is important to never again be entertained by the fantasy of ‘friendly Sino-Japanese relations’”.

One comment from me:

1. As I tried to argue yesterday, I don’t think we’re going to be hearing any more about yuai and an East Asian entity for a while.

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Posted in China, India, International relations, Military affairs, Russia | Tagged: | 19 Comments »

Coming attractions

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 24, 2010

The build-up of Chinese military capabilities is a real threat.
– Maehara Seiji, the new Foreign Minister of Japan, speaking in the United States in 2005

In ancient Chinese history, the First Emperor sent his adviser Xu Fu (徐福, Jofuku in Japanese) across the sea to what is now Japan to seek out the elixir of immortality. The account records that he was accompanied by many young men and women. Some Chinese believe that the Japanese are descendants of these early travelers. Does this give China a territorial claim over Japan? Of course not.
– Paul Lin, Taipei Times 19 September 2010

FOR THOSE with the eyes to see, China is offering the world a preview of its behavior when it finally assumes the role of Great Power. The screening started when the Japanese arrested Zhan Qixiong, captain of the Chinese fishing boat Minjinyu 5179, in Japanese waters 12 kilometers northwest of Kubashima. That was near one of the Senkaku islets, which the Chinese decided a few years ago was actually theirs after centuries of ignoring them. He was released today without being formally charged, though he could have been held a few more days before Japanese law required a decision.

One of the Senkaku islets

The Japanese suspected illegal fishing, having caught the Chinese with their pants down, so to speak—their fishing tackle was unfurled—so they hailed the boat to stop for boarding and inspection. The Chinese fishermen usually quit the scene when confronted, but this time someone cued up the theme song to Cops: Captain Zhan zipped up, rammed one of the Coast Guard vessels (the Mizuki), and then hightailed it. During the two-hour chase, he also rammed the other Coast Guard ship.

Try that on a highway after being motioned to pull over by an officer in a patrol car and watch what happens.

What happened here is that the Japanese decided to detain the captain before deciding whether or not to formally charge him. After a few days, they sent the Minjinyu 5179 back to China with the 14 crewmen, none of whom were arrested, but one or more of whom might have been CCP members egging on the skipper. They also found some fish.

The subsequent behavior of the Chinese and Japanese could not present a clearer contrast. The Japanese have been a model of calm discretion, while the Chinese government has responded with volleys of cloddish intimidation and ham-handed irredentism that reverberate with echoes of a less sophisticated age. The bluster puts one in mind of the more restrained North Korean propaganda, with hints of a mustachioed Mitteleuropa paperhanger demanding the return of the Sudetenland. It’s all the more revealing because they’re bullying a year-old Japanese government that long ago declared its intention to develop closer ties with them while tilting away from the United States. Perhaps that aggression is to be expected when one’s military budget has quadrupled over the past decade and one is facing a technically pacifist country with only 10% of the military personnel. The urge arises to start kicking sand in other people’s faces just because one can get away with it.

The recently appointed Japanese foreign minister, Maehara Seiji, is portrayed by some as a “hawk” because he favors amending the Japanese Constitution to permit national self-defense. This hawk is carrying an olive branch in its talons, however. He says the incident will be handled in accordance with the rule of law while emphasizing that “there is no territorial dispute in the region”. At the United Nations this week, he said, “(China) is an important neighbor. We must create a solid, strategic reciprocal relationship.”

While inspecting the damage to one of the Japanese ships last weekend, he added this bit of information:

We have a video of the circumstances of the collision, and it’s obvious at a glance who collided with whom.

Here’s a report from NHK, Japan’s quasi-public television network, using a computer-generated representation rather than the video itself. If you don’t understand Japanese, fast forward to the 1:20 mark; the Japanese ship is shown sailing ahead of the Chinese fishing vessel and to its port side when the Minjinyu 5179 suddenly veers left and smacks into it. (The Japanese Coast Guard is keeping the video under wraps and is not allowing copies to be made.) The announcer says the Chinese ship approached from the rear and turned the rudder sharply to hit the Japanese ship.

The Japanese government was able to hold its ground because it completely understands the motivations for the Chinese behavior, both in general and in this particular instance.

Being neighbors of the Chinese, they’ve understood for centuries that China has never seen itself as one nation among others in a cooperative relationship of mutual benefit. China refers to itself as the “flower in the center of the world”, and with their recent reblossoming they are reasserting the suzerainty they created in the region centuries ago. Not only do they consider the Western Pacific a Chinese sea, they’ve also expanded their reach into the Indian Ocean and are eyeing the other oceans of the world:

Now, one of China’s most prominent policy intellectuals is advocating for the creation of overseas bases. Shen Dingli, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, asserts that “it is wrong for us [China] to believe that we have no right to set up bases abroad.” He argues that it is not terrorism or piracy that’s the real threat to China. It’s the ability of other states to block China’s trade routes that poses the greatest threat. …As China emerges as a major global power, it will expand its military footprint across the globe, much like that other great power, the US, whose bases surround China. The rapid expansion of China’s naval capabilities and broader military profile is a classic manifestation of its great power status. China’s new naval strategy of “far sea defense” is aimed at giving Beijing the ability to project its power in key oceanic areas, including and most significantly the Indian Ocean.

The Japanese also know that the Chinese now have access to a port on the Sea of Japan, thanks to an arrangement with their closest ally—North Korea:

China has gained direct access to the Sea of Japan for the first time in 100 years through a North Korean port, leaving the other two regional players, Japan and South Korea, deeply concerned about the communist state’s ambitions.

China made an agreement to lease a pier at North Korea’s Rajin Port for 10 years…The North Korean port city is considered a hub that will help forays into the Pacific region from China’s north-east.

Mikyoung Kim, a North Korea expert at the Hiroshima Peace Institute in Japan, said… “It is possible that China’s lease of the North Korean territory [the port] can be extended over the 10 years into a long-term deal. That can complicate the South’s effort for reunification. The South cannot just sit and watch”…She said she suspects China has a long-term goal. “China has been pursuing the North-east Project, a territorially ambitious project. In case of contingency in North Korea through an upheaval there, China may claim the leased territory as its own.”

Despite Chinese security analysts’ downplaying the matter, some outside analysts view the deal as ultimately part of China’s rising world power ambition, a view China strongly denies.

“Although China is a big country, many of its key areas are landlocked. Other powerful countries in the world don’t have the difficulty of entering the sea China faces,” said Global Times newspaper (of China). “The US directly faces two oceans in its east and west. Russia has a big part of its territory that is coastal. Japan is an island country by itself. India is a peninsula,” it said.

China’s oceanic coastline is approximately 18,000 km long (11,185 miles), extending from the Bohai Gulf to the South China Sea. (The former freezes in the winter.)

The Japanese know better than anyone else that the Chinese conducted its most aggressive show of naval strength ever in the Western Pacific earlier this year. They sent warships twice through the waters of Okinawa Prefecture in an attempt to intimidate Japan while the flotilla headed south to confront Vietnamese dealing with other Chinese fishing vessels in the Spratly Islands:

The news from Tokyo on 10 April 2010 that the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force had monitored ten Chinese warships passing 140km south of Okinawa through the Miyako Strait marked a new stage in China’s naval development. The deployment was of unprecedented size and scope for the Chinese navy, and was the second such operation mounted by China in rapid succession: in March, a smaller flotilla had been deployed on exercises. The two sets of exercises, along with Chinese counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, demonstrate the flexibility of China’s naval forces and their greater prominence in Beijing’s strategic calculations…


The ships conducted numerous live-fire exercises, as well as confrontation drills with elements of the South Sea Fleet. The PLA report said the fleet visited Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands, as well as conducting further exercises near the Malacca Strait between Malaysia and Indonesia. The deployment and exercises were a clear message of the willingness of the PLA Navy to assert Chinese power in the region.

The Chinese may be testing the resolve of the new Japanese government, particularly because the latter is having difficulties with the Americans over their military presence. The Japanese government also remembers how the Chinese tested the new Bush administration in 2001:

Analysts from Jane’s Defense say that two Chinese F8 fighter planes “hemmed in” the larger, slower EP-3 in an attempt to make it change course, and thereby caused the collision; one source reports that one of the Chinese fighters was actually flying directly underneath the EP-3….The aggressive and dangerous behavior of the Chinese pilots is later confirmed by the account of the collision by the pilot of the EP-3, Lieutenant Shane Osborn, who says, “He was harassing us.…The third time he hit us, is that an accident? I don’t know. Do I think he meant to hit us? No. I don’t think he meant to have his plane cut in two and go under the ocean. But his actions were definitely threatening my crew in a very serious manner and we all saw what happened.”

The Japanese are also aware the Chinese themselves have no problem arresting fishermen they think are infringing on their territory. The Chinese fisheries department seized nine Vietnamese fishermen on 22 March this year near the Paracels:

The Vietnamese Coast Guard warned and chased away at least 130 Chinese fishing boats that were found illegally fishing in Vietnamese waters off the central coast on January 29.

The naval unit based in Da Nang confirmed the news last Friday, adding that the fishing boats had been organized in groups.

Coast Guard vessels first apprehended 100 boats just 45 nautical miles off Thua Thien Hue.

Four days later they found the other 30 deep in Vietnamese waters off Da Nang and Thua Thien Hue.

Earlier last year China seized 17 Vietnamese fishing boats and arrested 210 fishermen for straying into its waters before later releasing all the men and 13 boats.

It has not escaped Japanese attention that Chinese aggression is limited to those countries it considers unlikely to resort to military retaliation. They are more restrained when dealing with other nation-state thuggery. For example, when the Russian Navy fired on and sank the Chinese cargo ship New Star in February this year, killing eight Chinese sailors, the Chinese response was rather subdued in comparison to the behavior after the arrest of the fishing boat captain in the Senkakus:

Zhang Xiyun, director-general for the Foreign Ministry’s Department of European-Central Asian Affairs, said, “The attitude of the Russian foreign ministry is hard to understand and unacceptable.”

Vice Foreign Minister Li Hui told Russia’s ambassador: “The Chinese side expresses shock and deep concern over this incident, We call on the Russian side to begin with a humanitarian spirit… and continue to make all efforts to find the missing personnel.”

The Chinese summoned the Russian ambassador to complain once about eight Chinese deaths. They’ve already summoned the Japanese ambassador six times over the arrest of one man, once in the middle of the night on the weekend. But then mobsters are more likely to push around law-abiding citizens; they tend to pick their fights with rival hoodlums more carefully.

Most important of all, the Japanese government understands that the Senkakus have been internationally recognized as Japanese territory for more than a century—including by the Chinese themselves.

The History

The Senkakus are a group of eight uninhabited islets with an aggregate area of 1,700 acres, slightly more than twice the size of New York City’s Central Park. They are 106 miles north of Ishigaki, Japan (and are part of its municipal district); 116 miles northeast of Keelung, Taiwan; and 255 miles west of Okinawa Island.

The red dots on the top row l-r are Shanghai and Kagoshima City. On the second row they are Taipei, Ishigaki, and Naha. The Senkakus are in the box.

The first recorded mention of the islets was in 1534 in Chen Kan’s Records of the Imperial Mission to Ryukyu. Chen, an envoy of the Ming Dynasty emperor to the Ryukyus, described his trip from China to Naha, as well as the customs of the native Okinawans. In his and several other accounts over the next two centuries, the islets were mentioned merely as geographic landmarks. The Chinese never indicated they considered them their territory, or anything more than specks in the ocean.

The first Japanese mention is in the Chuzan Seikan (Mirror of Chuzan), i.e., records of the Ryukyu Dynasty, which dates from 1650. As in the Chinese records, there is no indication they were considered anyone’s territory.

Fukuoka native Koga Tatsuhiro was making a living in Naha, Okinawa, catching and exporting finfish and shellfish when he discovered in 1884 that the islets were the habitat of the rare short-tailed albatross. He started collecting albatross feathers for sale in addition conducting to his fishing business. Ten years later, he applied to the government of Okinawa Prefecture to lease the islands. They turned him down because they weren’t sure who the islands belonged to. Koga then applied to the interior and agriculture ministries in Tokyo, and they turned him down for the same reason.

That did bring the islets to the attention of the Japanese government, however, and Koga’s persistence paid off. The Japanese claimed the islands under the legal principle of terra nullius—any nation can claim as its own, territory that is unclaimed by any other nation—and it became part of Japan. The Senkakus were uninhabited and unclaimed—indeed, they had never been administered at any time by the Chinese government, and there is no record of any Chinese ever living or working there.

The Chinese later charged the Japanese swiped the islets at the same time they wound up with the booty of Taiwan and the Penghu Islands at the end of the 1894-1895 Sino-Japanese War.

The Japanese Communist Party, nationalist scalawags that they are, addresses those claims on their website:

The Senkaku Islands question has nothing to do with the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. The Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty to conclude the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 decided to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan. This was Japan’s territorial expansion, which can never be justified. But every historical document tells us that the Senkaku Islands question was dealt with separately from the Taiwan and Penghu Islands question. In the negotiations on the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty, the question of title to the Senkaku Islands was not taken up.

The JCP, by the way, also complained that the U.S. military used the islets for target practice.

In addition to albatross feathers, the islets for a time became a center for the production of katsuobushi, or dried bonito flakes, which are often used in Japanese cuisine. Koga finally relinquished the business in 1940, however, when more inexpensive sources were found. Other than that, the islets were ignored. The next noteworthy mention of them comes in 1920. That year, the Japanese rescued 31 Chinese fishermen who were shipwrecked on one of the smaller islets. The Chinese consul in Nagasaki wrote a letter of gratitude to the Japanese thanking them for their help. In the body of the letter, he referred to them by the Japanese term Senkaku islets (尖閣列島) instead of the Chinese name, Daiyutai (釣魚島). In other words, the Chinese considered them Japanese territory in 1920.

You can see for yourself. That document still exists, and here is a reproduction. The name is in the fourth column from the right:

The government of China claimed other islands in the South China Sea in 1932 and 1935, some of which were under the control of the French and the Japanese. The People’s Republic claimed them again in 1949. Despite their insistence that other islands in Japanese possession were theirs in 1935, the Chinese said nothing about the Senkakus.

There matters stood until the end of the Second World War in the Pacific. Under the Treaty of Peace with Japan (AKA The San Francisco Treaty), which went into force on 28 April 1952, the Japanese disposed of all the territory they conquered over the years to create their empire. Some of that territory was Chinese:

Article 2 (b)
Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores.
Article 2 (f)
Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands and to the Paracel Islands.

The treaty gave the United States the right to continue to administer part of Japan after the Allied occupation ended:

Article 3
Japan will concur in any proposal of the United States to the United Nations to place under its trusteeship system, with the United States as the sole administering authority, Nansei Shoto south of 29 deg. north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands), Nanpo Shoto south of Sofu Gan (including the Bonin Islands, Rosario Island and the Volcano Islands) and Parece Vela and Marcus Island. Pending the making of such a proposal and affirmative action thereon, the United States will have the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of these islands, including their territorial waters.

The Senkakus were considered part of the Nansei Shoto, as a U.S. State Department official later explicitly stated:

“The term “Nansei Shoto” was understood to mean all islands [south of 29 degrees north latitude] under Japanese administration at the end of the war … The term, as used in the treaty, was intended to include the Senkaku Islands.” (Suganuma Unryu, Sovereign Rights and Territorial Space in Sino-Japanese Relations, p. 134)

In fact, though several island groups are mentioned, most of the territory here was—and still is—a single administrative unit: Okinawa Prefecture (state/province). In short, everything cited in Article 3 of the treaty is just as much Japan as is The Ginza in Tokyo. (The Nanpo Shoto lie to the east and are part of the Tokyo Metro District.) Uninhabited islands are part of the territory of most maritime nations; not all of the 5,000 islands that are part of China are inhabited either.

The Americans administered the rest of Okinawa until they returned the prefecture to Japanese control under the 17 June 1971 Agreement between Japan and the United States of America Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands:

Article I
1. With respect to the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands, as defined in paragraph 2 below, the United States of America relinquishes in favor of Japan all rights and interests under Article 3 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed at the city of San Francisco on September 8, 1951, effective as of the date of entry into force of this Agreement. Japan, as of such date, assumes full responsibility and authority for the exercise of all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory and inhabitants of the said islands.

2. For the purpose of this Agreement, the term “the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands” means all the territories and their territorial waters with respect to which the right to exercise all and any powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction was accorded to the United States of America under Article 3 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan other than those with respect to which such right has already been returned to Japan in accordance with the Agreement concerning the Amami Islands and the Agreement concerning Nanpo Shoto and Other Islands signed between Japan and the United States of America, respectively on December 24, 1953 and April 5, 1968.

Neither Taiwan nor the People’s Republic of China were signatories to the San Francisco Treaty, but neither objected to the inclusion of the Senkakus at the time. That’s because they considered them to be part of Japan. To be specific:

8 January 1953: Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) published an article titled “The Ryukyu Islanders’ Struggle against American Occupation” (i.e., Okinawa). The article mentioned the Senkakus, used that name, and stated they were part of the Ryukyus. Here’s a post from Michael Turton’s fine blog, The View from Taiwan, with more more detail on the article.

November 1958: A Beijing company published a map of the world showing the Senkakus as Japanese territory and using the Japanese name.

October 1965: The Research Institute for Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense published a series of world maps. It showed the islets as part of Japanese territory and used the Japanese name Senkakus. Here is a color reproduction of the map itself on a Taiwanese website. The poster worries about how the map would affect the Taiwanese claim. Scroll down to see the magical mystery change on the map for the 1972 edition.

6 October 1968: The Taiwanese newspaper Lianhebao (United Daily News) published an article explaining that Taiwanese fishermen were prohibited from fishing in the Senkakus. They used the Japanese name.

12 October – 29 November 1968: Maritime specialists from Taiwan and South Korea conducted sea floor surveys of the East China Sea with the cooperation of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE), the regional arm of the United Nations Secretariat for the Asian and Pacific region. The report stated there was a possibility of large quantities of oil and natural gas under the seabed. It was later confirmed that there are at least 92 million bbl of oil available, with estimates of up to 100 billion bbl of oil, roughly equivalent to the 112.4 billion bbl of Iraq.

May 1969: The government of Taiwan provided oil exploration rights to Gulf, planted the Taiwanese flag on the Senkakus, and notified the world’s wire services of its action.

January 1970: The Taiwan government published a geography textbook for junior high school students that called the islands the Senkakus and treated them as Japanese territory. The following is a copy of the key part of the map. (Refer to the respective Chinese characters for the name of the islets above):

September 1970: The Okinawan police sent a ship to the Senkakus, removed the Taiwanese flag, and gave it to the Americans.

11 June 1971: The Taiwanese government claimed the islands as their own territory for the first time. Less than one week later:

17 June 1971: The treaty returning Okinawa to Japan from American control was signed.

30 December 1971: The People’s Republic of China claimed the islands as their own territory for the first time.

In 1992, China adopted legislation that authorized the use of force to enforce Chinese claims to the islets.

The Chinese and Taiwanese change of mind was followed by a few decades of posturing by the Chinese, low-profiling it by the Japanese, and occasional forays by small boatloads of buckos from China, Taiwan and Japan planting flags on the islets. In 1996, a group Japanese put up an aluminum lighthouse. The Chinese excitables stepped up their activity in 2004, which prompted Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to make a clear statement of American policy about the islands. Here’s how the Asahi Shimbun described it on 2 February 2004:

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage made the following comments at a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo Feb. 2 with reference to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty: “That treaty would require any attack on Japan, or the administrative territories under Japanese control, to be seen as an attack on the United States.”

The statement simply reiterated the contents of Article 5 of the treaty and is nothing new. However, an expert on East Asian affairs at the U.S. State Department noted that Armitage used the phrase administrative territories under Japanese control instead of simply saying Japan or Japanese territory and pointed out that it connotes the Senkaku islands (Chinese name Diaoyu islands) whose ownership is disputed between Japan and China.

The State Department official added that Armitage’s statement amends the ambiguous stance of a past U.S. administration over the issue, meaning the neutral position of the Clinton administration, which implied that the United States is not necessarily obliged under the bilateral security treaty to oversee the defense of the Senkaku islands.

One month after Mr. Armitage spoke in Tokyo, the BBC ran an article on Chinese swashbuckling on the Senkakus. They noted:

China and Taiwan both laid claim to the Senkaku Islands in the 1970s after oil deposits were found nearby.

They were declared Japanese territory in 1895 and fall under the jurisdiction of Japan’s southern Okinawa prefecture.

The responses this month: A comparison


From Shikata Noriyuki, a spokesman for the Japanese prime minister’s office:

Regarding individual issues, what is needed is to respond calmly without becoming emotional.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito called for calm and warned about extreme nationalism on both sides. Japan is the country least affected by nationalism in Northeast Asia; his inclusion of Japan in the warning of about extreme nationalism is to prevent any incidents the Chinese can use for a pretext.

The political opposition is firm, sometimes critical of the government, but always responsible. LDP Secretary-General Ishihara Nobuteru thinks the government’s response is insufficient, but then offers the Japanese political consensus: “Since there is no territorial problem, let the courts handle it quietly.” Former Defense Minister Koike Yuriko thinks the Chinese behavior highlights the worst aspect of the security treaty with the U.S.: It makes other countries think the Japanese can be easily steamrolled. The Japanese left was hysterical with their fantasies of an Abe Shinzo foreign policy when he was prime minister, but he too was subdued. He merely pointed out that Japan has to maintain its resolve because the next Chinese step “can only be economic sanctions”.

All of the above statements are representative of the tone in the media, from what I’ve seen.

Your Party Secretary-General Eda Kenji might well have encapsulated the sentiments of the general public in a blog post:

There’s no need to respond to every one of the childish retaliatory measures of the Chinese. That’s the sort of nation China is. They don’t realize just how much they lower their standing in the international community, and besides, they’re still just a developing country.

That last one cuts deeper in Japanese than it does in English.

Saber-rattling? The Defense Ministry announced that it’s mulling an increase in the size of the self-defense forces by 13,000 troops from 155,000 to 168,000, the first rise since 1972. They cite conditions in East Asia and the terrorist threat as their reason.

The United States

We’ve seen that six years ago, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage specifically used language to include the Senkakus as Japanese territory the Americans would defend. In Tokyo recently, he said he thinks China is taking advantage of a “chill” in Japan-U.S. relations, and that Beijing is “testing what they can get away with.”

He also said he thought the incident and the Chinese reaction should be a “warning” to other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei about Chinese behavior in territorial disputes.

While the Bush administration stood up for the Japanese through Mr. Armitage, the Obama administration, in keeping with their attitude toward allies, sat right back down.

Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg now says the American position is “as it was before”, and that they won’t support either side. When “before” was, he didn’t say.

Mr. Steinberg, by the way, coined the phrase “strategic reassurance” to describe U.S.-China relations. That means the United States should reassure China that they will welcome China’s new status, and China should reassure the US and its Asian neighbors that it would not conflict with their interests.

So much for Steinbergian strategic reassurance.

The American Defense Department is more sanguine, however. Though few noticed, the Sasebo-based minesweeper Defender called on the Port of Hirara in Miyakojima, Okinawa, this week. It is only the third time since 1972 an American naval vessel called on a civilian port on a friendly visit and the first ever for Hirara. The port is in the southern part of the Ryukyus 400 miles from Taipei and 110 miles from Naha. Play around with the map at this site to get an idea of the location. The white specks to the northeast of Taiwan are the Senkakus.

The Governor of Okinawa was unhappy about the visit because the American navy is supposed to enter civilian ports only in case of an emergency. About 40 people showed up to demonstrate, mostly from labor unions.

Meanwhile, at a Pentagon news conference, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said:

“Obviously we’re very, very strongly in support of … our ally in that region, Japan.”

Added Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “We would fulfill our alliance responsibilities.”

China, in word and deed


Since the Japanese seized Capt. Zhan, here’s what the Chinese have done:

  • Summoned Japanese Ambassador Niwa Uichiro six times to complain, once in the middle of the night
  • Ended all contact with the Japanese government at the ministerial level and above. There will not be a summit at the UN between Prime Minister Kan Naoto and Premier Wen Jibao.
  • Sent a Ministry of Agriculture “fishing observation vessel” to the area near the Senkakus. These ships are often armed and have been active in the South China Sea to back up Chinese claims in that area.
  • Suspended negotiations on joint development of the gas fields in the East China Sea
  • Suspended discussions for increasing air travel between the two countries
  • Suspended discussions about coal shipments from China to Japan
  • Suspended corporate exchanges
  • Chinese customs officials stopped shipments of rare earth elements to Japan by preventing them from being loaded aboard ships at Chinese ports, according to three industry sources. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Chen Rongkai denied it, but the sources (one of whom was Australian) said Chinese customs notified companies they couldn’t ship rare earth oxides, salts, or pure rare earth metals. Ordinarily, the Japanese could file a complaint with the World Trade Organization, but that will be difficult because the Chinese handled the matter administratively rather than through direct government order.

The Chinese might find this step to be counterproductive. The American House of Representatives is discussing this week legislation to subsidize the reopening of rare earth mines in the U.S.

  • Fined Toyota Motor Corp.’s finance unit for bribing car dealers, a charge Toyota denies
  • Sent equipment to the Chunxiao gas field (Shirakaba in Japanese), according to Japanese sources, apparently to begin drilling. Said Foreign Minister Maehara: “If it has been confirmed with proof, we will take the measures that should be taken.” That would include taking the case to the international maritime court.
  • Postponed the planned five-day trip of Li Jianguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese lower house of the Diet.
  • Cancelled permission for 1,000 members of a Japanese youth exchange group to visit the Shanghai World’s Fair

Cutting off their nose to spite their face #1

  • The Chinese arrested four Japanese and one Chinese working for Fujita Corp, a construction company. They are charged with violating Chinese law regarding the protection of military facilities. Chinese authorities said they entered a military zone without authorization and were illegally filming military targets.

    A Fujita spokesman said the employees were in China for a project to dispose of chemical weapons abandoned by the Japanese military at the end of World War Two. Japan has been helping China dispose of the weapons as a gesture to improve bilateral relations. Kyodo reported the men were preparing a bid on the project.

Cutting off their nose to spite their face #2

Words: The government

Dai Bingguo

State Councilor Dai Bingguo summoned Niwa Uichiro at midnight on a Sunday to tell Japan to make a “wise political resolution” by releasing the fishing boat and its crew detained in disputed waters six days ago, and “expressed the Chinese government’s grave concerns”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu

This incident was incited by Japan. Now they add error to error and escalate the problem.


China is firmly opposed to any kind of investigation by the Japanese side on the illegally detained Chinese trawler…unconditional and immediate release of the detained Chinese citizens was the only way to settle the dispute. Japan will reap as it has sown, if it continues to act recklessly.


The Diaoyu islands are China’s inseparable territory and the Japanese side applying domestic law to Chinese fishing boats operating in this area is absurd, illegal and invalid, and China will never accept that.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu

When the Japanese extended the detention of the ship captain, Ma said it was “illegal and invalid.”


We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the Chinese captain. If Japan acts willfully, making mistake after mistake, China will take strong countermeasures, and all the consequences will be borne by the Japanese side.

Premier Wen Jibao

Threatened Japan by saying China will take ”further actions” if Japan does not immediately release the ship captain.

During a 2007 visit to Japan, Mr. Wen pledged to make the East China Sea a “sea of peace, cooperation and friendship.” A few months later, the Japanese Coast Guard and the Chinese State Oceanic Administration set up a hotline.


Gao Hong, deputy director at the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:

The inexperienced government of the Democratic Party of Japan will gradually learn that it is important to maintain a stable and healthy relationship with China.

Zhou Yongsheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University:

(China has) more cards in hand than the Japanese, as their economy is largely dependent on China. China should take strong countermeasures.

Jin Yongming, legal scholar with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Chinese Maritime Development Research Center, in the 10 September issue of the China Daily:

“Japan infringed upon China’s sovereignty and territory integrity when Japanese patrol ships chased the Chinese fishing trawler and boarded it forcibly. But the Japanese Coast Guard did not stop at that. It even applied Japanese law in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands, which since ancient times have been Chinese territory. Japan had no right to press charges against the Chinese fishermen according to its domestic laws,” said Jin.

“To strengthen its presence around the Diaoyu Islands, the Japanese Coast Guard has been sending patrol ships for some time now and has repeatedly chased Chinese fishing and survey vessels. But such action cannot alter the fact that Diaoyu Islands belong to China. And history vouches for that.”

He also demanded that Japan should apologize and offer the fishermen adequate compensation.


Li Nan, the China Federation of Defending the Diaoyu Islands

If the Chinese government continues to simply declare the Diaoyu Islands are Chinese territory while avoiding substantive action then I feel the islands are drifting further and further away from us. China should send patrol ships from the PLA Navy, like Japan, and establish (the) Diaoyu Islands as a shooting range.

Print media

The Global Times, an official Chinese newspaper, published a front page article on “severe countermeasures” that could be taken against Japan, including extracting “economic damage”.

It included this passage:

”We should send regular battle-capable fisheries vessels to the Diaoyu area to protect navigation,” said General Peng Guangqian, an analyst at the Chinese Academy of Military Science.

Does not the concept of “battle capable fishery vessels” speak for itself?

Global Times editorial: Finding the Achilles Heel of Japan

Bilateral relations between the two countries have plunged recently due to Japan’s diplomatic recklessness…China’s Japan policy has been based on friendly ties stressing warm public communication since the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two in 1972. But the public emotions of Japanese society toward China have altered significantly recently. It seems that conflicts originating from Japan are continually escalating….It should be apparent by now that China will be forced to endure long-term conflicts with Japan, and emphasizing only friendly relations is not prudent.

China needs to be certain of Japan’s soft spots for clearly targeted reactions. The pain has to be piercing. Japanese politicians need to understand the consequences – votes will be lost, and Japanese companies have to be aware of the loss of business involved. Japanese citizens will feel the burden due to the downturn in the economy. China’s domestic law, business regulations and consumers can all be maneuvered.

There is a lingering question in China: Why do hawkish Japanese politicians who are obviously against China emerge one after another without China provoking Japan?

Suspension of the East China Sea gas field talks, scheduled for mid-September, is the first move of China’s counter strike. Given the decades of relationship building after WWII, China will probably not resort to force over this incident. But, if the protests from the Chinese government and public don’t bring the Japanese back from the brink of a relations breakdown, Beijing has to consider stronger retaliatory measures.

English-language print media

Apart from items that could be found on any police blotter, the English-language news media can no longer be counted on to provide correct information on anything. It’s a bit like shooting dead fish in a barrel, but here are a few examples of their coverage.


The Japanese have been behaving decorously, so they offer no photo opportunities. The Chinese have been the ones to foam at the mind, so photos the media chooses to run seem designed to create associations with the Second World War, such as this one from AP:

News agencies such as Reuters and outlets such as the New York Times like to include references to “lingering resentments” over the war. Everyone in this part of the world, however, understands that Chinese popular opinion toward the Japanese is cynically manipulated like a spigot by the government to deflect dissatisfaction with the regime. Notice how often the phrase “(the Chinese government) allowed some demonstrations” is used.

The Epoch Times has a worthwhile piece here, pointing out that the demonstrations are stage-managed. The Japanese understand this, and usually wait until the Chinese government calls them off when they begin to worry popular discontent will be transferred to them.

Globe and Mail, Canada


Beijing asserts new dominance over waning Tokyo in diplomatic row

That guy in jail—where was he from again?

The dispute over the island chain, which is also claimed by Taiwan, dates to the end of the Second World War.

Possibility #1: The author was too lazy to look it up.

Possibility #2: He believed his Chinese source and was too lazy to confirm it.

The Age, Australia:

Japanese commentators and politicians are responding in kind to China’s increased maritime assertiveness, after China’s rolling conflicts with the United States and south-east Asian nations over control of the South China and Yellow seas. Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, said the islands were an ”integral part of Japanese territory”.

Responding in kind?

American screenwriter, novelist, and blogger Roger L. Simon has observed that journalist bloggers at mainstream publications sound so many false notes they’re like white boys trying to sing the blues. Exhibit A is this post at the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof.

Look out—his (or the paper’s) framing of the narrative starts with the headline:

Look Out for the Diaoyu Islands

The Japanese detained the Chinese captain for questioning and the two countries have been exchanging indignant protests.

Readers are hereby invited to send in any examples of indignant protests by anyone in an official capacity in Japan. Good luck finding one.

The other problem is that, technically, the U.S. would be obliged to bail Japan out if there were a fight over the Senkakus. The U.S. doesn’t take a position on who owns the islands, but the Japan-U.S. security treaty specifies that the U.S. will help defend areas that Japan administers. And in 1972, when the U.S. handed Okinawa back to Japan, it agreed that Japan should administer the Senkakus. So we’re in the absurd position of being committed to help Japan fight a war over islands, even though we don’t agree that they are necessarily Japanese.

As you pick out the obvious mistakes in that passage, realize that you already know more about the issue than Kristof, who has two Pulitzer Prizes and has been called “the moral conscience of our generation of journalists…the Indiana Jones of our generation of journalists.”

In reality, of course, there is zero chance that the U.S. will honor its treaty obligation over a few barren rocks. We’re not going to risk a nuclear confrontation with China over some islands that may well be China’s. But if we don’t help, our security relationship with Japan will be stretched to the breaking point.

If the U.S. doesn’t help in the case of a Chinese attack, its security relationship with Japan will cease to exist.

Apart from being the only person to suggest a defense would necessarily be nuclear, Kristof seems to have missed the statements by both Mr. Armitage and Mr. Gates.

Then again, he is talking about the Obama administration.

He also feels his way through the legal issues:

So which country has a better claim to the islands? My feeling is that it’s China, although the answer isn’t clearcut.

He continues:

Chinese navigational records show the islands as Chinese for many centuries, and a 1783 Japanese map shows them as Chinese as well.

Incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial, as we’ve seen.

Kristof’s obviously been talking to Chinese sources without confirming what he heard from Japanese sources. Here’s the 1783 map. The Chinese contend the Senkakus are the same color on the map as the Chinese mainland (red). They are. (They begin at the third island at the vertical line.) But Taiwan is a different color (yellow). The first two islands on the vertical line are also red, but they were at that time (and are today) Taiwanese territory. In any event, the map was rendered by Hayashi Shihei, a retainer of the Date clan in the Sendai domain in the far northeast corner of Japan. He had no relationship with the Ryukyus–which at that time was an independent country–nor did he have the authority to set anyone’s national boundaries.

Note also that because of the different colors used for Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, a Chinese who accepts this map as proof that the Senkakus belong to China must also implicitly accept that Taiwan is independent from China.

Japan purported to “discover” the islands only in 1884 and annexed them only in 1895 when it also grabbed Taiwan.

Guess who whose hired researchers didn’t spend 15 minutes on the web looking anything up.

(You can also make a case that they are terra nullis [sic], belonging to no nation.)

No, you can’t, because that’s the basis by which Japan claimed them. That claim has been recognized by the rest of the world outside of the New York Times headquarters building for the past 115 years—including China for 76 of those years.

As Chinese nationalism grows, as China’s navy and ability to project power in the ocean gains, we could see some military jostling over the islands. You read it here first.

He also seems to have missed the Global Times editorial that says China will take no military action.

Is his degree of self-importance in inverse proportion to the amount of time he spent on research?


What we are witnessing is how a nation with arrested political development and without a sense of morality, with neither real friends nor real ideals–only size, money, and the desire to recreate the world as it existed two millenia ago–tries to seize the territory of another nation in the modern age and create a contemporary suzerainty. The incident seems to have at last focused the attention of people outside of East Asia on Chinese behavior, apart from those who populate the offices of a dying media culture and the fashionable salons of the elite.

Paul Lin of the Taipei Times wrote:

Japan’s response — releasing 14 crew members while keeping the captain detained — is basically designed to be reasonable without being a capitulation of Japan’s authority. In the long term, however, China’s biggest foe remains the US — still the most prominent democracy. Beijing will try to appeal to the common writing system and heritage of China and Japan to dissolve the US-Japan security treaty, so that it can gain control of the island chain. The US, Japan and Taiwan have to keep a watchful eye out for this, and must not show any sign of weakness lest China exploit a chink in the armor.

When he says island chain, it’s possible he is also referring to Okinawa itself, several decades down the road. The Ryukyu kingdom once paid tribute to the Qing Dynasty, and the Chinese never forget.

After the debacle with the United States over the Futenma marine base and this incident with China, Japan’s Democratic Party might yet learn something about the realities of governing. It is unlikely there will be more talk any time soon from the party about an “equilateral triangle” among Japan, China and the United States, much less any of the silliness about yuai and an East Asian entity.

They’re about to get another lesson when Wallace Gregson, the American Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, shows up in Tokyo next week to ask the Japanese to increase their financial contribution for American bases and personnel in Japan. Several US sources have confirmed he will use as justification Chinese activity in the East China Sea and the Senkakus dustup.

The current agreement for payment expires next March, and the DPJ has long called for Japan’s financial contribution to be reduced.

If we’re lucky, perhaps the DPJ will also realize they might have brought it on themselves with their handling of the Futenma base issue, former party leader Ozawa Ichiro’s annual jaunts to fawn to the Chinese, and breaching the standard domestic protocol and forcing the Tenno (Emperor) to meet with a Chinese political leader last winter.

The authorities could legally have kept the Chinese sea captain in detention for a few more days, so his early release might open the government to criticism for weakness–particularly as the Chinese have been stepping up the economic pressure. One of the Chinese commentators said the Japanese government might have to pay for their acts with votes. He might be right, but perhaps not in ways he anticipated. Then again, what would mainland Chinese know about democracy?

Japan released Zhan Qixiong today, but the incident will likely have repercussions that last for quite a while.


* A Japanese government source who saw the videos of the incident said it would be difficult to prove the malicious intent of the captain at a public trial because the effect of the sea currents couldn’t be completely ruled out.

* Here’s a fascinating and informative paper about how the Chinese are becoming a global fishing power. The author also says:

(C)onsistent with the Chinese tendency toward close integration of civil and military institutions, China’s large fishing fleet is already integrated into a maritime militia that could render crucial support in a hypothetical military campaign, whether ferrying troops across the Taiwan Strait or laying mines in distant locations. The sheer number of fishing vessels that could be involved would present a severe challenge to any adversary attempting to counter this strategy.

* During his 16th century visit to the Ryukyus, Chen Kan wrote about the natives’ fondness for a beverage that can only be awamori, the Okinawan version of shochu.

* Japan has its useful idiots, too.

Even though Suganuma Unryu quoted an American official as stating that the Senkakus were included in the territory Japan was to keep in the peace treaty, he still argues that the islets are Chinese. He’s now at Oberlin University, and here’s the About page on his blog. He used to be a senior research fellow at the Institute of Moralogy.

Go ahead, read that website. I dare you.

A website called The China Desk likes a paper that historian Inoue Kiyoshi wrote on the issue in 1972 so much, they posted it:

(I)n collusion with U.S. imperialists, reactionary rulers and militarist forces within Japan are clamoring that the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory, attempting to drag the Japanese people into a militarist, anti-China whirlwind. This whirlwind is certain to become fiercer after US armed forces return the so-called “administrative right over Okinawa” to Japan on May 15 of this year. We who are striving for the independence of the Japanese nation, for friendship between Japan and China, and for peace in Asia, must smash this conspiracy by U.S. and Japanese reactionaries. As a weapon in this struggle, I am providing a brief account of the history of the so-called Senkaku Islands.

* It’s curious that Japan’s Social Democrats are keeping a low profile. I haven’t seen any of their comments quoted in the media, and they hadn’t written anything for their website the last time I looked. Then again, this isn’t the ideal time to promote their view that Japan can trust its security to “the peace-loving peoples of the world”, as stated in the preamble to the Japanese Constitution.

Thanks to Bender for the Kristof link.

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Will China buy Japan Inc.?

Posted by ampontan on Monday, December 7, 2009

GOT THE BLUES after all the gloom and doom about the economy in some recent posts? What’s the solution when the news on the financial pages seems so bleak?

Comic relief!

When the shtick is about Japan, however, the comedy is all too likely to resemble Dumb and Dumberer instead of something more sophisticated. Here’s yet another example from three people billing themselves as East Asian business experts.

John Haffner, Tomas Casas, and Jean-Pierre Lehmann wrote a three-part article earlier this year for The Globalist website that includes excerpts from their book, Japan’s Open Future. The authors’ premise is that vigorous and forward-looking Chinese free market shock troops could storm and seize the castle of backward Japanese protectionism and create an impact as much cultural and psychological as economic.

To support their argument, they’ve conjured up spaghetti-like strings of speculation woven together to create enough straw men to populate a Potemkin Village. Their premises are so dated the three names on the article might as well have been Rip, Van, and Winkle. In both content and writing style, the article resembles nothing so much as a collage slapped together after midnight by an amphetamine-fueled undergraduate for a class assignment due before lunchtime.

See for yourselves!

As China continues to push for a robust free trade regime in Asia, it will only be a matter of time before it pressures Japan to join — and Japan would find it hard to resist. If the Middle Kingdom is able to pressure Japan to join a free trade agreement, such an agreement would likely allow China to challenge Japan’s myriad forms of economic protectionism through the agreement.

The website of the Doing Business project of the World Bank Group says it “provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 183 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level.” It has global rankings for the ease of business in each country.

Their overall ranking for Japan: #15.
Their overall ranking for China: #89. It edged out Zambia at #90.

Their rankings are also broken down into categories that examine specific aspects of doing business. One of those categories is “Trading Across Borders”.

Japan’s rank in that category: #17.
China’s rank in that category: #44.

Meanwhile, in other news, representatives from Japan were down in Singapore last month at the APEC conference, talking to delegates from every country about trading across borders through free trade agreements. Remarkably, no one was photographed twisting their arms.

But you can tell these guys are Asia hands. They call China the “Middle Kingdom”, just like all the Timeweek journalists.

Japan could very well wake up one day to find, in a scenario no less dramatic than Godzilla’s arrival in Tokyo, that many of its top companies are owned by Chinese investors.

Godzilla destroyed Tokyo in 1954 during the Eisenhower Administration, the same year Elvis Presley began his career change from truck driver to singer. The filmographic record of this destruction arrived in the U.S. in 1956, when Eisenhower was still in office, and was specially edited to include the young actor Raymond Burr.

Ike, Elvis, and the man who played Perry Mason are as long dead as any Japanese perception of foreigners as Godzilla.

At least Rip Van Winkle was alive enough to wake up after 20 years.

There is a feeling in the West that despite Japan’s impressive economic performance, the country did not remember to include its friends when times were good.

That’s the problem with the West these days—too much touchy-feely and not enough study-researchy.

Japan become the world’s leading provider of ODA starting in 1993 according to the OECD, and times weren’t all that good for them—their economic bubble had collapsed and they were just beginning their 10 lost years.

The government’s cut back a bit on ODA since then, however. They plummeted to second place in 2000 and third place in 2006.

They helped out their Kuwaiti friends in the 1990s to the tune of $US 13 billion after the first Gulf War, but their “friends” in Kuwait left them off the list of nations it wanted to thank in a full-page ad in the Washington Post.

They’ve been so helpful to their American friends that Japanese car makers built plants in the United States to keep alive the polite fiction that Americans can still build competitive automotive products.

Japan might also be surprised, in this scenario, to discover that the Europeans and Americans would not rush to provide Japan with a diplomatic or financial cushion against Chinese economic and political pressure, regardless of how strongly Japan might continue to align itself with the United States on political and military matters.

Meanwhile, in the real Japan scenario, no Japanese make the assumption that the West will provide it with a “cushion” against Chinese economic or political pressure, whatever the authors intend by the term “cushion”. If the premise is that the Chinese are going to crack open a protectionist Japanese market and buy Japanese companies, what “financial cushion” could the West provide?

As for protection against Chinese political pressure, the Europeans and the Americans couldn’t even cushion themselves.

Mercantilism excludes, it alienates potential friends and lonely Japan has failed to cultivate loyalty or allies in the world.

In contrast, the mercantilism of the immensely popular Chinese has won them a Facebook full of loyal friends and allies on which the sun never sets.

There is a feeling in the West that despite Japan’s impressive economic performance, the country did not remember to include its friends when times were good, as the United States has done, and as China is doing now.

We’ve already seen some examples above of the Japanese remembering friends when times were both bad and good. The authors fail to gave us concrete examples of how China is “including its friends” in their piece. They certainly haven’t helped with Iran and North Korea. Surely they aren’t referring to the Chinese presence in Africa.

Just what the deuce are these people talking about?

Warning, non sequitur ahead!

A minority of forward-looking Japanese would be comfortable with the larger significance of such a development (i.e., Chinese takeover of Japanese firms). As the Hong Kong joke goes, China just had a couple of bad centuries and is back in business.

How’s that for a concept: when business interests from Country A, many of which would be state-owned, snatch up the corporate jewels of Country B, the “forward-looking” people of Country B would find that “comfortable”. After all, China’s state-owned enterprises are such upstanding, responsible corporate citizens compared to the dead-in-the-water Japanese private-sector firms.

Curious, is it not?

And how they define “forward-looking Japanese” and how they’re sure who and who would not “be comfortable” with such a development aren’t explained. Maybe the authors are like Topsy. Topsy just grew. They just know.

Throughout the long article, the authors quote only one supposed authority—Ohmae Kenichi, who has thrown so many darts at the board over the past 20 years one of them is bound to stick eventually.

(A)s management consultant OHMAE Kenichi comments, “Over the last 4,000 years of history, Japan has been a peripheral country to China, with the exception of this one last century. In the future, Japan will be to China what Canada is to the United States, what Austria is to Germany.”

Drat, missed again! That wall around the dartboard is starting to look awfully tacky.

That’s the same Ohmae Kenichi who wrote a slapdash article of his own in the August 2008 issue of Voice magazine titled, “The Limit for One China Has Been Reached.” In true consultant fashion, he forecasts, without offering anything in the way of support, a loosening of the center in China over the intermediate term and the country’s transformation into a confederation of Chinese-speaking states.

It’s hard to see how Japan would be a Canada or an Austria to that.

In its roughly 2,000 years as a polity, Japan has never been to China what Canada is to the United States, nor what Austria is to Germany—and those two groupings share the same language. What reason is there to expect it will happen in the future?

For the first time, modern Japan could see a fellow Asian country — a country it invaded and colonized — as the catalyst of its own reform and economic improvement.

Has one of the major flaws of this article become clear now? It is ostensibly written about Japan, but the perspective is that of contemporary China. Japan did colonize Manchuria and Taiwan, and it did set up puppet governments with a shaky hold on authority. But the colonization of China, as most people other than the Chinese define it? Not in this time-space continuum.

It is not uncommon for Japanese to discount any advantages the Chinese might be gaining on these fronts with the kinds of rationalizations that, funny enough, the West tended to apply to Japan when it was gaining competitiveness in previous decades: lousy quality, advantages based only on cheap labor, lack of innovation and technology pirates.

Why shouldn’t it be uncommon? Funny enough, every one of those rationalizations is true.

From a subscriber-only article:

Who’s Monitoring Chinese Food Exports?
Nicholas Zamiska
The Wall Street Journal, 13 April 2007

Tainted foods from China are becoming a growing problem as the country plays a greater part in the global food chain. Chemical use is high, regulations are lax, and while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the authority to check imports for contaminants that are in violation of U.S. law, it is able to physically inspect only a small fraction of them…

China’s contamination problems stem in large part from its loose regulations and highly fragmented food production. Hundreds of millions of small farmers grow its food, and they rely heavily on chemicals to coax production out of intensively cultivated soils and to fight pests.

The result: “China has one of the world’s highest rates of chemical fertilizer use per hectare, and Chinese farmers use many highly toxic pesticides, including some that are banned in the United States,” according to a report published last November by the economic-research service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Jan. 4, 2009: Yomuri Shimbun reports that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will set up a mechanism to protect Japan’s intellectual property rights in farm, forestry, and fisheries sectors in China.

Back to our story.

Unless Japan undergoes a huge change in national psychology, therefore…

Shouldn’t there be some QED before we get to “therefore”?

…a forced Chinese economic opening would likely evoke a range of negative emotions, from mild embarrassment among moderates to a sense of unprecedented humiliation among hard-core nationalists.

Putting aside the lighter-than-air speculation, isn’t it odd they don’t mention leftists? It’s almost as if they don’t exist. Their boundaries of political thought are defined by moderates on one extreme and hard-core nationalists on the other.

By the way, those hard-core nationalists, assuming they exist in significant numbers, are unlikely to find any humiliation unprecedented. Japan did lose the war, after all.

But that was in the pre-Godzilla period.

But even if Japan does go nuclear, this is not a war that would be fought with military weapons or deterrence, just as Commodore Perry and General MacArthur did not use economics and the rule of law to force reform. In fact this is not game of war at all, although it would be a contest of sorts. China would be using economic jiu-jitsu, beating Japan at its own mercantilist game.

So, if Japan has nuclear weapons, it will fight a war with China, but instead of being a military war, a war-war, or a game war, it will be a sort of a contest in a mercantilist game.


Meanwhile, here’s a question: if General MacArthur didn’t use the rule of law to force reform, what was the big idea with the Japanese constitution?

Let us here recapitulate the ironic sequence of moves: The postwar Japanese economy kept itself focused on exports and closed to imports in an effort to deal with foreigners on Japanese terms. And precisely because it has maintained this economic model for so long, it has become asymmetrically dependent on China. Thus Japan’s very strategy may have unwittingly created the conditions for foreigners to come in once again.

Let us here recapitulate the ironic sequence of facts:

In 2002, China replaced the United States as the largest exporter to Japan. In 2007, China replaced the U.S. as Japan’s biggest trading partner in combined value of imports and exports, even though the value of Japanese exports to China was less than that to the U.S.

In 2008, Japan’s exports to China were valued at JPY 12.95 trillion yen. Their imports from China were valued at JPY 14.83 trillion yen. Apart from the Middle East region, which exports oil, hummus, and pita bread, China is the only country to have a trade surplus with Japan. This surplus has existed since 2003.

The authors refer to this as asymmetrical dependence on China.

Now let us recapitulate Rip, Van, and Winkle: “The postwar Japanese economy kept itself focused on exports and closed to imports in an effort to deal with foreigners on Japanese terms.”

Instead of behaving like normal, well-adjusted countries and dealing with foreigners on the foreigners’ terms.

(Japan) is threatened by its own ambivalence, intransigence and isolationism.

You’ve heard of sister cities? Busan in South Korea and Fukuoka City in Kyushu have sister municipal fish markets with their own trade agreement. It is one of 23 measures recently adopted by the two cities to further their development of a supra-national economic sphere.

Are these people listening to voices in the air?

Japan is not contributing to defuse this state of affairs, and, on the contrary, its “realists” and hawks seem oblivious to the threat of a self-fulfilling prophecy of conflict.

Only a committee of three with nine academic degrees among them could write the second half of that sentence and still have the contacts to get it published somewhere.

Japan is no more likely to be involved in a war in the foreseeable future than Norway. The scare quotes around realists denote that the authors think they’re not really realistic, unlike, presumably, themselves. The authors neither identify nor describe the pseudo-realists.

Of course, there are some Japanese who think the country should have the same rights of self-defense as other sovereign nations. They’re the “hawks”.

Japan must therefore decide whether it would like to embark on a clear path centered on a commitment to building stability, openness and peace in Asia.

Which is exactly what they’ve been doing for the past 64 years. Whereas China…

Not only Japanese leaders, but also ordinary Japanese need to ask themselves: Are we willing to cultivate trust and learn how to cooperate with Asian powers, especially China?

I asked Hiroshi, who runs the noodle shop down the street, if he would be willing to cultivate trust and learn how to cooperate with Asian powers, especially China. He said, yeah, sure, they can stop by for lunch any time.

Many in Japan with personal experience of the Chinese, on the other hand, would say they’ve got it backwards. The guy running the noodle shop in Xian needs to ask himself: Are we willing to cultivate trust and learn how to cooperate with Asian powers, especially Japan?

Take any 500 Japanese off the street at random and any 500 Chinese off the street at random, and I’ll bet cash money the Japanese give far better answers to that question than the Chinese.

If the answer is that “Japan can say no, and says no,” what positive vision does Japan have for Asia in this negative affirmation?

If you reread that a few times, it gets even funnier.

The China-Japan nexus is also a crucial space in which energy and environmental history will be written for good or ill.

Maybe it isn’t voices in the air. Maybe it’s peyote.

If the world fails to act decisively in responding to climate change in the next decade, the whole planet, and Japan in particular, will face unthinkable challenges from extreme weather events, to flooding along the banks of Tokyo, to climate refugees, to food and water shortages.

No wonder they fancy the Godzilla metaphor–they’re big science fiction fans!

Of course the challenges are unthinkable. Nonexistent challenges always are.

Until last month, this would merely have been the equivalent of tabloid journalism for self-appointed public intellectuals. But since then, we’ve discovered that Trofim Lysenko and the Piltdown Man left a very large carbon footprint when they stomped through the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Now, it’s cat box liner.

By opening its business climate — and pushing forward international efforts to define a meaningful successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol and build carbon markets — Japan could become the center of green innovation in Asia and the world, magnificently positioned to help bring China and India back from the environmental precipice.

Japan’s environmental ODA has averaged more than 20% of its overall ODA for more than a decade, and some years has exceeded 30%.

Why should Japan be responsible for cleaning up after the Chinese when the Chinese choose to live in their own filth while spending money on much more military than they need? Heaven forbid they divert some money from building a blue water navy to building some sewer systems for their dirty water instead.

As for India:

India is (the) first country to which Japan extended the first Yen Loan and India has been one of the largest recipients of Japan’s ODA. Japan has long been actively providing assistance to India, primarily in the form of Official Development Assistance loans, for upgrading of economic infrastructure, alleviation of poverty through public health and medical care, agricultural and rural development and population and AIDS countermeasures, support for small business and for environmental conservation…

India has actively pursued economic liberalization and market oriented economy since 1991. With India’s push towards greater economic liberalization policies, Japanese corporations’ interest in India has risen, and private-sector investment has increased dramatically and it is expected to rise further in future….Japan’s assistance under ODA since fiscal 1990-91 to 2001-02 cumulates at ¥977.14 bn.

However (for many Japanese companies), the inhibiting factors are differences in business practices, environment and culture etc…there is a lack of clarity in the policy guidelines. Also, most of Japanese investors feel that ground level hassles like labour laws, taxes, legal and regulatory framework are high in India. They consider procedural delays a major discouraging factor for potential investors. The infrastructure forms the backbone of development of any country. According to the majority of the Japanese investors, overall infrastructure facilities are lacking in India….Japanese investment in India is driven by Indian domestic demand, and that for reasons such as geographical factors, high tariffs and other regulations, it would be difficult to expect the same level of growth as in Sino-Japanese trade.”

And that’s not even a Japanese website.

Recall that Doing Business ranking that had Japan at #15 worldwide and China at #89?

India was at #133.

And now, for the stars of the show!

John Haffner moved to Japan in 2001 to study mixed martial arts.

I’m biting my cyber-tongue.

While in Japan, he developed and delivered an advocacy skill development program for senior Tokyo consultants of McKinsey & Company and coordinated a project to improve McKinsey’s knowledge of foreign-affiliated companies in Japan.

Now we know why only Ohmae Ken’ichi was cited. He’s a former McKinsey employee.

Since 2004…

Just three years after going to Japan to study mixed martial arts…

…Haffner has worked in strategic planning in the energy industry, with extensive experience in electricity regulation, climate change and nuclear policy. Haffner holds five degrees — from King’s, Dalhousie, Queen’s and McGill universities — and was a 2008 World Fellow at Yale University.

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Tomas Casas I Klett is based in Shanghai. He worked in Tokyo for three years at the headquarters of a leading Japanese electronics company.

Ah. A Japan hand.

He has developed a number of entrepreneurial ventures with Chinese partners that lead him to travel frequently throughout China, his native Spain and other Western countries.

In other words, he has a vested interest in the success of Chinese enterprises in Japan.

Jean-Pierre Lehmann has taught and worked in many parts of the world, and offers insights into Japan from a global perspective.

His biography on another website indicates that he did spend a few years in Japan, mostly in the sort of positions that involve talking about other people doing things. He was a visiting professor. There is also mention of a “business strategy research and consulting organization”. There is no mention about being in Japan to learn about something from the bottom up, or listening to others instead of talking at them.

He is also Founding Director of the Evian Group, a coalition for liberal global governance comprised of business, government and opinion leaders from Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Americas.

The Evian Group likes to hold what it calls Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues. They appear to be what most people call “conferences”, but using that sort of commonplace terminology makes it more difficult to pad the bill.

Here’s a quote from one of the papers on the website:

How long do we need to wait before we mobilise ‘political will’? Do we wait until the temperature rises by 2 degrees? Or 4? Or 6?

If you wait that long, you’ll never mobilize political will.

He obtained his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University — and his doctorate on Japanese 19th century economic history from Oxford.

…and thinks time has stood still for the past 110 years.

Well, you have to hand it to them. They’ve succeeded in their aspirations to become part of the academic wing of what Mark Steyn dubbed “the transnational jet set — the EU, the UN, the NGO neo-imperialists, the foreign correspondents for CNN, the BBC and so forth”.

They don’t have to know or do anything. All they have to do is talk about business strategy research and liberal global governance and riff on implausible scenarios. That’s the beauty of a gig like theirs.

We all know that some people will write one-offs based on a highly distorted hypothesis to stand out from the pack, thereby promoting themselves and making a buck from the publicity they generate. The unfortunate aspect of this lot is their cynical manipulation of a common lack of knowledge about Japan and East Asia to enrich themselves while intellectually impoverishing anyone unlucky enough to stumble across this and read it.

Here’s the link to part one of the article. To read parts two and three, click on the authors’ names on that page. One link for this is plenty.

Posted in Books, Business, finance and the economy, China, India | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Japan missing the bus on expanding ties with India

Posted by ampontan on Friday, November 28, 2008

SOME SCOFFED at the time, but former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s plan to develop and strengthen ties between India and Japan was a capital idea on several levels. It wasn’t that the scoffers frowned on a closer relationship–they just didn’t care for the source of the proposal. Mr. Abe’s opponents would have hailed it as a major diplomatic initiative had someone from their side presented it instead.

But as a recent agreement between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Indian Space Research Organization to use satellites for disaster management shows, the two countries understand the logic and potential benefits of greater cooperation.

Unfortunately, some in Japan are showing a lack of foresight by throwing a wet blanket over an excellent opportunity not only to further expand the political relationship, but to expand the economic relationship as well.

As this Zeenews of India report explains, Japan is one of 45 member nations of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The NSG oversees the trade in dual-use nuclear fuel, materials, and technology to prevent their conversion from civilian nuclear energy programs to nuclear weapons systems.

It is NSG policy to sanction transactions only with countries that are signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that permit full inspections by the IAEA. That leaves out India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea.

The Indians became persona non grata among nuclear regulatory authorities because they diverted civilian nuclear assistance from Canada some years ago to develop their own atomic weapons. After Herculean efforts by the United States, however, the NSG agreed in September to grant a waiver to India exempting them from the rules and enabling other countries to provide assistance for nuclear power development. As one might imagine, the Chinese (also NSG members) fought to prevent the waiver, but they finally relented and abstained from a final vote after U.S. President George W. Bush telephoned Chinese President Hu Jintao for some one-on-one persuasion.

India’s nuclear power industry is underdeveloped compared to G-8 nations, so the waiver means those countries with superior technology and expertise in the field are making a beeline to New Delhi. Nuclear power companies in the U.S. already have visited India to present their proposals. The Russians plan to build four reactors there and want to build still more.

Japan is a world leader in the use of nuclear energy for power generation, so India is naturally interested in exploring the potential for greater cooperation with domestic companies too. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flew to Tokyo in late October for discussions, but the Japanese government held back due to what was described as “strong lobbying by the (domestic) non-proliferation lobby”.

Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Toshiba sent representatives to Mumbai this week for talks with the Indian government and the state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. But the prospects for Japanese participation remain cloudy.

That’s because India also had another Japanese visitor this week: Hattori Takuya, president of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum. According to the group’s website:

The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc. (JAIF) was incorporated as the comprehensive non-governmental organization on nuclear energy in Japan on March 1, 1956. JAIF is a non-profit organization incorporated under the auspices of the industry to promote peaceful utilization of nuclear energy for the benefit of Japanese nationals in consideration of the importance of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, radioisotopes and radiation in a wide variety of fields.

As unbelievable as it may seem, Mr. Hattori and his group are proving to be more recalcitrant than the Chinese, who saw this as a national security issue. Despite the NSG waiver, JAIF wants India to sign the test ban treaty anyway and commit to nuclear disarmament before they’ll consider cooperation. Here’s Mr. Hattori talking to the Indian press:

“Japan is the only country which suffered due to two atom bombs in the history of mankind and Japanese people are very sensitive.”

It’s about time to bury this line in a vault in the back of a museum warehouse. Victimization is a craven excuse on which to base policy in any context, and it’s outmoded in this one. Fifty years ago, everyone fully understood Japanese sensitivities, and the stance also served the national interest because it helped convince the rest of the convincible world that the old Japan was dead and buried.

But when more than a few politicians in Japan talk sotto voce about the country acquiring a nuclear deterrent of its own, it is both obsolete and in bad faith. During his term as Chief Cabinet Secretary, even former Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo, whom some overseas observers considered “dovish”, said that Japan should consider going nuclear in a private conversation with some members of the media. He backed down when asked about it in a public press conference the next day.

Continued Mr. Hattori:

“If Japan goes for civil nuclear cooperation with India, it amounts to following (a) double standard. We cannot then talk about North Korea and Iran at the international platform if we have civil nuclear cooperation with India now when your country has nuclear bombs.”

Those who cannot or will not differentiate between India’s program and those of Iran and North Korea lack the qualifications either to speak on or set policy for nuclear issues.

It is true that India has not signed the treaty. The Indian government says it has voluntarily suspended nuclear testing and adopted a no-first strike policy. In contrast, Iran has signed the treaty, for what that’s worth. Yet the latter country is governed by religious fanatics who speak openly of destroying Israel. They also clearly state it wouldn’t bother them very much if they were to be destroyed in the process—killing the infidel Jews punches their ticket to paradise and an eternity with all those virgins.

North Korea, which signed the treaty, violated it, withdrew, and likely still violates it, doesn’t even belong in this conversation. They are governed by a Stalinist family regime for whom nuclear weapons technology is a shield against German-style reunification and a hard currency earner when exported to rogue states or malevolent non-state actors.

Mentioning either of those countries in the same breath with India is fatuous. Indeed, who could blame the Indians if they were to find it insulting?

There’s more:

“We strongly ask India to keep up (the) commitment with Nuclear Suppliers Group to pursue nuclear disarmament and also follow other international treaties like CTBT in order to continue the peaceful uses of (the) atom in the form of nuclear energy.”

Preventing nuclear power cooperation with India by tying it to nuclear disarmament is arrant nonsense. By that logic, Nation A should reject a civil aviation pact with any other nation that has an air force in its military.

Not that the issue of nuclear disarmament isn’t absurd to begin with. It is no joke to say that if nuclear weapons are outlawed, then only outlaws will have nuclear weapons—and that would make the world an unacceptably dangerous place. Those who would claim that nuclear disarmament is an achievable goal should begin any justification of their position by explaining the failure of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Mr. Hattori also said:

“We have little information about India’s nuclear program…”

But added:

“India has a need for tremendous manpower resources well-trained to keep up high standards of non-proliferation safeguards, safety and security. India has to expand its training program to increase its huge manpower needs urgently.”

If the JAIF has little information about India’s program, why is it qualified to speak about its manpower resources and training program?


“There is a win-win situation and it is meant for a long-term relationship.”

The win-win situation for the long-term relationship is to begin cooperation for nuclear power generation immediately.

Where to point the finger?

At this point, one has to wonder who in Japan apart from JAIF is trying to stymie the cooperation. Japan’s nuclear power industry is in India and ready to talk turkey. As noted above, some politicians of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are interested in a nuclear deterrent of their own, and even those who wouldn’t be willing to go that far are nothing if not pragmatic when it comes to business. So who could have enough sway in the current government to prevent Japan and India from coming to terms?

Here’s one possibility:

Abolish nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction as part of our longstanding commitment to diplomatic initiatives to advance peace. Introduce proposals facilitating the earliest possible ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, including implementing the treaty on a provisional basis should a minimum necessary number of signatories be secured.

That’s from the party platform of New Komeito, the lesser partner in Japan’s governing coalition. It sometimes is difficult to see how the party, widely seen as the political arm of the lay Buddhist group Soka Gakkai, benefits from their participation in that coalition. The LDP gets to stay in the driver’s seat in Nagata-cho through New Komeito’s considerable get-out-the-vote efforts and their representation in the Diet. And that means they have to hold up their end of the quid pro quo.

Therefore, it’s not out of the question that the obstacle to greater cooperation with India for the peaceful use of nuclear power is New Komeito.

If the party is indeed holding up an agreement in this instance, it’s yet another reason why Japan desperately needs a major political realignment. Those who insist on incorporating into national policy an ideal that would be counterproductive if it weren’t impossible to achieve are doing the country a disservice.

Afterwords: In addition to reconsidering their hesitancy to assist India with civilian nuclear power development, Japan should also consider backing U.S. Senator John McCain’s suggestion to drop Russia from the G-8 and replace it with India. Unfortunately, that will never happen as long as Russia holds the four islands to the north of Hokkaido it seized just after Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Posted in India, International relations, Science and technology | Leave a Comment »

Japan-India space alliance raises eyebrows

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ONE PLANK of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s foreign policy was to forge closer ties with regional free market democracies, including Australia and India. While there is nothing inherently unusual about such alliances–indeed, they are natural–the idea raised some eyebrows in Chinese circles, for geographical reasons alone.

Mr. Abe didn’t stay in office long enough to make any headway in formalizing such an alliance, but Japan and India continued to discuss their mutual interests. These discussions bore fruit last month when the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) agreed to expand cooperation for disaster management.

As this article in the Asian Times by Peter J. Brown notes:

Japan has been using its weather satellites to provide free weather data to countries throughout Asia for many years without any hint of controversy, but this is quite different from deploying a new generation of surveillance satellites to monitor disasters.
Virtually all existing satellite-based multinational disaster management initiatives such as the “International Charter, Space and Major Disasters” depend upon the ability of the signatories to engage in the rapid tasking of their respective surveillance satellites. In other words, quickly altering the flight patterns of the surveillance satellites in question so they zoom right over a disaster zone is essential to the success of the mission at hand.

And the capability to alter the flight patterns of surveillance satellites means that the satellites have an obvious potential for dual use.

The article states that the Chinese are wondering if the United States is behind this cooperative venture and are using it as a means of containing them. Perhaps that is the case, but it is also true that the Japanese and Indians are more than capable of coming up with the idea on their own, and have the incentive to do so.

Mr. Brown fills a limited space with a lot of information, and the resultant lack of focus makes the article difficult to read. He quotes several people who are following regional events, but not all of them are convincing. For example:

Dr Joan Johnson-Freese, chair of the Department of National Security Studies at the US Naval War College, does not believe the Japan-India space relationship is picking up steam. “The consensus-driven decision making process used in Japan means that pretty much everything moves at a glacial pace,” said Johnson-Freese.

Dr. Johnson-Freese should be in a position to know, but she doesn’t account for the possibility that the Japan-India space ties could already have been under discussion for quite some time. She also overlooks the potential of the Japanese to move much more quickly than glacier speed when they’re concerned about their security. Satellites in the region can also monitor North Korean moves, for example.

Mr. Brown also quotes Dr. Gregory Kulacki, senior analyst and China project manager at the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists, about Chinese development of space:

While they would welcome the opportunity to be a competitive commercial space player, especially in the international launch services market where they have a strong advantage…

Perhaps I’m missing something, but if they have a strong advantage in the international launch services market, woundn’t they already have the opportunity to be competitive?

Says Dr. Johnson-Freese:

“China very much wants to be seen as both the leader of space efforts in Asia, and for developing nations. They are using their manned program to reap all the prestige awards it renders – which are considerable, if only in perceptions created – including that it is beating the US”.

Do people really think the Chinese are beating the Americans in a manned space program? The same Americans who flew to the moon and back 40 years ago and have been flying space shuttles for more than a quarter of a century?

But the article is still worth reading to gain an understanding of the growing Japanese interest in the possible military exploitation of space. Japan recently enacted the Space Basic Law, which incorporates considerations of the use of space for national security. And the Yomiuri Shimbun further revealed that the country is thinking of putting an early warning satellite into orbit that can detect the launch of enemy ballistic missiles.

It might be the case that the American input into Japanese strategic thinking is more limited than some suspect.

Posted in China, India, International relations, Military affairs, Science and technology | 1 Comment »