In Multipolarity

New Cold, August 31, 2016.

Five news articles are enclosed documenting the rising militarism of the Japanese government. The United States and Japan are working hand-in-hand to increase their joint military capacities in Japan and its island chain of Okinawa. Ally Australia is planning record increases in military spending and procurement.

New Cold does not share the view of the enclosed reports that the defensive actions being taken by the governments of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea constitute “aggression” or the escalation by them of an “arms race”.

Japan’s military seeks record spending to counter North Korea, China moves

By Tim Kelly, Reuters, Aug 31, 2016

Vessels of Japan's navy, which is called 'Maritime Self-Defense Force', pictured in 2015 (Shizuo Kambayashi, AP)

Vessels of Japan’s navy, which is called ‘Maritime Self-Defense Force’, pictured in 2015 (Shizuo Kambayashi, AP)

TOKYO – Japan’s defense ministry on Wednesday asked for a hike in spending to record levels, as it juggles its responses to a growing ballistic missile threat from North Korea and China’s assertive moves in the East China Sea.

If approved, the hike of 2.3 per cent will take the defense budget to 5.17 trillion yen ($51.47 billion) in the year starting April 1, for a fifth consecutive increase as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bolsters Japan’s military.

The nation’s Self Defense Forces are pivoting away from guarding the north against a diminished Russian threat to reinforce an island chain stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) along the southern edge of the East China Sea. That means opting for fewer tank divisions as they build a mobile amphibious force from scratch.

The costly rejig comes as Japan is also forced to spend more to guard against ballistic missiles being developed by North Korea capable of striking most areas.

Patriotic upgrade

The single biggest expenditure is 99 billion yen ($970 million) to upgrade Japan’s warhead-killing Patriot batteries, a last line of defense against missile strikes.

The improvements will double their range to around 30 km (19 miles) and sharpen targeting to hit arriving ballistic warheads. They will take five years to complete, with the first four enhanced Patriots expected to be ready for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In June, North Korea test-fired what appeared to be two mobile Musudan rockets, one of which climbed to 1,000 km (600 miles), or enough to fly more than 3,000 km (1,800 miles) down range. On Aug. 24, Pyongyang also fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) toward Japan that traveled 500 km (311 miles).

Japan’s biggest defense contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) (7011.T) will upgrade the PAC-3s under license from Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co, sources familiar with the plan told Reuters last month.

The budget request also includes funding to improve Aegis destroyers that are Japan’s first line of defense against ballistic missiles.

Japan and the United States are developing a new warhead killer, the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3), to destroy targets in space, but no decision on a full rollout has yet been made.

Other proposed defense buys will reinforce the East China Sea, where Japan and China are locked in a territorial dispute over a group of islets 220 km (140 miles) northeast of Taiwan known as the Senkakus in Tokyo and the Diaoyus in Beijing.

Japanese air scrambles against Chinese aircraft are running at a record high, with Beijing’s navy probing deeper and more frequently into the Western Pacific beyond Japan’s island chain.

Chinese military activity in the region was “escalating,” Japan’s Self-Defence Forces chief Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano said in June.

Defence officials want 95 billion yen next year to buy six Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters, and a combined 92 billion for four Boeing Co (BA.N) and Bell Helicopter (TXT.N) V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and six Boeing Chinook twin-rotor helicopters.

The SDF also wants 11 BAE Systems (BAES.L) AAV7 amphibious assault craft, and two long-range Kawasaki Heavy Industries (7012.T) C-2 military cargo jets.

Other buys will include a Northrop Grumman (NOC.N) unmanned Global Hawk surveillance drone and a new larger-class diesel-electric submarine designed by Mitsubishi Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy. ($1=102.0900 yen)

Japanese government urges another increase in military spending

By Motoko Richaug, New York Times, Aug 30, 2016

TOKYO — The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is requesting another increase in spending on Japan’s armed forces, with a plan to expand missile defenses that would test the nation’s commitment to pacifism and escalate a regional arms race with China and North Korea.

With rising threats from North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program [sic] and repeated incursions by Chinese ships into waters surrounding a string of islands claimed by Japan, the request would let the Defense Ministry develop new antiballistic missiles and place troops on southern islands closer to the chain in dispute with China.

If approved, the budget proposal for 5.17 trillion yen, or $50.2 billion, formally submitted on Wednesday, would be the nation’s fifth-straight annual increase in military spending. It is a 2.3 percent rise over last year.

The request includes proposals to develop and potentially purchase new antiballistic missiles that can be launched from ships or land, and to upgrade and extend the range of the country’s current land-based missile defense systems, a significant expansion of Japan’s missile defense capabilities.

The budget also details plans to buy an additional submarine and new fighter aircraft, and to put close to 1,300 soldiers from the Self-Defense Force, Japan’s military, on the southern islands of Kagoshima and Okinawa. These locations are closer to the Senkaku, the chain of islands where both China and Japan claim territorial rights.

Despite Japan’s longstanding postwar pacifism, initially imposed by a Constitution that was largely written by American occupiers, the country has long argued that the Constitution does not prevent it from maintaining defensive equipment and troops. But the definition of what is needed to defend the country has evolved as Japan confronts new dangers. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, government assessments of security in the region led to a decrease in defense budgets every year. Yet five years ago, the government began increasing its budget again as new provocations emerged from China and North Korea.

The budget deliberations come as Mr. Abe’s government is reconsidering the country’s pacifist stance. Mr. Abe has long expressed his interest in revising the clause in the Constitution that says the country must “forever renounce war,” and he helped push through new security laws last year that permit Japan’s troops to participate in overseas combat missions.

A majority of the Japanese public generally opposes amending the pacifist Constitution; protesters mounted large demonstrations against the security bills last year. Yet some Japanese consider the gradual buildup of military firepower necessary for their protection.

North Korea continues to develop its nuclear capabilities and test-fire ballistic missiles that land ever closer to Japan. Just last week, North Korea launched a missile from a submarine off its east coast that flew 310 miles toward Japan, much farther than in previous attempts. By extending the range of some antiballistic missile systems, the Japanese would be better equipped to shoot down missiles launched by Pyongyang.

Japan’s current land-based missile defense systems have a medium range for intercepting incoming ballistic missiles. By expanding that range, the new systems should be able to shoot down missiles before they get so close.

As for the Chinese, their vessels have repeatedly sailed into disputed waters surrounding a group of uninhabited Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku to Japan and the Diaoyu to China. In June, China sent a warship within 24 nautical miles of the islands; Mr. Abe responded by putting the Japanese Navy and coast guard on alert.

Japan’s defense budget proposal includes funds to help proceed with development, in conjunction with the United States, of advanced antiballistic missiles that can be launched from ships and that have much longer ranges than previous incarnations.

Experts said these missiles could be used not only to shoot down North Korean missiles, but also to deter China from invading the disputed islands. Placing more troops on the southern islands of Japan is also intended to deter China from moving closer to the Senkaku.

“We’re in the middle of what is commonly called the security dilemma,” said Richard Samuels, a Japan specialist and the director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“When one nation does something which it believes to be defensive and in its own interests, its competitor will see it as threatening and see it as offensive, and then you get this arms race and security dilemma,” he said. “That’s very much in play here.”

The Defense Ministry’s budget request must be reviewed by the Finance Ministry and approved by Parliament before any purchases can be made.

Analysts said nothing in the new budget request suggested that Japan would cross the line from a primarily defensive stance to a more offensive one.

“If they started to procure long-range bombers or intercontinental ballistic missiles, those would be the things where I would say, ‘Now we are seeing something radically different,’” said Jeffrey Hornung, a research fellow for security and foreign policy at Sasakawa U.S.A, a think tank in Washington.

The new equipment proposals also seem carefully calibrated to address current threats. The plan to extend the range of existing PAC-3 missile defense systems from the current limit of about 19 miles, for example, would help Japan protect against North Korean missiles but avoid the appearance of instigating new confrontations, analysts said.

“I think these ranges are very carefully selected,” said Bonnie S. Glaser, senior Asia adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. She noted that Japan would, for instance, be aware of China’s objection to any hint that Japan might get involved in disputes over Taiwan. The distances of the missiles proposed, she said, would not extend to Taiwan.

Amid controversy over Japan’s continued hosting of American bases and troops on the island of Okinawa, the current budget proposal also includes a request for a slight increase in spending on American operations to 178.7 billion yen.

All told, the budget request remains less than 1 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product, a self-imposed constraint that few Japanese administrations have breached.

Some analysts noted that with China rapidly increasing its military budget, Japan’s current military spending might not be sufficient. “In the long run, if the military balance in East Asia shifts in favor of China significantly, we might have to do much more than what we are doing right now,” said Narushige Michishita, director of the Security and International Studies Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.

Tooru Miyamoto, a Communist Party member of the House of Representatives, said he did not approve of the increased expenditures at a time when the economy continues to stagnate. “I want such money to be spent on day care centers,” he said.

At an annual review staged by the Ground Self-Defense Force in the foothills of Mount Fuji last weekend, 25,000 spectators gathered to watch a parade of tanks, helicopters and other armored vehicles, with soldiers detonating artillery against artificial targets.

In one segment described as a demonstration of how troops would respond to an attack on unspecified islands, soldiers dropped from Chinook helicopters and tanks rolled across a muddy field.

Naoko Matsumaru, 42, who works in a flour mill, attended the drills with her young daughter and son.

She said that she had been concerned about threats from North Korea and China, but that “after seeing today’s show, I feel maybe we are actually O.K.”

Those who value Japan’s pacifism said they were concerned about the expanded military role.

“In these times, I am a little bit worried,” said Toru Matsuzaki, 71, a woodworker. He referred to a generation of “heiwa boke,” people who innocently take peace for granted. “Realistically, it may be necessary to increase the budget,” he said, “but I don’t like it.”

Follow Motoko Rich on Twitter @MotokoRich.

Defence White Paper: Australia joins Asia’s arms race with spending on weaponry and military forces to reach $195b

By national affairs correspondent Greg Jennett and staff, ABC News, Feb 24, 2016

Australia will embark on a decade-long surge in weaponry and military forces to defend its land, sea, skies and space from Asia’s rapidly growing military forces. The 2016 Defence White Paper maps a course towards a total of $195 billion in defence capability or equipment by 2020-21, together with a larger military force of 62,400 personnel, the largest in a quarter of a century.

Joining an Asian-region mini arms race, the White Paper promises 12 submarines to be built at a cost of more than $50 billion between 2018-2057. However, maintenance costs will push that $50 billion budget much higher.

Navy will scoop a quarter of all new spending on capability, with nine new anti-submarine warfare frigates and 12 offshore patrol vessels. The RAAF will build up two fleets of drones while also bringing its eventual fleet of 75 Joint Strike Fighters online. The Army will claim 18 per cent of all extra spending on equipment, buying armed drones, new protected vehicles to transport troops, helicopters for special forces and a long-range rocket system.

Underscoring a sense of urgency to the renewal of Australia’s defence power, the Government is aiming to build spending up to 2 per cent of GDP by 2020/21 — earlier than previously promised — representing an overall increase of $29.9 billion.

Defence officials have told the ABC the White Paper reflects Australia’s “growing discomfort” with China’s military activity.

Read the Defence White Paper here

Climate change and terrorism listed as threats

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Government was committed to the “significant increase in spending” due to regional challenges as well as the threat from climate change and terrorism, among other issues. The factoring in of climate change was not planned under the Abbott Government.

“In the next two decades, half the world’s submarines and at least half the world’s advanced combat aircraft will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region, in our region, and this complicates the outlook for our security and strategic planning,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We would be concerned if the competition for influence and the growth in military capability were to lead to instability and threaten Australia’s interests, whether in the South China Sea, the Korean peninsula or further afield.We have a strong, vital, vested interest in the maintenance of peace, stability and respect for the rule of law.”

The language of the White Paper points to a realisation that Australia needs to increase the “potency and agility” of its forces in the face of rising wealth and power in Asia, coupled with the strategic tension already arising between China and the United States.

“Territorial disputes … have created uncertainty and tension in our region,” the White Paper notes. “Some matters that previous defence white papers have described as long-term issues, such as the impact of modernisation in our region, now fall to this White Paper to respond to.”

Ahead of the release of the Defence White Paper, Malcolm Turnbull said “under Labor, defence spending as a share of GDP dropped to its lowest level since 1938”. Fact Check investigates.

Australia continues to throw its military lot in with the United States, assessed to “remain the pre-eminent global power over the next two decades”. The White Paper aims to deepen Australia’s alliance with America, including the relocation of a U.S. spy telescope known as an “optical space surveillance telescope” to Exmouth in Western Australia.

On the path to building defence funding up to 2 per cent of GDP, the Government will also “de-couple” its spending on the military from the general health of the economy, so that even if growth slows, defence will still get its 2 per cent share.

U.S. Ambassador to Australia John Berry described the White Paper as a “well-considered, comprehensive approach to addressing evolving security challenges of the coming decades”.

“As allies, we welcome the Government’s sustained investment in defence capabilities and readiness and its support for rules-based international order,” he said.

Japanese woman’s murder provokes protests against U.S. bases in Okinawa

By Ben Westcott, CNN, June 10, 2016

Tens of thousands of residents of Okinawa protest U.S. military bases on June 19, 2016 (Toru Yamanaka, AFP - Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of residents of Okinawa protest U.S. military bases on June 19, 2016 (Toru Yamanaka, AFP – Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of people have demanded an end to the United States’ military presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa following the killing of a local woman. Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a 32-year-old civilian worker who was stationed at the U.S. Kadena Air Base, was last month arrested on suspicion of murdering the 20 year old and abandoning her body.

In an emotional letter read out during a march on the island Sunday, the victim’s father said, for the local people’s protection, all United States military bases on Japan’s Okinawa prefecture had to go.

New strains on U.S. bases in Japan

“Why my daughter? Why was my daughter killed?” the letter read. “To avoid [another] victim, I want all U.S. bases removed… I believe it’s possible if all the people of Okinawa come together.”

'Our anger has reached its limit', read signs at June 19, 2016 protest in Okinawa, Japan (Uematsu Ryosuke, AP)

‘Our anger has reached its limit’, read signs at June 19, 2016 protest in Okinawa, Japan (Uematsu Ryosuke, AP)

More than 60,000 people attended the protest in the prefecture’s capital, Naha, according to organizers. It was organized by the All Okinawa Kaigi, a group that includes the governor of Okinawa and other local politicians and mayors.

Speaking at the protest, Governor Takeshi Onaga said he would strongly ask the Japanese government to move all United States military bases outside of Okinawa. “The government should know that the anger of the people in Okinawa is almost reaching a limit and it is not [right] to sacrifice Okinawa people for military bases anymore,” he said.

Relations between American military personnel and local residents on Okinawa have deteriorated in recent months following several violent incidents related to American bases on the island. In March, U.S. Navy sailor Justin Castellanos was arrested over the rape of a Japanese woman in Kyushu prefecture.

During his visit to Japan in May, President Barack Obama apologized to the Japanese people for the latest incident in Okinawa. “I think the Japanese people should know we are deeply moved and working with the Japanese government to prosecute not only this crime but prevent these kinds of crimes from happening again.”

U.S. washes hands of rights violations at Okinawa helipad site

By Jon Mitchell, special To The Japan Times, Aug 31, 2016

The U.S. State Department, the federal body tasked with promoting human rights overseas, is refusing to censure Tokyo over its aggressive tactics to force construction of new helipads for the U.S. Marine Corps in northern Okinawa.

Map of Japan showing Okinawa island chain

Map of Japan showing Okinawa island chain

Since July, the Japanese government has been conducting a massive police campaign in the Takae district of Higashi village that has left at least five demonstrators hospitalized, infringed upon press freedoms and been condemned by Gov. Takeshi Onaga, media unions and local residents.

Asked for comment on the injuries and blocking of reporters, the State Department referred The Japan Times to the Japanese government and U.S. Department of Defense. Anna Richey-Allen, spokesperson for the department’s East Asia and Pacific Bureau spokesperson, then issued a stock statement unrelated to the inquiries.

Likewise, U.S.MC Public Affairs Officer George McArthur declined to comment on the alleged rights’ violations. The U.S. Marines in Okinawa also rejected an interview request from The Japan Times to discuss the helipad construction. Despite the request being made 10 days in advance, McArthur dismissed it on the grounds of it being “short-fuse” (sic).

On Aug. 25, Onaga blasted the Japanese government’s dispatch of hundreds of mainland riot police to Takae as “excessive.” Meanwhile, the Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers’ Unions called police obstruction of journalists reporting from the site “a serious violation of the free press by the state.”

The district of Takae abuts the U.S.MC Northern Training Area, also known as Camp Gonsalves. The sprawling 7,800-hectare (19,000-acre) jungle warfare center opened in 1957; once commanded by Oliver North, veterans have alleged that it also served as a test site for the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.

In the near future, Washington plans to return half of the base’s land, but only on condition that six new helipads be built near Takae. Despite opposition from villagers, two of the 75-meter-wide pads have been completed and are now in use for round-the-clock U.S.MC training flights of helicopters and Osprey aircraft. In June, the Okinawa Defense Bureau catalogued Takae residents’ exposure to aircraft noise at more than a dozen times a night.

The construction of the helipads at Takae is just one part of an island-wide program by Tokyo to consolidate the U.S.MC presence on Okinawa.

Plans to build twin runways and a deep sea port at Camp Schwab in the city of Nago are currently the focus of a bitter court dispute between the national and prefectural governments. Washington plans to relocate marines from aging Air Station Futenma in Ginowan upon completion of the new base near Camp Schwab. But in a sign that the Japanese government expects the legal dispute to drag on, Tokyo has just suggested it may spend billions of yen to repair facilities at Futenma.

Also on Okinawa, the Japanese government has started work on infrastructure to support the deployment of Ospreys and F-35s to U.S.MC Iejima Auxiliary Airfield, located on a small island near Okinawa’s northern coast.

“The Japanese government keeps saying it is reducing Okinawa’s military burden but the reality is the total opposite,” says Yutaka Ohata, an Iejima resident and member of a local peace museum. Ohata cites ongoing military construction on the island and recent usage of the civilian port by the U.S.MC.

“Iejima assembly and local communities voted to protest against the new military infrastructure,” says Ohata, “but the government doesn’t listen to our voices whatever we say.”

Washington and Tokyo assert the construction projects at Takae, Nago, Futenma and Iejima will ultimately enable the return of land elsewhere on the island.

However, many Okinawans suspect that U.S.MC usage of the island will expand in the years to come. Such concerns were exacerbated by recent revelations that the U.S. Marines were training two U.K. Royal Marine lieutenants at Camp Schwab and Camp Hansen, central Okinawa. The program, which is currently the focus of a Japanese government inquiry, is a violation of the long-standing interpretation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which does not allow for the training of third-nation forces on U.S. bases in Japan.

Okinawan fury at the U.S.MC remains at boiling point following the April murder of a local woman, allegedly by a former U.S. Marine, and revelations that orientation lectures for new arrivals denigrated island residents and political leaders. On Tuesday, a U.S. Marine sergeant was arrested on suspicion of attempting to break into a woman’s apartment in the village of Yomitan. In May the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed an unprecedented resolution demanding the removal of all U.S.MC bases from the island.

In June, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, experienced local anger toward the U.S.MC firsthand. During her official visit to the island to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, Kennedy attended a community relations event at Camp Schwab. As she was leaving, her motorcade was blocked by demonstrators who had to be forcibly removed by police before her car was able to move.

In a request for comment on the incident, the public affairs office at Naha’s U.S. Consulate General told The Japan Times, “While we steadfastly support individual freedom of speech and peaceful public assembly, we look to the Government of Japan law enforcement officials to take necessary measures should anyone interfere with installation access or violate the laws of Japan.”

The decision for Kennedy to visit Camp Schwab appears to have been designed to send a signal that the U.S. was standing by Tokyo’s decision to landfill the neighboring bay for the relocation of the Futenma air base. However both the location and the timing of the visit struck many Okinawans as insensitive at best and, at worst, a provocation.

Three months prior to Kennedy’s visit, Justin Castellanos, a sailor stationed at Camp Schwab, had been arrested for the rape of a woman in a Naha hotel. Moreover, Kennedy’s visit to the base rubbed salt into the wounds of many Battle of Okinawa survivors. Camp Schwab is located upon the former site of the Ourasaki Internment Camp where Okinawans were imprisoned following the war, and the remains of approximately 300 civilians still lie within the grounds of the installation, inaccessible to family members or recovery teams.

In response to the surge in public anger against the U.S.MC on Okinawa, the U.S. military has recently embarked upon an online public-relations charm offensive. In June, U.S. Forces Japan launched a “Fact for the Week” campaign on social media. Its first post apparently set out to contradict Japanese government data that says three-quarters of U.S. installations are located on Okinawa. Instead, the U.S.FJ post claimed, the true number was 39 percent.

The U.S.FJ claim — based upon the number of installations rather than the area of land they occupy — was met with consternation by Gov. Onaga, who called it “an attempt to manipulate the facts.” Online commentators were more harsh, likening the U.S.FJ’s post to false rumors commonly spread by so-called Netto uyoku, or anonymous extreme right-wing internet users.

Jon Mitchell received the inaugural Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan Freedom of the Press Award for Lifetime Achievement for his investigations into U.S. military contamination on Okinawa and other base-related problems. Your comments and story ideas: [email protected].


EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.

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