Shigeru Ishiba on Japan-China statement – “There is no territorial problem”

Local revitalization minister Shigeru Ishiba appeared in Yomiuri TV program on Nov 8. He spoke about Japan-China statement that is called to better the relationship between the two countries and in which Japan accepted that Japan and China have different views on the tense situation around the Senkaku Islands (Okinawa pref., Ishigaki). He stated that “it does not at all mean that Japan accepted that there is a territorial dispute (around Senkaku). There is absolutely no change in Japan’s position”.

On the other hand, he praised the statement saying that “there is no telling when Japan and China would clash (over the Senkakus). It is a great achievement that we can now talk to prevent the clashes.”

About China wishing PM Shinzo Abe to stop visits to the Yasukuni shrine Ishiba stressed: “It is up to the politician to decide whether to go to the Yasukuni or not, it is not something to be decided by China”.



Editorial – Will Japan impose further sanctions against Russia?

Japan will need to decide on further sanctions against Russia in the view of Malaysia Airlines jet being shot down in the Eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian terrorists or maybe even by Russian troops.

Some Russian analysts believe that Japan does not want to impose any sanctions on Russia and that PM Abe wants to keep good relations with Putin in the view of the expected talks over the Northern Territories occupied by Soviet Union and now Russia. Another reason is that PM Abe is supposedly building some sort of security belt around China and the Japan does not want for Russia and China to become close allies. But at the end, say these analysts, if US will force Japan to impose more sanctions on Russia, hinting that Japan will never go against the US.

Do these arguments really have any ground?

It is true that Japan is interested in normal relationship with Russia (as with any neighboring country), but the faint possibility of returning the Northern Territories is not worth letting Putin have its way in the middle of Europe. Yes, Ukraine is very far from Japan and there is little to no interest of Japan and Japanese companies in Ukraine. However, not giving proper response to Putin’s aggression would mean that Japan is giving silent approval to changing the existing international rules by force. And this would give China a go ahead to do the same in the Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

Then, should Japan really be worried about Russia and China becoming close allies? Not really. After Russia signed the so-called gas deal with China this year Chinese representative openly mentioned that Russia have a vast territories and China has a lot of industrious people, and that is why the two countries should cooperate. This makes China’s agenda very much clear. Putin is not a complete idiot not to understand this, but even if he is, the tycoons around him will explain the problem. Russia far from being interested to be hugged to death by China. It rather tries to scare the West by demonstrating its warm relations with China and pretending it can get by without the European markets. But nobody believes this bluff now. Neither should Japan.

But what is more important, Japan should think about its international responsibility if we want to play a bigger role in Asia and in the world. Sometimes this calls to put national interests behind the international responsibility. This responsibility lies with Japan as well as with the US.

by naokawa

Shintaro Ishihara bids farewell to Japan Restoration Party

During the last party convention of Japan Restoration Party on Jun 22, JRP co-president made farewell speech to the party members.

“We could achieve a lot during the short period of one and a half years. We could drive the clueless Democratic Party of Japan who forgot their country to the brink of destruction. This great achievement has very big meaning since the Constitution of Japan was established.

Now there is one big ruling party and the reorganization of the opposition will be the main challenge. It is unfortunate, but Toru Hashimoto and the Osaka faction decided to join with Unity Party. The person, who is a leader of Unity Party (president Kenji Eda) is proclaiming the things that fully contradict to our political credo. So it is impossible for us to get together.

The country of Japan is facing critical times. If taken lightly, Japan may become the vassal state of neighboring China. We have been working to prevent this. Japan is to become truly independent and it to protect itself. The main pillar for this will be rewriting the Constitution, which is the foundation of the nation, with our own hands. Approval for the right to execute collective self-defense will play a great part in protecting lives and property of our people.

I believe there will be many challenges from now on, but since we are already comrades united by a common bond, let us join forces where it is possible to join forces. We will always keep the doors open for our former friends. I want you to bear this in mind all the time.”


Editorial – Japan and America act in accord at Asia Security Conference

Looking at China’s strong reaction to PM Shinzo Abe’s and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s speeches openly criticizing China about trying to change the existing world order by force one can see that China does see Japan and America getting close as an imminent threat to its expansion in the East and South China seas.

Other countries at Asia Security Conference in Singapore also supported Japan trying to play more active part maintaining peace and stability in the region.

Does it mean that America is really serious about its proclaimed power shift to Asia? Does America really count on Japan and expect for it to play more important role in the Pacific, sharing responsibility, costs and influence in the region? So far the steps of Obama’s administration seem to be logical – US defense budget was drastically cut, America is supportive of Abe’s strategy of ‘proactive pacifism’ and the plans to make the right for collective self-defense possible.

Still it is yet to be seen how far America is ready to go in order to keep China’s ambitions in check. On the other hand, for Japan it does not really matter because it is to become the major power in the Pacific not for America, but for itself.

by naokawa

Another provocation by Chinese planes

Yesterday Chinese airforces scrambled when Japan’s reconnaissance aircrafts entered the so-called air defense identification zone set unilaterally by China. Japan’s Defense Ministry stated that Chinese SU-27 tailed Japanese aircraft and then approached it to the distance of 50 meters. Then in an hour Chinese fighter approached Japanese reconnaissance plane to the distance of 30 meters.

Defense Ministry states that this is the first time Chinese planes approached Japanese planes to the distance of less than 100 meters. Chinese fighters did not try to establish radio contact.

It is said that Japanese reconnaissance planes were not damaged in the result of the incident.

Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Omodera stated that this close approach was very dangerous and could have serious consequences. This Japan’s position was relayed to China. Omodera mentioned that it is necessary to hold talks between Japan and China on safety on sea and in the air.


Japan to set up a ‘cordon’ around China – helping Vietnam and Philippines

After the incident with Chinese patrol ship rammed into Vietnamese one near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea Japanese government decided to strengthen cooperation with Vietnam. Philippines, which are in conflict with China over Scarborough Shoal, is seeking help from America. In order to restrain China that continuously keeps invading Japanese waters near the Senkaku Islands Japan wants to organize a “cordon around China”.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida speaking about the ships collision on May 9 supported Vietnam: “This is a continuous string of unilateral provocations of China in sea. China must explain the reason for its actions to Vietnam and the international community.”

Government is to accelerate consultations between Japan and Vietnam with the aim of supplying Vietnam with patrol ships under the “Official Development Assistance” program. Regarding support to Philippines, following the declaration of PM Shinzo Abe in July last year to supply the country with ten patrol vessels, Japan will be ready to help to improve the capabilities of Philippine coast guard in any way.



Indeed an excellent idea to help the countries around Pacific that are bullied by China to protect themselves. This is the first thought that came across my mind when I saw the news about ships clash.

However, there is one little problem. Under ODA conditions Japan cannot supply anything to military. In the past Japan has already supplied Philippines with common non-military vessels under ODA. Those were later turned into patrol ships by Philippines, and some irresponsible politicians in Japan argued that this violates ODA rules.

In March Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced that he wants to revise ODA rules for the first time in eleven years. The revision plan is to include conditions change regarding assisting foreign military. If the plan is to come through, it will certainly contribute to Japan’s security.

by naokawa

Editorial – China and Russia to conduct military exercises near Japan’s borders

It looks like Russia made it choice to confront the West till the bitter end for itself. There is another bell rang for Japan that is a part of the West.

Russia is to take part in the Chinese military exercises in the East China Sea quite close to the Japanese Senkaku Islands (Okinawa pref.). The exercises are to take place at the end of May while Vladimir Putin is visiting China. At the same time the Russian gas monopoly “Gazprom” is planning to conclude the long negotiated contract to supply China with 38 billion square cubes of gas every year during 30 years. China was not happy about the price so far, and Russia in its current situation of international isolation most likely gave in to China’s demands and lowered the price.

The joint China-Russia military exercises “Joint Sea-2014” are to take place for the third time but it is the first time that the exercises are taking place so close to Japan’s territory.

The motives for both China and Russia are very obvious. China has long been trying to get Russia to support its position on Senkakus. So far Russia was negative about supporting China openly. When Obama during his visit to Japan reaffirmed that Senkaku Islands are protected by the US under the Japan-US Security Treaty, China was actively protesting. It may be understood that China doubled its efforts to win over Russia.

On the other hand for Russia the situation of international isolation over interference with the Ukraine’s domestic affairs became imminent. Now Russia needs China much more than China needs Russia. Russia certainly wants to show off to America and the West that the sanctions imposed on it are not working and that Russia will be perfectly fine shifting its stagnating economy to cater for China.

Both China and Russia are out there to wipe America’s eye. For China it is more pragmatic thing of the moment that they try to turn to their advantage. For Russia it is an emotional gung-ho thing, almost a drug that helps them to forget the societal meltdown most people live in. No doubt that China will have an upper hand in this ‘cooperation’. Not only it would get the lower gas prices, but most likely also some support on Senkakus and cheaper weapons from Russia.

Japan so far was very much lenient on sanctions over Ukraine against Russia. And it was despite the continuous intended provocations by Russian planes near Japanese borders. The only real sanctions announced were visa refusal for some 23 government officials. There was even no mentioning about asset freezing for those 23. The minor things like stopping negotiations on visa issuing facilitation and so on do not count at all. This might mean that PM Shinzo Abe still hopes to further the Northern Territories negotiations with Putin. Such hopes are futile in my view.

It is time for PM Abe to realize that some sort of China-Russia alliance be it disclosed or not, will happen, and treat Russia accordingly – not as an equal partner, but as a potential enemy.

by naokawa

Editorial – Mitsui O.S.K. Lines pays China to settle the claim

As became known today Japanese company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines paid 4bil. yen in order to settle the claim from China and release its ship “Baosteel Emotion”.

It is said that the company considered that the losses from the inability to use the ship would be higher down the road and decided to pay the amount requested by the Chinese court plus the interest. The ship has already been released and left China.

Japanese government was not involved in the settlement, and it is said that the company did not request any help from the Japanese authorities in order to settle the matter.

However, the precedent is created now. And it is expected that further similar claims from China against the Japanese companies in China are to appear in the nearest future. And our companies will have to take such risks into account seriously. This will in turn make the production in China more expensive and Japanese companies will have even less incentive to expand their presence there. It is just not worth it.

Production in the South-East Asia is much cheaper now than it is in China. The Chinese market might still be important, so it is worthwhile to just keep the sales facilities there. No production lines, no fixed assets, no employment for the local Chinese staff. China started this and should pay for its insolence.

by naokawa

Japanese and American parliamentary groups exchanged opinions about Senkakus and TPP

The non-partisan Japan-US parliament members group (chairman Hirofumi Nakasone) on Apr 22 held a meeting with the US Lower House parliamentary group visiting Japan led by the majority leader Eric Cantor (Rep.). Japan parliament members expressed concerns over China continuously infringing Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands (Okinawa pref.) and relayed Japan side’s request for the US President Obama to reaffirm that the Senkaku Islands fall within the Japan-US Security Treaty.

Speaking about Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) American parliament members stated that if Japan and America are to create common rules together, it would help to apply pressure on China, which is trying to force its own rules upon other countries.

American parliamentary group left Japan on the afternoon of Apr 22 and is set to visit South Korea and China.


China’s seizure of Mitsui ship is an act of suicide

China’s court seized Mitsui company commercial ship over the so-called unpaid vessel lease fees before the outbreak of Japan-China war. Japanese government is considering countermeasures that might include appealing to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Japanese enterprises are very worried about China’s unlawful and reckless act. It it certain that investments in China will shrink and we will see more Japanese companies pull off from China. This will be equal to an act of suicide for Xi Jinping’s administration.

On Apr 21 chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga during regular press conference stated that Japan is considering countermeasures: “Japanese government expresses deepest regret. When signing the agreement on normalization of Japan-China diplomatic relations, China abandoned war damages compensation claims from Japan. This incident will undermine the very basis of the agreement.”

The seized ship “Baosteel Emotion” is transporting coal ore and belongs to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines. It is the first case in the post-war history when the property of a Japanese enterprise is being seized by the Chinese authorities.

Chinese court supported the plaintiffs, relatives of the managers of a Chinese transportation company, on the case that it lent a ship to a Japanese company “Daido Kaiun” in 1936, just before the start of Japan-China war, but the vessel lease fees were not paid. Daido Kaiun’s successor is Mitsui O.S.K. Lines.

Japanese government states that the right of claim from China has ceased to exist in 1972 when the joint Japan-China declaration was released. But Chinese court gave victory to the plaintiffs. Since Mitsui O.S.K. Lines did not pay the damages ordered, Shanghai court seized the company’s ship in Apr 19.

In China the lawsuits on the “forced labor” against Japanese companies are continuing. Japan reckons that if the things left as they are, it would result in more Japanese property being seized and considers the countermeasures including filing a suite in the International Court of Justice.

Speaking of lawsuits against Japanese companies under Xi Jinping regime a person involved with a Japanese company points out: “If there are more cases when Japanese enterprises would suffer losses, it would give them more reasons to move to the South-East Asia.”

Even now according to the Chinese Commerce Department released Apr 17, direct investments from Japan in Jan~Mar decreased 47.2% in comparison to the previous year to $129 million (¥1.233 billion).

Masahiro Miyazaki, an analytic well familiar with China’s situation says this: “In Hu Jintao times they never did such things. Now they go through all the way with their abuses. For China it is equal to a suicide”.

Miyazaki continues: “In China administration does not function, and there is no separation of the three branches of government. Everything is being decided by the higher-up in the communist party. It is not the country that is governed by the law. Japanese companies will continue decreasing their investments in China. When we look at other big companies – only General Motors (US) and Volkswagen (GER) are increasing their investments in China. The perception that expanding in China is a mistake will be spreading all over.”