Japan recently has been in the news as a result of several high-profile territorial incidents with its neighbor China. The incidents involve what Japanese call the Senkaku islands—the Diaoyu islands to the Chinese. Japan has legal ownership of the islands, which China disputes. The incidents have involved non-government activists and the coast guards of both nations, with many fearing an escalation could lead to some form of armed conflict. Read More
The Asia-Pacific region recently has seen a rise in construction of multipurpose, aviation-capable ships by major area powers. Australia, China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand all have built ships with full-length flight decks with a variety of purposes: some as helicopter carriers, some as amphibious assault ships. Only one, China’s Liaoning, was built to accommodate traditional fixed-wing aircraft carrier operations, but many others, such as Japan’s Izumo-class of helicopter destroyers could conceivably carry some form of vertical or short takeoff-and-landing aircraft. Read More
On Aug. 9, the Japanese Ministry of Defense held a naming ceremony for the Izumo, the latest ship to join the Maritime Self-Defense Forces. Officially a “helicopter carrier-type escort/destroyer,” Izumo was built at the Japan Marine United shipyards at Yokohama. Although publicly touted as an anti-submarine warfare platform, the ship is capable of filling a critical role in the defense of disputed Japanese territory. The launch has been reported with alarm in East Asia as resurgent territorial claims—exacerbated by nationalism and longstanding historical differences—have generated regional tension not seen for decades. Read More
Chinese officials ‘strongly’ oppose a Monday U.S. Senate action that “condemns the use of coercion, threats, or force by naval, maritime security, or fishing vessels and military or civilian aircraft,” in the South and East China Sea, according to a Thursday report from the Xinhua news agency. Read More
The following is the July 18, 2013 review by the U.S. Coast Guard of Major Icebreakers of the World.
The Coast Guard Office of Waterways and Ocean Policy (CG-WWM) began producing the chart of major icebreakers of the world in July 2010. Since then, we have gathered icebreaker information and recommendations from a variety of sources and experts, including icebreaker subject-matter experts, internet posts, news updates, Arctic experts and Coast Guard offices with icebreaker equities. We validate our information within the public forum and update the chart at least semi-annually based on new information and feedback. This chart represents the Coast Guard’s current factual understanding of the major icebreaker fleet. This chart is not intended for icebreaker fleet comparisons and no inference should be drawn regarding a country’s icebreaker “ranking” against another. Read More
The Philippines plan to give greater access to U.S. and Japanese allies to military bases including the former U.S. Naval Station Subic Bay, Philippine defense officials said Thursday in a report in Reuters.
The report comes in tandem with reports, the military is preparing a proposal to expand leftover U.S. bases after the Pentagons removed its forces in 1992.
According to the report, Philippine naval leaders are preparing a $230 million plan to base development bases as hedges against increased Chinese expansion into the South China Sea. Read More
Last week Brunei hosted an important but little-noticed exercise in its portion of the island of Borneo. The multinational event sponsored by and held in conjunction with the second meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) and was the first of its kind. The group focused on boosting interoperability among the participants’ medical and disaster response capabilities. But as important was the mix of participants included countries better known for tense maritime stand-offs than working together. Read More
The Chinese navy intrudes on the maritime rights of its neighbors, bullies other nations and is determined to build a force strong enough to counter the U.S. Pacific Fleet, a U.S. Navy intelligence officer told an audience at the WEST 2013 convention in San Diego on Thursday.
China’s navy, said Capt. Jim Fannell, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii, is a force that “is focused on war at sea.”
Proceedings, December 2012
The Senkaku/Diaoyu Tai Islands dispute between China and Japan has ramped up in a heated season of discontent, but given the position China has backed itself into through official pronouncements and military showmanship, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States have the opportunity to resolve the dispute. They can do this by forcing China to recognize a transfer of administrative control of the islands to Taiwan, or rather, the Republic of China (ROC), the legally binding designee of World War II–era diplomatic agreements. This action would accomplish a number of things:
- Reward China and Taiwan for recent stabilization of cross-strait ties and improve economic relations, and place the two sides in common cause over a security/territory issue.
- Remove a perennial crisis point from the first island chain and the potential for its recurring destabilizing impact on Sino-Japanese relations.
- Keep the islands within the U.S. alliance structure and security umbrella.
Proceedings, November 2012
A simmering dispute over some uninhabited islands south of Japan offers insight into the way domestic politics can drive foreign policy—perhaps all the way to war—in both China and Japan.
The islands in question, which the Chinese call the Diaoyus and the Japanese the Senkakus, have little or no intrinsic value, but the Chinese view is that enforcing a variety of claims to islands in the South China Sea is worthwhile, because it also reinforces the claim that the sea, which covers valuable resources, is Chinese territory. That other countries, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, also claim some of these islands has long made the South China Sea a potential flashpoint. In the current case, however, the driving force in both countries seems to be domestic.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party has long used World War II as a way of rallying public support. For China, the key facts of that conflict were Japanese aggression followed by gross atrocities such as the rape of Nanking. The Communist Party claims that it, rather than the rival Nationalists, offered effective opposition to the Japanese. Whatever the reality, to many in China the important point is that the party has created a China that never again need fear such an attack. Japan has never effectively apologized for its aggression in the way that Germany did after World War II. As a consequence, few in China (or, for that matter, in Korea) have forgiven the Japanese. Some of the consequences may not be obvious to Westerners. For example, Taiwan, which Japan acquired in 1895, was treated rather well within the Japanese Empire: many Taiwanese have positive views of the Japanese. Some, perhaps many, mainland Chinese consider Taiwanese leaders tainted by such attitudes. It happens that in the dispute over the islands, the Taiwanese stand with their brethren on the mainland, the claim for the islands first having been made by the Nationalists (who took refuge in Taiwan when they were defeated on the mainland) in 1947.