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As expected, Washington welcomed the information sharing pact.


The White House on Wednesday welcomed the signing of a military intelligence sharing agreement between South Korea and Japan, saying it will bolster three-way cooperation between the two allies and the U.S. in defending against North Korea.


Earlier in the day, Seoul and Tokyo formally signed the information sharing accord, known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the first military pact between them since South Korea's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.


"This agreement will allow the ROK and Japan, two of our closest allies in the region, to significantly strengthen bilateral, and with us, trilateral cooperation on deterring and defending against the North Korean threat," the White House said in a statement.


"The United States will continue to pursue efforts toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, including implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, in close coordination with our allies in the Asia Pacific," the statement said.


Defense Secretary Carter also hailed the pact, saying it will enable increased information sharing and strengthen cooperation between "our two closest allies" in Northeast Asia.


"By sharing appropriate security information, they will enhance their deterrence posture against North Korean aggression and strengthen their ability to defend against continued missile launches and nuclear tests, both of which are explicitly prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions," he said in a statement.


In 2012, Seoul and Tokyo were close to a deal on sharing military information, but the negotiations ultimately fell through due to negative public sentiment in South Korea about signing such a pact with its former colonial master. Korea was a colony of Japan from 1910 to 1945.


In an effort to get around the historical hurdle, the U.S. led efforts to conclude a trilateral military information-sharing agreement with South Korea and Japan, and the memorandum of understanding, signed in late 2014, enabled Seoul and Tokyo share intelligence via the U.S.


Despite the trilateral deal, U.S. officials have called for a bilateral pact between Seoul and Tokyo as they seek to bolster three-way security cooperation with the two allies as a counterbalance to China's rise. (Yonhap)


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Japan and Australia to soon enable SDF to supply ammunition to Australian forces.


Japan and Australia will seek to revise a bilateral pact to boost logistics cooperation between their forces, with a signing ceremony expected in late December when the two countries’ ministers meet for security talks, a Japanese government source said Saturday.


Through the revision of the Japan-Australia acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA), ammunition will be newly added among the supplies that Japan’s Self-Defense Forces will be able to provide to Australian forces in line with Japan’s new security legislation, which expanded the role of the SDF in various fields.


With uncertainties remaining on how U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will deal with security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan apparently hopes the reinforcement of bilateral ties with Australia will be beneficial for trilateral security cooperation involving the United States.


The Japan-Australia ACSA, which went into force in January 2013, enables SDF personnel and Australia’s military to share food, fuel and other supplies during U.N. peacekeeping operations, international relief operations, joint exercises and other occasions. The provision of weapons and ammunition has been excluded from the accord.


The move is part of a series of changes brought by the controversial security legislation, which came into force in March. Critics say it includes elements that erode the pacifist post-World War II Constitution.


The legislation allows Japan to provide ammunition to other countries’ forces that are responding to a situation deemed to have an “important influence on Japan’s peace and security.”


Japan and Australia plan to hold “two-plus-two” talks involving the two countries’ defense and foreign ministers in Tokyo around Dec. 20, when the signing of the amended ACSA is expected, the source said. The security talks have not been held since November last year.


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Duterte sounds like his stance on the drug crackdown remains unchanged.


There will be no letup in this campaign.

Double your efforts. Triple them if need be.

We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last drug pusher have surrendered or have been put behind bars.

Or below the ground, if they wish it.



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More on Keen Sword 17



161111-N-OI810-772 PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 11, 2016) U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force ships and aircraft, steam and fly in formation during Keen Sword 17 (KS17) including, USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Barry (DDG 52), JS Oumi (AOE 426), JS Ashigara (DDG 178), JS Akizuki (DD115), JS Kurama (DDH 144), JS Yamagiri (DD 152), USS Chancellorsville (DDG 62), USS Chicago (SSN 721) and JS Souryu (SS 501). KS17 is a biennial, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed, U.S. Pacific Command-sponsored Field Training Exercise (FTX). KS17 is designed to meet mutual defense objectives by increasing combat readiness and interoperability between Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and U.S. forces. The units are on patrol in the Philippine Sea supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)


First time B-1Bs participated in Keen Sword. Said to have conducted CAS together with F-2s.





And more pictures











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Love the look of both the Japanese Atago's and the South Korean Seejong-the-Great's - just beautiful looking shipa.



Hopefully, somehow, the relations between the two will warm up a bit, but it'll be awhile before then.

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An interesting background story on Duterte's core constituency and why they continue to support him.


He and Trump have a few more things in common than initially reported


AVAO CITY, Philippines (CNN)


Davao City, on the southern Philippines' island of Mindanao, is the stronghold of the country's outspoken, unrepentant President Rodrigo Duterte.


He served as the local mayor for seven terms. Even now, as President, he flies back and forth to Davao City, saying he prefers his own bed to sleeping in Manila's Malacanang Palace, the traditional home of Philippine leaders.
The President has captured the world's attention with his combative and at times vulgar comments. He told the EU they could f**k themselves and called US President Barack Obama a "son of a bitch."
Despite longstanding diplomatic, military and financial ties with the US, he's made clear his intention to realign his international allegiances, cozying up to China and Russia. This weekend, he met with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin before the APEC summit in Lima formally opened. He praised the latter for his "firm" character.
Domestically, he's waging a brutal war on drugs that's claimed thousands of lives and attracted heavy criticism from human rights groups for its use of deadly extrajudicial force.
But his neighbors are fiercely proud of their homegrown leader.
On Duterte's street in the middle class Dona Luisa Phase 1 subdivision, vendors sell T-shirts, mugs and magnets promoting the President's tough guy image.
Outside his house, tourists come to take photos with a life-size cut out. Houses along the street display Duterte portraits on their front gates.
CNN visited his neighborhood to find out how locals think their President is faring.
Anton Uy has high hopes for his country's president.
"I believe he can change the country," says this 16-year-old engineering student.


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US and Japan to have first joint memorial ceremony for the attack on Pearl Harbor.



HONOLULU – Japan and the United States will hold on Dec. 8 the first joint ceremony to remember those killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Consulate General in Honolulu has said.


The joint ceremony will be held the day after the U.S. Navy and the U.S. National Park Service hold a traditional memorial ceremony — attended by an estimated 4,000 people — to mark the 75th anniversary of the attack.


The subsequent Japan-U.S. joint ceremony, co-organized by the Japanese government and the U.S. Navy, is expected to be attended by about 80 people, the consulate general said Monday.


The joint ceremony will be held “to confirm the development of mutual reconciliation and understanding between Japan and the United States and renew our resolve to boost friendship as well as remember war victims on both sides,” Consul General Yuri Higashi said.


On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, prompting Washington to declare war on Japan. Some 2,400 Americans, including more than 1,100 crew members on the sunken battleship USS Arizona, were killed in the attack.



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Trump and Tsai had a chat on the phone.


In a stunning move likely to stoke anger in Beijing, Donald Trump on Friday became the first U.S. president or president-elect to speak directly with a leader of Taiwan since diplomatic ties were cut in 1979.


Trump spoke with Taiwanese President Tsai Ying-wen in a telephone call that threw into doubt the U.S. one-China policy, which recognized communist Beijing as the sole government of China 37 years ago.


Hours after Fridays call, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi blamed Taiwan for the conversation, calling it a trick of the Taiwanese side, state media reported.


The one-China principle is the cornerstone of Sino-U.S. relations and we dont want to see the political principle disrupted or damaged, Wang said.


Taiwan split from the Chinese mainland amid civil war in 1949. Beijing views the island as a recalcitrant province to be reunited, by force if necessary.


In a statement, the Trump transition team said the president-elect spoke with Tsai, who offered her congratulations.


During the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties exists between Taiwan and the United States. President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year.


Trump said in a tweet that the Taiwanese side had initiated the call, but a report by the Taipei Times ahead of the conversation said it had been arranged by his Taiwan-friendly campaign staff.


The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you! he wrote in a tweet.


About an hour later, Trump again tweeted, this time referencing Washingtons congressionally mandated arms deals with Taipei. Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call, he wrote.


Washingtons ties with the island are governed by 1979s Taiwan Relations Act, which states that it is the policy of the U.S. to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.


Trump campaign spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway told CNN that the president-elect is well aware of what U.S. policy has been on Taiwan, but it remained unclear if the call signaled a policy shift.


Any U.S. move that implied backing for independence would not be taken lightly by China, experts said.


While Washington cut formal ties with the island in 1979, it has maintained friendly, nonofficial relations with Taipei including weapons sales as part of its policy of deliberate ambiguity so as to maintain stability in cross-strait relations and deter a potential invasion from the mainland.


Taiwans presidential office issued a statement on its website early Saturday saying that Trump and Tsai had exchanged views on the situation in Asia and the future of U.S. relations with Taiwan. The (Taiwanese) president is looking forward to strengthening bilateral interactions and contacts as well as setting up closer cooperative relations, the statement said.


The president also told U.S. President-elect Trump that she hopes the U.S. will continue to support Taiwans efforts in having more opportunities to participate in and contribute to international affairs in the future, Tsais office said.


It said the two also shared ideas and concepts on promoting domestic economic development and strengthening national defense to improve the lives of ordinary people.


Tsai, of the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party, was elected in January and took office in May. The traditional policies of her party have strained relations with China.


This sets a very negative tone for Sino-U.S. ties because either Trump knows nothing about the complexity and nuance of Americas one-China policy or, worst still, he knows the sensitivity of this issue and nevertheless decides to go ahead with the call, said Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. This is perhaps the most important aspect of this whole incident.


But Dan Blumenthal, director of Asia studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said that Trumps conversation with Tsai was a moral and strategic choice that could help eliminate unwelcome surprises.


Trumps talk with Tsai was right on moral and strategic grounds, Blumenthal said.


On strategic grounds, it is important to have as many direct channels to Taiwan as we can, he said. Beijing and Taipei both benefit from enhanced communications as we seek stability across the strait. Japan benefits as well. One of the problems we have had in the past is a lack of communications with Taiwan at the highest levels. That only leads to unwelcome surprises.


The call was one of several Trump has made with world leaders since his election victory. Many reportedly were made without U.S. government guidance.


Until Thursday, State Department officials had said that Trump had not asked for official briefings on current policy from U.S. diplomats before making the calls.


On Friday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the outgoing U.S. administration has now helped with some foreign communications that the transition team has gone forward with. He referred questions to Trumps office for details and would not say whether the president-elect himself had requested any background briefings before making or taking any calls.


China was the target of much of Trumps fiery rhetoric during his election campaign, and Fridays revelation was likely to fuel fears that he is flouting diplomatic convention and making up foreign policy as he goes.


The call appears to be unprecedented, but everything he does is unprecedented, said Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank. Reportedly he has no official U.S. government guidance, briefings on these calls, so you end up with some amazing things being said.


Key advisers to the president-elect have indicated that Trump is likely to take a more muscular approach toward China than his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama, who has championed an economic and military pivot to Asia.


Trumps advisers have said that he plans to bolster the U.S. military in part in response to Chinas growing assertiveness in Asia. Details of his plans remain scant.


Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump is entitled to change policy but his approach is potentially dangerous.


Foreign policy consistency is a means, not an end, Murphy said on Twitter. Its not sacred. Thus, its Trumps right to shift policy, alliances, strategy.


However, he added: What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. Thats how wars start.


Glosserman echoed this sentiment, saying that to think that he has some geostrategic plan gives him too much credit.


I am pretty sure he doesnt know what the one-China principle means, how it is different from a one-China policy, which is U.S. policy, and why, Glosserman added.




39420 times is far higher than any other view count from other articles that I have seen on Taipeitimes. A typical high view count is something like 5,000-10,000 times.


President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was to have a telephone conversation with US president-elect Donald Trump yesterday, which would be the first time a Taiwanese president has spoken with a US president-elect since official diplomatic ties between the two nations were severed in 1979.


According to sources in Washington, Tsai was to congratulate Trump on his election win and to reiterate that Taiwan would continue to maintain a steady relationship with the US, as well as to express hopes for expanded Taiwan-US collaborations on the economy, politics and regional security.


Trump has triggered a sense of uncertainty over US policies regarding its stance in the Asia-Pacific region, saying after his election victory that Washington would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and asking US allies to increase their spending on defense.


During his election campaign, he also accused Taiwanese firms of stealing US job opportunities.

Trump reportedly agreed to the call, which was arranged by his Taiwan-friendly campaign staff after his aides briefed him on issues regarding Taiwan and the situation in the Taiwan Strait, sources said.


Since being elected, Trump has spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye.


International relations experts said that a communication channel was lacking between Taiwan and the US, and that bilateral communications had to be carried out through the American Institute in Taiwan, the US Department of State and the US National Security Council, which at times gave rise to poor communications for example, the friction between former president Chen Shui-bians (陳水扁) administration and that of former US president George W. Bush.


If the telephone conversation between Tsai and Trump could prompt the establishment of a direct communications channel between the two sides, misunderstandings would be reduced, thereby benefiting the relationship, experts said.


In related news, Stephen Yates, who was deputy security advisor to former US vice president Dick Cheney, is in Taiwan.


He is scheduled to meet with Tsai, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) and National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) before returning to the US tomorrow.


Yates was in charge of drafting this years Republican Party platform and is good friends with Reince Priebus, who was recently appointed Trumps White House chief of staff.


Washington sources said that Yates is to be appointed to a position in the White House after Trumps inauguration.


This story has been viewed 39420 times.


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Abe to visit Pearl Harbor during his Hawaii visit during Dec 26th and Dec 27th :)


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday night he will make a historic visit to Pearl Harbor — the first by a Japanese leader — to pay respects to the victims of Japan’s attack in World War II during a trip to meet with President Barack Obama in Hawaii on Dec. 26 and Dec. 27.


Abe said he is making the visit “to pay tribute” to military personnel from both sides of the Pacific who died in the war.


The attack on Dec. 7, 1941, triggered the United States’ entry into the war.


“This visit is to comfort the souls of the victims. We’d like to send messages about the importance of the reconciliation (of the two countries),” Abe told reporters.


He said he agreed with Obama to visit Pearl Harbor together when he held brief talks with him on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting in Lima last month.


He also said his last summit meeting with Obama will be a chance to reflect on his presidency and to confirm the importance of the bilateral relationship.


In a historic and emotional visit to Hiroshima in May — the first by a sitting U.S. president — Obama paid a moving tribute to atomic bombing victims, reaffirmed the U.S.-Japan security alliance and friendship between both nations and called for the elimination of nuclear weapons.


Obama did not, however, include an apology for the dropping of the atomic bomb in August 1945, which some in both Japan and abroad had sought.


In May, the Nikkei newspaper reported that Abe was considering a visit to Pearl Harbor in November in a symbolic gesture to cement the alliance.


At the time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government was not considering such a trip, but he added: “I don’t know about the future.”


The Nikkei report, an apparent government leak, may have been a trial balloon sent by Abe to test reactions in Japan and the U.S.


The White House had said it would welcome such a visit, but speaking at a joint news conference with Obama ahead of the Group of Seven summit held in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture, in May, Abe said there were no plans at that point.


The planned visit comes after Abe’s wife, Akie, made a surprise visit in August to Pearl Harbor, where she visited the USS Arizona Memorial, outside Honolulu. Her two-hour visit included offering a prayer and laying flowers.


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Alternative British plan: Allow China to have South China sea in exchange for help in containing Russia

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/08/west-china-russia-beijing-moscow “The way forward for the west? Help China and wave the rulebook at Russia”


"The west needs to look for ways in which, without compromising its own interests, it can allow China to have a role in global governance that matches the country’s growing economic weight. That may involve uncomfortable compromises on issues such as China’s claim to the South China Sea.

.....At present it is more urgent for western leaders to influence disruptive Russian behaviour than to try to constrain China’s growing strength."

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Osprey accident at Okinawa. 2 of 5 US crew injured, no death. Doesn't seem to have been a mechanical fault.




Tuesday’s crash involving a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft off Okinawa was most likely not the result of mechanical error, the top commander of the U.S. military in Japan told Defense Minister Tomomi Inada in a phone call on Wednesday, according to government officials.

Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces in Japan, talked to Inada after a MV-22 Osprey ditched 1 kilometer off the coast of Nago, in northern Okinawa Prefecture, around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. It was the first major accident involving the transport aircraft in Japan since it was deployed in the country in 2012.

The accident injured two of the five crew members on board. All were later rescued by the U.S. 33rd Rescue Squadron from Kadena Air Base and taken to a local U.S. naval hospital, the U.S. Marine Corps. said.

The aircraft involved in the accident was reportedly taking part in a nighttime refueling exercise with a KC-130 tanker aircraft. The Osprey’s rotor apparently severed a hose during the refueling attempt, forcing it to later ditch into the sea, the U.S. military reportedly told the Defense Ministry.

During the phone call with Inada, Martinez agreed to suspend flights of Osprey in Japan — a request made by the defense minister — until the cause of the accident is determined, ministry officials said.

Many Okinawan people have opposed the deployment of the Osprey in the prefecture, expressing concern over its safety record, particularly during its development stage. For its part, the U.S. military maintains that the accident rate for the Osprey is not particularly high compared with other military aircraft in its fleet.

A video clip aired by the public broadcaster NHK showed the crashed Osprey broken into several pieces, with the cockpit separated from the craft’s body.

According to Inada, U.S. officials said the pilot of the Osprey first thought of trying to return to the Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, in central Okinawa, but then decided instead to attempt to make it to Camp Schwab in Nago to avoid the densely populated Futenma area.

The accident immediately drew outcry from Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga and Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine.

Top Japanese government officials also responded quickly, apparently fearing the accident could further fan strong anti-military sentiment in Okinawa.

Inada met reporters around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Defense Ministry where she said Tokyo had requested the immediate suspension of Osprey flights in Okinawa. Later that morning, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked with reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office, saying the accident was “extremely regrettable.”

Abe has strongly pushed for the relocation of the U.S. Marine air station in Futenma to the less-populated area of Nago in the Henoko coastal area, which has sparked fierce protest campaigns by local residents who worry the U.S. military presence in the prefecture would be further strengthened.

On Dec. 22, the central government plans to hold a ceremony to mark the return of about 4,000 hectares of the 7,800-hectare Northern Training Area, the U.S.’s largest military facility in Okinawa.

Tokyo has touted the planned reversion as a symbol of its efforts to reduce the “burden” placed on Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of American forces in Japan, occupying as much as 18 percent of the main island of the prefecture.

But Tuesday’s accident could further fuel anti-U.S. military sentiment in the prefecture because one condition for the return of the land at the facility was that Japan build alternative helipads elsewhere on the island, which will also be used by Osprey aircraft.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday the ceremony will be held as scheduled, but Onaga has declined to attend.





About a week earlier, an F-18 on training in Japan had an accident, pilot ejected but did not make it, RIP.




WASHINGTON — U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C pilot Capt. Jake Frederick was killed Wednesday when his fighter jet crashed off the coast of Japan, his family confirmed Thursday.

Frederick, 32, was based with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa. He ejected from his aircraft at about 6:40 pm local time Wednesday. A fellow Hornet pilot that had been on the training flight remained above the site until it had to depart to refuel.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense confirmed to local media Thursday that a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship had recovered Frederick, and the Marines released a statement late Thursday saying that Frederick had not survived the crash.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the pilot," the Marine Corps said in a statement.

Frederick was a graduate of W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he met his wife, Kiley, his mother, Donna Frederick, said Thursday. The couple have a young son and a baby on the way, she said.

Donna Frederick said the Marines had been to her home to notify her.

Jake was “a beloved son,” Donna Frederick said. He loved waterskiing, snow skiing and tennis. “Flying was his dream,” she said. “He got to do that.”

Serving in the Marine Corps runs deep in the family. Donna Frederick's father was a Marine, and Jake Frederick’s brother, Joe Bob Frederick, is too. He flew the C-130J while on active duty. He is now in the Marine Corps Reserves and a flight instructor at Naval Air Station.



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Nobu A shrewd move by Ms. Tsai.


Depends if she provokes invasion or not.

It's kind of funny how China gets so upset about Taiwan. The Spanish and Dutch held Taiwan, then Formosa, in the 1600s, before Ming and Qing China took Formosa. To the Taiwanese, Qing China was just another empire that controlled them. Imperial Japan replaced the Qing, then the KMT replaced Imperial Japan. CCP China had a chance to incorporate Taiwan into China with the Pro-Beijing Ma administration from 2008-2016 during the peak economic lure of China's rise, but even with that, Taiwan still wants China kept at a distance more than before. Taiwan is actually not such a historically Chinese place to begin with, like how Tibet isn't either.

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All the legal steps are done. The SDF will now use weapons to protect the warships of the US or other close security related friendly countries during peacetime or in grey-zone situations. The guidelines became live the same day they were adopted.




TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government adopted guidelines on Thursday for new Self-Defense Forces operations that involve the use of weapons to guard U.S. and other foreign warships in peacetime and so-called gray-zone security situations that do not amount to armed attacks.

Such operations are based on Japan’s new security laws, enforced in March, that enable the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of an ally under attack, and expand the scope of overseas SDF activities.

The new operations “will strengthen the deterrent power and coping capacity of the Japan-U.S. alliance and better ensure the peace and security of Japan,” Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said at a press conference.

The government’s National Security Council adopted the guidelines. The move came after the government last month assigned new duties under the security laws to SDF troops on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, including rescuing aid workers and others. The guidelines allow the minimum necessary use of weapons to protect warships of the United States and other countries with close security ties with Japan.

The guidelines stipulate that based on a request from foreign military forces, the defense minister make a decision on whether to deploy the SDF to guard their warships.



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Depends if she provokes invasion or not.


Such provocations only increase the justification for a strong Japanese Navy, and increase Nationalist Chinese needs for a strong Japan as a counterweight.


Abe is fond of developing personal relationships with the heads of nations important to the Japanese national interest. Ms. Tsai's provocations may open the Taiwanese door for Abe in this regard as well.


Inada may end up becoming jealous of Ms. Tsai.

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Depends if she provokes invasion or not.


Such provocations only increase the justification for a strong Japanese Navy, and increase Nationalist Chinese needs for a strong Japan as a counterweight.


Abe is fond of developing personal relationships with the heads of nations important to the Japanese national interest. Ms. Tsai's provocations may open the Taiwanese door for Abe in this regard as well.


Inada may end up becoming jealous of Ms. Tsai.


That is so funny :D

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Some Okinawa base related stuff.


Ospreys resume operations after a short halt after the crash.



The US military has resumed operations of Osprey aircraft in southern Japan. Flights were suspended after one crash-landed last week in shallow waters off the coast of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.

An Osprey was seen taking off at the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station at around 2PM on Monday.

Earlier, the US military had informed the prefectural government of its plan to resume flights of its tilt-rotor transport plane.

Japan's Defense Ministry had requested the suspension of the aircraft's flights until safety is confirmed.






Challenge to the relocation plan of Futenma to Henoko lost at the Japanese supreme court.



The Supreme Court on Dec. 20 rejected an appeal from the Okinawa prefectural government to stop the central government’s plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the prefecture.

The rejection by the top court’s second petty bench finalized Okinawa's loss in the conflict to halt the relocation from densely populated Ginowan in the prefecture to the coastal Henoko district of Nago.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga’s predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima, approved the central government’s application for reclaiming the sea area off Henoko in December 2013. However, Onaga, who was elected in 2014 on a campaign pledge to oppose the relocation within the prefecture, nullified Nakaima’s approval in October 2015. Onaga wants the air station moved out of the prefecture.

The central government and the Okinawa prefectural government filed a total of three lawsuits against each other. In March this year, they reached a compromise.

Based on the articles described in the compromise, the central government instructed the prefectural government to retract nullification of the approval. However, Onaga did not comply with the instruction.

Because of that, the central government filed a lawsuit with the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court against Onaga, seeking confirmation that his rejection of the instruction is illegal.

In September, the branch accepted the central government’s assertions, saying, “It is illegal for Onaga not to withdraw the nullification of the approval.”

It also said, “In order to remove the dangers of Air Station Futenma, there are no other ways except for constructing a new facility in Henoko.”






4,000 hectors of Okinawa land used by the US military was returned to Japan, marking the largest land return since 1972.



The Japanese government on Thursday celebrated the return by the U.S. military of the largest tract of land on Okinawa in decades, coming at a time when the recent crash landing of a U.S. Marines Osprey aircraft off the island prefecture has rattled the nerves of locals.

Gov. Takeshi Onaga was absent from a celebration ceremony held in the southern island prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military bases in Japan, in the latest sign of strained ties between the Okinawa and central governments over disputes linked to the U.S. military presence, including the use of the controversial Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

The return involving around 4,000 hectares of forest, or roughly half of the land used for the Northern Training Area on the main island of Okinawa, is the biggest land transfer since the prefecture reverted to Japanese control in 1972 after being under U.S. occupation from the end of World War II.

During the ceremony held at a coastal resort in Nago, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Defense Ministry Tomomi Inada vowed to continue efforts to reduce Okinawa’s base-hosting burden. Inada reiterated that the Osprey accident was regrettable and said she had requested the United States to take preventive measures.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, who also attended the event, hailed the land return ceremony as a “milestone for the Japan-U.S. alliance,” while stating that “safety is always our number one priority.”

Japan and the United States agreed in 1996 on the land reversion in exchange for the construction of six new helipads in the retained portion of the training area.

But residents living close to the helipad sites have strongly opposed the plan and concern grew as it became obvious that Ospreys, which take off and land like helicopters but cruise like planes, will use the helipads for training.

With Thursday’s return, the area of land being used exclusively by the U.S. military in Okinawa has been reduced by about 17 percent, meaning the prefecture now hosts 70.6 percent of all U.S. military facilities in Japan, down from 74 percent, in terms of land area.

But Onaga said in a media interview that the latest development would “not change the situation much” regarding the excessive base-hosting burden imposed on Okinawa, which comprises less than 1 percent of Japan’s total land area.

Onaga, meanwhile, plans to attend a rally in Nago to protest the Dec. 13 accident involving a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft, which broke apart upon impact in shallow waters off the city.

Although no crew member was killed, the incident has reignited concern among the people of Okinawa over the risks they face in everyday life as they continue to host the bulk of U.S. military facilities in the country.

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a resolution Thursday expressing its opposition to the resumption of Osprey flights that began less than a week after the accident, even though safety concerns remain strong.

“One wrong move could have led to a disaster involving residents,” said the resolution, which also demanded the removal of the controversial aircraft as well as the U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa.

A total of 24 MV-22s, including the one that crash-landed, have been deployed at the Marines’ Air Station Futenma in a crowded residential area of Ginowan in Okinawa. The incident was the first major accident involving the aircraft since the start of their deployment in Japan in 2012.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have pursued the relocation of the Futenma base to the less populated Henoko coastal area of Nago, saying that the plan is “the only solution” to address noise problems and accident risks posed by the base without undermining the perceived deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. alliance.

But Onaga and many other Okinawans want the base to be relocated outside the prefecture. The disagreement between the central and prefectural governments developed into a legal battle, and on Tuesday the Supreme Court ruled against the governor’s attempt to block construction work in the coastal area.

The wrangling is likely to continue, however, with Onaga seeking to resort to other options to hamper the relocation work.





The area of the Northern Training Area can be seen in the upper part of the image. It's total area is about 7,500 hectors. So a little more than half of that is being returned.




Furthermore, while not reported on regular Japanese media, commentators on both the Japanese and US sides have been talking about China's involvement in propping up anti-base sentiment by using the openness to influence. And that also some of the people that go to anti-base demonstrations are not Japanese but are Chinese or Koreans, or other kinds of hippie sorts from Australia, etc and such. So while of course there is genuine Japanese anti-base sentiment on Okinawa for reasons like the rape crime committed by the base worker earlier this year, the anti-base sentiment is being inflated by outside sources.


An obvious point of artificial inflation is on the Osprey. Japanese commentators recognize and say that the accident rate of the Osprey is not anything unusually high compared to other aircraft and even point out the value of its longer range and higher speed compared to regular helicopters, so it is illogical how anti-base people jump on a band wagon against the Osprey.


Another point stated by anti-base people is the amount of land used by the US on Okinawa relative to other parts of Japan. First point against that is that in other parts of Japan, US personnel use SDF facilities such as Iwakuni or Misawa. And of course for the US Navy, land is not needed, but there is still a lot of US personnel needed for stationing US Navy ships at Yokosuka. So in terms of personnel, Okinawa host about 50% of all US personnel which total around 45,000. So the land area comparison argument is a little misleading. But one other point that is inescapable from Okinawa is it's strategic location so it is just a fact that people who live in Okinawa just have to accept as no one would be happier than China to see the US military pull out of Okinawa.

Edited by JasonJ
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Some interesting insight this morning before Christmas from Christopher Wood, formerly The Economist's Japan expert.


Bullish on China, India; Doubtful on the Philippines

The highly regarded analyst thinks emerging market stocks will outperform developed markets

Before he became the strategist for CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, Christopher Wood was the Tokyo bureau chief for the Economist and a writer of books. For 20 years, he’s produced the opinionated, richly detailed Greed & Fear newsletter, a weekly must-read for global investors interested in Asia and the remainder of the world. We checked in with Wood, a highly regarded analyst, to see why he has turned positive on China, what the incoming U.S. administration might mean for Asia, and why he contends that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was right to withdraw 86% of his nation’s money from circulation.

Barron's: You recently upgraded China to overweight from underweight. Why?

Wood: The most important reason is that Chinese producer-price inflation turned positive three months ago. We hadn’t had one positive PPI reading since early 2012. It has very good correlation with nominal gross domestic product in China. The PPI turned positive not just because of stronger demand, but also because we’ve had some evidence of what the Chinese call supply-side reform. The biggest evidence of discipline on the supply side this year has been in the coal sector. For 2017, we are mainly being told of a possible reduction of capacity in steel. The key issue is that supply-side reform continues next year. That creates a cyclical backdrop. The second point is that investment in the manufacturing sector looks like it is recovering.

There’s a bit of relief because the currency is weakening a bit. These companies have just been through several years of high real interest rates. The H shares in Hong Kong are cheaper than the ones in Shanghai, so I’m upgrading MSCI China, not Shanghai. We’ve seen trading volumes pick up in the last three months.

What about South Korea, whose president was just impeached?

She was doing a very good job—this is unnecessary noise. She tried to make [corporations] raise their payout ratios. She stimulated the domestic economy a few years ago by relaxing draconian measures like a maximum mortgage loan-to-value ratio of 40%. There is potential risk to Asia and production sources from proposed U.S. legislation that would tax imports. It is a risk to suppliers of companies like Apple. I am underweight on Korea and Taiwan, partly because of that law, which may not be passed.

You remain bullish on India, despite the Modi government’s decision to replace existing 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes with new notes.

It is my long-term favorite market in Asia. I’m much more overweight in India than China. This was an amazingly ballsy move. Normally, any currency reform happens in a crisis, and there was no crisis. It’s definitely going to hit growth in the next three to six months, and the rural economy more because the urban economy uses credit cards. Prime Minister Modi is intent on implementing his reform agenda. This is aimed at fat cats who have accumulated cash hoards to remain outside the taxed economy. The slowdown will last three to six months. Deposit growth will significantly increase, giving banks more room to pass on rate cuts to borrowers. It creates room to improve India’s chronic fiscal deficit. It will support the Indian currency and bond market and is also a longer-term positive for equities, particularly the domestic-demand stories, which have all been trashed. For people who can look beyond three months, those are the stocks to be buying: housing, finance, cement, property, autos, classic domestic demand. The one sector where it may drag out longer is residential property, particularly in smaller cities where black money cash is most widely deployed.

Edited by Nobu
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Governor Onaga withdraws his blocking action of the relocation plan. Henoko reclamation work for the new US Marine base to restart on either Tuesday or Wednesday.




NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga on Monday rescinded an action aimed at blocking the relocation of the Futenma air base within the prefecture, a step crucial to enabling the central government to resume construction work, sources close to the matter said.

Onaga’s decision follows his recent defeat in a lawsuit filed by the central government over the plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station from a crowded residential area in Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal area of Nago.

The Supreme Court ruled last Tuesday that Onaga’s revocation of approval for land reclamation work was illegal.

The approval, originally granted by Onaga’s predecessor as governor, is required to build the runways in the new base, and will take effect only after documents reach the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau, the sources said.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference that the central government is “making necessary preparations” to resume the reclamation-related work. The work, which has been suspended since earlier this year, may resume Tuesday or Wednesday, the sources said.

Suga said he will meet Onaga in Tokyo on Tuesday for talks on the draft budget for fiscal 2017 that was approved by the Cabinet last week, which includes funds to support Okinawa’s development.

Onaga’s predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima, approved the central government’s request for landfill work in the coastal area of Nago in 2013. But Onaga, who was elected in 2014 on a pledge to oppose the Futenma relocation within Okinawa, revoked the approval in October 2015.

Legal wrangling between the central and local governments ensued, and the relocation work in the Henoko coastal area was suspended in March. The dispute eventually led to last Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling against the governor’s move.

The standoff over the Futenma relocation is likely to continue, however, as Onaga has vowed to continue to do his utmost to thwart the project through other means.

Tensions between Okinawa and the central government have grown in recent years, with many of the prefecture’s 1.4 million residents resenting the burden of hosting the U.S. military. Even so, an independence movement has so far failed to gain momentum. A poll conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper in May 2015 found that two-thirds favored the status quo, while 21 percent said they wanted more self-determination as a Japanese region. Just over 8 percent said they were pro-independence.



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