Defending Japan

Offshore in a Dangerous Neighbourhood

Posts Tagged ‘Rising China

Wikileaks on Japanese-US-Australian intelligence cooperation

leave a comment »

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with President George W. Bush and Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney, September 8 2007
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with President George W. Bush
and Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney, September 8 2007
(Source: MOFA)
 
 

This one was a bit of a surprise earlier in the week, but it offers useful insight into what Japan’s poor data OPSEC has done to its reputation.

In 2006, as Japan and Australia were discussing what would become the March 2007 Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, Australia and the US discussed Japanese proposals of a greater intelligence exchange relationship on regional issues, including rising China, North Korea, and Iran.

This particular passage was deeply telling:

In a meeting with senior Japanese Foreign Ministry intelligence officials, [Randall Fort, head of the US State Department Intelligence and Research Bureau] urged his counterparts to tap the ”underutilised assets” represented by the global network of Japanese businesses.

”Japan, with its economic and diplomatic presence in countries like Iran, could draw on insights that would be of great interest to the United States,”

Japan had a ”unique opportunity” to collect intelligence inside Iran where the US had no embassy, he argued.

”Any diplomatic or intelligence reporting Japan received from Iran, no matter how seemingly mundane, would be extremely valuable to us.”

However, Japan’s poor control over its information security left the US and Australia cold (this was a time when the MSDF were losing data to Chinese honeytraps and computer file-sharers). Indeed, Japan’s lax security are often blamed for Chinese military developments by security otaku in Japan.

It is unclear to what extent this intelligence exchange grew and how well it survived Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (assuming it was his initiative – he showed interest in bilateral security exchanges and the beefing up of Japanese intelligence).

Written by James

2011/01/23 at 00:03

Weekend Update: Jan 16 2011

with 2 comments

#1: US-China arms race?

Gates and President Hu Jintao on Jan 11, 2011
Gates and President Hu Jintao on Jan 11, 2011
(Source: Global Post (Larry Downing/Getty Images))
 
 

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was in Beijing to discuss improving military ties between the US and China. On his arrival, the PLAAF tested their new J-20 fighter, apparently without telling President Hu Jintao.

The test signalled “the military’s opposition to Gates’s trip and to U.S. efforts to improve military connections between the countries,” according to John Pomfret at the Washington Post. This apparent disconnect between China’s military and civilian leaders is causing concern in the region.

To underscore the tension between the US and China, a Pew Research Center survey shows that “One-in-five Americans identify China when asked to name the country representing the greatest threat to the U.S., up from 11% in November 2009.” China tops this list of global threats, ahead of North Korea (18%) and Iran (12%), although only 22% of the population saw China as an adversary, as opposed to being a ‘serious problem’ (43%).

Gates flew to Tokyo from Beijing, leaving China with little to show: rejecting a “proposal by Gates to establish a US-China dialogue on strategic stability — in other words, on the future of nuclear weapons in Asia and mutual threat perceptions related to nuclear and missile defence capabilities.” It seems a waste of an opportunity to engage the US and their fears, and makes assurances that “China is opposed to hegemony and military expansion, and it will under no circumstances be part of or trigger an arms race,” all the less believable.

We can only hope that this is an attempt to keep the ball in China’s court ahead of Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington on Tuesday, where he will be given the chance to concrete his legacy.

For more information on Chinese-US relations and what to expect next week, check out the excellent articles below:

Building Cooperation in the US–China Military-to-Military Relationship by Michael Schiffer [IISS]
Hu Jintao’s State Visit: China and the Korean Peninsula by Victor Cha [CSIS]
A Conversation with Yang Jiechi [CFR]
Why US Keeps Hedging Over China
by Richard Weitz [The Diplomat]
Mr. Hu Goes to Washington by Chris Patten [Project Syndicate]
Hu Jintao’s Upcoming U.S. Visit by Bonnie S Glaser [CSIS]
The Hu-Obama Summit by Michael J Green [CSIS]
Dialogue or Disaster by Zhang Wei [Project Syndicate]
Good news and bad news about U.S.-China relations by Michael J Green [Shadow Government]
Clinton, Gates Come Down Hard on China by Nick Ottens [Atlantic Sentinel]

#2: Japan and South Korea come to an agreement on ACSA

Kitazawa and Kim Kwan-jin on Jan 10, 2011
Kitazawa and Kim Kwan-jin on Jan 10, 2011
(Source: Yonhap News)
 
 

On Monday, Jan 10, Defense Ministers Toshimi Kitazawa and Kim Kwan-jin agreed to pursue an eventual Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement between Japan and South Korea. They hope to finalise the ACSA by the end of the year, and it would allow for logistics sharing in joint operations (primarily UN peacekeeping operations). They also noted their mutual interest in a possible General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).

According to the Asahi, Japan is hoping to bring about better defense ties while President Lee Myung-bak is in office, clearly fearing a return to the antagonism of the previous president, Roh Moo-hyun.

Japan clearly has designs on formalised defence ties with South Korea, beyond being on the ends of mutual security agreements with the US, and so far so good. Japan has a stake in events on the Korean Peninsula, and it is hedging towards improved regional security. The only question is whether any agreements can withstand the shock of any contingencies around Takeshima/Dokdo or the opposition entering the Blue House once more.

The main opposition Democratic Party commented that “strengthening military cooperation with Japan without Japan’s sincere repentance for its war of aggression would go against the public sentiment here […] The discussions on military cooperation must stop immediately.”

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara followed up on Kitazawa’s visit on Saturday to discuss trade and security cooperation between the two states.

#3: Kan rearranges the furniture

Kan and his Cabinet on Jan 14, 2011
Kan and his Cabinet on Jan 14, 2011
(Source: Kantei Website)
 
 

On Friday, Jan 14, Prime Minister Naoto Kan tried to relieve pressure from the opposition by ditching Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku and Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Sumio Mabuchi. Without the support of the opposition, Kan would be unable to pass the ¥92.4 trillion budget.

In Kan’s third Cabinet reshuffle, Deputy CCS Yukio Edano replaced Sengoku, and Mabuchi was replaced by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akihiro Ohata. Four new ministers were brought in: Kansei Nakano replaces Tomiko Okazaki, chairwoman of the National Public Safety Commission; Satsuki Eda as Justice Minister; former Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii takes over as Deputy CCS; and controversially, Kaoru Yosano – former LDP fiscal heavyweight and founder of the breakaway Sunrise Party (Tachiagare Nihon).

News of Yosano’s appointment as Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy and Minister for Comprehensive Reform of Social Security and Tax is a sign that Kan is knuckling down on tax and social security reforms. The Yomiuri also noted that Edano’s promotion signals a further attempt to marginalise the embattled former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa.

The Cabinet shuffle leaves only one woman by Kan’s side: 43-year old Renho, also the youngest member of the Cabinet. Yosano, 72, is now the joint oldest member of the Cabinet (alongside Kitazawa) and he also has the unlikely portfolio of Social Affairs and Gender Equality (also replacing Tomiko Okazaki).

The reshuffle brought support for the Cabinet up to a hearty 32%, but there is already talk of what – or who – comes next. In the meantime, Kan has shown political courage in poaching Yosano, and demonstrated that he won’t back down – much like his wife already told us.

The Small Print

Opening the door for arms exports: Kyle Mizokami over at Japan Security Watch covered Japan’s current softening towards arms exports. The issue cropped up again during Gate’s visit to Tokyo on Friday. European defence companies are already banging at the doors.

China discussing stationing troops in North Korean ports?

South-North diplomatic hot-line up and running again in Korea

JCG plans to develop new high-performance 1,000-ton patrol boats this year

Prosecutors to drop the case against Senkaku footage leaker

Written by James

2011/01/16 at 22:00

Mid-Week Summary: Jan 5 2011

leave a comment »

Aearial view of Kadena Air Base on Okinawa
Aerial view of Kadena Air Base via Wikipedia

Japan, US agree to relocate F-15 training from Kadena to Guam

This is part of a large move relocating forces from Okinawa to Guam, but is only a minor victory for the Japanese government who remain unable to effect any larger move.

 

US drops AEGIS system software upgrade development collaboration with Japan

The US was unwilling to give Japan the right to approve US sales of the software, which could have included Taiwan. Japan’s strict interpretation of its arms export control laws have effectively banned arms exports except for collaboration with the US.

The export of technologies which are exclusively related to the design, production and use of “arms” as defined in paragraph 5 above (hereinafter referred to as the “military technologies”) is treated in the same manner as the export of “arms.” However, in order to ensure the effective operation of the Japan-United States security arrangements, the Government of Japan paved the way for the transfer of the military technologies to the United States as an exception to the Three Principles. [MOFA]

The US will continue development on its own.

 

Maehara hopes for dialogue with North Korea, abduction issue still holds precedence

With US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth in town, East Asia is talking about how they should engage North Korea. The North Korean abduction of Japanese citizens in the 1960s – 1980s has been a major sticking point both  bi-lateral working groups and the six-party framework more broadly. With North Korea adamant that the issue is resolved, Maehara seems a little too optimistic.

 

Strong hopes for bi-lateral meeting between ROK and Japanese Defense Minister

The media has been abuzz with talk of closer cooperation between Japan and South Korea in areas of security and defence. In a New Year’s interview, Maehara was mistakenly quoted – so he says – as saying, “I hope that Japan will form an alliance with South Korea also in the field of security”, but the optimism still stands.

During his visit next week, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa will propose that the two countries provide operational logistical support (Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement), hold more high-level defence meetings, and share intelligence on North Korea (General Security of Military Information Agreement). The Korean reaction, however, is more reserved.

Meanwhile, the US is prodding both sides of the virtual alliance to engage in tri-lateral exercises. Good luck with that.

 

Santa brings China some new toys: an aircraft carrier, a next-generation fighter, a diesel submarine and a land-based anti-ship ballistic missile.

The Shi Lang carrier, formerly Soviet Navy Varyag, might be launched in July. Although it most likely be used to train carrier pilots until China can produce its own carrier (ONI estimate: 2015). The Yuan-class submarine also surfaced for a few photos.

With news of the DF-21D anti-ship missile reaching initial operational capacity is sending shivers down the spines of China hawks. The land-based ballistic missile will give the PLA green-water area denial capabilities that would cause problems in the event of a cross-Straits crisis.

Finally, images of a J-20 fifth generation fighter taxiing has caused much skepticism and speculation among defence blogs, but all we know is that it’s big and can roll around an airfield.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Written by James

2011/01/05 at 22:00