Saturday, November 27, 2004

China testing Japan USA relations?

A rising China, North Korea's nuclear ambitions and the
setting of a new agenda for broader cooperation are
expected to test Japan-U.S. relations in the second term
of President George W Bush, according to U.S. experts.

"The reelection of Bush is good news for U.S.-Japan
relations because it really has been part of the most
effective alliance management in years," said Patrick
Cronin, senior vice president and director of studies at
the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Some of those key players may be changing, but you've
already forged at the very highest level, the prime
minister (Junichiro Koizumi) and the president, a very
special relationship, and that remains as long as the
prime minister is there," he said.

Cronin said the No. 1 diplomatic and security policy
issue in Bush's second term is the war on terrorism
which is "inseparable from success in Iraq." Bush is
expected to seek continued involvement of Japan in the
Iraqi issue.

"I'm sure Bush will not be letting Koizumi off the hook
because Japan's role is vital, has really been vital to
this solution as witnessed by the prime minister's
standing close by and having the donor's conference
recently and not giving in to terrorism, all of those
have been important," he said.

Japan has dispatched Self-Defense Forces troops to Iraq
for a reconstruction and humanitarian assistance
mission. Koizumi is expected to decide shortly to extend
the SDF deployment in Iraq beyond the Dec 14 deadline.

Cronin said a second set of diplomatic and security
issues in Bush's second term will go beyond the Middle
East and focus on Asia, including North Korea's nuclear
arms program and a rising China.

For Japan, the planned realignment of U.S. troops in
Japan will be the most immediate issue but there is "no
easy answer because it is so politically integrated into
the society," he said.

But Cronin said, "The U.S.-Japan relationship is so
good. I have no doubt that that will be a very serious
fruitful discussion between the United States and
Japanese governments."

Balbina Hwang, policy analyst on Northeast Asia at the
Heritage Foundation, also said Japan-U.S. relations in
the last four years have been a "resounding success."

But she said there is a need for the two countries to
establish a set of long-term objectives for their
alliance that take into consideration the security
environment after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks
and possible strategic shifts in Asia, such as the
collapse of North Korea.

"Although Japan's military and financial contributions
to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are
significant and important, the two countries have not
developed a clear definition of their regional
alliance's role in extra-regional conflicts," Hwang

"Moreover, less immediate issues, such as how the
alliance should address China's rise as a regional
power, have been pushed to the background by more
immediate threats such as North Korea," she said.

Japan can begin to set long-term objectives by
revisiting its 1997 Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense
Cooperation and specifying security threats and
interests beyond the current loose application of the
"defense of Japan as well as areas surrounding Japan,"
Hwang said.

"Japan's security commitments have already expanded
beyond the strict parameters of previous security
frameworks and should be rearticulated to reflect
current needs and threats, especially the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction, antiterrorist
activities, and peacekeeping and reconstruction
efforts," she said.

But such efforts by Japan to rethink bilateral security
cooperation will certainly face a controversial issue —
whether to revise the war-renouncing Article 9 of the
Constitution and lift the ban on the use of the right of
collective self-defense.

The Japanese government interprets that to mean that
under international law Japan has the right to
collective self-defense — which involves coming to the
military aid of allies under attack — but that the
Constitution forbids the exercise of that right.

While stressing no foreigner has any business telling
Japan what it should do on the constitutional revision
issue, Hwang said she hopes there will be a "vigorous
public debate" in Japan.

"When they do that, I think they will discover that the
artificial restriction that has been placed through this
very odd interpretation of Article 9, probably no longer
serves the Japanese people in their own self-defense,
given the very changed security environment," she said.

Kent Calder, director of the Reischauer Center for East
Asian Studies at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, said
the agenda for the Japan-U.S. alliance has been "far too
narrow" due mainly to the U.S. focus on Iraq.

"The United States should be contributing more actively
on the economy, environmental and the energy-policy
agendas," he said. "There should also be more priority
on cultural relations."

Calder said Japan needs to consider how to keep its
influence in Washington amid growing U.S. attention to
Chinese affairs.

A "bypass" phenomenon is "growing more serious within
the U.S.-Japan-China triangle, despite the strong
Bush-Koizumi relationship at the top," Calder said.

"I think the most serious issue is how influential Japan
will be in Washington relative to China, especially on
soft-security issues like energy," he said.

Calder said Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's
departure from the Bush administration may adversely
affect Japan-U.S. relations. Armitage, known as a strong
supporter of the Japan-U.S. alliance, has offered his
resignation along with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"Bush and Koizumi will likely continue to be close but
much will depend on the ambassadors and the middle-range
officials," he said.

"Those networks could hardly be better than they are
now," he said. "It would be hard to replace a senior,
highly strategic official such as Armitage. Other Japan
specialists simply lack his seniority and consequent

Calder, meanwhile, said Japan does not necessarily need
to remove all its constraints on military activity.

"Japan has a comparative advantage in peaceful
interchange with other nations, especially in Asia,
whereas the United States has a comparative advantage in
the military sphere," he said.

"Some constraints help to preserve this basic division
of labor within the U.S.-Japan alliance, which has
proved functional for more than half a century," Calder

"They also have inhibited arms races within Asia,
including those with China," he said. "They have also
made it easier for Japanese to support the U.S. presence
in Japan financially, since Japan has not had extensive
military expenditures offshore, due to the constraints."
by Yoichi Kosukegawa.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Japan Mitsubishi to build its own Patriot PAC 3 for the 2008 anti-missile shield

The United States has agreed in principle to Japan's
licensed production of US-developed surface-to-air
missiles which will become the core of a joint missile
defence system.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., the top Japanese
defence contractor, is expected to start building
Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missiles on
license from US Lockheed Martin Corp. in the year to
March 2006, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.

The PAC-3 is a US army surface-to-air guided missile
capable of intercepting missiles including North Korea's
Rodong, which has a range of about 1,300 kilometers (810

Japan plans to deploy in the year to March 2008 an
anti-missile shield consisting of the land-based PAC-3
as well as the seaborne Standard Missile 3 (SM-3).

SM-3s intercept ballistic missiles when they reach their
highest point outside of the atmosphere and PAC-3
missiles are used to destroy missiles that evade SM-3

Japan and the United States have been engaged in joint
technological research on a missile defence system since
1999, a year after North Korea fired a suspected
ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific.

The Tokyo government has asked Washington to allow a
Japanese firm to build the PAC-3 to help the Japanese
defence industry maintain its manufacturing technology,
the leading business daily said.

Relying totally on imports for PAC-3 missiles would have
resulted in substantial losses for the Japanese defence

The licensed production will enhance technological
cooperation between the US and Japanese defence
industries and help Japanese contractors maintain and
boost their technological levels.

The two countries are also negotiating on joint
development of a next-generation system to replace the
SM-3, it added.

Tokyo is expected to map out by the end of the year a
new defense policy that advocates more investment in
anti-missile and anti-terrorism resources and less
spending on tanks, ships and other conventional

The two governments are expected to sign an official
agreement on the licensed PAC-3 production early in

In the initial year of deployment, Japan may have to buy
PAC-3 missles produced by Lockeed but Mitsubishi is
expected to replace the major US defence contractor in
supplying the missiles afterwards. Officials at the
Defence Agency or Mitsubishi were not immediately
available to comment on the report.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Was ITER linked to the Iraq debt by France?

Manipulation or not? Was ITER linked by Paris to the Iraq
debt in a bargain proposed to Washington earlier this

Here is what we were told by an official in Tokyo:

Paris is said to have proposed a deal to the US Bush
administration early this year to win Iter in France in
exchange of a major cancellation of the Iraqi debt that
was talked these last days at the Club de Paris.

Here is what I received last week from one source
(source linked to security and anti proliferation)
quoting a US official.


"The original american source of this information about
ITER and Iraqi debt reduction is a senior official of
the NSC of the Bush administration who has been involved
in this issue.

I am terribly sorry but I cannot give you the name. I
heard about this story first in late March 2004, and
then, in late August 2004.

From what I heard from this official, the French
government made a proposal to the Bush administration
(sometime earlier this year, I think) that the French
government would help Iraq debt reduction if the US
supported the position of France, instead of Japan, to
locate the experiment facility in France.

As you may recall, the US government was desparate, from
last year end through the former part of this year to
get other countries' support for Iraq debt reduction,
while France government was very much eager to push ITER
location in France."

End of quotes.

Later on, a Japanese official I asked his reaction
commented: "I have no information neither confirming it
or denying it. As far as I know, Japan's stance on ITER
has not changed."

No information, confirmation and no...denial?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Nakasone Yasuhiro: "At long last, Japan is on the path to becoming normal"

Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone reiterated his
support for amending Japan's Constitution before a U.S.
audience, saying Japan is on the path to becoming a
"normal" country as the Liberal Democratic Party has
started drafting the outlines of a new Constitution.

"At long last, Japan is on the path to becoming normal
with constitutional revision on the political agenda in
a couple of years," Nakasone told scholars, experts and
reporters at the John Hopkins University Paul H Nitze
School of Advanced International Studies. More Japanese
are supporting revision of the Constitution because
Japan wants to deal with future matters "from an
independent perspective, autonomous from the influence
of the United States."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Japan USA towards global role, Japan defense chief says

"The Japan-U.S. relationship is evolving into a global
one," Ono said in summing up his meetings Friday with
Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Ono said he told Rumsfeld that Japan is working to
review its arms export ban toward easing it "from the
standpoint of effective implementation of the Japan-U.S.
security alliance," and to upgrade the SDF's
international cooperation.

Rumsfeld described these processes as moving in a good
direction, Ono said.

With Japan and the U.S. expected to bring their current
joint research of a ballistic missile defense system
into the development and production stage, Japan is
acting to ease its ban on exporting weapons. Currently
the only exception to the ban is technology transfers to
the U.S.

As for the global U.S. military realignment, Ono said he
and Rumsfeld agreed that the security situation in Asia
remains tougher than in Europe. Ono said the U.S.
defense chief acknowledged that less troops will be
withdrawn from Asia than Europe among the 70,000 troops
Washington plans to reduce abroad.