Thursday, May 26, 2005

Japan "sloppy" diplomacy towards armed neighbors.

Japan, Russia still tread cautiously 100 years after
decisive sea battle while both navies acquire new
equipments. Japan with 54 destroyers is beyond its mission
of self defense. Enough to worry its ex foe.


Russia's Navy is set to acquire 10 to 20 new battleships
by 2015 that will set it back 5 to 10 billion rubles per
frigate, Biznes, a business daily, reported.

The keels of a new frigate and a new large amphibious
landing ship will be laid July 31 on Navy Day, said
Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, commander-in-chief of the
Russian Navy.

The new Mk 22350 multi-role and long-range frigate will
conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations, hitting
other naval targets. It will take three or four years
to complete one frigate, if this project gets regular

"Most likely, this project will feature engineering
solutions that were used to build Mk 11356 frigates for
the Indian Navy," Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy director
of the Center for Analyzing Strategies and Technologies,

"This is, in fact, a large destroyer that is called a
'frigate' for political reasons," Mikhail Barabanov,
scientific editor of Arms Exports magazine, said.

Experts have some misgivings about the July 31 deadline
because a contract is usually awarded after a tender,
but as of yet, no tender has been laid out.

According to the navy's Kuroyedov, the keel of a new
large amphibious-landing ship will be finished before
the year is out. That ship will displace 8,000 to 9,000

"The Russian Navy still has two amphibious landing ships
that are unfit for action," Barabanov said. "It will
take at least five billion rubles to build this ship."

If the tender is completed and the contract signed,
these will be the first new ships for the navy since the
year the Soviet Union collapsed, a navy source said.

"Not a single warship has been designed and built for
the Russian Navy since 1991," he said, adding that the
state has now started setting aside money.

The Russian military ship building industry's recovery
has positively influenced armed exports.

"Naval hardware sales will account for 50% of Russian
arms-export volumes, or more than $2.5 billion this
year," Rosoboronexport head Sergei Chemezov said."

Yet, celebrations of the battle of the Tsushima went on,


"One hundred years after Japan crushed Russia at sea and
cemented its role as a global military power, the two
countries are moving cautiously but without much hope to
resolve one of Japan's most protracted disputes.

Japanese military veterans voice open frustration that
little progress has been made to settle the row over
four islands seized by the Soviet Union in 1945 that has
prevented the two neighbors from formally ending World
War II.

But it was a much earlier anniversary that brought some
500 people, from veterans to officials and military
officers from the two countries, to a mass tea ceremony
in the naval port of Yokosuka at the mouth of Tokyo Bay.

The ceremony, a refined Japanese tradition to mark
momentous occasions, took place in front of the restored
Mikasa, the flagship vessel a century ago at the Battle
of Tsushima, known in Japan as the Sea of Japan Naval

In the battle, which broke out on May 27, 1905 in the
Tsushima Straits off the Korean Peninsula, Japan nearly
wiped out the Russian fleet in just two days, virtually
ending two years of war in one of the most total naval
victories in history.

The victory shocked Russia, which doubted it had a match
in the Asian nation that just 37 years earlier had
broken out of centuries of self-isolation.

Historians credit the victory with proving Japan's
independence in Western eyes -- but also planting the
seeds of its will to conquer Asia and ultimately suffer
defeat three decades later.

"We have come to a turning point this year," Kenjiro
Moji, counsellor of the Defense Agency, told the
ceremony Tuesday in front of a bronze statue of the
Mikasa's commander, Admiral Heihachiro Togo.

"We are commemorating not only the 100th anniversary of
Japan-Russia War but also the 150th anniversary of the
beginning of relations between Japan and Russia and the
60th anniversary of the end of World War II," said Moji.

"This year, we are to take a fresh step toward the next
half century," he said. "There is room for big progress
in our ties. Through this kind of ceremony, we hope the
Japan-Russia relations will further develop."

One sign of progress came in early May when Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi accepted President Vladimir
Putin's invitation and took part in ceremonies in Moscow
marking the end of World War II in Europe.

"It is necessary for the two countries to develop
relations at a time when we recall various historical
events this year," said Mikhail Galuzin, counsellor and
deputy head of the Russian embassy in Tokyo.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due in Tokyo
next week to discuss arrangements for a delayed visit to
Tokyo by Putin, Galuzin said on the deck of the Mikasa,
which is now open to visitors:

"I think his meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister
(Nobutaka) Machimura will be a very important one."

For Japan, ties with Russia are all the more important
now as Tokyo is desperately seeking a permanent seat on
the United Nations Security Council -- an ambition
opposed by China, which accuses Japan of not atoning for
its World War II atrocities.

But Japanese veterans doubt Japan and Russia can strike
a deal on this year of anniversaries. Japan has
demanded the return of all four Kuril islands just off
the coast of Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido.

"Japan's diplomacy is really sloppy now," said Sadao
Kawakatsu, 82, a former sub-lieutenant of Japan's
wartime navy.

"We are frustrated with the slow pace of talks," said
Kawakatsu, wearing a white navy cap.

"Grassroots cooperation is going well like the Japanese
saying, 'Yesterday's enemy is today's friend'," he said.
"But at the political level, disappointment has

Masayuki Takemiya, another 82-year-old former
sub-lieutenant, said: "The two governments should end
this abnormal situation -- Japan and Russia are still in
a state of war."

Takemiya added: "The two countries must move forward
step by step. But I doubt that Japan can settle the
issue and get the islands back from Russia in a short

Russia has suggested handing back two of the four
islands, which Moscow recognized as Japanese after the
1905 defeat. Soviet troops in 1945 evicted the
residents of the Kurils, known in Japan as the Northern
Territories, and replaced them with Russian settlers.

Foreign minister Machimura told a Japanese newspaper
last week: "If the two countries are to reach an
agreement, that would mean both would have to compromise
on something. Nothing will be born if we only act on
the basis of principles."

Koizumi, however, has refused anything but the return of
all four islands.

But Sen Genshitsu, the grand tea master who led the
intricate ceremony, has not given up hope.

"We must have these kinds of events more often so that
we can understand each other at the level of people"

"The important thing is heart-to-heart dialogue. If my
tea ceremony can help develop Japan-Russia relations,
I'm happy to lead the ceremony again and again."

End of quotes

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