Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Hysterical" Arms Race in East Asia

Odd prologue to ASEAN, G20, and APEC Summits!
East Asia on the radar screen of 'weapons dealers'

While a U.S. reconnaissance satellite has detected signs of North Korea preparing for a nuclear test in North Hamgyong Province, according to the Chosun Ilbo of today, a test that could be held where it had conducted two earlier tests in October 2006 and May 2009, in Tokyo the Japan's defense ministry has decided to increase the number of its submarines, a decision to be introduced by the end of this year and to be included in Japan's new "National Defense Program Outline."

In the meantime, the Russian agency RIA Novosti wrote October 20th that North Korea "is in favor of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and is ready to abide by the agreements reached at the 2005 six-party talks in Beijing" and quotes Pyongyang's acting Charge d'Affaires in Russia, O Seung-Ho. Ria Novosti recalls that North Korea pulled out of talks with Russia, Japan, China, the United States and South Korea over its nuclear program last April after the United Nations condemned the communist state's missile tests.

Gone with the Wind: the East Asian economic integration?

Since the recent Senkoku Daioyu territorial disputes, the tension increased. More oil on the fire when China declared to be shocked by Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara's comments about its reactions following Japan's detention of a Chinese trawler last month, China urging Japan to take concrete actions to repair ties. Chinese spokesman Ma's comments came after Maehara on Monday said China's countermeasures in September following Japan's detention of a Chinese trawler captain near the East China Sea were "hysterical."

The Defense Ministry plans to increase the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s submarines to 22 units from the current 16 as part of Japan’s basic defense program for fiscal 2011 to 2015 "amid increasing naval activity by China in waters near Japan ministry and MSDF officials".

Japan defense ministry want to reinforce its vigilance capacity in nearby waters, especially the East China Sea. In the past, Japan had no more than 20 submarines since the government adopted its first defense program in 1976. Mr Kan increases the divide between Japan and China observers said while China Navy has 58 submarines in active service, 2 in reserve.

The current Japan defense policy guidelines, adopted by the cabinet in December 2004, notes that "attention must be paid to developments such as moves by China, a key influence on the region’s security, pushing forward with modernizing its navy and air forces and trying to expand the scope of its naval activities." Meanwhile, Japan's defense ministry is studying the reduction of minesweepers to address budget restriction.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine force currently has two groups. The 1st group based in Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture, the 2nd group based in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Japanese Ministry of Defense made this decision because it is said that the Chinese Navy submarine fleet offensive capabilities improved.

"Foreign Minister Maehara's description of Chinese action as excessive is close to the mark, but misses the point. Chinese are likely to arrest Japanese fishing crews, as they have done to Vietnamese fishing crews, and require Japan to apologize. China is expanding its exercise of the rights of the sovereign in all disputed maritime areas", according to defense foreign observers.

According to media speculation: "With a tight diplomatic schedule ahead, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considering skipping next month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Japan, according to U.S. and Japanese government sources." The Nikkei writes today.

Sources : Kyodo, Chosun Ilbo, agencies, Heritage report

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