Saturday, July 24, 2010

Asia Inflamed by Naval War Games





"North Korea warns of "physical response" against South-US navy drills in Asian seas. United States Secretary Hillary Clinton said North Korea must reverse a "campaign of provocative, dangerous behavior" and commit itself to an irreversible denuclearization if it wants to improve relations with neighboring countries and the United States. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said countries should bear in mind the overall situation and interests when dealing with sensitive regional issues, and always safeguard the regional peace and stability."

The war games, which begin on Sunday, involve the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, 20 other ships and submarines, 100 aircraft and 8,000 personnel. China has criticized the plans and warned against any action which might "exacerbate regional tensions". But Japan is sending four military observers, in an apparent endorsement of the drills.





North Korea says it will use its "nuclear deterrent" in response to joint US-South Korean military exercises this weekend. Pyongyang was ready to launch a "retaliatory sacred war", according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency KINA. The North had already promised a physical response to the military exercises during an Asian regional security forum in Vietnam. North Korea's delegation spokesman at the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum (ARF) said the exercises were an example of 19th century "gunboat diplomacy".

VDO on DPRK threats

video
Click the arrow to watch the report


Japan will send Self-Defense Forces observers to a joint military drill to be staged next week by the United States and South Korea in an effort to deter future aggression by the North (according to Japan Defense Ministry quoted by agencies)

The decision by the government came in response to a formal invitation from the United States and South Korea. North Korea, which is blamed for the death of 46 sailors in the March sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea, has urged the joint exercise be canceled. The sources also said Tokyo has judged that sending SDF staff as observers would not violate the Constitution, which the government interprets as prohibiting the country from exercising the right to collective self-defense, or the right to counter an attack on an ally.

Some 20 vessels, 200 aircraft and 8,000 U.S. and South Korean service members will take part in the exercise, scheduled from tomorrow Sunday until Wednesday and coming as the first in a series of joint drills between the two countries that will continue in the coming months.

China warned the United States and South Korea Thursday against holding the war games near its waters, urging them not to worsen tensions with its ally North Korea. "China has expressed its serious concerns with the relevant parties," said foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang in Beijing. "We are firmly opposed to foreign military vessels engaging in activities that undermine China's security interests in the Yellow Sea or waters close to China."

VDO China reaction

video
Click the arrow to watch the TV report


China started an artillery drill in the East China Sea. The 6-day, live ammunition exercise since Wednesday in the East China Sea off China’s coast and this demonstration of forces is seen by some analysts as a "response to a joint exercise between the United States and Republic of Korea navies in the Yellow Sea." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said there was no such link and a Chinese military officer said the timing was coincidental.


"This is a regular military exercise, not related to the situation on the Korean Peninsula."


"Though the Chinese government did not say anything about the drill, anybody with common sense on military strategy will bet that they are related," expert on China-U.S. relations, Shi Yinhong of Renmin University in Beijing, told the China Daily.

Joint US-ROK naval exercises, designed to build on UN condemnation with a massive show of united force and resolve, have instead turned into an embarrassing fizzle. Quotes:

"Initial plans for the exercises targeted the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean Peninsula and promised the intimidating presence of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. The reports aroused a barrage of official criticism and popular anger inside China. In response, the expected location began to drift eastward, first toward the south of the peninsula and now into the oceans between the east coast of Korea and Japan. The most recent report is that the US will, with Solomonic wisdom, split the difference in a dual-sea exercise, with the George Washington and three destroyers in the east and a face-saving smaller exercise in the west.

China, which as recently as two weeks ago looked to be facing an intransigent united front of the US, South Korea and Japan, received an unexpected gift thanks to this American muddling: an alliance showing distinct signs of dismay, demoralization and division.

South Korea, which for a time expected to ride the Cheonan crisis to a heightened global profile and recognition as the key US security partner in Asia - and be in a position to leverage Western support in the event of a North Korean security crisis triggered by Kim Jong-il's death, instead found itself shunted to the side as the two superpowers, China and the United States, once again dispose of the affairs of the Korean Peninsula between them."

On July 20, in a piece entitled, "This Country Needs True Independence", [Korean newspaper] the Chosun Ilbo columnist wrote. Quotes:

"Seoul has had little say in the negotiations between Washington and Beijing. The 1950-53 Korean War was in fact a war between the US and China. The South relied on the US from the moment of the invasion, and the North soon depended on China. The commander of the Chinese forces is said to have told Kim Il-sung, "This is a war between me and MacArthur." Observing the centenary of the country's colonization by Japan and the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, we boast that our country has become the 15th largest economy in the world, but where security is concerned things are little different than they were 100 or 60 years ago. The North is unable to exist without China, and the South too seems to rely on the US to prevent a war. In a sense, they are protected by America and China." (end of Chosun Ilbo quotes)


Futenma air base, Okinawa


Sources: Western Agencies, Chosun Ilbo, Xinhua, Asiatimes, Global Security, JMOD, Reporters' notes,


✍✍✍ Time to return to the six-party talks and implement the denuclearization program... right?


Friday, July 23, 2010

New Japanese Naval Forces




Hyuga class helicopter carrier


Japan started years ago to face contingencies and participate to international security missions, the DDH-161 Hyuga "13,500 ton" ton Class helicopter-carrying destroyer, similar in design to a small aircraft carrier, provides the Maritime Self-Defence Force with greater capability for force projection.

The Hyuga class helicopter carrier is named after the Imperial Japanese Navy Ise class battleship Hyuga. At least two ships of this class are planned. Construction of the first ship was started in 2006 and was commissioned in 2009. The second ship is expected to enter service in 2011. This class will provide the Maritime Self-Defense Force materials of a new generation, adaptable to variable threats in Asian regional seas. Also future technology and construction development project would associate Japanese shipbuilders and western firms, informed sources said.

The Hyuga class warships are the largest combatant ships, operated by JMSDF and built since the World War II. The Hyuga class ships are called as helicopter destroyers in Japan, for political reasons. It is against constitution to operate what is referred as offensive weapons and exceeds necessary level of self-defense. The helicopter destroyer classification is not correct, as these ships are significantly larger than destroyers, have a full-length flight deck and relatively large air wing. Currently these warships are not capable of operating fixed-wing aircraft, as they lack a ski-jump bow and other equipment. Nevertheless they needs only little modification and may be outfitted with V/STOL aircraft in the future.

The Hyuga helicopter carrier is armed with a single 16-cell Mk.41 vertical launch system with a mix of ESSM surface-to-air missiles and ASROC anti-submarine missiles. Several missiles can be guided simultaneously to various incoming threats. Other weapons include two Phalanx CIWS for self-defense and two triple 324-mm torpedo tubes. The Hyuga class has no provision for amphibious assault, however it is clear that these ships could carry far more that 350 naval crew

For the time being, it is a matter of international assistance and monitoring with destroyers currently dispatched in the West of Indian ocean, as announced on Asian Gazette, the Japanese defense minister today Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said that his ministry is considering allowing Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to be deployed off Somalia to refuel foreign ships engaged in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

"We are examining various options for international contributions by the Self-Defense Forces, including U.N. peacekeeping operations," Kitazawa told a press conference. "(The refueling mission) is among them."

While declining to comment on whether the government will submit a bill for the refueling mission to an extraordinary Diet session this fall, Kitazawa said, "It would be quite hasty to give up on any important international contributions," just because of possible gridlock in the so-called divided Diet, in which the opposition bloc controls the upper house. Kitazawa indicated that he would seek the support of opposition parties if the government does decide to submit such legislation to the Diet.


✍✍✍ France and Russia "Mistral" agreement

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday he was "certain" France would build two Mistral class helicopter carriers for Russia. Russia hopes to buy four Mistral class warships to modernise hardware that was exposed as outdated during its war against Georgia in 2008. France has said it is willing to sell the ship, but talks have got bogged down over technology sharing. "We will build with our Russian friends the two Mistral," Sarkozy told workers at a shipyard in Western France. "The contract is still in negotiations, but the decision is taken ... it's certain."

Indeed... "The Mistral and Tonnerre BPC (bâtiment de projection et de commandement) ships, are the French Navy's new 21,300t amphibious assault, command and power projection ships. The ships have been built by DCNS in partnership with Thales and Chantiers de l'Atlantique. Each ship has the payload capacity and versatility to carry up to 16 heavy helicopters and one-third of a mechanised regiment, plus two LCAC hovercraft or up to four landing craft.
naval-technology.com





Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Name: Kim Hyon-Hui. Profession: North Korean Spy

"The feeble-looking man and his daughter sat
quietly on a bench outside the airport
immigration office in Bahrain. Despite their
apparent calm, they were the center of an
international storm..."

The Mystery of Flight 858, published in Time,
1987
But first, about Kim's arrival in Tokyo today.

Kim Hyon Hui, a former North Korean spy convicted
of the 1987 bombing of a Korean Air jetliner
arrived at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Tuesday
early morning . She is to meet the families of
Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean
agents.***

VDO

video

Click the arrow to watch the arrival of Kim
Hyon-Hui filmed by local TVs' with Kim driven to
the mountain resort of Karuizawa in central
Nagano prefecture to a summer house owned by
former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Local news reports quotes by the Korea Times said
that Kim received 20-30 million yen (280-420
million won) from the Japanese government in
return for her visit to Japan.

"The former spy is still a controversial figure,
whom critics accuse of playing up her beauty and
image as a victim of North Korea's communist
regime in exchange for a pardon from the death
sentence." (Quotes of the KT)

After arriving at Tokyo's Haneda airport on a
government - chartered flight from South Korea,
she was taken by car to a cottage in Karuizawa, a
summer retreat in Nagano Prefecture, where she
will stay. Japanese police have kept Kim heavily
guarded and her itinerary secret at the request
of the South Korean government due to security
concerns.

During her stay in Japan until Friday, Kim who is
now 46, will meet the parents of Japanese
abductee Megumi Yokota and the family of another
abductee Yaeko Taguchi, and her 33 year old son
Koichiro Iizuka and plan to ask her during their
second meeting what she knows about Japanese
abductees.

While families of the abduction victims expect
that Kim will yield fresh information about them,
criticism has grown that the Japanese government
is merely trying to gloss over its failure to
make a break - through in the long-standing
problem by bringing her to Japan.

College hired

According to her autobiography and other sources,
Kim, who was born the daughter of a North Korean
diplomat, was chosen as an agent while studying
at college and was taught Japanese language and
culture by Yaeko Taguchi in the early 1980s.

After bombing the KAL plane and killing all 115
people on board, Kim was apprehended in Bahrain
and sent to South Korea, where she was sentenced
to death in 1989. But she was freed later under a
presidential pardon. She married in South Korea
and has two children. She met with Taguchi's
33-year-old son Koichiro in March last year in
Pusan, South Korea, while telling Japanese
government officials since May last year that she
had met with Megumi Yokota during training prior
to the bombing. Yokota was kidnapped by North
Korean agents in 1977 at age 13 on her way home
from school in Niigata Prefecture. Pyongyang said
she died in North Korea, but her family does not
believe the claim.

Kim's visit to Japan came after Yokota's parents,
Shigeru, 77, and Sakie, 74 said they wanted to
meet face-to-face to hear about their daughter.
Hiroshi Nakai, Japan's state minister in charge
of the abduction issue, has played a leading role
in arranging Kim's visit, and Justice Minister
Keiko Chiba issued a special permit for her to
enter Japan, despite the Japanese immigration law
denying entry to foreign nationals sentenced to
one year or more in jail.

The chartered airplane arrived at the Haneda
airport shortly before 4 a.m. before the start of
ordinary flights, and Kim, with a white jacket
and sunglasses, got into a car, guarded by some
10 officials who put up umbrellas in order
apparently to hide her from cameras.

North Korea in 2001 admitted to 13 abductions of
Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 80s. It
allowed five victims to return home but said
eight more had died, a claim Japan has rejected.
Japan insists North Korea is still hiding
survivors and has abducted more people than it
admits, in a dispute that has proved a stumbling
block in talks to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons
program. "Critics have questioned rationales for
granting the convicted terrorist special
permission to visit Japan, when she is not likely
to possess significant information about the
kidnapping of Japanese nationals," according to
press agencies speculations.

Kim (here in the 90's) criticized the South
Korean media in 2009 for revealing her
whereabouts along with telling the Japanese media
that one of their abducted citizens may be alive
in North Korea. Played by intelligence, Japanese
media are to repeat the same mistake?



The alleged story of DPRK agent Kim Hyon-Hui

Former North Korean operative born in 1962, in
Kaesong, involved in the Korean Air Flight 858
bombing in 1987.

Korean Air Flight 858 was a Boeing 707 3B5C en
route from Baghdad International Airport to Gimpo
International Airport on 29 November 1987. Two
North Korean agents left a bomb in the passenger
cabin before leaving the plane in a stopover at
Abu Dhabi International Airport. The aircraft
exploded over the Andaman Sea. Subsequent
investigation and testimony by one of the
perpetrators implicated Kim Jong-il, the son of
"North Korea's Eternal President Kim Il-sung", in
the plot.

Korean Air Flight 858 was en route from Abu Dhabi
to Bangkok on 29 November 1987 when it exploded
over the Andaman Sea, killing all 115 on board.
Two North Korean agents had boarded the plane in
Baghdad and departed during its stopover in Abu
Dhabi having left a time bomb in an overhead
compartment. The agents were arrested when they
attempted to leave Bahrain using fake Japanese
passports, and both immediately swallowed cyanide
capsules. The male, later identified as
70-year-old Kim Sung Il, died almost instantly,
but the female suspect, 26 year old Kim Hyon Hui,
survived.

According to testimony at a United Nations
Security Council meeting, on 15 December 1987 Kim
Hyon Hui was transferred to Seoul where she
recovered from the poison and, after seeing life
in South Korea on television, said that she had
been "exploited as a tool for North Korean
terrorist activities", and made a detailed and
voluntary confession outlining her travels under
the guidance of North Korean agents from
Pyongyang via Moscow, Budapest, Vienna, Belgrade,
and eventually to Baghdad where the bomb was
primed. The escape route was to be from Abu Dhabi
via Amman to Rome but was diverted to Bahrain due
to visa complications.

In January 1988, Kim announced at a press
conference held by the Agency for National
Security Planning, the South Korean secret
services agency, that both she and her partner
were North Korean operatives. She said that they
had left a radio containing 350 grams of C 4
explosive and a liquor bottle containing
approximately 700 ml of PLX explosive in an
overhead rack in the passenger cabin of the
aircraft.

Kim expressed remorse at her actions and asked
for the forgiveness of the families of those who
had died. She also said that the order for the
bombing had been "personally penned" by Kim
Jong-il, the son of North Korean President Kim Il
Sung, who had wanted to destabilize the South
Korean government, disrupt upcoming elections and
frighten teams from attending the Seoul Olympics.
An article written by Peter Maass for The
Washington Post and dated 15 January 1988 states
that it was unknown whether Kim was coerced in
her remarks or was motivated by remorse for her
actions.

Aftermath In 1993, William Morrow & Co published
"The Tears of My Soul", Kim Hyon Hui's account of
how she was trained as a North Korean espionage
agent and carried out the bombing of KAL flight
858. In a gesture of contrition for her crime,
she donated all of the proceeds from this book to
the families of the victims of flight 858.

*** Related to Asian Gazette paper on "New Naicho
chief: Japan's changing face of Intelligence"
July 9th

Sources:

Agencies, TV Asahi, Time, Wikipedia, Hee
Kim Hyun (1993) " The Tears of My Soul", "She
sabotaged plane on orders of Kim Jong-Il" The
Reporter's notes

Comments:

✍✍✍ How awful situation for the parents
of Miss Yokota!

✍✍✍ Some people in Bangkok, Thailand
have had excellent knowledge of what
happened in the KAL bombing. North
Korean agents used to gather in a
Korean (North) restaurant in the
Sukhumvit area prior to November 1987.
Might have happened at that time that
terrorists gathered there for coordination
and were monitored by security agencies
according to well informed sources.