Japan - China

Chronology from Jan 2018 to May 2018

: Japanese Defense Ministry releases study into the conversion of the MSDF’s helicopter destroyer into a full-fledged carrier “in case Japan were required to provide rear-line support for a U.S.-led war.”

: Commenting on recent Sino-Japanese economic exchanges, a member of the Development Research Center of China’s State Council advocates that the two stand together to protect an open global trading environment, and jointly oppose Trump’s unilateralism.

: Britain’s Royal Navy and the MSDF participate in their first joint exercises in the waters off the Kanto region, designed to enhance their cooperation.

: Replying to a question on a delegation of lower-ranking PLA officers visiting Japan after a six-year suspension of defense exchanges, Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Wu Qian states that China was willing to jointly work with the Japanese side to enhance mutual trust, accumulate consensus, and manage and control disputes.

: Draft law prohibiting people in Japanese military uniforms taking selfies outside memorials and other locations associated with the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Conference for second review, with supporters stating that “the new clause mainly targets acts that glorify the Japanese invasion and invaders. It clearly states that such behavior won’t be tolerated”

:   Yomiuri editorial states that tension between China and Taiwan is directly linked to Japan’s national security, and that the Japanese government should take unspecified steps to counter China’s intimidation tactics.

: Japanese Defense Ministry reveals that it has completed the design concept of fighter jets to replace the ASDF’s currently deployed F-2s.

:   British journal Scientific Reports publishes findings confirming massive deposits of rare earth minerals in Japan’s exclusive economic zone near Minami-Torishima Island.

:   Fourth high-level Sino-Japanese economic dialogue, and the first in eight years, opens in Tokyo.

: Yomiuri editorializes that “resolute measures” are needed against China’s maritime advances, which could “pour cold water on efforts to improve Japan-China ties.”

:   Japan Times editorial applauds Xi Jinping’s promise to loosen trade restrictions, but cautions that follow-through was not automatic and should be carefully monitored.

: Japan activates its first marine unit since World War II. It is described as having been trained to counter occupation by China.

:   According to Asia Times, Taiwan has been sharing with Japan information on its investigations into attacks, cyber espionage, and major data breaches.  Taiwan is believed to be a testing ground for Chinese techniques before they are deployed against other countries.

: Yomiuri, in a four-part series on the defense of Japan, summarizes efforts to reinforce remote islands against China.

:   Sankei Shimbun reports that Japan is to deploy an ASDF mobile radar unit in the Ogasawara Islands to monitor airspace violations and approaching foreign aircraft, to compensate for the lack of fixed radars on surrounding islands.

: Yomiuri editorializes that the recent GSDF reorganization was crucial in dealing with China, whose incursions into Japan’s territorial waters had become a normal occurrence.

: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, responding to a statement that Japan’s Ministry of Education had amended its curriculum guidelines to teach high school students that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands are indisputably Japanese territory, urged Japan to face squarely history and reality, educate youth with a correct view of history, and “cease stirring up troubles on the relevant issue.”

: Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana accepts three Beechcraft TC-90 planes from Japan, noting that, although the relationship between his country and China is very strong, the maritime row with China is “still a security worry.”

: A draft of Japan’s third five-year ocean plan will explicitly address security threats including China’s maritime advances.

: The GSDF announces creation of a Ground Component Command, to take effect from March 27.  An Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade has been created as well. The reorganization aims to enhance the force’s ability to respond to contingencies on remote islands as well as natural disasters.

: China transfers control of its Coast Guard to the People’s Armed Police (PAP), which was placed under the command of the Central Military Commission (CMC) in January.

: The LDP’s Research Commission on National Security recommends that Japan introduce a multi-mission “defensive” aircraft carrier.

: Japanese government announces that $940 million in investments and loans will be made available to fund space start-ups, to better compete with China and other countries.

: Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in an address to the National People’s Congress, says China is willing to work with Japan to restore relations to healthy, stable growth “as long as Japan does not prevaricate, flip-flop or backpedal but accepts and welcomes China’s development.”

: Reuters reveals that the Japanese government has issued requests for information (RFIs) to the US and Britain for a new fighter plane.

: Yomiuri, Japan’s largest circulation paper, opines that Xi’s consolidation of power “bodes ill for China and the world.” Coupled with the PRC’s sustained military buildup, it is essential for neighboring countries to be vigilant.

: National Institute of Defense Studies’ (NIDS), a think tank attached to Japan’s Defense Ministry, publishes the 2018 version of its China security report, The China-US Relationship at a Crossroad.

: China reacts angrily to the NIDS report, with Ministry of National Defense spokesperson terming it “irresponsible and untenable.”

: A Nikkei analyst, citing a number of efforts China has made to improve its weapons, expand its basing rights, and produce aircraft carriers, accuses China as “acting in a way that recalls European imperialism.”

: Chinese government announces that the country’s defense budget would increase by 8.1 percent in 2018.  Asahi reacts with dismay, noting that the PRC’s defense budget is already the world’s second largest even though it does not include many military outlays.

: Japan’s leading business daily describes Abe as making efforts to charm allies to counter Beijing’s growing influence, citing Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s tour of the GSDF training ground and Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori becoming the first foreign dignitary to inspect HMS Queen Elizabeth.

:   Japan launches its seventh reconnaissance satellite, an optical satellite that can detect missile launches “and other things at military and other facilities” in North Korea and perhaps elsewhere in Asia.

: China Daily article advocates passage of a law prohibiting the wearing of Japanese imperial army uniforms.

: According to former MSDF executives, and despite the Defense Ministry’s denials, the helicopter destroyer Izumo was designed to be adapted as an aircraft carrier.

: Two men who posed in Japanese military uniforms at an anti-Japanese war monument in Nanjing are arrested after they upload photographs on themselves on social media. According to South China Morning Post, there have been similar instances in the past several months.

: Japan’s MSDF reports a vessel marked Min Ning De You 078 (with Min meaning Fujian, and Ningde a city in North Korea) transferring oil to a North Korean flagged tanker near Shanghai, in violation of UN sanctions.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson states that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the information and is carrying out an investigation.

: An article in China’s Guoji Wenti Yanjiu predicts that, despite obstacles such as institutional hurdles to constitutional revision, pacifist sentiment, and the inexperience of its military, Japan’s capacity for self-defense is likely to increase in the coming years.

: At a meeting in Sydney, Japan, Australia, the US, and India discuss establishment of a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

: Japanese economic growth in the last quarter of 2017 was 0.05 percent, the eighth straight quarter of growth and longest since the financial bubble of the 1980s.

: Japanese government announces that, in response to Chinese rapid military expansion it is considering introduction of the F-35B, which needs a much shorter airstrip. It has commissioned a study on the feasibility of converting the helicopter destroyer Izumo into an aircraft carrier, with the defense of Japan’s remote islands in mind.

: An article in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post credits Japan with taking the lead in countering China’s Belt and Road initiative, citing Foreign Minister Kōno’s visit to Sri Lanka, which had given China rights to the port of Hambantota in exchange for debts.

:   Eric Chuo, head of Taiwanese machinery manufacturer Hiwin Technologies announces that his company planned to make Japan its top priority in 2018.  The company, with branches in nine countries, is considering building plants in Aichi, and plans to acquire a Japanese machinery maker.

: Yomiuri reports that Japan and China are making arrangements to resume military exchanges begun in 2003 but suspended since the Japanese government bought three of the five disputed Senkaku Islands from their Japanese owners in 2012.

: Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Kong Xuanyou meets Japan’s Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs and chief representative for Six-Party Talks Kanasugi Kenji in Beijing.

: Foreign Minister Kōno Tarō visits China, his first since taking office in office and the first by a Japanese foreign minister in 21 months. His counterpart Wang Yi calls for “Japan’s joint efforts to advance ties, adding that there were “many disturbances and obstacles.”

: The first of an anticipated 10 F-35A stealth fighter jets is deployed at the Japanese ASDF base at Misawa Airbase in Aomori Province.

: A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry expresses strong dissatisfaction with the opening of an exhibition in Tokyo to showcase Japan’s claim for the Senkaku Islands. China’s resolve to safeguard sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, she added was steadfast.

: Japan and France agree to conduct a joint maritime exercise in February that is described as “a show of strength against China’s ambition to make the South China Sea its stronghold.”

: Senior legislators from China and Japan meet in Tokyo and agree to work to improve ties.

: Japanese government announces plans to strengthen naval security capacities to nations in the Indian Ocean.

:   Joint training exercises between the Indian and Japanese coast guards were for the first time joined by their counterparts from Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

: China Military Online comments that Japan’s announced intention to unify its capabilities in space, cyberspace, and electronic warfare under one command “is yet another step toward Japan’s ‘normalization of the military’ as well as an attempt to break the ‘purely defensive defense’ and the ‘peace constitution.’”

: Thai professor portrays his country as playing China against Japan “like a bamboo tree in the wind.”

: Conservative Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun asks how, in the face of this fresh provocation, the Abe government could say that improved relations with China were possible.

:   Yomiuri reports the first government admission that a submarine, in this case accompanied by a PLAN frigate, had entered the contiguous zone near the Senkaku chain.

:   Global Times editorialized that, although the submarine intrusion incident could have been addressed through diplomatic means, Japan had “hyped it up instantly, derailing its recent efforts to improve ties with China.”  Jiefang Junbao, official newspaper of the PLA, added that “the Chinese military will continue to firmly defend China’s territorial sovereignty and security interests by all means necessary.”

: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson urges Japan to stop making trouble over the Diaoyu Islands issue, protesting the entry of two MSDF ships entering the contiguous zone of Chiwei Islet.

:   Japanese government announces arrangements to introduce a new missile intercept system on two of its Aegis-equipped destroyers that will be deployed in FY 2019 and 2020.

: Japanese comedian Muramoto Daisuke says if China invaded the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands Japan should immediately surrender, adding that Japan had stolen Okinawa from China.  Global Times responds with an opinion piece by a Chinese student in Japan, who said that criticism of the comment revealed “erosion of the concept of free speech in Japanese society.”

:   Global Times, reprinting Xinhua, has a relatively low-key response to Abe’s plans to revise the constitution, adding only that there was “staunch criticism” from opposition parties and the public. China Daily runs a cartoon showing a slyly smiling Abe cutting the lock on the cage of a large, vicious lizard, as a frightened dove tried to fly away.

:   An opinion piece in Global Times argues that bilateral security cooperation between Australia and Japan is part of a plan to preserve the hegemony of the two plus India and the United States, “reframed as ‘rules-based international order’ on the pretext of supporting a peaceful and stable Indo-Pacific.”

: Xinhua announces the launch of a multi-year effort to compile previously missing historical records from 1931-1945, including “invading, looting, and other crimes of Japanese troops” to help fill in missing gaps.  The study is to include an estimated 1 million characters and to be ready for publication in 2020.

: At a press conference, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announces that his new year’s resolution is to take the net big step toward revising the constitution.

:   Speaking at a meeting at a Tokyo hotel, Prime Minister Abe declares that he would like to make 2018 a year in which both the “Japanese and the Chinese people perceive that bilateral relations have greatly improved.”

: Sankei Shimbun reports the Japanese government had begun arrangements for an agreement with like-minded countries to create international rules on electronic commerce.

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