Japan - China

Chronology from Jan 2021 to May 2021

: Controversy swirls around the security implications of Chinese company Tencent’s acquisition of a 3.65% share in wireless carrier Rakuten that did not receive the pre-screening by Japan’s newly amended Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Act.

: China issues solemn representations to Japan over the latter’s newly released diplomatic blue book, which terms the Chinese Coast Guard’s repeated entries into Japanese territorial waters a violation of international law.

: Japanese newspapers report that the Chinese navy, already the world’s largest, has launched three new vessels—a ballistic missile submarine, a destroyer, and an amphibious assault ship.

: 74% of respondents to a Nikkei telephone poll reportedly support Japan’s engagement in Taiwan issues.

: To bolster its claim to the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, China’s Ministry of National Resources releases a topographical study of the area based on satellite images.

: Japan lodges forceful protest demanding the removal of a tweet by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman adapting a famous Hokusai print into an image of nuclear waste being poured into the sea by people in Hazmat suits.

: Yao Chung-yuan, former deputy director of Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense’s strategic planning department, argues that a quasi-military alliance has emerged among Japan, Taiwan, and the US to counter the threat from China.

: A signed editorial by Global Times’ editor-in-chief warns Japan that if they follow the US, they will definitely become the target of the PLA.

: Nikkei reports that although Suga deflected pressure from NSC Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell for a Japanese version of the US Taiwan Relations Act, Biden had not raised the issue, with Suga informing his aides afterward that “the Senkakus and Taiwan are linked.”

: South China Morning Post reports that, in response to an opposition politician in the Diet asking about Japan’s commitment to defend Taiwan at the summit with Biden, Suga replied that the statement “does not presuppose military involvement at all.”

: Renmin Ribao notes that,although Suga sent a ritual masakaki offering to the Yasukuni shrine’s spring festival he did not personally attend, nor did Cabinet ministers.

: Aiming to counter China’s rapid expansion in the construction of undersea communication cables, Japanese, Australian, and US officials reportedly agreed to strengthen information sharing on China’s activities and cooperate in financing submarine cables in strategically important areas.

: Asahi editorializes that, although solid backing from the US is vital to defending the Senkaku Islands, the joint statement about the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait puts Japan in danger of being drawn into a security emergency.

: China’s Foreign Ministry expresses its “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to Japan’s decision to release treated radioactive water accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

: Regarding Suga’s meeting with President Biden, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expresses “serious concerns” over negative moves and collusion between the two countries against China.

: At two-plus-two security talks, German and Japanese foreign and security ministers exchange views on China’s territorial claims in the East and South China sea and express grave concern over the situation in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

: Japan calls for an in-person Quad summit on the sidelines of the G7 meeting in June.

: Suga announces plans to visit India and the Philippines, both of whom have border disputes with the PRC, in late August, though the trips are later cancelled over COVID concerns.

: Signaling a closer defense relationship with India, Japan makes its first project-type grant to an Indian-owned Andaman island.

: In a telephone call to Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Japanese counterpart Motegi expresses Japan’s “serious concerns” over China’s treatment of Uyghurs and Hong Kong. Wang responds that China opposes interference in its internal affairs. Motegi also voices concern over China’s activities in the South China Sea and its new law empowering coast guard vessels to fire on foreign ships within a maritime jurisdiction determined by China.

: Global Times reports that Wang warned Motegi that bilateral ties had been “soured by Japan’s intense hobnobbing with the US,” and its interference in China’s internal affairs regarding Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

: Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and five escort vessels pass through the Miyako Strait for the first time since April 2020.

: Declassified documents obtained by Kyodo from the US National Archives reveal that the US government rejected requests from its military to resume use of a bombing base in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands lest it become involved in the China-Japan dispute over their sovereignty.

: Yomiuri cites a source close to the Defense Ministry saying that, in response to China’s military buildup, the large-scale deployment of F-35Bs will be a “decisive measure for the defense of remote islands.”

: Nikkei reports that a meeting of LDP lawmakers last week heard that China is planning to build up land around the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and move 20,000 people there.

: Chinese Foreign Ministry expresses “grave concern” over Japan-Indonesian 2+2 talks, saying that the Indonesian side had “clarified the situation” (without specifying how) and urges Japanese media to stop creating false news.

: Two-plus-two talks between Japan and Indonesia centering on shared concerns over China’s growing territorial claims in the East and South China seas result in agreement on the transfer of Japanese defense equipment and technology to Jakarta.

: According to Renmin Ribao, at the third annual meeting of the China-Japan maritime and air liaison mechanism and fifth round of working-level consultations on defense affairs, China reiterates that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands are China’s inherent territory and urges Japan to stop provoking China and making groundless accusations against it. Japanese papers do not mention the meeting.

: Japanese government sources state that local opposition to the deployment of a Ground Self-Defencs Forces detachment on Yonaguni Island has diminished.

: Yomiuri editorializes on the urgency of drawing up clear rules to prevent technology leaks to China and other countries.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato, expresses “grave concern” over PRC human rights violations but points out that Tokyo lacks a legal framework for the imposition of “sanctions directly and explicitly connected to human rights issues.”

: It is reported that Toyota will manufacture key components of fuel cell vehicles in the PRC as early as 2022. This will be the first time Toyota has produced such components outside Japan.

: DM Kishi hints that the SDF and US military may conduct joint drills around disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu expresses “strong displeasure” at a comment by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson that Japan is a “strategic vassal” of the United States.

: The MSDF commissions the Aegis-equipped destroyer, the Haguro, completing its fleet arrangement as advocated in the 2013 National Defense Program Guidelines.

: Center-left Asahi editorializes against allowing the Quad to be seen as anti-China.

: It is reported that two Japan-based manufacturers of semiconductor wafers, one headed by a Chinese national, are turning to China in an effort to catch up with top producers Shin-etsu Chemical and Sumco.

: It is reported that, led by chip-making equipment, nonferrous metals and plastic, Japanese exports to China reportedly rise 3.4% in February.

: A US defense website reports that Japan’s Office of National Space Policy has signed a “historic” memorandum of understanding to launch two US payloads into Geostationary Earth Orbit on Japan’s Quasi Zenith Satellite System to help surveillance of Chinese space activities.

: Japanese Ambassador Yamagami Shingo assures Australia that it “is not walking alone” in dealing with an increasingly aggressive China, which is of great concern to his country.

: Responding to the 6.8% increase in China’s defense budget, an Asahi editorial asks how the world can buy the narrative of peaceful development that China is trying to sell.

: Chinese military newspaper Jiefangjun Bao, says it is a nation’s right to determine its defense expenditure and how it will be used.

: Foreign Minister Wang Yi states that China’s new coast guard law does not target any specific country.

: Nikkei reports that, amid worsening ties with China, the pro-China wing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has lost ground to its pro-Taiwan wing.

: Japan’s coast guard reports that 14 Chinese marine patrol vessels entered Japanese waters in the first month that China’s new law on its coast guard went into effect.

: According to a memo written in 2018 and declassified in the final days of the Trump administration but not made public until February 2021, the US will defend both Taiwan and the Senkaku Islands in an “emergency.”

: Article 7 of police duties execution law permits Japan Coast Guard to use weapons on vessels trying to land on the Senkaku Islands when perpetrators who commit crimes categorized as violent and dangerous offer resistance.

: Chinese analysts opine that, due largely to their high volumes of trade with the PRC, Japan and Germany “are less likely [than the other G7 members] to be roped into joining the US-led ‘counter China alliance.’”

: South China Morning Post reports increasing resistance to influential LDP policymaker Nikai Toshihiro within his own party for his ties to Beijing.

: Chinese netizens voice approval of a seven-tip list for Japanese in a Chinese competition show, including avoiding “culturally sensitive topics” like the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, “confusing statements regarding the keyword Taiwan,” and wearing clothing that features the Japanese flag.

: Kyodo cites a statement by Defense Department press secretary John Kirby that the US “support[s] Japan obviously in that sovereignty,” appearing to back Japan’s sovereignty over the islands and contradicting past statements that the US takes no position. Another Defense Department spokesperson later “clarifies” that “there is no change to US policy.”

: Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki states that Japan has been incentivizing its companies to shift manufacturing facilities out of China.

: Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu describes as “truly regrettable and unacceptable” Chinese coast guard vessels’ intrusion into what the Japanese government considers its territorial waters for two successive days.

: It is reported that Japan will build three transport ships to supply ammunition, fuel, and provisions to troops stationed on its outlying islands. The expected date of deployment is 2024.

: Kyodo reports that the Japanese government is hesitant to impose sanctions on Myanmar following the military coup, fearing that doing so would drive the military closer to China.

: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) approves a plan to invest up to $177.7 million in a fully owned subsidiary in Ibaraki prefecture that will expand its research into 3D semiconductor material.

: Japan Parliamentary Alliance on China adopts a statement condemning the PRC government for its violations of Uyghur human rights and calling for legislation to impose sanctions on high-ranking foreign government officials and organizations involved in the violation of human rights.

: Foreign Policy Research Institute analysis states that if China is to establish maritime primacy in the Indo-Pacific, it must first get its navy beyond the Ryukyu Islands.

: LDP leaders reportedly form Taiwan project team to consider ways to strengthen relations with Taiwan.

: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin states that its coast guard’s intrusion into territorial waters claimed by Japan are legitimate measures taken to safeguard sovereignty in accordance with the law.

: Head of the LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division announces creation of a Taiwan project team that will, inter alia, discuss the possibility of a counterpart to America’s Taiwan Relations Act.

: A Nikkei article co-authored by a Chinese and Japanese argues that Beijing must realize that it needs the world on its side if it is to realize the Chinese dream.

: Tokyo conveys “strong concerns” to Beijing over China’s new coast guard legislation.

: Japanese and British foreign and defense ministers express concern about China’s new law empowering its coast guard to use weapons against foreign vessels in contested waters claimed by the PRC.

: Global Times criticizes Tokyo for taking the West’s side in opposing the military coup in Myanmar.

: Professor at the Japan Coast Guard Academy observes that increasing numbers of Chinese fishing vessels is leading to resource depletion in the Sea of Japan the South China Sea, and the Galapagos Islands.

: Japan’s participation is expected with Five Eyes in a multinational fund for the development of 5G telecommunications technology and strengthening of the supply network to prevent the spread of equipment made in China.

: Japanese manufacturer Panasonic withdrawal from solar cell and panel production in 2022 is announced, as it cannot compete with Chinese rivals’ ability to produce the items at lower cost, leaving Kyocera and Sharp as the only major Japanese companies that produce solar batteries and panels.

: Japan’s government reacts to new Chinese regulations allowing its coast guard to enforce restrictions, including the use of weapons, in areas administered by Japan but claimed by China, with an unnamed Defense Ministry official warning it has the potential to “shake the order based on international law.”

: Japan’s government requests its embassy-equivalent in Tokyo to ask Taiwan, the world’s largest production base for semiconductor products, to increase output since chips for automobiles are in short supply.

: Chinese orders placed with Japanese machine toolmakers increase 23.5% in 2020 even as companies suffer sharp falls from the US and even more so from Europe.

: Responding to affirmations for Japan’s position on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands by Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Austin, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, a Chinese military expert comments that the PLA needs “emergency plans as well as plans for potential combat in the future.”

: The Second Japan-China Capital Markets Forum, an initiative to strengthen cooperation between the securities markets of the two countries, is held online.

: In first US-Japanese ministerial-level talk since President Biden took office, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin affirms to Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo that the Senkaku Islands fall within the scope of the Japan-US Mutual Security Treaty.

: The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress adopts a law empowering the coast guard to take action, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, or jurisdiction is “illegally” infringed on or threatened by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

: Taiwan’s iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper begins displaying LED messages proclaiming the strong friendship between the peoples of Japan and Taiwan.

: Joint Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)-Taiwan Academia Sinica NKCU Institute of Space and Plasma Sciences team reports breakthroughs in energization and radiation in geospace with important implications about how electrons work at higher altitudes as well as communications and electrical systems on earth.

: At a virtual conference on maritime security, the director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau protests Chinese ships’ activities around the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.

: Statistics show China imports 22% of Japanese exports in 2020, surpassing the US at 18.4%.

: Report shows Japan’s increased engagement with Myanmar to counter Chinese dominance. Measures include support for education and health initiatives, negotiating peace between the Burmese military (Tatmadaw) and the Arakan Army insurgents, and financial contributions to the troubled $8 billion Dawei Special Economic Zone project.

: A Japanese research fellow at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies advocates redefining Japanese and British efforts to meet their common challenge from China.

: Japan’s largest discount store Don Quijote opens first branch, known locally as Don Don Donki, in Taipei.

: Japanese government reportedly seeks to convince Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to set up advanced manufacturing facilities in Japan to rejuvenate the country’s lagging chip industry and fending off competition from China.

: Japanese government plans to commercialize the mining of cobalt and other rare metals on the seabed near Minamitorishima, in the Ogasawara Islands.

: The Japanese government honors 90-year old Taiwanese librarian Liu Yao-tzu with its Order of the Rising Sun for his services in promoting cultural services between Japan and Taiwan.

: Official Chinese military newspaper Jiefangjun Bao criticize Japan’s draft military budget for developing multidomain combined combat capabilities with the US as breaking the boundaries of the country’s pacifist constitution.

: PRC’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announces that companies will be required to follow export control laws and regulations regarding the export and import of rare earth minerals.

: Japan Forward reprints report that the Japanese government is considering how to publicize mid-19th century British and German maps showing the Senkaku Islands as Japanese territory.

: Takeuchi Ryo, a Nanjing-based Japanese documentary film director, explains polls showing Japanese people’s negative impressions of China as the result of a significant number of programs smearing China on Japanese TV.

: Naha coast guard officials confirm the presence of four Chinese government ships in the contiguous zone off the contested Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands on Jan. 1.

: Commenting on Japanese interest in becoming the sixth eye of the Five Eyes alliance, a research associate at Fudan University’s Center for Japanese Studies opines that Japan is “strong in will but weak in capability,” but will continue to move closer to the alliance.

: Global Times terms fabricated “out of thin air” a report in center-left Mainichi Shimbun saying that Japanese elites have been inoculated with Chinese vaccines suspected to have been smuggled into Japan.

: Back-to-back articles in Yomiuri reveal that at least 44 Japanese researchers have been involved in China’s Thousand Talents Program to attract high-level scientists from overseas. Questioned about their motives, the scientists cite China’s more attractive research environment.

: Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post describes China’s strategy to wear down Japanese resistance to its claim over the Senkaku Islands through repeated air and sea incursions.

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