Japan - China

Chronology from May 2018 to Aug 2018

: Japanese press corps agrees to call off attendance at a meeting between Vice Foreign Minister Akiba Takeo and State Councilor Wang Yi in response to Chinese Foreign Ministry’s decision to exclude a reporter from the conservative Sankei Shimbun.

: Defense of Japan Annual White Paper 2018 is published, stating that the unilateral escalation of China’s military activities poses a strong security concern for the region including Japan and international community.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry responds by accusing Japan of making irresponsible statements about China’s normal marine activities and seeking excuses for expanding its armaments.

: China and Japan sign agreement standardizing quick chargers for electric vehicles; together, they control over 95 percent of the market.

: Japanese defense officials express misgivings about Chinese insistence on a 48-hour moratorium before responding to a hotline call in the event of military clashes.

: Citing a recent joint opinion poll, Yomiuri states that coolness between the two countries persists despite an influx of people and money over the past 40 years. 88.3 percent of Japanese have a bad impression of China whereas only 11.5 percent of Chinese have a negative view of Japan.

: Nissan Motors announces plans to invest about $900 million to boost vehicle-making capacity in China by 40 percent, to 2.1 million cars annually, by 2021.

:   First of a series of articles on the challenges and possibilities of bilateral ties by Yomiuri notes that although leaders on both sides praised warming of relations, the relationship remains “peculiar.” China had restricted group travel to Japan, was critical of those deemed “jingri” (Japanese at heart) and had criminalized acts deemed to have glorified militarist-era Japan.

: Sentaku reports that Chinese capital was acquiring land in and around Miyakojima City allegedly for solar power generation and unspecified other purposes.

: Report shows that Japanese Air Self-Defense Force scrambled planes against Chinese fighter jets 173 times during in the past fiscal year, an increase of 72 over the previous year.

:   As a result of a triennial review of members’ contribution to the United Nations’ general budget, China is raised to second largest donor, 12.01 percent, with Japan lowered to third place at 8.56 percent.   NHK suggested that Japan promote its presence by stressing the nation’s contributions to the UN’s international and diplomatic activities.

: Using a proxy, Abe sends a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, carefully specifying that it had been made in his capacity as LDP president, i.e. not as prime minister, and paid for at his own expense. Xinhua’s condemnation is relatively mild.

: Global Times comments that Shoplifters, winner of the recent Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or, exposes Japan’s child abuse, widened wealth gap, and the harsh realities facing women and the elderly.

: Li Keqiang and Abe exchange cordial messages marking the 40th anniversary of the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

: Four Chinese Coast Guard ships sail for about two hours in an area off the Senkakus claimed by Japan as territorial waters.

: Chinese and Japanese sources are curiously silent on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  Jiji press alone mentions it, albeit briefly and saying only that Abe would not pay his respects.

: Kyodo cites an unnamed Japanese official as saying that, despite a recent improvement in bilateral ties and their agreement on free trade, Japan and China remain at odds over China’s military activities in the East China and South China seas.

:   Chinese stock market loses its number-two ranking to Japan. Trade issues with the US, Beijing’s efforts to cut debt, and a slowing economy are cited as major factors.

: Asahi reports the first meeting of a committee to discuss Japanese participation in China’s BRI project will be held in Beijing in September.  On the agenda are private sector work on extending the Bangkok mass transit system and the construction of a high-speed railway between its airport and a city in central Thailand.

: Foreign Affairs article by two US analysts argue that Japan should abandon its current forward defense policy against Chinese aggression in favor of an active denial strategy that would hold off invaders until US reinforcements arrive.

: Foreign Minister Kōno Tarō and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian sign an agreement on defense cooperation aimed at countering Chinese activities in the Indo-Pacific region.

: Hangzhou intermediate court sentences a Japanese man to 12 years in prison for spying and other unspecified charges.

: Business weekly Shukan Diamond publishes a 34-page special expressing concern over the threefold increase in the number of Chinese nationals in Japan since 2000, though adding that the newcomers are helping to invigorate local economics and might help to dispel friction between the two nations.

: China reacts sharply to a report that Japan would send the helicopter destroyer Kaga to the South China Sea and hints that China might have to respond with countermeasures.

: Japanese government states its intention to go ahead with deployment of the Aegis ashore system despite North Korean promises to denuclearize, citing uncertainty about future negotiations and the increasing missile threat from China.

: Responding to a Chinese white paper on Arctic policy that calls the ocean “the silk road on ice,” the Japanese government begins working on a plan to secure the country’s own interests in the area.  An unnamed official expresses concern that Beijing would soon deploy submarines in the Arctic.

:   Japan lodges a protest with China over its sending a drilling ship to a contested area near, but not over, the side of the median line separating the exclusive economic zones of the two in the East China Sea. China does not accept the validity of the line.

: An article in the conservative Japan Forward recommends that the Japanese government enact its own version of the Taiwan Relations Act, not shying away from its security aspects.

: Following Sankei Shimbun’s interview with Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Jaushieh Wu, the Chinese embassy in Japan lodges a protest condemning the report for “advocating Taiwan independence.”

: Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui, visiting Japan at a dinner hosted by the Japan-Taiwan Peace Foundation, calls for the two counties to promote exchanges and cooperation for their common defense.

: Global Times opinion article heaps scorn on Abe’s “rush” for a summit with Kim Jung Un, noting that, in a May 4 telephone call with Xi Jinping,  Abe had sought China’s help in arranging the meeting and his “complicated” situation in seeking the summit.

: According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, tourists from China jumped 29.3 percent in May, to 668,600, vis-à-vis 16.6 percent growth overall.

:   Taiwan government protests  the decision of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to comply with Chinese government orders to list Taiwan as a part of China.

: China and Japan are reported to be in talks to unify standards for electric vehicle charging stations. A common standard would give Japanese EV manufacturers a competitive edge over US and European counterparts, who use a different system.

: A retired Japanese admiral, writing in an Indian military publication, accuses China of taking advantage of the world’s preoccupation with North Korea to expand its salami tactics on Japan in the Senkaku and Taiwan on the offshore islands of Quemoy (Jimmen) and Matsu (Mazu).

:   Bilateral maritime and aerial communications begin official operation. Japanese Defense Ministry officials hope that, because it is part of a formal agreement, the Chinese military will take it seriously and abide by it.

: Japan announces a plan to set up a maritime dialogue with France as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy “to deter the aggressive maritime advances of China.”  France’s overseas territories in New Caledonia and French Polynesia give the country a direct interest in the stability of the region.

:   According to conservative magazine Sentaku, Chinese money has been buying land in Hokkaido, particularly near areas with port facilities.  Though ostensibly acquired for agricultural purposes, the land has lain fallow, raising questions about the ultimate motive behind their purchase.

: //">remove an informal cap on defense spending that is 1 percent of GDP that began in the 1970s. It also backs his plan to retrofit the helicopter carrier Izumo into an aircraft carrier, for upgrading the capabilities of Self-Defense Forces, and for Japan to have a stronger presence in space and cyber technology.

:   Japanese government announces it will use yen loans to develop ports in three Indian Ocean nations (Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh) as part of Abe’s “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy” to counter China’s efforts to dominate the sea lanes connecting Asia and Africa via the Middle East.

: Twenty-one Japanese nationals are detained in Chongqing. Sichuan province, as well as in Hebei, Henan, Guizhou, Shanxi, Liaoning and Ningxia  sometime between May 5 and 15, possibly because they were Christians doing missionary work. Five were later returned to Japan.

: Japan hosts the triannual gathering of leaders of 18 South Pacific countries and territories with Prime Minister Abe pledging fine-tuned assistance in both soft and hard terms.

: Japanese Coast Guard conducts a fleet review for the first time in six years; the suspension was due to the JCG being occupied with intrusions of Chinese government ships into areas administered by Japan but claimed by both countries.

: Citing threats from North Korea’s ballistic missile launches and Chinese activities in the East China Sea, Japan approves a new ocean policy highlighting maritime security. Previous versions, issued every five years since 2008, had largely centered on the development of resources at sea.

:   Conservative daily Sankei Shimbun, citing a government source,  reports that a ship registered to a state-owned Chinese company had been undertaking trial digging that could be preparatory to building new offshore platforms.

: China’s second aircraft carrier, and first entirely indigenously built, begins sea trials, with Japanese media expressing concern over the implications for regional security.

: Prime Ministers Li Keqiang visits Japan for the first time since taking office. He and Abe sign an agreement on a hotline after a decade of talks.

: //">establish a public-private council to discuss Belt and Road projects. While Japan hopes to improve ties with the PRC through economic cooperation, the government fears that China is using the initiative to expand its hegemony.

: Adm. Takei Tomohisa, former MSDF chief of staff, states that Japan should remain vigilant to see that China “does not change the status quo in the region,” and that military ties between Japan and Taiwan should be increased.

: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that an Asian arms race was occurring in response to tensions with China. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, summarizing the SIPRI study, notes that Japan had boosted military spending for the sixth straight year, while India, loosely aligned with Japan in the Quad arrangement with the United States and Australia, had overtaken France and moved into the world’s top five military spenders.

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