Japan - China

Chronology from May 2020 to Aug 2020

:  Xinhua reports matter-of-factly on the sudden resignation of Abe due to illness, while Global Times observes that, since stable relations with China was vital to the Japanese economy, his successor would likely continue Abe’s policies.

:  Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corporation announces successful excavation of rare metals from inside the seabed of Japan’s EEZ, describing it as an important step in Japan’s plans to reduce its reliance on China for these commodities.

:  Referencing a virtual summit between the Indian and Japanese prime ministers in early September, a research director at Tsinghua University opines that India’s anticipated effort to “rope Japan into” an effort to suppress China is doomed to fail because Tokyo needs stable economic relations with Beijing in the post-pandemic era.

: In response to news that Abe visited a hospital for a health check-up, Global Times opines that the Japanese economy, having suffered a 27.8 % contraction in the last quarter, also needed a check-up.

: China Daily runs a mildly critical article on the memorial service headlined “War End Anniversary Sees No Abe Apology.” The unnamed author advised Japanese policymakers to “recognize the status quo and thus explore the potential of bilateral relations more boldly and aggressively to find new growth policies for economic cooperation with China.”

: In a government memorial service for the war dead, Abe does not mention  “taking the lessons of history deeply into our hearts,” which has been standard since then Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi first included it in 1995.

: Local Chinese authorities reportedly instruct fishermen not to sail within 30 nautical miles of the Diaoyu/Senkakus, possibly as a hedge against worsening relations with the US.

: Four Cabinet ministers visit the Yasukuni Shrine on the anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, the first such Cabinet-level visit since 2016 when two ministers attended. Abe does not, but sends a representative who paid for a ritual offering of the sacred sakaki tree. Uncharacteristically, Xinhua barely mentions the visit.

: Kono states that unspecified members of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing consortium are seeking closer cooperation with Japan in response to China’s growing military expansion but opines that he does not think Japan needs to in the formal sense.

: Japanese government boosts its stockpile of rare metals to reduce its dependence on China which, despite earlier efforts, still accounted for 58% of rare earth imports in 2018.

: A rally of support for Chow takes place in Tokyo.

: Due to concern that China is siphoning off advanced technological information in the name of joint research, legislation on a certification system for those handling such data will be submitted to next year’s Diet session. Japan is the only G7 member lacking such a certification system.

:  Tweets with the hashtag “FreeAgnes” go viral in Japan in response to activist Agnes Chow’s arrest in Hong Kong for violating the new national security law, with more than 290,000 messages posted under it.

: A Nikkei survey reveals that in 2019 China surpassed Japan in 12 hi-tech markets and in now and second only to the United States.

:  A delegation led by former Prime Minister Mori Yoshihiro visits Taiwan to pay respects to Lee, meeting with President Tsai as well. Mori conveyed to her Abe’s “heartfelt gratitude for Lee’s guidance for Japan.”

:  Defense Minister Kono warns China that the SDF and Japanese Coast Guard will respond to intrusions around the Diaoyu(tai)/Senkaku Islands, declining to elaborate on what such actions might entail.

: Reacting to news that Tokyo would welcome an invitation to join the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance, Chinese expert on Japanese issues Liu Junhong attributes Tokyo’s interest to its mistrust of China “despite bilateral relations being generally positive in the last two years.”

:  According to a Japanese industry ministry source, China’s recent showering of praise on Japanese companies seems part of a campaign to build a supply chain that cannot be blocked by Washington.

: All major Japanese newspapers carry obituary of Taiwan’s former President Lee Teng-hui, mentioning his impressive knowledge of Japan. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo praises Lee for contributing to enhancing Japan and Taiwan’s bilateral relations and for promulgating freedom and democracy in Taiwan.

: In the first explicit commitment to help address recent Chinese encroachment in the waters around the contested Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Lt. Gen Kevin Schneider, commander of American forces in Japan, says that “the United States is 100% absolutely steadfast in its commitment to help the government of Japan with the situation … that’s 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

:  Reflecting what an anonymous Japanese Coast Guard source describes as his government’s “sense of crisis,” the JCG deploys three large patrol vessels of 3,500 to 6,500 tons in Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures.

:  In what Nikkei describes as a snub to China, the Chilean government chooses Japan’s trans-Pacific fiber-optic cable route in preference to China’s. When completed, the cable will be the first to directly connect South America with the Asia-Pacific.

: Sankei Shimbun reports that NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile phone operator, is heading a movement to bring together different countries to build a low-cost communication network without Huawei technology.

: A consortium of Japanese companies bests China in a bid to build a $2 billion liquified natural gas-fired power plant in Myanmar, with a projected capacity of about 20 percent of the country’s existing power plants. Myanmar, with access to the Indian Ocean, is a key part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, with Chinese companies having secured the rights to a similar-sized power plant in 2018.

: Chinese government ships sail into waters surrounding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands for the 100th straight day.

: Japanese government protests to Beijing over a Chinese maritime scientific survey ship that operated for 10 days inside the EEZ claimed by Japan around Okinotori.

: The Japanese government will invite Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to take part in joint projects in Japan, in response to a potential threat from China’s efforts to build systems to enable its companies to produce finished products, including semiconductors, all on their own.

: Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry announces first tranche of companies eligible for “China exit subsidies;” 87 companies will receive a total of $653 million.

:  In a move that symbolizes the Japanese government’s hope for warmer ties with the PRC, Tarumi Yoshio, a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ China School, is appointed ambassador to the PRC. Tarumi is close to LDP Secretary-General Nikai Toshihiro, who is known for his pro-China views.

: In an interview with Nikkei, Taiwan’s Audrey Tang warns Japan that putting China’s equipment in its core telecom infrastructure is akin to inviting a Trojan horse into the network.

:  Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson describes the Defense of Japan 2020 White Paper as fraught with bias against China and false information, while providing no details.

:  Japan’s Ministry of Defense releases its 2020 White Paper, accusing China, inter alia, of unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion, lack of transparency in its defense budget and enhancing its capabilities in space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum, leading to “a situation of grave concern.”

: Xinhua reports on a joint statement by Japanese civil groups to commemorate the 83rd anniversary of the outbreak of hostilities at Marco Polo Bridge in 1987.

: Yomiuri editorializes on the importance of countries like Japan, the US, and Australia to support ASEAN in its concern for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea through such mechanisms as the RIMPAC naval exercise. Yomiuri also expresses concern about the increasing number of Chinese planes making threatening flights around Taiwan.

: An unusually long article  in Kyodo covers Taipei City’s celebration of Japan’s contribution to Taiwan’s tap water centered around the premiere of a documentary film, Tracing Roots, that focuses on the country’s transformation during the Japanese colonial period.

: Kyodo reports that two Chinese Coast Guard vessels stayed in the territorial waters of the Senkaku/Diaoyu(tai) Islands for 39 hours and 23 minutes, longer than the 30 hours 17 minutes recorded on July 3, over which the Japanese government issued a protest.

: Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhou Lijiang responds to an LDP draft resolution criticizing China for its new security law for Hong Kong by saying the statements “are meaningless and I do not have the time or interest to deal with them.”

:  Japan’s passes revised state secrets law that allows exchanges with partners such as India, Australia, and the UK as well as existing exchange with the US, making it easier to share data on Chinese movements. It also allows Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense and supply fuel and ammunition to other militaries in situations that pose a threat to Japan.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga says that China’s imposition of  a national security law for Hong Kong is “regrettable,” particularly after strong concern expressed by the international community, and that his government will continue to appropriately address the issue with the countries involved.

:  Taiwan’s widely read anti-unification Liberty Times points out that all the protestors to Ishigaki’s changes to the names of disputed areas were from the opposition KMT and accused the party of seizing on the issue to divert attention from its poor approval ratings.

:  Xinhua reports without editorial comment Japan’s decision to end its Aegis Ashore program, quoting Japanese official sources on the high cost of the project.

:  Kono explains his decision to identify a submarine that ventured near Japanese territorial waters as Chinese as necessary to raise awareness.

: Yomiuri describes urgent need for discussions on how to respond to China’s development of hypersonic missiles that is pushing the US-Japan alliance to a turning point and must be addressed in negotiations on burden sharing.

: Defense Minister Kono Taro, after taking the unusual step of naming China as the probable owner of the submarine that passed through Japan’s contiguous zone announces that the government had heightened vigilance against  Chinese incursions.

: Both China and Taiwan protest a vote by the Okinawa city council of change the administrative status of the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands from “Tonoshiro” to “Tonoshiro Senkaku,” purportedly to avoid confusion with another area of Ishigaki, which administers the islands.

:  A submarine, presumed but not specifically identified as Chinese, passes through the contiguous zone off the cost of Amami-Oshima island in southern Japan, the first such incident since January 2018.

: Da Zhigang, director of Heilongjiang’s Institute of Northeast Asian Studies, opines that Japan is unlikely to permanently abandon the Aegis Ashore system but if awaiting an opportune time to restart the deployment.

: Wall Street Journal reports that, after helping to organize a statement critical of China’s actions in Hong Kong, the Japanese government is encouraging Hong Kong financial professionals to move to Tokyo.

: Chinese ships operate in the contiguous zone to the contested Diaoyu/Senkaku islands for the 65th day, surpassing the previous record of 64 in 2019.

: Several dozen Taiwanese protest outside the Taipei office of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association after reports that Okinawa’s Ishigaki City, which administers the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu(tai) Islands, is planning to change the administrative designation of the islands from Tonoshiro to Tonoshiro Senkaku.

:  Yomiuri comments that a revised Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law identifies 558 companies in 12 sectors as particularly important for national security, and requires all foreign investors seeking to acquire more than 1% in and of them to notify the government in advance.

: The conservative Japan Forward urges that Japan stop ignoring its, and Asia’s, China problem, suggesting a joint operational headquarters in Japan where US and Japanese forces could coordinate the defense of Northeast Asia, consider Taiwan’s defense part of its mandate, and increase defense spending by 10% for the next five years.

: LDP Diet members call on the government to vigorously protest China’s repeated stalking of Japanese fishing boats in waters near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and again urge the government to carefully reconsider a visit by Xi.

: Criticizing Japan’s reluctance to join other democracies in denouncing PRC legislation on Hong Kong, a Kyorin University professor emeritus accused his country of “judo diplomacy.”

: Motegi says in a television interview that Xi’s visit would not take place until after the G20 summit slated for November, and a major factor is China’s National People’s Congress passage of draconian security legislation for Hong Kong.

:  A commentary in Japan Times takes note of a May 8-May 10 standoff between the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) and two Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ships in waters around the disputed Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands as the CCG pursued a Japanese fishing boat.

: Asahi notes Japan’s struggle to cooperate with China in the economic sector while strengthening its defense alliance with the US.

:  A document delivered to Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga by two LDP foreign policy panels urges reconsideration of plans for a state visit by Xi Jinping due to “grave and serious concern from the standpoint of respecting freedom and democracy.”

: Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu addresses  China’s National People’s Congress passing a draconian national security law that would affect Hong Kong’s freedoms, saying that he had had his deputy call in the Chinese ambassador to express Japan’s concern.

: Global Times warns Japan that, if it wants to maintain sound economic and trade relations with China, it had better not side with the US as Australia has.

: Asahi’s lead editorial is entitled “Taiwan’s Success in Containing the Virus Should Be a Lesson Passed On.”

: Japan Airlines evacuates Taiwanese who had been stranded in Russia for two months due to the pandemic, re-routing a flight from Helsinki to stop in Moscow to pick them up.

: China Daily reports on close work between Chinese and Japanese ornithologists to save the crested ibis from extermination, emphasizing the need for “people to put aside their conflicts and pursue a common goal.”

:  Japanese newspapers react negatively to the 6.6% increase in the PRC’s announced military budget, with Asahi asking when China will stop its aggressive military buildup “that exacerbates global security risks” and Nikkei describing the increase despite falling revenue as reflecting an “aggressive diplomatic posture.”

: Several Japanese newspapers report that a draft of the Japanese defense ministry’s annual white paper may accuse China of spreading false information about the coronavirus outbreak in order to bolster its geographic influence.

:  Mitsubishi Electric reports that a cyberattack last year “likely” leaked information on the hypersonic glide missile provided by the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA), for purposes of bidding on a contract to develop them.

:  A security expert interviewed by Asahistates that China’s approximately 2000 intermediate-range missiles can reach anywhere in Japan, while the US, because it signed the now-expired Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, has none.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide congratulated Tsai Ing-wen on her inauguration, using her formal title of president, eliciting protest from China.

: Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force reportedly receives its first new rifles in 31 years to assist it in defending the Nansei (southwestern) Islands against increasing Chinese pressure.

:  Global Times calls Japan’s 2020 Diplomatic Blue Book, which, for the first time voices support for Taiwan’s observer status in the World Health Assembly, a “hypocritical move.”

: A retired senior colonel from the PLA’s Academy of Military Science construes Japan’s call for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2020 military exercises to be held on schedule as indicative of its desire to expand its influence in the area.

: Yomiuri quotes a member of the National Security Secretariat as saying that unless the country nurtured new technologies it would not have any technologies left to protect.

: In Global Times, director of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences notes that while Japan is reducing industrial plans in China and encouraging industries to relocate back to Japan, it has also signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Trade, promoted the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and is an active partner in the China-Japan, South Korea Free Trade Agreement.

: Yomiuri reports on a 2019 Chinese language document that enumerates 63 industrial technologies not possessed by China and the names of foreign companies and research  institutes that possess them, including Japanese semiconductor materials and carbon fibers.

: Center-right Yomiuri Shimbun publishes interview with former Renmin Ribao commentator Ma Licheng in which Ma repeats his past calls for reconciliation with China.

: Although dismissive of Japan’s stimulus package for subsidies to businesses to move production back to Japan, Beijing is sufficiently concerned to press Japanese authorities to explain the meaning of the measure and poll Japanese businesses in China on whether they plan to leave.

: Eager to get its economy back to normal, the Chinese government proposes easing its travel ban in anticipation of large numbers of Japanese tourists, assuming that the number of new cases declines.

: Noting the implications of 5G telecommunications technology for warfare, and China’s push to dominate the underseas cable industry, Yomiuri urges Japan to act swiftly to ensure the safety of its information and communications systems.

: The Japanese government announces more stringent regulations on foreign investment in 518 firms it identifies as having operations critical to national security.

: Two of four China Coast Guard vessels in waters around the contested Senkaku Islands approached and chased a Japanese fishing boat, resulting in an immediate protest to the Chinese embassy in Tokyo.

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