Japan - China

Chronology from Sep 2019 to Dec 2019

: Chinese health authorities investigate 27 cases of “viral pneumonia” in Wuhan, linked to the seafood market in the city. Seven were in critical condition and “the cause of the disease is not clear.”

: Kyodo reports that the Japanese government prevented a Chinese corporation from obtaining operating rights at a port in El Salvador by warning that it would withdraw $102 million in Official Development Assistance if the El Salvador government agreed to the Chinese tender.

: Xue Li, director of the international strategy division of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences opines that Japan is attempting to counter China through a variety of means, such as participation in assorted international organizations and dithering on participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

: An elderly couple visit a Hubei Provincial with symptoms of fever, cough, and fatigue. Their CT images are seen by Dr. Zhang Jixian, who noticed features different from flu or pneumonia. Zhang reports the discovery of the viral disease to be probably infectious.

: LDP lawmaker Akimoto Tsukasa is arrested and charged with accepting bribes from Chinese company to push through legislation enabling the construction of an integrated resort facility.

: Nikkei notes that, in his reply to Xi, Abe did not use Xi’s pet phrase “a community with a shared future for humanity,” that Chinese authorities are trying to insert into a fifth communique. A compromise statement at the meeting was “shared responsibility for peace and stability in Asia and the world.”

: Abe and Xi, meeting in Beijing, pledge to “jointly open a new future for relations,” with Xi saying that they were “facing an important development opportunity.” According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Otaka Masato, Abe did not shy away from sensitive areas, including Hong Kong, Xinjiang, detained Japanese, and maritime security.

: After years of lobbying by Tokyo, boneless beef from Japan aged 30 months or less is allowed into China for the first time since September 2001.

: Kono, addressing the crew of the helicopter destroyer Izumo, describes the security environment as severe due to Chinese government ships’ repeated intrusions into Japanese territorial waters in the East China Sea and North Korean missile launches.

: The Japanese defense budget for fiscal year 2020 is revealed to be 5.13 trillion yen ($43.66 billion), the bulk of which will go toward enhancing capabilities in outer space and cyberspace, purchase F-35B stealth fighters, and developing a fighter to replace the ASDF’s F-2s.

: Kono and his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, meet in Beijing, agreeing to set up a defense hotline and work together to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

: Japanese authorities search the home of a Diet member and former minister in charge of integrated resorts issues with regard to the illegal transfer of millions of yen from a Chinese investor who wished to build a resort complex in Hokkaido.

: Reportedly concerned about leaks in sensitive technology due to the large increase in foreign students, the Japanese government struggles to find regulations that do not elicit criticism that their real target is foreign students from the PRC.

: Two days before he was to leave for Beijing and a day before the official launch of China’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, Japanese Defense Minister Kono Taro lashes out against the PRC’s military buildup, saying that countries cannot expand their spheres of influence by force.

: A meeting between Japanese and Chinese politicians, at first postponed after Beijing demanded that over 40 Diet members take part in a meeting in Gansu, to compensate for the 17 who attended a meeting in Taiwan, is cancelled.

: A group of nationalist Diet members formally state to the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan their opposition to Xi’s anticipated visit.

: Nine of the Japanese Coast Guard’s 12 new large patrol vessels will be deployed around the disputed Senkaku Islands where, despite improved Sino-Japanese relations, Chinese vessels sailed for a record 264 days this year.

: The Japanese Coast Guard says it will stop procuring and using several dozen Chinese-made drones due to concerns about information security.

: The symptoms of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus are first confirmed, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report.

: In light of recent maritime advances by China, the Japanese government reportedly purchases Mageshima, a privately owned uninhabited southwestern island, for the US military and the Self-Defense Forces to use.

: The number of Japanese studying in China is reported to be rising, with an increasing number expressing interest in working for Chinese companies.

: Nikkei describes the acquisition of Panasonic’s chip business by Taiwan corporation Nuvoton as the latest example of a budding cross-border tech alliance.

: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide reveals that a Japanese in his 50s had been detained in Hunan since July on undisclosed charges.

: Xinhua notes that Xi and Abe have sent congratulatory letters to the first meeting of the China-Japan high-level consultation mechanism on people to people and culture exchanges.

: Nikkei reports that Japanese dominance of the Southeast Asian auto market is increasingly challenged by Chinese brands. Japanese automakers, heavily invested in large gas-powered vehicle plants in Thailand, have been slow to respond to government-promoted efforts to increase sales of electric and hybrid powered cars.

: Kyodo reports that Japanese corporations Sony and Sharp are among the suppliers to Hikvision Digital Technology, one of the entities the US has blacklisted for human rights violations, while Honda continues joint research with the blacklisted facial recognition company SenseTime.

: Xi, speaking with former Japanese Foreign Minister Kawaguchi Yoriko, said that although China must do some things to improve its image, the responsibility to undo prejudiced and biased views against China rests with Japan.

: Huawei chair Liang Hua, speaking in Tokyo to executives and researchers from Japan’s top companies, says that his company expects to spend $11 billion on procurement in Japan, on a par with what it spends in the US, and employ more than a thousand people in its facilities in Japan.

: The first case of someone in China suffering from the novel coronavirus could have been a 55-year old Hubei man, the South China Morning Post reports in March

: Asahi reports that US and Japanese government sources had revealed that in August Chinese officials had warned Japan and South Korea against allowing the United States to base intermediate—range missiles on their soil.

: Japan hosts its first ever full-fledged arms show, hoping to create a forum that will help it tap technology to counter threats posed by China and North Korea, with demonstrators gathering in front of the convention center to protest a perceived affront to the nation’s constitution.

: China releases Iwatani after Japanese officials hinted that the issue should be resolved in order to create “a good environment” for Xi’s state visit in spring 2020. Iwatani had previously worked for NIDS.

: Kyodo reports that, on meeting Japan’s new de facto ambassador to Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen said that the timing was right for the two countries to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in which Japan plays a leading role.

: Zhu Feng, director of Nanjing University’s Institute of International Studies, urges that China do away with a “problem-based perspective” when dealing with Japan and understand that it will take some time to re-establish trust.

: Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), affiliated with the Ministry of Defense, publishes the 2020 iteration of its annual China Security Report, subtitled “China Goes to Eurasia.”

: Japanese generic drug manufacturers, having become dependent on China for less expensive precursors, found themselves in difficulties after a leading supplier was shut down due to insufficient treatment of waste water. A report jointly sponsored by several Japanese medical associations previously urged supporting domestic production despite greater costs, since the supply of such drugs was a national security issue.

: A 10-person team was established within Japan’s National Security Council in response to alleged intellectual property violations and technology theft by China as well as cyberattacks by North Korea.

: China reportedly seeks what it terms a fifth communique during Xi’s visit to Tokyo in spring 2020, which Beijing hopes will include Abe’s endorsement of China’s Belt and Road initiative.

: Asahi, generally friendly to China, publishes a lengthy obituary on Taiwan activist Su Beng, who passed away in Tokyo aged 100, noting that he “remained committed to Taiwan’s independence until the final moments of this life.”

: According to a Singapore-based analyst, the Chinese-Japanese railway rivalry in the Philippines appears to favor Japan. Research conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) places Japan closer to the country’s economic center of gravity and its projects are proceeding faster than China’s.

: A US coast guard officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, stresses the need for discussions between the Japanese government and public about the Chinese threat, as the PRC continues to build a weapons inventory threatening Japan and other regional states.

: The government of Pakistan’s Sindh region reportedly seeks $2.6 billion in Japanese funds to complete a railway that was envisioned as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Analysts hypothesize that the economic burden, coupled with concerns over loss of sovereign control, have created buyer’s remorse.

: A Japanese historian (later confirmed to be Iwatani Nobu of Hokkaido University) specializing in Sino-Japanese relations in the 1930s is confirmed to have been detained in China on suspicion of espionage. He had previously worked for the National Institute for Defense Studies, a nominally independent think tank associated with the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

: Satellite images released by the Washington-based Center for International and Strategic Studies show what a Singaporean expert termed a factory for aircraft carriers and other very large vessels outside Shanghai.

: Minster of Okinawa and Northern Territories Eto Seiichi visits the Yasukuni Shrine. Eto signs the shine’s register book with his formal title, though emphasizing that he had paid for the ritual tamagushiryo with his private funds. Abe sends the sacred masasaki offering, also with his formal title as prime minister, but did not attend. The Chinese Foreign Ministry responds sternly.

: Typhoon Hagibis necessitates the cancellation of a seven-nation fleet review which would have included China.

: It is announced that Self-Defense Forces’ pay will be increased more than 5% during the next fiscal year, with recruitment standards requiring higher levels of competence to deal with cyberspace of outer space threats from unnamed sources.

: On the eve of Beijing’s massive celebration of the founding of the PRC, The Japan Times finds few signs of substance behind the alleged warming of Sino-Japanese relations. As China paraded an impressive array of new weapons, Japan sought countermeasures.

: The Pew Research organization reports that, amid a general drop in China’s image, Japanese views of China have declined to 85% unfavorable, 14% favorable.

: A Chinese scholar, noting that the participants in this year’s meeting of the Quad had been raised to foreign ministerial level, states that China must deepen engagement with Japan, India, and Australia.

: For the first time, the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Defense of Japan 2019 raises China above North Korea as the major threat to Japanese security.

: Reuters reports that Toyota’s management, in order “to strike a fine balance between China and the United States,” will expand its cooperation with Chinese partners Guangzhou Automobile Group and FAW to include production of hydrogen fuel-cell cars.

: A Yomiuri editorial expresses alarm at the Solomon Islands and Kiribati breaking relations with Taiwan in exchange for economic assistance and advocates caution regarding Chinese moves into the South Pacific.

: Yomiuri quotes an unnamed high-ranking Japanese official as saying that China put explicit pressure on African countries not to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), with delegates from some countries reportedly even turning back en route. Whereas 42 leader-level African countries were represented at TICAD, 53 participated in Beijing’s Forum on China-Africa cooperation.

: Nikkei cites an unnamed source familiar with Sino-Japanese ties as saying that Chinese municipalities are rolling out the red carpet for Japanese companies, likely on orders from the central government. While some bids have been turned down, other Japanese business interests see a window of opportunity for Japanese corporations.

: International e-commerce support firm Trend Express reports that hundreds of billions of yen are made annually between Japan and China through “social buyers”—Chinese citizens living in Japan buying Japanese goods in bulk to resell on social media sites to followers in China.

: Xinhua reports on the 25th iteration of a ceremony to commemorate the 88th anniversary of the Shenyang (Mukden) incident that began the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.

: Asahi reports that US and Japanese ground forces stage a simulated attack against an enemy ship, with China plainly in mind. This is the first such exercise in Japan.

: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s spring visit to Japan is reported to include a forum on infrastructure in third counties, with both countries providing financial and other support to such projects once terms are set.

: Japan and Sweden co-sponsor a conference in Taipei on disinformation, reflecting the Taiwan government’s concern that China is seeking to influence its elections.

: An opinion piece in The Japan Times warns Japanese that China has weaponized its tourist industry, and urges Japan and other Asian destinations to welcome but also diversify away from Chinese tourists.

: Japan’s National Police Agency is reported to have requested funding for a new unit dedicated to protecting the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Up to 159 officers could be assigned to Okinawa along with additional helicopters and weapons for patrolling the uninhabited islands of the East China Sea, signaling to China that there will be increased costs if it attempts to advance its gray zone tactics in the area.

: A Global Times article states that warmer Sino-Japanese ties mean an increase in the number of Japanese young people studying in China.

: A Global Times op-ed describes Japan’s aid to Africa as motivated by big-power competition and its desire to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, while claiming Chinese aid is aimed at alleviating poverty and creating jobs.

: NHK reports that Japan is to establish a new police unit covering the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Its members will be responsible for dealing with unauthorized landings in Okinawa Prefecture and will be armed with submachine guns.

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