Japan - China

Chronology from Sep 2020 to Dec 2020

: Yomiuri, citing unnamed sources familiar with China-Russia relations, states that the two states have agreed to aim missiles at Japan or other US allies in Asia if the US deployed missiles in those nations.

: Sankei Shimbun discloses that research and development is being conducted on a new type of weapon akin to domestic Tomahawks. If deployed on the Nansei Islands, they could reach Pyongyang and Beijing.

: Global Times predicts that China’s third aircraft carrier, carrier-based stealth fighter jets, and a newly developed frigate with integrated propulsion system will be among the new weapons debuting in 2021 and that “there is no doubt that China will continue to develop new, world-class weapons for years to come.”

: State Minister of Defense Nakayama Yasuhide urges president-elect Biden to “be strong” in supporting Taiwan in the face of an aggressive China and quickly announce a policy on Taiwan so that Japan could prepare its response in accordance with it.

: Japanese bookseller Tsutaya opened the second of a planned 100 stores in China, which is experiencing a boom in bookstores.

: In response to increasing Chinese incursions, Japan reportedly will assign 22 coast guard ships of 1,000 tons or more to the East China Sea chain by 2023.

: Reacting to Japan’s 1.1% increase in the FY 2021 defense budget, leading Chinese military newspaper Jiefang Junbao criticizes Japan for “chanting” its defense only principle while introducing military equipment that would empty the principle.

: Global Times reprints Reuters’ report on the 1.1% increase in Japan’s fiscal year 2021 defense budget while omitting the Reuters’ phrases “to counter China’s growing military power,” against potential foes “including neighboring China.

: Japan and China sign a memorandum of understanding to create one of the world’s largest methane production facilities in northern China.

: Kishi says Japan will develop new standoff weapons and anti-ship missiles that can target warships at greater distances around the chain of southwestern Okinawa island chain, including near the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

: Japanese exports to China rose 3.8% in November, weaker than the 10% rise in October, even as Japan’s exports as a whole declined by 4% from a year earlier.

: Xi’s failure to visit the Daming Temple during his November visit to Yangzhou is seen as a snub to Japan.

: Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo and Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe take part in their first discussion, via telephone, since Kishi took office in September.

: China Daily, noting that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been working with Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases, suggests that collaboration be expanded to prevent future outbreaks and emerging infectious diseases.

: Chen Xi, head of the CCP’s Organization Department and a Politburo member speaks at the seventh national memorial day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre slaughtered by Japanese troops in 1937.

: Japanese defense ministry commissions a consultancy to help crucial defense subcontractors in danger of going out of business apply for tax incentives and subsidies.

: In his first press conference since being appointed ambassador to Beijing, Tarumi Hideo, despite being a member of the “China School” of the Japanese foreign ministry and ties to pro-China LDP secretary-general Nikai, calls China’s stance on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands “completely unacceptable.”

: Renmin Ribao cites Japanese opposition parties’ objection to building two ships equipped with Aegis missile interceptors as unconstitutional.

: In what Nikkei describes as an effort to offset Africa’s China tilt, FM Motegi leaves to visit Tunisia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Mauritius, where he emphasizes Tokyo’s more transparent business environment.

: Meeting at a trilateral forum, Japan and the US pledge to provide financial assistance to Vietnam for the construction of LNG-fired power plants as part of a plan to offset Chinese influence.

: Jiji reports that five young Taiwanese members of the Fukushima Zenshin-dan visited the tsunami-nuclear meltdown area of Fukushima, sponsored by the Taiwan Society of Tokyo.

: Reacting to Xi’s announcement that China would consider joining the CPTPP, a Yomiuri editorial expresses doubt that the PRC will submit to its rules and urges member nations to build a consensus to abide by them.

: According to Yomiuri, the Japanese government will replace over 1,000 of its drones “aimed from a national security standpoint at effectively eliminating Chinese-made units currently in use.

: Nikkei observes that active recruitment by the Chinese government has increased the trend of Japanese scientists taking jobs in China due to higher salaries and better research opportunities.

: Asahi predicts Xi’s long-awaited visit to Japan will not take place until 2022, perhaps on the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations.

: Nikkei reports that repeated Chinese incursions into the Diaoyu/Senkaku area was the key topic of the 20-minute meeting between Suga and visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Wang replies that the islands should not stand in the way of advancing bilateral relations and that the two countries should work together on economic recovery and the pandemic.

: Wang’s discussions with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu result in agreement to establish a fast-lane travel corridor for essential personal exchanges by the end of November so as to facilitate the resumption of business activities.

: According to a private sector study commissioned by the defense ministry, the costs of building two additional Aegis class ships and their equipment will amount to about ¥500 billion, vis-à-vis the ¥400 billion cost of Aegis Ashore.

: Japanese diplomatic sources reveal that 2016 plans for a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea in response to Chinese pressure on the Diaoyu/Senkakus were called off because Abe feared it would jeopardize a visit by Xi.

: Mitsubishi Electric, which plays a major role in supporting Japan’s national security and infrastructure, is again targeted in a sophisticated cyberattack.

: Chinese authorities cancel the anti-Japanese war-themed drama series Leiting Zhanjiang (Lightning General) because of its “excessive entertainment factor.”

: As part of efforts to deter Chinese activities in and near its remote islands, the uninhabited island of Mageshima is to become an SDF base in addition to serving for field carrier landing practice for US carrier-borne aircraft.

: 8th century cultural treasures loaned to a Shanghai museum are returned to Toshodaiji temple which had lent them, enabling performance of a rite that the temple has performed annually for eight centuries without fail.

: Yomiuri notes that the Japanese government’s unwillingness to use the word “threat” when discussing China for fear of provoking the PRC has proved ineffective as a deterrent and advises augment “a military buildup that is firm enough not to give China the smallest opening to pounce upon.”

: Taking note of President-elect Biden’s commitment to applying Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty to the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, China’s leading military newspaper cautions Japan against allowing relations to deteriorate again due to “external factors.”

: Annual Japan-China opinion poll conducted by Japanese nonprofit think tank Genron NPO finds that 89.7% of Japanese respondents have an unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable impression of China.

: A new air freight route is launched linking Changsha, in central China, with Osaka.

: Japan signs the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact, marking Japan’s first free trade agreement with both China and South Korea.

: An internal Japanese defense ministry document indicates that the alternative to the Aegis Ashore system that was scrapped a few months ago will cost 1.5 times as much.

: Japan’s Coast Guard is test-flying the US-made SeaGuardian drone, able to patrol a wider part of the Pacific and allow the coast guard to concentrate personnel and equipment in waters near the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.

: Global Times accuses foreign media of “stirring up trouble” and avers that every country has the right to carry out activities in waters and airspace under its jurisdiction, including the use of force, pointedly accompanying its article with a photograph of a China Maritime Surveillance ship patrolling the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

: Yomiuri reports that the Japanese government has asked Beijing to suspend the illegal operations of Chinese fishing boats in and around the Yamato Bank area, which is part of Japan’s EEZ.

: China’s National People’s Congress posts draft legislation that empowers the coast guard to investigate and seize foreign ships venturing into territorial waters claimed by China, and to use weapons under certain conditions.

: As India, US, Japan, and Australia begin their largest naval exercises in more than a decade, Beijing complains of a “cold war mentality.”

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu terms the presence of Chinese ships in the contiguous zone off the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands for the 283rd day this year as “an extremely serious matter.”

: Sources say Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department will separate its China and North Korea operations in what seems a belated response to China’s 2017 requirement for its citizens to cooperate with the government’s espionage activities and repeated intrusions off the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

: Taking note of Xi’s plans for future development of the PRC’s economy, the Asahi Shimbun editorializes concern that China is aiming for a self-imposed isolation.

: Global Times reacts to a Kyodo dispatch that Japan’s Defense Ministry is mulling construction of what would be the MSDF’s largest destroyer by calling it an excuse to break through the limits of Japan’s peace constitution by hyping threats from neighboring countries.

: Global Times responds favorably to Suga’s first policy speech to the Diet since his inauguration interpreting his statement that a stable China-Japan relationship as indicative of a “mild” attitude, adding that recent rhetoric and moves that are not conducive to positive developments do not represent the whole picture of the Suga administration’s China policy.

: Xinhua describes Suga’s visits to Vietnam and Indonesia as an attempt to bring ASEAN into the Indo-Pacific framework being pushed by the US and Japan.

: Responding to the intrusion of an unusually large number of Chinese fishing boats into Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Japanese Fisheries Agency requests that Japanese boats avoid those areas, to the annoyance of the impacted fishermen.

: Suga, in Indonesia, emphasizes Japan’s commitment to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, also endorsing the Jakarta-initiated ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Suga and Prime Minister Joko Widodo will work toward holding a second “two-plus-two” round of foreign and defense ministerial talks, Indonesia being the only ASEAN member with such a channel.

: US information security company Crowdstrike reveals that some Japanese research institutions developing coronavirus vaccines have been hit by cyberattacks, apparently from China.

: Yomiuri editorializes that, in light of large-scale acquisitions in Hokkaido and other areas in Japan by Chinese and Chinese-related companies, the government should move quickly on legislation to monitor the sale of land around SDF bases and on remote border islands.

: Global Times protests the ritual offering, referring to it as a “potted plant,” that Suga sent for the Yasukuni Shrine’s autumn festival.

: In a modest effort to enhance control over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Japan’s environment ministry reportedly will conduct a survey of the islands’ endangered species and overall ecology, using satellite imagery to avoid an actual physical presence there.

: Yomiuri Shimbun speculates that China’s recent intrusions into the area around the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands was related to Japanese participation in the Quad, which  opposes Chinese expansionism. The article notes that the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress has begun deliberations on the specific duties of the coast guard that could lead to an increase in provocative actions in the disputed waters in cooperation with the Chinese navy.

: A commentator for the Japan Times characterizes China’s recent intrusions into Japanese territorial waters as a test for Suga and a continuation of its policy of normalizing its presence in the area.

: Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan’s Friendship Association for the East Asian region officially invites Abe to give a speech to the LY next year.

: Miki House, purveyor of upscale children’s apparel, is targeting affluent customers in China and elsewhere in Asia as the Japanese birthrate declined, with 80% of its new shops having opened outside Japan since 2019.

: Japan launches the first of a new class of diesel-electric submarines, the Taigei (Big Whale), in a response to China’s military modernization and increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.

: Osaka police announce arrest of a former worker at a major Japanese chemical firm suspected of disclosing information to China on the manufacturing process of conductive particles which are used in smartphone touch panels.

: Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu “strictly protests” the entry of Chinese Coast Guard ships into disputed East China Sea waters for three days and their refusal to leave despite repeated warnings.

: A Global Times opinion piece describes the new generation of Japanese politicians as focused on cooperation with the US, Europe, and the Indo-Pacific strategy, with containment a core concern. China must be vigilant on where they will take Japan’s future policies.

: Three MSDF vessels conduct anti-submarine drills in the South China Sea. Japan’s Defense Ministry gives no details on the geographical location of the drills, but notes that the three vessels will stop in Vietnam, which contests part of the South China Sea with the PRC, “to replenish supplies.”

: Concerned about Chinese purchases of water sources and tracts of land (particularly those on remote islands and near Self-Defense Force bases), Japan’s government reportedly will establish a law to more closely monitor them.

: Earmarked in the Japanese government’s 2021 budget request is 6.2 billion yen ($60 million) to promote “workations,” combining work with vacation, on remote islands as a way to preserve the nation’s territory while also promoting tourism.

: Japan’s government lodges a diplomatic protest against China’s new 3-D museum.

: Speaking at a meeting of the Quad with Australia, India, and the US, Suga indicates that he will follow Abe’s strong commitment to a Free and Open Pacific (FOIP) to counter China’s growing assertiveness.

: Pew poll shows a rise in unfavorable views of China in 14 countries, including Japan, where 52% said their views were “very unfavorable” and 34% “somewhat unfavorable.”

: Chinese government announces the creation of a 3-D museum including archives and maps that reiterate Beijing’s claim to the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.

: Columnist for the Japan Times argued that Japan had spent too long on the defensive, and must frustrate China’s strategy of incrementally altering the status quo without incurring substantive costs.

: Nikkei editorializes that Suga obtain the understanding of the Japanese people before trying to improve relations with China.

: Nikkei’s Beijing correspondent interprets Renmin Ribao’s prominent coverage of Xi’s phone call with Angolan President Joao Lourenco vis-à-vis its treatment of his call with Suga as a message to Japan that it will not receive preferential treatment from the PRC. Xi was number seven on Suga’s call list.

: Suga and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agree to elevate their special strategic and global partnership and step up cooperation in security and economic efforts in support of a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” with the US and Australia, code language for opposition to Chinese assertiveness in the area.

: Xinhua reports that, in a telephone call with Suga, Xi Jinping said that China stands ready to work with Suga’s government to properly handle key sensitive issues and that China supports Japan in hosting a successful Olympic games next year.

: The Japanese defense industry advocates deploying a missile-defense system on a floating platform that will use the radar and other equipment from the abandoned land-based Aegis Ashore project.

: Reviewing the fifth anniversary of the enactment of a set of new security laws, Yomiuri assesses that they have strengthened the US-Japan alliance against China’s maritime push and North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs.

: China expresses concern with Suga’s appointment of Kishi Nobuo, a friend of Taiwan, as defense minister, with PRC foreign ministry spokesperson expressing China’s hope that “the Japanese side will abide by the ‘One China’ principle and refrain from any form of official exchanges with the Taiwan region.”

: Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo tweets that he visited Yasukuni Shrine after resigning to report his resignation to the souls of the war dead. This was Abe’s first physical visit to the shrine since 2013.

: Global Times reports that Abe’s visit to Yasukuni was “blasted” on social media, which it says shows that rightwing politicians have yet to reflect on their country’s war crimes even as they try to be friendly with China, and predicts that Abe’s visit will set a bad example for Suga.

: Former Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro attends a memorial service for former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui. He evades questions about Taiwan and Japan developing security cooperation in the face of China’s military intimidation, but says that Suga had called him to express hope of talking with President Tsai Ing-wen “if there were an opportunity.” Both sides declare that there are no plans for such a conversation.

: Speaking just two days after Suga’s election, one of his major backers, LDP heavyweight and China-friendly Nikai Toshihiro, voices hope that Xi Jinping’s state visit will take place soon and that a fifth political document will establish China-Japan intentions for “co-creation to achieve world peace and prosperity led by Japan and China together.”

: China Daily predicts that Suga will try to further improve relations with China but at the same time take a tough stance in defense and security policies.

: Global Times editorializes that the question of whether Suga’s attitude will be better is “insignificant,” and that China should continue to boost its attractiveness to Japan, weaken Japan’s ability to restrict China’s development, and gradually suppress Japan’s idea of taking an opportunistic line toward China.

: Debating with contenders for the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the prime ministership, front-runner Suga Yoshihide vows that, if elected, he would stand his ground with Beijing.

: Chinese specialists on Japan dismiss Suga and other candidates’ remarks as campaign rhetoric, opining that no leader would abandon the benefits achieved during the past few years, especially those relating to the economy and trade.

: India and Japan sign a pact for reciprocal provision of supplies and services between their armed forces, seen as strengthening Quad—with Australia and the US—efforts to contain China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.

: Yomiuri reports that, due to China’s continued provocations in areas surrounding Japan despite the pandemic, Japanese Ground Self-Defense units have been conducting large-scale drills in Nagasaki and Hokkaido prefectures to prepare for the defense on remote islands. A record number of 17,000 personnel participated in the Hokkaido exercises.

: Speaking at think tank in Washington, then-Defense Minister Kono Taro explains that although as foreign minister he referred to China as a grave concern, as defense minister, he must say that China is a security threat to Japan.

: Disclosing hitherto unknown details of secret negotiations involving a Chinese fishing boat ramming two Japanese Coast Guard vessels a decade ago, Nikkei comments that China’s unwillingness to compromise means that “Japan once again faces the question of whether it is ready to tackle big issues regarding its powerful neighbor—and at what cost.”

: China Daily reports on the opening in Heilongjiang of a major exhibition related to the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression that it says presents mainly new evidence of Japan’s human experiments and biochemical weapons.

: Global Times describes China’s commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the victory of the Chinese people’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression as low-key, which it attributes to improving China-Japan relations.

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