Japan-gazer Update

平成29年10月8日 = (08 OCT 2017)

Japan-gazer Update

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This week’s poem:

Autumn skies
Bell crickets
And dragon flies
Harvest Moon
As summer dies…


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Things Going On Lately

(1) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday (07 OCT) proposed adding a new clause to the Constitution on the principle of civilian control over the country’s Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) as part of a revision of the supreme law sought by his ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Constitutional amendment has become one of the key political issues as parties have begun preparing for the general election on Oct. 22. The LDP is seeking to add an explicit mention of the status of the JSDF to Article 9 of the war-renouncing Constitution. The JSDF is currently governed by its own law, allowing for the contention that it could be unconstitutional. Asked in an online debate if the Constitution’s mention of the JSDF would weaken the Defense Ministry’s control over the troops, Abe said the amendment his party seeks will put an end to “a barren discussion” on its constitutionality. “If (the Constitution) clearly states civilian control, it will become even more clear” that the prime minister has the ultimate command over the JSDF and that the JSDF is allowed to operate only within the boundaries of the law, Abe said in the debate with leaders of major parties. (Mainichi Shimbun)

* COMMENT: Interesting idea (political chess move?) by PM Abe & LDP, intended to address fears/concerns about possible misconduct by a reestablished Japanese “military.”
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(2) Japan’s Defense Ministry plans to deploy security and missile units of the Ground Self-Defense Force on the island of Miyakojima in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa as part of efforts to strengthen the defense of Nansei southwestern remote islands, informed sources have said. A total of some 700 GSDF personnel will be stationed on the island, the sources said. The move is apparently intended to keep a check on China, which is accelerating military buildup and maritime expansion. The ministry will also deploy GSDF units on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa and the island of Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture, north of Okinawa. The deployment plans are based on the government’s medium-term defense program aimed mainly at better protecting the Nansei islands, also including Okinawa’s Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by China. For Miyakojima, the ministry sought 26 billion yen under the government’s budget for fiscal 2018, which starts next April, to cover costs for the construction of facilities to be used by the GSDF personnel and the acquisition of a site for a shooting range, the sources said. (Jiji Press)

* COMMENT: The arming of Japan’s Southwest (Ryukyu) Islands slowly continues. I believe this particular JGSDF unit will be equipped with surface-to-surface cruise missiles (SSMs), which are able to be fired at ships, as part of coastal defense.
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(3) China has reportedly allowed the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) to make a port call in Hong Kong this week. The 102,000 ton-class supercarrier will take part in a joint exercise with the South Korean navy around October 15 near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, to flex U.S. muscles before North Korea. Some observers view Beijing’s approval of the U.S. naval vessel’s port call as a pressure on Pyongyang. China has long condemned South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises around the Korean Peninsula for escalating tensions on the peninsula, stimulating Pyongyang’s security concerns over, and allowing Washington to seek hegemony in Northeast Asia. Beijing’s approval of the U.S. supercarrier’s port call in Hong Korea can be interpreted as an acquiescence over the Seoul-Washington joint muscle flexing at a time when there are concerns over Pyongyang’s new provocations around the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which falls on October 18. The upcoming Congress meeting is expected to signal the beginning of the second term of Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Donga.com)

* COMMENT: View from a Chinese perspective.
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(4) Japan’s transport ministry has decided to pay consolation money if someone suffers damage from a part dropping from aircraft near Tokyo International Airport at Haneda, in the wake of a series of similar accidents in the country, informed sources said Thursday (05 OCT). The ministry hopes to launch the consolation payment program by the time when flight routes over central Tokyo are introduced in line with the airport’s capacity boost ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, according to the sources. The new program will supplement the current government compensation system for damage to buildings or injuries to pedestrians from fallen aircraft parts. The ministry is also considering imposing punitive measures against operators of planes that drop parts, such as a business improvement order, the sources said. Between April 2009 and October 2016, the ministry confirmed a total of 437 cases of parts falling from aircraft, including bolts. (Jiji Press)

* COMMENT: Japan Ministry of Defense Bureau of Local Cooperation (MOD-BLC) has been doing this for decades — i.e., when U.S. military accident/incident causes bad things for Japanese, compensation is calculated and then paid (cost-shared between Japan & U.S.)
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(5) A total of more than one million “manhole cards,” featuring pictures of manhole covers with unique local designs, have been issued in Japan since distribution began in April last year, a group promoting the collectible cards has said. “No item published by the sewage industry had topped the milestone before,” an official of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said surprisingly, referring to the success of the cards. The manhole card project was initiated by the group, called Gesuido Koho (sewage publicity) Platform, or GKP, which is made up of officials from the ministry and the Japan Sewage Works Association. The cards, which are 6.3 centimeters wide and 8.8 centimeters long, are issued by local governments. On the front of each card, a photo of a manhole cover is printed with the longitude and latitude of its location. An explanation of the background of the design is written on the back of the card. The cards are available for free at designated places, including sewage treatment facilities and tourist information centers, with one card given to each person in principle. (Jiji Press)

* COMMENT: Only in Japan? Yokosuka-area manholes can be viewed at this link:

Link: http://ptokei.net/profile/manhole/manhole-yokosuka.html

Copyright 2017 Japan-gazer

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