Japan-gazer Update

Japan-gazer Update — January 26, 2018

平成30年1月26日 = (30th Year of HEISEI Era, 1st Month, 26th Day)

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= This week’s poem:

Some Wisdom

If, for what you strive,
Is so distant and far,
Across a life’s desert,
Like an unreachable star,
Then don’t walk, take a car…

{ From my poetry blog: https://carllafong.blogspot.jp }

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= 5 Things Going On Lately:

(1) The Japanese and French governments broadly agreed Friday (26 JAN) on a pact for mutual supplies of food, fuel and other goods by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and France’s military. The broad accord was reached at a meeting in Tokyo among Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, and their respective French counterparts, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Florence Parly. The ministers also agreed to expand joint training by the Maritime SDF (JMSDF) and the French navy, and promote joint studies on defense equipment. The “two-plus-two” session was the fourth between Japan and France. The previous such meeting was held in January 2017. The Japan-France acquisition and cross-servicing agreement is expected to enhance interoperability between Japanese and French troops, and facilitate their cooperation, including in U.N. peacekeeping missions. (Jiji Press)

* COMMENT: Another chess move by Japan, with an eye on China…? France has three Pacific territories: New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Wallis & Futuna — total population about 600,000. But, the islands also provide France with large Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). Of note, French naval ships, operating at-sea, can serve alcohol.
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(2) The first F-35A stealth fighter jet for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force is set to be deployed to its Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture on Friday, Defense Ministry officials said Monday (22 JAN). The JASDF will procure a total of 42 F-35A aircraft, its next-generation mainstay fighter. It plans to form the first F-35A squadron by deploying nine more aircraft to the northeastern Japan base by the end of March next year. The F-35, which has advanced stealth capabilities, was developed in an international project led by the United States and Britain. The fighter to be deployed to the Misawa base soon was assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. group’s plant in Toyoyama, Aichi Prefecture, and so will be 37 others. The remaining four aircraft will come from the United States. The ministry plans to mount Norwegian-made long-range cruise missiles on the F-35As, with the aim of using them for remote island defense and attacking enemy forces on the ground. (Jiji Press)

* COMMENT: OK, it’s finally “show-time” in Japan for the tactical aircraft everyone has been talking about. Raises the questions …. “Will Japan-U.S. quality be able to overcome Chinese quantity in the skies over the East China Sea?”
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(3) The Japanese government on Thursday (25 JAN) launched a permanent exhibition space on the Senkaku Islands and the islets of Takeshima, its first facility exhibiting territory-related materials. An opening ceremony was held in the Municipal Research Building in Chiyoda Ward, central Tokyo, which houses the museum on territory and sovereignty. The admission-free museum displays public documents and photographs showing that the islands are integral parts of Japanese territory, according to government officials. “I hope it will develop as a base where people can deepen their understanding of Takeshima and the Senkaku Islands,” Tetsuma Esaki, minister in charge of territorial issues, said at the ceremony. The Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa are claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu. The islets of Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture, western Japan, are effectively controlled by South Korea, where they are known as Dokdo.

* COMMENT: Fair enough. A meaningful “strategic communications” move by Tokyo ….. in the face of similar & unending efforts by China and the Koreas…
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(4) A Japanese patrol plane spotted a suspicious contact between tankers from North Korea and the Commonwealth of Dominica in the East China Sea, suspecting a possible transfer of goods in violation of U.N. sanctions on the North, government sources said Monday (22 JAN). The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C aircraft took photos of the scene it noticed near waters off Shanghai on Saturday, as it was engaging in patrol activities for illicit transfer of refined oil at sea by North Korea. The information was passed on to the U.S. government, Japan’s key ally that is leading global efforts to impose tough economic sanctions on North Korea, the sources said. The U.N. Security Council has imposed stepped-up sanctions against North Korea as it continues to test-fire missiles and carry out nuclear tests. Last September, a council resolution prohibited the ships of U.N. member states from engaging in the transfer of any goods or items to North Korean-flagged vessels at sea. At the request of the United States, JMSDF vessels and patrol aircraft have engaged in patrolling the high seas near Japan to look for possible cases of oil smuggling from late last year. (Mainichi Shimbun)

* COMMENT: “Gotcha!” Pretty much nothing can sail/operate in the waters around Japan without getting discovered by JMSDF’s world-class maritime patrol assets & systems. Also called ISR — Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance — in addition to information-gathering, ISR can show operational intent and ability, and has a deterrent effect… Remember, if you have been detected, that also means you have been targeted.
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(5) The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, successfully launched on Thursday (18 JAN) its third Epsilon small rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite. The Epsilon-3 solid-fuel launch vehicle released the Asnaro-2 satellite into orbit about 52 minutes after the liftoff at the Uchinoura Space Center in Kimotsuki, Kagoshima Prefecure, at 6:06 a.m. (9:06 p.m. Wednesday GMT). Flight experiments for the Epsilon series, developed for low-cost satellite launches, ended with the third version, and full-fledged operation of the series will start with the Epsilon-4, JAXA said. Cost-cutting efforts for the Epsilon development included the use of a solid rocket booster for Japan’s mainstay H-2A large launch vehicle. Takayuki Imoto, head of the Epsilon project, told a news conference that his team was able to realize a rocket “gentle to a satellite” with reduced vibrations. (Jiji Press)

* COMMENT: Another step forward in the space race. Low-cost launch vehicles will be a must, in order for Japan to be competitive with others…
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< << BONUS >>>

— The number of criminal offenses recognized by police in Japan in 2017 fell by 81,009, or 8.1 pct, from the preceding year to 915,111, hitting a postwar low for the third straight year, the National Police Agency said in a preliminary report Thursday (18 JAN). The annual tally fell for the 15th year in a row after peaking at some 2.85 million in 2002. The 2017 figure was down by more than two-thirds from the record-high level. An NPA official said that the decline is believed to have reflected crime prevention efforts both by the public and private sectors, improved security measures at homes and for vehicles, and increased installation of security cameras, including event data recorders. Last year, the number of criminal cases fell in all of the nation’s 47 prefectures, with Yamagata marking the sharpest drop of 18.8 pct, followed by Iwate, 18.7 pct, and Akita, 17.6 pct. Eleven prefectures, including the three in the Tohoku northeastern region, posted declines of more than 10 pct. By type, the number of thefts, accounting for over 70 pct of the total, fell by 67,607, or 9.3 pct, to 655,541, and that of robberies dropped by 480, or 20.6 pct, to 1,852. (Jiji Press)

* COMMENT: Impressive. Underscores why any crimes or incidents by U.S. Forces personnel will always “stick out” — almost a zero-defects atmosphere in perfectionist Japan.

Poems and Comment copyright 2018 Carl LaFong

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