South Korea, China condemn Japan over textbooks in latest fight


A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen in this picture taken from a helicopter carrying South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (not pictured), east of Seoul August 10, 2012.  Credit: Reuters/The Blue House/Handout

A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen in this picture taken from a helicopter carrying South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (not pictured), east of Seoul August 10, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/The Blue House/Handout

South Korea and China on Friday condemned new Japanese textbooks that say that islands at the centre of separate territorial disputes belong to Japan, the latest in a series of disputes between Tokyo and neighbors Seoul and Beijing.

The elementary school textbooks describe islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese as Japan’s “sovereign territory” and say South Korean occupation is unlawful.

The books also say China’s claims to islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyus in China in the East China Sea are unfounded.

South Korean First Vice Minister Cho Tae-yong called in Japan’s ambassador to Seoul to protest and the ministry warned of worsening ties.

“If (Japanese) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who declared just three weeks ago he stands by the ‘Kono Statement’ now tries to conduct education for elementary school children that distorts and hides its history of colonial invasion, he is not only breaking his own promise but also committing the mistake of isolating its next generation from international society,” the ministry said.

The statement refers to an apology made by former cabinet secretary Yohei Kono in 1993 which recognized the Japanese government involvement in taking women, mostly Korean, to work in military brothels as sex slaves during the war.

Both China and Korea suffered under Japanese rule, with parts of China occupied in the 1930s and Korea colonized from 1910 to 1945.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Japan had to take a “sincere attitude” towards facing up to history.

“Japan should teach its next generation in these textbooks that the Diaoyus are China’s, and that Japan has illegally snatched them away,” he told a daily news briefing.

Hong added that China was also highly concerned about a Japanese Foreign Ministry policy paper, which also claimed the islands as Japan’s and said China was trying to change the status quo with force.

“It neglects the facts, wantonly blackens China’s name and unreasonably criticizes China. We are extremely concerned and very dissatisfied,” he said.

Japan’s ties with South Korea and China have long been poisoned by what Beijing and Seoul consider Tokyo’s failure to atone for its wartime past.

Anger has mounted over the past year after Abe’s visit to a controversial Tokyo shrine honoring war criminals among Japan’s war dead.

Tokyo had worked hard to ease tension with Seoul last month under pressure from Washington to improve ties and drew a concession from South Korean President Park Geun-hye who agreed to sit down for a meeting with Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a security summit in the Hague.

Source: Reuters “South Korea, China condemn Japan over textbooks in latest fight”

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China alarmed by Japan’s fortification of defense by relaxation of arms export regime


Bayonets attached to rifles used by Japanese Self-Defense Forces are seen in front of Japan's rising sun flag, which is used by the forces, during the annual troop review ceremony at Asaka Base in Asaka, near Tokyo October 27, 2013.  Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

Bayonets attached to rifles used by Japanese Self-Defense Forces are seen in front of Japan’s rising sun flag, which is used by the forces, during the annual troop review ceremony at Asaka Base in Asaka, near Tokyo October 27, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

Japan eased its weapons export restrictions on Tuesday in the first major overhaul of arms transfer policy in nearly half a century, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to fortify ties with allies and bolster the domestic defence industry.

In a move which alarmed China, where bitter memories of Japan’s past militarism run deep, the government decided to allow arms exports and participation in joint weapons development and production when they serve international peace and Japan’s security.

That is a shift from a decades-old policy of banning all weapons exports in principle, although quite a few exceptions to the rule have been made over the years, such as the transfer of arms technology to the United States, Japan’s closest ally.

“This is beneficial for Japanese companies in that they can take part in joint development and joint production and have access to cutting-edge technology,” Takushoku University Professor Heigo Sato said.

“If you live in a closed market like the Japanese defence industry does, you clearly lag behind in technological development.”

But even under the new regime, Japan is to focus mainly on non-lethal defence gear such as patrol ships and mine detectors and says it has no plan to export such weapons as tanks and fighter jets.

The move comes when Sino-Japanese ties have been chilled due to a territorial dispute over a group of East China Sea islets and Abe’s visit in December to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, seen by critics as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression.

“Japan’s policy on military security concerns the region’s stability. We pay great attention to this,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing.

“We request that the Japanese side learn lessons from history, earnestly respond to regional countries’ strong concerns about the relevant issue … and do more to benefit the region’s peaceful development.”

Japan’s self-imposed restrictions on arms exports have virtually excluded defence contractors such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and IHI from the overseas market and made it difficult for them to cut costs and keep abreast of technological development.

COMPETITION TOUGH

Japan’s defence budget slipped for a decade through 2012, raising concerns that some of the smaller and less diversified arms makers might be forced to go out of business.

The new export policy alone will unlikely help Japanese defence makers establish a big presence overseas, although some high-performance Japanese components, such diesel engines for ships, stand out among potential competitors.

“It’s not as if Japanese (defence) goods will start selling right away because of this. The government still needs to play a leading role in their overseas expansion. Various governments are already competing fiercely out there,” said Bonji Ohara, research fellow at the Tokyo Foundation, a think tank.

“Competition dictates prices. Of course, they cannot set the kind of prices they are setting for the domestic market,” said Ohara, who once served as a Japanese navy attaché in China.

One of Japan’s potential defence gear exports is Kawasaki Heavy’s submarine diesel engines, which do not require air and allows submarines to stay submerged for an extended period.

When Japanese Defence Ministry officials visited Australia last year, Canberra showed interest in them, a Japanese government official said.

Another one is ShinMaywa Industries’ US-2 amphibious aircraft. India is already in talks with the Japanese government for possible procurement.

Under the new rules, Japan still bans weapons exports to countries that are involved in international conflicts and shipments that breach U.N. Security Council resolutions, such as exports to North Korea and Iran.

In announcing the new rules, Japan stressed that it would remain a nation “striving for peace” and screen each case to see if exports should be allowed, a move to assure its neighbours that Japan is not taking a path to a military power.

Besides the easing of arms export rules, Abe last year raised Japan’s defence budget for the first time in 11 years and aims to lift its ban on exercising the right of collective self-defence, or aiding an ally under attack.

These moves, coupled with his Yasukuni visit, prompted criticism in China that Japan is lurching toward militarism.

Under its post-war, pacifist constitution, Japan drew up the “three principles” on arms exports in 1967, banning sales to countries with communist governments or those involved in international conflicts or subject to U.N. sanctions.

Over time, the rules became tantamount to a blanket ban on exports, but that later became riddled with exceptions.

Source: Reuters “Japan relaxes arms export regime to fortify defence”

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Tokyo Protests Chinese President Xi’s Remark on Japan’s Wartime Atrocities


A group of lawmakers including Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker Hidehisa Otsuji (front 3rd L), Japan Restoration Party member Takeo Hiranuma (front L) and LDP member Sanae Takaichi (front 2nd L) are led by a shinto priest as they visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo

A group of lawmakers including Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker Hidehisa Otsuji (front 3rd L), Japan Restoration Party member Takeo Hiranuma (front L) and LDP member Sanae Takaichi (front 2nd L) are led by a shinto priest as they visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo

The government’s top spokesman on Sunday said the Foreign Ministry has lodged a protest with China over President Xi Jinping’s remarks on the number of Chinese killed by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937.

At a think tank forum in Berlin on Friday, Xi said Japanese troops killed more than 300,000 residents when it captured what was then its capital during the Second Sino-Japanese war.

Xi also said more than 35 million Chinese were eventually killed or injured as Japan waged a war of aggression stemming from its militarism.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the protest was lodged with the Chinese government on Saturday. Although Tokyo does not deny that the Japanese army was involved in the killing and looting of Nanjing, it has refrained from stating the number of victims because views on the historical matter vary, he said.

“It is extremely regrettable” for the Chinese leader to make such comments on Japanese history in a third country, Suga said during a television appearance Sunday morning.

Chinese experts at a bilateral panel of historians in 2010 concluded that more than 300,000 were killed in the Nanjing Massacre, while Japanese historians cap the number at 200,000. Some estimates as low as 20,000.

This atrocity and other historical disputes have placed a constant strain on bilateral ties for years, but another major sticking point — the sovereignty row over the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands — came back with a vengeance after Japan effectively nationalized the chain in 2012.

China claims the islets as Diaoyu and Taiwan calls them Tiaoyutai.

Chinese ships have been shadowing or intruding into Japanese territorial waters around the islets ever since. On Saturday, three Chinese coast guard ships intruded for the seventh time this year, according to the Japan Coast Guard.

The Haijing 2101, Haijing 2151 and Haijing 2401 entered waters off Minamikojima, from around 10 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Saturday, according to the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.

A Japan Coast Guard ship told them to leave the waters, but the Chinese stayed for about two hours before departing.

In his Berlin speech, Xi responded to criticism of China’s growing military budget by saying that it is proportionate to the country’s size, and that Beijing’s aim is to prevent itself from ever again being oppressed or colonized by foreign powers.

On March 5, China announced a 12.2 percent rise in military spending to 808.23 billion yuan (¥13.38 trillion) for 2014.

Source: The Japan Times “Protest lodged over 300,000 figure: Xi remarks on Nanjing tally upset Tokyo”

Related post:

  • China’s Xi says Japan’s wartime atrocities ‘fresh in our memory’ dated March 30, 2014
  • Will China Make Diaoyus (Senkakus) Japan’s Crimea? Dated March 29, 2014
  • China’s behaviour over Diaoyus similar to Russian annexation of Crimea, says senior Japanese official dated March 25, 2014
  • China: Signals of Imminent War with Japan dated November 11, 2013
  • China Does Not Budge in its Brink of War Policy on Air Defense Identification Zone dated December 5, 2013
  • China advises nationals living in Japan to register with embassy in Tokyo dated November 26, 2013