By Nobuhiro Kubo | TOKYO Fri Feb 17, 2017 | 6:25am EST
Japan plans to accelerate a warship building program to make two frigates a year to patrol the fringes of the East China Sea, where it disputes island ownership with China, three people with knowledge of the plan said.
Japan previously was building one 5,000-ton class destroyer a year, but will now make two 3,000-ton class ships a year, beginning from the April 2018 fiscal year, the people said, declining to be identified as they are not authorized to talk to the media.
It aims to produce a fleet of eight of the new class of smaller, cheaper vessels, which may also have mine-sweeping and anti-submarine capability.
Naval shipyard operators including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan Marine United Corp (JMU) and Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding are expected to bid for the work, the people said.
Japan and China dispute ownership of a group of islands in the East China Sea, about 220 km (140 miles) northeast of Taiwan. In Japan, they are known as the Senkakus, while China calls them the Diaoyu islands.
Senior Japanese military officials have said they are concerned that China may seek to increase its influence in the East China Sea around Japan’s southern Okinawa island chain. Japan provides military aid to Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines and Vietnam that oppose China’s territorial claims in the neighboring South China Sea.
In a departure from normal procurement practice, Japan’s Ministry of Defense said in a report published on Wednesday it will require the winner of the – eight frigate – contract to offer major portions of the build to other bidders.
The change is meant to ensure naval shipyards remain open.
In the past two years, JMU has won contracts to build the larger Aegis-equipped destroyers, raising some concern among defense ministry officials that rivals could shutter their shipyards, one of the sources said.
“We need to ensure our ability to build naval vessels at home,” the person said.
The new ships will cost 40-50 billion yen ($353-$443 million) each, another of the sources said.
(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; Writing by Tim Kelly; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)
Source: Reuters “Exclusive: Japan to speed up frigate build to reinforce East China Sea – sources”
Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Trump twice trying hard to persuade Trump to keep Obama’s policies to contain China by his pivot to Asia including deployment of 60% of US military in Asia and the establishment of TPP. Trump, however, gave Chinese President Xi Jinping a phone call hours before meeting Abe and has thus greatly improved US-China ties.
Abe was very much disappointed and was worrying that his visit would be regarded as a failure at home. Trump did not want to upset Abe so that he showed grand hospitality to Abe without giving him anything. On the contrary, he wants to get concessions from Japan in US trade with Japan to get what he can from TPP without giving Japan the concessions Obama made to Japan in order to make TPP acceptable to Japan. However, as Japan is US most important ally in Asia, Trump was trying hard to please Japan but had no real chance to do that satisfactorily.
Luckily, North Korea came out to help them. It unexpectedly conducted a missile test when Trump was treating Abe with a dinner.
Trump takes the opportunity to show how strongly he supports Japan in opposing North Korea by dealing with the emergency in the open. Abe was greatly satisfied, but in fact he has got nothing as Trump only showed what the US has always promised.
In Japan however, people are quite satisfied with the results of Abe’s visit. New York Times says in its report “Relief in Japan After Shinzo Abe’s Visit With Trump”, “Before the visit last week, some in the Japanese news media had gibed Mr. Abe for his apparent eagerness to foster a friendship with Mr. Trump, and some joked that the American president would take advantage of the Japanese leader during their bout of golf diplomacy at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. But in a Kyodo News poll taken after the meeting, 70 percent of the Japanese public said they were satisfied with the talks between the two leaders, and Mr. Abe’s approval ratings rose slightly from a month earlier to close to 62 percent.
In the US, those who did not understand Trump’s trick or did understand but wanted to use Trump’s move to attack him made hue and cry about Trump breaking national security norms in tackling the crisis. CNN is one of the lots of media that attacked Trump for that. It did so in its report “At Mar-a-Lago, Trump tackles crisis diplomacy at close range”.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on CNN and New York Times’ reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/12/politics/trump-shinzo-abe-mar-a-lago-north-korea/ and https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/world/asia/trump-japan-shinzo-abe.html?_r=2
When US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met the press after their meeting on February 10, Trump gave warm but abstract description of US-Japan friendship and alliance without any actual details.
People’s memory is still fresh about US President Donald Trump’s nominee for and later appointed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s hardline remarks on blocking China’s access to the artificial islands China has built in the South China Sea. They believe that as China will defend such access, a war between China and the US is unavoidable.
That is because media is fond of sensational news but fail to give emphasis in their reports later that in responses to US lawmakers’ following-up questions, Tillerson softened his language. He said that in the event of an unspecified “contingency” the United States and its allies “must be capable of limiting China’s access to and use of” those islands to pose a threat. (See Reuters’ report “New top U.S. diplomat plays central role in Trump’s China shift” on February 10.)
There is utterly no need to worry that Trump will fight a war with China.
People were surprised by Trump’s friendly long phone call hours before he met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Reuters’ report “China gets an early win off Trump, but many battles remain” on February 11 gives the impression that Trump has lost face in giving Xi the concession on continuing US “one-China” policy. It forgets that Taiwan is but Trump’s bargaining chip to get concessions from China. As a shrewd businessman, Trump certainly will not give Xi anything if he can get nothing from Xi. That is why when he was asked by Takita of Japan’s Sankei Shimbun about his dissatisfaction with China in the news conference, he said that he had a very good, very very warm conversation with Xi.
He said, “As far as the currency devaluations, I’ve been complaining about that for a long time. And I believe that we will all eventually — and probably very much sooner than a lot of people understand or think — we will be all at a level playing field, because that’s the only way it’s fair.” Obviously, Trump has obtained in principle what he wants from Xi. He and Xi are to leave to their subordinates to decide the actual detailed trade measures for win-win cooperation between the US and China.
Abe, however, tried hard in the news conference to pit the US against China. He said in his initial speech, “Never should a state-owned company, backed by state capital, should not make any economic intervention. Free ride on intellectual property should not be condoned,” hinting that the US shall work with Japan to contain China.
He first ignored New York Times’ Daniel Halper’s question about TPP to avoid revealing his difference with Trump on TPP, but has to give a reply when Fox’s Blake Berman picked off again Danial’s question.
He said, “Now, for the free and fair common set of rules to be created for the free trade regime in the region, and that was the purpose of TPP, and that importance have not changed. I, myself, believe that.” He tried again to convince Trump that Trump shall continue Obama’s policy to use TPP to contain China.
Trump’s response is really interesting. He said that he thought his good relations with Xi “will also be very much of a benefit to Japan”.
How can win-win cooperation between China and the US benefit Japan? It will provide US goods with better access to Chinese markets so that Japan will lose market share to the US. China, on the other hand, will have better access to US technology to have sharper competition edges than Japan.
Trump and Xi will both be winner while Abe will be the only loser. That will be the benefit Abe will get.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Trump and Abe’s news conference.
In its report titled “A hastily called news conference caps a surreal day for Trump in South Florida”, Washington Post says that US President Trump held a 2-minute news conference to denounce North Korea’s missile test, but it was Japan’s Abe who played the leading role.
Abe was the first to speak. According to Washington Post, he says:
•“North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable.”
•“North Korea must fully comply with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
•“During the summit meeting that I had with President Trump, he assured me that the United States will always [be with] Japan 100 percent, and to demonstrate his determination as well as commitment, he is here with me at this joint press conference.”
Trump, however, only said, “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.”
North Korea conducted the test to threaten the US, but Trump shifted the threat to Japan, i.e. he meant that Japan should play the leading role in dealing with North Korea.
That shows the major change he has brought to US foreign policy: US allies instead the US shall play the leading role in defending themselves. The US will only stand behind them. Japan and other US allies shall be fighting in front while the US shall be supporting them at their back like what President Roosevelt did before Pearl Harbor—selling weapons to Britain and the Soviet Union to support them in fighting Hitler?
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Washington Post’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/02/12/a-hastily-called-news-conference-caps-a-surreal-day-for-trump-in-south-florida/?utm_term=.b55d7175c926&wpisrc=nl_most-draw16&wpmm=1.
I find the news conference funny and hope that my comment entertains readers.
By Steve Holland and Kiyoshi Takenaka | WASHINGTON Fri Feb 10, 2017 | 8:23pm EST
With a hug and a handshake, President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened a new chapter in U.S.-Japan relations on Friday with Trump abruptly setting aside campaign pledges to force Tokyo to pay more for U.S. defense aid.
The two leaders appeared to have established a quick friendship during a day of talks at the White House and a flight together aboard Air Force One to Florida for a weekend of golf.
At a joint news conference with Abe, Trump avoided repeating harsh campaign rhetoric that accused Japan of taking advantage of U.S. security aid and stealing American jobs.
It was a welcome affirmation for Japan in the face of challenges such as China’s maritime expansion and North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.
“We are committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control and to further strengthening our very crucial alliance,” Trump said. “The bond between our two nations and the friendship between our two peoples runs very, very deep. This administration is committed to bringing those ties even closer,” he added.
A joint U.S.-Japanese statement said the U.S. commitment to defend Japan through nuclear and conventional military capabilities is unwavering.
The statement amounted to a victory for Abe, who came to Washington wanting to develop a sense of trust and friendship with the new U.S. president and send a message that the decades-old alliance is unshakeable.
Japan got continued U.S. backing for its dispute with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea that China also claims. The statement said the two leaders affirmed that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty covered the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.
Abe invited Trump for a visit to Japan this year and Trump accepted. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will make an early stop in Tokyo.
But uncertainty remained in another area, that of trade, after Trump abruptly pulled the United States out of the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Abe said he was “fully aware” of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the multilateral trade accord. But he said Japan and the United States had agreed on a new framework for economic dialogue.
“I am quite optimistic that … good results will be seen from the dialogue,” he said, adding that Japan was looking for a fair, common set of rules for trade in the region.
A senior Japanese government spokesman said Abe and Trump did not discuss currency issues and that Trump did not request a bilateral trade deal.
The official told reporters that a U.S.-Japan economic dialogue will be led by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Vice President Mike Pence to address fiscal and monetary policies as well as infrastructure projects and trade.
Trump, who spoke by phone on Thursday night with Chinese President Xi Jinping, also said he considered dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program a “very very high priority” but gave no hint as to how his approach would differ from that of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
He predicted a level playing field on trade with China soon.
The Mar-a-Lago visit will be Trump’s first use of his Florida getaway for diplomatic purposes. It will also be the most time Trump will have spent with a foreign leader since taking power last month and his second face-to-face meeting with a key ally after talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May two weeks ago.
Trump hosted Abe at Trump Tower last year in his first talks with a foreign leader after his surprise win in the November presidential election.
Abe played down his chances in scoring better than Trump in golf.
“My scores in golf are not up to the level of Donald at all, but my policy is never up, never in, always aiming for the cup,” he said.
Japan has had lingering concerns about what Trump’s self-styled “America First” strategy means for U.S. foreign policy in Asia as well as what his decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact means for bilateral economic ties.
Abe pledged Japan would help create U.S. jobs, hoping to persuade Trump to turn down the heat on economic matters and stand by the alliance.
To avoid questions about whether Japan is paying Trump for Abe to stay at the beachfront Mar-a-Lago retreat, the White House declared that the entire visit there, including golf, is the official gift for Abe from Trump.
(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Andrew Hay and Alistair Bell)
Source: Reuters “Trump says U.S. committed to Japan security, in change from campaign rhetoric”
Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Trump’s friendly phone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping hours before meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proves his talents in choosing the best timing in dealing with Japan and China.
As a shrewd businessman, Trump is very clear that Japan is the greatest beneficiary of Obama’s pivot to Asia as of all the countries in the world, Japan has the most earnest desire to contain China due to the war crimes it committed in China in the 1930s and 1940s. As the bitter memory of Japan’s invasion of China remains fresh in China, all Chinese people will support a war against Japan no matter how they love peace. Those who oppose the war will be regarded as traitors by most Chinese people.
Japan is lucky that Chinese leaders are wise. They want good relations with Japan and utterly oppose a war with Japan. However, if Japan provokes China, they will fight. Who knows what their successors will do! Containing China to stop its rise seems the best choice for Japanese leaders and people like Shinzo Abe whose grandparents have committed war crimes in China.
The US, however, helped China resist Japanese invasion. Chinese children are still fond of listening to stories about American pilots who volunteered to help China fight the Japanese in China’s war of resistance against Japan.
Trump knows well that the US is simply unable to contain China. Its military threat in the South China Sea has caused China to build large artificial islands as military bases to dominate the South China Sea. Containing China militarily has only given rise to an arms race with China that the US cannot afford.
Obama’s TPP aims at containing China economically, but will end up benefiting TPP members, especially Japan, at US expense.
Not only so, TPP helps Chinese President Xi Jinping overcome vested interests’ obstacles to his reform and will thus enable China to conform to TPP rules and join TPP.
Moreover, TPP’s stringent rules will push other countries, especially a rising India, closer to China economically as they want China’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to counter TPP.
Now, Trump’s phone call to Xi tells Abe that the US wants to be China’s friend instead of containing China. Containing China will certainly benefit the US as it facilitates US maintenance of its world leadership. However, it is now Japan’s turn to do the hopeless dirty job.
US-China friendship means better access to Chinese and US markets respectively by the US and China. To compete with China in US market, Abe has to make concessions. As an initial sweetener, Abe has promised to invest $150 billion in the US to create 300,000 jobs. That is much better than paying more for US expense in keeping its military in Japan.
Trump’s scrapping of Obama’s pivot to Asia has the effect of pitting Japan against China and will give rise to Japan’s arms race with China.
Trump also plans to improve US relations with Russia. If he can pit Russia against China, he will be able to subdue China by diplomacy, which according to China’s gifted strategist Sun Tzu, is better than subduing by fighting.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
What are Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Japanese dreams in the first place? American people have talked much about American dream while Chinese President Xi Jinping is requesting Chinese people to have the Chinese dream he cherishes, but we have never heard Abe talking about his Japanese dreams. However judging by what he has been making great efforts to achieve, we know what his Japanese dreams are.
Like Trump’s desire to make America great again, first, Abe wants to make Japan great again.
There have been lots of reports about his abenomics to revive Japan’s stagnant economy, for which he relies greatly on Obama’s TPP. That dream has been broken by Trump’s prompt withdrawal from TPP though Abe has visited Trump and personally tried hard to persuade him no to do so.
Even if Abe is able to reinvigorate Japanese economy, he still doubts whether Japan will be able to deal with a rising China that grows strong both economically and militarily quicker than Japan.
Therefore, whether Abe is able to revive Japan’s economy or not, he has a more important dream: He dreams that the US will defeat China and stop China’s growth.
That is why Abe has been trying hard to pit the US against China. He tried hard to provoke China to fight Japan so that the US will perform its treaty obligations to defend Japan and fight China.
He wants a war with China urgently to involve the US as he believes the US is strong enough now to defeat China. However, if China grows even stronger later, the US will not be able to defeat China.
The US says that its treaty with Japan covers the disputed Diaoyu (known as Senkaku in Japan) Islands and that the US will defend Japan’s administration of the islands.
China, however, sends coast guard ships to patrol the sea area around the Diaoyu including the area within 12 nautical miles that both Japan and China claim as their territorial waters.
Abe was very happy that if he sent Japanese navy to drive away Chinese coast guard ships from the disputed waters, China will respond with its navy so that there will be a naval war between China and Japan and thus involve the US.
That dream was first broken by the then US Vice President Joe Biden. Biden told Abe not to send navy as the US would not fight for a few rocks. Biden then visited Beijing and told his old friend Chinese President Xi Jinping to refrain from firing the first shot to begin a war.
Since Japanese government purchased the disputed islands, in order to claim China’s sovereignty to the islands, China has sent large fishing fleet to fish in the disputed waters and patrolled the disputed waters and airspace with its coast guard ships and warplanes. However, due to Joe Biden’s intervention, Japan has not been able to drive Chinese boats, ships and warplanes away to impose its exclusive administration of the disputed islands. It dare not do so as that will give rise to a war with China that the US does not want to be involved.
Does US new president Donald Trump want any change in the situation?
In its report “Mattis: US will defend Japanese islands claimed by China” on February 4, CNN quotes American new defense secretary James Mattis as saying in a press conference with his Japanese counterpart, “I made clear that our long-standing policy on the Senkaku Islands stands — the US will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands and as such Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty applies.”
What is the use of continual recognition? The US simply remains the same in refusing to support Japan in driving away Chinese boats, ships and warplanes in the disputed waters and airspace. Perhaps, Mattis meant that the US would be involved if China takes the islands by force, but who will be so stupid as to incur huge costs in taking those barren rocks. What China contends for is the rich fishing and energy resources around those rocks. China is now fishing and exploring the energy resources there without being blocked by Japanese navy, even less by US navy.
The saddest thing for Abe is not Japan’s lost of its exclusive administration of the disputed islands, but the failure to pit the US against China so as to make the US defeat China and stop China’s rise. Abe is always afraid that a strong China may avenge the war crimes Japan has committed when it invaded China in the 1930s and 1940s.
That is Abe’s Japanese nightmare. He has the Japanese dream to have the US help him prevent such a nightmare from becoming reality.
Now Mattis’ promise of protection implies that Japan has to pay more for the protection to set a good example for other US allies. It gives Abe the signals that Japan has to make concessions in trade and currency to maintain good relations with the US for US protection.
US President Trump’s recent letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping for constructive ties with China seems the beginning of another nightmare for Abe. The US is now using its protection as a bargaining chip to have better access to Japanese market and competition edges in Chinese market.
How can Abe revive Japanese economy under such unfavorable circumstances?
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on CNN’s report, full text of which can be viewed at http://edition.cnn.com/2017/02/03/asia/us-defense-secretary-mattis-japan-visit/