Defence Minister Taro Kono told reporters that he decided to “stop the deployment process” of the Aegis Ashore systems after it was found that the safety of one of the two planned host communities could not be ensured without a hardware redesign that would be too time consuming and costly.
Japan will not bar Chinese kit makers – including Huawei – from supplying telecoms network equipment in the country, it emerged this week.
The US is keen to see other nations follow in its footsteps and block Chinese companies from providing 5G equipment, but Japan is reluctant to join the growing club of governments that have bowed to pressure from Washington, it seems.
Citing a report in Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper, Reuters said that Tokyo will take its own measures in the event of any security concern in 5G, according to anonymous sources. The paper said that Japan will not join any framework designed to exclude a specific country, but would reconsider if there is any change to the US plan.
There are mixed messages as to whether US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi discussed the US’s Clean Network plan – designed to keep Chinese telecom and tech firms out of the US – at a meeting in Tokyo earlier this month, but it seems clear that cybersecurity issues were on the agenda in some form.
And while Japan might not be keen to join the US’s anti-Huawei quest in its current form, it is obviously keen to keep Washington on side. According to Reuters, it is seeking to strengthen its cooperation with the US on cybersecurity.
And furthermore, it is insistent it will take its own steps to reduce supply chain risks when procuring information and communications equipment, the newswire quoted Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato as saying.
Huawei is not out of the woods in Japan yet.
Source: telecoms.com “Huawei may have found an ally in Japan, for now”
Note: This is telecom.com’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
By Tetsushi Kajimoto
SEPTEMBER 18, 202010:25 AMUPDATED 12 MINUTES AGO
TOKYO (Reuters) – Finance ministers and central bankers from China, Japan and South Korea agreed on Friday to redouble their efforts to help the region recover economically from the novel coronavirus while vowing to defend the multilateral trade and investment system.
“China, Japan and Korea are committed to enhance our cooperation and communication with each other as well as ASEAN countries to work towards fast economic recovery in our region,” they said in a joint statement after a teleconference, referring to the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations.
“While remaining vigilant to the future uncertainties … (we) affirm the importance of maintaining an open and rule-based multilateral trade and investment system,” they said.
The annual meeting comes after the coronavirus triggered deep downturns in regional economies, disrupting global trade and supply chains, and heightening market volatility in Asia and beyond.
Highlighting worries about risks of a hit to market liquidity, Japan and Malaysia signed a bilateral currency swap arrangement that enables authorities to swap up to $3 billion of their currencies.
The financial leaders also promised to help boost Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), a web of multilateral currency-swap arrangements deemed crucial to the region’s financial safety-net.
“We expect the CMIM … to be further strengthened to assist the regional economies dealing with various crisis situations including pandemics,” they said.
Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Tom Hogue, Robert Birsel
Source: Reuters “China, Japan, South Korea agree to make ‘all policy efforts’ to fight pandemic”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
COVID-19, China, and South Korea top the agenda for new LDP President Suga Yoshihide.
By Duncan Bartlett
September 15, 2020
As anticipated, Suga Yoshihide has won the election for the leadership of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) following Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s decision to step down. Suga defeated rivals Kishida Fumio and Ishiba Shigeru in a landslide victory.
Suga, the chief cabinet secretary throughout Abe’s record-long term, does not have a flashy image, nor a celebrity profile. But he is known as a tenacious political fighter, seeking to reform the LDP from within and to force through incremental but profound changes to the major institutions that control Japan’s society. He has warned that the bureaucratic structure of the civil service is hampering the government’s response to COVID-19.
There is no general election scheduled in Japan until the autumn of next year. However, speculation is rife that Suga may seek to dissolve the lower house of parliament and go to the polls as soon as this November.
The opposition parties are seen as disorganized and divided, so many pollsters believe an early election would give the LDP an advantage. If it manages another win, this would give Suga a clear mandate to govern.
Most of his political experience is in the domestic field, rather than in international affairs, although he has accompanied Abe on trips abroad and stood by his side during conversations with world leaders.
Suga has also served as the top government spokesman since 2012. It was in that role, earlier this year, that he publicly condemned South Korea for making what he said were “unreasonable demands” for compensation relating to the period when Japan occupied the Korean peninsula prior to World War II.
Shigeto Nagai, who heads the Japan team at Oxford Economics, regards Suga as less hawkish and more pragmatic than his rivals. Nagai says: “We are still not sure how Mr. Suga will perform as a prime minister and as the chief diplomat of this country but he might take a more practical approach and he may be more prepared to make compromises than other people in his party.”
“However,” Nagai continued, “he cannot go against the policies set by the LDP and the party is currently not showing any softening of attitude towards South Korea.”
Nagai believes that the public mood in Japan is currently more negative toward South Korea than it is on China. He says there may be an economic reason for this: “Japan’s reliance on China is much larger than on South Korea. The challenge for any Japanese prime minister is always to balance the relationship between China and the United States. I think under Mr. Suga’s leadership, Japan will continue to be an important ally of America and at the same time try to be nice to China.”
One of Suga’s supporters within the LDP is Nikai Toshihiro, long considered to be one of the party’s most pro-China members. As prime minister, Suga will probably keep Nikai as LDP secretary-general, allowing him to retain his strong influence.
This frustrates Yasuo Naito, deputy editor of the conservative-leaning Sankei newspaper, which supports the LDP.
“It worries me that Mr. Nikai might push Mr. Suga towards accommodating China economically. I think that’s a mistake, especially when China and the U.S. are engaged in a new cold war,” says Naito.
“South Korea just criticizes Japan and there is a really strong anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea at the moment. But the Chinese are more shrewd politically. They are thinking about the benefits of the Japan relationship. So it’s wrong to conclude that just because Mr Suga has been tough on South Korea, he will also be tough on China – they are completely different countries and different situations,” adds Naito.
In an editorial published the day after Suga was picked as LDP leader, China’s Global Times newspaper, which gives voice to mainstream (and often hawkish) political thinking, congratulated him and said that “maintaining cooperation with China will be Japan’s best choice.” It also said that “Japan no longer poses a major threat to China.”
The financial markets seemed to be reassured by the smooth transfer of power in Tokyo. Share prices and the value of the yen have held steady.
Investors expect no major change of economic policy under Suga. He has stated that his priority is to help Japan through the COVID-19 crisis and he has indicated that he will support low interest rates and more fiscal stimulus, aimed especially at helping Japan’s less developed regions. Suga is from Akita prefecture, a largely rural area, which has suffered from depopulation due to a lack of job opportunities.
Early in his second stint as prime minister, Abe laid out in his famous Abenomics program using the metaphor of three arrows. The third arrow was based on the concept of structural reform. Shigeto Nagai of Oxford Economics hopes that Suga has the energy to continue with that process. “He’s got a good track record with dealing with bureaucracy but the government has a terrible record in terms of getting to grips with fintech [financial technology], mobile apps, and IT.”
Nagai says: “To really raise the fundamental growth rate of this country, we must increase productivity. Abe was right to focus on that. Having a new prime minister who takes on bureaucracy should help but it will take years to achieve a good outcome.”
Duncan Bartlett is the editor of Asian Affairs and a former BBC Tokyo correspondent.
Source: The Diplomat “What to Expect From Japan’s New Leader”
Note: This is The Diplomat’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
New US tech ban puts Chinese company’s Asian ties under strain
TAKASHI KAWAKAMI, Nikkei staff writer
August 27, 2020 00:49 JST
GUANGZHOU — Huawei Technologies revealed Wednesday that procurement from Japanese suppliers grew by more than 50% last year while the U.S. tightened trade restrictions on the Chinese telecom equipment maker.
During an online information session, Jeff Wang, chairman of the Tokyo-based subsidiary Huawei Japan, credited the gain to Japan’s “extremely important role in global supply chains.”
Huawei’s relationships with suppliers face a new test after the U.S. this month moved to further block its access to chips and other equipment based on U.S. technology, part of a series of sanctions against the Chinese company that began last year.
Wang did not mention the U.S. restrictions during Wednesday’s online forum. But another executive appeared to play down the risk to Huawei’s supply of 5G-related components.
“We have procured from Japan since 2018, so I believe there will be no major impact,” said the executive.
Huawei “has built up long-term and stable relationships with Japanese suppliers,” Wang said.
The company bought roughly 1.1 trillion yen ($10.3 billion) worth of components and other goods from Japanese companies last year, up from 721 billion yen in 2018.
Huawei first set up its Japanese arm in 2005, and the unit employed about 950 people as of June. The company also procures heavily from China, Taiwan and South Korea.
Source: Nikkei Asian Review “Huawei says Japan ‘extremely important’ after 50% rise in procurement”
Note: This is Nikkei Asian Review’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
US President Donald Trump’s tech war on Huawei could push the firm even farther ahead in all things 5G
By SCOTT FOSTER
JULY 16, 2020
US President Donald Trump is pressing allies and others to ditch Huawei-made 5G equipment. Image: Facebook
TOKYO – The United States, Japan, Australia and now Britain have banned Huawei from their 5G wireless telecom networks. Canada seems likely to follow, New Zealand is moving in the same direction and Singapore’s two largest network operators have chosen to use equipment from Ericsson and Nokia rather than the Chinese tech giant.
The Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, comprised of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and two of their key Asian allies are moving into alignment on the issue.
Meanwhile, after the skirmish between Chinese and Indian troops in the Himalayas in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed, India banned WeChat, TikTok and 57 other Chinese internet applications on national security grounds. Huawei’s 5G equipment seems likely to meet the same fate in India.
Vietnam and Taiwan, which have their own particular issues with China, do not use Huawei equipment. Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines do. Indonesia is not yet prepared to adopt 5G. Cambodia, not surprisingly, is going with Huawei and ZTE.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir, speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan last year, said Huawei “can spy as much as they like, because we have no secrets.”
South Korea – which both leads the world in the roll-out of 5G services and has its own telecom equipment maker, Samsung Electronics – is a special case. Huawei supplies less than 10% of the 5G equipment used in South Korea, and that equipment goes to LG U+ (Uplus), the country’s smallest carrier.
Visitors look at television monitors by Samsung Electronics during the Korea Electronics Grand Fair at an exhibition hall in Seoul on October 27, 2016. Photo: AFP/Jun Yeon-Je
Samsung Electronics supplies the nation’s two dominant carriers, SK Telecom and KT, and has shipped 5G equipment to KDDI in Japan, ATT, Verizon and Sprint in the US and other customers overseas. Samsung also operates in the Chinese city of Xian with two fabs making NAND (short for “not and”) Boolean operator and logic gate flash memories, which it supplies to Huawei.
Samsung Electronics and South Korea have no economic interest in confronting Huawei. The US, on the other hand, has been badgering South Korea to get rid of Huawei equipment altogether.
That would almost certainly lead to retaliation from China and therefore might not happen. With Ericsson and Nokia also in the market, Huawei appears to have no further growth potential in South Korea.
Russia has welcomed Huawei 5G, as have Turkey, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and several other countries, but not exclusively. Huawei is active in Ukraine, but that country seems ripe for an American-led campaign of disassociation.
The European Union, which has Ericsson and Nokia to protect, has not banned Huawei but is unlikely to let it dominate its 5G networks.
In 2019, Huawei’s regional sales including network equipment, cell phones and other products were distributed as such: China 59%; EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) 24%; Asia-Pacific 8%; and the Americas 6%.
Five years earlier, in 2014, the breakdown was: China 38%; EMEA 35%; Asia-Pacific 15%; and the Americas 11%.
Over the five-year period, Huawei’s overseas sales almost doubled while its domestic sales increased 4.6 times. With the loss of the UK market, the probable loss of the Indian market and increasingly severe attitudes toward China in Western Europe, Huawei’s multi-year overseas expansion could go into reverse.
China is the world’s largest and – aside from South Korea – most rapidly advancing 5G market. By the end of 2020, industry sources expect China to account for more than 50% of worldwide 5G base station installations and more than 70% of total 5G subscribers.
A majority of those base stations will be supplied by Huawei and most of the remainder by ZTE.
To add further perspective, as Asia Times’s Spengler (David P. Goldman) put it recently: “Ericsson appears to have a 10% share in China’s 5G buildout … In terms of sales, that’s roughly equal to 100% of the US 5G equipment market.”
China reportedly has more than 250,000 5G base stations in operation now and is targeting 500,000 by the end of the year, which should bring 5G services to every major city. The next big target is five million.
GSMA, the global mobile communications industry association, estimates that China will invest approximately US$180 billion in mobile networks by 2025, with 90% of that spent on 5G. By then, the number of Chinese 5G subscribers is expected to exceed 800 million.
In addition to the upgrade of ordinary mobile communications and smartphone applications, widespread access to 5G should enable significant advances in public and private-sector online services, transport system monitoring and control, and industrial automation.
This is true in Japan as well, where NEC and Panasonic are introducing customized, closed (presumably secure) 5G wireless networks designed for use in the production control systems of so-called “smart factories.”
The increasing industrial sophistication of China, which is also the world’s largest and fastest-growing user of industrial robots, should offset its loss to lower-wage countries of hand assembly work.
It is fashionable in the West to say that this will make humans obsolete and exacerbate an already serious unemployment problem, but that is not necessarily the case.
Japan has both the world’s top industrial robot and factory automation equipment industry and the lowest unemployment rate among large industrial nations. For Japan, automation is a creator of higher quality jobs and a solution to the problem of a shrinking labor force – a demographic problem shared by China.
Fanuc industrial robots from Japan on a fully automated production line at German car manufacturing giant Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, northern Germany. Photo: AFP/John MacDougall
Taking a 10-year view, it would be prudent to consider a world in which China becomes more and more like Japan in this regard, only much bigger.
The US is trying to put a stop to this by cutting off Huawei’s and China’s access to components and equipment produced using American technology. This may have an impact in the short run, but it is already providing an incentive for China to diversify away from dependence on its rival and develop its own capabilities.
It would therefore also be prudent to consider a world in which European, Japanese, Korean – and Chinese – products and technologies have replaced those that Huawei previously bought from America.
Scott Foster, the author of Stealth Japan, is an analyst with Lightstream Research, Tokyo.
Source: Asia Times “World splitting into pro and anti-Huawei camps”
Note: This is Asia Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
- Defence Minister Taro Kono said the deployment process was stopped after the safety of two planned host communities could not be ensured
- Japan had already spent US$1.7 billion on the project but not everything will go to waste, as it is compatible with those used on Japanese destroyers
“Considering the cost and time it would require, I had no choice but judge that pursuing the plan is not logical,” Kono said.
The Japanese government in 2017 approved adding the two missile defence systems to bolster the country’s current defences consisting of Aegis-equipped destroyers at sea and Patriot missiles on land.
The US has lost its superiority in weapon technology. Its failure in developing F-35 fighter jet has caused Japan to develop Japan’s own F-3 sixth-generation fighter jet.
C4isrnet.com says in its report “Four technologies Japan and the US should team on to counter China” yesterday, “The U.S. and Japan need to expand their collaboration on defense technologies in the future, with a specific focus on four technologies that can help counter the rise of China, according to a new report released Friday by the Atlantic Council.”
Does the report mean that China is better than the US and Japan in weapon development so that the US has to seek Japan’s cooperation and collaboration to “counter the rise of China”?
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on c4isrnet.com’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.c4isrnet.com/global/asia-pacific/2020/04/16/four-technologies-japan-and-the-us-should-team-on-to-counter-china/.
by Sebastien Roblin July 9, 2019
The new F-3 jets would then begin replacing Japan’s over one hundred home-built Mitsubishi F-2 single-engine fighters—heavily upgraded (and over-priced) F-16s—starting in the mid to late 2030s.
Japan’s 2019 Mid-Term Defense review quietly revealed that after years of hesitation, Tokyo has decided to press ahead with development of its own domestically designed sixth-generation Mitsubishi F-3 air-superiority stealth fighter, rather than purchasing an additional foreign stealth design to supplement its growing fleet of F-35s.
(This first appeared several months ago.)
In February 2019, the Japanese Ministry of Defense explicitly confirmed these intentions to Jane’s. Reportedly, F-3 performance requirements are set to be released in the 2020 budget, with development officially beginning in 2021 and a first flight targeted for 2030.
The new F-3 jets would then begin replacing Japan’s over one hundred home-built Mitsubishi F-2 single-engine fighters—heavily upgraded (and over-priced) F-16s—starting in the mid to late 2030s.
Later, a Japanese television feature in March 2018 revealed close-up footage of advanced high-thrust XF 9-1 turbofan engines and Active Electronically Scanned Array radars under development for the F-3 program. The special also revealed a projected program development cost of 5 trillion yen—equivalent to nearly $45 billion U.S. dollars. Cost per-plane could easily exceed earlier-cited figures of 20 billion yen ($179 million).
Tokyo’s Stealth-Fighter Odyssey
In 2016, Japan achieved a technological milestone when it flew its Advanced Technology Demonstrator, the X-2 Shinshin. In development since 2007, the ATD cost $350 million and featured innovative composite ceramic/silicon carbide skin and powerful vector-thrust turbofans for extreme maneuverability and super-cruising flight speeds. The Shinshin, described in greater detail in this article, supposedly had a radar cross-section the size of a ‘giant beetle.’
But the ATD was a tech-demonstrator, not a prototype for an actual fully-equipped fighter plane. When Tokyo initially balked at the estimated $40 billion, it froze further development and issued Requests For Information to foreign aviation firms.
The concept of a hybrid of the F-22 airframe with the F-35’s more advanced avionics seemed particularly attractive; but the bill for such a plane remained extremely high at an estimated $215 million per aircraft. Japan also courted Grumman, which decades earlier developed an XF-23 ‘Black Widow’ stealth fighter, and British BAe, which is currently developing the Tempest stealth fighter.
Either option would have meant committing to build more fifth-generation fighters instead of looking ahead to sixth-generation designs such as the Tempest and European FCAS.
Furthermore, advanced military aviation industries are very difficult to start up again after lengthy interruption as experienced engineers retire, factories close and technologies become outdated. If Japan didn’t start developing a stealth fighter now, it might become impossible to do so in the future, sinking Tokyo’s hopes of breaking its long-standing dependence on U.S.-based defense companies.
F-35 versus F-3
Many analysts predicted the F-3’s demise after Tokyo announced its intention to purchase 105 more F-35As and F-35B Lightning stealth jets in addition to the 42 already ordered. Tokyo may even procure some of the F-35s more quickly and cheaply from U.S. factories instead of producing them in Japan.
However, the F-35 is designed foremost as an air-to-air capable strike plane rather than air superiority fighter in the vein of the F-22 Raptor, which is no longer in production.
While the JASDF is building up its surface strike capability, defensive air patrols are by far its primary mission. In 2018, the JASDF dispatched fighters to intercept approaching Russian and Chinese military aircraft on average nearly three times per day. The PLA Air Force outnumbers Japan’s six-to-one, and its latest fighters like the J-11D and J-20 come close to matching Japan’s historical qualitative advantage.
Characteristics desirable in air defense fighter are long range/endurance for lengthy patrols; high speed to swiftly engage incoming aircraft before they release their weapons; and maneuverability to defeat opposing fighters in within-visual-range dogfights. In all of these old-school characteristics, Japan’s forty-year-old F-15J Eagle fighters out-perform the F-35.
Nonetheless, the F-35’s stealthy radar-cross section and powerful networked sensors make it more survivable and dangerous than an F-15 that can be detected from dozens of miles away. But Japan would still prefer a fighter that was both stealthy and a dedicated air-to-air combat machine.
When Jane’s asked a Japanese official what the top five priorities were for the F-3, he listed “capability for future air superiority” first.
The other qualities included capacity for upgrades, domestic technological ownership, and affordability. Japan may hope it could lower costs by exporting abroad, as Japan’s parliament legalized arms sales in 2014. However, Japan’s military hardware tends to be quite pricey and it has yet to have much export success. Stealth fighters, though, remain high in demand and difficult to acquire, with only the F-35 having been exported so far.
What will the F-3 look like?
All that’s certain is that the F-3 will be a twin-engine fighter capable of mounting six internal weapons. Beyond that, highly divergent concept sketches released by Japanese engineers indicate a final design is far from being selected.
However, there is more information available of various technologies Japanese engineers are eager to incorporate in the F-3.
In 2019, Japan began testing XF-9-1 low-bypass turbofans developed by Ishikawa Heavy Industries. These can reportedly generate 11-12 tons dry thrust, or 15-16.5 tons ‘wet’ (dumping fuel into the afterburners) and tolerate 1,800 degrees Celsius of heat. While the F-22’s two F119 turbofans generate 13 tons dry and 17.5 wet thrust, the XF-9 is a half-meter shorter and 30 centimeters slimmer than the F-119, leaving more room for internal weapons.
Separately, Japan’s defense ministry has been researching three-dimensional thrust-vectoring nozzles which redirect the engine’s thrust up to twenty degrees in any direction. If these can be implemented without compromising radar-cross section (difficult), this suggests Japan wants the F-3 to rank amongst the world’s most maneuverable modern jet fighters alongside the F-22 and Su-35, enhancing its ability to evade missiles and out maneuvers adversaries in within-visual range combat.
High Speed Wifi Booster Takes Hong Kong By Storm
Each XF-9 can generate an extraordinary 180 kilowatts of electricity, which could be potentially be used to power directed-energy weapons such as lasers or especially radar-based microwave weapons that could fry circuitry in ballistic missiles streaking towards Japanese islands.
Japan has also studied turning the F-3’s airframe skin into a huge ‘conformal’ radar antenna using composite smart-skin sensors, and tested an electromagnetic ESM sensor that not only helps detect adversaries, but which can minimize or distort a stealth fighter’s own radio-frequency emissions for self-defense.
For cockpit instrumentation, Japanese scientists are considering ditching the traditional ‘Head’s Up Display in favor of an F-35 style Helmet Mounted Display system combined with a single large liquid-crystal display. An artificial-intelligence using man-machine interface is also being developed to optimize data flow to the situation and lighten pilot taskloads.
Japan has also been researching high-speed datalinks that could network sensors and exchange targeting data with friendly forces. These are specifically intended to counter numerically superior enemy adversaries as well as stealth aircraft like China’s J-20 stealth fighter or forthcoming H-20 stealth bomber.
Technologies tested in the X-2 that could reappear in the F-3 include EMP-resistant fiber-optic fly-by-wire avionics, and ‘self-repairing’ flight systems that detect and automatically compensate for damage to an aircraft’s control-surfaces.
Japanese defense ministry also clearly is inviting technology transfers and assistance from firms like Lockheed, Boeing or BAe to ease the project’s completion, despite the lead taken by domestic firms.
The above technologies check off many characteristics of conceptual sixth-generation fighter jets—(though optional-manning and drone-control have yet to be mentioned), and are individually pretty impressive. However, integrating them into a capable flying platform poses a much greater challenge, as does mass-producing them in a cost-efficient manner. The U.S. F-35, for example, suffered many delays and cost overruns due to difficulties integrating its many new technologies under concurrent development. Thus Japanese engineers have their work cut out for them as they seek to realize the fifteen-year development goal.
Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.
Japan’s appeasement policy toward Myanmar, driven by geopolitics and disregard for human rights, is supporting the Rohingya genocide.
By Yuzuki Nagakoshi
January 15, 2020
Myanmar offered the starving Japanese people affordable rice in the early 1950s, when Japan was struggling to recover from World War II. Japan is paying the people back by supporting Myanmar’s apartheid regime against the Rohingya.
The 2016-17 violence that bore the hallmarks of genocide was only a tip of the iceberg of the Myanmar government’s longstanding discriminatory policies. Marzuki Darusman, the head of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, stated in October 2019 that Myanmar is still failing to prevent, investigate, and effectively criminalize genocide. The threat of extreme violence recurring is real. Myanmar has perpetrated rounds of violence since the 1970s, and the international community failed to protect the Rohingya every time.
In the International Court of Justice proceedings that The Gambia brought against Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi denied the allegations that genocide is ongoing in her country. She portrayed the situation as an armed conflict, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism operations, and intercommunal violence, without any genocidal intent involved. Apart from the time she referred to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, she never used the word “Rohingya” in her speech — following the official policy of her government, which claims that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and not native to Myanmar. That the Rohingya are illegal immigrants is a fully debunked yet common misbelief among people in Myanmar and such a notion underlies the disenfranchisement and persecution of the Rohingya.
Despite the United Nation’s repeated calls for vigilance toward the situation in Myanmar and Myanmar’s wholesale denial of genocide, Japan has been appeasing the country. Japan was the first country to support Myanmar in the ICJ case. The Japanese ambassador to Myanmar, Ichiro Maruyama, stated in a press conference in Yangon on December 26 that “his government firmly believes that no genocide was committed in the country” and prays and hopes that the “ICJ will not issue a ruling for provisional measures” against Myanmar. If the ICJ issues such measures, he says, “Japan will look at ways to help Myanmar handle the process smoothly.” As the country most affected by the mass influx of Rohingya refugees who cross the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Bangladesh protested against Japan’s position.
Another symbolic episode that shows Japan’s utter disregard for Rohingya human rights happened in mid-August. In an interview with BBC Burma published on August 19, Maruyama referred to the Rohingya as “Bengali” – a derogatory term that falsely indicates that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Myanmar is in the process of transformation, hopefully from a totalitarian country ruled by the military into a democratic country governed by civilians in a way that is compliant with the rule of law. Democracy, rule of law, and civilian government are some of the core aspects that define good governance. But democratization increases the stake of the answer to the problem of who gets to be included in the political decision-making process. Therefore, democratization could lead to increased racial tensions and the othering of ethnic minorities so as to exclude them from the political process.
According to a survey by the Japanese foreign ministry, the Myanmar people perceived Japan to be the country’s most important partner and the most trustworthy country. Japan has, however, abused the Myanmar people’s trust and sabotaged international cooperation in pressuring the civilian government and the Myanmar military to correct its wrongs – all based on Tokyo’s shortsighted view of geopolitical and economic interest. Japan’s attempt to augment its international presence must be accompanied by an enhanced sense of responsibility as the guardian and promoter for fundamental human rights.
Japan’s Geopolitical Interest in Asia’s Last Frontier
The friendship between Japan and Myanmar is driven strongly by Japanese geopolitical interests. Fierce competition exists between the Asian economic giants – mainly Japan and China – over Asia’s “last frontier,” Myanmar. Japan has been offering Myanmar assistance to distance Naypyitaw from Beijing. Rakhine state is one of the forefronts of such competition. Beijing is working toward building a deep-water port in Rakhine state, where the violence against the Rohingya is ongoing. Tokyo supported the Rakhine State Investment Fair in February 2019 to encourage investment in the state.
Ostensibly, the Japanese policy of noninterference with the genocide is based on respect for Myanmar’s policy choices and meant to support Myanmar through its development process. Japan has been an important economic partner of Myanmar: It is Myanmar’s sixth-largest direct investor, the third-largest importer of Myanmar products, and the seventh-largest exporter to Myanmar. Moreover, Japan has not imposed any sanctions against Myanmar military officials or any trade restrictions against Myanmar, calling calls for sanctions an “utter nonsense.” In fluent Burmese, the Japanese ambassador said that Japan always wants to be a “good friend” of Myanmar and therefore supports Myanmar’s economic and political development by maintaining relationships rather than imposing sanctions.
The Japanese Government’s Contribution to the Rohingya Genocide
In the name of its geopolitical interests, Japan has been contributing to the Rohingya genocide in a number of ways.
First, Tokyo has failed to even acknowledge the Rohingya as an ethnic minority. The Japanese government refers to the Rohingya as “the Muslims in Rakhine,” “Rohingya (Bangladeshi Muslims),” or “Muslims” (as opposed to “Rakhine Buddhists”). The purpose of refusing to call the Rohingya by the names they use to identify themselves is to remain “neutral” in the matter, according to then-Foreign Minister Taro Konno, who offered his opinion in a blog post in March 2018. Japanese Ambassador Maruyama’s use of the derogatory term “Bengali” was not an anomaly or a mistake — it reflected a longstanding Japanese policy to turn a blind eye to the Myanmar government’s apartheid policy and genocide.
Japan has also opposed the establishment of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission and supported Myanmar in creating their own fact-finding mission, reportedly to maintain its access to the large Myanmar market. Japan sent a former U.N. under-secretary general to serve Myanmar’s own Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), which was cited by Aung San Suu Kyi in her opening statement at the ICJ as evidence of an existence of a functioning mechanism to hold soldiers or officers accountable for possible war crimes. The ICOE, however, is not a mechanism to hold anyone accountable. In fact, its chairperson openly stated that finger pointing, blaming, or saying “you’re accountable” is a bad approach to solving the problem. Supporting such a mechanism is only helping Myanmar in escaping its accountability.
Japan’s ambivalent approach was on display when a Japanese beverage company was called out by Amnesty International for its Myanmar subsidiary making a donation to the Tatmadaw during a public donation ceremony in the midst of reports of the violence against the Rohingya. The company made three donations totaling $30,000 between September and October 2017. The Japanese company has 55 percent ownership of the subsidiary, Myanmar Brewery, and had been involved in making donation decisions through the managing director on placement from the Japanese parent company.
The Japanese company reviewed its subsidiaries’ donations policy in response to the crisis and updated their charitable donations and volunteering policy. Under the new policy, beneficiaries must be clearly identified, and the recipient organization must be politically neutral and work for all members of the community. The use of the donated funds must be recorded and shared with the subsidiary upon request.
However, such measures are insufficient as means for compensating for the harm that the unethical and likely illegal conduct caused and holding people who made the decision accountable. The use of funding donated during the 2017 mass violence has not been identified, and no reports exist as to how the parent or subsidiary took responsibility for this donation.
Such conduct may even trigger international criminal liability, as Chris Sidoti of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has stated. Companies are immune from criminal prosecution under the International Criminal Court Statute, but its leaders are not. By donating money to the Tatmadaw during the 2017 violence, foreign companies aided and abetted the crimes of forced deportation, persecution, or even genocide through providing the means for the its commission.
By failing to take action against Japanese parent companies of Myanmar subsidiaries that donated money to the Tatmadaw amidst reports of ongoing genocide, the Japanese government may be violating its international obligations. Japan is not party to the genocide convention (ostensibly because there is the prohibition of incitement of genocide under the Convention is incompatible with the freedom of expression guaranteed under the Japanese Constitution and revisions of domestic law might become necessary), but the duty to prevent genocide and punish the perpetrators forms part of customary international law, from which states cannot derogate.
The Question of Sanctions
Japan has opposed economic sanctions, saying that such a “drastic” response would only “fuel the situation.” However, the failure in taking any measures seems to stem from Japan’s economic interest. The Japanese government reportedly sees the other countries’ economic sanctions as a chance to better Japanese companies’ competitiveness in the Myanmar market.
Indeed, Japan is actively involved in the development of resource-rich Rakhine state, where the Rohingya have been confined in “open-air prisons” for the crime of being Rohingya. Over a million Rohingya have been gruesomely expelled from the state. In February 2019, the Japanese embassy to Myanmar and the Japan International Cooperation Agency co-hosted the Rakhine State Investment Fair in the state, amid land grabs from the Rohingya to make space for foreign and domestic investors.
It may be true as a general statement, as some suggest, that broad economic sanctions would only punish the poor who rely on export-related industries and would push Myanmar to be more dependent on China. If that happens, Myanmar would be less vulnerable to international sanctions and criticisms. However, not participating in or opposing targeted sanctions would send the wrong message that Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya is permissible or that the international community is willing to turn a blind eye to these gross human rights violations.
In October 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Defense officially invited Min Aung Hlaing, the highest-ranked Myanmar military official who bears the “greatest responsibility” for the international crimes in Rakhine state, according to the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. He is on the U.S. sanctions list. His Twitter account, which features tweets referring to the Rohingya as Bengali and denying the occurrence of atrocities, was suspended for hate speech.
Despite his expressed disregard for fundamental human rights and leading role in the Rohingya genocide, Min Aung Hlaing received a warm welcome from the Japanese government. He met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who expressed his appreciation of Min Aung Hlaing’s tolerance in dealing with the Rakhine situation. Abe further urged him to take leadership in taking appropriate measures according to Myanmar’s ICOE. To expect the alleged commander of genocide to effectively deal with his own crime is preposterous.
Instead, to start with, Japan can join the United States and EU in imposing sanctions in a more targeted way, for example, by targeting senior military officials. Furthermore, Japan can also join in sanctions on companies that are related to the military, as identified by the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission. Just because broad economic sanctions may have negative side effects to civilians does not mean that Japan should not take targeted measures against the military or at least cease active support toward military officials who are suspected of committing grave international crimes.
Supporting Myanmar in Its Transition to an Inclusive Democracy
It is mere wishful thinking that the Myanmar government or military would automatically change course and become more inclusive and less oppressive as Myanmar economically develops and becomes more democratic. Democratization without accompanying protection for minorities may make matters worse; democracy, at its core, is a way of governing where the majority prevails. Some observe that “democratization processes in themselves can lead to a period of collective violence,” often linked to inter-racial conflict.
Violence not only harms the Rohingya and other persecuted ethnic minorities. Extreme violence by command may scar the direct perpetrators, who may have ethical objections to such commands but nevertheless be coerced into action. The author has personally heard from former military trainees that the Tatmadaw has been engaging in extrajudicial execution of its own soldiers when they do not obey their superiors’ command to engage in unlawful violence.
So far, for Japan being good friends seems to mean letting Myanmar’s egregious violence and other gross human rights violations slide as internal policy decisions that foreign powers should stay away from. Giving developing countries space to grow and allow some lapse in judgment may be a sound international aid policy as a general principle. But the human rights violations committed against the Rohingya are so gruesome that every government should oppose and act against them. Japan should lead Myanmar into a path of stable democracy and respect for human rights — because that is what a true friend would do.
Yuzuki Nagakoshi, Ph.D. is an international and comparative law scholar based in Arusha, Tanzania. Her current research areas are international human rights law and international criminal law. Recent works include “Repatriated to ‘Prison’: Landgrabbing as a tool of segregation in Myanmar.”
Source: The Diplomat “Japan and Myanmar’s Toxic Friendship”
Note: This is The Diplomat’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
SCMP says in its report “Huawei seeks closer ties with Japan after creating 46,000 jobs and amid plan to spend US$10 billion” on November 22, “Huawei created over 46,000 jobs in Japan last year, both directly and indirectly through local partnership deals, according to an Oxford Economics report” and “Huawei moves closer to Japan on supply chain and research links as China’s telecoms giant attempts to reduce dependence on US amid ongoing trade tensions”
The report also says, “According to a separate Oxford Economics study, Huawei boosted Europe’s economy by 12.8 billion euros via its economic activity in 2018, along with the creation of nearly 170,000 jobs either directly or through the supply chain.”
Globalization is an irresistible trend that benefit all countries involved. US is benefiting others by its isolationism and unilateralism.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3038878/huawei-chairman-seeks-closer-ties-japan-supply-chain-and-research,