Category Archives: Japan

How Japan sees China’s island-building ‘problem’

Shinsuke Sugiyama, deputy foreign minister of Japan, said Wednesday that his government views Beijing’s seizures and buildup on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as a “problem” for the region.

“We see the unilateral change of status quo as not consistent with … something that a giant and responsible member of the international community should do,” Sugiyama said, adding that his government has taken note of China’s claims that the islands are not intended for military use.

How Japan sees China’s island-building ‘problem’

Tokyo Doubles Down | Mauldin Economics

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”

“I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious… I am for secret, dark debates.”

“Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”

“If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go,’ and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue.’”

“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”

– All quotes from Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg and president of the European Commission

Whatever turmoil the Bank of Japan had already created was apparently not enough to concern a majority of its board, so they have moved to negative interest rates.

Let’s shift from Japan to the US. Last week, former Fed chair Ben Bernanke said in an interview that the Fed should consider using negative rates to counter the next serious downturn. “I think negative rates are something the Fed will and probably should consider if the situation arises,” he said.

The same story at MarketWatch mentioned that former Fed Vice-Chairman Alan Blinder has already suggested using negative interest rates for overnight deposits. And Janet Yellen, who said in her confirmation testimony to Congress in 2013 that the potential for negative interest rates to cause disruption was significant, now says they are an option the Fed would consider.

We often refer to the herd mentality when we talk about investors. Economic academicians and central bankers are equally prone to bovine behavior. Theirs is a slow-moving herd, to be sure, but it raises much dust as it lumbers.

Now, let’s fast-forward right into the future and the next recession in the US, which will probably be part and parcel of a global recession. Major central banks everywhere will be lowering rates, engaging in quantitative easing, and in some cases going even deeper into negative interest rates.

You sit on the Federal Open Market Committee. Almost everyone in the room with you is a committed Keynesian. That is the bulk of your training and experience, too, and everyone agrees with you. You are going to take actions that are in alignment with your theoretical understanding of how the world works.

And your theory says that you need to reduce the cost of money so that people will borrow and spend. You know that doing so will hurt savers, but it is more important that you get the economy moving again.

You need to understand that economists have faith in their theories in the same way that many people have faith in their religion.

In the world of the leading economists and central bankers, “everyone” believes what “everyone” knows to be true. All their research agrees with them, and any that doesn’t is labeled as flawed. Any empirical evidence that shows quantitative easing hasn’t been working is ignored or explained away, even when it is presented by outstanding academic economists. No, quantitative easing didn’t work because we didn’t do enough of it. Negative interest rates aren’t working because we haven’t gone low enough.

Tokyo Doubles Down | Thoughts from the Frontline Investment Newsletter | Mauldin Economics

Beijing’s Next Gambit, the East China Sea – WSJ

“It may be willing to risk an ‘accidental’ incident with Japan knowing Obama has a distaste for conflict.”

The East China Sea could become the next locus for China’s aggression against its neighbors. Armed conflict is increasingly possible.

Scholars linked to the Chinese government privately suggest that “a crisis” might be needed to resolve the dispute over the Senkakus. The Chinese assume that if they can manufacture a confrontation that pushes both sides to the brink of combat, the Japanese would quickly back down and seek diplomatic solutions, especially if it felt it couldn’t count on U.S. military support.

Rising numbers of Chinese aircraft and “research” vessels are venturing by the disputed islands. China uses these incidents, which spiked in 2012 and mid-2014, to assert their sovereignty over these waterways, despite Japanese protests.

But the most important reason why trouble may be brewing is that President Barack Obama will soon be leaving office. Like Russia and Iran, China has found that Mr. Obama often backs down from confrontation or substitutes words for actions.

Beijing’s Next Gambit, the East China Sea – WSJ

China ‘Will Not Initiate Military Conflict’ Over Island Disputes: Expert – NBC News

China will not start a war over disputed islands in the South China Sea amid recent muscle-flexing, experts with close links to the country’s government told NBC News.

“We will not initiate military conflict to recover islands illegally occupied by other countries,” said Wu Shicun, the former foreign affairs chief of Hainan province, an island in the South China Sea. “Our stand is to resort to negotiations [with] the countries directly involved, to resolve the territorial and maritime disputes.”

Wu is the president of the National Institute of South China Sea Studies and acts as a sort of unofficial spokesman on the issue for the government of President Xi Jinping.

China ‘Will Not Initiate Military Conflict’ Over Island Disputes: Expert – NBC News

No, China will harass Japan until Japan makes a mistake. Then China will initiate a military conflict while blaming Japan for everything.

Get Ready, America: Are China and Japan Destined for War? | The National Interest Blog

“Simple: a conflict in Asia—which would make problems like ISIS seem like mere child’s play—is only an incident away.”

These kinds of reports (tipping point) having been getting more regular in the last year or two. In this case, one incident between China and Japan could relatively quickly suck in the US. Once the US enters the conflict the clock is ticking down to nuclear war. The Chinese leadership cannot accept a defeat to Japan or the US. Therefore, there is a fairly high probability that the conflict would escalate to nuclear war.

While your Twitter and Facebook feed these days might be filled with stories about Iran, North Korea and ISIS, as well as the South China Sea, 2016 could be the year of a deadly clash between China and Japan—and the stakes could not be any higher for the United States.

A recent article in Foreign Policy sets the stage for such a clash—and shows how America could get sucked in. After a relatively peaceful year—if such a thing exists in the East China Sea—Beijing and Tokyo are once again warning each other to back off claims over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. With the rhetoric heading up, Foreign Policy reporters Dan De Luce and Keith Johnson headed over to the Rand Corporation for a war game that pitted China vs. Japan and eventually the United States. In the simulation, Tokyo’s treaty ally pledged to defend the island nation, including the disputed islands, from attack.

So what to make of all this crazy block quoting? Simple: a conflict in Asia—which would make problems like ISIS seem like mere child’s play—is only an incident away. And make no mistake about it, such a conflict, considering that the United States and China are armed with nuclear weapons, would be a frightening affair. Food for thought as we contemplate other pressing national security challenges—for if Asia was ever to be engulfed in the flames of great power war only bad things would result, with millions of lives in the balance.

Get Ready, America: Are China and Japan Destined for War? | The National Interest Blog

That China’s foreign policy is getting more aggressive shouldn’t exactly be a surprise. Many have seen this coming for several years. China’s internal problems force it to act aggressively in order to establish a sphere of influence and redirect the people’s attention. Apparently, they have already decided that risking nuclear war is worth it. If that were not true, then they would not be acting so aggressively.

When one party acts in a way that shows disregard for the consequences (nuclear war), then one must assume that they accept what may come. China is willing to fight a nuclear war in order to establish its sphere of influence if Japan or the US interfere too much.

Of course, a similar problem exists surrounding Syria. That conflict has shown the ability to grow by sucking in Iran and Russia, pushing out millions of refugees and bringing the possibility of conflict between a Nato country (Turkey) and Russia. That conflict is not all that far away from a major escalation if Israel gets sucked in. By major escalation I mean direct conflict between Russia and the US.

Notice how some big changes are taking place in the world today:

  1. The world order is changing right in front of us.
  2. Stock markets are entering bear territory around the world.
  3. Over a million refugees have flooded into Europe with millions more clamoring to get in.
  4. The price of oil is dropping like a rock to under $30 a barrel.
  5. Russia is in pretty serious economic trouble.
  6. China is starting to experience economic trouble.

Given all these problems, and the fact that we never really got free from the 2008 economic crash, doesn’t that suggest something is seriously wrong with the world? Like we are in for big changes that are not going to be pleasant?

In my snow avalanche model, once you start to experience a deep problem in one or more areas after a long period of stability, then you are pretty much in serious trouble. When you see a problem in one area, there are also deep problems in almost every area but you cannot see them. They are waiting to come out.

The long stability that we have experienced since the end of World War II is coming to an end. In my opinion we are looking at a minimum of a great depression. Almost certainly we will first enter a great-power war which will plunge the world into a great depression. Of course, those in the US will not be around to experience that great depression.

Japan steps up military presence in East China Sea | World news | The Guardian

Japan is to deploy thousands of troops and build missile batteries on islands in the East China Sea, as officials confirmed for the first time that the defences were designed to check Chinese military influence in the region.

In response to US pressure to play a bigger role in deterring increasingly assertive Chinese naval activity in the South China Sea and East China Sea, Tokyo is to position a line of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile batteries along 200 islands stretching 870 miles (1,400km) from the Japanese mainland towards Taiwan.

In addition, Japan will increase the number of military personnel on its islands in the East China Sea by about a fifth to almost 10,000 over the next five years.

While China is not usually referred to by name in unclassified defence documents, Japanese officials stated that a push by the conservative prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to boost Japan’s military reach was intended to keep China at bay in the strategically and economically crucial Western Pacific.

Japan steps up military presence in East China Sea | World news | The Guardian

Japan defence paper slams China’s ‘coercive’ maritime demands – Business Insider

Japan on Tuesday slammed Beijing’s bid to reclaim land in the South China Sea as a “coercive attempt” to force through sweeping maritime claims, in a defence paper that comes as Tokyo tries to expand the role of its military.

Tokyo said China was acting “unilaterally and without compromise”, as it also highlighted concern about North Korea’s nuclear programme and Russian moves in violence-wracked Ukraine.

The white paper accused Beijing of “raising concerns among the international community” in ramped-up criticism from last year’s report, an annual summary of Japan’s official view on defence matters.

“China, particularly over maritime issues, continues to act in an assertive manner, including coercive attempts at changing the status quo, and is poised to fulfil its unilateral demands without compromise,” said the report titled “Defense of Japan”.

Japan defence paper slams China’s ‘coercive’ maritime demands – Business Insider

China risk prompts wargames ramp-up

Australia, India, Japan and the US are all stepping up wargames in the Indo-Pacific in response to China’s sabre rattling over disputed islands in the South and East China Sea.

Australia will despatch warships and aircraft to the Bay of Bengal in October to take part in inaugural wargames with India.

The moves come with Japan joining Australia’s massive bilateral exercise with the US – Talisman Sabre – which is now under way in Australia’s north and involves up to 30,000 US and Australian troops.

“The US, India, Japan and Australia are all increasing their involvement in military exercises and a lot of that is being driven by concern about China,” Dr Davies said.

“And there are a lot more warships being bought by regional navies and more kit means more strategic competition,” he said.

China risk prompts wargames ramp-up

Japan doubles number of ships around disputed Diaoyu Islands after China sends vessels to the area | South China Morning Post

Japan is to double the size of its naval presence in waters around a set of disputed islands that are also claimed by China.

Less than a week after two ships from China’s coastguard entered a zone around the Diaoyu Islands that Japan claims as the Senkaku Islands, Tokyo announced that it would dispatch a further six of its own coastguard ships to the region.

Six Japanese patrol vessels are already tasked with protecting Japan’s claimed territory but there are growing concerns about increasing Chinese assertiveness.

When the Chinese crews of the Haijing 2307 and 2337 were challenged last week by a Japanese coastguard ship, they replied the islands were the “inherent territory of China” and that the surrounding waters were also Chinese.

Japan doubles number of ships around disputed Diaoyu Islands after China sends vessels to the area | South China Morning Post

Was Japan building a nuclear bomb? Notebooks uncovered in Kyoto show how far wartime scientists had got | South China Morning Post

The notebooks are dated October and November 1944 and were apparently the findings of Sakae Shimizu, a researcher who worked for Bunsaku Arakatsu, known as the foremost nuclear scientist in Japan in the 1940s.

Arakutsu had studied in Cambridge and under Einstein at Berlin University and in 1943 was tasked with achieving the separation of Uranium-235 with centrifuges. The research was given the code-name F-Go Project.

Due to a chronic shortage of raw materials, progress on the project, as well as a parallel scheme by the army, was slow. It was also disrupted by air raids on Japan as the war wore on, although the Allies were not apparently aware of the nuclear programmes and did not target the research centres.

In April 1945, the army’s project was abandoned when the research facility in Tokyo was badly damaged in air raids.

Had the weapon been perfected before Japan’s surrender, however, there is little likelihood a desperate government in Tokyo would not have used it against its enemies, given the chance.

Was Japan building a nuclear bomb? Notebooks uncovered in Kyoto show how far wartime scientists had got | South China Morning Post