Special Posts

Nippon.com: Japan’s Diplomatic Agenda for the Asia-Pacific

Jiji Press commentator Yoshikatsu Suzuki discusses the way ahead for Japanese diplomacy in 2012, focusing relevantly enough on the Philippines, which recently offered the US a chance at a new base – an offer the US has turned down, and the Indian Ocean, in whose ports Suzuki sees Japan needing to gain a presence. It makes for an interesting look at some of the contemporary issues affecting Japanese foreign policy.

The year 2012 marks the start of efforts to build a new order in the Asia-Pacific region. The world faces a number of difficult issues and situations whose outcome is in doubt: the Arab Spring, the European crisis, Iran’s nuclear program, and the outlook for North Korea after the death of Kim Jong-il. Now is the time for writing new rules and formulating new frameworks for an era of change. Things are already beginning to stir on the political stage, with changes of government, scheduled or otherwise, likely in a number of countries in the near future.

Read more at Nippon.com.

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Factlet #2: Until 2011, Japan had domestically produced fighters for 55 continuous years

This week’s factlet will come as no surprise to regular readers: until the last F2 fighter rolled off Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ production line last December, Japan had been producing fighters domestically for 55 years without interruption.

Mitsubishi has produced all of Japan’s domestically-built fighters in continuous production since the first construction began on the F86 Sabre under license in 1956. The break in production is a terrifying prospect for Mitsubishi and IHI (jet engine manufacturer), who fear a loss of skills and construction/development capability. Japan maintains these skills through research platforms such the ATD-X ‘Shinshin’, as well as through securing some measure of assembly and production through the F35 deal with Lockheed Martin.

In January 2010, Nikkei Business wrote a special feature on Japan’s defense aircraft entitled “Last Chance”. That article featured a chart depicting the domestically-developed fighter program, translated and updated below. Note that the F1 is the only fighter on the list that was domestically developed and produced. All the other fighters were produced under license from American companies.Whether this current gap bodes well for the FXX program (seeking the successor to the F15J) or not remains to be seen.

Click the image below for the full-sized chart:

Timeline of domestic fighter production in Japan

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Factlet #1: Personnel Costs Account for 45% of SDF Budget

Of the ¥4,645.3 billion currently drafted for defense for FY2012, 45% (¥2,070.1 billion) will be paid towards personnel labor and supplies (food, etc.) costs. This would also include training costs.

Defense Related Costs (FY2012 Draft Budget)

Defense Related Costs (FY2012 Draft Budget) (Source: Weekly Toyo Keizai)

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Meet the new Japanese defense minister, probably worse than the old one.

Meet the new Japanese defense minister, probably worse than the old one.

One of the few genuine improvements that one could have hoped would come out of the most recent cabinet reshuffle in Japan was that the new defense minister would be an improvement over the previous one. The previous defense minister, Ichikawa Yasuo, got off to a stunning start by declaring himself to be an “amateur”...

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Monday Morning Reading for 01/16

Monday Morning Reading for 01/16

Start your week with JSW's Monday Morning Reading, with some of the more in-depth articles we came across to keep you going throughout your working week.

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New Blog: Japan Foreign Policy Observatory

In November 2011, Tiago Mauricio and Rui Faro Saraiva, graduate students of Kyoto and Osaka Universities (respectively), created Japan Foreign Policy Observatory as a means of advancing their studies into Japanese foreign and security policy. The blog is an excellent piece of work covering both current events and theory, and should certainly be added to your daily Japan reading as a counterpoint to our work here at JSW.

We look forward to seeing where JFPO goes, and wish its creators good luck with their studies.

Go to JFPO site

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News Flash: Japan-DPRK Secret Talks, Koizumi Still Most Popular PM since 2000

A selection of the news of the day: Japan and North Korea hold (not so) secret talks over abduction issue, the opportunities for Japan-India ties, Gemba hunts for energy security, and polls on the best and worst recent PMs

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Branching Out: Asia Security Watch

Japan Security Watch branches out into Asia over at Asia Security Watch. Read the official announcement here for more details.

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Jeffery W. Hornung on the Futenma Impasse (Link)

As the US turns to Asia, Jeffrey W. Hornung of CSIS presses on the need to fix the realignment plan and push ahead in the context of US strategy:

A resolution [to the Futenma realignment problem] is required because as the United States pivots to the Asia-Pacific region, it is imperative to know what the U.S. force posture is going to look like and how Japan fits in this strategy, and then work to implement it. Excess focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. Marine presence in Okinawa diverts attention away from the sizable role to be played by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force at Yokosuka and Kadena in the event of a regional contingency. The region is rapidly changing, and the quicker the problems of realignment are settled, the quicker the United States and Japan can adapt to meet those changes.

Read more…

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N Korean Documentary for Kim Jong-Un’s Birthday Emphasizes Military Strength (Link)

Perhaps seeking to show his affinity with those best equipped to overthrow him, North Korean TV aired a documentary emphasizing the young leader role as a military leader, the Asahi’s Asia & Japan Watch reports:

The documentary, which aired on what is believed to be Kim Jong Un’s birthday, is the second in a week to show Kim with military units, and underlines his pledge to carry out his father’s “military first” policy. A week ago, footage showed Kim paying a New Year’s Day visit to a premier tank division with strong historical and family ties.

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[H/T @shilkytouch]

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Asia Security Watch links 1/6/12

  * CFR: The Pentagon Pivots to Asia * Japan, India “Asia’s Natural Born-Allies” * Chinese, Burmese ships attacked on Mekong River * Kidnappings of locals, foreigners in Philippines reflect collapse of law and order *  Antiterrorism training in Vladivostok

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Asia Security Watch: The PLA on Afghanistan

Asia Security Watch: The PLA on Afghanistan

As the Iraq war concludes, there have been plenty of debate in the United States about what specific lessons can be learned from the conflict and the ongoing counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan. Curious about what the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) made of the whole enterprise? Andrew Scobell, David Lai, and Roy Kamphausen have edited...

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