31 December 2012

News Story: China's Beidou satellites could be used in Diaoyutai conflict

Unrelated CGI Image of a Satellite

After China's Beidou navigation system went online on Dec. 27, military analysts warned that the People's Liberation Army may use the system in a potential conflict against the Japanese over the disputed Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands, reports our sister newspaper Want Daily.

With 16 satellites in service, the accuracy of the Beidou navigation system for civilian service within mainland China is 10 meters, according to Moscow-based Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The GLONASS, the Russian counterpart of Beidou, is able to provide an accuracy within two meters to its military. While Nezavisimaya Gazeta stated that Beidou is a generation behind the GLONASS, the accuracy of its images provided to the People's Liberation Army still remains unknown.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: China to follow Russia in developing next-generation bomber

PAK-DA (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

Following in the footsteps of Russia, which is working on its PAK-DA fifth-generation strategic bomber, China is looking to develop a bomber with sufficient range to strike the United States, reports our sister newspaper Want Daily.

A piece from state newswire Xinhua said the country's engineers have established the basic concept for a next-generation bomber.

Russia confirmed the design of the PAK-DA bomber this year, including a combat radius of around 3,500 kilometers and a total weight of 100 to 120 tons, including payload. A prototype of the bomber is expected around 2017 and it may enter service somewhere around 2025-2030.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Hainan sends first oceangoing patrol vessel to South China Sea

Chinese Maritime Patrol Ship Haixun 31 (File Photo)

China on Thursday sent an oceangoing patrol vessel equipped with a helipad to the South China Sea, the first of its kind to be put into service there.

The country recently enacted a controversial law allowing maritime authorities to inspect vessels from other countries navigating in the South China Sea, which China claims as its territory. Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have competing claims to the region's islands and atolls.

The vessel, Haixun 21, will be under the administration of the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Russia to sell Lada class submarines to China

Lada class Submarine (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

After selling 48 advanced Su-35 fighters to China, Russia will sell four Lada class submarines to the PLA under the direct order of President Vladimir Putin, according to Moscow-based newspaper Kommersant on Dec. 20.

The Lada class is an improved version of the Kilo class diesel-electric submarine, equipped with an advanced combat system and running much more quietly than its predecessor. Suggesting that the total price of the four submarines will be US$2 billion, Kommersant said that the contract will be signed by 2015. This means that the PLA Navy would operate the submarines earlier than India and Venezuela. A spokesperson for Rosoboronexport, Russia's major weapon exporter, confirmed the report on Dec. 23.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Diaoyutai (Diaoyu/Senkaku) air patrols may become routine - scholar

A Chinese scholar has said China's air patrols over the disputed Diaoyutai (Diaoyu or Senkaku) islands in the East China Sea may become a routine practice, according to a report by Hong Kong's China News Agency on Wednesday.

Zhou Yongsheng, a professor at Beijing-based China Foreign Affairs University, was quoted as saying that China's deployment of surveillance aircraft in the region can become "routine and systematic."

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: Abe promotes expanding regional ties

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to promote security cooperation with Australia and India, based on the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance, in a bid to counter China's efforts to extend its influence.

Abe also believes strengthening ties with Russia and other Asian nations will help rebuild relations with China.

"The Japan-U.S. alliance is the central pillar [of Japan's foreign policy]," Abe added in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Friday.

Commenting on Japan-China relations, he said, "I think new developments will occur in our relationship [with China] by building a trust-based partnership with countries that share the same values, as well as strategically important nations such as Vietnam."

By boosting partnerships with nations surrounding China, Abe aims to urge Beijing to improve its relations with Japan.

Specifically, he suggested security cooperation between Japan and India following last year's joint training conducted by the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Indian Navy.

"We also can pursue further security cooperation [with the United States] to develop a trilateral partnership between Japan, India and the United States. [Cooperation] between Japan, Australia and the United States will also contribute to regional stability. Additionally, we have a de facto promise of cooperation with Indonesia," he said. "Restoring the balance of power in the region is important."

Read the full story at The Yomiuri Shimbun

29 December 2012

News Report: Japan to Carefully Consider Stationing Officials on Disputed Islands

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the new Japanese government will carefully consider stationing officials on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in a interview on December 28, according to JiJi Press, a Japanese news agency.

Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party, which was recently returned to power after being sidelined for three years, promised to consider placing officials on the disputed islands during the campaigning leading up to the December 16 elections.

While such a move would further damage relations between Japan and China, Jiji reported  Kishida as saying any decision would be done in a “careful and realistic manner, and from the perspective of national interest.”

Jiji also reported that Japan had asked the United Nations not to consider China’s claim that the islands belong to Beijing because of China’s extended continental shelf.

The islands have been a source of major tension between the two Asian powers, and on December 25, Japanese media reported that Tokyo had scrambled fighter jets over the East China Sea after reports of a Chinese marine surveillance plane in disputed airspace near the  contested islands.

Kishida also addressed an ongoing dispute over islands claimed by Japan and Korea.

Takeshima/Dokdo Islands
He said the government would consider holding government-sponsored ceremony on February 22, also known as “Takeshima Day.,” according to JiJi. Takeshima is the Japanese name for the South Korea-controlled Dokdo Islands, which Tokyo claims.

The decades-long simmering dispute between Japan and Korea  has been mostly dormant until recently.

South Korea has maintained a presence on the islets since 1952 when its coast guard was dispatched to the rocks nearly equidistant from the Korean peninsula and the main Japanese island of Honshu.

Japan also finds itself in a lingering territorial dispute with Russia over the southern Kuril chain (which Japan calls its Northern Territories). They have been in Moscow's hands since the end of the Second World War.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Story: Philippines objects to new Chinese gunboat

The Philippines on Friday said it "strongly objects" to China's deployment of a new patrol vessel in the South China Sea, where the two countries have a seething maritime territorial dispute.

Such patrols will not boost China's claim to the disputed territory where the two countries have had a standoff since April, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a statement.

"The Philippines strongly objects to the Chinese patrol of Philippine maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea," the statement said, using the local name for the South China Sea.

It called on China to respect the country's "territorial sovereignty and EEZ", referring to the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

China's official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday an ocean-going patrol vessel equipped with a helipad would be deployed to the South China Sea, the first of its kind in the area.

Read the full story at SpaceWar

Indian Defence Secretary to lead delegation to China in January

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma will lead a delegation to China next month to discuss the resumption of military exercises between the armed forces of the two countries.

The Defence Secretary will head a tri-services delegation to China on January 14-15 as part of the 5th Annual Defence Dialogue between the two sides, Ministry officials said in New Delhi on Friday.

During the visit of Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie to India in September, the two sides had agreed to resume their bilateral military exercises in 2013 and increase defence exchanges.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: S Korea retrieves N Korean rocket engine debris

SEOUL (AFP): South Korea has recovered what it believes to be debris from the engine of the long-range rocket launched by North Korea this month, the defence ministry said Friday.

"If it is confirmed to be engine debris, it will be very useful for analysing North Korea's missile technology," a ministry spokesman said.

He said navy ships had retrieved six chunks of debris from the rocket that was launched -- to international condemnation -- on December 12.

Pyongyang said the launch was a purely scientific mission aimed at placing a polar-orbiting Earth observation satellite in space.

Read the full story at Brahmand

News Story: China developing large military transport plane

BEIJING (PTI): Close on the heels of developing force multipliers like aircraft carrier and stealth fighters, China is making a large military transport plane apparently to move troops and supplies in greater numbers to distant places.

"We are developing a large aircraft to improve the capability of air transport" of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Yang Yujun, a spokesman of the Defence Ministry, was quoted as saying in the official media in Beijing.

The plane is being developed as part of the military modernisation drive, as well as to meet the demands of disaster relief work and humanitarian aid in emergency situations, he said.

Large military transport aircraft are generally defined in China as military transport planes with a maximum takeoff weight of about 200 tonnes and 50 tonnes of payload capacity.

Yang did not give a detailed timeline for the development of the plane, only saying that "the research and development of the large transport aircraft is going forward as planned," state-run Global Times reported.

Read the full story at Brahmand

28 December 2012

AUS: HMAS Toowoomba deploys for the Middle East

HMAS Toowoomba (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

The Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Toowoomba set sail today for a six-month deployment to the Middle East after an emotional farewell from her home port of Fleet Base West in Western Australia.

Navy’s Commander Australian Surface Forces, Commodore Jonathan Mead, and the Senator for Western Australia, Senator Louise Pratt, joined Defence family members for the departure ceremony, giving the crew of Toowoomba a formal send off.

Toowoomba will take on duties with Operation Slipper when her crew of 180 men and women arrives in the Middle East. The frigate will relieve HMAS Anzac, which has been in the region for the past six months.

Toowoomba’s deployment marks the 30th rotation of RAN ships in support of coalition maritime security operations in the Middle East since September 2001.

Representing the Acting Minister for Defence, Warren Snowdon, Senator Pratt acknowledged the important work that would be done during Toowoomba’s deployment.

“Your mission is of the utmost importance to our nation. Over the next six months you will be part of an international taskforce which is focused on keeping the maritime environment free of piracy and terrorism. This mission is particularly vital to Australia’s import and export markets – and to the overall stability of our economy,” Senator Pratt said.

Commodore Mead wished the ship’s company a safe and successful deployment.

“You have just enjoyed Christmas at home with your families, and have had time to reflect on what’s important to you. Now it’s time to focus on the task of conducting a safe and successful deployment.

“You have worked hard to get here and your devotion to duty is indisputable. You will be in our hearts and minds while you are away serving this great nation,” Commodore Mead said.

Toowoomba’s Commanding Officer, Commander Brendon Zilko, praised the efforts of his crew while preparing for the deployment.

“I am deeply proud of the dedication and commitment displayed by this crew during our preparation, which has spanned the past six months. There is no doubt in my mind that we are 100 per cent mission ready and focused on getting the job done,” he said.

Toowoomba’s crew proved its readiness in November when the warship responded to a call for help from a cruise liner in Western Australian waters, and safely transferred a sick passenger from the liner to a Perth hospital, 71 nautical miles away.

Toowoomba is scheduled to return home to Fleet Base West in June 2013.

Philippines: Contract for acquisition of Naval Helicopters signed

RNZAF AW109 (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)
DND Office for Public Affairs | 27 December 2012 - The contract of agreement for the acquisition of three naval helicopters was signed at the Department of National Defense last December 20, 2012.

With a contract price of PhP 1, 337,176,584.00 and signed between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and supplier AugustaWestland S.P.A, the acquisition project was done under negotiated procurement through Section 53.2 (Emergency Procurement) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 9184. 

“The acquisition of these naval helicopters is one concrete step towards the fulfillment of our goal to modernize the Philippine Navy, and our Armed Forces in general,” Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin said.

On November 28, 2012, AugustaWestland was declared by the Naval Helicopter Acquisition Project (NHAP) Negotiating Committee as the single calculated and responsive proponent after going through the process of a negotiated procurement.

The Italian Ministerio Della Difesa conducted a review of AugustaWestland’s proposal for the procurement of AW 109 Power Helicopter, including related logistic support and found out that the price per helicopter “seems to have been progressively reduced”, meaning they were sold cheaper.

Upon the recommendation of the DND Bids and Awards Committee, the Secretary of National Defense issued a notice of award last December 4, 2012.

 “With the other projects in the pipeline and our planned acquisition, we are now louder and clearer in our intent to upgrade the capability of our AFP to address its constitutional duty to “secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory’,” Gazmin said. 

News Story: (Philippines) PCG not expecting new ships in 2013

PCG (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki)

By Evelyn Macairan

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said yesterday it is not expecting to receive additional ships in 2013, but the Aquino administration is purchasing at least 10 new vessels that are scheduled to arrive at least by 2014.

“Since all of the ships to be purchased by the Coast Guard are brand new, it would take some months to construct. So hopefully, by 2014 they would start arriving,” PCG commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said.

Read the full story at The Philippine Star

Editorial: Paying Dividends - The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal Four Years On

By Yogesh Joshi

Four years after a historic nuclear deal was signed, many in American policy circles deride the agreement as a failure. They're wrong.

The 2008 Indo-U.S. Civilian Nuclear Agreement was supposed to mark a watershed moment for India – U.S. relations, ending the two democracies long-standing estrangement and ushering in a new era where New Delhi and Washington would be “indispensable partners.” But four years after the deal came into effect, much of the initial enthusiasm that it engendered has dissipatedEspecially in American foreign policy circles, many feel that the nuclear agreement has failed to meet expectations.
From India's perspective, nuclear cooperation was a sine quo none for any meaningful growth in India-U.S. ties in other areas. That being said, there was also a genuine expectation in the U.S. that assimilating India into the nuclear mainstream would reap enormous economic, political and strategic dividends for the country. However, many of the deal’s strongest proponents at the time of its signing now claim that these gains failed to materialize.
Economically, the U.S. was attracted to the vast potential India’s large and growing nuclear energy market had for domestic nuclear firms. This viewpoint failed to take into account India’s domestic nuclear liability law, which obliges nuclear suppliers to be liable for damages their equipment results in. Many U.S. companies have balked at this requirement, and the economic gains of the deal have failed to materialize accordingly.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: A Frightening Prospect - War in the East China Sea

By Rory Medcalf

The gloomiest man in Canberra, Australia’s noted strategic expert Hugh White, has added a new edge to his warning about possible war between the United States and China.  He now suggests that precisely such a conflict could arise from the sustained tensions between Beijing and Tokyo over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, and perhaps as soon as 2013.
White makes an important point. He is correct to highlight the perverse contradictions of the world’s three richest countries being willing to risk peace and prosperity over something so seemingly trivial as contested maritime boundaries. He is right also to emphasize that this is not really about proximate causes  — the dispute over who owns certain rocks and islets and the potentially resource-rich seas around.
Instead, the tensions and even confrontation of the past few months reflect deeper anxieties in China-Japan and ultimately China-America relations. These Professor White relates to the structural causes of the ruinous Peloponnesian Wars of the 5th century BC: power, pride and fear.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

27 December 2012

Think Tank: LDP “Take(s) Back Japan” - The creation of a national military is on Abe’s agenda

Shamshad A. Khan


The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is back in the saddle with a land slide victory and has ousted the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the general election held on December 16. This was a snap election that took place almost three years after the DPJ dethroned the LDP in August 2009 and was necessitated by circumstances created by the opposition parties. The opposition parties, which hold a combine majority in the Upper House of the Diet, had blocked various measures taken by Prime Minister Noda including the consumption tax. In a bargain with the LDP to help pass the consumption tax hike bill, Noda has agreed to call a fresh poll.1

Apart from political gridlock, the DPJ had been facing various challenges on the domestic front including the situation arising from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plants. The party has failed to come up to the public expectation as the reconstruction work in the devastated area was slow and more than 100,000 people evacuated from Fukushima could not be rehabilitated and have been living in temporary shelters.

On the foreign policy front, Japan has been facing territorial assertions from China and South Korea over Senkaku and Takeshima, respectively, which surfaced in quick succession and soured ties with Beijing and Seoul. The Japanese people viewed the DPJ’s response to Chinese and South Korean territorial assertions as “weak-kneed” as a result of which the Noda cabinet’s public approval plummeted. North Korea’s rocket launch on December 12 (which also meant a demonstration of its ability to launch a long range missile) and Chinese air intrusion into Japanese airspace on December 13, which came a few days before the December 16 election, also provided an opportunity for the opposition parties to criticize the weak DPJ government. The public also perceived that their country is under increasing threat from belligerent neighbours.

Sensing the public mood, the main opposition LDP announced a number of pledges including revival of the Japanese economy, revision of the Constitution and dealing with China strongly. The “swing voters” and nationalists found these pronouncements appealing. Thus the public dissatisfaction with the DPJ and manifestations of external threat helped the LDP wrest power.

Under the leadership of Shinzo Abe, the LDP presented a distinct set of foreign and security policies during the election campaign. It is expected that the new government under Abe’s primeministership would aggressively push to realize these policy goals following the formation of the new cabinet on December 26. This Issue Brief attempts to analyse national security issues in the LDP’s agenda especially the creation of ‘national defense force’ through constitutional revision and lifting the ban on exercising the right of collective self-defence. The Brief also looks at the hurdles the Abe cabinet will likely face in implementing its agenda.


Figure 1: Strength of Political parties in the Lower and Upper house of the Diet


A new political push for the creation of a national defence force

Constitutional revision, particularly amending Article 9 of the Constitution which bars Japan from possessing a full-fledged army, has been one of the pet agenda of Shinzo Abe. During his previous stint as Prime Ministers in 2006-07, he had enacted a bill to hold a referendum2 on Constitutional revision and upgraded Japan’s Defense Agency as Ministry of Defense. During the December 2012 election campaign, the LDP pledged to upgrade the status of the Self Defense Force to a “National Defense Force”.3 The LDP and other nationalist parties want to end the Constitutional prohibition for Japan’s possession of “land, sea, and air forces”, which they see as an insult to a sovereign nation. In fact, even the Self Defense Force had been created in 1954 by citing the external security situation and arguing that an independent nation has a right to “self-defense”. The LDP also promises to revise the interpretation of the Constitution which prohibits Japan from exercising the right of “Collective Self Defense”. The debate to lift this self-imposed prohibition by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau is gaining momentum; the aim is to come to the aid of Japan’s ally the United States. The LDP is considering various contingencies in which the SDF should come to the help of the United States including in case the US Navy comes under fire near the Senkaku Islands. Opponents of this move, however, argue that exercising the right of collective self defence would “open way for Japan’s involvement in military conflict not directly affecting it.”4

During the recently concluded election campaign, Shinzo Abe aggressively canvassed for revising the Constitution and upgrading the SDF into a military. His argument was:

“To outside world we call it a military force and to domestic audience, we call it the SDF. The LDP is calling for a halt to such sophistry.”5

LDP officials are using the ongoing stand-off with China over the sovereignty of Senkaku and North Korea’s rocket launch to propel a debate on constitutional revision. Linking these issues with the inadequacy of the Constitution, Shigeru Ishiba, LDP’s Secretary General and former Defence Minister, has argued the need for providing constitutional legitimacy to the SDF.6

The Key partners who can help achieve the goal

Similar pledges to revise the Constitution has also been made by Shintaro Ishihara, whose newly formed Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party)7 has won 54 seats and emerged as the third largest party in the new Diet. It is expected that the Japan Restoration Party will vote for the revision of the Constitution, if the Abe cabinet were to put the agenda before the Diet. Following the election, Abe has hinted that he would seriously pursue his “unfinished agenda” of revising the Constitution for which he will seek support from the Japan Restoration Party and Your Party. Your Party, yet another nationalist party, won 18 seats this time around. Days after winning the election, Abe was quoted by Asahi Shimbun as saying that “we built a bridge to change the Constitution. The first thing we will do after crossing the bridge is to revise Article 96.”8

The LDP wants to change Article 96 first which it sees as the biggest bottleneck in amending the Constitution. Article 96 stipulates strict conditions to amend the Constitution including a “two thirds majority” approval in both the houses as well as a “concurring vote” in both houses. Thereupon, it should be submitted to the people for “ratification” in a referendum. Because of this strict condition, no amendment to the Japanese Constitution promulgated in 1947 has taken place so far. Therefore, the LDP wants to change the procedure of Constitutional amendment through a “simple majority9 instead of two-thirds majority as spelt out in Article 96.

Be that as it may, the post poll mood of the lawmakers suggests that even the two-thirds majority could be achieved for revising the Constitution. A Kyodo news opinion poll found that a total 343 lawmakers in the newly elected Lower House want an amendment to Article 9 of the Constitution.10 Another survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun found that around 72 per cent of lawmakers elected to the Lower House would support amending the peace clause.11 A similar survey conducted by Mainichi in 2009 had found quite the opposite result: only 34 per cent of the parliamentarians then had wanted to revise Article 9, while 51 per cent were opposed to the revision.12 It can be said that the ongoing territorial assertions by Japan’s neighbours and the volatile security situation in the region have led to a change in thinking among the people’s representatives.

Nevertheless, given the present strength of the upper house of the Japanese Diet and the Constitutional requirement of a “concurring vote” in both the houses, Abe would find it difficult to place the issue in the Diet in the near future. It is likely that he will go slow in realizing his campaign pledge to revise the Constitution. The LDP would have to wait for next summer when election for some 80 seats of the upper house is due.

The Opponents

The LDP faces a number of impediments in realizing its goal of creating a National Defense Force. The New Komeito, supported by lay Buddhist Sokagakkai, has been the LDP’s coalition partner for the last decade and is opposed to amending the Constitution. This time again, the LDP is forming a coalition with New Komeito despite having a majority (294 seats) in the Lower House. This is because a combined strength of 325 (two thirds majority) in the Lower House will give the ruling coalition an upper hand to overrule the upper house. As per the Japanese constitution, in case the Upper House votes down a bill passed by the lower House, the Lower House can overrule the house of peers by passing the bill again with a two third majority.

Given this requirement, the LDP would be in a fix. All the decision has to be passed through the cabinet first and it has to be vetted by the New Komeito representative in the cabinet. New Komeito President Natsou Yamaguchi has already made his stance clear on the issue of Constitutional amendment. In an interview to the Japan Times he said:

“The people are most concerned about the economy and social welfare, and they are not asking us to immediately amend the Constitution. It is an important issue that needs to be discussed thoroughly.”13

On the issue of revising the ban on exercising the right of collective self-defence also, Yamaguchi is at odds with Shinzo Abe. He enunciated his views as follows:

“If the exercise of the right of collective self-defense is recognized and the Constitution revised to create a national military, there would be no constitutional restraints on the use of force. The nature of the SDF’s duties would also change. We cannot agree to that.”14

During the post poll coalition talks as well, New Komeito has opposed Shinzo Abe’s efforts to boost Japan’s military status.15 The Left parties, including the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) have also voiced their concern over the nationalist parties’ push to amend the Constitution. SDP President Mizuho Fukushima had also voiced her opposition to the move during her election speeches. She said that “I am afraid that we will be rapidly moving toward changing the Constitution for the worse.”16 The JCP has also opposed the Constitutional revision terming it a “dangerous trend toward a major chorus calling for a tilt to the right.”17

However, the SDP and JCP would find it difficult to turn the tide to revise the Constitution in the Diet since their strength has been reduced to 10 in the lower house. But it is expected that they will join the pacifist groups in mounting pressure on the government through public rallies to preserve the Constitution. The role of the centre-left DPJ would also be critical. Some of the DPJ leaders including Seiji Maehara have been in favour of lifting the ban on exercising the right of Collective Self Defence. During his term in office, Yoshihiko Noda had shown willingness to review the right of collective self-defence. He has been quoted by the Japanese media as saying that “one opinion holds that the minimum right of self-defense includes elements of the right of collective self-defense”, adding that he would like to “deepen discussion” (on the issue) within the Government.”18 In its election manifesto for the 2010 election, however, the party called for “adhering to pacifism”.19 DPJ President Yoshihiko Noda has criticized Abe’s move to make Constitutional revision a “poll plank.” It is therefore uncertain whether the DPJ will take a clear position when the issue is tabled in the Diets.

Opposition from the Media

A group of liberal media has also opposed the LDP’s stance to give greater power to the Japanese SDF by upgrading it to a “National Defence Force.” Questioning the LDP’s efforts to change the status of the SDF to a national defence force, The Asahi Shimbun stated that “the LDP wants to make the SDF closer to an ordinary force” by amending the Constitution. It noted that the SDF is recognized as an organization with a “restricted use of force” to defend the Japanese territories and added that “if this restriction is removed, Japan could cause the international community, in particular neighbouring countries, to harbor the suspicion that it is reviving its military forces.”20

The Japan Times has also written a series of editorials criticizing Abe’s pledge to revise the Constitution. One of its editorials stated that “[a]ttempting to change the no-war principle of the Constitution without holding thorough public discussion is highly dangerous.”21 In yet another editorial, it opined that changes to Article 9 and the government’s interpretation of the right to collective self-defence would “shatter the trust Japan has gained from the international community through its adherence to its constitutional no-war principles.” It added that such changes would contribute to the “destabilization of East Asia.”22 In an editorial analysing the post poll situation, the daily opined that while the LDP wants the proposed NDF to participate in international activities to help maintain peace and security in the international community, but also pointed out that this concept can be used to “justify Japan’s participation in virtually any type of military mission abroad”. It concluded that people must therefore keep a strict watch on the new administration’s behavior.”23

In a similar tone, the Mainichi Shimbun has cautioned that “political demand is not sufficient to override the established interpretation of the Constitution”, adding that any change in the interpretation of the Constitution, “needs careful consideration.”24

The move to change the SDF into a normal military force, however, received backing from the Yomiuri Shimbun, which has been advocating such a change through its proposals on national security since 2004. In a recent editorial, the Daily urged the need to “step up Constitutional debate” and reiterated the need for the creation of a “military force for self defence.”25 Much before the LDP could propose the amendment of Article 96, the Yomiuri had suggested to all the parties that the two-third majority requirement for Constitutional revision be relaxed. It argued that “relaxing this requirement by revising it to a majority would be the first step to reviewing the Constitution based on the changes of time.”26


The mood in Japanese political circles over transformation of the SDF to a military force and easing the restriction on allowing the exercise of collective self defence suggests that the push to change the Constitution has gained momentum and cannot be rolled back. It is the external security situation marked by China’s territorial assertions and aggressive behaviour as well as North Korea’s rocket launch that has propelled the case forward for a stronger military. However, Abe can realize his dream of amending the Constitution only if he is able to convince his pacifist ally, the New Komeito. Had he aligned with the Japan Restoration Party, instead of sticking to the LDP’s traditional coalition partner, this goal could have been achieved swiftly.

Another problem that Abe faces is whether to give priority to economic and fiscal issues or national security issues. The general public sentiment is to give priority to fiscal health and help the country come out of the slump.

Abe is also likely to confront another problem: criticism from neighbours, if he pushes too aggressively to revise the Constitution and give more power to the military. In the past he has been blamed by neighbours for pushing Japan towards the right, which reminded them about Japan’s militarist past. Much would depend how he balances his priorities in the near future to realize his goal of a “normal” Japan.

Shamshad A. Khan is a Research Assistant at IDSA and presently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Developing Economies in Chiba, Japan.

1. “Noda dissolves Lower House for election”, Japan Times, November 17, 2012.
2. The Constitutional Referendum Bill adopted in April 2007 by the Lower House of the Japanese Diet came into effect in 2010. But by then a new government had taken office and held no deliberation on how to hold a referendum over the issue.
3. “Nippon O Torimodosu” (Take Back Japan), Election pledge of the LDP for 2012 election, p. 26. Author’s copy received from an activist canvassing for the Party in Tokyo.
4. “Dangerous move on supreme law”, The Japan Times, December 5, 2012.
5. “Why Change the Self Defense Force to a national defense force?” The Asahi Shimbun, November 29, 2012 available online at http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201211300036, accessed on December 17, 2012.
6. “LDP, Japan Restoration Party leading momentum for Constitutional revision”, The Asahi Shimbun, December 6, 2012, available online at http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/AJ201212060050, accessed on December 7, 2012.
7. Ibid.
8. “Abe Seeks partner to pave way for Constitutional revision”, The Asahi Shimbun, December 18, 2012, available online at http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201212180064, accessed on December 19, 2012.
9. “Nippon O Torimodosu”, note 3, p. 26.
10. “76% election winner support revising in Article 9”, Kyodo news/ Japan Times, December 9, 2012.
11. “72% of the newly elected lawmakers want to revise war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution”, The Mainichi Shimbun, December 18, 2012 available online at http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20121218p2a00m0na011000c.html, accessed on December 19, 2012.
12. Ibid.
13. “New Komeito not necessarily on same policy page as old, hawkish ally”, Japan Times, November 30, 2012.
14. “LDP, Japan Restoration Party leading momentum for Constitutional revision”, Note 6.
15. “LDP’s nuclear, Constitutional stances not ally’s”, The Japan Times, December 20, 2012.
16. “Two liberal Parties face uphill fight on December 16”, The Asahi Shimbun, December 13, 2012, available online at http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201212100087, accessed on December 14, 2012.
17. “LDP, Japan Restoration Party leading momentum for Constitutional revision”, Note 6.
18. “Review top law to exercise right of collective self defense” (editorial), The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 17, 2012.
19.Our Responsibility for Now and the Future, (Democratic Party of Japan’s manifesto), Issued on November 26, 2012, Nagata-cho, Tokyo, p. 3.
20. “Why change the Self Defense Forces to a national defense force?” Note 5.
21. “Dangerous moves on supreme law”, The Japan Times, December 5, 2012.
22. “An election that really matters”, The Japan Times, December 15, 2012.
23. “LDP back in the saddle again”, The Japan Times, December17, 2012.
24. “Constitution should put brakes on collective self-defense”, The Mainichi Shimbun, December 10, 2012, available online at http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20121210p2a00m0na005000c.html, accessed on December 11, 2012.
25. “Step up Constitutional debate on ‘national defense force”, The Yomiuri Shimbun, November 29, 2012.
26. “Relax two-thirds rule for Constitutional revision”, The Yomiuri Shimbun, December 16, 2012.

Originally published by Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.in) and can be found HERE.

Sri Lanka: Indian Naval Ship “Carnicobar” arrives at the Port of Trincomalee

INS CarNicobar (Wiki Info)

Indian naval ship “Carnicobar” arrived at the Port of Trincomalee on an operational visit on 25th December 2012. The visiting ship sailing under the command of Lieutenant Commander Akshay Dixit was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy in accordance with naval traditions on arrival. 

The Commanding Officer of the INS Carnicobar, accompanied by Defence Adviser of India, Captain Sumeet Kapoor, paid a courtesy call on the Commander Eastern Naval Area, Rear Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne. They held cordial discussions and exchange mementos as a gesture of goodwill. 

The visiting Indian naval ship will stay in Sri Lanka until 27th December. The ship’s complement will participate in a special programme organized by the Sri Lanka Navy during their stay in Sri Lanka to strengthen the friendly relations between two naval forces.

India: India-Pakistan Expert level Dialogue on Conventional and Nuclear Confidence Building Measures

The Expert level meetings on Conventional and Nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan are scheduled to take place on December 27-28, in New Delhi. Shri Y.K. Sinha, Additional Secretary (PAI), will lead the Indian delegation for the meeting on Conventional CBMs and Shri D.B. Venkatesh Varma, Joint Secretary (D&ISA), will lead the Indian delegation for the meeting on Nuclear CBMs.

The last Expert level meetings on Conventional and Nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan were held on December 26-27, 2011 in Islamabad. During their meeting in Islamabad on September 8, 2012, the External Affairs Minister and Foreign Minister of Pakistan had agreed that the next round would be held in the second half of December 2012.

News Report: What is behind India’s “neutrality”?

Vikrant class Indigenous Carrier (under construction)

Polina Chernitsa

Recently, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visited India. As a result of this visit, an agreement was signed, according to which, India is going to purchase a several-million-worth amount of Russian weapons.

At present, India is the country that purchases the largest amounts of weapons in the world – although India’s authorities often stress that their country is not going to attack anyone or join any military alliance. The same is said in a document recently adopted in India, which outlines the country’s foreign policy in the foreseeable future.

The authors of this document believe that in the foreseeable future, the US and China will compete for the role of the country that has the most authoritative say in the world military policy, but in reality, both will not be strong enough to cope with this role. In such a situation, India should not conclude any military alliances with either the US or China, the document’s authors insist.

“In fact, there is nothing new in the idea that lays in the basis of the policy India has now chosen,” Russian expert in Eastern affairs Andrey Volodin says.

“The idea that in the future, countries will unite into military alliances not because of ideological considerations, like it was in the period of the Cold War, but because of their practical interests, was first put forward by France in the first years of the 21st century,” Mr. Volodin says. “If this is true – and there are many reasons to suppose that this is true – this will probably make the world politics more predictable. The Indian politicians are right – at present, neither the US nor China, for all their potentials, are strong enough for the role of the leader in the world’s military policy. The Soviet Union, which once seriously competed with the US for this role, is no more. At present, military alliances concluded on the basis of ideology are a thing of the past.”

However, ideas born in Europe do not always work in Asia. After all, if Europe, to a large extent, has already become one whole, the same still cannot be said about Asia. If Europeans have long forgotten what a real war may be, if large-scale wars are hardly possible in today’s Europe, in Asia, a threat of a military conflict, is, unfortunately, still a reality. One may remember the sharpening of relations between North and South Korea – some time ago, the countries were at a brink of a war, which, fortunately, didn’t break out in the end – or conflicts over disputed islands between some countries of the Asia-Pacific region. In such a situation, military coalitions between countries of this region are still possible, but, while deciding whether to conclude them, Asian politicians would have to take more complicated considerations into account than Europeans do when they conclude similar alliances.

India borders or is situated in proximity with many countries, but it would be wrong to say that it has good relations with all of them. Mainly, this considers China and Pakistan. Bangladesh is still viewed by many analysts as one of the world’s largest hotbeds of terrorism. India’s relations with Nepal are also not always good, because in contradictions between India and China, Nepal often takes China’s side.

India’s economy is still developing, and India’s foreign policy, to a large extent, would depend on the degree of the development of its economy.

One of the main spheres of India’s interests is the Pacific Ocean. After all, the largest part of India’s borders – about 7,000 kms – is its Pacific coast.

Until recent, India has paid more attention to land weapons than to the navy. The majority of weapons that it purchased from the Soviet Union or produced itself were land weapons. At present, India still produces and buys land weapons, but it has started to pay more attention to its navy.

As mentioned, India’s authorities often say that India is not going to attack anyone and that it is not arming itself against any particular country. But it is rather hard to guess how these words may correspond with the slogan which has been put forward by India’s former Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee that “India is responsible for the entire territory from the Suez Canal to Singapore, where the UK once was the only master”, because India doesn’t seem to have rejected this slogan so far. More evidence that India’s military program is not as “peaceful” as its authorities are trying to depict is the fact that India is actively developing nuclear energy.

The document that outlines India’s future foreign policy also says that India is not going to conclude any alliances with the US and still views China as its “strategic rival” because of disputes over certain territories between India and China and because China is actively using the Pacific Ocean for expansion into eastern Africa. At the same time, India is going to use the rivalry between the US and China for their own advantage.

Meanwhile, Russia also has interests of its own in the Asia-Pacific region, and its main interest there is stability and peaceful development. For this, Russia is actively cooperating with India in many spheres, including the military one. Russia is insisting that India, under certain conditions, should be granted the status of a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

This story first appeared on Voice of Russia & is reposted here with permission.