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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Western Rim of The Pacific

For John, BLUFJapan is reacting strongly to Chinese claims to a few islands controlled by Japan.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

On 13 July The New York Times had an article on the maritime tensions between China and Japan, Japan and China Trade Sharp Words Over Islands, by Reporter Jane Perlez.  The lede:
In an unusually vigorous rebuttal to Japan’s latest accusations that China is using aggressive tactics to expand its maritime reach, the Chinese Defense Ministry said Japan was undermining stability in the region with its claims to disputed islands known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkakus in Japan.
A recently issued Japanese Defense White Paper lays out the case.  The English version of the Japanese Defense White Paper, Defense of Japan 2013 can be found here.  Here is how Japan sees China’s Five Objectives in waters near Japan:
  1. “to intercept naval operations by enemies in waters as far as possible from China”
  2. to develop military capabilities to deter and prevent Taiwan’s independence.
  3. to weaken the effective control of other countries over the islands which China claims its territorial rights over….
  4. to acquire, maintain, and protect its maritime rights and interests.
  5. to defend its sea lanes of communications.
Given these objectives and recent trends in China’s maritime activities, it is believed that China plans to further expand the sphere of its maritime activities, and expand its operations as an ordinary routine practice in waters surrounding Japan, including the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean as well as the South China Sea.
Japan sees China as a threat, a bully.  And China doesn't like being seen as a bully.  And, it wants what it things belongs to it, including territory

Here is the top of a box for a model kit of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Helicopter Destroyer 181, the HYUGA.  This is a 1/700 scale model, of the "Water Line Series".

The company producing the model is Aoshima Bunka Kyozai, in Japan.  Down in the HTML Code, as I received it, the image name includes the term "Hyuga_victorious".

Looking at the foreground one sees MV-22s taking off from the deck of the HYUGA, something that happened for the first time just this last June, off San Diego, during Exercise DAWN BLITZ.  Interestingly, China asked the US and China to cancel the combined exercise.

If you look in the right hand side, at the horizon, you will see a Chinese LIAONING Class aircraft carrier burning and sinking.  Note the distinctive ski-jump forward part of the flight deck.

There is a caption in English that says "Operation 'Senkaku'.  Senkaku refers to a disputed set of islands.  The Japanese text to the left says "Distant Island Defensive Combat".

As someone noted:

Sometimes a picture on a model toy box is more than just a picture; it's a statement.
Let us grant that model-makers are in the business of selling models, and so, a lurid box-top is also simply going to sell models.  It is why when you walk into a hobby shop it is easier to find ship model kits for battleships than it is to find models of underway replenishment ships.

On the other hand, the Japanese are worried about the Chinese, and even model ship kits can reflect that worry.

So, to bring it home, are problems on the western rim of the Pacific a cause for the Obama Administration's pivot to the Pacific or is the pivot the cause for the unrest?  One hint.  It isn't always about us.

Regards  —  Cliff

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