Friday, January 25, 2008

Back to terror

Following a three-month interruption, Japanese ships of the MSDF are sailing back to the Indian Ocean, for refueling and providing water to warships fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, and... supplying Iraq war's effort some say thanks to Japan's anti-terror law voted by the Diet to provide logistical support for coalition forces operating in Afghanistan. Not so simple it was. The parliamentary opposition had the curious idea to do its work that is to oppose the government (in normal democratic nations) but was slapped on the face when "the United States rejected a request by Japan that it verify Tokyo's contribution to the US-led "war on terror" in Afghanistan is not used for military operations in Iraq".

JMSDF destroyer Murasame

Japan had refueled warships since November 2001. (it had to order the JMSDF to sail back home after failing to gain the majority in both chambers of the parliament to extend the mission.) Not so costly and not so dangerous and welcomed move as seen abroad.

Washington gave security policy "encouragement", (you know about this little kick on the shoulders not to fall asleep in the Zen temple) and the United States and its "allies" have regularly pushed up Japan's foreign and security policymaking. How? Thanks to pressures from politicians, astrologers, free riders regarding international contribution and foreign policy by (not so) free of charge advisers of American and European military industrial complex, and thanks also and eventually to the intelligence community and why not some say... thanks to some US media in Japan whose fingers are tightly held by governmental agencies. Something the French, Belgium and Brits are too very well aware of in Africa for instance.

Japan's resumed mission is squared to refueling ships not directly involved in conflicts in Afghanistan, not to violate (what a subtile nuance) the spirit of Japan's pacifist constitution. Its unique Article 9 prohibits the country to engage, support in warfare and maintain armed forces. Article constantly violated and fueled by the neo conservatives and military geeks. Well everyone has to pretend more or less, right? Prime minister Fukuda did not attend and preferred to leave for... Davos.

Let's go harsher, "remember the glorious past" the conservatives and its press claim: "Returning to the fight against terrorism is only a passing point. Now we have to begin considering moves for continuously undertaking overseas missions."..." If vessel inspections are included in the SDF's overseas missions, the MSDF could participate not only in refueling activities but also maritime interdiction activities." (Click the title to access this comment from the Yomiuri shimbun).

Until that day of glorious past which is deeply rooted in the heart of the Murasame ship captain Saeki ***, the ferocious activities and engagement with enemies such as North Korean navy cruisers are attributed to the credit of the Japan Coast Guards ships and machine-guns. Why more and why defenestrating the uniqueness of Japanese so called peaceful constitution?

*** JMSDF Escort Division 1 (Murasame and support ship Oumi of Sasebo) Captain Seiji Saeki's speech on January 24th at Yokosuka naval basis, morning time: "Some have said we are violating the Constitution but we have pride and dignity. We'll do our utmost to restore confidence in our country" Captain Saeki is quoted as saying. Clearly violating the spirit of past missions' speeches and entering into troubled waters of political involvement by the Japan militaries. Remember?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is there a post sub-prime world?

Bank of Japan Gov. Toshihiko Fukui announces after the policy board meeting Tuesday that the BOJ will not raise interest rates for the time being, citing growing concern that a downturn in the U.S. economy could slow global growth.

Regarding the sub-prime financial crisis, Economist Dr. Madsen analyzes the risk of recession, and sees an unknown future for the consumption market, "a risk of crisis for the coming months", depending on what the regulators and professionals will decide. Dr. Madsen, the author of the Economist Intelligence Unit's quarterly Japan Country Reports and Senior Fellow at MIT's Center for International Studies hinted at the fact that "we maybe have not seen all yet." Market also knows about self regulation. "There are new financial products being created at regular rhythm".

So it is not so bad after all and there is a world after the sub prime crisis? Looking further, about East Asian economies, Dr. Madsen forecasts great future for Japan and Republic of Korea in the years ahead. "The high rise of China will be beneficial to both" while the distance will handicap Europeans and North America economies. Koizumi's so called boom "was created by China growth, and less by a so called Japan reform". There is no reason it should stop as China demands for upgrade are simply huge, he said.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Beijing envoy on North Korea's risk : "We are facing a new world"!

If the international community did not react in a timely manner as internal order in North Korea deteriorated rapidly, China would seek to take the initiative in restoring stability, this is according to a report that appeared in several publications in the world, based on the Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Institute of Peace and other think-tanks newsletters reaching my mailbox recently.

Who could be the best person to comment this report if not a senior Chinese official who worked on the 6 party talks, Ambassador Cui Tian-kai himself? Ambassador Cui is the current envoy from China, the successor of Vice Minister Wang Yi.

Cui Tian-kai was our guest at FCCJ January 18th. He faced more than 150 guests. The diplomat received a lot of questions (18 questioners as president Williams accounted). As Co MC of the conference with our president, and listening attentively to his words, I had the last question to wrap up this sumptuous event. I focussed on two words the Chinese ambassador often mentioned. These words are: "Security cooperation". Then, I asked him on this theme what China would do if a risk of complication related to nuclear issues would come from unpredictable DPRK and if China troops would stop DPRK, should the regime alter the security of nations in North East Asia? I felt a silent angel passed through the room, everyone kept its breath and watched Mr. Cui.

The comment was answered first as "hypothetical", but the question was tough enough to draw further lines from the Beijing envoy and here is a summary of the comment of our guest speaker:

"Let's prevent such a situation to happen... we are ready to work with the others including DPRK... tension has been here for half a century... but we are facing a new world, China, Japan, Russia RK and DPRK are to work together and in a way that everyone can feel more secure and share the fruits of development."

This was the diplomatic way to comment and as it was not a direct answer, I then simply repeated my question to have a clear cut answer from Beijing's dignitary. His 2nd comment came, witted and straight: "If you entirely believe any news of our troops movement in the US press, then you might be mistaken". "No further question", I answered with a smile that we both shared, and the folks in the event's room could breathe again, applauding to the talent of ambassador Cui who surely passed "magna cum laude" his passage through the international press based in Tokyo on that day. Just 3 months after his assignment as the man who speaks smoothly and in an amiable manner.

Naturally one highlighted comment that one can find in the press is that ambassador Cui estimated that the long-standing dispute between Japan and China on gas exploration rights in the East China Sea will likely be settled "well before" a visit to Japan by Chinese President Hu Jintao in spring.

Remains to see if it would simply be a joint exploitation that would be secured or if we are talking about a comprehensive agreement in the East China Sea, including the tough litigious issue of the demarcation line (a fault line probably in favor of Beijing, some specialists say). The latter might be more difficult to negotiate these coming days between Tokyo and Beijing. But aren't things getting better these days and the music played more in tone between these two East Asian colossus?

Olympian tune!