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On Australia’s Potential Participation in the Malabar Exercise

By Vladimir Terehov – New Eastern Outlook – 20.07.2020

On July 10, a number of news agencies reported that India’s leadership is considering inviting Australia to participate in the international naval exercise Malabar, scheduled later this year. The report is noteworthy for a number of reasons, mainly from the perspective of assessing the state of affairs in the Indo-Pacific region. The changes that have taken place in this region are directly linked to the history of the Malabar exercises.

This was the name given to the first joint Indian-US Navy exercise to be conducted in decades, which took place in the Gulf of Bengal in 1992. This was a notable sign of the burgeoning transformation of the entire geopolitical map after the end Cold War. India, for one, was in a state of strategic solitude (because of the disappearance of its former ally, the USSR) in the face of the same foreign policy challenges from China and Pakistan.

Naturally, India’s leadership began to seek a new external “balancing force,” and Washington was willing to fill this role. The very fact that the Malabar 1992 exercise had taken place marked the start of a US-India rapprochement—something that had seemed unbelievable just a few years before. This process has been neither smooth nor easy and continues to this day.

The first sticking point on this path was India testing its own nuclear weapons in 1998. The termination of the Malabar exercise was just one amongst other “sanctions” against Delhi.

However, compared to the Cold War, Washington stayed displeased with India for quite a long time. The prospect of a new geopolitical opponent in the face of China, which was already obvious then, forced Washington to turn a blind eye to Delhi’s recent “nuclear debacles” and to resume developing relations with India. Since then, India itself sees the US as the potential balancing force for the rapidly developing China.

The starting point of the process was President Bill Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000. A year later, Washington made it clear that it was willing to recognize India as a de facto nuclear power and generally cooperate in the field of peaceful nuclear energy. This led to the US-India nuclear deal, signed in 2006 by President George W. Bush. In 2002, the annual Malabar exercise was resumed.

At the same time the idea of forming an “Asian NATO” (evidently based on anti-Chinese sentiments) was put on the table in Washington’s political circles. The core of the new NATO was to consist of the US, India, Japan and Australia. In 2007, at the ASEAN Regional Forum, US Defense Secretary R. Gates formulated a concept to create a so-called Quad comprising the above-mentioned countries.

The evidence of the potential participants of the proposed project taking this seriously was the participation of Japan and Australia (joined by Singapore) in the Malabar exercise held that year.

This was, however, the first and, for many years to come, the last of these exercises to be conducted in a quadrilateral format. However, the very idea of the Quad seemed to have been forgotten. Among other reasons, we note the internal unrest that struck Japan at that time, as well as a sharp change in the domestic political situation in Australia.

As for Japan, with the early (and rather scandalous) end of Shinzo Abe’s first term as prime minister in 2007, the country entered a period of annual changes of government. At such times, it is difficult to conduct any significant foreign policy actions. Japan’s partners (including the US) also had doubts about doing serious business with a country whose leaders were replacing each other so quickly.

The domestic political situation in Japan only stabilized after Abe’s triumphant return to the Prime Minister’s seat at the end of 2012. This dramatically boosted the country’s foreign policy activity. In the summer of 2014, the Japanese Navy took part in another Malabar exercise after a seven-year hiatus. For the first time, it was held not in the Bay of Bengal, but on the eastern coast of Japan.

Since then, the exercise has adopted a trilateral format, and Japanese ships head to the Indian Ocean to participate in it. However, this wasn’t the only occasion for the Japanese Navy to frequent the Indian Ocean.

Australia paused its participation in the Malabar exercise due to a bloc of left-centrist parties coming to power in 2007. Their foreign policy (along with certain ideological considerations) considered economic wellbeing its main priority. China had already begun to occupy the position of Australia’s leading trade and economic partner, and it seemed absolutely unnecessary for the latter to spoil relations with it because of some “solidarity with the democratic countries of the region.”

Its foreign policy preferences underwent dramatic changes again in 2013 with the return of the bloc of center-right parties, who then won again twice (in 2016 and 2019) in the parliamentary elections. For the center-right government, the aforementioned factor of solidarity, which Canberra still tires to demonstrate on various occasions, was quite significant. One of the examples of this solidarity, recently discussed in the New Eastern Outlook, was the question of the “culprit” of the SARS COV-2 pandemic, as well as Australia joining a Western propaganda campaign connected to events in Hong Kong.

From the moment it came to power, the center-right government renewed its interest in the Malabar exercise and repeatedly asked the Indian leadership to allow Australia’s participation. The latest such request took place in late April 2018. For quite understandable reasons, Delhi refused every time.

A positive answer would obviously indicate the Indian leadership’s departure from the strategy of keeping the country in a neutral position (which over time grows more and more relative) in the aggravating confrontation between the two leading world powers.

Despite all the difficulties in China-India relations, the leaders of both countries, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, have made efforts to keep their development in a positive and constructive direction in recent years. Two informal meetings between them were of particular importance in this regard. The first took place in Wuhan at the end of April 2018, and the second in the Indian resort town of Mamallapuram a year and a half later.

Something negative had to happen recently between China and India in order for the latter to start considering the possibility of Australia joining the Malabar exercise in Delhi, which is tied to the prospect of forming an anti-Chinese Quad. And there is no doubt about what this “something” was. It is connected with another escalation of the situation on one of the China-India (quasi) borders in the highlands of Ladakh. This happened on the night of June 16 and resulted in the largest collision between the border patrol units of both countries over the past 40 years.

There was another noteworthy event taking place between early May and June 16, namely the Australian-Indian virtual summit, attended by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Narendra Modi. The parties focused on cooperation defense and security in general.

Perhaps the June 16 incident in Ladakh was intended to serve as a warning to India in response to the outcome of this summit. This summit, in turn, could also be seen as a response to the aggravation of the situation in Ladakh that began back in May. Thus, a possible invitation extended to Australia to join the upcoming Malabar exercise could well be an answer to the “response” of June 16.

This raises the question of how far the spiral of mutual “responses” can reach. The fact that this question has been raised at all leads to some upsetting conclusions.

Hopefully, however, the “spirit of Wuhan” has not yet been completely eroded from the relationship between the two Asian powers, and even with the (possible) quadrilateral Malabar exercise, the idea of building an “Asian NATO” with India’s participation won’t develop further.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

India should not participate in Washington-led anti-China coalition

By Lucas Leiroz | July 13, 2020

For years, the US, Japan and India have maintained Malabar military exercises on an annual basis. As the US and Japan are absolutely aligned countries and India is a Washington regional strategic partner, the common objective of the three participants is to face the Chinese advance and to strengthen a coalition against Beijing and its presence in the Indian Ocean. Now, with the increasing of tensions between China and the United States for naval supremacy and between China and India for territorial reasons, Malabar exercises take on a new dimension, being the moment of greatest risk of war in the region in recent years.

Since 2017, Australia has asked to join Malabar naval exercises. The US and Japan have already voted in favor of the Australian participation, but India has not allowed it – the US, Japan and India are the permanent members of the tests and the adherence of a new country depends on a unanimous vote. There was a logistical disagreement between India and Australia, which prevented them from reaching a consensus on the execution of the exercises. In June, both countries signed a mutual logistical support agreement, thus removing the obstacle to Australian participation. Now, as the impasse with China increases, India can change its vote and finally approve Australian participation. The result would be an even stronger coalition scenario against China, which would certainly respond accordingly.

Beijing will not allow its oceanic region to be the target of powerful military exercises by enemy powers without offering high-level war tests in return. China has recently reached an advanced stage of naval military power, practically equaling American power by crossing the International Date Line. In addition, China has significantly increased its military campaign in the South China Sea and has built a large fleet for the Arctic. It is this adversary that the Malabar coalition is facing when promoting a siege in the Indian Ocean. So, what will happen if China invests even more in naval power, modernizing its Navy and devoting itself to a military strategy focused on maritime defense?

On the other hand, Beijing’s reaction may be different and even more effective: investing in Sino-Pakistani military cooperation to affect India. If China and Pakistan start joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean, a coalition dispute will form, in which both groups will begin a series of regular tests and demonstrations of strength, seeking to intimidate each other.

In all scenarios, a central point is inevitable: the increase of tensions and violence in the Indian Ocean. Perhaps this is, in fact, the American desire in the region, taking into account that the increase in the crisis will inevitably forge the strengthening of the anti-China coalition and its ties with Washington, in addition to encouraging regional reactions from the Chinese Navy and delaying Beijing’s global projections – like the Chinese presence in the Arctic, for example. Having been subjected to the American naval umbrella for decades, Japanese and Australian participation is predictable and it is not surprising that Tokyo and Canberra support aggressive operations against China in the Indian Ocean. However, the same cannot be said about India.

India should not be part of a Washington-led coalition against China. The rivalry between India and China is different from the dispute between the US and China, and the mere fact that Beijing looks like a “common enemy” does not justify a coalition. China and India have an historic dispute of a territorial nature – a regional conflict over a physical, continental space. This is different from the American quest for global hegemony – to which China poses a threat today. China and India have much more in common than opposites: both are emerging Asian nations, with enormous growth potential and which aim to increase their degree of participation in the international scene, at the economic and geopolitical level. Washington, in this sense, is against both – because it seeks to preserve unipolarity and the American global dominance. Beijing and New Delhi can reach a common agreement sovereignly, with regional negotiations and bilateral diplomacy, as, in fact, they have been doing recently, resulting in the reduction of the border violence and the evacuation of troops.

By maintaining its participation in the exercises and encouraging the growth of the coalition, India will be making a big mistake – both in its relations with China and in its relations with Pakistan. Japan and Australia are nations willing to collaborate with American hegemony – India is not. The best path to be taken by the Indians is the abdication from the Malabar exercises, or, if it is not possible, at least, to prevent the Australian entry again, avoiding the strengthening of the anti-China alliance.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

July 13, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Shameless’: Seoul denounces Japan’s objection to Trump’s plan to include South Korea in G7

RT | June 29, 2020

Seoul has accused Japan of brazen behavior after Tokyo objected to Trump’s idea of inviting South Korea into the G7 as a standing member. The proposal may weaken Japan’s political clout within the group, Japanese media claims.

A South Korean parliament official has accused Japan of constantly “harming” its neighboring country, in reaction to a news report published by Japanese news agency Kyodo last week. The report claimed that Tokyo’s administration had opposed US President Donald Trump’s idea of inviting Seoul to participate in the envisioned Group Seven gathering.

“There’s nothing to be surprised anymore by Japan’s consistent attitude not to admit or atone for its wrongdoings,” the official said. “The level of Japan’s shameless (position) is something of the world’s top.”

Kyodo reported that Japan has conveyed its objection to the US with claims that Seoul is not in “lockstep” with G7 – in particular, it does not share the group’s views on Chinese and North Korean issues.

The outlet suggested that Japan’s objection was expected to aggravate its already tense relationship with South Korea, amid ongoing historical and diplomatic disagreements. The two countries have long been locked in a dispute over World War 2 reparations aimed at resolving wartime labor issues. But the bill had heavily influenced controversies within the economic and defense areas in both countries.

The news agency pointed out that South Korea’s participation would mean ending Japan’s status as the lone Asian member within the group, which also includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy. Earlier this month, Japan expressed its hope to take the lead among G7 nations on issuing a statement about the situation in Hong Kong.

At the end of May, Trump suggested inviting Russia, South Korea, Australia, and India to participate at the G7 summit hosted by the US. The president has criticized the group as “very outdated” and pointed out that it no longer represents “what’s going on in the world.” The meeting was initially scheduled for June but had to be postponed until at least September, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a media briefing on Monday, Japan’s government spokesman Yoshihide Suga refrained from publicly expressing its opposition to South Korea’s participation. Still, he stressed that it is crucial to maintain the current G7 framework for coordination in tackling global challenges.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Gates Invests in Lab-made “Breastmilk” & Nova Scotia Shooter Case Has Hallmarks of Undercover Operation

Corbett • 06/25/2020

Welcome back to New World Next Week — the video series from Corbett Report and Media Monarchy that covers some of the most important developments in open source intelligence news. This week:

Watch this video on BitChute / LBRY / Minds.com / YouTube or Download the mp4

Story #1: Bayer Settles Roundup Cancer Lawsuits For Up to $10.9 Billion

Alt Breastmilk Company Biomilq Raises $3.5 Million From Gates’ Investment Firm

Artificial Breast Milk Investment Fund Backed By Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg

Nestlé Boycott

Flashback: Gates Grant to Fund Testicle-Blasting Contraceptive (May 17, 2010)

Many BPA-Free Plastics Are Toxic. Some Are Worse Than BPA

#FluorideTrial: Ruling Delayed As Judge Asks Defense and Plaintiffs to Discuss New Evidence

Story #2: Japan to Bolster Defense After Scrapping Missile System

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

Arrest of Ex-Justice Minister Could Hasten Abe’s Departure

Story #3: Nova Scotia Shooter Case Has Hallmarks of Undercover Operation

Nova Scotia Killer Had Ties to Criminals, Withdrew Huge Sum of Cash Before Shooting

Police Uniform, Mock RCMP Car Were Key Factors in N.S. Shooting

BOMBSHELL REPORT: Transactions Reveal Nova Scotia Shooter May Have Been RCMP INFORMANT OR AGENT!!!

You can help support our independent and non-commercial work by visiting http://CorbettReport.com/Support & http://MediaMonarchy.com/Join. Thank You.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Dozens treated for chlorine exposure as massive fire engulfs hazmat storage at US base in Okinawa

RT | June 22, 2020

A fire broke out inside a chemical compound at a major US Air Force base on the Japanese island of Okinawa, triggering the release of chlorine and affecting multiple people who were treated for exposure to toxic gas particles.

Fire alarms were activated on Monday at a building where hazardous materials are stockpiled, Japanese and US media reported. Located in the central part of Kadena Air Base, the facility burned for a few more hours, though the firefighters didn’t let it spill over the base perimeter.

The base, said to be America’s largest military installation in the region, confirmed on Facebook that the blaze “released chlorine gas particles” into the air. Footage that surfaced online shows thick plumes of black smoke rising from the hazmat facility.

Base command sealed off the roads and evacuated areas both upwind and downwind of the burning site as firefighters put out the flames.

US military media reported later in the day that at least 45 people were treated for exposure to smoke and chlorine, a highly toxic chemical agent.

Those suffering from shortness of breath or coughing, irritation, and runny nose, were urged to consult a doctor. Meanwhile, Kadena’s medical group canceled all routine appointments, apparently bracing for further treatment of those affected.

Kadena Air Base houses over 20,000 service members and their families, along with the USAF’s 18th Air Wing and reconnaissance units.

Okinawa accommodates about half of the American troops stationed in Japan, to the great displeasure of many locals. In recent years, there have been protests against noise pollution, as well as the environmental impact and behavior of US soldiers, who have repeatedly been involved in sexual assaults and even deadly incidents on several occasions.

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Japan halts plans to deploy Aegis Ashore missile shield, citing costs & technical issues

RT | June 15, 2020

Tokyo has stopped bringing the US-made Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense sites online on Japanese soil, one month after it suspended plans to deploy an installation in the country’s east following opposition from locals.

The Japanese Defense Ministry has suspended the deployment of the Aegis Ashore systems in Japan, Defense Minister Taro Kono announced on Monday, according to the Kyodo news agency. Without going into detail, Kono attributed the U-turn to overwhelming costs and unspecified “technical problems.”

Kono did not say how long the plans would stay on the backburner. Japan’s military was planning to activate two Aegis Ashore sites, in the Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures, by the year 2023.

The two locations would cover the country’s airspace from both east and west, according to the news agency.

However, residents and local politicians in Akita rebelled against hosting the compound on their lands. They insisted that Aegis operations would take a toll on locals’ health and protested that it would likely become a high-priority target were an armed conflict to break out around Japan

The missile defense systems, designed by a number of American companies including Lockheed and Raytheon, were sold to Japan along with other defense equipment back in January 2019, with the deal totaling an estimated $2.15 billion.

Japan has been one of a few nations tapped to host Aegis Ashore. Far away from the Pacific, one such site has already entered service in Romania, while another is under construction in Poland – right on Russia’s doorstep.

Moscow considered the Aegis deployment an immediate threat to its security, with defense experts claiming the system’s launchers – officially defensive in nature – could easily be converted to fire offensive munitions like Tomahawk cruise missiles.

It also voiced concern over the Japanese deployment plans, saying that placing Aegis Ashore in Japan would “adversely affect the Russian strategic containment arsenal.”

June 15, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Okinawa’s Governor Promises ‘Fierce Opposition’ to Plan for New US Missile Bases

Sputnik – 10.06.2020

A US plan to build new missile sites on the Japanese island of Okinawa has encountered stiff resistance by locals, including the governor, who was elected on a position of getting US forces out of the prefecture.

‘Absolutely Unacceptable’

In the event of a war with China, land-based missiles placed on Okinawa would provide a major leverage point for US forces. However, with the island already a major target due to several large US military installations, Okinawans are fed up with the idea of bringing in even more targets for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“I firmly oppose the idea,” Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki told the Los Angeles Times for a Wednesday story. “If there is such a plan, I can easily imagine fierce opposition from Okinawa residents.”

“Intermediate-range ballistic missiles can be used to attack other countries, so deploying them would conflict with the Constitution and lead to a further build-up of the US bases,” Tamaki told Bloomberg News last November. “To have new military facilities would be absolutely unacceptable.”

The Straits-Times noted last November that similar opposition is just as likely from other US allies, such as Australia and South Korea, which would then become targets in the event of a shooting war between Washington and Beijing. Similar fears quelled early Cold War enthusiasm in Canberra for a nuclear weapons program, too.

Last October, the Okinawan daily Ryukyu Shimpo reportedly uncovered evidence the US government had informed the Russian government in August 2019 of its intent to base missiles violating the shredded Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in Okinawa within two years. The US formally withdrew from the treaty, which governed the ranges of land-based missiles used by Russia and the US, just days earlier.

Battle Plans Hinge on Okinawa

Never having been bound by the INF Treaty, the PLA has spent decades building up its Rocket Force into a formidably armed corps, wielding a variety of long-range cruise missiles and ballistic missiles and even hypersonic weapons, which the US has yet to field.

Sitting just 500 miles from Shanghai and 400 miles from the Zhejiang coast, Okinawa-based missiles would find much of mainland China within striking distance. However, the Ryukyu Islands would almost certainly fall under heavy attack by the PLA during a prospective war with US allies, as the archipelago falls within the “First Island Chain,” or the first string of islands sitting just off the east Asian coast. Beijing’s long-term strategic plans call for forcing its adversaries increasingly away from the Asian mainland, beginning with the First Island Chain, which stretches from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula south to Borneo, in Indonesia.

Likewise, the US Marine Corps is busy reenvisioning the way it wages war, including a pivot from the heavy land-based forces of the last several decades toward a more maritime role.

Commandant of the US Marine Corps Gen. David Berger told Congressional lawmakers in March that the Corps would be expanding its missile capabilities twentyfold in the next five years, as well as introducing the Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS), which is based on the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) but mounted atop a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle chassis. The weapons system will be able to fire a variety of anti-air and anti-ship missiles.

The purpose of these weapons can be found in Expeditionary Advance Base Ops (EABO), in which Marines will rush forward to set up small outposts on scattered islands that would house batteries of long-range anti-ship and anti-air missiles, creating a “no-go zone” for Chinese air and sea forces. A graphic illustrating the concept by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank happens to show EABOs deployed across the Ryukyuan chain.

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Land-based missiles deployed at “Expeditionary Advance Bases” could form a virtual wall against Chinese aggression

Widespread Japanese Opposition to US Missiles

US plans for deploying weapons previously banned by the INF Treaty elsewhere in Japan have met strong resistance as well. An Aegis Ashore system that was to have been built in the western city of Akita was canceled last month amid heavy opposition from locals. Another site, on the western coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture, also met opposition, but so far plans for its construction remain unchanged.

Tokyo approved their construction to provide anti-missile defense against potential attack from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), but with the US out of the INF Treaty, the Aegis Ashore systems can easily be converted to fire offensive weapons, as the site in Deveselu, Romania, has already demonstrated.

Sonata
Marine Corps Station Futenma, in Ginowan, Okinawa

Okinawans have also fought the continued presence of several US military bases on the island, which was stormed by US forces in the closing months of World War II in a furious battle that killed nearly half the island’s population of 300,000 at the time. US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma sits in the middle of Ginowan City, and Tamaki was elected to the governorship on a campaign to get the base removed from the prefecture. Just four miles north of Futenma is another air base, the US Air Force’s colossal Kadena Air Force Base; between the two installations are half of the 50,000 US service members deployed in all of Japan.

In a February 2019 referendum, 70% of Okinawans voted against a US-Japanese plan to relocate Futenma on the island, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisted Tokyo “cannot avoid the necessity of moving Futenma,” and land reclamation for the new site, on the coast of rural Henoko to the north, has continued.

June 10, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

It is Time for Japan to Become a Truly Independent State

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 03.05.2020

As the entire world suffers the tragic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest anti-American scandals are gaining momentum in Japan.

The Kyodo News agency was the first to report the announcement made by Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono on April 17 that a joint investigation would be conducted by the Japanese and United States military into a leakage of carcinogenic organic substances (firefighting foam) at the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the southern island of Okinawa. However, the Japanese Minister did not provide any details on the nature of this investigation. The article briefly mentions that before this announcement, the Vice Governor of Okinawa Prefecture Kiichiro Jahana had met with the Marine General in charge of the American air base to voice his protest over this spill.

The incident took place on April 10, when about 143 thousand liters of firefighting foam leaked out at the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which contains PFOS, suspected to be carcinogenic to humans. In terms of area, 70% of all American military facilities in Japan are located on this island. All kinds of accidents have been a regular occurrence at the Futenma military base. Okinawa authorities have long been calling for the Futenma air base to be closed, which is located in the densely populated urban area of Ginowan City.

The incident that took place on April 10 has heightened the demands being made by Okinawa Island’s residents and the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly to have operations at the US Futenma air base shut down, but the US have not taken any action in response to these demands, nor have they done anything to prevent these undesirable accidents from taking place.

Another scandal that is gaining momentum also has to do with the military and political alliance between the United States and Japan. As noted in the Japanese Shūkan Gendai magazine, Japan has fallen into America’s trap, and is now effectively their loyal little “vassal state”, which is the cause of the new misfortunes than have befallen Japan. The publication emphasizes that America is to blame for the chaos that the Middle East has long been mired in, and now it seems that Japan will have to answer for all of America’s actions. However, is an alliance with America worth all of this? That is the question posed in the Shūkan Gendai, which has published information about the plight that the Japan Self-Defense Forces stationed in the Middle East have been suffering, who have practically been immured in their ships, as they come face-to-face with the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to get to the bottom of the problems Japan is currently experiencing, the Shūkan Gendai reminds readers of a special plan adopted by Abe’s Cabinet in December 2019 without having received prior approval from the Diet. Under the pretext of the worsening political and military situation “amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran”, two P-3C anti-submarine patrol airplanes with more than 100 flight and technical personnel were deployed to the region for “intelligence-gathering” purposes at the beginning of 2020, as well as a Takanami guided-missile destroyer, which began operating in the Gulf of Oman, where no coalition forces are providing Japan with any serious back up. The Japan Self-Defense Force Base is in Djibouti. It is worth noting that even though the United States invited more than 60 countries to participate in an anti-Iranian coalition (formally created by Washington in November 2019), only 6 countries have joined the US-led Persian Gulf naval coalition. Apart from America,  they are the United Kingdom, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Albania. The coalition was joined by Lithuania at a later stage. Japan is not officially a member of the coalition, but the Japanese military says that if the Japanese troops were to pull out of the region, a gap would be created, leaving the coalition vulnerable.

Since March, the likelihood of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces remaining there has been seriously jeopardized due to the outbreak of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. This is mainly due to restrictions on the 200 crew members on the Takanami destroyer, who are refraining from leaving the ship to avoid becoming infected with Covid-19, and also due to the closure of Djibouti’s borders, which is not allowing the crews and maintenance personnel for the two P-3C anti-submarine patrol airplanes to be rotated. As the sailors cannot leave the ship, they are living in cramped and crowded conditions, and the Japan Self-Defense Forces were deployed to the Middle East without the necessary medical test kits, have not had enough rest, and are suffering severe stress. Given this situation, the Shūkan Gendai questions whether it is worth risking the lives of these crew members in order to clean up the mess made by the US, whose actions have unleashed chaos in this region.

At the same time, the Japanese press recall a statement made by Defense Minister Taro Kono back in January after holding talks with Pentagon chief Mark Esper, who said that Japan would not be participating in US operations to protect the Persian Gulf from possible attacks from Iran. Even the largely conservative Mainichi Shimbun newspaper has stressed that Japan’s complete dependence on the United States has led to Japan “blindly” following American foreign policy, and the decision taken by Abe’s Cabinet to deploy a limited Japan Self-Defense Forces unit to the Middle East is a clear proof of this. The controversial plan to build a new American military base at Henoko is further proof of this. The newspaper emphasizes that the Japanese government is wrong to be cracking down on the protests held by local residents against this new base being constructed. The government also needs to take urgent action to address the numerous civil rights and security violations that citizens living on Okinawa Island have suffered at the hands of the US military. This erodes mutual trust between the parties to the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan and weakens it.

A common theme runs through an article published in the liberal Asahi Shimbun newspaper, which is the belief that since President Trump was elected with slogan “America first!”, America’s own short-sighted military and political decisions have exposed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan to risks. The question of how Japan should cooperate with America is currently a real headache, as the United States has gone from being the “guardian” of the current world order to the instigator of disorder and chaos.

The Hokkaido Shimbun daily recalls the mass protests that broke out in Japan when the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan was signed in 1960, as well as the fact that its approval by the Diet was practically forced through.

The Akahata newspaper draws particular attention to the fact that a number of secret annexes were included when the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan was signed, according to which the American army can deploy nuclear weapons on Japanese islands and carry out military operations from them without notifying Japan, and this is not limited to operations in the Far East, they can be anywhere in the world. The US has already used Japanese territory to launch attacks on Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

To this day, Japan remains one of America’s closest partners in East Asia. This situation is certainly a paradox, given how many times the actions taken by the US have been unfriendly towards Japan and Japanese citizens. One example which stands out was the internment of Japanese Americans from March 17, 1942, when 120 thousand US residents who were ethnic Japanese or of Japanese descent were forcefully relocated and incarceration in concentration camps, even if these were American citizens who only had one Japanese ancestor, a great-grandmother or great-grandfather who was a Japanese national. What was happening to the Japanese on the territory of the United States at that time was purely fueled by racism, and there was no military justification for it. Then, on the night of March 9-10, 1945, the Bombing of Tokyo took place, which is regarded as the single most destructive bombing raid in human history, even more so than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Time and time again over the 60 years that have passed since the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States was signed, Japan has had to endure lawless acts committed by American occupying forces in their country.

It is therefore no wonder that although there is a desire among today’s Japanese government circles to demonstrate a practically servile willingness to follow in Washington’s footsteps, the Japanese public are taking to the streets in rather frequent demonstrations, and are clearly trying to voice their rejection of US policies and America’s actions, both in Japan and in other parts of the world.

May 3, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

‘Imminent’ 9.0 Earthquake, 30M Tsunami Could Wreck Fukushima, Government Panel Says

Sputnik – 23.04.2020

A specially set up working group has been projecting the possible repercussions of new probable natural disasters off Japan’s coastline and drawing up measures to prevent them.

A Japanese government panel has warned that a tsunami as high as 30 metres could land on Hokkaido if a 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurs, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported.

The panel, set up by the Cabinet Office, said it is the “worst-case scenario”, admitting that it is difficult to calculate the probability of such a quake. The panel pointed out that such disasters occur every 300-400 years, with the latest one dating back to the 17th century.

An earthquake is portrayed as imminent in the area around the Japan Trench and the Kuril Trench, following a panel studying simulations of tsunamis that occurred over the past 6,000 years and covered seven prefectures including Hokkaido, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibarak, Aomori, and Chiba.

The working group concluded that Iwate might have to bear the brunt of a tsunami of around 29.7 metres, followed by Hokkaido which will potentially be hit by 27.9-metre waves.

The worrisome predictions and media reports have meanwhile stoked concerns that a massive tsunami may wreck the Fukushima nuclear station, which its operator TEPCO has been cleaning up from toxic waste ever since the 2011 tsunami.

For instance, according to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, a Japanese government study projected that a tsunami with waves as high as 13.7 metres could sweep away the 11-metre high seawall built by TEPCO on the ocean side of the compound of the Fukushima Daichi plant. The out-of-service plant reportedly stores around 1,000 tanks of wastewater in one of its compounds.

In response, TEPCO announced, as cited by Reuters, that the company is set to dig into the latest prognosis and “analyse the impact on the ongoing preventive measures” against natural disasters.

April 23, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | | 3 Comments

Dumping contaminated water from Fukushima plant into ocean – the lesser evil?

By Vladimir Odintsov – New Eastern Outlook – 11.03.2020

In February this year, a number of media outlets reported that the Japanese authorities intended to drain more than one million tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. According to some experts, this method is the lesser evil because the ocean is able to dilute contaminated water, thus making it safe for people.

Nevertheless, this proposal has already caused discontent, both in Japan and in its neighboring countries.

The Japanese government has not yet officially announced this plan, but the intentions of the Shinzo Abe administration to follow through with this idea are becoming increasingly clear, especially considering the media campaign launched by the authorities in support of the proposal to release the contaminated Fukushima water into the ocean.

Let us remind the reader that 9 years have passed since the accident at the Fukushima power plant, but three of its damaged reactors are far from being dismantled. TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, delivered an ultimatum to the Japanese government demanding that it resolve the problem with radioactive water immediately. Every day, cooling the molten reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant yields an additional 150 cubic meters of contaminated water containing tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen) and other chemicals. The issue concerns the water originally used in the reactors’ cooling circuits during the disaster, and that used to cool the wrecked plant and the remaining fuel. A significant amount of water from underground sources flowing through the land towards the ocean is also being polluted. In total, TEPCO is currently storing 1.1 million cubic meters of radioactive water in one thousand special tanks on the territory of the nuclear power plant (NPP), but based on company’s estimates, it will run out of space for the contaminated water by the summer of 2022. TEPCO announced this in August 2019 and made a proposal to pump the contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi NPP into the Pacific Ocean.

The operator has so far failed to convince local fishermen and residents that draining water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean is the best solution. All other ways of resolving the problem, according to TEPCO management, are difficult.

The Japanese government has also not responded as yet to TEPCO’s ultimatum, not only for political reasons, but also in view of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, which are scheduled to be held in Japan after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assurances that the Japanese government had the situation under control after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Stating that radioactive water would have to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean in the current climate would be an extremely unfortunate option today, as it would, at the very least, lead to a heated discussion about the health of athletes who will be arriving for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Surfers, for example, will compete for medals 250 kilometers south of Fukushima, at Tsurigasaki Beach on the Pacific Ocean.

It is no secret that leakages of Fukushima water into the ocean earlier on have already resulted in serious environmental problems, i.e. deposits of Cesium-137 on sandy beaches at a considerable distance from the plant. They were brought there by the current. This was discovered in September 2017 (i.e. six and a half years after the nuclear accident), when researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA) studied soil samples from a vast area around the nuclear power plant. The only saving grace was the fact that the region in question was uninhabited and there was no risk of radiation exposure.

There was another rather unpleasant incident for the Japanese authorities in 2018, when the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was forced to apologize after admitting that its systems used to filter the water discharged into the ocean did not remove all hazardous materials from it.

In 2018, American wine from California was found to contain radioactive particles from the accident at Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima seven years prior. This was reported by scientists of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Michael Pavikoff, Christine Marquet and Philippe Hubert, who were studying batches of Californian red and rose wines from grapes harvested in 2009-2012 when they found Cesium-137 particles, a.k.a. radiocesium, in them. This is a man-made isotope formed by nuclear fission in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. In the wine produced after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, the level of radioactive particles was higher than before the disaster.

Small amounts of radioactive isotopes of Iodine and Cesium were also found in vegetables grown in South Korea and in fish caught off the Japanese coast. This caused a crisis in South Korea’s long-established industry: the seafood trade. Based on analyses, one in four fish caught one kilometer from Ibaraki (the main town of the Japanese prefecture of the same name, situated north of the Fukushima NPP) was found to have a slightly higher cesium content than allowed. According to traders, the reports of radiation leaking into the sea led to a 50% decrease in sales of seafood products. As a result, South Korea’s government banned imports of products from the areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The authorities have repeatedly stated that all fish products from Japan are being thoroughly checked.

And these are just some of the cases covered by local and international media outlets.

The sheer scale of consequences stemming from the Fukushima disaster, as well as the previous Chernobyl accident, is such that the problems arising as a result cannot be resolved effectively and completely unless the best world experts are involved. Otherwise, incorrect decisions may not only cause undesirable environmental consequences and affect the health of people in the region, but also further undermine confidence in the nuclear industry. The current Japanese government still has faith in nuclear power and wishes to increase the amount of energy produced by NPPs by 20-22% before 2030.

On February 4, 2020, Japanese authorities held a meeting with embassy officials where they tried to convince the latter of the advantages of the plan to release radioactive water from storage facilities at Fukushima.

It is understandable, to a certain extent, why TEPCO, the Japanese government and individual experts would like to resolve the issue with contaminated water as soon as possible, rather than put it off indefinitely. But it is difficult to support their approach to the problem at hand. Lack of transparency and essentially, the government’s reluctance to fully engage in cooperation with the international community in solving this problem are not beneficial for everyone.

It is still unknown what will eventually happen to the radioactive water from the Fukushima NPP. But so far, the Japanese government has decided to involve a wider group of experts in addressing the issue.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Back to Fukushima. Former residents weigh up returning to nuclear ghost town of Okuma

RT Documentary • December 12, 2019

In March 2011, an earthquake hit Japan, setting off a tsunami that caused an accident at the Daiichi nuclear power station in Fukushima prefecture. Radioactive contamination settled on the surrounding area, and the authorities decided to evacuate the population living within a 20km radius around the power station.

Watch full video here: https://rtd.rt.com/023wp

Eight years later, inhabitants of the town closest to the nuclear disaster, Okuma, were allowed to move back to some of its territory. RTD takes a bittersweet tour of the nuclear ghost town with former residents considering whether to return to their hometown, and meets those who have already moved into new homes built in a less-contaminated part of town. Torn between loyalty to their roots and the desire to build a future for themselves, the people of Fukushima now have an agonising choice to make.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , | 2 Comments

US interventionist presence in region has to end as soon as possible: Iran defense chief

Press TV – January 10, 2020

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami says Washington’s “interventionist presence” in the region has to end as soon as possible for a de-escalation to take place after recent US provocations.

“Achieving de-escalation, stabilization and security in the region requires the immediate end of Washington’s occupation and interventionist presence,” Hatami said in a phone call with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on Thursday.

The talks between the two defense chiefs came after Tokyo announced last month that it has sought to send a warship and a number of patrol aircraft to the Middle East region in order to ensure security amid heightening tensions.

Tokyo receives nearly 90 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East.

Speaking on Thursday, Hatami said “those who seek to assist in de-escalation and achieving regional stability have to remind the Americans, which are a source of regional insecurity, to leave the region.”

The Iranian defense chief added that Iran, being the largest country with an access to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, has always fulfilled its role in ensuring security in regional waterways.

Hatami’s call for the expulsion of US forces comes a week after Washington assassinated the Middle East’s most prominent anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

Speaking to his Japanese counterpart, Hatami called on independent countries to condemn Washington’s “state terrorism”.

He described Soleimani’s assassination as an unprecedented and major crime where a foreign government has acted to kill a senior Iranian military officer in another country.

Speaking on his part, Kono stressed that Japan’s military deployment in the region seeks to ensure regional peace and that it does not intend to take part in a so-called US-led Persian Gulf coalition, which commenced its operations last November.

According to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, Kono also gave out orders for the Japanese military deployments to begin on Friday.

Earlier last year, Washington called for the formation of the maritime coalition in response to a series of mysterious explosions targeting vessels in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

US officials were quick to blame Iran for the incidents without providing conclusive evidence.

Iran has roundly rejected the accusations, describing the attacks as being part of “false flag operations” seeking to pressure Iran.

Following the tensions, Japan, which has sought to maintain positive ties with both Tehran and Washington, has stressed that it has opted to form its own maritime operation rather than join the US-led mission.

According to The Japan Times, the Japanese operation will operate in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden east of Saudi Arabia and will exclude the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf due to Iran’s concerns regarding the presence of the US-led initiative.

January 10, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 8 Comments