diumenge, 24 de novembre de 2013

Restrictions on Air Space Over Senkaku Islands*

By Zachary Keck

In a move certain to escalate tensions with Japan, China’s Ministry of Defense on Saturday issued what amounts to a heavily regulated air zone over much of the East China Sea, including the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

In a statement today China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced the creation of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which went into effect 10 AM Saturday Morning local time. A second statement by the MND laid out the Aircraft Identification Rules for the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.

The latter statement outlines six rules aircraft flying in the zone must follow, starting with rule number one, which reads “aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone must abide by these rules.”

The second rule contains four ways aircraft must identify themselves and keep in communication with Chinese authorities while flying over the zone. These include clearly marking the nationality of the aircraft and maintaining two way communications with China’s Foreign Ministry and Civil Aviation Administrative.

The third rule states that “aircraft flying in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone should follow the instructions of the administrative organ of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.” The next rule identifies China’s Ministry of National Defense as the administrative organ. The statement also empowers the MND to explain the rules.

Many of the identification procedures are similar to the ones used by Canada and the U.S. in the North American ADIZ that they jointly administer. The rules for that ADIZ appear to be a lot more precise, however.

Notably, rule number three in the new East China Sea ADIZ warns “China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.”

While the language is vague, it appears to be consistent with how other countries handle potential violations to their ADIZ.  For instance, in two separate incidents over the summer, Russian strategic bombers entered into America’s 200 km ADIZs around the Pacific and Alaska. They were met by U.S. interceptor jets though the Pentagon refused to specify which type of aircraft the U.S. had used.

The first statement announcing the East China Sea ADIZ’s creation laid out the precise coordinates of the zone, and was accompanied by a hard to see map outlining it.

The creation of the ADIZ is in line with a growing aerial trend in the East China Sea dispute between China and Japan. In a piece on The Diplomat earlier this month, Flashpoints contributor Mira-Rapp Hooper noted, “In recent weeks, the standoff over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands has taken to the air.” She further warned that there are a number of reasons to think that “these aerial activities… may present new challenges in the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute.”

The possibility of China setting up an ADIZ in the East China Sea first leaked earlier this month when the Japanese new service Kyodo obtained an internal People’s Liberation Army document discussing the ADIZ. Kyodo noted at the time that China’s ADIZ would almost certainly overlap with Japan’s own ADIZ in the East China Sea. It also stated, “Such zones are set up by countries based on domestic law. There are no international rules concerning their establishment.” And therein lies the danger of the new ADIZ.

After announcing the ADIZ’s creation, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense fielded questions about what it entailed. According to a transcript released by Chinese state media, the spokesperson explained that an “Air Defense Identification Zone is an area of air space established by a coastal state beyond its territorial airspace to timely identify, monitor, control and react to aircraft entering this zone with potential air threats.”  The U.S. Department of Defense defines ADIZs as “Airspace of defined dimensions within which the ready identification, location, and control of airborne vehicles are required.”

The spokesperson also stated that the East China Sea ADIZ had been set up, “with the aim of safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security, and maintaining flight order. This is a necessary measure taken by China in exercising its self-defense right. It is not directed against any specific country or target. It does not affect the freedom of over-flight in the related airspace.”

The MND spokesperson went on to defend the ANIZ’s creation as consistent with China’s sovereignty, international law, and precedent. In particularly, he noted that 20 nations, including some of China’s neighbors, have set up such ANIZs over the years.

When asked why the ANIZ stretched “only” 130 km from China’s territory, the spokesperson responded, “Some country established Air Defense Identification Zone as early as in 1969. The shortest distance from their zone to the Chinese mainland is also 130 km.” That was almost certainly a reference of Japan, which took control of its ANIZ from the U.S. military in 1969.

Later the same spokesperson clarified that China will continue to respect over-flight rights in accordance with international law.

“The establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone does not change the legal nature of related airspace,” the MND spokesperson said. “Normal flights by international air liners in the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone will not be affected in any way.”

He concluded the press conference by saying that China would create additional ADIZs “at the right moment after necessary preparations are completed.”

The Ministry of National Defense in Taiwan, which also claims the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, issued a statement expressing regret at China’s move. It also vowed to protect Taiwan’s national security and sovereignty. Notably, the ADIZ’s boundaries did not include Taiwan proper. At the time of this writing, Japan does not appear to have issued an official response yet.

In practical terms, the creation of the ADIZ is in line with China’s goal of challenging Japan’s administration of the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Just over a month after Japan nationalized some of the Senkaku Islands in September 2012, M Taylor Fravel explained China’s strategy towards its disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea.

“The most striking feature of China’s behavior in its maritime disputes this year has been efforts to redefine the status quo,” Fravel wrote at the time.  “In its disputes with the Philippines and Japan, China has used the presence of its civilian maritime law enforcement agencies to create new facts on the water to strengthen China’s sovereignty claims.”

Now China is trying to create new facts in the air.

http://thediplomat.com/2013/11/china-imposes-restrictions-on-air-space-over-senkaku-islands/

* Notícia publicada a The Diplomat. Sembla que la política de fets consumats de la Xina continua...

divendres, 22 de novembre de 2013

Portsmouth Ship Yard Jobs: Britain’s Maritime Capabilities Rebalanced*

By Dr. John Louth

British maritime defence industrial manufacturing capabilities saw a historic transition with the Portsmouth naval yard losing out to Glasgow.   This is an important milestone, but it is too simplistic to talk glibly about the resulting strategic shrinkage or the demise of British maritime strength



November 2013 has seen two significant announcements from the UK government that will have major implications for the projection of force and the protection of sovereign capability, both of which would appear to be important to Britain’s fortunes within a contingent and uncertain geopolitical system.

First, it has been confirmed by the Defence Secretary that British maritime defence industrial manufacturing capabilities are to be significantly rationalised and re-ordered by BAE Systems across its sites at Govan, Scotstoun and Portsmouth. This will lead to the complete elimination of a maritime construction presence in Portsmouth, effectively ending English surface-shipbuilding for the Royal Navy and a tradition of excellence that stretches back to Richard the Lion-heart. For once, the description of a decision as being ‘historic’ does not seem overblown.

The decision itself will see British naval manufacturing clustered on the Clyde in Scotland and the loss of over 1,700 jobs: 940 in Portsmouth, 800 in Glasgow and a small number of ship design and specialist engineering posts will also be lost from sites in Bristol and Edinburgh. These roles represent hard-won national defence capabilities and capacity, born from decades of governmental and industrial investment. Once removed, it will not be easy (or even possible) to grow back these core competencies, so this is a major strategic decision for the UK. But it is too simplistic to talk glibly about strategic shrinkage or the demise of British maritime capabilities: politicians and industrialists have to live in the real world of budgets, order books, scarcity and tough choices and play the hand their dealt.   

Once manufacturing has been centred around Glasgow, Portsmouth will be the home and maintenance/refit base for the two ordered Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, the first of which is due for delivery in 2017, and a major base of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet. So a maritime, as distinct from manufacturing, presence in Portsmouth is assured well into the second part of this century.

Two Aircraft Carriers Operated from Portsmouth

This is where the importance of a second significant announcement from government can be distilled. With his strongest hint to date, the Defence Secretary has told Parliament of the utility that operating both aircraft carriers would bring to UK forces in future operations. This is different from a current common argument across government and in defence circles that one of the two ships should be kept as some kind of forward reserve, to be up-skilled at moments of crises only. Both carriers being operated at the centre of future British defence capabilities would offer real force utility and points to the significance of Portsmouth as a major operating base for many years to come.

Of course, both the carrier programme and the rationalisation of maritime surface-ship manufacturing are not without real risks and concerns. In relation to the former, the Public Accounts Committee will inevitably conduct another inquiry into the programme after it was announced this week that costs had grown by another £800 million to £6.2 billion, significantly above the original 2007 estimate of £3.7 billion. 

This will be the fourth such exercise in six years. Whilst narratives of cost overruns and inefficiency will invariably dominate the debate, and understandably so, the substantive issue is one of effective requirements setting, cost forecasting and budgeting by government rather than runaway costs. A taste for champagne but a budget for rough cider usually means that something has to give; in the case of the carrier programme it has been the budget.

Scottish Referendum

Moreover, the decision to anchor surface-ship manufacturing to Glasgow prior to a referendum on Scottish independence, due in 2014, could prove problematic if the Scottish people vote to leave the Union. It seems less than certain that a UK (less Scotland) with an historical commitment to sovereignty over its warship design and production would import warships from a foreign power residing just north of the border at Hadrian’s Wall. Of course, it is equally fanciful that a youthful and reforming independent Scotland would have a demand for any warships it was manufacturing on the Clyde.

Scottish independence would probably see a return of shipbuilding to Portsmouth as contracts with BAE Systems and others were revisited as part of the constitutional de-coupling. Indeed, across defence, Scottish independence is a major issue within boardrooms with mitigation plans, investment decisions and migration options all part of the mix: it would be naive to assume that the maritime sector would be immune to such a major political, economic and structural event no matter what decisions are taken now.

To conclude, November 2013 is a significant moment in Britain’s naval history and tradition. A centre of excellence on the Clyde for shipbuilding centred on concluding the carrier programme and the Royal Navy’s demand for a new frigate, the Type 26, is a major rationalisation of skills and competencies, unfortunately at Portsmouth’s expense. The latter will continue as a major operational centre for the surface fleet and the home of the new carriers. Both, perhaps, could be fully operational and the centre-point of future British military capabilities across a wide spectrum of operational scenarios.  

 This seems a sensible, rational solution for the UK as a whole, re-balancing core-competencies and capacity within the industrial sector to a shrinking order book from the UK government. But as a solution it only stays intact, I suspect, if the UK polity itself stays intact. Those risks registers, in London, Edinburgh and elsewhere, both in government and in commerce, will see some action between now and the end of next year.

* Article publicat al RUSI. Interessant lectura, no només per les implicacions en la indústria de defensa britànica, sinó especialment per veure com Londres està jugant molt hàbilment les seves cartes.

http://www.rusi.org/analysis/commentary/ref:C527D1BAD21378/#.Uo-GLJ6PVzT


dimecres, 20 de novembre de 2013

Les democràcies marítimes salpen cap a les Filipines: on són les quatre barres?

El Tifó Haiyan / Yolanda, un dels més destructius dels darrers temps, ha deixat al seu pas per les Filipines un reguerot de mort i destrucció. Encara no se sap amb exactitud la xifra de morts i damnificats, però les dades que esmenten les organitzacions internacionals i els mitjans de comunicació són esfereïdores.

Enmig d'aquesta desolació però, un raig d'esperança. Les democràcies marítimes s'han mobilitzat ràpidament, desplegant uns mitjans navals i aeris impressionants en un intent de limitar les conseqüències d'aquesta catàstrofe natural. Un cop passada la tempesta, sorgeixen nous perills com ara la manca d'aigua potable i les epidèmies. Països com el Regne Unit, Estats Units, i el Japó, d'acord amb les autoritats filipines, han desplegat vaixells i avions a la zona.

Malauradament la manca de mitjans navals impedeix que Catalunya, nació a la que escau indubtablement l'etiqueta de democràcia marítima, de fet n'és la més antiga (malgrat tres segles sense marina i sense democràcia), se sumi a aquest esforç internacional. Això no vol dir però que no sigui imperatiu seguir la situació, tant per raons humanitàries, com per a contribuir al debat sobre els mitjans dels que la Catalunya estat s'haurà de dotar en el camp de la seguretat i la defensa.

Camp que inclou, no ho oblidem, l'assistència a les autoritats civils, domèstiques i aliades, en as de grans catàstrofes naturals, així com la lluita contra determinades amenaces naturals com ara els asteroides.

Podeu consultar l'article sencer clicant en aquest enllaç.


*Article publicat al CEEC.

dimarts, 19 de novembre de 2013

INS Vikramaditya enters service with Indian Navy*

The Indian Navy has commissioned its new aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, at Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk, Russia.
Capable of accommodating a crew of 1,600, the completely refurbished 44,500t INS Vikramaditya has an overall length of about 284m, a maximum beam of about 60m and a range of over 7,000nm.
Indian defence minister AK Antony said INS Vikramaditya is expected to significantly enhance the reach and capability of the Indian Navy.
"India's economic development is dependent on the seas and safeguarding the nation's maritime interests is central to our national policy," Antony said.
"The induction of Vikramaditya'with its integral MiG29K fighters and Kamov-31 helicopters, not only reinforces this central policy, but also adds a new dimension to our navy's operational capabilities."
Powered by eight new generation steam boilers, the aircraft carrier can operate Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RAC MiG)-built MiG 29K multirole fighter aircraft, the Kamov 31 medium-weight naval helicopter and Kamov 28 naval anti-submarine helicopter, the Sikorsky Sea King aircraft and Chetak aircraft.
"The meaning of 'Vikramaditya', which literally translates into 'strong as the sun' is complemented by the ship's motto: "Strike Far, Strike Sure."
The short takeoff but arrested recovery (STOBAR) aircraft carrier is equipped with sensors and launch and recovery systems, and enables the smooth and efficient operation of ship-borne aircraft.
Naval chief of staff, admiral Joshi, said INS Vikramaditya will bridge the time-gap that occurs between the INS Viraat and the indigenously built aircraft carrier Vikrant by helping achieving medium term goal of operating two aircraft carriers.
The warship also features Resistor-E radar complex automated system to provide air traffic control, approach / landing and short range navigation for ship borne aircraft as well as modern communication complex, CCS MK II, to meet her external communication requirements.

* Notícia publicada a Naval Technology. Finalment, i després de molts anys de retard, sembla que l'entrega del Vikramaditya és imminent.

divendres, 8 de novembre de 2013

Navy to upgrade torpedoes, sonars of warships soon*

The Navy is all set to upgrade its heavyweight torpedoes to extend both its life and range, apart from acquiring low frequency sonars for 16 of its front line warships to improve its surface and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

The Navy has chosen the German firm Atlas Elektronik to help it upgrade the heavyweight torpedoes, the most reliable weapons that can hit surface and underwater targets (SUT), for the four HDW Type 209 Shishumar class submarines, also of German origin.

The Navy is also on the verge of finalising the winner for supplying it with Active Towed Array Sonars (ATAS) for which Atlas Elektronik is one of the leading contenders, the company’s executives told a group of Indian journalists taken on a tour of its manufacturing facilities at Bremen and Hamburg in Germany.

The first six ATAS system would be three each of the Delhi-class destroyers and the Talwar-class frigates of the Navy. The contract winning company would be required to transfer the technology of the ATAS system to Indian defence public sector Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to produce 10 more of the sonars for the Kolkata-class destroyers, Shivalik-class frigates and the Kamorta-class corvette.

Navy sources here confirmed that they have selected the firm to upgrade its 64 SUT torpedoes and extend its life by another 15 years, while the selection process for the ATAS system is still not completed.

Khalil Rehman, CEO of Atlas Elektronik which opened its Indian subsidiary earlier this year, said the company was looking to expand its presence in India after its return to the market with the torpedoes upgrade programme. In this regard, he said, Atlas Elektronik had presented its SeaHake mod4 ER -- the latest, fastest and most effective heavyweight torpedoes -- to the Navy to boost its firepower.

“We want to further deepen our ties with India and provide the best of products and services to the Indian Navy, apart from integrating India into our global supply chain,” Bremen-based Atlas Elektronik CEO Volker Paltzo said.

* Notícia publicada a The New Indian Express. Sovint analitzem l'evolució de les marines de guerra en funció de l'aquisició i/o baixa d'unitats. Però l'estudi de sistemes concrets, com ara els sónars i torpedes ens pot donar informacions molt rellevants.

dijous, 7 de novembre de 2013

We shall fight them on the beaches: Japan looks at UK for inspiration as she readies for amphibious drills*



Japan is taking a major step forward in her deterrence strategy, conducting a large-scale amphibious drill designed to put on display her ability to reconquer an island.
This follows Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's repeated references to the Falklands in his speeches, a polite and indirect, yet unequivocal way, of warning China that an invasion of the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu for Beijing) would be met with an amphibious counterstrike. This was crowned by his recent meeting with Falklands veteran His Royal Highness the Duke of York. On the political and diplomatic side the drills are designed to show that Tokyo is not standing alone should that scenario materialize. Japan has already succeeded in getting the United States to acknowledge that the bilateral security treaty covers indeed the Senkaku Islands, following a certain ambiguity and conflicting public statements in the past. Next step is to show that Japanese and US forces are interoperable and could work together in such a campaign. All of this while developing a Japanese amphibious capability. However, there is still the nagging question whether a successful and relatively bloodless landing by Beijing may prompt some voices in the US to claim the islands are no longer under Tokyo's effective control and therefore outside the scope of an automatic response in support of Japan. Should Japan fear that scenario Tokyo's next logical step may be to deploy land troops. While it is not clear yet whether that step will ever be taken, Japan is deploying, as part of the drills, anti-ship missiles with which to close the First Island Chain to Chinese shipping.

Japan's growing amphibious capabilities. The creation of specialized units and facilities in this field is one of the aspects of Japan's defense reorientation following the end of the Cold War and the growing might of the Chinese Navy. The idea is to develop a capability to deploy in contested islands in the event of a major crisis, and to retake them if necessary.

With that need in view, Tokyo decided to develop a specialized force, mentored by the US Navy and Marine Corps. The force will comprise contingents from the Ground, Air, and Maritime Self-Defense Forces (SDF), and include different units covering a range of capabilities, from infantry to maritime transportation, and including the necessary air support. This specialized force is seen as necessary, among others, because the disputed territories are far not only from existing military facilities, but from civilian infrastructure able to support operations.

Until 2012, Japan considered marines to be offensive in nature and thus falling outside the scope of Article 9 of her constitution. The current government interpretation of the text is that it allows defensive, but not offensive, weapons, a distinction not always easy to make in practice. Finally, last year the cabinet came to the conclusion that Japanese law allowed marines units to be created and deployed. The unit selected to serve as the core, the seed, of this amphibious capability was the Western Army Infantry Regiment (WAIR), based in Nagasaki. This location facilitates its quick embarkation on MDSF (Maritime Self-Defence Forces) ships at Nagasaki/Sasebo or on V-22 Ospreys from nearby air bases at Nyutabaru and Tsuiki. From this core, Japanese amphibious capabilities are expected to expand.

Despite its name, the WAIR is, broadly speaking, of battalion size. It is made up of at least three infantry companies. Its table of equipment is that of a light infantry unit, with weapons no heavier than 84mm Carl Gustav recoil-less rifles (employed by the Royal Marines against ARA Guerrico in the defense of South Georgia) and French MO-120-RT 120mm towed mortars. Tokyo announced recently that it would be buying up to six AAV-7A1 amphibious assault vehicles. Traditionally the WAIR's only vehicles were light trucks.

Concerning air support, up to now the WAIR has not had at its disposal any dedicated, specialized, collocated, air unit. Traditionally, it has relied on helicopters from the 1st Aviation Brigade, with headquarters near Tokyo. For example, during the June 2013 Dawn Blitz drills, which took place in Southern California, this brigade provided AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Now Tokyo is pondering the possibility of purchasing organic air transport for her marines, in the shape of up to 20 V-22 Ospreys. This may allow the WAIR to quickly move to the Senkaku Islands in the event of a crisis. The Ospreys are however somewhat controversial in Japan, with certain opposition due to past accidents.

With regard to naval means, here we can observe how, in spite the very recent decision to develope specialized marine units, Japan has long enjoyed a sizable capability when it comes to amphibious ships. The MSDF's three Oosumi class vessels are considered to be Landing Ship, Tanks (LSTs) and feature full-length flight decks and a well deck. Each can transport almost a battalion of infantry, plus tanks and other vehicles. Each of these ships can carry two American-built Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), Japan having six of them. Tokyo also has a dozen medium-sized landing crafts, each able to transport around 30 tons of equipment or up to 80 marines from the ship to shore. To the Oosumi class we must add the Hyuga class, officially described as “helicopter destroyers” but similar in look and capabilities to light carriers. Each can carry up to 14 or 16 helicopters, and it probably would not be too difficult to convert them to operate VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) planes like the F-35-B which the UK is buying for her Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, currently under construction. Although media reports do not usually refer to this, the question remains in the air whether the budding defense cooperation between London and Tokyo may include at some point future assistance in developing such a capability. It may be a door left open. Similar to the French Mistral class and American Iwo Jima class in their versatility, the Hyuga Class, of which a third vessel is under construction, provides a very strong addition to Japan's amphibious capabilities. This, while able to serve in a variety of different roles. Writing for the Asahi Shimbun on the occasion of the launch in August 2013 of the second ship in the class, the Izumo, Alessio Patalano (King's College London), one of the top experts on Japanese Naval Affairs, made this clear. Patalano stressed her design had multiplied “the Izumo’s operational flexibility and versatility so that it can be used in the defense of offshore islands, to rescue nationals overseas and as a command ship in expeditionary or relief missions” and adding that “In relief operations after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, for example, the helicopter destroyer Hyuga was deployed precisely in that type of function”.

We can thus see how, out of the three pillars of Tokyo's amphibious forces, the maritime one is probably the strongest. The marine component is currently under development, and in the air there is still a lack of specialized units and equipment, with Tokyo pondering the purchase of V-22 Ospreys.

Concerning US assistance in the process, Washington may be interested not only in helping Tokyo reinforce her military capabilities as a complement to her own “Pivot to the Pacific”, which rests in no small measure on a strengthening of the naval capabilities of key allies and partners such as the Philippines and Japan, but also in opening the door to a Japanese contribution to US-led amphibious operations. This was stressed by Kyle Mizokami in his recent piece on “Japan’s Amphibious Buildup” for the United States Naval Institute News. Mizokami wrote “Under the tutelage of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Japan is slowly but surely building up a credible, flexible amphibious force capable of responding to national emergencies. Highly trained with a high level of mobility, it could eventually become the equal of both. The force will not only be highly useful in Japan’s territorial disputes, it will likely be a excellent partner for their American counterparts in joint operations”.

Recently writing in the Asahi Shimbun, Koji Sonoda explained that according to Japanese Defense Ministry sources “The creation of a Japanese version of U.S. Marines will be included in the National Defense Program Guidelines to be compiled in December”, adding that “The amphibious force will be set up as early as fiscal 2015”. Sonoda said that these sources had revealed the target size of the force to be 3,000. Four of the specialized craft mentioned earlier would be purchased in the current fiscal year, and the remaining two in Fiscal 2014.

The coming drills: ships, jets, and 34,000 troops. Japan's Defense Ministry has announced a large-scale military exercise designed to bolster the country's ability to protect her remote islands, claimed by other nations. AFP quoted a ministry official who explained that the war games would feature “destroyers, fighter jets and 34,000 troops”, adding that they would involve “live-firing”. The “air-sea-land drill” will be held from 1 to 18 November. It will comprise “amphibious landings on the uninhabited atoll of Okidaitojima, 400 kilometres southeast of the main Okinawan island”.

In a statement, the SDF joint staff said that the drill was aimed at “maintaining and improving the joint operational abilities of the Self-Defense Forces in armed-attack situations”, adding that it would feature “a series of actions in defending islands” including combined operations in landings.

According to the Asahi and Fuji TV networks, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces are pondering the deployment of short-range anti-ship missiles on Ishigaki, an island 150 kilometers away from the Senkaku-Diayu. Both sources added that there were no plans to conduct live-fire exercises in Ishigaki. The deployment was later confirmed by US private intelligence firm Stratfor.

Closing the First Island Chain: the Long Shadow of HMS Glamorgan. The decision to deploy anti-ship missiles in the islands of Ishigaki and Miyako-jima was the aspect of the drills most clearly stressed by Straftor. Although the “Type 88 surface-to-ship missiles” will not be tested, Stratfor believes that “their deployment is important because stationing batteries of Type 88 missiles in such a way would effectively put the entire passage between Okinawa-jima and Miyako-jima under the coverage of Japanese land-based surface-to-ship missiles”. The commentary notes that while Tokyo denies aiming this deployment at anyone in particular, “the Chinese navy is increasingly using the same passage through the first island chain and into the Pacific” and as a result “the deployment is sure to send a strong message to Beijing”.

Stratfor concludes that Japan's drills and anti-ship missile deployments “show that, despite some Chinese military claims of having 'dismembered' the first island chain as an obstacle”, transiting it “in peacetime is entirely different from attempting the same feat during a conflict with Japan”.

The potential of shore-based anti-ship missiles became clear in the closing stages of the 1982 Falklands War, when Argentinian forces launched an improvised Exocet missile (taken from the above mentioned ARA Guerrico) against the Royal Navy's HMS Glamorgan, damaging her extensively and taking her out of action. While not as well known as the other two successful instances of Buenos Aires' use of this weapons system during that war, from the air against HMS Sheffield and SS Atlantic Conveyor, it was duly noted by both Chinese and Japanese naval planners. Recent Filipino commentary on how to protect waters claimed by China has also featured discussions on mobile shore-based missiles, possible camouflaged in some of that country's extensive jungle areas. Taiwan is also another country considering the potential of this kind of weapons system, one of the “asymmetrical” technologies that many voices are urging Taipei to adapt, given the growing gap in conventional naval capabilities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Japan's accompanying public relations (PR) offensive. The announcement of the drills went hand in hand with that of a renewed exercise in public diplomacy, with Japan releasing some videos, and announcing the coming publication of others, defending Tokyo's position in the island disputes with the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea. AFP informed that “In its latest volley, the foreign ministry has produced two 90-second videos stating its case for ownership of the two disputed island groups and posted them on its YouTube site”. It added that both clips were in Japanese and that they would be followed by versions in other languages, “including Chinese and Korean”. AFP quoted a Foreign Affairs Ministry (FOMA) official as saying that “We are also preparing three other short movies on the Senkaku islands and one on the issue of Takeshima,” the later refers to islets under South Korean control, which Seoul calls Dokdo. The official explained that the FOMA had earmarked 120 million yen in the current fiscal year to produce such films, adding that “It is important that the international community obtain correct understanding over situations surrounding Japan including territories”.

Both Beijing and Seoul reacted strongly to this move. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying insisted once more that the Senkaku Islands belonged to Beijing, adding that “Whatever propaganda tools Japan employs to support its illegal claim, it will not change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China”. Chunying said “We strongly urge the Japanese side to correct its attitude, stop all provocative words and actions and make concrete efforts for the proper management and resolution of the question of the Diaoyu Islands”. On the other hand, Seoul lodged a formal diplomatic protest over the Youtube video, summoning a senior Japanese embassy official on 26 October.

At the time of writing, the Japanese MOFA's Youtube channel still contained the two Japanese-language video clips only. The one on the Senkaku Islands had been viewed by 258,577 people, and the one on Takeshima/Dokdo by 406,895.

From “Three Blocks” to “Three Islands”, or the thin line between police and the military. Since an invasion of the Senkaku Islands could take place at the hands not only of a conventional military force, but also of unarmed activists supported by naval and air units, a question which we may ask ourselves is: Does Tokyo have the capability to use non-lethal force to recover control of a contested islands? One of the most difficult challenges of contemporary war fighting is the need to be prepared for very different scenarios, and to prevail in all of them at the same time. It is what the US Marine Corps calls the “Three-Block” doctrine. It does not suffice to be able to employ brute force, like a doctor, sometimes resorting to surgery, sometimes just prescribing a pill or some exercise, modern Armed Forces are called upon to be ready to resort to a wide range of tools. Confronting an entrenched unit of the PLA, ready to open fire, is not the same as confronting a group of Chinese activists, with the usual addition of a few Hong Kong and Taiwan “compatriots”, with their placards and slogans. Are Japan's Self-Defense Forces ready to react to both scenarios, and even to both in different islands at the same time? Do they have the necessary training, equipment, and doctrine for this? Is the recovery of an island in the hands of unarmed activists backed up by naval and air forces included in the coming drills? These are questions that need to be asked. The US Marine Corps itself has recognized the need to acquire a police capability, one of the lessons learned in Iraq, setting up a battalion of reservists who are police officers in their daily life.

The British factor: A renewed Anglo-Japanese Alliance? While it is the United States that constitute the main target for Japan's diplomacy when it comes to securing support for its stance on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, we cannot but fail to note the growing significance of the United Kingdom in Tokyo's discourse. We have already noted Shinzo Abe's frequent references to the Falklands, but this may just be the tip of the iceberg. A recent two-day security conference at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security (RUSI)'s Tokyo Branch, featured none other than the Duke of York, a veteran of the 1982 war, with Shinzo Abe as the keynote speaker. It is interesting to note how, within the division of duties in the British Royal Family, the Duke of York is in charge of export and investment promotion. So again we find what is fast becoming Shinzo Abe's trademark combination of economic and security issues. The message was dual: working to increase trade and investment links with another advanced economy, and sending the signal that just like the UK in 1982 force would be met with force. All in the most deniable way of course, but the message was there.
The conference was titled “Rejuvenating UK-Japan relations for the 21st century” and was jointly organized by RUSI and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. It took place in Tokyo from 30 September to 1 October 2013. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the event, delivering a keynote address and meeting the Duke of York. The 400th anniversary of UK-Japan relations seems to be providing cover for Japan's deterrence diplomacy. Next year, the 100 anniversary of the First World War, where Japan and the UK fought together, may provide further opportunities for the Japanese prime minister to send subtle messages to China and to Tokyo's allies. In his speech, Abe already noted how the Japanese Imperial Navy came to be known as “the guardian of the Mediterranean”. Can Japan combine a no-nonsense approach to national security without incurring excessive military spending and/or prompting accusations of militarism at home and abroad? That is a key question, and one on which the Japanese Government seems to be looking to the UK as a possible role model, to some extent going back to the old days of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, the old days when Japan was respected as a regional power without being seen as an outcast and a bully as in the 1930s.

Conclusions. The drills announced by Tokyo are significant, and not just due to the large number of personnel involved, but above all because they signal a clear determination to show the world, both to allies and to potential foes, that Japan is back as a major naval power and that she is developing a serious amphibious capability, together with the ability to close off key naval passages at a time of conflict. There is little doubt that the Japanese military are professional and skilled and that they can easily acquire new capabilities. However, what is equally important for Tokyo, perhaps even more so, is to integrate the securing of national objectives such as the defense of the Senkaku Islands with the defense of wider interests and values such as freedom of navigation, the rule of law, and the peaceful solution to territorial disputes. Since becoming prime minister for a second time Shinzo Abe has devoted much time and effort to this, and it has become a constant in his speeches. Growing links to the UK are part of this strategy, since that country displays many of the characteristics that Japan is seeking, being an ally of the US with significant military capabilities and sizable soft power. Furthermore, referring to the UK and her past defense of the rule of law in the South Atlantic is an attractive way of stressing that Japan's rearmament and normalization are meant to benefit, not hinder, the national interest of other countries. Thus, beyond the development of technical capabilities and doctrines, this is and remains Shinzo Abe's main challenge, together with economic recovery: portraying Japan's reemergence in the security arena as that of a force for good, going back to the old days of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, when Japan was known as the “Britain of the Far East” and leaving behind the negative legacy of the 1930s and the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Second World War. If Abe succeeds in this and in getting the Japanese economy to grow sustainably again, his legacy will be assured.




Alex Calvo, an expert on security and defence in the Asia-Pacific Region, is currently guest professor at Nagoya University (Japan)

* Article publicat al CEEC. Interessantíssim anàlisi del professor Àlex Calvo sobre els canvis en les JSDF.