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BLACKEAGLE

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Japan to expand Djibouti military base to counter Chinese influence


Japan's Defence Minister Tomomi Inada (front, R) is briefed by senior Self-Defense Forces personnel about their anti-piracy mission off Somalia, in Djibouti, August 15, 2016. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

By Nobuhiro Kubo | TOKYO
Japan will lease additional land next year to expand a military base in Djibouti, eastern Africa, as a counterweight to what it sees as growing Chinese influence in the region, three Japanese government sources said.

China is seeking closer ties with African nations that could help it gain access to natural resources and provide new markets. Beijing said late last year it would pump $60 billion into development projects on the continent, cancel some debt and help boost agriculture.

Earlier this year, Japan also pledged to increase its support to infrastructure, education and healthcare projects in Africa, committing an extra $30 billion in public and private support.

"China is putting money into new infrastructure and raising its presence in Djibouti, and it is necessary for Japan gain more influence," said one of the sources, with knowledge of the plan.

China in February began construction in Djibouti of its first overseas military facility, a coastal logistics base that will resupply naval vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, also hosts U.S. and French bases.

Since 2011, a Japanese Self Defence Force contingent of 180 troops has occupied a 12 hectare (30 acre) site in Djibouti, next to Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. base at the country's international airport.

From there, the SDF have operated maritime patrol aircraft as part of an international force, including China, that hunts pirates in the seas of the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

A Japanese Defence Ministry spokesman confirmed discussions were taking place.

"In addition to the land Japan has borrowed, it is considering leasing the neighboring land to its east," the spokesman said in response to a Reuters query. "Japan is now in negotiations with Djibouti government."

Asked about the plans, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Japan's military and security policies had garnered attention in Asia for historical reasons.

"We hope Japan can draw lessons from history, conform with the times, and truly follow the path of peaceful development," Geng told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Japan is considering deploying C-130 transport aircraft, Bushmaster armored vehicles and extra personnel to the base but has not yet decided on how many, the sources said.

The size of the extra leased land would be smaller than the existing base and was expected to cost around $1 million a year, they added.


Tokyo will justify the expansion of personnel and aircraft in the Horn of Africa by pointing to a need to have aircraft there to evacuate Japanese citizens from nearby trouble spots or areas hit by natural disasters, the sources said.

Minister of Defence Tomomi Inada traveled to Djibouti in August, where she said Tokyo was considering expanding the "function" of the Japanese base. She didn't, however, indicate that new land would be added.

A month earlier Japan sent three C-130 aircraft from Japan to stand by in Djibouti for the evacuation of Japanese citizens trapped by fighting in South Sudan's capital, Juba.

The mission, only the second ever undertaken by SDF transport aircraft, showed the increasing ability of Japan's military to conduct operations far from home.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to give the SDF a greater regional and global role as his nation steps back from seven decades of state pacifism.

(Writing by Tim Kelly; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Clarence Fernandez)
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-military-djibouti-idUSKCN12D0C4
 

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Japan and UK to collaborate on missile development
November 24, 2017
Tokyo's first non-US partnership would develop an air-to-air weapon

1124N-F-35_article_main_image.jpg

The planned missile is seen being equipped on the cutting-edge F-35 stealth fighter used by Japan's Air Self-Defense Force. (Courtesy of ASDF)

TOKYO -- Japan will team with the U.K. to develop an air-to-air missile, Tokyo's first defense equipment project with a partner other than the U.S. and a potential turning point for the country's arms export policy.

The planned weapon will incorporate a powerful radar system developed by Mitsubishi Electric into European manufacturer MBDA's Meteor missile, combining long range and high accuracy. A prototype will be built at an MBDA plant starting in fiscal 2018. Live-fire testing in the U.K. is slated to begin as early as fiscal 2023, at which point Japan and the U.K. will decide whether to put the weapon into mass production.

Deployment is expected in the late 2020s. The missile likely will become equipment on the F-35 stealth fighter to be used by Japan's Air Self-Defense Force, and it could be used to defend far-flung Japanese territories such as the Senkaku Islands, which China claims as the Diaoyu. Exports to countries such as Germany and France will be considered as well.

Japan and the U.K. look to announce the collaboration, which upgrades an existing research arrangement, in a joint statement after a meeting of their top diplomatic and defense officials Dec. 14 in London.

Japan previously has worked with only the U.S. on defense equipment development, such as the SM-3 Block IIA missile interceptor project. Teaming with London helps reduce Tokyo's dependence on Washington.

A collaboration using Japan's advanced defense technology could strengthen the country's relationship with the U.K., which Tokyo considers a "quasi-ally," while boosting its own capabilities. But it remains hard to say how much technology London will offer in exchange for Tokyo's. A former Air Self-Defense Force general said that "if the U.K. hands engine technology over to Japan, we can use it to develop anti-ship missiles and other weapons as well."

The partnership also could boost Japan's defense-related exports, benefiting a domestically dependent industry where business has been sluggish.

The two countries also will discuss expansion of joint drills at next month's "two plus two" meeting in London. Japan hopes that drawing the U.K. into the Asia-Pacific will serve as a further deterrent against North Korea's nuclear and missile development and China's maritime ambitions. For London, this offers an opportunity to contribute to the region amid the country's pending exit from the European Union.

But the missile project likely will stir debate over where Japan should draw the line on defense equipment and technology partnerships. The three principles on arms exports implemented by Japan after World War II banned transfers to communist bloc countries, nations subject to United Nations arms embargoes or countries likely to be involved in international conflicts. Projects such as the SM-3 interceptor were exceptions specifically granted by the chief cabinet secretary.

These principles were replaced in 2014 by a much looser set of rules affording Japan's National Security Council broad latitude to determine what is acceptable. Japan can collaborate on development of even potentially lethal weapons -- like air-to-air missiles -- when it has a security cooperation arrangement with the country, such as the U.K.

Japan now works with Australia to study the hydrodynamics of ships, and is researching next-generation mine-detection technology with France, building on treaties Tokyo has inked with Paris and Canberra allowing equipment exports and joint development work. Further collaborations aim to bring these countries closer together.

Yet linking cooperation on military equipment too closely with diplomacy may risk tarnishing the peaceful image Japan has polished over the course of decades.

"Might Japan not grow accustomed to using arms exports and international collaborative development to advance a form of great-power diplomacy?" asked Kyoji Yanagisawa, former assistant to Japan's deputy chief cabinet secretary. "We must be careful to mind the barrier between politics and the military."

Stepping too close to that line could put neighbors such as China and South Korea on high alert. Japan "must continue to win trust on the global stage through calls for the abandonment of nuclear weapons and advancements in human rights," Yanagisawa said.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Japan-and-UK-to-collaborate-on-missile-development
 

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Japan to seek funding for long-range missiles amid North Korean threat
By Sara Shayanian
Dec. 08, 2017

Japan will fast-track spending to buy long-range missiles for the first time amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said purchasing the missiles would help counter the country's "increasingly severe" national security situation.
"We will implement stand-off missiles capable of defending ourselves adequately, when we are outside the range of the opponent, in order to ensure the safety of the Self Defense Force and to defend our nation effectively," Onodera said.

Onodera denied the missiles indicate a change in Japan's defense-oriented policy in which forces do not have the capability to strike other countries' territories.
"Our way of thinking has not changed at all," Onodera said.
Japan will be buying two types of missiles -- Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles -- from Lockheed Martin to put on its F-15 fighter jets.

The Japanese military will also purchase Joint Strike Missiles from the Norwegian company Kongsberg to be put on new F-35 stealth fighter jets.

The missile purchases come as tensions with North Korea continue to rise in the region -- with North Korea successfully launching four missiles simultaneously earlier this year.
"North Korea's advancements made it inevitable that Tokyo and Seoul would purchase standoff strike capabilities," Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, told CNN.

"Standoff missiles will ensure that Japan has a credible response to attacks against its territory, which will help them deter these strikes in the first place."
Japan fast-tracked the missile defense budget originally intended for fiscal 2018 in a supplementary budget for the current year hoping to counter the North Korean threat.

"I want to proceed immediately with discussions to determine the fastest schedule for improving missile defense capability," Onodera said.

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/12/08/Japan-to-seek-funding-for-long-range-missiles-amid-North-Korean-threat/5611512742481/?nll=1
 

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Japan to purchase long-range offensive missiles amid North Korean threat
According to local media, Japan plans to buy JASSM and LRASM long-range, air-to-ground missiles with a range of some 900 kilometres from US firms
AFP | PTI | Tokyo
December 08 2017

Japan plans to purchase offensive air-to-surface missiles to counter North Korea's rising military threat, its defence minister said on Friday, a move likely to stir debate over its decades-long pacifist policy.

Itsunori Onodera said the ministry intends to request a special budget for the financial year starting April 2018 to purchase long-range cruise missiles deployed on fighter jets.

According to local media, the ministry plans to buy JASSM and LRASM long-range, air-to-ground missiles with a range of some 900 kilometres from US firms.

It also plans to buy Joint Strike Missiles with a range of some 500 kilometres from Norway's Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, news reports said.

The move will likely draw controversy as Tokyo has long maintained an exclusively defence-oriented policy under its pacifist constitution, which bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes.

But Onodera insisted his ministry will continue to uphold the policy, telling reporters: "We will introduce them as standoff missiles that allow us to deal with our opponents from outside the range of threats."

Japan's military policy has been restricted to self-defence and relies heavily on the US to attack enemy territory under the Japan-US security alliance.

US President Donald Trump had caused consternation during his White House campaign by suggesting allies such as Japan need to do more to defend themselves, although since taking office Trump and his diplomats have offered reassurances of support.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament that North Korea's missile tests were an "imminent threat" to Japan and talking to the reclusive state was meaningless.

The upper house unanimously adopted a resolution protesting against the North's firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile that dropped into the sea inside Japan's exclusive economic zone last week.

Global anxiety about North Korea has steadily risen this year, and Washington last week called on other UN members to cut ties with Pyongyang in order to squeeze the secretive regime.

The call, however, has fallen short of persuading key North Korean backers China and Russia to take steps to isolate the regime.


http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/japan-to-purchase-long-range-offensive-missiles-amid-north-korean-threat-117120800534_1.html
 

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Isn't that a breach to international agreement which prevent the sale of missiles beyond 300 km range?
 

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But both countries are signatory of the agreement!
 

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Japan confirms long-range missile interest in an about-face
By: Mike Yeo
12 Dec 2017

MELBOURNE, Australia — In a remarkable turnaround, Japan’s defense minister has now said the country is looking to acquire air-launched standoff missiles, just three days after telling reporters at a news conference that such a step was only under consideration.

Speaking at another news conference Friday, Itsunori Onodera confirmed that the Japanese Ministry of Defense will submit an additional budget request to acquire the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile, or JSM, for its 2018 budget, which is due to be released in April.

The JSM will be acquired for Japan’s fleet of 42 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter jets, which is due to be integrated onto the F-35 around 2021 and is the only missile of its class currently capable of being carried in the jet’s internal weapons bays.

Onodera also said the ministry will request funding to study the feasibility of integrating the Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range, or JASSM-ER, and its close derivative AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM, onto its fleet of Mitsubishi-built F-15J Eagle interceptors.

The JASSM-ER is currently integrated on the U.S. Air Force’s Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle, and although Japan’s F-15Js are older aircraft used almost exclusively as an air defense interceptor, there should be little issue integrating the missile on the aircraft.

This confirmation was in sharp contrast to what the minister said three days before on Dec. 5, where he told reporters that at a previous news conference that Japan has “not yet decided to introduce a missile and allocate related funds under the fiscal 2018 budget as was reported.”

In his latest remarks, the minister did not disclose the amount of funding requested to acquire the JSM or that for the integration studies of the JASSM-ER/LRASM onto Japan’s F-15Js, instead telling reporters that the ministry will be carrying out a separate briefing to disclose more details at a later time.

Despite reports that Japan may use the standoff missiles for possible strikes against North Korean targets should the latter launch its ballistic missiles against Japan, Onodera insisted that Japan’s stance toward attacking land-based targets on foreign soil had not changed. The U.S. military is responsible for any counter-strikes against an adversary in the event of an attack on Japan in line with the Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries.

Instead, the missiles “will be introduced exclusively for the purpose of defending Japan,” including what Onodera called Japan’s “remote islands,” which is often used as a euphemism for the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that is also claimed by China and has seen several confrontations between the coast guards of both countries.

However, as Defense News previously reported, Japan’s Defense Ministry was looking at the possibility of acquiring a long-range counter-strike capability as part of the country’s upcoming Mid-Term Defense Program and new National Defense Program Guidelines.
Although such a move is within the country’s pacifist constitution, which limits Japan’s involvement in a conflict to self-defense in response to being attacked, its wartime past and current public attitudes mean that any move to acquire capabilities that could be used in an offensive capacity is deeply unpopular and would be politically sensitive.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was recently re-elected to office, has also flagged possible changes to the war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution, although details of the possible changes have not been made public.

https://www.defensenews.com/global/asia-pacific/2017/12/11/japan-confirms-long-range-missile-interest-in-an-about-face/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DFN DNR 12.11.17&utm_term=Editorial - Daily News Roundup
 

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US copter window falls on Okinawa school
13 Dec 2017
07 hours ago

20171213_32_425661_L.jpg

A window from a US military helicopter has fallen onto the grounds of an elementary school in Okinawa, Japan's southern prefecture.

The CH-53 chopper was flying over Futenma Daini Elementary School in the city of Ginowan at the time of the incident on Wednesday morning.

The school is located next to US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, where the copter is stationed.

City education board officials said there were about 50 students in the sports field at the time. They said one of them was hit on the arm by a falling object. They later confirmed that the student was not hurt.

Police say the window measures about 90 centimeters across, 85 centimeters high, and weighs about 7.7 kilograms.

It reportedly landed just 10 meters away from the children.

The US Marine Corps in Japan issued a statement admitting to the accident, which it said took place at 10:09 AM.

The statement said the incident is being taken very seriously and is under investigation.

It also offered an apology to local residents and called on them to stay away from the site for their own safety.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171213_32/
 

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Okinawa people concerned about US aircraft
13 Dec 2017
07 hours ago

Okinawa, which hosts many US military bases in Japan, has a history of military aircraft accidents resulting in the deaths of local children.

In 1959, a US fighter jet crashed onto the Miyamori Elementary School in what is now Uruma City, killing 18 people including 11 schoolchildren.

During an exercise in 1965, a parachute-borne trailer hung from a transport aircraft fell on a residential area in Yomitan Village, killing an elementary school student.

Residents are concerned about living with US bases as such accidents never seem to end.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171213_36/
 

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Governor and residents' reactions
13 Dec 2017
07 hours ago

Okinawa's governor and residents have expressed anger at the incident.

Governor Takeshi Onaga told reporters that ensuring the safety of children is of the utmost importance.

He said it was "unacceptable" that an object should fall into the middle of a school's field.

He said he understands that US military personnel are occupied with the North Korean issue. But he also said it appears they are prioritizing regional security at the expense of the people of Okinawa.

He added that the US military in the prefecture can hardly be called a "good neighbor."

A local newspaper handed out extras on the streets of Naha, the prefectural capital.

A resident in his 70s said he is outraged and wants the bases in the prefecture closed.

A woman in her 50s said she doesn't want any bases in the prefecture and called on the authorities to protect ordinary citizens.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171213_37/
 

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For second time, part of U.S. military chopper falls to Japan school
By Susan McFarland | Dec. 13, 2017

For the second time in less than a week, U.S. officials said a part from a military helicopter fell off while in flight over Japan and landed on a school.

The U.S. Marine Corps said a window from a CH-53E helicopter detached and fell into a field near an elementary school in Okinawa. The chopper was based at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The Marine Corps said in a statement the incident happened just after 10 a.m. Tuesday at Daini Futenma Elementary School.
The helicopter's window landed about 30 feet from where dozens of children were playing, Japan's NHK television network reported -- and shattered when it hit the ground. One child received a slight hand injury.

"We take this report extremely seriously and are investigating the cause of this incident in close coordination with local authorities.

Updates will be provided as information is made available," U.S. Forces, Japan said in a statement. "This is a regrettable incident and we apologize for any anxiety it has caused the community."

The school's principal said the children were "so upset that the school cannot resume physical education classes anytime soon."

Authorities say the window, which fell from the left side of the cockpit, weighs about 15 pounds.

The commanding general of Marine Corps installations in the Pacific said all CH-53E choppers at the Futenma base have been grounded for safety checks.

Tuesday's incident came less than a week after a part from another Marine Corps CH-53 helicopter fell onto the roof of another school in Okinawa. No one was hurt.

Police said that part was made of plastic and had a label that said, "remove before flight."

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/12/13/For-second-time-part-of-US-military-chopper-falls-to-Japan-school/8031513168827/?nll=1
 
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