How Japan Fell in Love With America’s Drones

For decades Japan has been the world’s playground for design innovation. But now it may become ground zero for the future of something far more hostile: military drones.

Japan is not so quietly building a huge drone fleet

The country will invest ¥3 billion (approx $372 million) in the coming decade to drastically expand its virtually non-existent military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program, according to a senior analyst at IHS Jane’s, the leading defense and security agency. Continue reading

The Alliance of the Threatened

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Own report) – The EU and USA have expanded their sanctions against Russia and – in addition to individuals – have now also placed important Russian companies on their lists. Washington has restricted dealings, for example, with Rosneft and the Gazprombank. Brussels has announced the possibility of preventing EU companies from doing business with Russian companies and is planning to list them by the end of July. German business circles are protesting. They have already suffered billions in losses. Experts are warning that, with its sanctions against Russia, the West may experience, in the economic arena, an overreach similar to that experienced by the US in the military arena with its war on Iraq. With the power of the West obviously waning, it has already become noticeable that even close allies are defecting. Observers explain this with the Crimea conflict: NATO countries had been unable to retain the Crimea within the reign of its allied Ukrainian government; therefore it seems that an alliance with NATO countries would no longer be a reliable assurance against ones enemies. Defections can be noticed in Asia and Latin America, not least of all because of the recent founding of the BRICS development bank, rivaling the US-dominated World Bank. Russia and China are among the founders of this bank. Continue reading

As China Stalks Satellites, U.S. and Japan Prepare to Defend Them

 

 

In May 2013 the Chinese government conducted what it called a science space mission from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. Half a world away, Brian Weeden, a former U.S. Air Force officer, wasn’t buying it. The liftoff took place at night and employed a powerful rocket as well as a truck-based launch vehicle—all quite unusual for a science project, he says.

In a subsequent report for the Secure World Foundation, the space policy think tank where he works, Weeden concluded that the Chinese launch was more likely a test of a mobile rocket booster for an antisatellite (ASAT) weapon that could reach targets in geostationary orbit about 22,236 miles above the equator. That’s the stomping grounds of expensive U.S. spacecraft that monitor battlefield movements, detect heat from the early stages of missile launches, and help orchestrate drone fleets. “This is the stuff the U.S. really cares about,” Weeden says.

The Pentagon never commented in detail on last year’s launch—and the Chinese have stuck to their story. U.S. and Japanese analysts say China has the most aggressive satellite attack program in the world. It has staged at least six ASAT missile tests over the past nine years, including the destruction of a defunct Chinese weather satellite in 2007. “It’s part of a Chinese bid for hegemony, which is not just about controlling the oceans but airspace and, as an extension of that, outer space,” says Minoru Terada, deputy secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia’s New Strategic Game in South Asia

Motivated by old and new security anxieties, and above all, by its sectarian competition with Iran, Saudi Arabia is playing a new game in South Asia. In a dramatic shift from prior decades, warming ties with India have already served Riyadh well by steering New Delhi away from a closer partnership with Tehran. Separately, reenergized links with Pakistan offer Riyadh even more potent ammunition to counter Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions.

Although Western analysts tend to view Saudi policies through a Middle Eastern lens, Riyadh’s South Asia play is a high-stakes gambit with direct consequences for Iranian nuclear developments, the war in Syria, Pakistan’s stability and Indo-Pakistani peace. Fortunately, if Washington is clever and a little lucky, many of Riyadh’s moves with Islamabad and New Delhi can be turned to the U.S. advantage. Continue reading

All aboard: China’s railway dream

At Asia’s biggest rail cargo base in Chengdu in south-west China, the cranes are hard at work, swinging containers from trucks onto a freight train. The containers are filled with computers, clothes, even cars.

Until last year, all of it would have first gone more than 1,000 miles east to Shanghai and then to Europe by sea. Continue reading

Using Double Talk (II)

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) – On the occasion of the German chancellor’s visit to China, Berlin’s China experts are predicting tangible “turbulences” in German-Chinese relations. Chancellor Merkel is, above all, using her visit to the People’s Republic to seek new business opportunities for German industry. However, growing tensions between the USA and China could soon be expected, according to a recent statement by the director of Berlin’s Mercator Institute for China Studies. Germany and the EU will have to more clearly choose sides than has previously been the case. Government advisors are also proposing that relationships in the field of security policy with member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) be enhanced. This would strengthen the German-EU position in China’s direct vicinity and could possibly be combined with cautious naval expeditions. Comprehensive arms deliveries are flanking these plans for a closer military cooperation. Three East and Southeast Asian countries are among the top-ten customers of German military hardware. They are among those countries, Washington is seeking to pit against China. Continue reading

Three nuclear subs spotted near PLA Navy’s Hainan base

The People’s Liberation Army Navy has deployed three nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines to its South Sea Fleet base on the southern island province of Hainan, according to the Manila-based InterAksyon news website in a report published July 8. Continue reading

Japanese special forces ‘better than US’ to retake Diaoyutai

This is essentially tantamount to saying there is no more confidence in America’s ability to defend Japan, let alone be a reliable partner.

Japanese special forces would be more qualified than American to carry out amphibious combat operations against China’s People’s Liberation Army over the disputed Senkaku (Diaoyutai or Diaoyu) islands in the East China Sea, Vice Admiral Yoji Koda, a former fleet commander in chief of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, has written in his article for the Tokyo-based Ships of the World magazine. Continue reading

The World’s Next Oil Shipping Corridor: The Arctic Ocean

It’s colder than the Persian Gulf, needs more icebreakers than the Suez Canal and passes less picturesque beaches than the Mediterranean, but the so-called Northern Sea route connecting Europe to Asia via the northern coast of Russia has its advantages. Continue reading

Japan upset as Chinese paper prints mushroom clouds on map

TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday vowed to make a stern protest to China after a regional Chinese newspaper printed a map of the country with mushroom clouds hovering over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and accused the Japanese of wanting war again.

The neighbours have a long history of tense relations. Beijing bristles at Japan’s inability to properly atone for its invasion of China before and during World War Two, and its occupation of large parts of the country.

The newspaper, the weekly Chongqing Youth News from the southwestern city of Chongqing, printed the picture in its latest edition, Chinese media reported, though it appeared later to have been removed from the paper’s website version. Continue reading

Chinese cyberspies have hacked Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks

Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks were hacked by Chinese cyberspies in recent weeks as events in Iraq began to escalate, according to a cybersecurity firm that works with the institutions.

The group behind the breaches, called “DEEP PANDA” by security researchers, appears to be affiliated with the Chinese government, says Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of the firm CrowdStrike. The company, which works with a number of think tanks on a pro bono basis, declined to name which ones have been breached.

Alperovitch said the firm noticed a “radical” shift in DEEP PANDA’s focus on June 18, the same day witnesses reported that Sunni extremists seized Iraq’s largest oil refinery. The Chinese group has typically focused on senior individuals at think tanks who follow Asia, said Alperovitch. But last month, it suddenly began targeting people with ties to Iraq and Middle East issues. Continue reading

Fukushima has 9 days to prevent ‘unsafe’ overheating

Fukushima operator TEPCO has been forced to switch off the cooling system at mothballed Reactor Unit 5, after it was discovered that it had been leaking water. In nine days, if the system is not repaired, temperatures will exceed dangerous levels.

Engineers have discovered that 1,300 liters of water leaked from a cooling system intended to stabilize the temperature of the spent fuel at the Reactor Unit 5, which was offline but loaded with fuel rods when the plant was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Continue reading

Pentagon Urged to Focus on ‘Great Power Conflict’ to Save Budget

Forget terrorism. The Pentagon’s best chance to field the best military with the smaller budget imposed by sequestration may just lie in preparing for nuclear war with Russia and China.

According to a new study, United States defense leaders should focus more on a “great power conflict” reflective of a newly aggressive Russia and rapidly modernizing China. Doing so would force the Defense Department to modernize its existing force and invest significantly in maintaining technological advantages at the expense of unlikely-to-be used ships, aircraft and soldiers. Among the arsenal the U.S. should keep: the full triad of bombers, submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles meant to deter or carry out nuclear warfare.

While the space between Syria and Iraq commands headlines this month, it’s Moscow and Beijing that leads researchers to offer an unexpectedly “go big or go home” proposition for the U.S. military. The route offered on Wednesday by budget experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, calls for moving $10 billion from the procurement budget and “force structure,” (military jargon for the number of people in the military and all that is required to support them, roughly) and giving those funds to investments. The CSIS plan would increase the number of attack submarines at sea, significantly ramp-up surveillance in both air and space, and emphasize select ground troops like special operations forces and heavy infantry. The costs would be absorbed by a reduction in aircraft carriers, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and the Air Force’s shorter-range aircraft. Continue reading

Beijing, Seoul agree to direct trade in national currencies

While you were busy watching fireworks on the Fourth of July holiday, or were perhaps distracted by the World Cup events in Brazil, China just pulled South Korea into its sphere of influence. This is but one piece of a bigger predicted picture (See also here) by Global Geopolitics where China will be a regional power leading an Asian bloc of nations under its protectorate — with the US out of Asia.

China designated a clearing bank in Seoul for yuan transactions in South Korea on Friday, coinciding with a visit by President Xi Jinping, as Beijing promotes greater use of its currency overseas, AFP reports. Continue reading

Rising red tide: China’s Navy in frenzy to build new nuclear-powered attack subs

China’s military is investing heavily in advanced submarines, including both ballistic and cruise missile firing vessels and attack subs.

Recently, Beijing showed off what appears to be a mock-up of its next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine, according to veteran military analyst Rick Fisher. Continue reading