Saturday, October 16, 2010

Unofficial port call

An update on the Sino-Japan naval relations.

Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010

China sounds out Japan about 'unofficial port call'
Kyodo News

China has sounded out the Defense Ministry about Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels making an "unofficial port call" at Qingdao, after initially asking it to postpone the planned visit from Friday, sources said Tuesday.

The turnaround can be seen as a concession by the Chinese side, as Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa did not receive a positive reply about the port call from his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie, in Hanoi on Monday.

However, the ministry is undecided as to how to proceed as the proposed port call would be unofficial and not considered a defense exchange under which the vessels of two countries make reciprocal port calls, the sources said.

China told the ministry Sunday that an official port call by two MSDF training ships and an escort ship should be postponed given the ill feeling toward Japan as a result of the recent run-in a Chinese trawler had with two Japan Coast Guard patrol boats near the Japan-controlled Senkakus.

During an unofficial port call, no welcome ceremony or exchange events are held, the sources said. But the crew on the MSDF ships could still disembark and go on an excursion in the city in civilian dress and the vessels would be provided fuel and water.
Senkaku video show

The House of Representatives Budget Committee said Wednesday it wants the Naha Public Prosecutor's Office to submit video footage of last month's collisions between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands.

The decision is contrary to the government's stance that the footage should not be released at present to avoid further damaging Japan-China relations, which soured after the arrest and detention of the Chinese trawler captain near the Japan-controlled, China-claimed islets.

"The investigative authority will make a proper decision. We'd like to wait for that decision, and will think about the matter after that," Prime Minister Naoto Kan later told reporters.

Even if the government decides to release the video, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan will try to limit viewing to certain lawmakers, specifically heads of the budget committees of the both Lower and Upper houses.

Blog entry from July 21st.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
More reactions to the "Chinese Sea Power"
MSDF training squadron to make call in China for first time

A Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) training squadron is set to call at a Chinese port during a training cruise for the first time in history, it has emerged.

MSDF Chief of Staff Keiji Akahoshi has announced that an MSDF training squadron will call at Qingdao sometime around mid-October.

"The port call is part of our bilateral defense exchanges. I view it as a step forward," Akahoshi said.

The MSDF has conducted an ocean training cruise every year since 1957, but it has never called at any Chinese port.

The squadron is comprised of three vessels including a destroyer and about 730 MSDF trainees including officer candidates are participating in the cruise. It left Japan in May and will return to Japan after exchanges with the navies of various countries.

The MSDF and Chinese Navy have deepened exchanges with each other in recent years. In November 2007, a Chinese missile destroyer called at Harumi pier in Tokyo, while the MSDF destroyer Sazanami stopped at a port in Guangdong province in June 2008.

However, Beijing denied an MSDF training squadron entry into a Hong Kong port in August last year in protest at Tokyo's issuance of a visa for the president of the World Uyghur Congress.

In April this year, 10 Chinese Navy vessels sailed in the high seas between Okinawa's main island and Miyako Island and conducted a drill in the Pacific Ocean. A Chinese Navy helicopter flew close to a MSDF destroyer, which was monitoring the drill, on two occasions.
(Mainichi Japan) July 21, 2010

At this point, Beijing's call for measures to increase maritime communication will be headed to no where.

Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010

Beijing proposes maritime measures
Kyodo News

China has proposed to Japan specific measures aimed at building a maritime communication system between defense officials of the two governments to prevent accidental clashes in the East China Sea and other waters, sources with the Japanese and Chinese governments said Saturday.

The measures include holding an annual meeting between the two countries to review events of the past year and setting up a hot line between Japanese and Chinese defense officials, the sources said.

Tokyo, taking Beijing's move positively, is hoping to accelerate bilateral talks with a view to reaching agreement on the measures by the end of this year. The Chinese navy's growing outer sea capabilities have led to frequent cases of maritime friction between Japan and China in the East China Sea.

But there are differences to be overcome, such as Tokyo's call for the hot line to be set up between the defense ministers, whereas Beijing considers such a level too high to respond promptly to emergencies, the sources said.

Difficulties are also expected in bilateral negotiations because China may be attempting through the proposed measures to put the brakes on Japan's monitoring activities in the waters concerned, according to the sources.

The Chinese government presented the proposals on July 26 in Tokyo during a bilateral joint working group meeting of defense officials held for the first time in more than two years, the sources said.

The proposed measures also include holding a conference to discuss ways to deal with emergency situations and sharing of frequencies and signals used by ships and airplanes in times of emergency, they said.

The two sides have basically agreed on sharing frequencies, and Japan is positively considering the annual meetings as well as the conference, according to the sources. The next working group meeting is scheduled to take place in Beijing, they said.

"We have set up communication systems with the United States and South Korea, although the mechanisms are different. We have no (such arrangement) with Japan only, and there have been problems," a Chinese diplomatic source said.

While both Japan and China believe it necessary to build a system to prevent a clash between their countries, Tokyo intends to reject any measure that would lead to restrictions on its surveillance and monitoring activities at sea, the sources said.

The joint working group meeting of defense officials was launched in April 2008 based on an agreement a year earlier by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, but it was effectively suspended after the first meeting.

The second meeting was realized on July 26 after the Japanese government urged China to resume the working group talks following an incident in April in which a Chinese navy helicopter buzzed a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer in the East China Sea.

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