Japan’s already on the verge of ending the pacifist underpinnings of its post-World War II constitution, thanks to incessant pushing by an Obama administration anxious to contain the U.S.’s leading economic competitor.
At the heart of the growing conflict is a game of zones played out in the China Seas as China, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam stake claims to rocky and sandy outcrops, building them up and fortifying them to lay claim to respurces in and beneath adjacent waters.
Now Japan is beefing up the forces used to capture islands.
From the Yomiuri Shimbun:
As a measure to strengthen the capability of regaining islands in the event of another country capturing one of Japan’s remote islands, the Maritime Self-Defense Force implemented reorganization of its troops on Friday. Landing Ship Division 1, which has transportation capabilities for landing operations, is to be incorporated into the Mine Warfare Force that is tasked with clearing naval mines.
If a remote island is captured by another country, the division would carry out the tactical operation of landing Ground Self-Defense Force personnel and amphibious vehicles on the island, after the Mine Warfare Force secures an approach.
The security of remote islands has been a concern recently as China has taken a succession of provocative actions in the East China Sea, including sailing a Chinese Navy vessel into the contiguous zone outside Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture for the first time in June. The government is moving quickly to increase defense readiness based on the National Defense Program Guidelines, approved at a Cabinet meeting in 2013.
The division is capable of landing GSDF personnel on islands using its three landing ships and six air-cushioned landing craft, hovercraft vessels that can land on beaches.
Games of aerial chicken in the China Seas
A second story reflects the growing confrontations between the two leading competitors in the Game of Zones.
Again, from the Yomiuri Shimbun:
And the story:
The number of scrambles by Air Self-Defense Force fighters against Chinese aircraft in the April-June quarter this year was up more than 80 from the 114 in the same period last year, SDF Chief of Joint Staff Katsutoshi Kawano said at a press conference on Thursday. Kawano also said there were cases in which Chinese aircraft approached the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
The Chinese military has been engaging in provocative activities at sea and in the air since early June, as exemplified by the intrusion of Chinese warships into the contiguous zone off the Senkakus. The government is heightening its alert.
Scrambles against Chinese aircraft in this quarter were level with the about 200 times — a record high for any quarter — in the January-March quarter this year. The number of scrambles has been released on a country-by-country quarterly basis since fiscal 2001.
On a half-year basis, the number of scrambles in January-June this year increased by 50 percent from that of July-December last year.