Friday, September 30, 2016

Duterte, Philippine President, Raises Doubts About Military Alliance With U.S.

MANILA — Military and diplomatic officials in the Philippines were facing a quandary on Thursday after President Rodrigo Duterte distanced the country further from the United States, its biggest defense ally, by saying he would end joint military exercises like one scheduled for next week and would pursue closer ties to China and Russia.
Speaking to Filipinos in Vietnam late Wednesday, Mr. Duterte said that although he was preserving the 65-year military partnership between Manila and Washington, he was eager to strengthen relations with powers closer to home.
He said that Russia, where Philippine diplomats recently held embassy-level talks on procuring military hardware, had invited him to visit.
“So, I am serving notice now to the Americans and those who are allies,” he said. “This will be the last military exercise. Jointly, Philippines-U.S., the last one.”

Defense Secretary: US Will Sharpen 'Military Edge' in Asia

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday the U.S. will "sharpen our military edge" in Asia and the Pacific in order to remain a dominant power in a region feeling the effects of China's rising military might.
Carter made the pledge in a speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in port in San Diego.
The Pentagon chief described what he called the next phase of a U.S. pivot to Asia — a rebalancing of American security commitments after years of heavy focus on the Middle East.

Okinawa cops laughed as they tied up anti-U.S. military protesters

OKINAWA (TR) – Citizens protesting the presence of U.S. military at a helipad construction site here on Thursday were tied up by police officers who allegedly laughed as they intimidated the participants.
A group of some 20 citizens said police started tying them up when they were holding a protest on a 10-meter high slope of a logging site near a helipad construction yard on U.S. military training grounds in Takae, Higashi, the Okinawa Times reports (September 29). During the incident, some officers reportedly laughed as they threatened “to strangle” the participants.
“To handle it this way is a first,” angered protesters told the newspaper. “This is unforgivable.”

Essay: "AMEXIT: Will the U.S. Maintain its Presence in Asia?"

Junjiro Isomura  Fall 2016

In the seven decades since the end of World War II, the United States has structured and nurtured alliances in Asia that include ANZUS (with Australia and New Zealand), the Philippines Treaty, and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) with Australia, France, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and the United Kingdom. U.S.-Japan and U.S.-South Korean (ROK) relations have been cornerstones of the U.S. role in Asia. These American-led alliances are critically important for the continuing security and stability of the Asia-Pacific Area, including Southeast and Southwest Asia. American leadership has provided enormous benefit to the U.S. as well, including large scale and stable markets.
Yet, despite the importance of the American presence in the Pacific, and despite the Obama administration’s announced “Pivot to Asia” designed to focus attention on this crucial region, countries are asking, “Will the U.S. maintain its presence in Asia? Will there be AMEXIT from the region?”

Torres, Aldan to join military in Pagan tour

SAIPAN – Gov. Ralph Torres and Northern Island Mayor Jerome Aldan will accompany military officials and Assistant Interior Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina to Pagan on Friday.
The military is proposing to conduct bombing exercises on the remote volcanic island.
“We will show them the homestead program on Pagan and what is being proposed there,” Torres said. “The military will also do an assessment of the island.”
He said the tour is part of the third round of the ongoing 902 talks with the federal government.

US Harrier jet crashes off Okinawa

September 22, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
A U.S. Marines AV-8 Harrier jet went down in the ocean off Okinawa after taking off from U.S. Kadena Air Base on the afternoon of September 22. According to the U.S. military, the pilot was safe and the Nakagusuku branch of the Japan Coast Guard dispatched rescue officers. Around 2:58 p.m., HH-60 helicopters were confirmed to have taken off from Kadena Air Base.
The Harrier jet belonging to U.S. base which had flown to Kadena base from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, crashed in the ocean off Okinawa.

China’s massive Pacific air force drill just the start of even bigger shows of might against US, experts predict

The PLA Air Force’s unpre­cedented drills in the Western Pacific on Sunday are just the beginning, military observers say as they ­predict more large-scale exercises in the region in future.
The long-range drills and ­patrols – involving more than 40 aircraft from various teams – were to display China’s ability to counter US interference in the South China Sea, the analysts said. 

US, Japan Finalize New Military Cooperation Amid Tensions With China

02:00 27.09.2016(updated 08:14 27.09.2016) Get short URL

61493415 Washington and Tokyo have signed a bilateral agreement to increase military logistics cooperation as tensions with China continue to escalate. Because of its pacifist constitution, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have been limited in assisting US military missions. Food, oil, and transportation services could be provided, but giving US forces more direct provisions, like ammunition, was not allowed. 

Tokyo made major changes to its constitution in March, however, allowing Japanese troops to operate overseas in an offensive posture for the first time since World War II.  On Monday, Washington and Tokyo signed an amended Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ASCA) that takes full advantage of Japan’s more aggressive stance. 

Japan boosts ‘logistics’ cooperation with US military amid tensions with China & N. Korea

Japan has amended its Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) with the United States to enable the provision of military supplies list under the country’s new security legislation enacted earlier this year.
After decades of maintaining a defensive military posture, in March Tokyo passed a set of two laws enabling Japan to practice collective self-defense, and allowing for significant expansion of the nature the country’s military forces operations in overseas missions.
But changes to the laws in spring and the revised ACSA deal now expand Tokyo’s potential cooperation with Washington by broadening the types of operations and support, allowing, for instance, the provision of munitions if Japan’s security will be threatened by failing to do so.

‘Unlivable’: Okinawa Residents Sue Tokyo Over US Military Helipads

03:30 27.09.2016(updated 09:25 27.09.2016)  

4484120 Residents from two villages in Okinawa, Japan, are filing a lawsuit against the government to halt the construction of US military helipads, citing noise, crime and pollution. 

The pads, built at a distant training area, will be used to move and consolidate America’s position in Okinawa, and cede control of earlier-held areas back to Japan. According to reports, 31 of the 33 plaintiffs hail from the Takae group of Higashi village, with others coming from the Kunigami and Aha villages. 

The Japanese Defense Ministry says that Aha and Kunigami are both close to helipads constructed in 2014 and given to the US military a year later.  

Using Okinawa as a Place Where It Can 'Bully People and Expand Profits' 

Yukine Ashimine, a 45-year-old Takae resident, told, "If and when all of [helicopter landing zones] are completed, this entire community of 150 residents will become unlivable." 

China military planes fly over Okinawa strait

Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Eight Chinese military planes flew over the Miyako Strait between the islands of Okinawa and Miyakojima Sunday, the Defense Ministry said.
Four H-6 bombers, one Tu-154 surveillance plane, one Y-8 surveillance plane and two planes believed to be fighters flew over the strait to the Pacific Ocean.
The flights prompted the Air Self-Defense Force to scramble fighter jets. No violation of Japanese airspace by the Chinese planes occurred, ministry officials said.

NGOs call for Japan to respect Okinawans’ freedom of expression at UN Human Rights Council

September 21, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On September 19 at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) made a statement delivered by its representative Taisuke Komatsu at the UN Human Rights Council. In the statement the IMADR called on the government of Japan to fully respect Okinawans’ freedom of expression in their protests against construction of US military facilities such as those being built in Henoko, Nago, and Higashi Village, Takae.
The statement delivered by the IMADR was a joint statement with international human rights NGOs Human Rights Now and Franciscans International. It pointed out that, “The large presence of the foreign [U.S.] military has caused a countless numbers of human rights violations, including sexual violence against women and girls.” The NGOs also criticized that despite Okinawans’ opposition, the government of Japan has been advancing the plans to construct new U.S. military facilities in Henoko and Takae.

Japan intercepts Chinese warplanes over disputed islands

Japan was forced to scramble a number of fighter jets to counter eight Chinese military aircraft as they approached Japanese airspace on Sunday, Tokyo has said.
The Chinese planes reportedly flew along the Miyako Straits between Japan’s Okinawa and Miyakojima islands. They were partaking in a military drill including some 40 aircraft nearby.
Although the Chinese planes did not cross into Japanese airspace, they flew over a group of islands in the East China Sea that are disputed by Tokyo and Beijing.

Activists make case for Guam independence

“Guam is where America’s war begins,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, co-chair of the Guam Independence Task Force. “Guam is a seen as a place to attack because there are a lot military weapons here. We are caught in the middle.”
The United States and North Korea have been exchanging threats and counter-threats in mutual attempts at cowing each other.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Okinawa villagers sue Japan to stop construction of US helipads

by: Matthew Burke and Chiyomi Sumida | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 27, 2016
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Citing noise concerns, residents from two Okinawan villages have filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government to end construction of U.S. military helipads in a remote northern training area.

The landing zones are being built to relocate and consolidate the U.S. military presence in the northern Okinawa jungles so that 4,000 of the Northern Training Area’s 7,542 hectares can be handed back to Japanese control in the largest land return since 1972.

Protesters have descended upon the project in an effort to force Tokyo’s hand to make greater effort in reducing U.S. troop numbers on the island.

In the suit filed last week, plaintiffs also applied for a provisional injunction to suspend construction.

Of the 33 plaintiffs, 31 come from the Takae community of Higashi Village, while the others come from the Aha communities of Kunigami Village. Both villages are near two helipads completed in 2014 and handed over to the U.S. military in January 2015, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

Plaintiffs expect a verdict on the injunction within months, but expect the lawsuit to take years.

“If and when all of [helicopter landing zones] are completed, this entire community of 150 residents will become unlivable,” said Yukine Ashimine, 45, a Takae resident who added that her house shakes from the sound of the helicopters and frightens her family.

US Presidential Candidates Sharply Divided on Military Alliances

U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reiterated sharply opposing views on the issue of military support for American allies around the world, and for Japan and South Korea in particular, during their first televised debate on Monday.
Clinton, the Democratic candidate, criticized past statements made by Republican nominee Trump that indicated he might withdraw troops from Asia unless allies more fairly compensate the U.S. for protection.
“He has said repeatedly that he does not care if other nations got nuclear weapons, Japan, South Korea even Saudi Arabia,” said Clinton.

Japan scrambles jets after Chinese planes fly over Miyako Strait

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan Air Self-Defense Force jets scrambled Sunday to intercept eight Chinese military aircraft flying between Okinawa’s main island and Miyako Island as Beijing flexed its muscles in the region again.
While there was no violation of Japan’s airspace, the close encounter in the Miyako Strait by four Xian H-6 bombers, a Tupolev TU-154 reconnaissance plane, a Shaanxi Y-8 reconnaissance plane and two fighter jets was a rare show of force for the Chinese, who usually test Japan’s margins with a small number of submarines, boats or aircraft.
“This is the first time that Chinese military aircraft flew over the area,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. “It is assumed that the Chinese military conducted some training; however, I will refrain from elaborating on the training, including the purpose of the flight.”

Search for crew after helicopter crashes in S. Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — A search was underway Tuesday for three crew members missing after a South Korean military helicopter crashed into the sea off the country’s east coast while participating in joint maritime drills with the U.S. Navy.

The Lynx helicopter sent out a distress signal and disappeared from radar eight minutes after taking off from an Aegis destroyer Monday evening.

So far, searchers have found only debris, including the helicopter’s door and a helmet, a South Korean military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity according to department policy.

The crash site was near the inter-Korean maritime border known as the Northern Limit Line, but the official said currents suggested any drift would have been in a different direction.
An investigation into the cause of the crash was ongoing, but weather conditions were not a problem, another official said.

Military: no hacking, just system glitch

Posted: Sep 27, 2016 4:22 PMUpdated: Sep 27, 2016 4:22 PM
You may have heard about potential hacking of Guam's military installations over the weekend - do not be alarmed. According to public affairs officer Lieutenant Tim Gorman, while an undetermined amount of credit and debit cards did receive duplicate charges, it wasn't due to hacking, but instead, due to a system error.
"So it's not a hack, it's not identity theft," he affirmed. "It's simply a bad program or bad update. We caught the problem so we're working to fix it and get everyone their refund now."

USS Chancellorsville Arrives in Guam

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Schneider | September 26, 2016
APRA HARBOR, Guam (NNS) -- Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) arrived in Guam for a routine port visit Sept. 24.

While in Guam, Chancellorsville Sailors have the opportunity to experience the culture and take part in Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) events. The crew will also get the chance to interact with the local citizens through a community relations project.

China’s massive Pacific air force drill just the start of even bigger shows of might against US, experts predict

The Chinese air force’s unprecedented drills in the Western Pacific on Sunday are just the beginning, military experts say as they predict more large joint operational exercises in the region in future.
The long-range drills and patrols – that involved more than 40 aircraft from different aviation teams – were to display China’s ability to counter US interference in theSouth China Sea issues, the experts said.
Air force spokesman Shen Jinke said H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and air tankers conducted reconnaissance and early warning drills, simulated attacks on sea targets, and carried out in-flight refuelling.
Aircraft had “systematically” flown over Japan’s Miyako Strait, with bombers and fighters carrying out “routine” patrols in the air defence identification zone (ADIZ), which Beijing established in the East China Sea in late 2013.
Shen said “regular long-range drills in the Western Pacific and patrols over the East China Sea ADIZ were for the air force to safeguard China’s sovereignty, national security and peaceful development”.
It was the second drill in the region this month, and the sixth time the air force had flown over the so-called first island-chain blockade, a term that refers to major archipelagos along the East Asian continental coast where the United States is trying to contain China, state media reported.
The drill near Okinawa caused Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force to scramble fighter jets after discovering eight Chinese planes flying over the strait.
Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert, said the drills targeted not only Japan but also “the US-Japan military alliance”.
“The strongest opponent of the air force of the People’s Liberation Army is not Japan, but the US-Japan military alliance,” Song said, adding that Washington was Beijing’s ultimate rival.
The drill “aims to point to the US’ naval base in Guam, which is the bridgehead for Washington to contain China in the region”.


US, Japan Finalize New Military Cooperation Amid Tensions With China

Washington and Tokyo have signed a bilateral agreement to increase military logistics cooperation as tensions with China continue to escalate.

Tokyo made major changes to its constitution in March, however, allowing Japanese troops to operate overseas in an offensive posture for the first time since World War II.  On Monday, Washington and Tokyo signed an amended Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ASCA) that takes full advantage of Japan’s more aggressive stance. 

"The agreement we’re signing today will enable us to smoothly implement the (security) cooperation between Japan and the United States, which was expanded by the legislation," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said, according to the Japan Times. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Japan Scrambles Jets in Response to China’s Military Air Drills Near Okinawa

Over 40 of China’s H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighter jets and air tankers flew through Japanese islands on Sunday while heading to large-scale military drills in the Western Pacific.

Warplanes of the People's Liberation Army conducted long range drills after flying over the Miyako Strait that lies between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa, the Chinese Air Force said in a statement. The jets carried out early warning, sudden assault and aerial refueling exercises, which all aimed to check the forces’ blue-water combat capabilities, according to the Chinese military. 

As the first group of eight Chinese aircraft, ­including two fighters, flew over the Miyako strait on the Sunday morning, Japan scrambled fighter jets in response, Kyodo news agency reported citing the country’s defense ministry. The Miyako Strait sits tightly between Japan’s Okinawa and Miyako Islands, and is one of the few routes that China can use to get into the Pacific. Beijing has been using the strait since May 2015. 

Okinawan forest being carved out for U.S. military helipads

September 25, 2016 at 15:00 JST

HIGASHI, Okinawa Prefecture--Large patches of forest have been cleared for the controversial construction of helipads to be used by the U.S. military, in an aerial look at the progression of the project.
An aerial video and photograph taken by The Asahi Shimbun on Sept. 23 over the Northern Training Area, a U.S. Marines jungle warfare training facility, showed circles of land being cleared in the Takae area of Higashi. The Northern Training Area extends from Higashi to neighboring Kunigami village and is the largest U.S. military facility in Okinawa Prefecture.
Under the construction plan, land with a diameter of 75 meters will be cleared to build the helipads, which will have diameters of 45 meters.

Government, Okinawa remain apart over U.S. air base issue

NAHA (Jiji Press) — Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga held their first meeting on Saturday, and they failed to narrow differences over a planned U.S. military base in the prefecture.

During the 40-minute meeting in the prefectural government office in Naha, Onaga requested in writing that the central government abandon the plan to build a facility in the Henoko coastal area of Nago that will take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base in Ginowan, another Okinawa city.
Inada, who took office last month, said the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is committed to the base relocation plan.
Onaga noted that the prefectural government has appealed a recent high court ruling against his revocation of his predecessor’s permission for land reclamation in Henoko.

7,000 servicemembers make landfall

As the Valiant Shield 2016 military training exercises came to a close, businesses have opened their doors to the approximately 7,000 sailors and Marines who have been granted shore leave.
According to a press release from the U.S. Naval Base Guam public affairs office, elements of the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group arrived in Apra Harbor on Saturday for a goodwill port visit following the conclusion of Valiant Shield. The release stated that an additional six ships from the strike group pulled into port and unloaded approximately 7,000 sailors.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Okinawa appeals high court ruling supporting U.S. base transfer plan

The Okinawa prefectural government on Friday appealed a recent high-court ruling that backed the central government’s move to transfer a key U.S. air base within the southern island prefecture under a plan strongly opposed by local residents.
“The ruling that excessively takes the side of the central government…will leave a serious problem to the future,” Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said in a statement, referring to the first judicial judgment in the intensifying dispute with Tokyo over a plan to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a crowded residential area in Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, meanwhile, made her first visit to Okinawa since assuming that post in early August and expressed regret to local municipalities over a U.S. military aircraft crash off Okinawa a day before, which she said had stirred “great concerns” among the citizens there.

Okinawa governor demands Harriers be grounded pending crash probe

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Okinawa’s governor demanded Friday that Marine officials ground all Harrier jets pending an investigation into a Marines’ AV-8B crash into the sea east of the island.
The plane was on a routine training flight when it went down, U.S. military officials said. The pilot ejected safely and was rescued. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
“Although damage to the Okinawa residents has not been reported, it is extremely regrettable, as one aircraft-related accident could result in a serious accident involving human lives and property,” Gov. Takeshi Onaga said in a statement addressed to III Marine Expeditionary Forces commander Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson. 

Okinawa gov't appeals high-court ruling backing US base relocation plans

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/23 14:28:47

The Okinawa prefectural government on Friday lodged an appeal to a ruling made by the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court supporting the central government's controversial moves to relocate a US base within Japan's southernmost prefecture.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga was initially shot down by the high-court ruling made on Sept. 16, which found that Onaga's revocation of a landfill permit last October previously granted by his predecessor was "illegal."

The governor is a staunch advocate of blocking the central government's plans to relocate the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated coastal area of Nago in Henoko, also on the island.

Air Forces Investigates Death of Airman on Guam

An airman was found unresponsive Friday at San Luis Beach, Guam, and later pronounced dead at Naval Hospital Guam, according to an Air Force release.
The active-duty airman, unidentified pending next-of-kin notification, was temporarily assigned to Andersen Air Force Base, the release said. San Luis Beach is located on the U.S. naval station on the island.
The Air Force said the airman's death is under investigation.

Thousands to arrive as Valiant Shield closes

[Lock your doors!]  About 6,500 military service members are expected on island for shore leave as several U.S. Navy ships make their way to port following the Valiant Shield 2016 exercises.
The biennial event concluded yesterday, marking an end to two weeks of collaborative exercises between U.S. military forces. One scenario highlighted by military officials was the live-fire sink exercise, in which sailors, airmen and Marines sank the decommissioned USS Rentz about 220 nautical miles northeast of Guam.

NoKor military threatens to use nuclear weapons against Seoul, Guam US base

The North Korean military has threatened to use their nuclear weapons against the South Korean capital of Seoul and a US military base located at the Pacific island of Guam, media reported Friday.

On Wednesday, the US Pacific Command (PACOM) reported that a US B-1B strategic bomber flew from the military base located in Guam and landed at the Osan airbase in South Korea for the first time since 1996.

The US military reported that the move aimed to show the US’ readiness to “defend and to preserve the security of the Korean Peninsula and the region”.

NKorea offered close look at deadly US bomber

World Bulletin / News Desk
A nuclear-capable American B-1B bomber flew closer to North Korea than ever before this week, according to the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) on Thursday.
An online USPACOM post described Wednesday’s flight close to the inter-Korean border as “just the first of many steps that forces of the United States and [South Korea] are taking to bolster the ironclad alliance between our nations.”
U.S. Forces Korea already announced that one of its B-1B bombers stationed in Guam would be based for the time being in the South -- where nearly 30,000 American troops are also deployed.

Inada seeks support from Okinawa governor over U.S. base relocation

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Saturday sought support from Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga over a plan to relocate a U.S. air base within the island prefecture, even as the dispute between Tokyo and Okinawa over the issue is set to be contested in the Supreme Court.
“Moving the base to the Henoko area is the policy of Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe’s government,” Inada told Onaga in the prefectural capital Naha, referring to the site where the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is scheduled to be relocated despite intense opposition from Onaga and many locals.