Indonesia-Japan agree to defence cooperation

Japan and Indonesia are taking small steps in the area of cooperating on defence. This is reminder for anyone who thinks Japan’s past role in the Asian region will prevent them from building ties today. The cooperation appears modest – disaster relief and counter terrorism. But the shared interests are apparent.

The equation is simple: with the exception of China and Korea, historical anger about Japan’s role in WWII becomes less intense now that fears for China are escalating. 

Without a doubt, the Indonesians have felt the squeeze of the Chinese power. While Japan, since rebuilding, has been very much inside the international, multilateral framework that China is outside of. And these movements on defence diplomacy are a reminder of sea change that is gripping the region. 

“As the two countries have observed Indonesia-Japan ties are very good, robust and improving, especially in the sectors of defense and military,” Yudhoyono said upon welcoming his Japanese guests.

Separately, this article from Australia makes a good point about how some nations in the region, New Zealand, but also a lesser degree Australia, have in recent years bought into the notion that they are “post-modern” states that have little need for a military, as war itself is somewhat an outdated notion.

The thought reveals the far-flung perspective of the far-flung countries, which possibly more than the Europeans and Americans, have seized on more completely the mantra that a world of globalised trade could not possibly devolve into conflict. And yet, it underscores a naivete that is compounded by the distance and rosy scenarios of businessmen. I suppose countries like Indonesia knows a little about the risks based on geography. And for that reason, making common cause, in a limited capacity, with a more powerful neighbor – Japan – makes sense.

A coincidence…

Days after Japanese PM Shinzo Abe stresses there will be no negotiation with China on the Senkaku Islands, Chinese leader Xi Jinping makes clear there will be no bargaining over core “territorial” and security interests from China. 

From the NYTs: 

Mr. Xi’s published comments did not mention China’s quarrel with Japan over an outcrop of rocky islands in the East China Sea, or any other specific foreign policy issues. But his words could reinforce nationalist expectations in China and anxieties abroad that he will press territorial claims more determinedly than his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who remains state president until March, when the national parliament will install Mr. Xi in that post.



China’s military power advances


China recently successfully conducted a mid-course missile interception, it said Sunday.

It didn’t say whether a missile or other object had been destroyed, according to Reuters, but the test was “defensive in nature and targets no other country.”

“Although no other detailed information about the test was released from the military authorities, weapon system experts said such a test could build shield for China’s air defences by intercepting incoming warheads such as ballistic missiles in space,” the report added. Xinhua said.

Recall that there had once been a ban on anti-ballistic missiles. The idea being that ABMs would upset the balance of mutually assured destruction that keep the US-USSR nuclear arsenals, and strategic intentions, in balance. Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, or so-called “Star Wars” plan to develop satellites that could shoot down ICBM’s upset the balance. 

The ABM treaty ban ended in 2002. In late 2012, the US and Australia agreed to consult a ballistic missile defense adapted to the unique threats of the region.

Or more precisely “consult as the United States develops the phased adaptive approach to ballistic missile defence, which will allow missile defence to be adapted to the threats unique to the Asia Pacific;”

It brings to mind North Korea of course. But the Chinese are wasting no time preparing their own missile shield.

In the area of power projection, the Chinese unveiled their heavy-lift transport Y-20.

From AFP The state-run Global Times hailed the flight of the plane numbered 20001 as a “significant milestone”, saying China needed the aircraft to “enhance its global power projection”.

(photo courtesy Pakistan Military) and the Pakistanis collaborate on aerospace with the Chinese

Japan ups surveillance capability

Japan has launched another radar satellite, according to Kyodo News.

Once the radar satellite commences full operation in April, Japan will have two radar satellites and two optical satellites in operation, enabling it to observe any point on the ground at least once a day.

That ability to better observe its neighbors will be handy, especially as North Korea is threatening more missile launches and raised the prospect of a nuclear test.