Japanese Tugboat Loses Power and Collides with USS Benfold

Not being in the Navy I don’t know how common fender benders like this are, but it is pretty clear that any Navy ship that receives a scratch will lead to national headlines due to the two recent deadly ship accidents:

The USS Benfold and Republic of Singapore Navy?s RSS Endurance sail together during Exercise Pacific Griffin 2017, off the coast of Guam, August 28, 2017.

A U.S. warship collided with a Japanese commercial tug boat in Japan’s Sagami Bay on Saturday, marking the fifth time this year that a ship in the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific has been involved in a crash.

The Japanese tug boat lost propulsion and drifted into the USS Benfold during a towing exercise. The U.S. guided-missile destroyer sustained minimal damage, and there were no reported injuries on either vessel, according to a press release from the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

The USS Benfold, which is awaiting a full damage assessment, remains at sea under its own power. The incident will be investigated, the 7th Fleet said.  [Good Morning America]

You can read more at the link as well as over at the Stars & Stripes.

South Korea Agrees to the “Three Nos” with China on THAAD Deployment

Here is how South Korea has ended its dispute with China about the deployment of the THAAD battery to Seongju:

The recent agreement to restore relations between South Korea and China was achieved by having South Korea assuage China’s security concerns through public pronouncement of the “three no’s” – no additional THAAD deployment, no participation in the US’s missile defense network and no establishment of a trilateral military alliance with the US and Japan. But since the situation is liable to change with conditions on the Korean Peninsula and the interests of the countries concerned, it’s hard to say how the government’s promise of the “three no’s” will play out.There’s not likely to be a push for additional THAAD deployments under the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in. For one, opposition to THAAD deployment is the prevailing view among the Moon administration’s base of supporters.

Furthermore, since THAAD is designed to intercept enemy missiles at the high altitude of 40 to 150 km, it cannot defend the Seoul region, which is close to the armistice line, and can therefore only be deployed in the southern part of the country. Since one THAAD unit is already deployed in this southern area, there would seem to be little reason to deploy another. But if North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile threat grows even more, South Korea could conceivably find itself under increasing pressure in a variety of ways to allow further deployment.Seoul’s declaration that it will not participate in the US missile defense network has been the government’s basic stance going all the way back to the Kim Dae-jung administration. This is in consideration of China, which suspects that the US wants to build a missile defense network in northeast Asia to neutralize China’s military.

In exchange, Seoul has announced that it will build what it calls “Korean Air and Missile Defense” through local development of M-SAM (medium-range surface-to-air missiles) and L-SAM (long-range surface-to-air missiles).But South Korea and the US are also hurrying to set up a system that would enable detection and tracking information of missiles launched by North Korea to be shared in real time to facilitate the effective interception of those missiles. This would mean linking South Korea and American missile defense by means of sharing information. Such steps would naturally cause South Korea to move toward participating in US missile defense, some argue.

There’s virtually no possibility of a trilateral military alliance forming between South Korea, the US and Japan. Given popular sentiment in South Korea, it’s hard to imagine a military alliance being signed with Japan.  [Hankyoreh]

You can read more at the link, but I always find it interesting how many in the ROK treat the Japanese as the enemy when it is China that economically and diplomatically punished them over the past year.  What makes it even worse is that the deployment of THAAD was to protect South Korea from a threat the Chinese helped to create in the first place.  You would think there would be mass anti-Chinese protests about this, but the best the ROK has done is a one man protest.  I guess everyone else in South Korea is to busy waiting in line to take their picture with a comfort woman statue.

Drunk Driving US Marine Kills Japanese Man In Early Morning Collision on Okinawa

For everyone on Okinawa get ready for likely major anti-US protests due to what this idiot did:

A Japanese driver’s damaged vehicle is placed at a police station in Naha, Okinawa, southern Japan Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. Police on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa are investigating a fatal traffic accident that occurred Sunday when a truck driven by a U.S. Marine collided with the small truck at an intersection, killing the Japanese driver of the other vehicle. KAZUKI SAWADA/KYODO NEWS VIA AP

An Okinawa-based Marine’s blood-alcohol content was triple Japan’s legal limit Sunday when his vehicle collided with a minitruck, killing its Japanese driver, police say.

The Marine was “slightly injured” in the 5:30 a.m. JST crash at a Naha intersection, Okinawa policeman Kazuhiko Miyagi told The Associated Press.

The victim – a 61-year-old man – was making a turn when his vehicle was hit by the servicemember’s truck, which was coming in the opposite direction, Japanese media reports said. Witness accounts say the Japanese driver had the right of way, and that the Marine may have gone through a red light.

Miyagi told AP that a breath test indicated the servicemember had a blood-alcohol level that was three times Japan’s legal limit of 0.03 percent.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but three time the legal limit would be a BAC of .09.  So he was not completely smashed, but regardless would be legally drunk in the United States as well.  The highest limit in the US is a BAC of .08.  Then there is the fact he was driving a military vehicle.  If he was drunk on duty that makes this even worse or did he steal the vehicle?  I guess we will eventually find out what happened, but condolences to the family of the deceased driver.  There is never an excuse to drive drunk especially some place with easy access to taxis like Okinawa.

United Nations Command Decides To Not Release Footage of North Korean Defector’s Escape

My guess on not releasing this footage may be that the UNC does not want to rub it in the face of the Kim regime that one of their soldiers defected when they have been quiet recently:

The United Nations Command has put off a plan to release video footage of a North Korean soldier’s dramatic escape across a jointly patrolled area in the heart of the Demilitarized Zone.

The soldier defected to the South on Monday by driving a military jeep to the line that divides the peninsula, then rushing across it under a hail of gunfire from his former comrades.

The defector was severely wounded by the gunfire and has been hospitalized. His doctor, Lee Guk-jong, told reporters his condition was stabilized after a second operation on Wednesday, but he was riddled with parasites that were complicating his recovery.

Officials with the UNC, which is commanded by U.S. Army Gen. Vincent Brooks and has authority over the Joint Security Area, said earlier this week they would make public footage from surveillance cameras that monitored the border dash.

But the UNC issued a press release Friday summarizing already-known facts of the case and saying it will not release more details or material until an investigation is completed.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link.

Picture of the Day: Comfort Woman Statue In New York City

Choo Mi-ae

Choo Mi-ae, leader of the ruling Democratic Party, holds the hands of a “comfort woman” statue at Museum of Korean American Heritage in New York on Nov. 17, 2017 (New York time). Comfort women refer to those who were forcibly taken to Japanese front-line military brothels during World War II. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: iPhone X Sells Out Within Minutes in South Korea

iPhone X sold out on first day of preorders

A customer places a preorder for U.S. tech giant Apple Inc.’s latest iPhone X smartphone at a branch of mobile carrier KT in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2017. South Korea’s mobile carriers said their first preorder batch of iPhone X smartphones were sold out within a few minutes after being launched, apparently due to supply shortages. (Yonhap)

Why North Korea Decreases Missile Testing During Winter Months

Mr. Shea Cotton who is a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies noticed something that North Korea watchers have known for a long time, missile testing tends to slow in the winter:

Tuesday, November 14 marked 60 days since North Korea’s most recent missile test. Earlier this year, between March and May, North Korea was launching an average of one missile every two weeks. Now after about two months, the silence seems deafening.

Can we credit the slow down to America’s policies working? Was there a diplomatic breakthrough with the regime? Or has Kim Jong Un seen the error of his ways and is abandoning or backtracking on his missile program? Probably not.

Instead, this is likely part of an annual slowdown in testing we’ve observed now in North Korea for several years.

A look back at missile testing in North Korea under Kim Jong Un demonstrates the trend. The table below depicts a quarterly breakdown of North Korea’s nuclear capable missile tests since 2012.

A few things are clear from this. First, Kim Jong Un stepped on the gas pedal in 2014. In fact, Kim Jong Un has carried out more tests than his father and grandfather combined. Second, and more important to this topic, North Korea slows things down in the fourth quarter of every year. On average, we see about an 80% drop in tests from Q3 to Q4. Every so often North Korea will conduct a test in Q4, but that number is only a small fraction compared to past quarters.

Harvest season

But what then, explains this consistent drop? While difficult to say for sure, the most likely explanation we have is that North Korea’s resources are tied up in the harvest.  [Forbes]

You can read more at the link, but the priority on the annual harvest is part of the reason for the decrease in missile testing, there are a few other reasons as well.

Mr. Cotton in his article says the trend analysis shows that testing will pick up again in February.  February just so happens to be the lead to the annual Key Resolve military exercise.  Every year Key Resolve starts tends to start an annual provocation cycle with North Korea then the UFG exercises tends to be when the provocation cycle slows down.  For example this year the last missile test occurred on September 14th; the annual UFG military exercise concluded in early September.

There are other reasons as well, but the long gap between major US-ROK military exercises, the annual harvest, the winter training cycle for the North Korean military, as well as poor weather all play into the decrease in missile testing.

Former US Marine Claims He Did Not Intend To Murder Japanese Woman, Just Kidnap and Rape Her

Here is an update from the trial of a former US Marine who killed a Japanese woman on Okinawa last year:

Rina Shimabukuro is seen in an image from a Fuji Television broadcast. Kenneth Franklin Gadson, a former Marine who was working as a civilian at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, has been charged with murder and rape resulting in death in the slaying of the 20-year-old local woman. SCREENSHOT FROM FUJI TV

The parents of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman murdered last year told a packed courtroom Friday they want the former Air Force contractor charged in her death to pay for the brutal crime with his life.

“A murderer, who took my daughter’s life, should not be allowed to live,” the mother said in a statement read by her lawyer during the second day of Kenneth Franklin Gadson’s trial at Naha District Court.

Gadson, 33, a former Marine who was a civilian employee at a Kadena Air Base cable and internet provider at the time of his arrest, is charged with murder, rape resulting in death and the illegal disposal of a body in the death of Rina Shimabukuro. He is being tried under Japan’s lay judge system with three judges and six jurors.

Shimabukuro disappeared after going out for a walk on the evening of April 28, 2016. Gadson became a suspect — and was later charged in the crime — after police spotted his SUV while checking vehicles captured by security cameras in the area.

During the previous day’s proceedings — which mostly focused on whether Shimabukuro’s killing was premeditated — Gadson read a prepared statement pleading guilty to rape resulting in death and illegal disposal of the body but denied the murder charge, stating that he had “no plans to kill her.”

Gadson told the court he planned to knock her unconscious, take her to a hotel in a suitcase to rape her and release her afterward. After failing to knock her out, he panicked and was not able to complete his plan, he said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link, but I don’t blame the family for wanting this scumbag put down.