North Korean Fishermen Arrested for Burglarizing Japanese Coastal Homes

It looks like the North Korean fishermen who are not washing up on Japanese shores dead have become thieves instead:

Japanese police on Saturday arrested three North Korean crew members for suspected theft, a spokesman said, amid a fresh wave of North Korean “ghost ship” fishing vessels washing up in Japanese waters.

The three were among the 10 North Korean “fishermen” spotted aboard a tiny wooden boat struggling in bad weather off the northern island of Hokkaido late last month.

The 45-year-old captain and two other crew members, who all identified themselves as North Korean nationals, were arrested on suspicion of stealing a power generator, a Hokkaido Police Department spokesman said.

The arrest came after some of them reportedly admitted to “taking out” some electronic products from a remote Japanese island where they landed briefly to take refuge.

Soon after the group left, officials noticed items — TV sets, fridges, a washing machine, a motorbike, an electric saw — had vanished from buildings on the island, local media said.  [Korea Herald]

You can read more at the link.

US Military Personnel In Japan Are Now Allowed to Purchase Alcohol on Base

The alcohol restriction for US military personnel in Japan due to a recent deadly drunk driving incident has been relaxed:

A servicemember reaches for a pack of bottled beer at Yokota Air Base, Japan. STARS AND STRIPES

U.S. Forces Japan has loosened alcohol restrictions imposed after a fatal Nov. 19 vehicle accident involving a 21-year-old Marine on Okinawa.

The revised rules, which took effect at 4:30 p.m. Thursday local time, allow servicemembers to purchase alcoholic beverages on base and drink them in their on- or off-base homes, Maj. George Tobias, a 5th Air Force spokesman, told Stars and Stripes.

“The purchase or consumption of alcohol off-base is still not permitted with the exception of one’s own off-base residence,” he said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but if personnel in Japan think the current restrictions on alcohol are bad, at least leadership in USFJ has not resorted to blood alcohol tests at the gate like we have seen in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea many years ago.

Japan Wants to Slowly Release Nuclear Waste Water Into the Ocean

Good luck trying to convince people this is a good idea:

Storage tanks for contaminated water stand at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima. The government has still not decided what to do with the water. Getty Images

Japan has still not come to a consensus on what to do with a million tons of nuclear water six years after their primary nuclear power plant in Fukushima was rocked by a tsunami.

The water stored in 900 large, dense, packed tanks on site could spill if another major natural disaster should strike, The Japan Times reported.

The government has been urged by experts to gradually release the water to the Pacific Ocean, as all the radioactive elements of the water except tritium—which has been said to be safe in small amounts—have been removed through treatment. But if the tank breaks, the contents may not be able to be controlled.

Local fishermen are extremely hesitant to this solution because many consumers are still uncertain to eat fish caught off Fukushima, despite tests that say the fish is safe to eat.

“People would shun Fukushima fish again as soon as the water is released,” Fumio Haga, a drag-net fisherman, told The Japan Times.  (……..)

Currently, the amount of radioactive water at Fukushima is still growing by 150 tons a day.  [Newsweek]

You can read more at the link.

President Trump Wanted Japan to Shoot Down North Korean Missile Flying Over Japan

This is something that many people who don’t understand missile defense think until they realize the physics behind it:

U.S. President Donald Trump has said Japan should have shot down the North Korean missiles that flew over the country before landing in the Pacific Ocean earlier this year, diplomatic sources have said, despite the difficulties and potential ramifications of doing so.

The revelation came ahead of Trump’s arrival in Japan on Sunday at the start of his five-nation trip to Asia. Threats from North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development programs were set to be high on the agenda in his talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday.

Trump questioned Japan’s decision not to shoot down the missiles when he met or spoke by phone with leaders from Southeast Asian countries over recent months to discuss how to respond to the threats from North Korea, the sources said.

The U.S. president said he could not understand why a country of samurai warriors did not shoot down the missiles, the sources said.  [Japan Times]

You can read more at the link, but the reason is quite simple why the missiles were not shot down.  The missile were flying 770 kilometers above the country in outer space; this is higher than the international space station.  The Japanese Aegis ships and Patriot interceptors cannot engage missiles flying that high. To shoot down the missiles the Aegis ship would have to be located out in the ocean where the missile was coming down at.  There is no way the Japanese would could have known when and where North Korea was going to fire the missile at to have a ship sitting there waiting to shoot it down.

The real story here is why are diplomatic sources leaking this information to the news media?  This is a natural question that many people wondered initially after North Korea fired the missile over Japan.  I would hope by now someone has briefed President Trump on missile defense capabilities.

President Trump Lands In Japan to “Make Alliance Even Greater”

It seems the US President has received a very warm welcome in Japan:

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) meets Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Kasumigaseki Country Club to play golf in Saitama Prefecture on Nov. 5, 2017. Trump came to Japan for the first time as a President, and will stay in Japan until Nov. 7th.

Landing in Japan on the first stop of his marathon five-nation tour of Asia, U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday called the nation a “treasured partner” and “crucial ally” of the United States while asserting that “no dictator” and “no regime” should ever underestimate America — a not-so-veiled rebuke of nuclear-armed North Korea.

After paying a solemn visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii on Friday, Trump on Sunday marked the start of his trip to Asia by disembarking from Air Force One at the U.S. Air Force’s Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo. Cheers erupted as he appeared on stage with his wife, first lady Melania Trump, prompting thousands of U.S. military personnel there to welcome the pair with enthusiastic chants of “USA! USA! USA!”

 “Japan is a treasured partner and crucial ally of the Unites States,” Trump told a packed aircraft hangar after changing into a bomber jacket. “Today we thank them for decades of wonderful friendship between our two nations.”

It was the first visit by Trump to Japan since his astonishing rise to the presidency last year. The trip will give him and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — touted as one of his best friends among world leaders — a chance to reaffirm their shared strategy of piling “maximum pressure” on the North while also demonstrating anew the strength of the two nations’ alliance.

After delivering his speech, Trump flew to Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama Prefecture for two hours of golf diplomacy with Abe — an informal setting that also involved 25-year-old professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama.

Before hitting the links, Abe presented Trump and Matsuyama with white baseball caps, each embroidered with the message “Donald & Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater.”  [Japan Times]

You can read more at the link, but President Trump gave a nice speech to US troops at Yokota Airbase as well.

Tweet of the Day: Japan Excited About Ivanka Trump’s Arrival?

Maybe not:

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Wins Big Election Victory

It appears that the Japanese public supports Prime Minister Abe’s attempts to strengthen the defense force, modify the pacifist constitution, and take a hard-line with North Korea based on the recent election results:

Japan’s ruling coalition appeared headed to an impressive win in national elections on Sunday, in what would represent at least a partial comeback for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A victory would boost Abe’s chances of winning another three-year term next September as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. That could extend his premiership to 2021, giving him more time to try to win a reluctant public over to his longtime goal of revising Japan’s pacifist constitution.

In the immediate term, a victory likely means a continuation of the policies Abe has pursued in the nearly five years since he took office in December 2012 — a hard line on North Korea, close ties with Washington, including defense, as well as a super-loose monetary policy and push for nuclear energy.  [Stars and Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but it looks like the “bromance” that President Trump and Prime Minister Abe have will continue.