Dokdo Dispute Flairs During Winter Olympics Between Korea and Japan

We just couldn’t go an entire Olympics without some Dokdo nonsense:

Japan lodged a protest with South Korea after flags hoisted during an Olympic preparation match were found bearing disputed islets in the Sea of Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday.

“We cannot accept the flag in light of Japan’s stance over the sovereignty of Takeshima and it is extremely regrettable,” Suga said at a news conference, referring to the South Korean-controlled, Japanese-claimed islands called Dokdo in Korean.

The sports flag appeared during a game between Sweden and the unified Korean women’s ice hockey team in Incheon ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Games.  [Japan Times]

You can read more at the link.

South Korean Foreign Minister Says Seoul Will Not Seek Renegotiation of Comfort Women Deal with Japan

Here is the latest on the comfort women issue between Korea and Japan:

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha announces in a press conference Tuesday that South Korea will not seek a renegotiation of a controversial 2015 deal it reached with Japan to settle the issue of women forced into sexual servitude for Japanese troops before and during World War II. [YONHAP]

Seoul does not plan to scrap or renegotiate the 2015 bilateral deal on the so-called comfort women, announced Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha Tuesday, though she underscored that the agreement is not a true resolution to the issue of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery.

The Korean government also plans to raise a fund equivalent to the 1 billion yen ($8.87 million) transferred by Tokyo to a foundation formed under the 2015 agreement for the victims of the Japanese Imperial Army’s forced recruitment of young women into sexual slavery before and during World War II, who are euphemistically referred to as comfort women.

“It is an undeniable fact that that the 2015 deal was an official agreement reached between the two countries, and we will not demand a renegotiation from the Japanese government,” Kang told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul.

The decision was reached after a Foreign Ministry task force spent months reviewing the negotiating process and contents of the 2015 deal, gathering survivors’ viewpoints and taking into consideration Korea-Japan relations, Kang added.

The two countries’ foreign ministries struck a deal on Dec. 28, 2015 to resolve the comfort women issue, which included an apology by the Japanese government and a 1 billion yen fund for the victims. The agreement provoked an immediate backlash from some survivors and civic organizations, who claimed Japan should take clearer legal responsibility by paying reparations.

The Korean Foreign Ministry launched a nine-member task force at the end of July comprised of foreign affairs officials and experts in Korea-Japan relations, international law and human rights. The task force was charged with assessing how the deal was reached and to pay more attention to the viewpoints of the victims, who had expressed disappointment at being left out of the negotiation process by the Park Geun-hye administration.

President Moon Jae-in has emphasized that the agreement is not accepted by the general public in Korea and called it “flawed.”

While Seoul does not plan to renegotiate or scrap the deal, Kang encouraged Japan to “accept the truth as it is, according to universally-accepted standards,” to help restore the honor and dignity of the victims and heal the wounds in their hearts.

“What the victims all wish for is a genuine apology [of Japan’s] own accord,” Kang added.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but I think the Japanese public has probably hit apology fatigue with all the demands for more apologies after their government has already made a number of apologies. Prime Minister Abe could apologize again and commit seppuku on top of Namsan and there would still be people complaining for more apologies.

That is why I have long believed that if Japanese Prime Minister Abe was really clever he should apologize for war time sexual slavery again, but this time in a large public speech to draw maximum media attention. During this speech then announce that Japan to atone for its past sins would become a champion of women’s rights beginning with the plight of modern day sexual slavery of North Korean women in China that both the South Korean and Chinese governments choose to ignore.

North Korean women trafficked in the sex industry in China are the modern day comfort women that the Chinese and South Koreans do nothing to stop.  Japan becoming an advocate for these women would expose the current hypocrisy of their critics on this issue.

Japan Considering Purchasing F-35B’s to Field on Their Helicopter Carriers

If anyone is wondering why Korea is considering the purchase of F-35B’s to field on their helicopter carriers here is your answer, keeping up with the Abe’s:

Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Forces helicopter carrier Izumo sails out its Yokosuka Base in Kanagawa prefecture on May 1, 2017. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

In what could be a major change in Japan’s policy on aircraft carriers, the Defense Ministry is mulling a plan to buy F-35B stealth fighter jets for use on its helicopter carriers, government sources said.

The introduction of F-35Bs, which have short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) capability, will be useful in countering China’s growing maritime assertiveness. They are expected to bolster Japan’s ability to defend far-flung islands in the southwest, where only short runways exist, the sources said Sunday.

The move, however, is likely to trigger a backlash from China and Japan’s other neighbors because it could be viewed as contradicting Japan’s so-called “exclusively defense-oriented policy” under the pacifist Constitution.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has altered the nation’s postwar security policy over the past few years, most notably through new security laws that largely expand the range of activities permissible by the Self-Defense Forces.

Under its strictly defense-oriented policy, Japan has maintained that it cannot possess “attack aircraft carriers,” saying the vessels can be deemed offensive weapons that exceed the minimum capacity Japan needs for self-defense in light of the Constitution.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force has a fleet of flat-topped destroyers known as helicopter carriers. Its largest Izumo-class carriers are 248 meters long and can carry up to 14 helicopters.

F-35Bs can operate from existing helicopter carriers once modifications are made to the bow, deck and other areas, the sources said. These modifications will allow destroyers, new or old, to function as small aircraft carriers.  [Japan Times]

You can read more at the link.

Japan to Field To Aegis Ashore Batteries to Defend Against North Korean Ballistic Missiles

Considering that Japan already has the SM-3 missile fielded on their Aegis ships the acquisition of Aegis Ashore batteries makes since over competing ballistic missile defense systems such as THAAD:

An Aegis Ashore missile-defense system is tested at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii in May 2014. COURTESY OF THE MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY

The Japanese government is pushing ahead with plans to boost its missile defenses in response to the growing threat from North Korea.

The nation’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved the acquisition of two Aegis Ashore systems capable of defending the entire country against incoming missiles.

“North Korea’s nuclear and missile development has become a more serious and imminent threat to our security, entering in a new phase,” a Cabinet statement said. “It is necessary to drastically expand our ballistic missile defense capability in order to continuously and persistently protect our country even during normal circumstances.”  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but the 2023 timeframe is reportedly when the batteries will be in place.  So this is definitely not a near term mitigation to North Korea’s ballistic missile threat.

Negligence to Blame for Helicopter Window that Crashed into Okinawa School Playground

The Marines are lucky this window did not hit a kid at the school.  Could you imagine the protests that would have happened if some kid at the school was killed by this window?  Fortunately no one was injured by this negligence:

This image from an NHK broadcast shows a window from a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter after it fell onto an elementary school sports field near Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017.

The Marine Corps says human error caused a helicopter window to fall onto the grounds of a crowded elementary school last week on Okinawa.

The incident occurred Wednesday morning when a CH-53E Super Stallion’s window inexplicably became separated from the aircraft and landed on Futenma Daini Elementary School’s sports field, which is adjacent to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s fence line. More than 50 schoolchildren were playing at the time, and one boy was slightly injured from a pebble that flew up during impact.

The 1st Marine Aircraft Wing has completed a “thorough” investigation into the incident and determined it was caused by human error, officials said a statement released Monday evening.

The window, which was not properly secured before takeoff, was designed to be removed so that the crew can evacuate during an emergency, the statement said.

Marine officials said they have conducted additional training for both air and maintenance crews to reinforce proper procedures. Also, all CH-53E aircraft have been thoroughly inspected and checked for mechanical or structural issues with the windows.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but really this incident should serve as an example of why the Marines are trying to move Futenma to the northern part of Okinawa away from the major population center of the island.

Japan’s Coast Guard Fights Off North Korean Fishing Boats

It looks like the fishing boats that don’t become “ghost ships” have become a major nuisance for the Japanese Coast Guard:

The Japan Coast Guard wages a constant battle to chase North Korean fishing boats from Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

From July, it began using water cannons on a regular basis to warn such boats to leave, but those efforts seem to have had little effect.

Instead, the number of boats operating in Japanese waters has increased, as well as those washing ashore, sometimes with dead crew members.

On Dec. 15, the coast guard released photos and video footage of its relentless campaign to rid Japanese waters of the unwelcome visitors.

The photos and videos released were taken between September and November in the Yamatotai fishing ground located about 400 kilometers west of Akita Prefecture’s Oga Peninsula.  [Asahi Shimbun]

You can read more at the link.

Former Defector to North Korea, Charles Robert Jenkins Dies of Heart Problems

The sad Cold War era tale of Charles Robert Jenkins has come to an end:

This file photo taken on October 12, 2005 shows U.S. army deserter Charles Jenkins, who spent 40 years in North Korea, showing off his new book “To Tell the Truth,” which was published in Japanese last week, at a press conference in Tokyo. Charles Jenkins, a U.S. Army deserter who spent four decades in communist North Korea and married a Japanese woman abducted by Pyongyang, has died at the age of 77, officials said on December 12, 2017. / AFP-Yonhap

Charles Jenkins, a U.S. soldier who defected to North Korea and became a movie star there, has died in Japan, according to reports on Tuesday. He was 77.

The former U.S. sergeant died on Sado island on Monday, where he was living with his wife Hitomi Soga, also a former prisoner of North Korea.

He was among four U.S. soldiers who defected to the North in 1965 and was the only one who was released. The others reportedly died in the isolated state, including James Dresnok, who was said to have died of a stroke in 2016.

According to the BBC, Jenkins collapsed outside his home and died of heart problems in hospital. His wife said in a statement that she was “very surprised” by his death and “cannot think of anything,” according to AFP.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but what is interesting about this death is that back in August 2017 Jenkins said in an interview that the North Koreans wanted him dead:

Then there was the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam — Kim Jong Un’s half-brother — in a Malaysian airport in March. Two women ambushed Kim with VX nerve agent, one of the world’s most toxic substances. To Jenkins, it was a reminder that Pyongyang’s brutality knows no bounds — and no one is immune.

“I worry about my daughters more than anything,” he said as he drove his Subaru along the coast. He has forbidden them to comply if Japanese police should attempt to pull them over while driving. Anyone could be a North Korean agent.

“North Korea give them enough money, you don’t know what they’ll do,” he said. “North Korea wants me dead.”

Jenkins’ death is probably just a coincidence, but it is kind of eerie how he died so soon after making that statement.  Jenkins was a heavy smoker so heart problems from his smoking is definitely plausible.

You can read more about Jenkins’ time in North Korea from this interesting interview he gave back in 2006.  You can also read his book, The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea that was actually a very good read.  Despite being a deserter, I always appreciated how Jenkins took responsibility for his own actions and did not try to blame others for what happened to him.

Condolences to the friends and family of Charles Robert Jenkins.

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.