GPS speaks with International Crisis Group analyst Yanmei Xie about recent tensions in East Asia, China’s air defense identification zone, and what it means for U.S. ties with Beijing.
What exactly is the air defense identification zone that China has announced?
The air defense identification zone, announced last month, covers a set of islands – called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan – whose sovereignty is hotly disputed by the two countries. Beijing has demanded that from now on, aircraft entering the zone have to report their flight plans, maintain communication and show identification, or “China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond.”
What’s behind the move?
Challenged at sea, Beijing could be hoping to assert greater control over the contested islands by unilaterally establishing administrative rights over the airspace above them. It has already been eroding Japan’s administration of the disputed waters by regularly dispatching patrol vessels to the area since the Japanese government purchased three of the islands from a private owner in September 2012.
The move may also have been driven by the People’s Liberation Army’s desire to expand its power projection. The PLA for years has been arguing that Japan’s air defense identification zone unfairly restricted Chinese military aircraft’s movement and advocated for the establishment of one of its own.
China’s sudden declaration, however, is puzzling in light of its foreign policy goals. Just a month ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping in a high-profile speech, stated that “safeguarding peace and stability in the neighboring region is a major goal” of the country’s diplomacy.
By Jeffrey W. Hornung, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jeffrey W. Hornung is an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, and an adjunct fellow with the Office of the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this article are his alone.
China’s more assertive posture in regional territorial disputes took a new turn at the weekend with its decision to implement an Air Defense Identification Zone. At a time when tensions in the region are already high due to a lingering territorial dispute between China and Japan, China’s action has escalated tensions in the East China Sea. Now, with Beijing apparently demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of diplomacy with its neighbors, the region is forced to confront provocative and potentially destabilizing behavior.
On November 23, China’s defense ministry unilaterally announced the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. According to the new rules for conduct in this ADIZ, any aircraft flying into China’s ADIZ is required to submit flight plans to Chinese authorities, maintain two-way radio communication, and keep radar transponders turned on. Should a plane refuse to follow these instructions, China’s military will “adopt defensive measures.”
ADIZs are, by themselves, not controversial, acting as early-warning perimeters for self-defense. But while there are no international rules concerning their size or establishment, China’s action is provocative for two reasons. First, it may be attempting to set new rules for aircraft flying above waters considered a state’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Second, it chose to establish an ADIZ that overlaps considerably with those of both Japan and Taiwan as well as a sliver of South Korea’s. Provocatively, included in China’s ADIZ are territorial disputes it maintains with Japan over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) and with South Korea over Ieodo (Suyan Rock in Chinese).
By Michael Mazza, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Mazza is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.
It’s difficult to know precisely what was behind China’s decision to institute an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) at the weekend. Chinese claims to the contrary, it is clearly meant to up the pressure on Japan in the two countries’ dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, over which the ADIZ extends. Internal Chinese political dynamics may also be at work here; President Xi Jinping, for example, must be benefitting from taking a strong stance vis-à-vis Japan. But whatever the reason for the creation of the ADIZ at this time, Beijing may ultimately regret it – and not only because it increases the likelihood of a violent incident over the East China Sea.
First off, the move needlessly antagonizes Taiwan and South Korea. The fact is that it puts a wrinkle into recently stable cross-Strait relations, as Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the Senkakus (known as the Diaoyutai in Taiwan), and it now has an overlapping ADIZ with the mainland.
The ADIZ is even more surprising in the context of China-South Korea relations, which have looked particularly warm of late. Seoul’s quarrels with Japan over history have been at their worst in recent months, and Beijing has effectively stoked that fire. But China’s new ADIZ overlaps with South Korea’s; covers the disputed Socotra Rock (which both countries claim as within their own exclusive economic zone); and may extend a bit too close for comfort to Jeju Island, where South Korea is building a major naval base. In one fell swoop, Beijing has reminded Seoul that South Korea has more in common with Japan than it normally likes to admit.
Fareed speaks with Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef, food critic and host of Parts Unknown, for his take on the world's greatest city to dine out in. Watch the Tokyo edition of Parts Unknown this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.
You go to Tokyo, you have been many times. I think most will be surprised to know that the city that gets the most Michelin three stars is not Paris, is not New York, but Tokyo. Do you agree with that?
Tokyo is the great...
If I would ask ten great chefs that I know around the world what city in the world would you like – if you had to be stuck in one city and eat every meal there for the rest of your life, where would that be – nine out of ten would say Tokyo. There’s a level of perfectionism, attention to detail, quality ingredients and tradition and technique that's really unlike any place else.
It's endlessly deep subject and with the show that I did there most recently, we tried to draw a direct line between that excellence and attention to detail – that fetishism, really, for food and quality with the sort of subterranean repressed ids of the Japanese male. So it's probably going to be a parental advisory type show.
By Takanori Sonoda, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Takanori “Tak” Sonoda is a senior fellow at the Mansfield Foundation. He was previously a vice president of government relations for Honda North America based in the company’s Washington, D.C., office. The views expressed are his own.
Japan got a shot in the arm when it was chosen earlier this month to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, a decision that allows the Japanese people for the first time in decades to coalesce around a common national goal, namely the successful execution of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. But while broadly welcomed, the announcement also highlighted a number of major challenges facing Japan’s government.
For a start, there is now even greater pressure on the government to bring an end to the leakage of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the International Olympic Committee that the Fukushima situation was under control. But reports suggest that at least 300 tons of contaminated water has leaked into the sea from the crippled nuclear power plant site. Indeed, last month, the seriousness of the water leak was raised to a level 3 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), indicating a “serious incident.” Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant, has for its part repeatedly failed to provide the public with accurate information on the situation.
By Victor Cha, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Victor Cha is a professor at Georgetown University, senior adviser for Asia at CSIS in Washington D.C., and author of Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sport in Asia. The views expressed are his own.
In August 1964, a nineteen-year-old track athlete ascended the long flight of stairs to light the stadium flame that would signal the start of the Olympic Games. The young man, Yoshinori Sakai, was born the day the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. There could not have been a more powerful way to demonstrate how the Tokyo Olympics marked the death of wartime Japan, and the re-birth and re-emergence of the country on the international stage as an advanced industrial democracy.
Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympics will be no less significant. In 1964, Tokyo stood as the first Asian site in the Olympic era. While many Olympics have since come to Asia (Sapporo, Japan in 1972, Nagano, Japan in 1998, Seoul in 1988, Beijing in 2008, Pyeongchang, Korea in 2018) it will have become the first Asian city to host the mega-event for a second time.
While offering the Olympics to a young, vibrant Muslim country for the first time (Turkey) would have been cool, the International Olympic Selection Committee’s choice of Tokyo seemed well-advised. Japan’s technical bid was the strongest and the most realistically priced (at $6 billion to $8 billion, versus Turkey at an extravagant $19 billion and Madrid at a paltry $2 billion). Experience was on Japan’s side, having hosted three previous Winter and Summer Olympics. Tokyo also offered a stable political environment, compared with Istanbul, for example, which borders the conflict in Syria. And, unlike the other two, Japanese world class athletes had not suffered from recent doping scandals.
By Mycle Schneider, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Mycle Schneider is an independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy based in Paris. He is the coordinator and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report. The views expressed are his own.
“Careless” was how Toyoshi Fuketa, commissioner of the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, reportedly described the inspection quality of hundreds of water tanks at the crippled Fukushima plant following the recent discovery of a serious radioactive spill. China’s Foreign Ministry went further, saying it was “shocking” that radioactive water was still leaking into the Pacific Ocean two years after the Fukushima incident.
Both comments are to the point, and although many inside and outside Japan surely did not realize how bad the March 11, 2011 disaster was – and how bad it could get – it seems clear now that we have been misled about the scale of the problem confronting Japan. The country needs international help – and quickly.
While the amount of radioactivity released into the environment in March 2011 has been estimated as between 10 percent and 50 percent of the fallout from the Chernobyl accident, the 400,000 tons of contaminated water stored on the Fukushima site contain more than 2.5 times the amount of radioactive cesium dispersed during the 1986 catastrophe in Ukraine.
By Jeffrey W. Hornung, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jeffrey W. Hornung is an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu and an Adjunct Fellow with the Office of the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this article are his alone.
The anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, which falls today, has increased the focus on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with many wondering how he will commemorate the event. Such attention is not new. Since becoming premier in December, the dominate narrative is that Abe, a nationalist who is jerking Japan dangerously to the right, is pursuing an agenda that will result in relaxed rules on Japan’s military, thereby destroying the pacifist principles embedded in its constitution and angering those countries Japan invaded or colonized during World War II. Now that Abe’s party and his allies control both houses of parliament, Abe is free to reveal his true self and unleash this agenda.
But this is a simplistic caricature of Abe and his policy agenda.
Whether it is Abe’s desire to revise and reinterpret Japan’s constitution or make changes to Japan’s military, his actions are consistently interpreted as leading Japan away from its postwar pacifism. In fact, while Abe is pursuing several significant changes in Japan, the truth of his agenda is often distorted or completely lost by the nationalist narrative. While Abe’s personal views on Japan’s role in World War II are questionable, the policies he is pursuing do not lead to the militaristic slippery slope his critics fear.
By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of the global economic attitudes project at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.
Japanese voters head to the polls on Sunday to elect half of the members of the House of Councillors, the upper house of Japan’s Diet, the national legislature. The ballot is shaping up as a referendum on the seven-month tenure of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government.
Abe is riding high in the polls, and pre-election public opinion surveys show the ruling Liberal Democratic Party prevailing in the upper house vote. Victory will enable the prime minister to pursue his domestic economic reform agenda, dubbed Abenomics, which entails monetary and fiscal stimulus and regulatory reform to improve Japan’s competitiveness.
But an LDP victory would also bring high expectations. After more than two decades of economic turmoil and political transition in Japan, the public’s mood is on the upswing. Satisfaction with Japan’s direction is at its highest level since the Pew Research Center began regular surveys of the country in 2002. Economic sentiment in Japan, for example, has improved 20 percentage points in just the last year, while optimism about the nation’s economic trajectory over the next 12 months is second only to that found in the United States among publics in advanced economies. This may help explain why about seven-in-ten Japanese have a favorable opinion of Abe.
By Fareed Zakaria
The G-8 summit was meant to be Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moment. Under his leadership, the land of the rising sun seemed ready to rise again, ready to breakout after twenty years of stagnation. The stock market rose nearly 40 percent in his first five months in office, businesses in Japan were talking about expansion for the first time in decades, and Tokyo's property market, long moribund, was stirring to life.
It is all part of Abe's bold break with the failed policies of the past. Past Japanese politicians had danced around the country's problems. Now here was someone to take them on. But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation. Japan's stock market began falling sharply, businesses pulled back and serious observers wondered if this was one more false start in Tokyo.
So, what's going on?
In launching his term in office, Abe had announced that he would fire three arrows to revive the Japanese economy. The first was a more expansionist monetary policy – buying tens of billions of dollars of Japanese bonds each month, to try to move from inflation to inflation...taking a cue from policies of the U.S. Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke. The second arrow was fiscal expansion – a $116 billion stimulus plan.
By James Holmes, Special to CNN
From the mouths of students comes wisdom. Of Imperial Japan and its depredations, a former student wisecracks: before there was Pokémon, there was Hegemon. This jest should be the watchword for Japanese diplomacy as Tokyo explains its move to a more offensive-seeming military strategy, and its acquisition of more offensive-looking weaponry, to Asian peoples mindful of its imperial forerunner's transgressions. What Japan appears to be doing – amassing the wherewithal to strike back at missile launchers and other enemy sites after riding out an initial assault – makes eminent operational and tactical sense. Convincing foreign audiences of that will be the hard part.
The image republican Japan projects of itself – one of a strictly defensive great power, intent only on keeping what now belongs to it – is something that demands constant upkeep. This is the bequest, and the burden, of the past for contemporary Japan. It will take a convincing, long-term, oft-repeated message to banish lingering memories of Hegemon from discussion of Japanese foreign policy and strategy.
The problem before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his lieutenants is that debates over the offensive or defensive character of a nation's strategy take place on multiple levels. What seems commonsensical on one level may prove controversial or even self-defeating on another.
By J. Berkshire Miller, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: J. Berkshire Miller is a fellow on Japan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum. The views expressed are his own.
“Japan is back,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced to a packed room at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington back in February. The remarks came during his first visit to the United States since he returned to power in a landslide election in December. But while Abe’s aggressive stimulus policies have sent his approval ratings soaring at home, Japan’s neighbors have been watching much more warily.
Abe, regarded by supporters as a pragmatist, but as a dangerous nationalist by many Chinese and South Koreans especially, is no doubt aware of the trepidation his return to office has engendered in East Asia. Indeed, he took the opportunity during his CSIS speech to temper fears that his hawkish campaign statements over the Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute with China would be put into action, declaring “I have absolutely no intention to climb up the escalation ladder.”
Yet despite the soothing words, a series of clumsy remarks over the past few months – and a botched effort at handling the controversial Yasukuni Shrine issue – have eroded much of any benefit of the doubt Abe may have enjoyed on coming to office.