Yesterday, we published a report about an incident involving South Korea, Japan and China that nearly escalated into a full-blown skirmish, as Japan and South Korea were forced to order intercepts of Chinese military aircraft as a squadron of fighters and bombers flew over the waters between South Korea and Japan – an area that has historically been off limits to Chinese aircraft. It wasn’t until after the Chinese aircraft had dispersed that Chinese military commanders disclosed that the intrusion was part of a “military exercise.”
When China’s South Korean counterparts called to ask why they hadn’t been given advanced warning of the drills, the Chinese authority in charge reportedly responded that the element of surprise was part of the drill.
In recent months, Beijing has insisted that it needs to prepare its military in the event of an armed conflict on the Korean peninsula – an excuse for bulking up its military presence at an uncomfortably close proximity to its geopolitical archrival, Japan.
In response, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is accelerating Japan’s militarization as the country inches closer to abandoning its post-WWII policy of pacifism. The latest example of this shift was highlighted by the Wall Street Journal in a report published Wednesday about Japan’s push to build a military installation equipped with antiaircraft and antiship weapons on the island of Ishigaki, a Japanese holding situated near Taiwan, and just miles away from a Chinese waters.
Of course, Japan is facing a more immediate threat in North Korea – which has twice fired intermediate-range ballistic missiles over the Japanese island of Hokkaido. But as both powers pose increasingly immediate threats to Japanese security, Japan is being forced to swiftly build up its military deterrants as the possibiilty of an armed conflict in the region becomes increasingly less remote.
Case in point, Abe is expected later this week to approve another boost in military spending – something that would’ve been unthinkable just a decade ago.
As China becomes more powerful and assertive and North Korea builds up its nuclear arsenal, Japan is rethinking its approach to defense and moving away from the policies of strict pacifism it has followed since its defeat in World War II.
On Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet is set to approve an increase of around 2.5% in annual military spending, including funds for the new bases on the southern islands, as well as the country’s first cruise missiles and a new ballistic-missile defense shield.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the cruise missiles are intended to protect the islands from invasion
Defense budgets have been growing since 2013, with Japan, one of the U.S.’s most important allies, buying advanced fighter jets, boosting surveillance capabilities and training a new amphibious troop unit.
ith explicit support of Washington, Japan has slowly building what WSJ described as “one of the world’s most capable armed forces.” To be sure, the country still spends around half of that spent by China and one-third of the US in terms of GDP.
But the notion that Japan must turn away from post-WWII pacifism is gaining traction as President Trump pursues his “America First” foreign policy. Early this year, Trump famously suggested that Japan and South Korea should obtain nuclear weapons – an extemporaneous statement that was widely criticized by national security hawks. But even before Trump, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been slowly building up Japan’s military as he guided the country away from the pacifist stance it had maintained for more than 60 years.
Per WSJ, Ishigaki and neighboring islands are part of what China’s military calls the “first island chain,” a series of archipelagoes around China’s perimeter stretching from Russia’s Kurils to the South China Sea, where Beijing seeks naval dominance.
Authorities on Ishigaki have jurisdiction over a nearby group of tiny, uninhabited islands that Japan calls the Senkakus. They are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
In recent years China has sent progressively larger coast guard ships, some of them armed, to circle the islands in a display of military dominance as it hopes to assert its control over all contested islands in the South and East China seas. A fleet of 10 Japanese coast guard ships based in Ishigaki regularly plays cat-and-mouse with the Chinese vessels.
Rear Adm. Atsushi Tohyama, commander of the Ishigaki coast guard base, said Japanese ships make contact with Chinese boats by radio to avoid physical clashes. “The Chinese ships are getting bigger and more modern. In that sense, they are escalating the situation,” he said.
A spokesman for the Japanese army said it hopes to deploy 500 to 600 soldiers to Ishigaki to man the new missile installation once its completed.
But now that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has effectively consolidated his power over the country, expect to see that number rise. Dominion over the Pacific is becoming an increasingly important military priority for the People’s Liberation Army – not to mention a demonstration of intense national pride.
Despite Xi’s cozy public relationship with Trump, many US military commanders agree with the assessment provided by White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon: China is a geopolitical foe of the US.
And no amount of public gladhanding will change that.
Mass Migration ‘Dangerous Failure’ Says Hungary Official
Mass migration is dangerous not only regarding terrorism, public security, culture and social security, but also the whole healthcare system, State Secretary Bence Retvari told Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap.
According to Retvari, European epidemiological organisations have recorded a significant rise of communicable diseases, including those which had already disappeared from Europe thanks to vaccinations. Such cases have been documented in Malta, Italy and even Germany. According to the German Robert Koch Institute, since 2015 there’s a 300% rise in Hepatitis B and measles, and a 200% in malaria and syphilis cases. The frequency of diseases of unknown origin has grown from 14 to 26%.
According to Retvari, by supporting the “migrant visa” (humanitarian visa), the European Parliament “gave green light to millions of illegal and economic migrants, bringing even more dangers to Europe.”
“If we compare how much would Brussels spend on integrating one immigrant in Europe, – which is clearly a failed attempt based on the experiences of the recent decades -, and how much it costs to restore a home in a crisis zone, it’s clear that with the same amount of money we can help a lot more people in their areas than in Europe,” Retvari stressed.
He reminded that with the Hungary Helps programme the government was able to help thousands of people to restart their lives in Iraq. “So this solution is better considering effectiveness, social peace and the actually persecuted people too,” he added. According to the politician, this is the solution chosen by those who really want to help, unlike the “hypocritical Brussels elite.”
WATCH: Israel Blows Up Hamas TV Station
The escalation in violence began when earlier in the day Monday thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven militants killed during the Israeli commando raid and accompanying aircraft cover fire that resulted in strikes on the strip, which further led to sporadic rocket fire from Hamas.
One Israeli soldier was reported killed during the high risk operation which reportedly involved the commandos entering Gaza by civilian car in order to take out a gathering of Hamas military leaders.
During the Gaza funeral the crowd chanted “revenge” amidst masked gunmen in camouflage.
Apparently that “revenge” came in the form of a mortar shell fired from Gaza which scored a direct hit on a bus in southern Israel, severely wounding a 19-year-old Israeli. According to multiple regional reports this was followed by a barrage of over 100 rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel within only an hour’s time. Israeli sources have reported multiple injuries and extensive damage from the rockets, many of which may have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
طيران الاحتلال الحربي يقصف ويدمر مقر فضائية الاقصى بغزة. pic.twitter.com/VSnUpYUb2s
— شجاعية (@shejae3a) November 12, 2018
South Africa Testing “Confiscation” Of White Land To Build Affordable Housing
The debate about land redistribution in South Africa has been a passionate one, as many South African cities face a housing crunch that has left hundreds of thousands of people living in informal settlements. Just as this debate is starting to reach a fever pitch, one South African city, Ekurhuleni, is about to embark on what mayor Mzwandile Masina calls “a test case” for the nation: the government is going to seize hundreds of acres of land, from white citizens without paying for it, to build low-cost housing.
Last month, the city voted in favor of pushing forward with “expropriation without compensation”. According to ABC News, this was cited by the African National Congress as a legal rule that is necessary in order to distribute land equitably and correct “historic injustices” that took place in the country.
The mayor of Ekurhuleni stated the same thing, saying that landowners in South Africa should not be scared. Mayor Masina told AP: “Our policy is not to take the land by force. Our policy is to make sure the land is shared amongst those that need it.” It was unclear what those whom the land is taken from thought about this policy.
The total amount of land that’s going to be expropriated amounts to about 865 acres. The land is both private and government owned, and some of it has been vacant for decades. Masina, who heads the local ANC-led coalition, did not specify which landowners will be hit be the measure.
The internationally debated land reform was approved by South Africa’s ruling party to address the historic injustices of apartheid, and distribute land among the population more equitably. According to the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, over 77 percent of South African farms and agricultural holdings are owned by white citizens with only four percent of lands belonging to black South Africans. White citizens make up just nine percent of the country’s population, while black citizens account for 76 percent. This, to the ruling regime, is a green light to repossess land that has been owned by white citizens, in many cases for generations.