Friday, 14 February 2014

Japanese Pride

Collision Course: Japanese pride demands nothing less than a “victory” over its Sea Shepherd foes. If one is not given to her, then she will simply take it and be damned. New Zealand and Australian diplomacy should, therefore, concentrate on what Japan is willing to give in return for the victory she demands.
 
ON 11 JULY 2012, the Japanese Prime Minister ordered an undisclosed number of naval vessels belonging to Japan’s Self-Defence Force to the Senkaku Islands. They were responding to the “violation” of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by three naval vessels flying the flag of the People’s Republic of China. In short order, the Chinese vessels were met, followed and escorted out of Japan’s EEZ by SDF warships.
 
The sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands is hotly disputed by at least three jurisdictions: Japan, Taiwan and China. A glance at both the map and the history books, however, makes it clear that the nation with the best claim to the islands (situated in the midst of vast proven oil reserves) is the People’s Republic of China.
 
References to these tiny specks of land (which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands) appear in Imperial Chinese documents dating back to the Sixteenth Century. It was only in the late Nineteenth Century that, like so many other chunks of East Asian real estate, they became the spoils of the Japanese war machine. All that now prevents the islands’ long-delayed repatriation to their rightful owner, is the United States determination to retain the strategic co-operation of its Japanese ally.
 
That the presence of three Chinese naval vessels in its EEZ was sufficient to activate such an aggressive naval response from the Japanese Government is something Kiwis should keep in the back of the minds as they attempt to make sense of Japan’s own wilful violation of New Zealand’s EEZ.
 
That violation came in spite of Wellington informing Tokyo that all vessels belonging to the Japanese “scientific whaling” fleet should remain outside the New Zealand EEZ. In other words Tokyo expressly authorised the Shonan Maru 2 to transform itself into a strong diplomatic message to the New Zealand Government.
 
In transmitting that message, the Shonan Maru 2 has been greatly assisted by a New Zealander. Glen Inwood is the official spokesman for the NZ Institute for Cetacean Research – a Japanese front organisation established to defend not only the Japanese Government’s “scientific whaling” programme, but also, at need, to serve as Tokyo’s unofficial mouthpiece.
 
Interviewed by Radio NZ’s Morning Report on Monday, Inwood made it very clear that, so long as New Zealand remained content for her harbours to be turned into safe havens for the re-provisioning and repair of the Sea Shepherds’ anti-whaling fleet (in this particular case, The Steve Irwin) then the Japanese would continue to exercise their right to pre-emptive self-defence in New Zealand’s EEZ.
 
The same chauvinist pride that prevents Japan from acknowledging that it took the Diaoyu Islands by force (along with Taiwan and Manchuria!) from its Chinese neighbours, has hardened its attitude towards the Sea Shepherd organisation. The Japanese Fisheries Agency’s new policy of pre-emptive self-defence reflects the anti-whaling fleet’s unprecedented success in protecting the pods of the Great Southern Ocean during the killing season of 2012/13.
 
But Japan’s aggressive tactics have had only limited success in the present season, and so long as the Sea Shepherds’ vessels can find safe haven in Australian and New Zealand waters, the Fishery Agency’s ability to meet its “research” targets will continue to be compromised.
 
If the Australian and New Zealand effort to have Japan’s “scientific” programme ruled illegal at the International Court of Justice succeed, then the possibility for a significant escalation of hostilities in the Great Southern Ocean will only increase.
 
In those circumstances the best option for Australian-New Zealand diplomacy might be to offer to facilitate one more year of Japanese cetacean “research” by closing our ports to the Sea Shepherd fleet. In return the Japanese Government would undertake to suspend its “scientific whaling” programme indefinitely.
 
Japanese pride demands nothing less than a “victory” over its Sea Shepherd foes. If that is not supplied to her, then she will take one anyway. And thanks to the debilitating defence policies of successive New Zealand governments, there’s nothing we can do to stop her.
 
This essay was originally published in The Dominion Post, The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 14 February 2014.

15 comments:

Guerilla Surgeon said...

A search for the actual papers produced by all this scientific whaling is both interesting and instructive. Considering the amount of whales being killed, and the amount of time its gone on for there ain't a lot.

Paulus said...

I have often wondered that if Sea Shepherd/Greenpeace left the Japanese whaling fleet alone they would cease - yes it is face on all parts -however Sea Shepherd will not contemplate as it is their livelihood. The Japanese we know will not lose face either - so stalemate.
Sea Shepherd are up in the Queensland Courts for leaking oil from one of their vessels also.

My children 40 years ago "stopped" complaining about my car smoking - I gave up and have not smoked since.

Andy C said...

Lets think about this for a minute , which other country has demanded annexation of large areas of land , and been given into circa 1938.
China has claims on areas close to Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan, if you assume Taiwan to be a separate state. China insists it owns all the South China Sea , virtually up to the Philippines coast. Not to mention the shooting spats with India over the LAC ( Line of actual Control). Sino expansionism is alive and kicking with new aircraft carriers and naval vessels. BTW , the Japanese have had a fishing station on the Senkanus for over a hundred years.
If there is a region of the world for the next hot war , that's it.

corokia green said...

From some boys own war comic view of the world Mr. Trotter, you seem to consider the deaths of the whales less important than the hurt feelings of the Japanese. The Japanese travel thousands of kilometres away from their territorial waters to kill whales in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. Sea Shepherd are the only group doing something effective to stop them and you say we should ban them from our ports. No way!

Anonymous said...

Japanese pride led to the death of thousands of people in the pacific area. Lest we forget.
Hagar.

Jan said...

Unless we have lost our mojo since we developed our nuclear free policy in the face of super power opposition, we are not the sort of country to back down just because another country gets into a strop over 'pride' - or arrogance, depending on your point of view.
If we know what we are doing is the ethical thing to do, are we really going to go weak at the knees over another country behaving badly?

Grant McKenna said...

The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinz┼Ź Abe, is the son of the late Shintaro Abe, who as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries played a significant role in the buy-out of Onassis' whaling fleet by the Kyodo Hogei company in 1976.
Giving up whaling under duress isn't just a 'loss of face' to PM Abe as Japan's PM, but as a son.

Davo Stevens said...

Japan was never a whale hunting society but after WW II, it was encouraged to feed their population when their economy collapsed after the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Big Burn!

I have no problem with a seaside community hunting the odd whale to feed themselves (Inuits) but I object strongly to the commercial accquiring of whale meat. That is something completely different.

Robert M 408 said...

The key point is that leaving aside the debatable level of capability that a small field of Chinese land based ballistic missiles might have and the somewhat doubtful possiblility that they might get even one of their SLBM subs to function it would be safe to assume that the real level of Japanese military capability is already vastly higher and that within six months if it ever wished , Japan could easily have immense strategic nuclear capability and that its demonstrated military and technological capabilities far exceed what China is capable of.
It is also worth noting that while Japanese defeat was seen as much more inevitably than that of Germany in WW2, in November 1944 at the Battle of Leyete the Imperial Japanesee navy could still manoevere with 3 seperate fleets and the power of the Japanese fleet was still sufficient that when Halseys main fleet with 3 Iowas's was within g90 minutes of engagement of the main Japanese fleet with 10 capital units and two awesome 18 inch gun battleships. The Japanese threat was still so awesome that even Roosevelt, Nimity or Halsey was not prepared ot risk engagement at that time. And note that the Japanese defence of Okinawa was so desperate that the sun did rise for three weeks and it was dark 24 hours a night with light only from some gunflash and the general flameathrower action that serious war is fought with.

Tiger Mountain said...

The Japanese ruling class were imperialistic bad asses alright up to the mid 20th century when the Enola Gay bought them to a grinding halt (it was a US nuclear terror test on civilians really as the Japanese forces had been fought to a standstill all over the Pacific).

Then the yanks kindly helped them rebuild their economy according to political theory of the time, and for a while Japanese companies ruled consumer electronic gadget manufacture while neutered as a military power.

Surely that is real loss of face, compared to being sent packing by Sea Shepherd. It is NZ that loses face by giving in to the whalers.

Patrick Quin said...

Wow. That is the most racist comment I have ever read!

Chris Trotter said...

Could you be a little more specific, Patrick? Which comment was the most racist you have ever read?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Robert, clarity and relevance aside, where did you learn your history? The Colonel blimp School of World War II? The Pacific War was simply a war of production. It didn't matter how well the Japanese resisted, they would have lost. Particularly after they lost many of their carriers and most of their pilots. All the battleships in the world -- 18 inch guns or no, would make bugger all difference. My father's ship was off the coast of Japan in early 1945 bombarding with impunity. There was nothing left to fight with.The Japanese may have some technological superiority over the Chinese, but as Stalin said, "Mass has a quality all its own." And China, like the US in World War II -- has mass.

btb said...

Sea Shepard and greenpeace do not represent New Zealand's defence force, its foreign or enviromental policy. Japanese whaling ships do not represent the Japanese military or their foreign policy. There can be no justifiable similarities drawn between Japanese and Sino territorial disputes, and the cheeky Japs pinching a few whales in our waters. I don't like it but we wont be going to war over it.

Robert Miles said...

The point I was making Guerilla is that the Japanese were able to sustain a huge challenge for 3.5 years of war, and even in Nov 44 Leyte Gulf they were able to feint and challenge with three deceptive fleets. Halsey and his command, may essentially have backed off when faced with the main Japanese battlefleet and their complementary armament of 60 knot longline anti ship torpedoes of about 10km range.
What finally defeated Japan was relentless nightly firebombing by B-29 over the last months of war. The 20 major cities incinerated in Japan were in Robert McNamara analysis (see Fog of War) equivalent to the obliteration of the 20 major cities in the USA. Given that 100,000 died in one raid on Tokyo the desire for Karma may still linger. Defeating Japan required unlimited effort violating all conventional and legal methods of war, in cf China today could still be defeated quite easily.