December 4, 2015

Japanese Concerns About Philippine Alliance Building and Providing Military Aid

It appears Japanese Prime Minister Abe (right), Defence Minister Nakatani (center) and Foreign Minister Kishida (left) may be alliance building with the Philippines too quickly. Naval weapons and even lower level Coast Guard aid to the Philippines may cause security and diplomatic problems over the next 30 years. Careful consultation with the Diet (Parliament) and clearance by the Diet is badly needed. (Photo courtesy gettyimages - The Asahi Shimbun).
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The growing strategic relationship between Japan and the Philippines is occurring rapidly. There has been a buildup of relations which preceded Japan’s Abe Government from 2012. Japanese perceptions of the Philippines are complex. As the following commentary indicates problems in the South China Sea are not only caused by China’s activities. The following are excerpts from a commentary by Shunji Taoka (military journalist) writing in Japan’s DIAMOND Online magazine http://diamond.jp/articles/-/74608 (originally dated July 9, 2015). The commentary was forwarded to Submarine Matters article “Japan providing Small Aircraft & Patrol Boats to the Philippines”) on November 30, 2015 in the Comments Section. Pete has further translated some of the English:

[It is Risky to form an Alliance With the Philippines Without A National Discussion in Japan]

With almost no discussion in the media or the Diet Japan is entering into alliance with the Philippines. [see http://www.mofa.go.jp/s_sa/sea2/ph/page3e_000417.html ]  Japan is donating 10 patrol boats (see photo below of what they may look like) [costing a total of US$104 million Dec 4, 2015 exchange rate]. There is a consultation of the Status of Forces Agreement between the Japanese and Philippines defence forces. Joint exercises to improve military interoperability are planned. President Benigno S. Aquino said that joint operations would be also needed in future at a press conference in Tokyo. 

Japan seems to satisfying the US request of covering the defense of the Philippines in the confrontation with China over the Spratly Islands. But the Japan-Philippines alliance is lacks real strength and the Philippines is at risk of confrontation with China.

Prime Minister Abe inherited the decision of the previous Administration (of the Democratic Party of Japan, last in power 2009-2012). Abe met with Philippine President Aquino in Manila in July 2013, and committed to donate the 10 patrol boats (44m in length, 200 tons in weight) under the official development assistance (ODA). The Philippines also asked for two large patrol ships (100m in length, 1800 tons in weight) to be donated to the Philippine Navy. There has been no agreement on 100m ships. The Japanese government is concerned such 100m ships would be seen by China as weapons that would escalate tensions.

While the Japanese public has a negative attitude to the export of weapons, it is indifferent to the donation of weapons. But donation is more troublesome than exports. Exporting weapons is a business transaction while donation is military aid and is regarded by China as a hostile political act by Japan. Japan therefore needs to show exceptionally careful judgement when donating weapons.

In particular, the Philippine Coast Guard tends to fire on neighbours too easily. In May 2013 a Philippine Coast Guard vessel fired 48 shots at a Taiwanese fishing boat and killed one Taiwanese fisherman in waters north of Luzon, Philippines. This was in the 200 mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. The Philippine Coast Guard also killed one Taiwanese fisherman in 1996 and one Chinese fisherman in 2000. Due to this record Japan should be careful donating vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard.

Japan should also be careful in donating patrol vessels to the Philippines because, unlike land weapons, naval vessels are very conspicuous. Vessels also last 30 years, a period that may involve major changes in international relations between the Philippines and China. As Japan may be seen as the donor of weapons to the Philippine China may blame Japan.

ANONYMOUS COMMENT

As the US is a former colonial power and from 1951 signed has the Mutual Defense Treaty US-Philippines, the US wants to be good to the Philippines

However, the US wants to avoid a decisive confrontation with China because of the US’s huge economic relations with China. When the Philippines requested maritime defense assistance from the US, the US provided a 46 year old Hamilton-class coastguard cutter and a 20 year old Cyclone-class patrol boat. In contrast it appears the US requested Japan to donate new patrol boats to the Philippines.

Japan’s donation of the patrol boats to the Philippines and future military aid is expensive for Japan and raises very sensitive security and diplomatic issues for Japan. According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Three Principles of Defense Equipment Transfer http://www.mofa.go.jp/press/release/press22e_000010.html does not need Diet [Parliamentary] approval. Other matters the MOFA believes do not require Diet approval are:

-          the provision/donation of military aid [also called official development assistance (ODA)] and

-          the Status of Forces Agreement with the Philippines.

This situation allows the Philippines to receive items with military potential from Japan. The Philippines can then add parts or modifications to make these items weapons. The Philippines therefore has a strategic alliance relationship with Japan.

It is wrong and regrettable that Japan can form alliances without discussion occurring in the Diet. It is also wrong that the Japanese public are not informed or consulted about this alliance building. Japan’s Diet opposition parties and the media should be made aware of this serious situation. 

Will the 10 x 40 meter class patrol boats Japan is building for the Philippines be developments of the Bizen (aka Raizan) class (above) . The Bizan/Raizans weighs 200 tons and are 46 m long. (Photo courtesy DDmurasame).
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Bizen (aka Bizan or Raizan) Boat Details 

S, in Comments, on December 4, 2015, 10:47PM, provided specifications on the Bizen/Raizon patrol boat a picture of Official Development Assistance (ODA) patrol boat  Japan is building for the Philippines. 

The major difference between the Bizen used by Japan and the projected ODA-Philippines patrol boat is the Bizen is fitted with a 20mm Gatling gun (rotary cannon) while the ODA patrol boat, as delivered to the Philippines will have no armament. The Bizen boat will have a more powerful diesel engine than the ODA boat. Three ODA patrol boats (highly Japan subsidized, totalling US$15.4 million) were already donated to Indonesia in the past, and this type of aid by Japan has a good reputation. 

Specifications of the Bizen, based on Japanese version of wikipedia, as used by the Japan Coast Guard (Not the slightly smaller ODA boat for the Philippines):


Price: about US$19 million (Price based on FY2015 budget request of Japan Coast Guard.)
Weight: 197 tons, Length: 46.0m, Depth: 46.0m, Beam: 7.5m, Draft: 1.65m 
Propulsion: Niigata Engineering 16PA4V-200VGA (3,500hp) type diesel engine x 3, two shaft and a water jet, output power 9,400 hp/7,000 kW 
Speed 35knots
Crew 15
Armament: JM61-RFS (Remote Firing System) 20mm Gatling gun (rotary cannon) x 1. A gun of this type proved powerful, in the Battle of Amami-Ōshima between an armed North Korean spy ship and a Japanese patrol boat.
Fire control system: RFS gun director
Navigation radar
Infrared monitor


An artist’s rendering of the ODA-Philippines patrol boat is on page 3 of http://www.marubeni.co.jp/news/2015/release/20150604J.pdf

Pete

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I introduce the data of Bizen type patrol boat and picture of ODA patrol boat for Philippines. Biggest difference of two boats is with or without armament: the Bizen boat has gatling gun, but the ODA has not. And the Bizen boat is more powerful than the ODA boat. Although these difference in their performance, prices of the two boats are nearly same. Three ODA patrol boats (total 1.9 billion yen) were already donated to Indonesia in the past, and this type of aid by Japan has a good reputation.


Price: 2.3 billion yen
Weight: 197 ton, Length: 46.0m, Depth: 46.0m, Beam: 7.5m, Draft: 1.65m
Propulsion: Niigata Engineering 16PA4V-200VGA (3,500hp) type diesel engine x 3, two shaft and a water jet, output power 9,400 hp/7,000 kW
Speed 35knot/h
Crew 15
Armament: JM61-RFS (Remote Firing System) 20mm gatling gun x 1
Fire control system: RFS gun director x 1
Navigation radar x 1
Infra monitor x 1

Price was based on FY2015 budget request of Japan Coast Guard. Other data were based on wiki (Japanese version)
JM61-RFS is powerful gun, as proved in Battle of Amami-Ōshima between armed North Korea spy ship and Japanese patrol ship ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Amami-%C5%8Cshima)


http://www.marubeni.co.jp/news/2015/release/20150604J.pdf, page 3

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S

Thank you for the Bizen details. I have added them to the text.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

I think their is no wrong with Abes Government to have a strong relationship with the Philippines Why?Philippines is a country which is not yet under the foot of China and it will give Japan a full support when it comes to other ASEAN nation.

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
Check out this article,
Taiwan Turning the Screws on Washington’s Sub Deal
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/submarines/2015/12/05/taiwan-turning-screws-washingtons-sub-deal/76676188/

Last Paragraph is interesting

Yang admitted that Taiwan was “in communication” with Japan for a possible deal for Soryu-class submarines. Japan’s export defense restrictions have been eased, and Japan and Australia are currently working on a joint submarine program.

Bob Nugent of AMI International, a Bremerton, Washington–based naval market analysis and advisory firm, said he could “envision a scenario where there is an outright sale to Taiwan of Japanese submarines.” The current price is around $500 million a hull for the Soryu, and that includes airindependent propulsion — significantly less than the US offer estimated at $800 million for just the design stage.

China and Japan are bickering over control of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which Japan controls and China claims as its territory. Additional friction was created in 2013 when China announced an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, which included the airspace over the Senkakus. Increased Chinese fighter and surveillance flights into Japanese air space in recent years have also rattled Tokyo.

Both Taiwan and Japan face an enormous Chinese submarine fleet that now numbers over 70 submarines. Yang called the growth “aggressive.”

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

Yes the Philippines is a good ally of the US and Australia. China's aggressive moves in the South China Sea is certainly a threat to the Philippines security.

I think democratic Japan has many attitudes and voices on aiding the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations. Japan is relatively new to the military aid process - so there is still a feeling of uncertainty and nervousness. China being very large and unpredictable is probably the main reason for the nervousness.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Thanks for http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/submarines/2015/12/05/taiwan-turning-screws-washingtons-sub-deal/76676188/

The unit price of a Soryu for the Japanese Navy may just be $500 million but startup, spares, training and development costs probably mean more like $1 to 1.5 Billion for a foreign customer.

I don't think the US would feel pressured by little Taiwan. Probably US policymakers today are puzzling why, on earth, President George W. Bush made a spurious promise to build/buy submarines for Taiwan, way back in 2001.

Obama seems unpressured by a Republican's 15 year old odd promises. Even if the US Republicans win the 2016 Presidential Election I think they (and Japan and Europe) would rate Good Trade AND Relations With China over Taiwan's expectation that the US (and Japan or Europe) could help Taiwan build SSKs for a fraction of the real price.

Taiwan seems to think Taiwan need only contribute a few hundred millions dollars for a whole new submarine fleet, when it would cost $10-20 Billion. The US is not aiming to pick up the Tab or weigh into major headache with China.

So the dynamic under which Taiwan obtained its first and and maybe last subs in 1988 (27 years ago) http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/submarines/2015/12/05/taiwan-turning-screws-washingtons-sub-deal/76676188/

- is even stronger as China becomes stronger.

Regards

Pete

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
If Taiwan wanted submarines, Japan should consider selling them their older Oyashio-class submarine and Harushio-class submarine if they can't afford to buy submarines from Europe.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Japan wants to "grow" its submarine force numbers so would almost certainly want to keep its Oyashios.

But some old Harushios might gladen the heart of a Taiwanese admiral. I hereby volunteer ($300/day) to broker the deal, with a few $million to China to buy its silence.

It looks like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harushio-class_submarine 3 Harushios (8100, 8103 and 8104) may still be up to par for a grateful Taiwanese nation.

I cannot speak Japanese or Taiwanese/Chinese but that may be no impediment.

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Though PM Abe’s serious effort to offer the word best submarine was unfortunately not accepted by the Australian counterpart, defense corporations between Japan and ASEA countries are steadily developing as follows.

Japan minister of defense, Gen Nakatani and Philippine defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin agreed to lease of maximum 5 JMSDF training aircrafts, TC90 [1].

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) is calling for compliance with international law in such as air defense identification zone to Asian countries. As the first support measures for capacity improvement of the Thai military in last month, officers of the Air Staff Office visited the Bangkok of Thailand to hold the workshop on international law and air defense identification zone for about 300 officers of Thailand military. Mod already held these kinds of workshops for four ASEAN countries including Vietnam and the Philippines [2].

[1] http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/20160502-OYT1T50090.html
[2] http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20160508/k10010512251000.html

Regards
S

Peter Coates said...

Hi S [8/5/16 2:46 PM]

Thanks for the information - especially on growing Japanese MOD relations with Thai authorities http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20160508/k10010512251000.html - as this is new to me.

It is interesting that Trump (with his strange foreign policy ideas relevant to Japan) has now become the only Republican nominee. http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/China-North-Korea-may-boost-Trump-s-chances

If Trump becomes President Australia and Japan may need to change their defence policies.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

I do not worry about Mr.Trump so much. He is a well successful businessman and realtor. As a businessman, he uses his policy as a measure of achieving aim and does not hesitate to change the policy because it is just a measure. As a realtor, he reads a customer's attitude and bluffs if necessary. If customer wants the house, a realtor raises a price, and if not, he drops a price.

If Mr. Trump becomes the US President, he will be more realistic and compromising as a potent politician, because he must be so to achieve 8 years of the White House. Many political analysts expected that the Governor of California, Ronald Reagan would bring the drastic change of US-to-Japan relation, but this drastic change was not observed in era of President Ronald Reagan at all.

I think Ms. Clinton will win the Presidential race unless she has serious health problem.

Regards
S