Japan's air force faces a 'relentless' burden, imposed by China
CNN -- Jul 30
Japanese fighter pilot Lt. Col. Takamichi Shirota says his country is under increasing pressure from the air. Analysts say it's a pressure faced by few other nations.

More than twice a day, Japanese fighter pilots hear a siren blare, bolt up from their ready-room seats, run to their jets, and scream aloft, ready to intercept a potentially unidentified incursion into Japanese airspace.

It happened to Japan's Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) 947 times in the last fiscal year ending in March. The culprit in most of those cases, warplanes from China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

And Shirota says the number of potential incursions is growing.

"The number of scrambles against airspace violations has been increasing rapidly over the past decade -- especially in the southwest air zone," said Shirota in an exclusive interview with CNN. "About 70% of the scrambles done by Japan's SDF annually are conducted in this area."

That southwest area includes the Senkaku Islands -- known as the Diaoyu Islands in China -- a rocky, uninhabited group of islands under Japanese administration but claimed by China as its territory.

It also includes Okinawa, home to the United States Air Force's Kadena Air Base, which touts itself as the "Keystone of the Pacific" and is a key US installation for flights over the contested waters of the South China Sea.

Japan's Defense Ministry in March released a map showing the flight routes of Chinese and Russian aircraft that Japan's fighter pilots rose to intercept. The Chinese flight routes are shown in red. Their density makes the East China Sea, the part of the Pacific Ocean between China and Japan's southern islands, look like a sea of red.

The Chinese flights don't violate international law. Of the 675 times Japan's fighters scrambled after Chinese planes in the last fiscal year, not once did the Chinese aircraft fly within the internationally recognized 12-mile territorial limit, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.

And even then, China says the presence of its forces within the Senkakus/Diaoyu island chain is within its sovereign rights.

News source: CNN
Aug 10
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo says he will work to prevent the elderly and other vulnerable people from contracting the coronavirus to avoid declaring another state of emergency. (NHK)
Aug 07
The governor of Tokyo has called on residents to refrain from traveling to other prefectures during the summer holiday season, amid the continued rise in numbers of coronavirus infections in the capital. (NHK)
Aug 07
The Cabinet on Friday earmarked ¥1.13 trillion in reserve funds to continue measures to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. (Japan Times)
Aug 07
Kanagawa Prefectural Police arrested an assemblyman for Tokyo’s Minato Ward on suspicion of indecent exposure in Kawasaki City on Thursday, reports NHK (Aug. 6). (tokyoreporter.com)
Aug 06
Japanese holidaymakers should refrain from domestic travel and regional governments should act independently to contain a resurgence of coronavirus infections, the country's top doctors' association said on Wednesday. (Japan Today)
Aug 06
Japanese drugstores were stripped bare of gargling solution by Wednesday, a day after the governor of Osaka Prefecture suggested it could help fight coronavirus, triggering panicked buying reminiscent of the early days of mask shortages. (Japan Today)
Aug 05
Japan’s labour ministry is working to extend a special employment subsidy to help firms hit by the coronavirus pandemic that would keep furloughed workers on the payroll, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Aug 05
Japan’s tally of virus infections is shooting up faster than ever, and support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is sinking to new lows. (Bloomberg)
Aug 05
The western Japanese city of Kobe has made its official TikTok account private amid growing security concerns, Nikkei has learned, in a sign of how the U.S. crackdown on the Chinese owner of the popular video-sharing app is rippling across the world. (Nikkei)
Aug 03
That loud ticking sound emanating from Tokyo's political clock bodes the imminent explosion of costs resulting from Japan's tepid COVID-19 response. (Nikkei)
Aug 02
Japan’s Okinawa island region has declared a state of emergency from August 1 to August 15, because of increasing COVID 19 cases. (republicworld.com)
Aug 02
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday appeared for the first time in public since April without wearing his much-touted government-sponsored mask, which has been derided as a symbol of his administration's out-of-step policy against the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo)
Aug 01
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso described the yen's recent rise as "rapid" on Friday, signalling concern that a strong currency could add pain to an export-led economy already in recession because of the novel coronavirus. (business-standard.com)
Aug 01
The Japanese government said Friday it will lift a ban on reselling face masks and disinfectant as suppliers have ramped up production enough to resolve a nationwide shortage spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo)
Aug 01
Japan on Friday pushed back its estimated return to a budget surplus by two years, due to the massive increase in spending needed to support the economy during the coronavirus and putting pressure on the nation’s massive debt burden. (kitco.com)
Jul 31
A team of ruling coalition lawmakers agreed Thursday not to lower the age of people covered by the juvenile law to under 18 from under 20 at present. (Japan Times)
Jul 31
Japan's top government spokesperson says the coronavirus outbreak is continuing to expand across the country, but the situation does not require the government to declare a state of emergency again. (NHK)
Jul 31
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has offered his sincere condolences over the death of former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui. (NHK)
Jul 31
The power of words is being tested in Japan, where efforts to fight the novel coronavirus — bound by a law tailored to a different disease — remain strictly voluntary. (Japan Times)
Jul 31
The Japanese government is considering postponing the launch of the distribution of some 80 million additional cloth face masks to nursing care homes and other facilities, health ministry officials have said. (Japan Times)