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    SDF to buy unmanned spycraft from US

    Sleeping too soundly? Get a load of the participial modifier that begins this Asahi article:

    Fearing a flare-up in North Korea at any time, the Defense Agency has abandoned plans for the domestic production of a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and will purchase U.S.-made planes instead, sources said.

    They said the decision was made because strengthened surveillance of airspace around Japan has become a priority, given the uncertain situation on the Korean Peninsula.

    Analysts said it likely would have taken a decade for Japan to deploy a domestically produced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Pentagon operates several UAV versions, so deploying one that fits Defense Agency needs should be no problem, the sources said.

    The aircraft would be used not only for patrol and reconnaissance over Japanese airspace, but could also be used for intelligence gathering from North Korea-even while flying in Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ), which establishes the boundaries for territorial airspace.

    A Defense Agency study team visited the United States in April for a first-hand look at what UAVs actually do. Members focused on high-altitude aircraft like the Global Hawk and Predator as well as the low-altitude Fire Scout and Eagle Eye.

    I don’t know that the DPRK is going to erupt at Japan any time soon–though the SDF should be able to predict better than I can. I do know (this is something I’ve remarked on before) that the feeling of living in Japan is completely different from that of living in the States. If you’re good at spatial relations, you know that map in your head that appears whenever you read the name of a country or think about the location of a city? When you’re in America, of course, the only close-by major countries are Mexico and Canada. Our closest enemy is Cuba, and it hasn’t exactly been making many belligerent noises lately.

    In Japan, you’re within spitting distance of the DPRK, one of the craziest regimes on the planet, which tests missiles by flying them over your head and has been known to sneak onto your shores and snatch your citizens. Moving westward, you also have China, the most populous country in the world, a rising economic competitor whose citizens alternate between gratefully taking jobs and consuming goods created by your enterprises, on the one hand, and demonstrating against you, on the other. It treats nearby democracy Taiwan as a renegade province. Even South Korea, the other democracy in the region, has bitter memories of being occupied by you within the last century and is not always amicable.

    It’s little wonder that everyday citizens don’t think too hard about world politics; you could drive yourself insane. I’m glad the SDF, whose job it is to deal with grim realities, is accelerating its plans, even if it means buying planes from foreigners.

    4 Responses to “SDF to buy unmanned spycraft from US”

    1. John says:

      Hee hee. I’ll start taking the the SDF seriously when I see a Mitsubishi Zero Mark II Jet Fighter.

      Sarcasm aside, I don’t think that would be a bad thing in the medium term, but I’m always worried about Japanese group-think and re-armament.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Slow day at the office, there, bud? : )

      I presume you mean the kind of fighter that stalls midair and collides with passenger jets?

      Okay, not nice. My point of view, which may be Polyannaish, is that SDF self-sufficiency is proceeding slowly enough that the scariest right-wing nuts will be dead by the time it’s accomplished. The groupthink problem won’t have disappeared, of course, but I think the equation of sheer expansion of territory with national glory doesn’t hold very well for people who have grown up thinking of Japan’s dominance in terms of trade, prosperity, and consumption. Of course, nasty climate shifts and natural disasters happen. You can never tell what one of those would bring.

    3. John says:

      I don’t know, Sean. A lot of what we think of as characteristic Japanese political behavior was dug out of the deep freezer during the Meiji restoration. Cultural impulses run deep and can pop up unexpectedly.

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, and some of it was manufactured wholesale (all that codification of “The Way of the [Warrior / Flower Arranger / whatever]).” Maybe there is some kind of itchiness inherent…well, if not genetic, then brought on by a combination of genes, topography, geology, and shared history…in the Japanese character. But the immigrant experience in the States and elsewhere seems to show that peoples can change within a few generations, and prosperity itself has quite a bit to do with it. A while ago, I was complaining to a friend (as I am wont to do) about some vainglorious public works project or other, and he responded dryly that engineers who are busy making tricky escalators can’t be plotting to invade Korea. Well, okay, he didn’t put it quite that way, but that was the gist of it. I don’t think anything, in the short term, is going to edit out the strange combination of insularity and belligerent assertiveness in Japan, but as long as it’s kept diverted into economic development, I’m not too worried.

      Of course, with China nearby and the ever-present possibility of a catastrophic earthquake in Tokyo, the fun possibilities are endless!

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