Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Schröder's D-Day Landing and Other Firsts

The China Daily exhorts Japan to "learn from Germany's example," noting that "[Gerhard] Schroeder was the first German Chancellor invited to commemorate the D-Day landings that hastened the victory of the Allied Forces and led to the collapse of the Adolf Hitler-led Nazi regime" (Wu Yixue, "Japan Should Heed Germany's Actions," June 8, 2004). That is another first for Schröder, who, five years ago, became the first Chancellor to take the German military into combat in its post-war history:
The Nato air strikes in Yugoslavia saw Germany taking part in military combat for the first time since World War II.

And in another first, Germany's Luftwaffe fighters flew alongside British Royal Air Force jets to attack Serb military targets. ("Historic Day for Germany," BBC, March 25, 1999)
It appears that Japan is indeed learning from Germany's example, though not in the sense that the China Daily intended:
The Japan air self-defense force flew its first humanitarian mission into Iraq as part of coalition air forces, landing at Tallil Air Base on March 3.

While self defense forces have previously conducted humanitarian deployments to other locations in the world, this is the first time Japanese airmen have deployed to a conflict zone since the end of World War II. (Maj. Dave Honchul, U.S. Central Command Air Forces-Forward Public Affairs, "JASDF Flies First Humanitarian Mission into Iraq," Air Force Link, March 4, 2004)
Other recent firsts of the multinational empire:
  • India and China have launched their first ever joint naval exercises in a sign that ties between the two countries are warming. . . .

    Ties between China and India - which fought a brief border war in 1962 - have been improving lately, and both sides are seeking to expand trade. . . .

    This is only the second time ever that China's People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is conducting a joint exercise with another navy.

    The first one was conducted with Pakistani war ships off the coast of Shanghai recently. (BBC, "India and China Make Naval History," November 14, 2003)

  • On Aug. 6 to 12 this year, forces from five member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), namely, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, took part in a joint anti-terror exercise named "Coalition 2003".

    It was the first exercise of its kind within the framework of the SCO, an organization founded primarily to crack down on the " three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism. It was also the first time China had pitched in multilateral joint military maneuvers. . . .

    Meanwhile, Chinese delegates were also invited to observe military exercises in Russia, France, the US, Thailand and Singapore.

    China this year sent its peace-keeping forces abroad twice, including a mission to Liberia with the largest number of Chinese peace-keeping soldiers in history. (Xinhua, "Military Diplomacy Scores New Success," December 29, 2003)

  • NATO and Russia are conducting their first joint exercise to test the interoperability of missile defense systems. ("NATO, Russia Conduct First Joint Missile Defense Exercise," March 11, 2004)

  • Reflecting a change in attitudes toward the Constitution and the Self- Defense Forces, a recent poll by The Asahi Shimbun found for the first time that a majority of respondents favored revising the nation's supreme laws. Fifty-three percent of those responding said there was a need to revise the Constitution, up from 47 percent in a 2001 survey. The percentage of those who said pacifist Article 9 of the Constitution should be revised jumped to 31 percent, up from 17 percent in 2001. Of 3,000 eligible voters canvassed, valid responses were received from 1,945 individuals April 11 and 12. 67% of Minshuto supporters back constitutional revisions. . . . .

    Such debate is also reflected in different views by party line on the Constitution.

    An analysis shows that Minshuto supporters were more clearly in favor of constitutional revisions than LDP supporters.

    Sixty-seven percent of Minshuto supporters said the Constitution should be revised, while 53 percent of LDP supporters and 52 percent of unaffiliated voters agreed. . . .

    Minshuto supporters were also more in favor of revising Article 9, with 42 percent saying the article should be changed, while only 36 percent of LDP supporters favored revising Article 9. (Editorial, "More Than Half Now in Favor of Reshaping Constitution," The Asahi Shimbun, May 11,2004)

  • 75-day detention of 3 activists is just unacceptable.

    To arrest someone for handing out leaflets is astonishing. To detain the person for as long as 75 days in a police cell is, frankly, quite appalling. Yet, that is precisely what happened to three activists of a citizens group who were arrested for unlawful entry when they went to a Self-Defense Forces housing complex in Tachikawa, Tokyo, and distributed fliers protesting the SDF presence in Iraq.

    The Hachioji branch of the Tokyo District Court granted bail, but only after they admitted on the first day of trial that they had handed out leaflets. . . .

    In mid-March, the human rights group, Amnesty International, declared that the defendants' freedom of expression as guaranteed under the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was "violated.'' The organization recognized them as "prisoners of conscience.'' It was the first time Amnesty had used the prisoners of conscience description in a legal case in Japan. (Editorial, "Justice Gone Awry," The Asahi Shimbun, May 21, 2002)

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