China's weapons display for victory parade: Japan not attending (19 photos and story)
The prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, will not attend Victory Day events in Beijing tomorrow to mark the end of the second world war, partly in protest against China’s military build-up in regional waters, Japanese media said.
The chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said Abe had decided against attending commemorative events 3 September – the day China marks the success of its “war of resistance against Japanese aggression” – so he could oversee the passage of controversial security legislation at home.
The upper house of Japan’s parliament is debating a series of Abe-inspired bills that would expand the role of the country’s military, including fighting overseas for the first time since the end of the war.
But the Sankei newspaper quoted official sources as saying Abe was also concerned that his presence in Beijing could be interpreted as accepting China’s increasingly aggressive activity near disputed island territories in the region.
China has been condemned for building artificial islands in areas of the South China Sea that are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries.
It is also embroiled in a simmering dispute with Japan over ownership of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, called the Senkakus by Japan and the Diaoyu by China.
Abe and other world leaders had been invited to attend the anniversary events, which will include a spectacular Victory Day parade in Tiananmen Square, featuring 12,000 troops, conventional and nuclear missiles and more than 100 aircraft.
Officials in Beijing said the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and at least 10 other leaders would attend the event on 3 September, one day after Japan formally surrendered to the allies aboard the USS Missouri in 1945.
But most western leaders, including the US president, Barack Obama, and the British prime minister, David Cameron, are expected to shun the event. The South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, will reportedly take part in a ceremony to mark the anniversary, but has not decided whether or not to attend the parade.
Large swaths of Beijing went into shutdown at the weekend as tanks, missile launchers and thousands of troops poured into the city centre for a rehearsal.
Photographs posted on social media sites showed military planes swooping over the heart of the capital and a helicopter formation spelling out the number 70 in the unusually blue skies above.
(Chinese soldiers disembark from trucks Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 1 amid preparations for a major military parade. (Wu Hong / European Pressphoto Agency))
“It was a feast for the eyes,” the state-run Global Times reported on Monday. “The populace is embracing the parade with excitement.”
An opinion piece in the same newspaper downplayed suggestions the parade was solely intended as an attack on Japan.
“The west tends to perceive the parade from the perspectives of realpolitik and international relations,” wrote Song Luzheng, a Chinese academic.
“They also argue that China will use historical issues as a tool to contend with Japan. Some sinologists even say that China is taking advantage of history to consolidate the legitimacy of the ruling party.”
In fact, “the first purpose of the parade is to remind the world of China’s status as a victorious nation, which came at a huge cost.”
(Japanese March across Great Wall of China during the Sino-japanese War, 1937)
Almost daily reports about alleged Japanese atrocities during the second world war suggest otherwise.
“Japanese soldiers fried the flesh of a Chinese civilian and ate it during [the second world war],” Xinhua, China’s official news agency, reported last week.
News that Abe will not attend dashes any suggestion that he may have used the visit for a bilateral meeting with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
(MAY 8 1943 Japanese massacre thousands of Chinese at Changjiao Japanese soldiers bayonet Chinese prisoners in Nanking)
Instead, officials in Tokyo hope to set up a meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly later next month, or at November’s Apec summit in the Philippines, Kyodo quoted government sources as saying.
The pair held their first formal talks on the sidelines of last November’s Apec summit in Beijing.
Relations between Asia’s two biggest economic powers have been severely strained over the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute and Chinese claims that Japan has failed to atone for wartime atrocities committed in occupied China before and during the war.
Last week Abe marked the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender with a statement in which he extended his “sincere condolences” to the country’s wartime victims, but stopped short of issuing a fresh apology.
Beijing criticised the omission, but its reaction was more muted than some had expected.
While Xi is expected to mention Japan’s wartime aggression next month, the Chinese foreign ministry said his speech would be forward-looking and “not directed at any third parties”.
Lets take a look at some of the arsenal that will be on display. No doubt, China will use this opportunity to flex at the world.
Leading the airshow practice is a giant KJ-2000 AEWC aircraft, flanked by J-10 fighters of the Bayi aviation aerobatics team.
A Z-10 attack helicopter escorts a Z-8 transport helicopter bearing the Chinese flag in the rehearsal.
The ATF-10 missile launcher vehicle uses a ZBD-07 armored chassis, carrying 8 ready-to-launch, fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles. The ATF-10 missile has a range of ten kilometers, making this missile akin to an anti-tank sniper able to pick off enemy armored vehicles while staying out of danger.
YJ-12 is China’s deadliest anti-ship missile. An 8 meter long, 2-ton missile, the YJ-12 can reach speeds above Mach 3.5, and a range of about 400km (depending on flight profile). The YJ-12 is currently air-launched from H-6 bombers, though surface and ship launched variants are not out of the question.
DF-26 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) is perhaps the biggest star of the parade. Filling out a gap between the smaller DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and the DF-31 and DF-41 ICBMs, it’s a solid fueled, 4000km-range missile, transported on a 12X12 TEL vehicle for quick off-road launches. The DF-26’s range allows it to attack targets as far away as Guam and Australia, guided by a variety of navigation technologies. While the initial DF-26 model is likely geared to attack military bases, future variants could carry anti-ship warheads or long-range hypersonic glide vehicles (which have the potential to reach Hawaii or Alaska).
The ZTZ-99A main battle tank will be one of the main parade attractions. Weighing over 60 tons, the heavily armored ZTZ-99A is the largest tank in the world that’s not of US or allied design.
PGZ-07 is China’s frontline air defense vehicle. Its medium-armored chassis carries a twin-barreled 35mm cannon turret that fires smart shells, which are programmed to explode at precise distances, making them ideal for taking down aircraft, drones and missiles.
For the real stars of the show, the military has enlisted a squad of falcons and monkeys “to help protect … jets from the threat of flying birds,” state media reported Tuesday. Trainers at an unspecified air force base in Beijing have been methodically dispatching macaques to scamper up trees and destroy the birds’ nests, then sending falcons to frighten them away.
“Two of the macaques, named ‘Qitian’ and ‘Ziyun,’ can get rid of a nest in approximately one minute,” said a report on china.org.cn, a news website overseen by China’s State Council Information Office. “[The trainer] needs to shout ‘hurry up’ at times to encourage the hesitant monkeys, who receive rewards like corn for a job well done.”
“The falcons do not need to prey on other birds; their presence simply drives [them] off,” the report continued. “They are usually launched two hours before the jets, with three or four falcons needed each day to do the job.”