Fears that China’s most recent land-grabbing moves might involve Japan prompted officials to redeploy advanced ballistic missiles provided and maintained by Lockheed Martin.
Territorial expansion is a basic tenant of the Chinese Communist Party, so China’s neighbors are understandably alarmed over the latest acts of aggression at the Indian border. By summer 2020, The Land of the Rising Sun intends to aim Patriot PAC-3 MSE Air Defense Missile Systems at four airbases in Chinese airspace. The next-generation PAC-3s have a much longer range than the ones they replace. The new missiles also have added firepower. According to Lockheed Martin, PAC-3 MSEs can “hit to kill” incoming ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, or aircraft.
In a related development, the Indian government gave the military additional funds to counter China’s threats.
The Indo-Chinese Border: The Latest Battlefront
For months, international tensions have centered on China’s territorial claims to the South China Sea. Most of South Korea’s and Japan’s petroleum passes through this waterway in tankers from the Middle East. Recently, the stage has shifted to the border China shares with India. The parties have negotiated this issue since the 1980s, but there is still no end in sight. Until May 2020, the two forces had glared at one another menacingly, but they had not exchanged gunfire since the 1960s. Suddenly, there is a looming possibility of a nuclear exchange.
At the conclusion of the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the warring nations almost literally drew a line in the sand. The LAC (Line of Actual Control) is the tentative India/China border. Further complicating matters, most of the LAC runs through Tibet. China’s control over Tibet is not universally recognized.
Indian road construction in the disputed Galwan River valley is the immediate source of the latest tensions. During a June 2020 battle, India said 20 soldiers were killed or wounded; 10 others were taken prisoner. Chinese casualties were unclear, but they included 15 prisoners. The two sides exchanged prisoners a few days later.
India responded not with military force, but by sending 12,000 additional workers to complete the disputed road. China has taken similar actions on its side of the LAC. Both countries insist the border dispute is a minor matter which will not escalate, but no one knows for sure.
Japan and China
To many observers, China’s border clash with India is simply part of a larger overall strategy to expand its territory. According to some, that strategy involves the long-disputed Senkaku Islands. This uninhabited island chain lies between Taiwan and Japan just off the coast of China. All three nations claim the islands as their own.
Although they are small and uninhabited, the Senkaku Islands might have considerable natural resources. The commercial fishing is excellent, and there could be large oil deposits in the area. The islands are also a gateway to the aforementioned South China Sea.
In the years following World War II, as Imperial Japan’s overseas territory was dismantled, the Senkaku Islands were a hot topic. A private individual purchased three of them in the 1970s, and China informally agreed to Japanese sovereignty.
Then, in 2012, the Japanese government acquired the islands and made plans to develop their resources. In response, the Chinese created the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. Aircraft entering this area, which includes the Senkaku Islands, must identify themselves or risk being shot down.
China has long felt hemmed in by the Japanese Islands and Phillipine Islands off its Pacific coast. If there is an opportunity for expansion, the Chinese might take it.
The ongoing dispute matters a lot to the United States. The Senkaku Islands are part of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security’s area. If these Islands are threatened and Japan defends them, the Americans are obliged to assist the Japanese.
Contractors in Japan
The Land of the Rising Sun is not just one of America’s most important allies in the region. If war comes with China, Japan is on the front line. A firm security presence in Japan is essential, but American soldiers are far from a welcome sight in Japan.
World War II ended 75 years ago, but its scars remain. Many Japanese families watched as their sons fell to American invaders on remote rocks in the Central Pacific. The proposed invasion of the Japanese home islands would have been even bloodier.
Immediately after the war, most Japanese grudgingly accepted American domination, but their tolerance waned over the years. Around 2010 amid rising tensions, the Americans made tentative plans to relocate much of the sprawling U.S. base on Okinawa to Guam. Tensions with China over the South China Sea put those plans on hold.
Contractors are much more politically palatable. Japanese politicians can claim that the American military presence is limited. U.S. politicians can say the same thing to people at home who want to “bring the boys home.”
Furthermore, contractors have what many young servicemembers do not have. Contractors have practical experience, either as law enforcement officers or as armed contractors in another theater, such as Iraq. As a result, contractors are better able to make decisions under pressure, at least in some cases.
Finally, today’s sophisticated weapons, like the Lockheed Martin missiles, require a sophisticated touch. Regular servicemembers simply do not have these skills, but contractors have them in abundance.
Injury Compensation Available
Tensions with China have not reached the boiling point yet. Nevertheless, Japan is a “war zone” for DBA purposes. Therefore, if contractors are injured in Japan, they are eligible for compensation.
The injury need not be combat-related. The DBA also applies to injuries sustained in falls, motor vehicle crashes, and other accidents. Furthermore, the DBA applies to toxic exposure, hearing loss, and other occupational disease claims.
Procedurally, injured victims must report their injuries to their supervisors as quickly as possible. This report must be in writing, which means electronic communication might be insufficient. This rule is not easy to follow in occupational disease cases. Most victims do not run to doctors as soon as they have trouble hearing or breathing. If the report comes as soon as possible, that is usually okay. Victims can always withdraw their claims later, without penalty, if the need arises.
Shortly thereafter, the victim, victim’s attorney, and insurance company usually attend a settlement conference. A Claims Examiner reviews the medical evidence and tries to facilitate a settlement between the two sides. Since limited evidence is available and attorneys are unable to make legal arguments, this conference usually fails.
The next step is a trial-like hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Insurance companies know that, at this hearing, attorneys have free reign. Therefore, many cases settle on victim-friendly terms prior to the ALJ hearing.
Contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, PA for more information about available DBA benefits.