Japan Current Affairs - 2020

Malabar Exercise 2019: India, Japan, US Naval Exercise begins

The Malabar Exercise 2019, the trilateral maritime exercise between navies of India, Japan and the US began off the coast of Japan. The year 2019 is the 23rd edition of Malabar Exercise.

Key Highlights

Indian Navy: Two frontline indigenously designed and built Indian naval ships participating in exercise are- INS Sahyadri, a multi-purpose guided-missile frigate and INS Kiltan, a ASW (anti-submarine warfare) Corvette. In addition to ships, a P8I (Poseidon Eight India) Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft has also reached Japan for the exercise.

The US Navy: It is being represented by USS McCampbell (DDG-85), a Los Angeles-Class Attack Submarine, and a ‘P8A‘ Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

Japan Navy: known as The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF). It is participating with its JS Kaga, a Izumo class helicopter destroyer, JS Samidare and Choukai, a guided-missile destroyers and a ‘P1’ Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

During the harbour phase, the three partner navies would conduct sports fixtures, official protocol visits, reciprocal ship visits, professional interactions in subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) and social events.

Significance

Malabar 2019 exercise seeks to further strengthen India-Japan-US naval cooperation and enhance interoperability, based on shared values and principles. The exercise involves complex maritime operations in surface, sub-surface and air domains. It also focuses on maritime interdiction operations (MIO), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-air and anti-surface firings. Apart from these it also includes visit board search and seizure (VBSS) and tactical scenario-based exercise at sea.

Thus the participation of Indian naval ships and aircraft in the trilateral exercise would significantly bolster strong maritime bonds of friendship between three participant countries and at the same time it would contribute towards security and stability in region.

Japan’s Hayabusa2 Probe makes 2nd touchdown on asteroid Ryugu

Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe has made a perfect touchdown on a distant asteroid named Ryugu, some 300 million kilometres from Earth. It collected samples from beneath surface in an unprecedented mission that could shed light on origins of solar system.

About Hayabusa2 Mission

Creating History: Before this touchdown by Hayabusa2 probe, a  sub-surface material from a celestial body further away than moon have never been gathered. Thus Japan became 1st country to do so. Hayabusa2 also made history with the creation of the crater on Ryugu’s surface.

Objective: It is intended to collect pristine materials from beneath surface of desolate asteroid as it is believed that collected material could provide insights into what solar system was like at its birth, some 4.6 billion years ago.

Background: It is the successor to JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) 1st asteroid explorer called Hayabusa which is Japanese word for ‘falcon’. In 2010 Hayabusa returned with dust samples from a smaller, potato-shaped asteroid. It was also hailed as scientific triumph despite various setbacks during its epic 7-year odyssey. Then Hayabusa2 Mission was launched in December 2014, with project cost around $270 million. Hayabusa2 mission is a complex multi-year which has also involved sending rovers and robots down to the surface. It is scheduled to return to Earth with its samples in 2020.

1st Touchdown of Hayabusa2: The recent brief landing is 2nd time Hayabusa2 has touched down on desolate asteroid Ryugu. The 1st touchdown was in February 2019, when it landed briefly on asteroid Ryugu and fired a bullet into surface to puff up dust for collection just before blasting back to its holding position.

Importance of 2nd Touchdown: The 2nd Touchdown required special preparations as any problems could have meant that probe would lose precious materials already gathered during its 1st landing. It is the last major part of Hayabusa2’s mission, and when probe returns to Earth in 2020 to drop off its samples, scientists hope to learn more about history of solar system and even origin of life on Earth.

Ryugu, in in Japanese means Dragon Palace. It refers to a castle at bottom of ocean in an ancient Japanese tale.