Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Japan's representative to Trump

On February 20th, Rep Long led a delegation of 10 members of congress to Japan where they briefly met with PM Abe. [VIDEO].

White House "listening" session with the Trump Caucus, February 16, 2017

CONGRESSMAN COLLINS: Well, Mr. President, we're all honored to be here. This is really our Trump caucus reconvening for the first time in a little bit, but our first meeting was the first part of March [2016]. Duncan Hunter [great uncle on the Bataan Death March] and I both endorsed you on February 24th, a week from tomorrow. So it’s the one-year anniversary. But this is the Trump caucus, reconvening, and we’re just so honored you’re taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us.

CONGRESSMAN LONG: Billy Long, Missouri 7th. And I’m co-chair of the Congressional Study Group on Japan. I’m going to be leading the delegation to Japan Saturday, meeting with Prime Minister Abe on Monday.

THE PRESIDENT: He’s a great guy.

CONGRESSMAN LONG: So if you will tell me how many golf balls he lost in Florida. I don't know how many House of Representative golf balls to take. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: He played well, I'll tell you. And you know, we played with Ernie Els. I called up Billy -- I said, see if you can get me somebody good to play with; I have the Prime Minister of Japan who wants to play golf. So we get to the front of the club, and Ernie Els is waiting for us. He said, when you're ready. So we had a good time.

No, he played very nicely, and he’s a great guy. You're going to like him. I like him.

CONGRESSMAN LONG: Oh, yeah, I’ve met him the last three or four years -- met with him there. He’s a great guy. And I knew you all would hit it off because you're both people persons and a great personalities.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we had a good feeling.

CONGRESSMAN LONG: So I knew you guys would get along good.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I always said about President Obama, it’s great to play golf, but play golf with heads of countries. And, by the way, people like yourself, when you're looking for votes, don't play with your friends who you play with every week. (Laughter.) Does that make sense?

CONGRESSMAN LONG: Yeah, it does.

THE PRESIDENT: I hit it off with the Prime Minister. He is a fabulous guy. He’s -- loves his country. And we spoke all day long and well into the night. As you know, they launched a missile in North Korea, and we were discussing that. So it was really something.

But have a good time over there.

CONGRESSMAN LONG: I will.

THE PRESIDENT: And give him my regards.

CONGRESSMAN LONG: Ambassador Sasae was in my district for two full days, and he mentioned he was with you down there to play golf.

THE PRESIDENT: He was.

CONGRESSMAN LONG: He’s another great guy -- he and his wife both.

THE PRESIDENT:
They're all good.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tuesday in Washington, February 21, 2017

Monday is a National Holiday in the United States


THE BATTLE FOR SYRIA: INTERNATIONAL RIVALRY IN THE NEW MIDDLE EAST. 2/21, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Project on Middle East Political Science, Elliott School, GWU. Speaker: Author Christopher Phillips, Senior Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London.

A WORLD IN DISARRAY: AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY AND THE CRISIS OF THE OLD ORDER. 2/21, Noon-1:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Aspen Institute. Speaker: Author Richard Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations; Moderator: Walter Isaacson, President, CEO, Aspen Institute.

GRAND STRATEGY IN THE AGE OF TRUMP. 2/21, Noon-1:45pm. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Author Eliot Cohen, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies, SAIS, Former counselor, Department of State; Charles Edel, Professor, Naval War college, former International Affairs Fellow, Department of State; Hal Brands, Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs, SAIS. Moderator: Walter Russell Mead, Distinguished Scholar in Strategy and Statesmanship, Hudson Institute. Location: Hudson Institute, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 400. Contact: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/grand-strategy-in-the-age-of-trump-registration-31882287781 PURCHASE BOOK: http://amzn.to/2kXBn79

DEFENSE PRIORITIES FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. 2/21, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Robert Hale, Fellow, Booz Allen Hamilton; Lt. Gen. Mike Moeller (Ret.), Vice President, Business Development and International Programs, Pratt and Whitney; Thomas Wright, Director, Project on International Order and Strategy, Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center on the US and Europe, Project on International Order and Strategy; Moderator: Michael E. O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Co-Director, Sydney Stein, Jr. Chair, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, Director of Research, Foreign Policy.

TAMING THE IMPERIAL IMAGINATION: HOW THE BRITISH EMPIRE CAME TO KNOW AFGHANISTAN, AND WHY IT MATTERS. 2/21, 12:30-1:45pm. Sponsor: Sigur Center for Asian Studies, Elliott School, George Washington University. Speaker: Martin Bayly, Research Officer, Postdoctoral Fellow, British Academy, London School of Economics and Political Science.

A NEW WAY FORWARD IN AFGHANISTAN: HOW THE UNITED STATES SHOULD MODIFY ITS STRATEGY. 2/21, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Center for New American Security (CNAS). Speakers: Christopher D. Kolenda, Adjunct Senior Fellow, CNAS; Ambassador Ronald Neumannm President, American Academy of Diplomacy; Ambassador James Cunningham, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Michèle Flournoy, Chief Executive Officer, CNAS.

THE BATTLE FOR SYRIA: REGIONAL RIVALRY IN THE POST-AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST. 2/21, 2:30-4:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University. Speaker: Author Christopher Phillips, Senior Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London.

HOW TO THINK ABOUT JAPAN’S TWENTIETH CENTURY HISTORY. 2/21, 2:30-4:00pm. Sponsor: CSIS Japan Chair and the Government of Japan. Speakers: William Inboden, Executive Director, William Powers, Jr. Chair, Clements Center for National Security, University of Texas, Austin; Diana Kim, Assistant Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Daqing Yang, Associate Professor, Elliott School, GWU; Moderator: Michael J. Green, Senior Vice President for Asia, Japan Chair, CSIS.

IN THE NEWS: TRUMP, RUSSIA, & NATIONAL SECURITY. 2/21, 3:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: Mortara Center for International Studies, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. Speakers: Colin Kahl, Associate Professor, Security Studies Program, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Former Deputy Assistant to the President, Former National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Paul Pillar, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for Security Studies.

THE LONG DÉTENTE: CHANGING CONCEPTS OF SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE, 1950s-1980s. 2/21, 3:30-5:00pm. Sponsor: History and Public Policy Program, Woodrow Wilson Center. Speakers: Editor Oliver Bange, Senior Historian, Center for Military History and Social Science; Editor Paul Villaumen, Professor, Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen; Amb. James E. Goodby, Former Ambassador to Finland, Research Fellow, Hoover Institute; Moderator: Christian Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program, WWC. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Japan is Great

Japan is Great” Introduction
by Nakano Koichi, Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Sophia UniversityJapan Focus, February 1, 2017, Volume 15, Issue 3, Number 4
While it is important to note the eerie similarity of the “Japan is great” boom in the media today with that of the 1930s, as this article does, it also bears emphasizing that this is hardly a uniquely Japanese phenomenon. As the following article indicates, while the self-congratulatory praise of Japan by the Japanese media was temporarily dormant in the postwar period, it energetically re-emerged during the 1990s and since then, has become more and more vociferous. But this increase in praise has not come about merely as a spontaneous reaction to the decline of self-confidence in the aftermath of the collapse of the bubble economy.
The reassertion of national pride and identity by the Japanese has also been actively encouraged as healthy and desirable by the United States. As the Cold War came to an end, Washington pressured Japan to shake off its postwar self-constraints and project its influence and political power (even its military power) in international affairs more forcefully. This was demanded of Japan in order to make it better serve the goals of American foreign policy. (e.g. Michael Green’s “Japan Is Back: Why Tokyo's New Assertiveness Is Good for Washington”).
In the United States itself, it has been pointed out that Ronald Reagan, as president between 1981 and 1989, ushered in a new era of patriotic language, including symbolically, the sign-off phrase “God Bless America” that has been standard presidential rhetoric ever since (See here). In Japan, Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro, Reagan’s counterpart in the 1980s, gave new force to the nationalist cause, which included not only historical revisionism but also rearmament, by couching it in rhetoric of iconoclastic reformism that claims to confront postwar taboos, constraints, and conventions (See here).
To date, the discourses of right-wing leaders of both countries continue to echo one another. your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving’s call to “Make America Great Again” was preceded by Abe Shinzo’s electoral slogan “Take Back Japan.” In his New Year Reflections in 2015, Abe reiterated his determination to “make Japan a country that once again shines on the world’s center stage”; then in 2016 he pledged, “This will be a year in which Japan truly shines on the world’s center stage”; and again in 2017 he reiterated that “we will hoist the flag of Proactive Contribution to Peace even higher and make Japan shine in the center of a worldwide stage”.
It matters greatly that Japan is not just “great” but that it is recognized as such by the world, and by the United States in particular. It remains to be seen whether Abe’s “patriotic” fervor will be deemed sufficiently supportive of US military goals in the eyes of Trump who declared his inauguration a National Day of Patriotic Devotion. Trump would certainly demand from the Japanese no less than Tokyo serving Washington’s interests first and foremost. NK
by Shirana Masakazu and Ikeda Teiichi, Translation by Joseph Essertier

Thursday, February 16, 2017

US-Japan Week

US-JAPAN WEEK IN WASHINGTON, DC
JAPAN’S TRADE POLICY IN AN ERA OF GROWING ANTI-GLOBALISM. 2/27, 2:00-3:30pm. Speakers: Vinod K. Aggarwal, Professor, Travers Family Senior Faculty Fellow, Department of Political Science, Director, APEC Study Center, University of California, Berkeley; Yukiko Fukagawa, Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University; Takashi Terada, Professor, Department of Political Science,  Doshisha University, Operating Advisor,  U.S.-Japan Research Institute; Shujiro Urata, Dean, Professor, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University; Moderator: Mireya Solís, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for East Asia Policy StudiesPhilip Knight Chair in Japan Studies. 
PLANT SCIENCE RESEARCH FOR GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY. 2/ 27, 2:00-3:30pm. Speakers: Hiroshi Ezura, Professor, Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba; Jocelyn Kenneth Campbell Rose, Professor, Plant Biology Section, School of Integrative Plant Sciences, Cornell University; James J. Giovannoni, Professor, ARS/BTI, Ithaca NY, Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Plant Biology, Cornell University; Tohru Ariizumi, Associate Professor, Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba. 
ASIA AND THE WORLD AS SEEN BY BORDER STUDIES: IMPLICATIONS FOR US-JAPAN RELATIONS. 2/ 28, 10:00 –11:30am. Speakers: Edward Boyle, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law and Center for Asia-Pacific Future Studies, Kyushu University; Akihiro Iwashita, Professor, Hokkaido University/Kyushu University; Mikhail Alexseev, Professor, Department of Political Science, San Diego State University; Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Professor, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria; Tony Payan, Fellow & Director, Rice University. 
U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION: NEW CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE. 2/28, 1:30-4:10pm,. Speakers: James L. Schoff, Senior Fellow, Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Shunji Yanai, Advisory Board, USJI / Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Japan Embassy, U.S. / Judge, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea / University Professor, Waseda University; Michael H. Armacost, Advisory Board, USJI / Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and the Philippines / Shorenstein APARC Fellow, Stanford University; Fumiaki Kubo, Director, USJI /Professor, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, the University of Tokyo; Masayuki Tadokoro, Professor, International Relations, Keio University; Aiji Tanaka, Operating Advisor, USJI / Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University; Jeffrey Hornung, Fellow, Security and Foreign Affairs Program, Sasakawa USA; Bruce Stokes, Director, Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center. 
US-JAPAN ALLIANCE AFTER THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 3/1, 2:00-3:30pm. Speaker: Koji Murata, Operating Advisor, USJI, Professor, Faculty of Law Department of Political Science, Doshisha University; Benjamin Self, Vice President, Mansfield Foundation. 
INCLUSIVE AND EQUITABLE QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL IN THE CONTEXTS OF SDGS: INCLUDING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. 3/2, 10:00-11:30pm. Speaker: Miki Sugimura, Vice Chair, USJI, Vice President, Academic Exchange, Sophia University, Professor, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Education, Sophia University. 
MIGRATION AND ANTI-GLOBALIZATION IN NORTH AMERICA: VIEWS FROM MEXICO AND JAPAN. 3/2, 2:00-3:30pm. Speaker: Fuminori Minamikawa, Professor, Faculty of International Relations, Ritsumeikan University; Mariana Gabarrot Arenas, Professor, Institute of Technology, University of Tec de Monterrey, Mexico. Moderator: Keiji Nakatsuji, Operating Advisor, USJI, Professor, Faculty of International Relation, Ritsumeikan University. 
IS SHINZO ABE’S JAPAN SPECIAL TO DONALD TRUMP’S AMERICA?. 3/2, 6:00-7:30pm. Speaker: Takashi Terada, Operating Advisor, USJI / Professor, Faculty of Law Department of Political Science, Doshisha University. [students only]

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Monday in Washington, February 13, 2017


ASIA’S ECONOMIC CHALLENGES 2/13, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor SAIS,Johns Hopkins. Speaker: Frederic Neumann, Co-head, Asian Economic Research, Managing Director, Global Research, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC). Moderator: John Lipsky, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs.

click to order
THE END OF THE ASIAN CENTURY. 2/13, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Global Taiwan Institute. Speaker: Author Michael Auslin, Resident Scholar, Director, Japan Studies, AEI.

AFGHANISTAN: PROSPECTS FOR 2017 AND BEYOND. 2/13, 12:15-1:45pm. Sponsor: New America. Speakers: Amb. Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the US; Ioannis Koskinas, Senior Fellow, International Security Program, New America, CEO, Hoplite Group; Moderator: Peter Bergen, Vice President, New America.

PRESIDENT'S INBOX: U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS. 2/13, 12:30pm. Sponsor: Council on Foreign Relations. Speakers: Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow, Director, Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Matthew P. Goodman, William E. Simon Chair, Political Economy, Senior Adviser, Asian Economics, CSIS; Evan S. Medeiros, Managing Director, Practice Head, Asia, Eurasia Group; Moderator: Evan L.R. Osnos, Staff Writer, New Yorker. Webcast.


 RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM: DEAD OR ALIVE? 2/13, 12:30-1:30pm, Lunch. Sponsor: Johnson Center, Hoover Institution. Speaker: Author, David Davenport, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution. Location: 2456 Rayburn House Office Building.

BREAKING ALEPPO. 2/13, 1:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speaker: TBA. Report Release.

2017 MORSE TARGET OF WASHINGTON' MOVERS AND SHAKERS ON JAPAN. 2/13, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Asia Policy Point. Speakers: Dr. Ronald Morse, former Head of Wilson Center's Asia Program; Commentator Dennis Halpin, Former House Foreign Affairs Asia staffer.

THE WARS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW. 2/13, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: US Institute of Peace. Speaker: Amb. Douglas Lute, Former NATO Ambassador, White House Official; Moderator: Robin Wright, Joint Fellow, US Institute of Peace, Wilson Center.

AHS: THE UNQUIET FRONTIER - NATO'S FRONTIER AND U.S. ALLIANCES IN CRISIS. 2/13, 4:45-6:30pm. Sponsor: SAIS, Johns Hopkins. Speaker: author, Jakub Grygiel, Professor, SAIS, Johns Hopkins. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Who Spends Time with Abe?

Who are the frequent visitors to the Prime Minister's Office

By 北川開Nikkei Shimbun Reporter

Originally published in Japanese in Nikkei Shimbun (1/29/2017)
[面会多い相手は?安倍首相の4年間、データで解剖  ]
Provisional translation by APP interns for scholarly exchange.

How does Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spend the day as the head of the government? A look at the prime minister’s tightly scheduled meetings throughout the day will give us a picture of where the administration’s priorities lie, as well as Abe’s relationship with people surrounding him. Using data accumulated for the Nikkei Shimbun’s column “Prime Minister’s Office [Shusho Kantei]” that appears daily in the paper’s Politics section, we have done an analysis of Prime Minister Abe’s four years since his return to the premiership.

“Abe’s most frequent visitor” in the past four years has been the cabinet’s top intelligence official, Director of Cabinet Intelligence Shigeru Kitamura. Kitamura reports to Abe on confidential matters ranging from diplomacy and security to elections that the cabinet intelligence and research office compiles. Kitamura is often seen visiting Abe multiple times a day. Occasionally, he carries necessary information to the PM at his vacation home in Yamanashi Prefecture. Kitamura had worked under the first Abe administration as an executive secretary to the prime minister and supported Abe through that challenging period.

At the Center is “2A+S”

A reporter, who is assigned to cover the prime minister’s daily activities, waits at the door to the Prime Minister’s Office [Kantei] and ask everyone who goes through the door whether he/she met with Abe. Kitamura always tells the reporter “yes” but nothing else.

The second most frequent visitor has been the former vice-minister for foreign affairs Akitaka Saiki. Abe has known Saiki well ever since he served as an English-language interpreter for Abe’s father Shintaro Abe when the senior Abe was foreign minister. Saiki, the foreign ministry’s top administrative official, frequently visited the Kantei to keep Abe abreast of events and receive instructions. In this way, the Abe administration emphasizes Abe’s direct control of the foreign ministry. Abe’s weight in negotiations with foreign counterparts has been increasing, and Japanese diplomats, more than ever, cannot take actions without Abe’s instructions.

The third was Secretary General of the National Security Secretariat Shotaro Yachi. He served under the first Abe administration as a foreign vice-minister and is described as Abe’s brain in diplomacy. In the U.S., Russian, and Chinese governments the organization that reports direct to the head of the state wields influence. One example is the U.S. National Security Council. Yachi has acted as the counterpart to these organizations, and has arranged Abe’s summit diplomacy from behind the scenes.

Meetings between Abe, Kitamura, Yachi, and senior officials from the foreign and defense ministries are held regularly, generally twice a month. The highest-ranking uniformed officer of the SDF, Joint Chief of Staff Katsutoshi Kawano has also been a member of that group. The meetings provide a framework for discussing matters significant to the country’s security policy.

Among politicians, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has been the fourth most frequent visitor, followed by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso. Suga is often in attendance when Abe meets with important visitors. Aso comes with senior officials from the finance ministry for reporting, then usually stays behind to talk with the prime minister alone. While the ministry officials are there, the meeting revolves around the government’s financial policy. During their private conversation, Abe and Aso likely discuss and exchange opinions about political decision making.

Abe, Aso, Suga and the former Minister of Economic Revitalization, Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari, the so-called 3A+S, were the core of the Abe administration. Since Amari resigned the ministerial post in 2016 as a result of a political-fund scandal, the “2A+S” has been in charge of running the administration.

The sixth most frequent visitor, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko (former deputy chief cabinet secretary, Upper House) and the eighth, Minister in Charge of Empowerment of All Citizens Katsunobu Kato (former deputy chief cabinet secretary, Lower House) had been regulars at the prime minister’s office during their terms as deputy CCS. On mornings of the day Abe is scheduled to go to the Diet, both houses’ deputy CCSs participate, without fail, in a Diet preparation session for the prime minister.

Unknowable Inner Meetings inside Kantei

News reporters in charge of the prime minister must remain near the entrance to the Kantei when talking to people and are not allowed to go inside rooms. Therefore, if a person who works inside the Kantei meets and talks with the prime minister, that meeting may not appear in the “Prime Minister’s Office.” According to a high-ranking government official, a meeting is held every day between the prime minister, the chief cabinet secretary, deputy chief cabinet secretary, and executive secretary to the prime minister in charge of policies. By meeting every day, the core members of the administration at the Kantei confirm basic policy directions and avoid inconsistent remarks. Even without a particular agenda, just meeting with each other regularly gives a sense of unity.

Abe’s office is on the same floor as Suga’s, increasing the chances they meet much more often than what is reported.

Among agencies, senior officials from the ministry of foreign affairs, the ministry of finance, the ministry of defense, the ministry of economy, trade and industry, and the cabinet office have been the ones frequenting the Kantei. As for annual visits by officials above the level of director-general of each ministry, the number of visits by senior officials of the foreign and defense ministries greatly increased in 2016 compared with the previous three years.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had the highest number by far of visits to the prime minister’s office, due to the many significant diplomatic exchanges that occurred in 2016, including the Ise-Shima G7 Summit in May and the Japan-Russia summit meetings.

If we only look at the Administration’s fourth year, the defense ministry’s Director General for Defense Policy Satoshi Maeda was the fifth most frequent visitor. It reflects the weight the administration placed on managing the threats posed by an escalation of North Korean nuclear missile development and Chinese maritime advancement in the South and the East China Seas.

Meetings held with finance ministry officials have been slightly fewer than in past administrations, according to a source close to the prime minister. Although METI officials did not come to the Kantei as much, Takaya Imai, an executive secretary to the prime minister (policy) and a former METI bureaucrat, has likely been acting as a bridge between Abe and the ministry and helped Abe exert his influence. Meanwhile, the cabinet office is taking the initiative in the policy of the dynamic engagement of all citizens and work-style reform to increase its leadership presence.

Discuss Policy Over Noodles

Lunch and dinner meetings are good for developing friendly relationships. Besides the Kantei visitors, the Nikkei Shimbun looked into the prime minister’s favorite restaurants and dinner partners.

The most frequently used restaurant has been “ORIGAMI”, a restaurant in the Capitol Hotel Tokyu. So far during the second Abe administration, the prime minister has dined at the restaurant a total of 40 times. A majority of his dining partners have been people close to Abe such as executive secretaries and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga. It seems he uses ORIGAMI when he wants to have a casual dinner meeting.

The prime minister’s favorite choice from the menu is pork rib ramen noodles, priced at 2,730 yen including tax. Last December, former Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto, currently a legal and policy advisor to the Nippon Ishin no Kai, joined Abe for a steak lunch. The hotel has many exits for vehicles, making it easy for a guest to leave without being seen by the press.

Traditional Japanese-style restaurants [ryotei] have generally been chosen for meetings with business leaders. One of the venues is Arisugawa Shimizu, a Japanese restaurant in Minamiazabu, where members of Sakurakai, a high-powered business group, frequently gather. Yoshiyuki Kasai, the chairman emeritus of JR Tokai, and Shigetaka Furumori, the chairman and CEO of Fujifilm Holdings, belong to Sakurakai. The group has been a loyal supporter of Abe since before his first premiership.

Fukudaya, a Japanese restaurant in Kioicho, is where the prime minister regularly meets with Takashi Imai and Hiroshi Okuda, the chairmen emeritus of Keidanren.

When meeting with people from the entertainment industry, the prime minister often chooses more fashionable venues. He and actor Masahiko Tsugawa are friends who celebrate each other’s birthdays. They eat together with other people from the industry at Italian restaurants and the like. Abe is said to enjoy hearing stories from a community with which he has less frequent contact.

Dinner with Tsugawa often can last for hours. On Jan. 5, they talked for as long as three hours and 25 minutes. The prime minister’s dinner meetings generally end within a couple of hours. But when Abe is with close friends and family, the gathering tends to last much longer.

Weekend’s Activities

Before his return to the premiership, Abe has determined to accomplish three things every month--conduct an overseas visit, visit affected areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake and play golf.

Keeping the pace of almost once a month, Abe has conducted totally 50 times overseas visits under the banner of “diplomacy that takes a panoramic perspective of the world map”. As many as 66 countries and regions has been visited. He takes full advantage of the Golden week and summer during the Diet recess.

Weekends are often used for visits to the affected areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Abe has visited 31 times in total so far, once in every 48 days after his return to premiership. If the visits to affected areas of Kumamoto Earthquake and typhoons are included, the number adds up to 42 times in total, which means he has visited once in every 36 days. He has mostly achieved his own goal to visit the disaster affected areas “once in a month”.

Concerning his hobby golf, Abe plays it several days in a row during vacations and so far has played 56 times. Though his score of Golf has not been revealed as a state secret, a person who played with him said it was “91”. Chairman of Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), Sadayuki Sakakibara, who often plays with Abe, is said to be better at golf than him. The prime minister has two favorite golf courses, one located in Chiba prefecture and the other in Kanagawa prefecture, and three favorite courses in Yamanashi prefecture, where Abe has his villa.

Abe goes to have hair cut almost once in a month. The prime minister’s favorite beauty salon is “HAIR GUEST” (Tokyo, Shibuya). Originally, “Barber Shop MURAGI” was his favorite, but it is said that he started to commute to “HAIR GUEST” thanks to his wife Akie’s recommendation. Though he had a stylist part his hair on the side at “Barber Shop MURAGI”, he asks a stylist at “HAIR GUEST” to make fluffy hair style.

Spending Year-end and New Year’s holidays at Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi with his relatives is a standard routine every year. Abe is a regular customer of “Nagomi Spa and Fitness”, and has been there 67 times since his second term. Therefore it is understood that he does his health management there once in 22 days.

Abe never fails to ensure health check. He gets a full medical check in Spring and Autumn every year, and sees a dentist almost once in a month. Mostly he goes to the dentist in the first Congressman Hall of the House of Representatives during the intervals between weekday official duties.

Abe cherishes his friendship with old friends. He frequently participates in the gathering of Keisei Gakuen, which he commuted to from elementary school to university. He frequently meets with friends he made during his study in the U.S. after graduation from university. He tends to relax during mealtime with his family and friends, and sometimes greets reporters, who are assigned to cover the prime minister’s daily activities, by saying “Otsukaresama”.

Beyond the Right to Know

Regarding media coverage of the prime minister’s daily activities such as meeting opponents, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has pointed out “it’s beyond the public’s right to know” when she was a Member of the House of Representatives. The U.S. media don’t seem to have detailed schedules of the President Trump. Also, President Xi Jinping is doing what or where right now is confidential information in China. Reporting the prime minister’s movement with high transparency is significant for monitoring power. We would like to continue to keep track of the prime minister.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Trump and South Korea: It's Awkward

By Dennis P. Halpin, Former Adviser on Asian Issues to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Visiting Scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute (SAIS), Adviser to the Poblete Analysis Group and APP Senior Fellow

Originally published in the Weekly Standard, February 7, 2017.

President Trump's January 30 phone call to South Korean prime minister (and acting president as of December 9) Hwang Kyo-ahn, reportedly spelling out the U.S. "ironclad" commitment to South Korea, came at a particularly opportune moment. Likewise can be said for the decision of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to schedule his first official trip abroad to South Korea (and Japan) last week. The reason: leadership circles in Seoul and Korea-watchers in Washington have had increasing jitters over the fact that South Korea has been largely paralyzed by a domestic political crisis just as the newly arrived Trump Administration undertakes the formulation of its Asia policy. The concern is that a new, four-year policy will be cemented in place in Washington within the next six months while South Korea is still embroiled in political turmoil, with the possible removal of a president to be followed by a 60-day snap election.

The sidelining of South Korean president Park Geun-hye since her impeachment by the National Assembly late last year prohibits her from engaging in any official duties, including meeting with or even contacting other world leaders to advocate for issues of national importance to South Korea. These issues include not only the escalating North Korean nuclear threat but a number of alliance and bread-and-butter matters as well. Until her ultimate fate, including possible removal from office, is determined by South Korea's Constitutional Court, which could take up to six months, she will remain a virtual prisoner within South Korea's presidential mansion, the Blue House. A judicial decision, however, could come as early as March.

In the meantime, Asia's other main actors, including Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe (the first foreign leader to call upon the President-elect at Trump Tower), China (through its energetic advocate Henry Kissinger's renewed shuttle diplomacy between Beijing and Trump Tower) and Taiwan, (through a precedent-changing phone call from its president to then President-elect Trump), will have made their own priorities crystal clear. And while Trump's publicly avowed renewed commitment to Seoul is soothing, a number of outstanding issues indicate potential difficulties ahead for the alliance.

President Trump made the issue of greater cost-sharing for stationed U.S. forces (there are approximately currently 28,500 in South Korea) a central issue of his presidential campaign. During a presidential debate, Trump declared, "We defend Japan. We defend South Korea. We defend Saudi Arabia. We defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us because we are providing a tremendous service and we're losing a fortune." The Diplomat carried an article on January 21 indicating that. "Seoul pays around half of the overall cost of stationing U.S. forces in South Korea, roughly $821 million in 2016."

The next negotiations on the level of cost sharing under the US-ROK Special Measures Agreement (SMA) for the 2019-2023 period are set to begin later in 2017. Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, a liberal presidential aspirant if a snap election is called, indicated to the Korea Times on January 5 that U.S. pressure for an increased level of cost sharing could become a campaign issue, stating that "South Korea is actually paying more than Japan and Germany," both of which have a U.S. forces presence.

Another area of potential friction in the U.S.-South Korean alliance would involve moves by the Trump Administration to renegotiate some of the terms of the US.-South Korean free trade agreement (KORUS FTA). This trade pact, which took effect in 2012, was hailed as "the second-largest US FTA" (after NAFTA.) Voice of America reported on July 28 of last year that then candidate Trump had referred to KORUS FTA as "a job killing deal." Matt Blunt, the president of the American Automotive Policy Council, was quoted in the same news report as stating that "there is no question the Korean marketplace is one of the most difficult for any automaker to export into, in the world." A particular focus of concern for the Trump administration has been automobile issues, since it was blue-collar voters in the automobile-producing states of Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin who propelled the President to victory. These voters, previously largely Democratic party supporters, responded to the campaign promise to stop "the stealing" overseas of American manufacturing jobs. During the KORUS FTA negotiations, automobiles and automotive parts were also key concerns of Members of Congress, including Democratic former Ways and Means Chairman (2010-11) Sander Levin, who represents a district from the metropolitan Detroit area.

President Trump underscored the continued importance of automobiles as a trade and job creation issue during a January 24 White House meeting with the chief executives of the big three American automakers. He urged them to build more cars in the United States, reminding them of his previous threat to impose 35 percent tariffs on imported automobiles, a considerable percentage of which are made in South Korea (although Korean automakers also operate plants within the United States.)

Cooperation between America's main northeast Asian allies, in the meantime, has hit another impasse as the long-smoldering issue of Imperial Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of mainly Korean "Comfort Women" has again emerged as a major controversy. The construction of a "Comfort Women" statue in the port city of Busan near the Japanese Consulate in December (there is already one opposite the Japanese Embassy in Seoul) led to the recall of both the Japanese Ambassador from Seoul and the Japanese Consul General from Busan. In addition, the announcement in mid-January by 34 members of South Korea's Gyeonggi Provincial Council that they will start a fund to build a "Comfort Women" statue on the disputed island territory of Liancourt Rocks/Dokdo/Takeshima by year's end led to a public condemnation by Japanese foreign minister Kishida Fumio. According to the Korea Times, Kishida told reporters on January 17 that "Takeshima is Japanese territory."

Additional fallout from deteriorating South Korean-Japanese relations included Seoul's cancellation of a proposed joint trilateral submarine drill with the U.S. and Japan. The proposed drill was obviously aimed at the growing threat from both North Korean submarines and nuclear weapons.

The December 2015 agreement on the "Comfort Women" issue between the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers has become yet another heated target of Park's impeachment imbroglio. It is cited as an example by her growing number of critics of her insensitivity and alleged incompetence. President Park, for example, is being verbally criticized for never personally meeting with the "Comfort Women" survivors, as Pope Francis did during a visit to Seoul and as former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou did in Taipei. Given the level of importance of this issue to the average Korean voter, the lack of such a meeting is indeed a mystery. The rumor which swirled in Seoul that the 2015 deal included a verbal promise by the Park administration that the "Comfort Women" statue, which has gained a level of symbolic importance for many Koreans akin to the importance of the Statue of Liberty for many Americans, would eventually be removed from the vicinity of the Japanese Embassy led to a decision by South Korean students to provide around-the-clock protection for the statue to prevent its surreptitious removal in the middle of the night.

In the meantime, however, Abe's deft handling of the history issue with the American public, including his December visit to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, and his scheduled February 10 summit meeting in Washington with President Trump has raised some disquietude in Seoul. The view is that Korean concerns over outstanding Pacific War history issues will be presented to the incoming Administration by Tokyo as mere emotionalism not worthy of the new Administration's serious attention.

A final issue involves South Korea's domestic politics. With the conservative governing party in South Korea suffering badly in last year's parliamentary elections and under a cloud with the presidential impeachment, the likelihood that the new South Korean president will be a progressive in the mold of the late Roh Moo-hyun has greatly increased. This was underlined last week when the strongest conservative contender, former UN chief Ban Ki-moon, unexpectedly dropped out of the race.

If a snap 60-day election is called this spring or summer, due to the Constitutional Court's removal of President Park from office, South Korea could be in the midst of a heated election campaign just as the new Trump Administration finalizes its Asia policies. The temptation of South Korean progressive presidential candidates to play the anti-American card to energize their electoral base over such issues as troop cost-sharing negotiations or the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system may prove strong. This has happened previously. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Henry Hyde had to cancel a large Congressional delegation visit to Seoul during the December 2002 South Korean presidential election campaign due to heated anti-American demonstrations over the death of two school girls in a traffic accident involving U.S. military personnel. President-elect Trump's strong reaction in November to flag-burning by New Hampshire college students indicates that there would be far less tolerance for any South Korean students burning American flags than was displayed by then President George W. Bush in 2002.

With these multiple security, alliance, trade, and historical issues on the table for the new Trump administration, the current political paralysis in Seoul could not have arisen at a more inopportune time. And the fallout from South Korea's current political crisis points to potential rough sailing for the alliance in the months ahead.