Sunday, October 22, 2017

Identifying the ‘liberal’ in Japanese politics


Japan Times, October 21, 2017

The current group of conservative public figures in the United States wants to return to an age when certain middle-class values were ascendant, without acknowledging that many of those values were realized because President Franklin Roosevelt implemented progressive social policies and trade unions had real power. They maligned Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for his avowed socialist platform during the 2016 presidential campaign, but much of that platform constituted the status quo in the 1950s. Later, Ronald Reagan dismantled the government structures that made the era prosperous.

There’s a similar nostalgia at work in today’s Japanese general election. On the one hand, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to rewrite the Constitution in a bid to re-create the “beautiful Japan” he thinks existed before the country lost World War II, without recognizing that some of the qualities he admires led Japan to destruction.

On the other side of the ideological divide, some left-leaning politicians have feelings for the immediate postwar era, when the hard-won freedom of conscience was considered a precious right. And then there’s Yukio Edano, the former Democratic Party leader who just formed the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan as a tribute to relatively iconoclastic leaders who held sway in the early 1990s, like Takako Doi, when the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) — which had held power continually since its creation in 1955 — was losing its relevancy.

As Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed, today’s election was originally seen as a two-way race between different right-wing flavors — Abe’s nostalgic LDP on the one hand and former LDP stalwart Yuriko Koike’s more media-savvy conservatism on the other. Edano’s party supposedly fills the liberal vacuum created by the collapse of the Democratic Party, whose members were not consistently liberal across its ranks anyway. In fact, many members were as conservative as Abe, which is why it was so easy for them to jump ship to Koike’s Party of Hope, especially when Koike purged it of any liberal influence.

This situation set off a conversation in the media as to what Japanese liberalism is. According to manga artist and conservative firebrand Yoshinori Kobayashi, only “stupid people” in Japan believe left-wingers are synonymous with liberals. Despite his own longing for prewar Japanese ideals, Kobayashi admires liberals for their dedication to “freedom,” which he thinks is the main philosophical pillar of liberalism. In an Oct. 7 blog post he admits to identifying more with the Japan Communist Party (JCP) — which he sees as being liberal, meaning centrist, and not “leftwing” — more than he does with the LDP or its doctrinaire brothers-in-arms Nippon Ishin no Kai. The JCP has abandoned many left-wing positions for a more practical stance.

“The JCP is changing all the time,” Kobayashi writes. “It no longer insists on abolishing the Emperor system or the Self-Defense Forces.” More significantly, the JCP is against neoliberalism and the free trade Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Kobayashi also opposes. “JCP’s policies are based on a nationalism that overlaps with conservatism,” he says, “while the LDP and Ishin support globalism and only call themselves conservatives.”

Kobayashi may be confusing liberalism with libertarianism, which, according to freelance journalist Tetsuo Jimbo, has no traction in Japan. In a discussion with veteran political operative Norihiko Narita on Jimbo’s website,, Jimbo says he thinks the late LDP Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa once represented the “liberal” wing of the party, though Narita makes the point that Miyazawa eventually became the standard bearer for what the media called the “new right” in Japan. Until the ’90s, the main opposition was the Japan Socialist Party, which was against the U.S.-Japan military alliance and advocated for a strict interpretation of the postwar Constitution.

Ironically, the LDP maintained power for so long because of policies that were socialist in nature. It carried out income redistribution through public works projects, which stimulated the economy until the asset-inflated bubble burst at the dawn of the ’90s. Opposition parties took advantage of the LDP’s weakness in the general election of 1993, which Narita says resembles the upcoming election in that a great deal of political retrenchment took place. The idea was to create a real two-party system, but what happened is that, due to election reform that designated one person from each party running for a constituency seat, the LDP’s traditional “faction” structure fell apart, resulting in greater power for whoever is the leader of the ruling party.

Since then, “opposition parties have become even weaker,” says Narita, “which means the media has had to act as the opposition party.” However, the press has been effectively cowed by the Abe administration. “Their fangs have been removed,” Narita says, and now there is no clear liberal force in Japanese public life.

Because there is no equivalent term in Japanese, the English word “liberal” is used. An Oct. 8 Asahi Shimbun article attempted to parse the meaning of the word and found that even Japanese dictionaries define it differently. Since both the LDP and Koike demonstrate libertarian impulses, some people are confused, and Edano has muddled matters even more by calling himself a “liberal conservative.”

If there’s anything that ideologically distinguishes ruling party conservatives, it is the idea of “individual rights,” which both Abe and Koike seem to abhor, since they equate individualism with selfishness. Pundit Takeshi Nakajimasaid in the Asahi that the LDP’s conservatism is inherently “paternalistic,” and as Narita told the Mainichi Shimbun, “50 percent of the population is opposed to changing the Constitution,” which, as it stands, guarantees the rights of individuals.

A person who defends the postwar Constitution may be the best way to identify a Japanese liberal.

Monday in Washington, October 23, 2017

JAPAN'S ELECTIONS: IMPACTS ON REGIONAL SECURITY, TRADE, AND U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS. 10/ 23, 10:30am-Noon. Sponsor: Sasakawa USA. Speakers: Daniel Bob, Senior Fellow and Director of Programs, Sasakawa USA; Tobias Harris, Fellow for Economy, Trade, and Business, Sasakawa USA; James Schoff, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Dr. Takako Hikotani, Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Columbia University. Location: National Press Club, Zenger Room, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.

COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM: QATAR, IRAN, AND THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD. 10/23, 11:30am-5:15. Sponsor: Hudson. Keynote Speakers: Leon E. Panetta, Former Secretary, Department of Defense; Gen (Ret.) David Petraeus, US Army, Former Director, CIA; Steve Bannon, Former White House Strategist.

XI TAKES CHARGE: CHINA’S POLITICAL LANDSCAPE AFTER THE 19TH PARTY CONGRESS. 10/23, 1:00-2:30pm. Sponsors: US-Asia Institute and UC San Diego’s 21st Century China Center. Speakers: Susan Shirk, Chair of UCSD’s 21st Century China Center, School of Global Policy and Strategy; Tai Ming Cheung, Director of the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation; Barry Naughton, Sokwanlok Chair of Chinese International Affairs, UCSD; Margaret Roberts, UCSD Assistant Professor; Victor Shih, UCSD Associate Professor. 

RENEWING AMERICA'S NUCLEAR ARSENAL: OPTIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. 10/23, 2:00-3:00pm. Sponsor: IISS-Americas. Speakers: James E. Doyle, Author; Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, IISS-Americas. 

10/23, 2:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: Applied Conflict Transformation Center, U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Speakers: Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Fellow, Nonviolent Action, USIP; Lucía Mendizábal, Civic Leader, Acción Ciudadana; Idrissa Barry, Civic Leader, Balai Citoyen, USIP Justice and Security Dialogue Participant; Moderator: Philippe Leroux-Martin, Director, Rule of Law, Justice and Security, USIP. 

SECURING THE THIRD POLE: SCIENCE, CONSERVATION, AND COMMUNITY RESILIENCE IN ASIA’S HIGH MOUNTAINS. 10/23, 4:00pm-6:30pm. Sponsor: Environmental Change and Security Program, Wilson Center. Speakers: Richard Armstrong, CHARIS Principal Investigator, Senior Research Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder; Ghana Gurung, Conservation Director, World Wildlife Fund – Nepal; Mary Melnyk, Environmental Security and Resilience Team Leader, Asia Bureau, U.S. Agency for International Development; Moderator: Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience.

THE ORIGINS OF PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN US STATESCRAFT: UNCOVERING A FORGOTTEN TRADITION. 10/23, 5:00-6:00pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics. Speaker: Caitlin E. Schindler, Research Professor, Institute of World Politics.

CAN DIGITAL CURRENCIES IMPROVE FINANCIAL ACCESS? 10/23, 4:00-5:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Center for Global Development; World Bank Group. Speakers: Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO and Founder, BitPesa; Greg Chen, Head of Policy, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP); Andi Dervishi, Global Head, FinTech Investment Group, International Finance Corporation (IFC).

MEDIA CAPTURE: HOW THE MIX OF MONEY AND POWER UNDERMINES JOURNALISM. 10/23, 5:00-7:00pm. Sponsors: Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA); National Endowment for Democracy. Speakers: Mark Nelson, Senior Director, CIMA; Andrea Prat, Professor, Columbia Business School; Anya Schiffrin, Director, Technology, Media and Advocacy Specialization, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; Olaf Steenfadt, Project Manager, Media Ownership Projects; Moderator: Jennifer Cobb, Vice President, Communications and Outreach Internews. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Death of Liberalism in Japan

A new party only strengthens the Right

by Koichi Nakano
is a professor of political science at Sophia University, in Tokyo.
The International New York Times, October 16, 2017

TOKYO — Last month, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan dissolved Parliament and called a snap election for Oct. 22, he seemed to be making the decision from a position of strength. The opposition was in disarray, and his popularity ratings were picking up again, his hawkishness apparently vindicated by North Korea’s mounting belligerence.

In fact, the decision was a sign of weakness — of Mr. Abe’s political weakness and also, more problematically for the country, of a crisis of representativeness in Japanese politics. Whatever the outcome of the election on Sunday, a gap is growing between voters’ policy preferences and the new conservative two-party system that seems to be emerging as the liberal-left opposition is shoved aside.

There is some debate over the precise circumstances under which the executive branch may dissolve the legislature, known as the Diet, but most constitutional law scholars agree that the prime minister does not have free rein, and some criticized Mr. Abe’s move as partisan and unconstitutional. The public did not seem to appreciate the decision either: In one Kyodo poll, more than 60 percent of respondents said they found it objectionable.

Mr. Abe’s decision was seen as self-serving not least because he is perceived to have been dodging the Diet’s efforts to hold him accountable for two scandals possibly involving nepotism and an alleged cover-up concerning the activities of Japan’s Self-Defense Force in South Sudan. In June, the prime minister shut down Parliament’s ordinary session soon after pushing through a controversial anti-conspiracy law that gives broad surveillance power to the police at the expense of civil liberties.

The opposition asked to convene an extraordinary session, a right guaranteed by the Constitution when one-quarter of members in either house of the Diet so request. Mr. Abe ignored the demand for more than three months, and then, no sooner did he reconvene Parliament on Sept. 28 than he dissolved it again, by calling an election that didn’t need to be held for more than a year. Mr. Abe’s evasiveness has seemed all the more suspect because he and his allies control more than two-thirds of the seats in both houses.

In reality, however, Mr. Abe’s impressive majorities rest on rather feeble foundations. His ruling Liberal Democratic Party has garnered the support of only about one-quarter of eligible voters in recent general elections. The party has nonetheless won these races by landslides, but only thanks to Japan’s first-past-the-post system (under which two-thirds of the lower house are allocated), a divided opposition and depressed voter turnout.

Voters have never given a ringing endorsement to Mr. Abe’s “Take Back Japan” agenda, which promotes a “stronger” Japan both economically and militarily with a distinctively nationalist tone, glorifying Japan’s past. He faced major protests in 2015 after proposing new security bills to legalize collective self-defense, which were seen as seriously undermining Japan’s so-called pacifist Constitution.

The security bills were passed, but have remained divisive, as have Mr. Abe’s hopes of expanding the activities of the Self-Defense Force, among other things. According to a poll by the Yomiuri newspaper earlier this month, 42 percent of respondents disapproved of Mr. Abe’s proposal to write the existence of the force into the Constitution. (Some 35 percent supported it.)

The cabinet’s approval rating dropped to 26 percent in late July, in the midst of the scandals. As of late last week, it was at about 37 percent, according to a Nikkei poll.

So how does Mr. Abe stay in power when his policies are so unpopular?

The secret of his grip has been, largely, the lack of an alternative. The centrist Democratic Party, the country’s main opposition party, was discredited after displaying inexperience and incompetence during its brief, and only, stint in government, under a former name, in 2009-12.

After the nuclear accident at Fukushima in 2011 spurred renewed activism at the grassroots level, the Democratic Party formed an alliance with civil society groups and smaller leftist parties. The strategy paid off, and led to substantial gains in the 2016 upper house election. But it also came at a price, namely growing resentment among Democratic Party conservatives. And even the party’s inroads couldn’t compensate for one of the opposition’s most enduring weaknesses: its lack of a convincing leader. The conservative Seiji Maehara was elected as the Democratic Party’s new head on Sept. 1, but, perceived as a has-been, he hardly has enthused the public.

Enter Yuriko Koike, the populist and media-savvy governor of Tokyo, whose party handsomely defeated Mr. Abe’s in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election in July. Last month, on the very day that Mr. Abe announced the dissolution of the Diet’s lower house, Ms. Koike inaugurated a new party, the Party of Hope, with great fanfare. She then promptly struck a surprise deal with Mr. Maehara under which, in essence, the Party of Hope would take over the Democratic Party. For a moment, Ms. Koike appeared to be revving up to become a direct challenger to Mr. Abe.

But as the campaign period was about to begin, Ms. Koike announced, without much explanation, that she would not be running. That decision was another victory for Mr. Abe, and another one handed to him by his own rivals: By then, Ms. Koike had, in effect, already killed the liberal-left alliance.

Ms. Koike claims to have created the Party of Hope in order to “reset Japan.” It’s a conveniently vague slogan — and reminiscent of the Liberal Democratic Party’s own, “Take Japan Back.” The Party of Hope rests on a policy platform of catchy but vague sound bites — it is against nuclear energy, overhead power cables and hay fever, among other things — some fundamentally at odds with Ms. Koike’s avowedly conservative positions.

She hardly is an ideological foe of Mr. Abe’s: She served in his first government, including as defense minister in 2007. Which is one reason that when Ms. Koike decided not to run in the upcoming Diet race, it suddenly seemed as though she had never intended to take on Mr. Abe but rather had been positioning herself to strike a deal with him after the election.

As of late last week, several polls were predicting a solid victory for the Liberal Democratic Party, saying it would win about 300 of the 465 seats in the lower house. The Party of Hope lagged far behind, and Ms. Koike’s own popularity ratings have dropped since she withdrew from the race. But no matter; the work already is done.

The Democratic Party is nearly defunct. The bulk of its former members are running under the banner of the Party of Hope, and much of its liberal wing has decided to create the Constitutional Democratic Party. The new party’s main platform is to oppose Mr. Abe head-on on a range of issues, especially, as its name indicates, on constitutional reform. That cause is popular, but the party probably is too young to make much progress in this election.

And so even before any ballot is cast on Sunday, one outcome already seems clear: The election will spell the demise of Japan’s liberal left. A conservative two-party system without real checks and balances is emerging in Japan, and the gap keeps widening between the country’s politics and the people’s preferences.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Memorializing Sexual Violence in War

Sexual Violence in War
Professor Elisabeth Wood 
Yale University, October 7, 2009
It is not normative

An Important Statue for “Comfort Women” in San Francisco

By Sally McGrane, The New Yorker, October 12, 2017

At the back of St. Mary’s Square in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the retired judge Lillian Sing—who, long a trailblazer, was Northern California’s first Asian-American female judge—unlocked a temporary plywood gate. Behind the gate, in the corner of a terrace, stood a week-old memorial. Against the backdrop of city skyscrapers, three teen-age girls, cast in bronze, stand in a circle, holding hands. Next to them, looking on, stands the figure of an elderly woman in Korean dress—Kim Hak-sun, the first so-called comfort woman to speak out, in 1991, about her horrific sexual enslavement, during the Second World War, by the Imperial Japanese Army.

Sing had come to the park that day with Julie Tang, another retired judge and her co-chair in the project to create the memorial. “What they did was so brave,” Tang said, as she gazed up at the three girls. Chinese, Korean, and Filipino, they represent the estimated two hundred thousand women from countries across East and Southeast Asia occupied by Japan who were held in brutal state-run rape camps—a crime that went largely unacknowledged until the nineties. That was when Kim’s declaration inspired surviving comfort women in Korea, China, and elsewhere to come forward with their stories. Tang shook her head. “They were silent for fifty years, holding this shame inside them,” she said. “Victims think they are to blame. They think they did it to themselves.” With this statue—the first to be erected in a major U.S. city, though smaller memorials to comfort women exist in places like Glendale, California, and Palisades Park, New Jersey—Tang, Sing, and the local coalition they assembled want to change that kind of thinking. By bringing attention to the comfort women’s history, they hope to draw attention to ongoing problems of human trafficking and sex crimes.

This may not be as self-evident as it sounds. Discussing the statue, Dara Kay Cohen, a professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard, said, “As a scholar of wartime rape, I think it is extraordinary.” Cohen has interviewed women captured as sex slaves in Sierra Leone; she found their stories of being raped dozens of times a day by fighters, even when the women were sick, “eerily similar” to those of the comfort women. “Publicly memorializing the rape of women is rare,” she said. “Women are half of humanity,” Elaine Kim, a professor of Asian-American and Asian-diaspora studies at U.C. Berkeley, and a supporter of the statue (whose unveiling brings the total number of public statues in San Francisco of real women to three), said. “And women are not represented in history. Nothing will be done about crimes like these if they remain in the shadows.”

The Japanese Army’s “comfort stations,” initiated in the early nineteen-thirties, were expanded extensively following the Nanjing massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, in 1937. According to a paper by the Yale political-science professor Elisabeth Jean Wood, the stated goal of the comfort stations was to reduce random civilian rapes. Girls were seized from the local populations. Conditions were brutal, and death rates were high. “In one day, we had to serve forty to fifty soldiers,” Lee Ok-seon, a Korean survivor, who was kidnapped at the age of fifteen, recalled in video testimony. Girls who refused were lined up against the wall and slashed open with knives. “I don’t call it a ‘comfort station.’ I call it a slaughterhouse,” Lee said. Jan Ruff-O’Herne, a Dutch girl, was taken from the Indonesian prisoner-of-war camp where she was living with her family. In a television interview, she recalled arriving at the comfort station: “We started protesting right away. We said we were forced into this, they had no right to do this, it was against the Geneva Convention. And they just laughed at us. They said they could do with us what they liked.”

After the war, survivors risked rejection by their families. Ill and impoverished, many never married or had families of their own. Ruff-O’Herne had two daughters, but did not tell them what happened to her. “You know, how can you tell your daughters?” she said in the same interview. “All these years, I was too ashamed. You think, What will they think of me?” But, after seeing Kim Hak-sun and others come forward and struggle to have their stories heard, Ruff-O’Herne decided that she had to help by speaking up. (Her daughters hugged her.)

The former congressman Mike Honda told me that, in addition to the stigma faced by victims of sexual crimes, the Japanese government’s stance on the issue has been a problem. He said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “flip-flops”: “He says, ‘We’re really sorry,’ then, ‘It never happened.’ He’s all over the field.” Honda, who spent his own early years in a Japanese-American internment camp, said that he first heard of the comfort women in the nineties, after an aide returned from an exhibition visibly upset. Honda became determined to learn more. “We know a lot about what happened in the war in Europe, but not a lot about what happened in Asia,” he said.

After he researched the comfort women, he decided to act. “For me, as a Japanese-American, there was a parallel,” he said. “We fought to have the U.S. government apologize to us. Now we have to get the Japanese government to recognize the historical facts.” In 2007, Honda brought survivors—including Ruff-O’Herne—to testify before Congress, and successfully pushed through legislation demanding that the Japanese government apologize. “Telling the story of the comfort women to the public is powerful,” Honda said. “The statue is a physical representation of something that happened in the past that needs to be learned about, in order to prevent violence against women and end human trafficking—which is a one-hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollar industry.”

Steven Whyte, the Carmel-based artist who created San Francisco’s memorial, had a similar learning curve. “I was familiar with the term ‘comfort women,’ but I didn’t realize the extent of the torture,” he said. Once he saw the call for applications, he researched the topic, and wanted the job so much that he reduced his regular prices. “You think of every girl you’ve ever known—your nieces, your daughters, your girlfriends, everything. It’s desperately upsetting.”

While most of the comfort-women statues around the world have been put up by South Koreans or members of the Korean diaspora, the push for this statue was led by San Francisco’s Chinese-American community, with support from several other groups, including members of the Japanese-, Filipino-, Korean-, and Jewish-American communities, Eric Mar, who served as the city supervisor during the planning-and-design process and championed the project, said. “I thought, to be successful, we had to build a pan-Asian coalition,” he explained. Mentioning his own teen-age daughter, Mar began to weep. “It’s very emotional, for a lot of people.”

At the cavernous Cathay House restaurant, just up the street from St. Mary’s Square, Sing and Tang were joined by Judith Mirkinson, the president of the board of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition. Over hot toddies and Chinese chicken salad, the women talked about the challenges they faced in bringing the statue into being—including local Japanese-Americans who say they worry that the statue could give rise to a new wave of discrimination, and a vigorous campaign of condemnation from the Japanese government. Whyte received some twelve hundred negative social-media messages and e-mails, including form letters copied and pasted from a Japanese Web site threatening economic boycotts of his work. Activists attended hearings about the statue and called an elderly survivor a prostitute when she testified before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. More recently, the mayor of Osaka threatened to end his city’s long-standing sister-city relationship with San Francisco if the statue is not removed—and the Japanese consul-general in San Francisco, Jun Yamada, wrote a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle calling the statue a “half-told” story, and warning that if the city wants to “give equal treatment to all cases, there will be no free space left anywhere.”

Those spearheading the memorial fear that pressures like these may delay the bureaucratic procedures that still need to take place before the plywood gate comes down and the statue is visible to the public. At lunch, Sing said that she felt that racism in the United States had played a silencing role when it comes to recognizing what happened to the comfort women. “Why did this take so long?” she said. Kim Hak-sun “spoke out in 1991. There is the race issue: Asian women’s lives didn’t matter, like black men’s lives don’t matter.” Still, the three women agreed that it is no accident that this statue is here. “Even if San Francisco is changing, progressivism is still woven into the fabric of this city,” Mirkinson said. “And we are on the Pacific Rim,” Tang said. “We are closer to Asia, and thirty-three per cent of the city is Asian. People bring with them family memory that goes back to World War Two.”

For Lee Yong-soo, an eighty-nine-year-old survivor who flew from Korea for the unveiling, San Francisco seemed dauntingly far away. But when she arrived she was glad she had made the journey. “When I saw the girls holding hands, it brought tears in my eyes because she looked just like the girl I once was,” Lee wrote in an e-mail. “We need more memorials to remember the truth. I am the living proof of the history. But when I’m gone, who will tell the story to the next generation?”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Monday in Washington October 16, 2017

HISTORY AND FUTURE OF THE GLOBAL HIV/AIDS RESPONSE. 10/16, 10:00am-11:30am. Sponsor: Global Health Policy Center, CSIS. Speakers: Dr. Michael Merson, Wolfgang Joklik Professor of Global Health, Vice President and Vice Provost for Global Strategy and Programs, Duke University; Dr. Stephen Inrig, Associate Professor, Mount Saint Mary’s University; Moderator: Sara M. Allinder, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS.

, 10:30an-2:30pm, Lunch. Sponsors: Carnegie; Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. Speakers: Paul Chan, Financial Secretary, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Governent; Clement Leung, Hong Kong Commissioner, Economic and Trade Affairs to the United States; Douglas H. Paal, Vice President, Carnegie. Richard C. Bush, Senior Fellow, Brookings. Peter J. Levesque, CEO, Modern Terminals Limited; James V. Feinerman, Professor, Asian Legal Studies, Georgetown University; Helen Chan, Government Economist, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. By invitation.

TERROR, PROPAGANDA AND THE BIRTH OF THE “NEW MAN”: EXPERIENCES FROM CUBA, NORTH KOREA, AND THE SOVIET UNION. 10/16, 11:00am-12:30pm, Lunch. Sponsor: CATO. Speakers: Andrei Lankov, Professor, Kookmin University, Republic of Korea; Yuri Pérez, Latin America expert, Freedom House; Andrei Illarionov, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute; moderated by Marian L. Tupy, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute. 

INITIATIVE FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY POLICY (ISEP). 10/16, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsor: ISEP, SAIS, Johns Hopkins. Speaker: Rachel Kyte, CEO, Sustainable Energy for All, Special Representative, UN Secretary-General; Moderator: Johannes Urpelainen, Professor, Energy, Resources and Environment, SAIS, Johns Hopkins. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Monday in Washington, October 9, 2017

Most of Washington is quiet today as it is a Federal Holiday.

Perspectives on US-China Relations in a Time of Rapid Change

Sponsored by Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies, Foreign Policy Institute, and the China-US Exchange Foundation and

Professor Cui Liru
Senior Advisor & Former President
China Institutes of Contemporary International (CICIR)

Professor David M. Lampton
George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies
Director, SAIS China, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Ms. Amy Celico
Principal, Albright Stonebridge Group

Dr. John Lipsky
Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute
Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Can Trump make feminist history - unlikely

Women, peace and security: Trump can make feminist history by signing this bill

Allison Peters, Opinion,  international consultant focused on gender and the prevention of violent extremism and countering terrorism. She is the former Director of Policy and Security Programs at the nongovernmental organization Inclusive Security and previously served as a foreign policy and defense adviser in the U.S. Senate. 

USA Today,  Oct. 3, 2017

Women are vital to keeping the world stable and prosperous. This law would make sure they participate in U.S. policy-making at home and abroad.

As North Korea ratchets up its threats, conflicts rage from Syria to Yemen and terrorists launch attacks on innocent civilians, Congress just quietly passed historic legislation calling for more women to be involved in peace and security efforts.

That could not come soon enough.

Under the bipartisan Women, Peace and Security Act (S. 1141) by law it would be a core priority for U.S. diplomatic, development and military personnel to include women in preventing and resolving conflicts.

This bill has been over five years in the making and is perhaps needed now more than ever. Between 1992 and 2011, only 9% of negotiators at official peace talks were women. Women still make up less than 5% of police and military forces in many places around the globe, and at the local level are rarely consulted in security initiatives.

These dismal figures have not improved significantly in recent decades, even though the way we build and maintain peace is clearly not working. In the last nearly two decades alone, 90% of conflicts occurred in countries that had already experienced a previous conflict. Terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to global stability as does food scarcity, weak governance, climate change and beyond.

It’s time for a change.

Congress passing this bipartisan bill was a strong first step, and President Trump should immediately sign it into law. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), must hold leaders at all levels in their departments accountable for its implementation.

A new law like this would signal to women around the globe that their voices are being heard by Congress even in rocky political times. While the proof will be in how it's carried out, the bill not only mandates that women's participation be a priority for relevant federal agencies, it requires personnel for these agencies to consult with women on the ground in regions affected by conflict and to receive proper training to do so. Importantly, this bill also strengthens the ability of Congress to oversee this work.

The U.S. has had a national strategy on women’s participation in peace and securityprocesses since former president Obama instituted one by executive order in 2011 and it was updated in 2016. This bill would ensure a strategy remains the law of the land in the Trump administration and its successors.

Critics might note that the U.S. is dealing with numerous foreign policy challenges and security threats and argue that focusing on women’s participation would be a “soft” distraction from these priorities. However, research shows us time and again that gender diverse groups are more likely to effectively prevent and resolve conflicts in the long-term.

Afghanistan is a strong example where the U.S. should learn from its mistakes. Back in 2001, U.S. and allied NATO forces put billions of dollars into stabilizing the country and assisting in reconstruction. But with little strategy at first for consulting with Afghan women and including them in decision-making, the rollout was an almost entirely all male affair.

Women were often left in homes while all-male circles of soldiers and tribal elders discussed their fate. Existing norms and stereotypes prevailed, and the men were hindered in their ability to gain access to a range of views in communities where terrorist groups and insurgents had embedded.

Women had a deep understanding of community needs and their participation in emerging government and security institutions is critical for long-term stability. But their contribution was initially left untapped. Over the years, NATO saw firsthand the importance of including women and has since documented numerous examples where engaging with Afghan women led to better results.

Similarly, the International Peace Institute found peace accords are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years if women participate in their creation. This is because women often bring up issues related to the underlying causes of conflict and structural barriers that contribute to violence.

The evidence is so obvious, it's no wonder Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate and House worked tirelessly to pass this bill.

However, staff at the working level in our government cannot make progress on these issues without support from senior leadership. Congress would be wise to press political appointees during confirmation hearings on how they will implement the mandates in this bill. A formal inter-agency coordinating structure is also critical. It is inefficient for each of these agencies to be working to promote women’s leadership without meeting regularly to discuss their efforts.

Finally, Congress must see to it that resources are committed. In the budget submitted to Congress in May, the Trump Administration requested to cut by more than half the miniscule amount of foreign aid requested the previous year for women, peace, and security efforts. Congress must correct course and ensure any funding bills moving forward explicitly protect resources for these important initiatives.

Women's engagement at all levels of peace and security efforts is essential. Failing to invest in this agenda endangers our national security and hurts our efforts to advance our foreign policy priorities.