Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
On June 17, Sankei Shimbun ran a brief but tantalizing article
The focus of the article was the fact that the group had met in a Japanese restaurant in Tokyo that evening to recognize the services of the retiring Yoshimitsu Takashima, Secretary General of the House of Councilors DPJ caucus. Sankei listed the group's members as:
Shinji Tarutoko, DPJ Parliamentary Affairs Chief
Takeaki Matsumoto, Lower House Committee on Rules and Administration Chairman
Goshi Hosono, DPJ Acting Secretary General
Wakio Mitsui, Diet Affairs Committee Deputy Chairman
Takeshi Hidaka, Ichiro Ozawa's former secretary
Yutaka Banno, HR Diet member from Aichi
Koji Matsui, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
Although the Sankei article gave no more information about the group, the presence of Ozawa's former secretary is the most obvious indication that these Seven Samurai represent not just a different generation, but a different faction within the DPJ than the anti-Ozawa “Seven Magistrates.”
Sankei is not the only publication to take note of the Seven Samurai. The July edition of Bungei Shunju features a lengthy article
Akasaka relates how the retiring Takashima – whom he numbers as one of the Seven Samurai in place of Mitsui – somewhat drunkenly coined the group's name back on May 6 as the group met in Korakutei, another upscale Tokyo restaurant, at a time when the DPJ's prospects for the summer elections were looking grim
“It’s the Seven Samurai, isn’t it.”
The somewhat drunk Takashima spoke with a dizzy expression.
“Do you want to hear my last request at this time of troubles before the House of Councilors election? What would you do if there were a party leadership contest before the election?”
Akasaka goes on to relate that in the discussion that ensued, the pro-Ozawa group agreed that even if Hatoyama stepped down, they wanted Ozawa to continue to hold power within the DPJ, ideally by replacing him as party leader and Prime Minister. However, given Ozawa's unpopularity with the public, he was far from a sure bet to win a party leadership contest. Instead, “the group decided to try to support Hatoyama and Ozawa [avoiding any resignations], and if that didn’t work, to throw their support behind a puppet who would allow Ozawa to continue to wield real power within the party” as Secretary General.
This stands in sharp contrast to the goals of the Six Magistrates, who very much wanted to see a dual resignation from Hatoyama and Ozawa. Akasaka points out that the Magistrates had never been Hatoyama loyalists, having instead supported one of their own members – Katsuya Okada – in the party leader's contest last September. He writes that throughout May, things seemed to be going well for the Samurai, but that the Magistrates saw their opening when Ozawa and Hatoyama finally split over the SDP and Futenma: in a secret meeting between the two on May 27, Ozawa said he wanted to keep the SDP in the ruling coalition for the Upper House elections, but Hatoyama still fired SDP leader Fukushima the next day when she refused, as a cabinet member, to sign the cabinet decision on transferring the Futenma to Henoko, and the stage was set for the SDP to break away and the two leaders to resign days later.
Although Akasaka's piece was written just before the climax of the post-Hatoyama leadership struggle he depicts, his predictions were dead on. When Hatoyama and Ozawa resigned, the Magistrates were able to rally the bulk of the party around their candidate – Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan – while the Seven Samurai united as many of the pro-Ozawa troops as they could behind one of their own – Shinji Tarutoko – who was happy to put himself forward as an Ozawa proxy. The only thing Akasaka failed to forsee was the remarkable extent of the Magistrates' victory, and the degree to which that victory would turn around the fortunes of the DPJ.
As befits an intraparty struggle, now that it's over, the party has publicly coalesced around the winner. However, as Sankei's article demonstrates, the Seven Samurai are still meeting together, despite their loss and their patron's ostentatious political “exile.” Moving forward, any observer wanting to know how Ozawa's political influence is fairing under Prime Minister Kan could do worse than to keep an eye on his seven loyal samurai.
Conrad Chaffee works as a Japan Media Analyst for a defense contractor in Northern Virginia and was an APP research assistant
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
THE LONG VIEW FROM DELHI: TO DEFINE THE INDIAN GRAND STRATEGY FOR FOREIGN POLICY. 6/23, 12:30-2:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Admiral Raja Menon, Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, National Maritime Foundation; Ashley Tellis, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, South Asia, Heritage Foundation.
U.S.-INDIA TECHNOLOGY COOPERATION. 6/23, 4:00-5:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Speakers: Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State for Science and Technology, India; Ashley Tellis, Senior Associate, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA. 6/24, 2:00-3:15pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Asia Program, Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC). Speakers: Anwar Ibrahim, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.
RELIGION AND VIOLENCE IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD. 6/24, 5:30-7:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: German Historical Institute. Speaker: Wolfgang Huber, Former Bishop of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lausitzk, Former Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Pollster Yoshiya Kobayashi has reported clear signs of a sudden return of electoral confidence in the DPJ. His latest election outlook published in the daily Fuji on June 17th was far more positive than earlier ones carried out by rival pollsters only a week or two ago.
Kobayashi, analyzing data from across the country, predicts that in the July 11 House of Councilors election the DPJ would gain five seats to a total of 121, only one short a majority in the 242-seat chamber. Teaming with its coalition partner, the People`s New Party and supportive independents, the DPJ would then command 128 seats in the Upper House, according to the simulation.
In contrast, the former ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) decimated since its defeat last August would lose three seats in the election to hold only 69 seats. Prior to Kan’s selection as PM, pundits predicted that the DPJ would lose its Upper House majority, creating another “twisted Diet” in which the opposition could block bills in the Upper House. Passage of controversial bill would therefore requiring a Lower House override vote each time. That situation existed during the last two years of LDP rule, paralyzing the legislative process.
This is not to say that there is clear sailing for the DPJ to an election victory next month. Japanese voters, although favoring the DPJ, have become loyal to none. The tabloid weeklies, always ready to draw political blood, are already in the hunt. Last week they alleged political-contribution improprieties against the prime minister, as well as alleging an extramarital affair.
The greater danger for upsetting the electorate lies in the DPJ's just released manifesto that surprisingly contains a promise to raise taxes, until now a taboo subject for the DPJ. Though couched in the context of tax reform and bipartisan cooperation, the decision to go into an election campaign with such baggage is high-risk politics.
The dailies on June 18 all top-played the words of Kan to consider doubling the current consumption tax to 10%. In the past, those prime ministers who promised to raise taxes were severely chastised at the polls.
Voters are already reacting. In a nationwide poll released June 21, Asahi found that the Kan Cabinet's support rate has dropped nine points in a week to 50%, with half of the public reacting negatively to Kan's reference to the possibility of the consumption tax doubling to 10%. The Sunday TV talk were dominated by the consumption tax issue, with opposition party representatives denouncing the DPJ’s promise to consider hiking the rate.
There appears to be a desire now to move toward a more cooperative and productive relationship with the US, something that the previous Administration avoided. In other words, the DPJ has inched closer to the traditional posture of the LDP in its security relationship with the US.
The manifesto stabilizes Japan’s relationship with the U.S. and allows the DPJ to focus on domestic issues. This should allow Washington to recover some of its confidence in Tokyo, while it determines what the new government can really deliver. It also should ease anxieties among the stability-minded Japanese public. In all, it is not that change in Japan is over, it is more likely that it will be more orderly.
APP Senior Fellow
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
POLITICS AS USUAL? 6/16, Noon-2:00pm, Tokyo. Sponsor: British Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Speakers: Alison Airey, Kreab Gavin Anderson Japan’s Public Affairs Practice; Michael Thomas Cucek, Shisaku Blog. Location: Hilton Tokyo, 6-2 Nishi-Shinjuku 6-chome, Shinjuku-Ku, Le Pergolese 2F.
HOW AND WHO WILL CARE FOR THE AGING AND DYING POPULATION? 6/18, 7:00pm, Tokyo. Sponsor: Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS) Temple University. Speaker: Hiro Matsushita, Professor, Human Resource Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology Management, Graduate School of Tokyo. Location: Temple University, Japan Campus, Azabu Hall 206/207, 2-8-12 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku.
THAILAND AT A TURNING POINT? 6/24, 7:00pm, Tokyo. Sponsor: Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS) Temple University. Speakers: Pasuk Phongpaichit, Professor of Economics, Chulalongkorn University; Chris Baker, Writer, Editor, Researcher, PhD, Cambridge University. Location: TUJ Azabu Hall 212, 2-8-12 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku.
RECONSIDERING JAPAN'S DECISION TO SURRENDER IN WORLD WAR II. 6/24, 6:00pm, Tokyo, Japan. Sponsor: Japanese History Group (JHG). Speaker: Tomoki Takeda, Associate Professor, Daito Bunka University. Location: University of Tokyo (Hongo Campus), 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Institute of Social Science Bldg., Conference Room 1, 1st Floor.
WHAT CAN BE SAID? COMMUNICATION AND THE INTIMACY OF ETHNOGRAPHIC FIELDWORK? 6/24, 5:30pm, Tokyo. Sponsor: Institute of Comparative Culture, Sophia University. Speaker: Allison Alexy, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology, Lafayette College. Location: Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture Office, 7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Room 10-301, 3F Building 10.
KINSHIP, CITIZENSHIP, AND THE PROBLEMS OF INTERNATIONAL CUSTODY. 6/25, 12:30-2:30pm, Tokyo. Sponsor: Waseda University Doctoral Student Network (WUDSN). Speakers: Allison Alexy, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Lafayette College; Glenda S. Roberts, Professor, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University. Location: Waseda University, 1-21-1 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Bldg. No.19, 309.
GOVERNANCE AND REGIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION IN ASIA FROM A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE. 6/28, 5:00-6:30pm, Tokyo. Sponsor: Institute of Comparative Culture, Sophia Univ. Speaker: Robert F. Owen, Professor, Economics, Nantes University, France. Location: Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture Office, 7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Room 10-301, 3F Building 10.
WHAT MAKES IT OK TO LEAVE: EXPLAINING DIVORCE IN CONTEMPORARY JAPAN. 6/30, 6:30pm, Tokyo. Sponsor: German Institute for Japanese Studies (Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien). Speaker: Allison Alexy, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Lafayette College. Location: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien, Jochi Kioizaka Bldg., 7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, 2F.
UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY COLLABORATION IN JAPAN AND ITS IMPACT ON INNOVATION. 6/30, 6:30-9:00pm, Tokyo, Japan. Sponsors: European Institute of Japanese Studies (EIJS), Science and Technology Office, Embassy of Sweden. Speakers: Robert Kneller, Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), University of Tokyo; Dr. Tommy Shih, Research Fellow, RCAST, University of Tokyo. Location: Embassy of Sweden, 10-3-400 Roppongi 1-chome, Minato-ku, Auditorium.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Japan’s new Prime Minister Naoto Kan has made a good start in reviving the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. He has pledged policy continuity, consultations with bureaucratic experts, and confirmed to President Obama that he is committed to honoring the controversial Marine Corps Air Station Futenma relocation agreement. Key cabinet posts have gone to politicians who emphasize fiscal discipline.
Senior Vice Foreign Minister
Lower House Finance Committee Chairman
DPJ Policy Research Committee
Fmr. DPJ Policy Research Committee Chairman
State Minister for National Policy
Chief Cabinet Secretary
Lower House Environment Committee Chairman
DPJ Diet Affairs Chief
[Seiji Maehara is one of the seven instead of Kozo Watanabe, Fmr. Lower House Vice-Speaker, who was the DPJ elder who gathered together seven up-and-coming young DPJ leaders in 2003 and named the group after the old Seven Magistrates of the Takeshita faction back in the late 1980's. So while he's listed as a group member [the eighth and the leader] on the Wikipedia page, he's not one of the seven referred to in the group's name. Ironically, Ozawa was one of the original Seven Magistrates.]
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Temple University, Japan Campus, Azabu Hall 206
In the year and a half since Currency and Contest was published, events have confirmed the importance of this analysis for understanding currency and financial issues in East Asia and globally. In the face of the global financial crisis, ASEAN+3 countries have accelerated the multilateralization of the Chiang Mai Initiative, raising hopes and fears that it will culminate in a reprise of Japan’s 1997 proposal to create an Asian Monetary Fund.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Opinion Poll: 2010 U.S Image of Japan, June 1, 2010, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned the Gallup Organization to conduct an opinion poll on the image of Japan in the United States of America from February to March 2010. This poll is the latest in a series of similar opinion polls conducted almost every year since 1960. For the “general public” group, telephone interviews were carried out with 1,201 citizens aged 18 and over who live in the continental United States. For the “opinion leaders” group, telephone interviews were carried out with 202 people in leading positions in the fields of government, business, academics, mass media, religion, and labor unions. (The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3% for the “general public” group and plus or minus 7% for the “opinion leaders” group, at the 95% level of confidence.)
The percentage who perceived Japan as a dependable ally was 79% among the general public and was 90% among opinion leaders, high figures similar to the last year’s poll. 72% of the general public and 86% of opinion leaders viewed cooperation between Japan and the U.S. as “excellent” or “good.” In addition, the percentage of those who agreed that the Japanese and American people had a good understanding of each other was 43% among the general public, and 32% among opinion leaders.
For the first time, there was a question for opinion leaders only on whether the U.S. should import Japanese high speed rail technology: 49%said yes; 23% said no; and 12% said the US should import another country’s technology.
The Japanese version has a fuller explanation of the results as well as graphs.
Opinion Poll: Australian Image of Japan, May 27, 2010, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned a local private research agency to conduct an opinion poll on the image of Japan in Australia from November 10 to 14, 2009 (compilation of the results was completed in March 2010). This poll is the tenth in a series of similar opinion polls conducted in Australia (the previous poll was conducted in March 2006). A summary of the results is as follows.
Approximately 50% rated Japan-Australia relations as “excellent” or “good.” 25% answered that Japan and Australia should be closer in every respect , 37% answered that the current relationship should be maintained, and 30% answered that there should be more distance between the two countries (the responses from the previous poll were 27%, 66%, and 1%, respectively).
In response to the question of whether Japan is a reliable friend of Australia, 60% said “no” while 20% said “yes.” This is in direct contrast to the previous poll, in which approximately 10% answered “no” and 60% answered “yes.” In response to the question of whether Japan is culturally different and difficult to understand, the number of people agreeing or strongly agreeing increased to approximately 80% from approximately 60% in the previous poll.
As to the question of whether Japan is active enough in world affairs, given its economic size, 51% of the respondents answered negatively (in the previous poll, 58% answered affirmatively).
Regarding the whaling issue, 59% either disagreed or strongly disagreed to whaling off Japan. There were many anti-whaling responses for each question (no questions about whaling were asked in the previous poll).
Australia and the World: Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, May 31, 2010, Lowry Institute.
6th annual survey of Australian public opinion on a range of foreign policy issues. New questions this year cover the Rudd Government’s handling of foreign policy issues during its first term in office, whether Australia should develop nuclear weapons, attitudes towards Indonesia and US power, sanctions against Fiji and the morality of Australia’s foreign policy.
More and more Australians view China's economic growth positively, but think that China will become a military threat to Australia within 20 years: 46 percent of those surveyed believe China will be a threat, with 19 percent of them rating the possibility as "very likely. Fifty-five percent of the 1,001 people polled consider China the world's top economic power, compared with 32 percent choosing the US, the survey revealed.
Though Australians see Washington's economic power as waning, the number of people strongly backing the Anzus Treaty (the Australia, New Zealand, US Security Treaty) and a military alliance with Washington was 86 percent, up from 63 percent three years ago.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
SHIFTING THE BALANCE IN ASIA: INDIAN MILITARY MODERNIZATION. 6/8, 9:00am-1:15pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: Jacqeuline Newmyer, Long Term Strategy Group; Stephen Rosen, Harvard University; Shivaji Sondahi, Princeton University; Chris Clary, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sunil Dasgupta, University of Maryland; James R. Holmes, U.S. Navy War College; Walter Ladwig III, Oxford University; Jasmeet Ahuja, House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Timothy Hoyt, U.S. Navy War College; Remy Nathan, Aerospace Industries Association.
SHAPING THE AGENDA AMERICAN SECURITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY. 6/10, 1:30-8:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Speakers: Hon. Michèle Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Thomas E. Ricks, Senior Fellow, CNAS; Am. Eric Olson, USN Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; Dr. John A. Nagl, President, CNAS; Peter Singer, Director, 21st Century Defense Initiative, Brookings Institution; Lt. Gn. David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow, CNAS; Amb. Ryan Crocker, Dean, George Bush School, Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University; Dr. Ashley Tellis, Senior Associate, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Richard Fontaine, Senior Fellow, CNAS; Amb. R. Nicholas Burns, Professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Board of Directors, CNAS; Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director, Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State; Patrick Cronin, Senior Advisor, CNAS; Kristin Lord, Vice President, Director of Studies, CNAS; David Sanger, Chief Washington Correspondent, New York Times; Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies Council on Foreign Relations.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Her demand to scrap the base realignment agreement between the United States and Japan was untenable. What exactly does SDP want? The party says it wants to close the Marine base as soon as possible, but it rejects any pragmatic solution as to where it should be relocated.
The mantra chanted by the SDP about moving the entire base to Guam was predictably opposed strongly by the residents of that island, soon to receive another batch of 8,000 Marines plus dependents. Their attitude dooms the residents of Ginowan outside the base to wait indefinitely for Futenma to close.
What is so wrong with the 2006 roadmap agreement and its 2010 reiteration regarding the Futenma replacement facility? Okinawa had accepted the 2006 relocation plan until the DPJ offered pie in the sky in the last election. Since the current furor started last fall, the US has been depicted by the Japanese media as unilaterally demanding that the 2006 agreement be honored. The roadmap, which contains a large matrix of base realignment in Japan, was negotiated over two years time between the two governments.
It was not forced upon anyone but was compiled to the satisfaction of the Japanese side after every conceivable option was thoroughly vetted. The force structure that is articulated in it was seen by both governments as effective for dealing with the changing security environment in the region. Events in the region since then have proved the prescience of the negotiators.
The campaign by the SDP to split the helicopter component from the remaining combat troops in Okinawa made no military sense since the two elements must train together and respond together. If the Futenma helicopter unit is relocated far from the troops, there is no chance of doing either. The conclusion one must reach then is that the SDP’s strong opposition to a pragmatic solution, namely, the relocation of the heliport to a spot near Camp Schwab in the sparsely populated northern Okinawa is ideological. Those ideologically opposed to the move will never accept it, their goal being to eventually remove all US bases from the island. Environmentalists also have opposed the relocation to waters off Camp Schwab as destructive to the coral reef and the habitat of dugongs, an endangered species sometimes seen in the waters there. They have a point, but it is possible to construct a heliport that would be environmentally friendly to the reef and to the habitat of the dugongs.
On the plus side, honoring the 2006 roadmap agreement means 8,000 Marines go to Guam and several facilities south of Kadena Air Base are returned to Japan. Under the new agreement, training for the Marines in Okinawa will be shifted as much as possible to locations outside of Okinawa. On the down side, the helicopter function of Futenma adds to the burden of Nago City, which hosts Camp Schwab. But a new base is not being created, only an existing one is being expanded.
Some have argued that the Marines in Okinawa no longer have a role, combat or deterrence, and being strategically useless, they should be sent back to the US en masse. Such simplistic thinking disregards the facts, including the four-year process of the Defense Posture Review Initiative or DPRI, in which the U.S. and Japan painstakingly negotiated to realign and consolidate US bases in Japan and reached the mutual conclusion that leaving combat Marines and their helicopter support in Okinawa, while moving 8,000 other Marines to Guam, made strategic sense, while reducing the burden on the prefecture. The U.S. and Japan still agree in 2010 that the Marines have an important role to play as a main component in the bilateral security arrangements under any one of a number of scenarios.
The SDP quit the coalition saying its heart lies with the Okinawans and their cause. But the party’s defiance of Prime Minister Hatoyama also in effect denies the efficacy of the bilateral security arrangements of the alliance in meeting Japan’s defense needs and in maintaining deterrence in the region.
The SDP has proposed no economic plan to make Okinawa less dependent on the bases. It just wants the Marines to leave so that it can score an ideological victory. When push comes to shove, the DPJ remains the best choice to promote Okinawan interests at this moment. And fulfilling the 2006 agreement and the 2010 codicil to it will reduce the prefecture’s security burden. The SDP can only promise that the burden will always stay the same.
APP Senior Fellow