Monday, June 28, 2010

Our own Bill Brooks in Tokyo

THE POLITICS OF BASE RELOCATION IN OKINAWA: THE FUTENMA NEGOTIATIONS, 1995-97, 2005-6. 7/1, 7:00pm, Tokyo. Sponsor: Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University Japan. Speaker: William Brooks, Senior Fellow, Asia Policy Point and Senior Advisor, Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS. Moderator: Robert Dujarric, Director, Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies. Location: 2-8-12 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku, Room 213. 

Dr. Brooks' 104 page monograph on the issue can be downloaded HERE.

Photo courtesy of Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Obama bump

2010 Pew Global Attitudes Survey: Obama More Popular Abroad Than At Home, Global Image of U.S. Continues to Benefit, The Pew Research Foundation, June 21, 2010.

This year's survey was conducted from April 7 to May 8, 2010, in 22 nations with over 24,000 individuals participating.

The US continues to have a favorable image in Asia. China in particular held significantly more favorable views compared with 2009, jumping from 47% to 58%. In the same period, ratings in Japan also rose from 59% to 66%, and for South Korea 78% to 79%.

Economically, there was gloom across the board, with the exception of China, India, and Brazil. The survey also indicated that a growing number of people view China as overtaking the US in terms of economic power (but not in military power).

The surveys in China were disproportionately done in urban areas (the sample was 67% urban, whereas China’s population is only 43% urban).

Text (176 pages); Report Overview (10 pages)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Seven Samurai: The Next Generation

The Japan political elite is all at sixes and sevens. At least, that's how the press sees it.

On June 17, Sankei Shimbun ran a brief but tantalizing article describing a new group of seven up-and-comers within the DPJ. “As the next generation after Seiji Maehara and the rest of the so-called "Seven Magistrates," wrote Sankei, “these seven are known within the party as the Seven Samurai.” 

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 by Taro Akasaka, written just before Hatoyama's resignation, describing the group's formation and its clash with the Six Magistrates in the waning days of the Hatoyama Administration. That's Six Magistrates, not seven, according to Akasaka, because Shinji Tarutoko withdrew from that group, began cooperating with Ozawa, and ended up as one of the Seven Samurai instead.

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. The group was already ostensibly honoring Takashima's retirement.

“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

This Week in Washington

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

Happiness Really

Washington woke up this morning to find page 9 of their Washington Post featuring a full-page ($100,000) ad celebrating the American military presence in Japan. This advocacy ad is below. 

It is funded by the Happiness Realization Party, a cult-like Rightist party that believes that China and North Korea want to invade Japan and the earth was visited by aliens in the 1980s. Makes sense to us over here at APP. Our Man in Abiko has a good rundown on this party with links to other sources. We suspect that the other organizations listed as partner organizations are simply auxiliary groups of the HRP. We are checking.

Tokyo to DC: We Kan work it out

Recent opinion polls show that the Japanese public may forgive the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). They seem to accept that a government under Prime Minister Naoto Kan is in better hands than under Yukio Hatoyama. This is translating into a brighter outlook for the DPJ in the upcoming July Upper House elections.

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.

Alliance–friendly manifesto?

The new DPJ manifesto has significantly shifted gears in its treatment of the US-Japan alliance. Last year's version reflected the Party's desire to veer away from the US, review the Alliance relationship, and move closer to Asia. What stands out in the new manifesto is the priority placed on “deepening the Japan-US relationship.” The manifesto still calls for a revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), but the part about “reviewing the US forces realignment and the modality of US bases in Japan” has been removed.

Washington policymakers will be also glad to see included the promise to “ease the burden on Okinawa based on the Japan-US agreement” on the relocation of Futenma Air Station to the Henoko area of Nago City.

The consideration given to the US and the Alliance can be said to reflect the pragmatism of Kan. He says he has learned from Hatoyama`s mistakes. Whereas the Hatoyama administration apparently saw Japan's relations with the US and with China as a zero-sum game, the Kan Administration seems to be trying to bring back a balance based on existing realities and not on wide-eyed idealism.

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.

William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MEGA conference week

This is the week of the “mega-conference” in Washington. Nearly every Asia hand will be in town in some capacity or another.

CHINA'S NAVAL MODERNIZATION:  CAUSE FOR STORM WARNINGS? 6/16, 8:25am-5:15pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University (INDU). Speakers: Adm. Douglas Crowder, USN (Ret), Former Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet; Adm. Michael McDevitt, USN (Ret), Director, CNA Strategic Studies; Dr. Bernard Cole, Aauthor, Great Wall at Sea; Dr. Nan Li, China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College; Dr. Robert Ross, Professor, Boston College; Ronald O'Rourke, Congressional Research Service; Derek Mitchell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Defense for Asian & Pacific Security Affairs. 

ASIA POLICY ASSEMBLY. 6/17, 9:00am-7:00pm, 6/18, 8:30am-5:00pm,Washington, DC. Sponsors: National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC). Keynote Addresses by James Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State; Wallace "Chip" Gregson, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Department of Defense; Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-MO); Sen. James Webb (D-VA); Stanley Roth, Vice President, International Government Relations, Boeing Company. APP Members speaking: Daniel Sneider, Associate Director for Research, Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University; T.J. Pempel, Professor, Political Science, University of California Berkeley; Donald Emmerson, Director, Southeast Asia Forum, Shorenstein APARC; Sheldon Simon, Professor, Political Science, Arizona State University.

150 YEARS OF AMITY & 50 YEARS OF ALLIANCE. 6/17, 1:00-6:30pm, 6/18, 8:00am-7:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: CNAS, Nippon Foundation, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and the Ocean Policy Research Foundation. Keynote Address by Akihisa Nagashima, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Defense.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tokyo nights

This month, Tokyo is hosting a number of interesting talks in English: 

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. 

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

Seven might be the lucky number

 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. 

Further, Kan wanting to project a clean image and recover public confidence in the DPJ, acted swiftly to remove the influence of former Party Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa. His party and cabinet appointments represent a clean sweep for the “Seven Magistrates*,” an outspoken anti-Ozawa DPJ group of legislators. Most are well known to American policymakers and are generally more socially conservative than their predecessors.

Former Position
New Position
Seiji Maehara
Transportation Minister
Transportation Minister
Katsuya Okada
Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister
Yoshihiko Noda
Senior Vice Foreign Minister
Finance Minister
Koichiro Gemba
Lower House Finance Committee Chairman
DPJ Policy Research Committee
Yukio Edano
Fmr. DPJ Policy Research Committee Chairman
DPJ Secretary-General
Yoshito Sengoku
State Minister for National Policy
Chief Cabinet Secretary
Shinji Tarutoko
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.]

At his June 8th news conference emphasized Japan’s economic and social malaise. He said that “the role of politics is to minimize factors that will make the people of Japan or the people of the world miserable, i.e. to build a "society with the least misery.” He noted that the economy has remained sluggish and over 30,000 people have committed suicide yearly. Kan acknowledged that there has been a growing sense of despair in society and Japan as a whole, finds itself being overcome by a sense of distress. He wants “to rebuild Japan from the ground and make it a more vigorous country.”

The public has responded positively. A series of spot polls by the news media carried out over the weekend find that not only does the public have high expectations of the new prime minister at levels similar to that of then Prime Minister Hatoyama last September – a median of 60% -- it is also pleased with Ozawa having resigned – over 80%.  The DPJ’s support rate has jumped in the polls to around 30% or higher, while the opposition LDP’s support rate has dropped or stayed low in the 14 to 16% range mostly.

Kan’s background as a grass-roots civic activist and son of working-class family is similar in many ways to the experience of President Obama. There should be a potential synergy between the two leaders. He has a strong reformist reputation, such as his desire to remove the excessive influence of the bureaucracy on policy by returning decisionmaking to the political level. Yet, he seems to be a pragmatist who will seek consensus on complex, tough policy issues. 

To the relief of many in Washington, Kan said at his news conference that his government will tap the expertise and experience of bureaucrats. "It's a mistake to think that bureaucrats can be completely removed from the policymaking process," he said. "I would like to create a cabinet that capitalizes on the knowledge and experience of bureaucrats by building a strong relationship with them." This is a distinct shift from his predecessor's effort to eliminate their influence in policymaking.

He admittedly has little foreign and security policy experience, nor any apparent advisers on such matters. This makes it likely that the two holdovers, Foreign Minister Okada and Defense Minister Kitazawa, will continue to guide foreign and defense policies. Their retention in the cabinet should assure U.S. policymakers. 

Kan says he will honor the new Futenma agreement with the U.S. His handling of this tar-baby issue, however, still has the potential to make or break his administration. Implementation of the agreement will be fiercely resisted at the local level, as with previous iterations of the relocation plan, and the SDP, which bolted the coalition over Futenma, is bound to continue to make mischief in order to force the agreement to fail.

In great part of the fury in Okinawa at Prime Minister Hatoyama was due to a sense of personal betrayal, that he reneged on his own campaign pledge to move the Futenma base “at least outside the prefecture.” Kan has never made such a pledge and can point to the fact that both the LDP and the DPJ have now signed off on transferring Futenma to Henoko in his discussions with local opponents in Okinawa. Some, like Nago mayor Susumu Inamine, are clearly committed to opposing the relocation. If Kan and the U.S. discuss publicly pursuing some form of burden relief for Okinawans, he may be able to diffuse the situation.

Kan has completely reshuffled the party executive while keeping on 11 members of the cabinet.  What is striking about the youthful new appointees (most in their 40s) is not only their talent and capabilities, as well as ardor for reform, but also the conscious effort by Kan to distance the government and party from the influence of Ichiro Ozawa, as seen for example in the elevation of Yoshito Sengoku to chief cabinet secretary. Yet, the appointment of Shinji Tarutoko, marginally a member of the Seven Magistrates and who is reportedly close to Ozawa and now head of the Diet Affairs in the DPJ keeps an important tie to the exiled election boss.

Yukio Edano, the forceful new DPJ secretary general, and the articulate Koichiro Genba, chairman of the revived Policy Research Council in the party and minister in charge of civil service reform are both members of pro-alliance Seiji Maehara’s group in the party.  This team has the potential to get things done, in contrast to the bickering and internal divisiveness that marked the eight months of the Hatoyama cabinet. With PM press conferences to be kept to a minimum and a strong hand managing the Cabinet, a unified message may now be possible.

Prime Minister Kan in launching his new cabinet and party faces an eroded image of Japan as rudderless and apparently policy-less. He is the fourth prime minister in as many years. Perhaps that is why Kan is reportedly seeking an early summit meeting with President Obama as a means to restore the “trust relationship” that Japanese leaders aspire to with U.S. counterparts, confirm the importance of the “alliance of equals,” as one U.S. official puts it, and boost his diplomatic credentials in the eyes of the Japanese and the international community.

At least, that would be a good start. Although domestic concerns dominate Kan’s agenda, he is advised to establish a foreign policy “vision” to serve as a set of guidelines. Just as Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa established the Higuchi Commission to examine national defense strategy, Kan may want to consider doing the same. Such a report could finally take Japan and its new ruling party into the 21st century.

William Brooks, APP Senior Fellow
Mindy Kotler, APP Director
And special thanks to Conrad Chaffee, former APP research assistant

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Winning in Afghanistan?

KEY TO SUCCESS IN AFGHANISTAN. 6/9, 5:30-7:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Speakers: S.Frederick Starr, CACI chairman; Andrew C. Kuchins, Director, Senior Fellow, CSIS’s Russia and Eurasia Program, SAIS graduate; Martin Hanratty, USAID’s Senior Development Adviser, U.S. Central Command; Lewis K. Elbinger, U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Deputy Political Adviser, U.S. Central Command; Michael J. Delaney, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, South Asia, U.S. Trade Representative Office. 

AFGHANISTAN: WILL THE PUSH INTO KANDAHAR TURN THE TIDE OF THE WAR? 6/10, 10:30am-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Heritage Foundation. Speaker: Dr. Kimberly Kagan, President, Institute for  Study of War; J. Alexander Their, Director, Afghanistan and Pakistan, United States Institute of Peace; Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow on South Asia, Heritage Foundation; Sally McNamara, Senior Policy Analyst, European Affairs, Heritage Foundation. 

Reinventing the Chiang Mai Initiative

William W. Grimes, associate professor of international relations at Boston University, founding director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Asia, and APP member will be in Tokyo this week to discuss his book Currency and Contest in East Asia: The Great Power Politics of Financial Regionalism (Cornell UP) and receive the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize.

Friday, June 11, 7:30-9:30pm
Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS)
Temple University, Japan Campus, Azabu Hall 206

Since the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98, the East Asian economies have sought to make their economies less vulnerable to global financial markets by transforming the regional financial architecture. With Japan as a leading actor, they have introduced initiatives to provide emergency financing to crisis economies, support the development of local-currency bond markets, and better coordinate currency policies.

In Currency and Contest, William W. Grimes places regional issues firmly in the wider context of great-power rivalries. He argues that financial regionalism can best be understood as one arena for competition among Japan, the United States, and China. Despite their mutual interests in regional prosperity and economic stability, these three powers have conflicting political interests. 

Their struggles for regional leadership raise questions about the long-term feasibility of regional financial cooperation, the possible effects of Sino-Japanese rivalry on regional financial stability, and the potential for East Asian financial regionalism to undermine the long-established-albeit waning-global and regional dominance of the United States and the dollar.

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. 

Meanwhile, Chinese officials have argued publicly for the need to remove the dollar from its central place in the global financial order and signaled a desire to promote greater international use of the RMB. And the economic resilience of China and other Asian economies has seemingly prompted a new assertiveness in challenging global financial standards and governance. 

In his Tokyo talk, Grimes will examine the potential for the redesigned Chiang Mai Initiative to address the challenge of a future crisis.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Polls not pillars

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). 

The Japanese version has a fuller explanation of the results as well as graphs.

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

New Blogs

Recently, the Wall Street Journal started three new blogs focused on Asia. They are more chatty than the paper, but more newsy than most blogs. The supplied descriptions are amusing, thus we note them below. We suggest you visit these sites.

            [Supplied Note] a newsy, concise guide to what works, what doesn’t and why in the one-time poster child for Asian development as it struggles to keep pace with faster-growing neighbors while competing with Europe for Michelin-rated restaurants. Drawing on the expertise of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, the site provides an inside track on business, politics and lifestyle in the fast lane of what remains (for now) the world’s second-biggest economy.

[Supplied Note]  a vital resource for an expanding global community trying to keep up with a country changing minute by minute. The site offers quick insight and sharp analysis from the wide network of Dow Jones reporters across Greater China, including Dow Jones Newswires’ specialists and The Wall Street Journal’s award-winning team. It also draws on the insights of commentators close to the hot topic of the day in law, policy, economics and culture.

[Supplied Note] offers quick analysis and insights into the broad range of developments in business, markets, the economy, politics, culture, sports, and entertainment that take place every single day in the world’s largest democracy. Regular posts from Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires reporters around the country provide a unique take on the main stories in the news, shed light on what else mattered and why, and give global readers a snapshot of what Indians have been talking about all week.

Securing Asia

US-JAPAN ALLIANCE AT 50: TOWARD A REENERGIZED PARTNERSHIP. 6/7, 10:00am-4:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speakers: Mr. Robin "Sak" Sakoda, Partner, Armitage International; Ms. Keiko Iizuka, Deputy Political Editor, Yomiuri Shimbun; Yuki Tatsumi, Senior Associate, East Asia Program, Stimson Center; Ambassador Jeffrey Bader, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for East Asian Affairs, National Security Council; Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, Director, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars; Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Singapore to the United States; Alan D. Romberg, Distinguished Fellow and Director, East Asia Program, Stimson Center; Dr. Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Tomohiko Taniguchi, Guest Scholar, Defense and Security Team, Sojitz Research Institute, Ltd.

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

Fukushima and the art of the impossible

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had no choice but to eject the head of the Social Democratic Party, Mizuho Fukushima, from the cabinet.

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.

William Brooks,
APP Senior Fellow