Tuesday, March 29, 2011


INDIAN ROOTS, AMERICAN SOIL: A LOOK AT INDIAN COMPANIES IN THE U.S. ECONOMY. 3/30, 3:00-4:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Global Business Dialogue, Confederation of Indian Industry. Speakers: Meera Shankar, India's Ambassador to the United States; Dave Delie, CEO, Welspun Tubular LLC; Chuck Caprariello, Ranbaxy; Martha Bejar, Wipro Technologies.

FAILING TO DELIVER: DEFENSE REFORMS IN INDIA. 3/31, 12:30-2:00 pm, lunch, Washington, DC. Sponsor: East-West Center in Washington. Speakers: Mr. Anit Mukherjee, Research Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, and discussant Dr. Stephen P. Cohen, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Program, The Brookings Institution.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Three for Monday

Washington, DC. Sponsor: Progressive Policy Institute. Speakers: Dr. James Conca, Director, Laboratory Operations, Dept. of Energy Hanford Nuclear Site Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility (WSCF); Margaret Harding, President, 4 Factor Consulting; Micheal A. Levi, Director of Energy Security and Climate Change Program, Council on Foreign Relations.

AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI: JAPAN'S NUCLEAR, ECONOMIC, AND POLITICAL CHALLENGES. 3/28, Noon-2:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Sigur Center for Asian Studies, George Washington University (GWU). Speakers: Philippe Bardet, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, GWU; James Kilpatrick, Adjunct Professor of Economics and International Affairs, GWU; Llewelyn Hughes, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, GWU; Moderated by: Dr. Deepa Ollapally, Associate Director, Sigur Center for Asian Studies.

ASIA 2011: THE VIEW FROM CAPITOL HILL. 3/28, 2:00-3:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Heritage Foundation. Speakers: Nien Su, Staff Director (Majority) Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, House Foreign Affairs Committee; Justin Johnson, Legislative Director Office of Representative Todd Akin (R-MO), Chairman Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, House Armed Services Committee; Sajit Gandhi, Professional Staff (Minority), House Foreign Affairs Committee. 


APP member institution, The Sasaskawa Peace Foundation USA, initiated on Friday, March 25th, an earthquake and tsunami relief fund. It enables Americans to contribute to its sister organization The Nippon Foundation's effort to rebuild Japan's communities.

Unlike many relief organizations, The Nippon Foundation has nearly 50 years of initiating social welfare projects and disaster assistance in Japan with an extensive, established network of civil society organizations. The focus of The Nippon Foundation's work will be on post-relief needs to aid children, the elderly, the disabled, and the dispossessed.

Kan unshaken by massive earthquake

It is premature to conclude the fate of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. The “March Crisis” that everyone predicted did not turn out quite as expected. For now, Kan has been strengthened by his management of the earthquake and tsunami. However, judgement of Kan’s competence is under keener scrutiny of the Japanese people. To an outsider the Prime Minister, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano, and other aides have done a competent job in coping with the disaster.

The media have transmitted information from official sources and local sites with extraordinary skill, sensitivity, and thoroughness. As for the nuclear disaster, TEPCO’s briefings on TV have left much to be desired – NHK had to bring in a specialist afterwards to explain what the inarticulate and bumbling spokesman just said – but the workers at the scene risking their lives to contain the reactors, not to mention the teams of firefighters and SDF troops pumping water on the towers are true heroes.

From the start, Kan took charge and the people knew it. He rightfully ceded spokeman’s responsibilities to Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano, who also played a low-key, but responsible role. He even brought in a seasoned aide, former chief cabinet secretary Sengoku, when it seemed that Edano was wearing himself out. Kan issued important statements on TV and showed the public that he was clearly the man issuing critical orders from the emergency headquarters set up to handle the disaster. He looked weary when he appeared in public, and even showed his short temper when dissatisfied. He reportedly was observed yelling at TEPCO officials for their poor dissemination of clear and consistent information to the public about the state of the nuclear plant. Unfortunately, he has yet to make personal tours of the disaster area.

Following the 1995 earthquake, then Prime Minister Murayama received low marks for his handling the crisis, even reportedly rebuffing US offers of help. But this time, no such criticism seems warranted. Prime Minister Kan even urged the opposition to put aside differences and cooperate on an emergency fiscal package for the earthquake victims and localities, welcomed the assistance of the US forces in Japan and other foreign help, and oversaw a gradual restoration of normalcy in communications, transportation, and basic distribution in the broadly affected areas.

It may have seemed slow – a week is a long time when disaster strikes -- but by the week’s end, food and other supplies were coming into even the most badly affected areas. It will be a long process even before rebuilding starts, but people realize that, given the enormous scale of the devastation.

Even if Prime Minister Kan gets high marks for crisis management, he is not likely to regain his popularity for he carries too much baggage from the pre-earthquake months when his administration was rocked by scandals, policy failures, and a reputation of indecisiveness on key issues. It will take a lot for him for wipe away a prior history of policy mishandling. Many of these earlier problems remain to be resolved such as passing the budget-enabling bills, and of course resolving the Futenma base relocation issue. But at least Kan can rest assured that it will not be his handling of the Great Northern Japan Earthquake that will make or break his administration.

William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monday Nuclear Disaster Briefings

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Monday, March 21 holds a briefing on the ongoing nuclear event in Japan from 9:00 to 11:00am in Rockville, Maryland, the briefing will be webcast.

Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) on Monday, March 21 holds a Conference call briefing beginning at 11:00am to discuss the latest developments at the Fukushima nuclear complex in Japan as well as safety issues at U.S. nuclear plants. Call-in, Domestic calls: 866-861-4873; International calls 703-639-1464; password, Japan Nuclear Reactor Update.
The American Geological Institute; the American Geophysical Union; and the Seismological Society of America on Monday, March 21 hold a briefing on Disaster in Japan: What it Means for the US on Capitol Hill at 1:00pm.

US Department of Energy Blog Posts on the Japan Emergency.

Will the disaster strengthen the US-Japan Alliance?

Unlikely, is what your Editor thinks. As you can see in the video below, APP member Paul Giarra calls the situation a "laboratory." He is right.

The US and Japanese militaries are working together as never before, clearly stretching the definitions and traditional practice of Japanese "collective security." With "Operation Tomodachi" American military supplies are being transported on Japanese Self-Defense Forces planes, and vice versa. American officers are coordinating closely with their Japanese counterparts. That this "exercise" will extend beyond this disaster to combat preparation may be an expectation missing an assumption.

The US military seriously undermined its credibility and ability to deliver aid to the Japanese people by keeping its personnel outside the 50 miles radius of the disintegrating Fukushima nuclear facility. Although this area is a fraction of the disaster zone, it creates the impression that the US is really not committed to going shoulder-to-shoulder with their Japanese allies.

Japan's Prime Minister Naoato Kan will visit Fukushima on Monday, March 21, and he will be just outside a 20-mile radius of the nuclear crisis site. [UPDATE Trip canceled due to bad weather]

The message to the average Japanese is that the US is not willing to share every danger with Japan. To many, there is not much difference between taking bullet or absorbing some radiation. The US is supposed to be committed to the defense of Japan, not matter the definition. This impression is cemented by the panicked exodus of American and European ex-pats from Japan that has been encouraged by their embassies.

This Week in Defense News is one of the best Sunday morning talk shows. Here is today's piece on the possible security implications of Japan's earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown with Paul Giarra:

Empathy from Korea

For the lyrics in Korean, Japanese and English, see HERE.

Friday, March 18, 2011

More disaster chatter

The Aftermath and Implications of the
World’s Fifth Largest Earthquake

Friday, March 18, 2:00-3:30 pm

The Brookings Institution
Washington, DC

Introduction and Moderator
Martin Indyk, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy

Richard Bush
, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for NEA Policy Studies
Charles Ebinger, Senior Fellow and Director, Energy Security Initiative
Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow and Director, Project on Internal Displacement
Barry Bosworth, Senior Fellow

Tuesday, March 22, 6:00-7:30pm

Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Columbia Business School
Columbia University, New York, New York


David J. Brenner, Higgins Professor of Radiation Biophysics, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University; Director of the Center for Radiological Research (CRR); Director of the Columbia University Radiological Research Accelerator Facility (RARAF)

Prof. Brenner is an expert in the field of identifying the effects of low doses of radiation relating to medical, occupational, and environmental exposures, and winner of the the 1992 National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements Award for Radiation Protection in Medicine.

Gerald L. Curtis, Burgess Professor of Political Science; Director, Toyota Research Program, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University

Prof. Curtis has published extensively on Japanese politics and serves as a columnist for numerous Japanese and US news publications. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by the Emperor of Japan, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Japanese government.

David E. Weinstein, Carl S. Shoup Professor of the Japanese Economy; Associate Director for Research, Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Columbia Business School; Executive Director, Program for Economic Research, Columbia University

Prof. Weinstein has written extensively on the economic impact of catastrophic events in Japan as well as on trade, macro, and financial economics. Prof. Weinstein is the winner of numerous grants and awards and has served as an advisor to the Japanese Cabinet Office and to the Federal Reserve Bank.

Curtis J. Milhaupt (Moderator), Fuyo Professor of Japanese Law; Parker Professor of Comparative Corporate Law; Vice Dean, Columbia Law School

Prof. Milhaupt is an expert on the Japanese legal system, and has published widely in the fields of corporate governance and law and economic development.

Wednesday, March 23, Noon-2:00pm

Japan Society, New York

Robert Dujarric
, Director, Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University Japan
Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki, Consul General of Japan in New York
Takashi Imamura, Vice President & General Manager, Marubeni America Corp., Washington, D.C.
Paul Scalise, Adjunct Fellow, Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies, Temple University Japan

50% of all admission sales will go to Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bi-coastal programs on Japan's tsunami

Wednesday, March 16
6:00 pm
Institute of East Asian Studies Conference Room
2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor
University of California, Berkeley

Roundtable Discussion

Dana Buntrock, Architecture
Cathryn Carson, History, and Associate Dean of Social Sciences (Moderator)
Peter Hosemann, Nuclear Engineering
Shinya Nagasaki, Nuclear Professional School, University of Tokyo, 
and Visiting professor, Nuclear Engineering
Bozidar Stojadinovic, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Jasmina Vujic, Nuclear Engineering

Sponsored by
Institute of East Asian Studies, Center for Science, Technology, 
Medicine, and Society, Nuclear Engineering, Civil and Environmental 
Engineering, Architecture, Center for Japanese Studies
Institute of International Studies

Wednesday, March 16
MIT Bldg E15, 
Bartos Theatre (Atrium Level)
20 Ames Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts

MIT experts discuss Japan's nuclear past, present, and future from a political and engineering perspective. The presentation will include an eyewitness account of the crisis 
and the Japanese government's response.

Guest speakers

Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the MIT Center for International Studies
Ken Oye, Associate Professor at MIT and Director of the MIT-CIS Program on Political Economy and Technology Policy
Michael Golay, MIT Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering

Sponsored by 
MIT Center for International Studies, MIT-Japan Program, 
and Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering 

Nuclear briefing from real experts


In the aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, reliable technical information about the crisis affecting the nuclear power plants at Fukushima has been difficult to discern from the media coverage. The demand to know what is happening, however, is very great.

At 4:00 p.m. on March 15 in 10-250, the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering is holding an information session for the MIT community about the current situation at Fukushima.

Topics for discussion will include: the characteristics of the boiling water reactors at Fukushima; the possible causes of the accidents; the current status of the reactors; the technical options that may now be available to the reactor operators; and the possible future implications. The event will include a panel of experts and will be moderated by Department Head Richard Lester.

MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub

Monday, March 14, 2011

Surviving the big one

It just keeps getting worse.

Please excuse the far-from upbeat intro and coming personal pronoun, but I am tired. Tired from not sleeping much since Friday, the day of the earthquake. Tired of assessing which threat is real, which imaginary, which I can prepare for, which is beyond me, and all the while keeping an upbeat tone with my wife and daughters.

But tiredness is a luxury of the living. And my family and I are lucky. Our experiences were typical of those collected here, which were not those of the tsunami-ravaged north that dominate news coverage, but of the majority of the nation, shaken but spared.

Still, life here has gotten unpleasantly surreal. Friday already taught me that lampposts can bend, and the expression "on firm ground" is completely meaningless. Since starting this post I've already felt two aftershocks rattling the windows and wobbling my computer screen and I'm only into my fourth paragraph. So let me just share a little of my world in bullet point before I crawl into bed with my girls.

  • Things that are in short supply: batteries, candles, gasoline, instant noodles, bread, milk, reliable information.
  • Worry. As I type this, I learn from twitter that the rods have been exposed again at the Fukushima reactor, though, whether it is No. 1, No. 3, No. 5, I have lost track. I'm not sure whether this news is an immediate threat to me, seeing as Fukushima is 250km north of me, but it sure doesn't sound good. Oh, aftershock no. 3. 
  • We have the TV on permanently. Thankfully, its usual diet of celebrity gossip, celebrity cooking, and celebrity gossip cooking, is off. Instead, we have TEPCO press conferences, appearances by Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano and occasionally Prime Minister Naoto Kan, all in engineer boiler suits to tell us that, yes, there will be power outages, no, we don't know the severity of the Fukushima meltdown. But no radiation leaked.
  • Then the next day, as we readied for power outages between 3.20pm and 7pm scheduled for our area, with our four candles at the ready, we found that the lights stayed on. Wonderful. But does that mean we can't believe what the government is telling us? Oh dear.
I am still in a state of shock. I don't know if the trains will be running tomorrow, I don't know if people can get to work. Or get home again. I don't know if we will have power. I don't know if we should be taking iodine pills, staying indoors to avoid exposure to radiation, or staying outdoors to avoid the 7.0 aftershock that's expected in the coming days.

These are the known unknowns, if you like, but I prefer my rhetoric along the lines of we have nothing to fear but fear itself. But Japan is going to need help. I can think of no better way, right now, than donating to the Japanese Red Cross right here. Other ways to help here.

Don't pray, pay for Japan.

Patrick Sherriff
Outside Tokyo
APP Editor at Large

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Monday, work goes on

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION AND TAIWAN. 3/14, 10:00-11:45am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Brookings CNAPS. Speakers: Richard Bush III, director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution; Jacques deLisle, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School; Bonnie Glaser, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Wei-chin Lee, professor of political science at Wake Forest University; and Sandy Yu-Lin Yeh, visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution.

THE RISE OF INDIA: WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE UNITED STATES. 3/14, 10:30am-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: Ashley Tellis, Carnegie Endowment of International Peace; Ron Somers, US-India Business Council; Nicholas Eberstadt, AEI.

EXORBITANT PRIVILEGE: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE DOLLAR AND THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY SYSTEM. 3/14, 12:30-2:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Infoshop, World Bank. Speakers: Barry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee, Professor of Economics and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley; Otaviano Canuto, Vice President and Head of Network, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, World Bank.

BUILDING CAPACITY FOR TRADE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. 3/14, 2:00-5:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC). Speakers: USCC President and CEO Thomas Donohue; World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick; and World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy; Jim Kolbe, German Marshall Fund. 

GENDER & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ASIA. 3/14, 5:00-6:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Asia Society Washington Center. Speakers: Jonathan Woetzel, Director, McKinsey & Company Shanghai Office and Co-founder, Urban China Initiative; Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, Chairperson, Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE); Christopher Williams, Director, UN-HABITAT New York Office.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

L’Affaire Maher

Goya Girl
The L’Affaire Maher is not just the momentary misjudgment of one man, but it is also symptomatic of a general failure of Washington to adapt to profound social and political changes in Japan. The blogospheric era has caught up with Japan too, a nation which can no longer be dismissed as a manageable, cloistered democracy.

The students who revealed Mr. Maher's unguarded comments weren't some spoilt uninformed sophomores, but a well-organized group of anti-military activists working closely with peace groups in Okinawa. Their politics aligns with that of many Okinawans who found their political voice in 2007  when Tokyo tried to revise textbooks on Okinawa’s war history. The success of the protests against the Japanese government provided an opportunity for Okinawans to declare their political independence from the Japanese center.

Okinawan activism also folds well into right-wing activism to push the US military out of Japan (anyone been to a Tamogami Gambare Nippon rally lately? ). Maher’s alleged derogatory comments helped confirm what many Japanese conservative nationalists believed: that the US is an unreliable ally and the Japanese are masochistic for accepting it.

Since last spring, the international peace, environmental, and libertarian communities have coalesced around the goal of removing the American military bases from Okinawa. For the first time, there is an organized, multi-national coalition of groups, centered in the Washington, arguing and demonstrating for the Okinawan people and the preservation of the island’s biodiversity. Under the "Network for Okinawa" (NO) umbrella they host the “Close the Base” website and coordinate global protests. The multiple groups’ activities are chronicled at the Canadian-based Peace Philosophy Blog in both Japanese and English.

While most of Washington ignored their full-page ad in the Washington Post last April, it signaled a significant shift in the political landscape. The effort to stop any further military development on Okinawa is now internationalized. And they could collect the $90,000 for an advocacy ad in an American newspaper.

This activism dovetails the emerging neo-isolationism of the Tea Party and various Libertarians voices like Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Their distrust of government and unrepentant calls for deep spending cuts no longer thrust them in the margins. Some Congressional figures are calling for a closure of the Okinawa bases and they are being taken seriously.

Up until last year, the American experience for the past 15-odd years has been pretty much as Maher described: Okinawa would accommodate Tokyo’s demands for the right price. Tokyo would continue to draw out negotiating with the Americans, hyping progress on small agreements, and Okinawa never delivered. The status quo worked for Japan and the Americans seemed none the wiser.

But now Japan is experiencing wrenching social change and economic austerity that is changing the old equation. Tokyo is reluctant to keep doling out massive aid to Okinawa and Okinawa is tired of the noise, pollution and crime the military bases bring. Yet, neither is sure what needs to be done to defend Japan in face of a confrontational China or challenging Russia.

The Americans are understandably bitter and frustrated. Maher’s alleged comments are actually common in Washington. More interesting, they were echoed and encouraged by Tokyo’s conservative policy elites who are happy to paint the Okinawans are duplicitous. Thus, it was disingenuous, at best, for American policymakers to unceremoniously abandon Mr. Maher.

The US is caught in the middle of a multi-layered Japanese domestic dispute unable to convince Okinawans that the US wants seriously to reduce its burden on the island or officials in Tokyo that it remains committed to the defense of Japan. Budget constraints on both sides of the Pacific are further straining the situation. Compromises by all are necessary to speed up the closing of the Futenma Air Base. A three-way dialogue (US-Tokyo-Okinawa) is needed about Okinawa's future.

Representative of these politics may be the fact that Kyodo appears to have sat on the story for months. The American University students talked with the official Japanese news agency back in December, along with anyone who would listen to them on Okinawa. Their experience with Mr. Maher was an open secret.

In mid-February, Kyodo sent a reporter from Tokyo to Washington to interview Maher to see if he would confirm the students’ account of the conversation. He said simply it was off the record, a fact that neither the students nor their professor confirms. A reporter from the Asahi Shimbun also called the students in February, but decided not to publish the story. And that brings us to Monday, March 7, Tokyo time, when Kyodo went public with the story.

Indeed, an interesting week to release this story. The Foreign Ministry resigned, a similar scandal brewing with the Prime Minister, critical US-Japan security talks in Tokyo, and an official delegation from Okinawa prepares to visit Washington the following week (now canceled). Washington’s old friends in the LDP are calling the US unreliable and arrogant and demanding an apology from the American president for Maher’s remarks. By implication, the LDP and Japan’s conservative nationalists are suggesting that the ruling DPJ (not the LDP) has royally mismanaged the US-Japan relationship.

Friday’s massive earthquake has halted, for now, this quarrel over the status of US-Japan relations. US military know-how and manpower will be needed to help Japan recover from this disaster. Ensuring that Japan’s nuclear reactors do not melt down is something on which the US and Japan can and must cooperate. Present is a rare opportunity to demonstrate shared values and goals.

Recently, the US State Department has been able to capitalize on Japan’s political and social changes by addressing previously untouchable topics, including child abduction, child porn, and justice for American POWs. A host of new experts with unique perspectives were involved these successful policies. The US-Japan security relationship does not operate in isolation from these discussions. It is now time to transfer some of these positive developments and new expertise in US diplomacy to security relations—and to new stakeholders.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Survey of American alumni of the JET program

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program has for over 20 years contributed an important dimension to the US-Japan relationship.

The importance of the program and others like it was emphasized by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian & Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell in July 2010. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee he said that bilateral cooperation “must go beyond our governments….We have to tap into the challenge of our people, their creativity and innovation, and their ability to forge lasting relationships that build trust and understanding.”
Such sentiment has long served as primary motivation for the establishment and promotion of public diplomacy programs. Although there is anecdotal evidence about JET Program as a critical element of public diplomacy, recordable details about the actual scope and impact are more elusive.

A professor of public diplomacy, political communication and social media at Indiana University is trying to measure the impact of public diplomacy efforts in a more tangible way. As an alumna of the JET Program, she has an additional interest in devising a way to evaluate the impact of more than 20 years and more than 20,000 American alumni influence on the overall US-Japan relationship.
In an effort to track the educational and professional career tracks of American JET alumni and to assess their opinions of Japan and the continuing impact of JET on their lives years after finishing the program, a survey for American JET Program alumni is being distributed. The survey has been approved by Indiana University’s Institutional Review Board.

If you are a JET Alumni and wish to participate in the survey (the link will remain active until midnight EST, Friday, March 18, 2011) click

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Grappling with China

Sui Jianguo
The Sleep of Reason, 2005*
PLAYING OUR GAME: WHY CHINA’S INDUSTRIAL RISE DOESN’T THREATEN THE WEST. 3/9, 5:00-7:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: SAIS. Speaker: Edward Steinfeld, professor of political economy, Department of Political Science. MIT. 

REBALANCING GROWTH IN ASIA - ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS FOR CHINA. 3/9, 10:00am-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Carnegie Asia Program (CEIP). Speakers: Vivek Arora, assistant director, Asia and Pacific Department, IMF; Pieter Bottelier, scholar, Carnegie's International Economics Program; Nicholas Lardy, Anthony M. Solomon Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute; Min Zhu, special advisor, IMF; Douglas Paal, vice president, CEIP.

GREEN GOVERNANCE VICTORIES AND ONGOING CHALLENGES IN CHINA. 3/9, 9:00-11:00am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Wang Canfa, China University of Political Science and Law/Center for Legal Assistance for Pollution Victims; Yu Wenxuan, China University of Political Science and Law; Li Zhiping, Sun Yat-sen University Law School, Li Yanfang, Energy Law Center and Renmin University.

CHINA'S NARRATIVES REGARDING NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY. 3/10, 9:15am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: US-China Economic and Security Review Committee hearing on “China’s Narratives Regarding National Security Policy.” Speakers: David Lampton, Director of China Studies, SAIS; Gilbert Rozman, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University; Christopher Ford, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; Alison Kaufman, Research Analyst, CNA; Ashley Esarey, Professor of Politics, Whitman College; Jacqueline Newmyer, President and CEO, Long Term Strategy Group; Gary Rawnsley, Professor of Communications, University of Leeds; Mark Stokes, Executive Director, Project 2049 Institute; John Park, Senior Research Associate, U.S. Institute of Peace; Abraham Denmark, Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security; Andrew Scobell, Senior Political Scientist, RAND.

CHINA'S FOREIGN ASSISTANCE AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH JAPAN. 3/10, 3:30-4:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies. Speakers: Naohiro Kitano, Ph.D., Director General, East and Central Asia and the Caucasus, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Charles W. Freeman III, CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies.

RESOLVED: THAT THE UNITED STATES SHOULD PRESS CHINA TO MAKE THE FULL TRANSITION FROM HEALTH AID RECIPIENT TO GLOBAL HEALTH DONOR. 3/11, 9:30-11:00am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: CSIS Global Health Policy Center. Speakers: Jack Chow, professor of global health, Carnegie Mellon University; Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow of global health, Council on Foreign Relations. 

*Painted fiberglass and 20,000 toy dinosaurs, dimensions variable; Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan; photo: Kaz Tsuruta, courtesy Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; © Sui Jianguo and Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

The future of the world economy

The world is not flat

APP Institutional member, Columbia University's Business School Center on Japanese Economy and Business will host its 25th Anniversary Conference, JAPAN, U.S., CHINA AND THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD ECONOMY, in Tokyo on March 16 from 1:00-6:30pm.

While advanced economies continue to recover from the deepest global recession in the postwar era, and emerging economies - notably China - resume rapid growth, Japan continues to play an important role in the shift of both regional and global dynamics. How can Japan best provide lessons for countries looking to avoid their own lost decades? What lessons are to be learned for Japan from its global allies and competitors? This future-oriented conference, held on the 25th Anniversary of Columbia Business School's Center on Japanese Economy and Business, will feature distinguished academics, economists, and policy makers from Japan, the U.S., and China. Speakers will examine key issues regarding Japan's international economic relations and financial regulatory structures as well as trends in Japan's global businesses, including branding strategies for the highly successful e-commerce company, Rakuten. Columbia University Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, will deliver the keynote address, focusing on the future of the post-crisis global economy.

Speakers: Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor, Columbia University; Heizo Takenaka, Professor, Faculty of Policy Management; Director, Global Security Research Institute, Keio University; Hugh Patrick, Director, Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Columbia Business School; JRobert Hodrick, Nomura Professor of International Finance, Columbia Business School; Kazuo Ueda, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo; Yiping Huang, Professor of Economics, Peking University; David E. Weinstein, Carl S. Shoup Professor of the Japanese Economy, Columbia University; Alicia Ogawa, Senior Advisor, Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Columbia Business School; Atsushi Saito, President and CEO, Tokyo Stock Exchange Group, Inc.; Merit E. Janow, Professor in the Practice of International Economic Law and International Affairs, Columbia University; Nobuyuki Kinoshita, Executive Director, Bank of Japan; Bernd Schmitt, Robert D. Calkins Professor of International Business, Columbia Business School; Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman & CEO, Rakuten, Inc. 

Location: Hotel Okura, Tokyo

There is a registration fee of 15,000JPY for the conference and the reception. Advance registration and payment are required.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Maehara jumps overboard as Kan nears the rocks

March is shaping up to be a cruel month for the Japanese government. Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara's sudden resignation on March 7 capped a dicey week of falling public support for Prime Minister Kan and political stalemate in the Diet. Kan appears to be the only one who remains optimistic about his handling of the ship of state.

Like the feckless American actor, Charlie Sheen, he thinks he is "winning."

Maehara’s departure for accepting illegal political donations from a foreign national (a life-time resident of Japan but with South Korean citizenship) could be the beginning of the end for Kan. With a divided Diet, critical budget-related bills stalled, and the ruling DPJ beginning to splinter, the opposition parties smell Kan's blood.

The Japanese public seems to have given up on Kan. Losing Maehara at this juncture simply speeds up the inevitable. The foreign minister not only was seen as the heir apparent to Kan, but also was the chief architect of a pragmatic and straightforward foreign policy agenda, that included shoring up the alliance with the US left shaken by Kan’s predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama. Resolution of the Futenma relocation issue, on which Maehara had the lead, could be delayed by his departure, although there may be some welcome breathing space for all concerned.

Maehara was done in by a legal technicality. He received political donations of around $500 a year for five years from a supporter who happened to be a citizen of South Korea. Maehara said he was unaware of the transactions but stepped down over Kan’s entreaties to stay, in order to avoid further turmoil in the Diet, where the opposition LDP was already demanding his resignation. His successor will be chosen later this week, but it is rumored to be Senior Vice-Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto (who is a cousin to the current Japanese Ambassador to the US Ichiro Fujisaki).

Just when one thought things could not get worse for the luckless Kan, they did. Maehara’s departure was preceded by the shocking revelation by former Prime Minister Hatoyama, who recently told the press that he had lied last May in justifying his decision to relocate the Marine air base Futenma to another location in Okinawa. He explained it as linked to maintaining “deterrence,” but he now admits that was an “expedient” excuse. His words outraged Okinawans, destroying any possibility of trust being built between the prefecture and Tokyo over the base issue.

The Kan administration was seen in the press as on the brink of collapse even prior to Maehara’s resignation. The latest opinion polls show the support rate of the Kan Cabinet has plummeted to the 17-20% range.

Collateral damage from Kan’s plunging popularity had already spread to his party. The DPJ used to command a support rate around 40% in the polls, but in the Mainichi’s February survey, its support was down five points since January to 15%. The Asahi’s poll placed party support at 19%. In both surveys, support for the former ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was five or six points higher than the DPJ. Despite the slight edge, voters are definitely not flocking back to the LDP: many blame it in part for a gridlocked Diet with no legislation being approved. Up to 45% of the electorate remains unaffiliated with any party.

Calls for Kan to step down as president of the DPJ and thus prime minister have already spread across the party. Senior DPJ leaders are reportedly maneuvering to find a successor prime minister should Kan step down.

Kan himself has hinted he may dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election to counter such calls for his resignation, though whether he is prepared to face the very real possibility of his party's annihilation at the polls just to cling on to his title is debatable. Further, with no party in Japan popular or presenting a decent candidate for the prime minister, it is not in anyone's political interest to press for an election.

Preparations were underway between Washington and Tokyo for a 2-plus-2 meeting of foreign and defense ministers in early May to release a new set of common strategic objectives shortly afterwards. It will be attended by a new and untested foreign minister. The meeting was to be a prelude to a summit meeting that would issue a new joint security declaration. If that now looks to be an optimistic timeframe, at least there is now political space to tackle contentious side issues such as child abduction, trafficking, and child porn, without disrupting negotiations considered more essential in national security and finance. These social values-focused issues, long said to be at the heart of the Alliance, are now the focus of the US-Japan relationship.

William Brooks, APP Senior Fellow
Mindy Kotler, APP Director
Patrick Sherriff, APP Editor at Large

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

War memory and history - March 3

As you can see from the above photo, Japanese ignorance of WWII history crossed cultures this week. Appearing on Japan's MTV, the counter-culture band Kishidan offended everyone but their intended audience of the Japanese establishment. The Sony execs in charge of the boy band neglected the fact that Japanese pop culture is global and that some "cultural" borrowing is just plain offensive.

The band usually wears stylized Japanese school boy uniforms.  As these are based on Prussian army uniforms, the Sony stylists may have thought they were merely "modernizing" the band's attire with the Third Reich. Then again, they might not have been thinking at all.

Simon Wiesenthal Center is asking Sony for an explanation, an apology, and a change of clothes for Kishidan. And it appears that the apology was delivered on March 2nd.

. 3/3, 2:30-5:30pm, Berkeley, CA. Sponsor: Center for Japanese Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Speakers: Steven Vogel, Director, Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Berkeley; Mitsuhiro Fujimaki, Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka; Takahito Sawada, Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka; Charles Burress, Journalist; Kerry Shannon, Asian Studies, UC Berkeley; Keiko Yamanaka, Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley.

Mitsuhiro Fujimaki, Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka
On Visibility of National Trauma at Pearl Harbor: Film Representation of Sinking Vessels and Bombs at the New Visitor Center Museum.

Takahito Sawada, Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka
A Frontline for War Memory in Northern Australia: Expanding Traumatic Surveillance over Imaginary Enemies and Transforming National History after the Pacific War.

Charles Burress, Journalist
Can the Messenger Be Trusted? The Press and East Asia’s Memory Wars.

Memory has been a critical term for criticism and cultural studies/postcolonialism the past twenty years. Some memory has transgressed borders inciting controversy between nations and peoples, while others remain insulated in their places of origin. Why has this happened?

These days, history is often conflated with memory, though these two related phenomena are far from synonymous. At centers of memory, such as museums and monuments, personal memoirs and other documents inform the production of history. This trend is as if history almost takes over memory in the name of history.

Further, the construction of popular memory often results from the selective amalgamation of a number of diverse histories. In this context, this workshop pays attention to the ongoing trend at places of memory and reconsiders possibilities of “memory” as a recalcitrant agency to seamless historical orchestration.

GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY. 3/3, Noon-1:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. Speaker: Prof. Dr. Michael Brenner, Professor of Jewish History and Culture at the University of Munich, DAAD/AICGS Fellow.

In 1949, John J. McCloy, the U.S. Military Governor (and later High Commissioner) in Germany, stated at a conference in Heidelberg on the future of the Jews in Germany that the successful integration of Jews in a democratic Germany served as a litmus test for the new Bundesrepublik: "What this [the Jewish] community will be, how it forms itself, how it becomes a part and how it merges with the new Germany, will, I believe be watched very closely and very carefully by the entire world. It will, in my judgment, be one of the real touchstones and the test of Germany's progress towards the light."

More than fifty years later Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer touched on a similar theme when he said: "An important measurement of our capacity to be an open and tolerant society is the presence of Jewish communities in Germany. The question of whether Jews feel safe in our country speaks to the basic issue of the credibility of our democracy." Every German government has understood that the existence of a Jewish community in Germany was essential to positive international recognition. Thus, from the 1950s on, the Central Council of Jews in Germany and individual representatives of the Jewish community became part of the overall attempts to show the world that Germany was making efforts towards reconciliation and honoring its past. This lecture will analyze the role the Jewish past and the small contemporary Jewish community played in the foreign policy of the two German states before 1989, and to a smaller extent of unified Germany.

This Week in Washington

3/1 - 10:00am, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Full committee hearing on "Breaking the Cycle of North Korean Provocations." Witnesses: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell; Stephen Bosworth, State Department special representative for North Korea policy; L. Gordon Flake, executive director, Mansfield Foundation; Marcus Noland, deputy director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics; Robert Carlin of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University. 

RE-EXAMINING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE US-JAPAN RELATIONSHIP IN AN ERA OF CHANGE. 3/1, 8:30-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Toshiba International Foundation; Mansfield Foundation. Speaker: Ambassador Rust Deming, Adjunct Professor, Japan Studies, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University; Panel I: The U.S.-Japan Alliance and Asian Regional Security: William Heinrich, U.S. Department of State; Nicolas Szechenyi, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Kuniko Ashizawa, Oxford Brookes University; Panel II: Economic Relations: Redefining the U.S.-Japan Relationship in the Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis Regional Economic Integration: Kiyoaki Aburaki, Nippon Keidanren and CSIS; Mireya Solis, American University; Keith A Krulak, U.S. Department of State; Climate Change and Energy Policy: Toshihide Arimura, Sophia University; Llewelyn Hughes, George Washington University; Jennifer Sklarew, formerly U.S. Department of Commerce.

JAPAN FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT -- 10TH ANNIVERSARY: A REAL TOOL OF CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT OR MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? 3/2, 4:30-6:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, SAIS. Speaker: Dr. Lawrence Repeta, Professor, Meiji University. 

EAST ASIAN ECONOMIC INTEGRATION AND U.S.-JAPAN COOPERATION, CSIS-JETRO CONFERENCE. 3/2, 9:00am-1:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: John Hamre, President and CEO, CSIS; Li Xiangyang, Director, Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Michael Wesley, Executive Director, Lowy Institute for International Policy, Australia; Vo Tri Thanh, Vice-President, Central Institute for Economic Management, Vietnam; Minoru Tsukada, President, Hitachi Research Institute; William Grimes, Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Boston University; Laura Hudson, Manager, International Government Affairs, Chevron Corporation; Yasuo Hayashi, Chairman and CEO, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO); Michael Green, Senior Adviser and Toyota Japan Chair, CSIS. 

DIFFUSING TENSIONS ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA: WHAT AMERICA—AND CHINA—SHOULD DO? 3/2, 2:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Progressive Policy Institute; UC Washington Center. Speakers: Kurt Campbell, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Scott Snyder, Director, Center for U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation; Karin Lee, Executive Director, National Committee on North Korea; Gordon Flake, Executive Director, Mansfield Foundation.  

CRACKS IN THE U.S.-JAPAN ALLIANCE? 3/3, 12:30-2:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: American U, Center forAsian Studies Forum. Speaker: William Brooks, Johns Hopkins University SAIS, APP Senior Fellow.