Thursday, May 30, 2013

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule May 6-19

May 6, 2013 (Mon)


07:11 Fujisakura Country Club; Golfing with Mrs. Abe; Mr. Kouichi Hagyuda, LDP Lower House member; Mr. Honda, Councilor of Cabinet Secretariat; and secretaries

03:49 JR Ootski Station
04:07 Leave the station
05:16 Arrive at JR Shinjuku Station
05:34 Dinner with Mrs. Yoko Abe, Mother; and Mrs. Abe
08:20 Home in Tomigaya
09:02 Deputy Prime Minister Aso
10:46 Mr. Aso leaves

May 7, 2013 (Tue)


08:54 Office
08:56 Former Prime Minister Yoshirou Mori
09:33 Ministerial Meeting
09:58 Imperial Palace; report of return
10:14 Office
10:54 Defense Minister Onodera; Mr. Kuroe, MoD Operation and Planning Bureau Director General; Mr. Iwasaki, SDF Director Joint Chiefs
11:34 Education Minister Shimomura; Deputy Education Minister Yamanaka; Mr. Nunomura, MEXT Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau Director General
11:43 Economic Revitalization Minister Amari
11:44 Mr. Matsumoto, Administrative Vice Minister of Cabinet Office, joins
11:47 Mr. Matsumoto leaves
11:53 Mr. Amari leaves
11:55 Mayor Kazuo Morishita of Ogasawara, Tokyo Prefecture

12:04 Government・Ruling Party Liaison Meeting
12:55 Parliament
01:00 Upper House Budget Committee
05:15 Office
05:23 Courtesy Call from Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French Republic Mr. Laurent Fabius
05:47 Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy
06:45 Mr. Yachi, Councilor of Cabinet Office
06:54 Mrs. Junko Kawaguchi, Upper House Environment Committee Chair
07:13 Hotel New Ootani, Attend LDP Nikai Faction Party
07:33 Dinner with Yutaka Nishizawa, President of Jiji Press; and Mr. Shirou Tasaki, Jiji’s editorial writer, at Japanese restaurant Wadakura
09:36 Home in Tomigaya

May 8, 2013 (Wed)

07:43 Office
08:52 Parliament
09:12 Governor Haruhiko Kurada of the Bank of Japan
09:39 Upper House Budget Committee

12:01 Office
12:54 Parliament
12:57 Mr. Masuzoe, President of New Party Reform (Kaikaku)
01:12 Upper House Budget Committee
04:39 Dentist
04:56 Office
05:01 Mr. Kitamura, Director, Cabinet Intelligence
05:08 Foreign Minister Kishida
05:24 Education Rebuilding Implementation Council
06:16 Education Minister Shimomura
06:37 Residence; Dinner with Mr. Shigeo Nagashima, former Manager of Yomiuri Giants; Mr. Hideki Matsui, former baseball player for the New York Yankees; and Mr. Tsuneo Watanabe, Chair of Yomiuri Group; and Mr. Yoshio Okubo, President of Nippon TV; Mr. Suga attends
08:42 home in Tomigaya

May 9, 2013 (Thu)

09:16 office
09:17 Mr. Sugiyama, MoFA Asia Oceaninan Bureau Director General
10:11 Imperial Palace;
11:15 Office
11:48 Economic Revitalization Minister Amari; METI Minister Motegi; Mr. Ishiguro, METI Industrial Policy Bureau Director General; and Mr.Sugawara, Manufacturing Industry Bureau Director General

01:20 Imperial Palace
01:52 Office
02:34 Mr. Kitamura
03:14 Interview with the Huffington Post Japanese Version, Arianna Huffington, Japan Editor-in-Chief Shigeki Matsuura and International Editor Nicholas Sabloff
03:38 Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery Minister Hayashi; and Mr. Minagawa, Administrative Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishry
04:09 Defense Minister Onodera; and Mr. Tokuchi, MoD Policy Bureau Director General
04:33 Mr. McNerney, CEO of Boeing
05:12 Administrative Vice Foreign Minister Kawai; Deputy Foreign Minister Saiki; and Mr. Kouzuki, MoFA European Affairs Bureau Director General
05:35 Advisory Council on the Establishment of a National Security Council
06:35 Residence; Dinner with Mr. Kouichi Sugiyama, Composer; Ms. Michiko Hasegawa, Professor Emeritus of Saitama University; and others
08:01 Mr. Oota, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and transportation; and Mr. Arai, New Party Reform Secretary General at a Japanese Bar Restaurant Yottegansho
09:19 Home in Tomigaya

May 10, 2013 (Fri)

08:07 Office
08:09 Mr. Shindo, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications
09:53 Parliament
10:01 Upper House Plenary Session
11:15 Office
11:47 Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Chair of “Beijing-Tokyo Forum"

12:11 Mr. Ichirou Aisawa, Chair of LDP Election System Reform; Mr. Takuya Hirai, Net Media Director; and Mr. Shigeki Satou, Acting Policy Research Council Chair
12:52 Parliament
12:54 Mr. Tamura, Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare
01:02 Lower House Plenary Session
03:26 Office
03:45 Deputy Foreign Minister Saiki
04:52 Fuji TV
05:00 Appear on News Program
06:19 Office
06:22 Defense Minister Onodera; Mr. Tokuchi, MoD Policy Bureau Director General; and Mr. Ihara, MoFA North American Bureau Director General
07:06 Residence; Dinner with Mr. Minomonta, TV Show Host; and Mr. Toshihiro Nikai, Acting LDP General Affairs Chair
08:40 Mr. Mino Leaves
08:49 Mr. Nikai leaves
09:05 Home in Tomigaya

May 11, 2013 (Sat)

10:35 Exercise in Nagomi Spa and Fitness at Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi

01:25 Lunch with Mr. Taniguchi, Cabinet Office Councilor; and secretaries at French Kitchen
02:13 Watch Movie “Lincoln” with his secretaries in Roppongi Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills
05:09 Interview with Foreign Affairs
06:23 Join concert of Mr. Kousetsu Minami in Hibiya Outdoor Music Hall; Sing some songs
06:46 Dinner with his classmates at Seikei University
10:30 Home in Tomigaya

May 12, 2013 (Sun)
Visit Miyagi Prefecture, earthquake affected areas, SDF base to ride on a fighter get

Introducing the Indo-Pacific

Over the past few months, the phrase "Indo-Pacific" has begun to overtake "Asia-Pacific" in referring to Asia. As the article from APP's Australia National University's members show, the origin of the phrase is Australian.

Australia’s New Region: the Indo-Pacific

By Melissa Conley-Tyler and Samantha Shearman, Australian Institute of International Affairs
Article reprinted from ANU's East Asia Forum: 21 May 2013

With the release of the Defence White Paper 2013 on 3 May, Australia officially has a new region, the ‘Indo-Pacific’: a strategic arc ‘connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans through Southeast Asia’.

Given the long history of linking Australian foreign policy to the ‘Asia-Pacific’, this is a significant change in terminology. How did we get to this point and what are the implications?

The ‘Indo-Pacific’ is not a new term in Australian debates. According to the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf, the ‘Indo-Pacific’ was used in the 1950s to discuss decolonisation in the 1960s at two seminars held by the Australian Institute of International Affairs and the ANU, and again in the 1970s [1]. Yet for around 30 years the term was not prominent until its re-emergence in 2005 in a paper by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies’ Michael Richardson who saw the inclusion of India, Australia and New Zealand in the East Asia Summit (EAS) as symbolising a more unified ‘Indo-Pacific’ region.

The term ‘Indo-Pacific’ subsequently started to appear in Australian foreign policy discourse, including speeches by Minister for Defence Stephen Smith [2] and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Peter Varghese [3]. But it remains contested, and there was significant debate around the wisdom of adopting the concept.

Proponents of the term have argued that it realistically describes the region in which Australia is situated. Rory Medcalf views the Indo-Pacific as ‘a valid and objective description of the greater regional system in which Australia now finds itself’. In his book There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the rise of Asia, Michael Wesley writes that the concept emerged due to the reality of growing economic and strategic links through Asia: what he terms the ‘Indo-Pacific power highway’.

At the same time, there has been criticism of adopting the Indo-Pacific concept too readily. For example, Nick Bisley and Andrew Phillips have expressed concerns about what the term means and whose interests it serves; it should not be code for ‘dialling up Australia’s alliance commitments to 11’ [4].

The debate between these two camps was fairly even until May 2013 as the Indo-Pacific was not yet embedded into foreign policy. The 2012 White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century mentioned the concept only twice. This was a long way from giving the concept official endorsement.

This situation changed with the Defence White Paper 2013 [5]. Presenting the Indo-Pacific as a ‘logical extension’ of what the 2009 Defence White Paper called the ‘wider Asia-Pacific region’, the 2013 White Paper adopts the concept and ‘adjusts Australia’s priority strategic focus to the arc extending from India though Southeast Asia to Northeast Asia, including the sea lines of communication on which the region depends’. The White Paper sets ‘a Stable Indo-Pacific’ as one of Australia’s four key strategic interests, making the capacity to ‘contribute to military contingencies in the Indo-Pacific’ one of the Australian Defence Force’s four principal tasks. It is hard to imagine a fuller incorporation of the concept into a government policy document.

There are a number of implications of adopting an Indo-Pacific worldview.

First, Australia will need to assess the implications of the Indo-Pacific concept for its key relationships with the United States and China; in particular, whether adopting the Indo-Pacific concept may be perceived to tie Australia closer to the United States and alienate China. Early indications of China’s response to the 2013 White Paper were positive — it seems the term ‘Indo-Pacific’ is less of a concern to China than the characterisation of China as a potential threat [6].

Second, Australia must consider how to build relationships with Indo-Pacific powers as it adopts the Indo-Pacific concept into its foreign policy. Australia will need to engage strongly with many other regional players, for example India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and key African countries, as well as China and the United States. This could include security dialogues and operational cooperation.

Third, Australia will need to invest time and effort in building Indo-Pacific institutions. These institutions include the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and the EAS. Given that Australia is set to take over the chair of IOR-ARC in late 2013, it is well-positioned to promote greater facilitation of regional cooperation. The EAS also includes the major Indo-Pacific powers, providing a space for cooperation and discussion of regional issues. The EAS has been reported to be a key part of Australia’s foreign policy as part of a ‘six + two + N’ formula for setting priorities [7]. This suggests that Australia’s multilateral focus is increasingly turning towards Indo-Pacific institutions.

The adoption of the Indo-Pacific concept in the Defence White Paper 2013 may have surprised some observers. Many other Indo-Pacific powers are in a similar position to Australia; this means that Australian debates receive attention for indications of how others will respond to similar forces. As something of a bellwether state, Australia’s new conception of its region as the Indo-Pacific will not go unnoticed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mike Mochizuki in Australia


George Washington University

31 May 2013


Australian National University
Lecture theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (Bldg #130)
corner of Liversidge Street and Garran Road, ANU

Why are Japan and China now locked in an intractable conflict regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands? Professor Mike Mochizuki will examine the historical, economic, military, territorial and international legal dimensions of this dispute. After considering power transition and nationalism as possible explanations, he will explain the recent deterioration of Japan-China relations by analysing the interactive dynamics between the two countries and the role of domestic politics. Finally, he will consider possible ways to mitigate the conflict.

Professor Mochizuki holds the Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Dr. Mochizuki was director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from 2001 to 2005. He co-directs the "Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific" research and policy project of the Sigur Center. Previously, he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was also Co-Director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Policy at RAND and has taught at the University of Southern California and Yale University. He is a board member of Asia Policy Point.

You can preview this talk by listening to an interview Professor Mochizuki gave to  Radio Australia on May 27, 2013.

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule April 29 - May 5

April 29, 2013 (Mon)
Visit Russian Federation

April 30, 2013 (Tue)
Complete visit to Russia and travel to Saudi Arabia

May 1, 2013 (Wed)
Visit the United Arab Emirates

May 2, 2013 (Thu)
Continue visit in the United Arab Emirates

May 3, 2013 (Fri)
Visit the Republic of Turkey

May 4, 2013 (Sat)

01:46 Arrive at Haneda Airport following Russia-Middle East tour
02:05 Leave Haneda Airport
02:29 Home in Tomigaya
05:05 Leave private residence
06:19 Dinner at Tetsuan restaurant in Fuji Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture
07:59 Leave restaurant
08:00 Shopping at Drag Sames pharmacy, Kawaguchiko Branch
08:08 Leave store
08:17 Arrive at villa in Narusawa village, Yamanashi Prefecture

May 5, 2013 (Sun)

10:25 Leave villa in Narusawa village
10:53 Arrive at JR Otsuki station
11:10 Leave station

12:11 Arrive at Shinjuku station
12:14 Leave station
12:31 Meal with secretaries at Kourakuen Hanten restaurant
01:04 Leave restaurant
01:09 Arrive at Tokyo Dome
01:36 Present National Honor Award to Shigeo Nagashima and Hideki Matsui.
01:59 Photo shoot of ceremonial first pitch
02:17 Media interview
02:20 Mr. Nagashima; Mr. Matsui; Mr. Tsuneo Watanabe, Chair of Yomiuri Shimbun Group; Mr. Yoshio Ookubo, President of Nippon TV; Mr. Yoshihide Suga
03:00 Watch Tokyo Giants vs. Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball game
03:44 Press conference and interview
03:55 Leave Tokyo Dome
05:21 Arrive at villa
05:22 LDP Lower House member Kouichi Hagyuuda joins
05:30 Mr. Etsurou Honda, Special Advisor to the Cabinet, joins
08:53 Mr. Honda departs

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mayor Hashimoto defends himself

On two consecutive days (May 27 & 28) the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan hosted two press conferences about the controversial remarks of Nippon Ishin No Kai (Japan Restoration Party) Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto. This report from the Shingetsu News Agency shows key highlights.

You can find videos of the entire Hashimoto press conference HERE. Note, it is difficult to figure out the order of the video segments. This ONE is the first segment of the press conference.

Mayor Hashimoto felt that his initial remarks were distorted and that the Comfort Women system was: 1) a government system, 2) a violation of human rights, but the women were not abducted by government forces.
Although there were rumors that Hashimoto would link his remarks to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's very similar views on the Comfort Women, he did not.

Shingo Nishimura, a Japan Restoration Party lawmaker who was forced to resign from the LDP in 1999 for calling for Japan's consideration of nuclear weapons, suggested on May 17 that many ethnic Koreans are engaged in prostitution in Japan. He said "Tell the South Koreans in downtown Osaka streets, 'You're comfort women, right?'". The comment had him expelled from his new party the following day.

Concerning China in Washington this Week

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon meets with Chinese officials in Beijing early this week in preparation for a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Obama on June 7-8 in Rancho Mirage, California.

Below are a number of programs held in Washington this week that touch on issues affecting China:

UNITED STATES FOREIGN POLICY COLLOQUIUM. 5/29-31. Program designed to help Chinese graduate students better understand the complex forces that shape American foreign policy. Sponsor: National Committee on United States-China Relations. Speakers include: The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor, 2001-2009, The Honorable Cui Tiankai (崔天凯), Chinese Ambassador to the United States; Kin Moy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Erin Ennis, Vice President, The US-China Business Council; James Goldgeier, Dean of American University's School of International Service; Kin Moy, Deputy Assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs at the U.S. Department of State; Will Wechsler, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for special operations and combating terrorism at the U.S. Department of Defense.

CHINESE COMPANIES IN LATIN AMERICA. 5/29, 8:00-9:00am. Sponsor; CSIS, Americas Program. Speakers: R. Evan Ellis, Associate Professor, Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University; Carl Meacham, Director, Americas Program, CSIS. .

CHINA'S ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL OUTLOOK UNDER XI JINPING AND LI KEQIANG. 5/30, 9:00-10:30am. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Junhua Wu, Public Policy Scholar, Wilson Center, Chairwoman, Chief Economist, Japan Research Institute (Shanghai) Consulting Co. Ltd., Council Member, Japan Research Institute Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group; Kiyoyuki Seguchi, Research Director, Canon Institute for Global Studies. .

THE STATE OF THE MARINE CORPS. 5/29, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos; Michael O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, Brookings.

U.S.-EU TRADE RELATIONS WITH CHINA: DIFFERENT CHALLENGES, COMMON ANSWERS? 5/29, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. Speaker: Tilman Krueger, Research Associate, University of Bremen.

Click to ORDER

THE LAST DAYS OF KIM JONG-IL: THE NORTH KOREAN THREAT IN A CHANGING ERA. 5/29, 2:00-3:00pm. Sponsor: Heritage. Speakers: Bruce E. Bechtol, Jr., Associate Professor of Political Science, Angelo State University, Author; Bruce Klingner, Senior Research Fellow, Northeast Asia, Asian Studies Center, Heritage.

VARIETIES OF DEMOCRACY: GLOBAL STANDARDS, LOCAL KNOWLEDGE. 5/30, 4:00pm. Sponsor: Carnegie, Democracy and Rule of Law Program. Speakers: Michael Coppedge, Professor of Political Science, Yale University; Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer to the UN, International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance); Richard Young, Director, Fundacion para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Dialogo Exterior (FRIDE); Steffan Lindberg, Research Director, World Values Survey Project in Sweden.

Click to ORDER
TRANSNATIONAL THREATS IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD. 5/30, 5:00-6:00pm. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speaker: Christian Caryl, Author, Strange Rebels, Senior Fellow, Legatum Institute; Brian Finlay, Managing Director, Stimson's Managing Across Boundaries Initiative.

MYANMAR: WHAT’S NEXT? 5/30, 11:00am-12:30pm. Sponsor: Carnegie Endowment. Speakers: Tom Malinowski, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch; Lex Rieffel, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings; David Steinberg, Professor, Georgetown University; Vikram Nehru, Senior Associate, Asia Program, Bakrie Chair in Southeast Asian Studies, Carnegie.

FREE TRADE ZONES (FTZ): A COMPARATIVE LOOK AT FTZS AMONGST THE BRICS & OTHER KEY US TRADING PARTNERS. 5/30, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsor: World Trade Organization Committee of the Association of Women in International Trade. Speakers: Clay Perry, Sr. Vice President - Global Markets, Integration Point; Amie Ahanchian, Managing Director, KPMG LLP.

INDONESIA’S ECONOMIC ROLE: RECALIBRATING GLOBAL TRADE. 5/31, 5:30pm, Gala Dinner. Sponsor: US-Indonesia Society. Keynote Speaker: Gita Wirjawan, Minister of Trade, Indonesia. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Prime Minister Abe deus ex machina

Prime Minister Abe rode a lot of machinery in May.

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule April 15-28

April 15, 2013 (Mon)


08:25 Office
08:33 Education Rebuilding Implementation Council
10:42 Courtesy Call from the Secretary of State of the United States, Mr. John F. Kerry; Foreign Minister Kishida, and US Ambassador for Japan Roos attend
11:38 Mr. Kishida and Mr. Roos leave
11:45 Meeting ends
11:49 Mr. Kishida; Administrative Vice Foreign Minister Kawai; Deputy Foreign Minister Saiki; Mr. Sugiyama, MoFA Asia Pacific Affairs Bureau Director General; and Mr. Kozuki, European Affairs Bureau Director General

12:09 Administrative Vice Finance Minister Manago; Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Furusawa; and Mr. Yamazaki, MoF International Affairs Bureau Director General
01:48 Interview with Yomiuri Shimbun
02:46 Mr. Furuya, Minister in charge of the Abduction Issue
02:56 Mr. Mitani, Deputy Director, Headquarters for the Abduction Issue
03:04 Mr. Furuya and Mr. Mitani leave
03:05 Mr. Kitamura, Director, Cabinet Intelligence; and Mr. Shimohira, Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center Director
03:09 Mr. Shimohira leaves
03:25 Mr. Kitamura leaves
03:26 Economic Revitalization Minister Amari
03:44 Mr. Matsumoto, Administrative Vice Minister of Cabinet Office; and Mr. Matsuyama, Deputy Minister of Cabinet Office
03:57 Courtesy Call from the Participants of the New Economy Summit 2013
04:22 Mr. Hiramatsu, MoFA Comprehensive Foreign Policy Bureau Director General
04:35 Deputy Foreign Minister Saiki; and Mr. Sugiyama
05:00 LDP Headquarters
05:03 LDP Executives Meeting
05:37 Photo shoot with LDP candidates for Tokyo Municipal Assembly election
05:50 Office
06:15 Courtesy Call from the NATO Secretary General, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Japan-NATO Joint Political Declaration Signing Ceremony and Press Announcement
07:17 Welcome Party of the New Economy Summit 2013
08:01 Arab Day Reception at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Tokyo
08:37 Home in Tomigaya.

April 16, 2013 (Tue)


07:23 Office
07:24 Mr. Katou, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
08:28 Parliament
08:32 Ministerial Meeting
08:41 Mr. Aso, Deputy PM and Minister of Finance
08:45 Mr. Motegi, METI Minister, joins
08:47 Both leaves
08:57 Lower House Budget Committee

12:05 Office
12:54 Parliament
12:59 Lower House Budget Committee
12:05 Mr. Oota, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation
05:41 Lower House Pleanary Session
07:50 Mr. Ibuki and Mr. Akamatsu, Lower House Chair and Vice Chair; Visit ruling and opposition party factions except DPJ, Mr. Suga accompanies
08:04 Residence; Press interview
08:05 Dinner with Mr. Seiichi Eto , PM Advisor; Mr. Kouichi Hagyuda, LDP Lower House member; and Ms. Tamayo Marukawa, LDP Upper House member
09:51 Home in Tomigaya

April 17, 2013 (Wed)


09:28 Office
09:31 Mr. Katou, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
10:58 LDP Headquarters
11:00 Mr. Hiroshi Sakurai, President, Asahi Shuzo (Sake Manufacturer) from Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
11:16 Video Message Recording for Upper House election
11:45 Governor Yoshihiro Murai of Miyagi Prefecture; Mr. Akiba, Vice Reconstruction Minister, attends

12:03 Office
12:04 Lunch with Ms. Mori, Minister in charge of Aging Issue; and Ms. Inada, Minister for Administrative Reform
02:54 Parliament
03:00 Committee on Fundamental National Policies Joint Meeting of Both Houses at the Diet (Party Leaders' Debate)
03:54 Office
03:55 Video message recording for the oldest man in the world, Mr. Jiroemon Kimura (116 yo)
04:01 Administrative Vice METI Minister Adachi; Deputy METI Minister Sasaki; and others
04:36 MoFA’s Sugiyama and Ihara
05:18 Council for Science and Technology Policy
05:22 Mr. Tokuchi, MoD Policy Bureau Director General; and Mr. Manabe, Deputy Director General
05:35 Mr. Masahiro Imamura, LDP Director for Federalism System Promotion; Mr. Isozaki, Advisor, attends
06:04 Industrial Competitiveness Council
07:43 LDP Headquarters: LDP Legal Profession members meeting
07:55 ANA Intercontinental Hotel Tokyo; Dinner with precinct supporters
10:32 Home in Tomigaya

April 18, 2013 (Thu)


07:43 Nippon TV
08:00 Appear on a news program
08:58 Office
08:59 Mr. Furuya, Minister in charge of Disaster Prevention
09:47 Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy
10:23 MoFA’s Kawai, Saiki, and Kouzuki
11:45 Mr. Seishiro Eto, President of non-partisan caucus for “promotion of building hospital vessels”

12:00 Mr. Kamoshita, LDP Diet Affairs Council Chief
01:40 Akasaka Palace; Attend Spring Garden Party
03:50 Office
04:09 Mr. Koji Omi, Former Finance Minister
04:33 Ms. Inada, Minister for Administrative Reform
05:18 Mr. Takahashi, Cabinet Office International Peach and Cooperation Headquarters Secretary General; and Mr. Kuroe MoD Operation and Planning Bureau Director General
05:28 Mr. HIramatsu, MoFA Comprehensive Foreign Policy Bureau Director General
05:43 Mr. Katou, Mr. Sekou, and Mr. Sugita, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries
06:15 Courtesy Call from Chairperson of the National League for Democracy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi
06:59 LDP Oshima Faction’s party; Prince Hotel Tokyo, Shiba Kouen
07:18 Office
09:14 Home in Tomigaya

April 19, 2013 (Fri)


08:09 Office
08:17 Ministerial Meeting
09:14 MoFA’s Kawai, Saiki, and MIyakawa, Director General of Middle East African Affairs Bureau
10:19 Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily to Japan
10:23 Former PM Mori
10:59 Mr. Kitamura, Director, Cabinet Intelligence

12:03 Mr. Hiromasa Yonekura, President of Keidanren; Mr. Yasuchika Hasegawa, Chairperson of Keizai Doyukai; and Mr. Tadashi Okamura, Chairperson of Japan Chamber of Commerce
01:38 Meeting for an Exchange of Views with the Business Community , Mr. Yonemura, Cabinet Crisis Management Director; and Mr. Yajima, Health Bureau Director General, Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare
01:50 Mr. Yajima leaves
01:51 Mr. Kitamura, Director, Cabinet Intelligence and Mr. Kitamura, Japan Coast Guard Director, Join
02:02 All leave
03:17 Japan Press Center Building
03:29 Press Conference; Delivers a Speech at the Japan National Press Club
04:44 Office
04:46 MoFA’s Saiki and Kouzuki
05:00 Mr. Yachi, Cabinet Office Councilor
05:09 Mr. Matsumoto, Administrative Vice Minister of Cabinet Office; and Mr. Matsuyama, Deputy Minister of Cabinet Office
06:04 Advisory Committee on Cultural Exchanges in Asia
06:51 Courtesy Call from the Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr. Kairat Mami
07:26 ANA Intercontinental Hotel Tokyo; Reception of his supporter organization
08:38 Home in Tomigaya

April 20, 2013 (Sat)


08:14 Shinjuku Gyoen Park
08:15 Mr. Nishimura, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Commissioner and other Metropolitan Police leaders; photo taking with local supporters
09:01 The Prime Minister Hosts a Cherry Blossom Viewing Party
10:38 Home in Tomigaya

12:09 Office
12:13 Special Tour of the Prime Minister's Office and Official Residence by Junior High School Students from Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture
12:23 Lunch with Mr. Suga, Mr. Amari, Mr. Sasaki, Chief Domestic Coordinator, Governmental Headquarters for the TPP
02:02 Haneda Airport
02:38 Leave the airport on ANA Flight 695
04:00 Arrive at Ube Airport, Yamaguchi Prefecture
04:05 Mr. Kawamura, LDP Election Affairs Committee Chair; and Mr. Kishi, LDP Foreign Affairs leader
05:02 Party reception hosted by LDP Yamaguchi Prefectural federation
06:56 Upper House Yamaguchi by-election candidates meeting
09:09 Dinner with local young supporters in Shimonoseki City
10:11 Home in Shimonoseki

April 21, 2013 (Sun)


09:43 Shimonoseki City Office; cast a vote for Upper House Yamaguchi by-election
09:53 Kaikyo Yume Tower (Channel Dream Tower); Lion’s Club annual assembly
10:07 Shopping mall, Sea Mall Shimonoseki; street speech
11:56 Ube city shopping mall, Fuji Grand Ube, street speech

01:19 Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi Chamber of Commerce, Street speech; walk shopping arcade with LDP candidates for the by-election
03:20 JR Tokuyama station, street speech
04:54 Iwakuni City, Yume Town Minami Iwakuni, street speech
05:27 Iwakuni Airport
05:29 Mr. Kawamura; and Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery Minister Hayashi
06:04 Leave the airport on ANA Flight 638
07:14 Arrive at Haneda Airport
07:56 Home in Tomigaya

April 22, 2013 (Mon)


07:43 Office
07:44 Mr. Sekou, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
08:55 Parliament
09:00 Upper House Budget Committee
11:58 Office

12:53 Parliament
01:00 Upper House Budget Committee
05:02 LDP Executives meeting
05:28 Office
05:33 Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy
06:38 Foreign Minister Abdullah of UAE; Mr. Sekou, and Mr. Miyakawa, MoFA Middle East African Affairs Bureau Director General, attend
07:06 Interview with Michail Gusman of ITAR-TASS; MoFA’s Mr. Kozuki and Mr. Yokoi, Press Secretary, attend
07:47 Residence, Dinner with Mr. Shoji Nishida, LDP Upper House member; Mr. Susumu Nishibe, Critic; and Mr. Kousuke Nishimura, critic
09:02 MoFA’s Mr. Kawai, Mr. Saiki, Mr. Kouzuki, and Mr. Ishii, International Law Bureau Director General
09:55 Home in Tomigaya

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tobias Harris is Back!

Tobias Harris whose detailed blog posts on Japanese politics at Observing Japan that helped explain LDP and DPJ antics is back! And we are indeed better for it.

He had stopped blogging in 2011. Rumor had it that certain Washington think tankers objected to the respect this young Japan hand received from the media and others.

His observations contradicted much of what these well-paid men and their spokesmodels said about Japan. And he did it with a grace and charm not learned through formal PR lessons or government service.

Harris reenters the fray with an op ed in the Asian Wall Street Journal on May 16th, "Shinzo Abe's Constitution Quest: Instead of focusing on economics, the Japanese leader risks it all to change the rules of governance." 

This Grasshopper joins uber-blogger and The Master of Japanese politics, Michael Cucek over at Shisaku in bringing some light and storm to the understanding of today's Japan.

We look forward to The Grasshopper joining The Master in telling us about grasshoppers at our feet.

~This reference comes from the original TV series (1972–1975) Kung Fu where Shaolin Master Po tells his young student

Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Caine: No.
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

Monday in Washington

DOING BUSINESS WITH THE BRICS (BRAZIL, RUSSIA, INDIA, CHINA AND SOUTH AFRICA). 5/20, 9:00am-5:00pm. Sponsor: The Eurasia Center, the Eurasian Business Coalition, and the Russian Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the USA. Keynote Speakers: Daniel Russell, Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; Florizelle Liser, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa; Holly Vineyard, Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary for Africa, the Middle East and South Asia; Islam Siddiqui, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator; Sandile Tyini, Minister, Economic Office, Embassy of South Africa; Sergey Kislyak, Russian Ambassador to the United States; Christopher Smith, Energy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Fossil Energy; Ricardo Monteiro, Head, Trade Section, Embassy of Brazil. 

ENERGY EFFICIENCY GLOBAL FORUM. 5/20-21, 10:00am. Sponsor: EE Global. Speakers include: Roger Natsuhara, Principal Deputy Assistant Navy Secretary for Installations and Environment; Carlos Pascual, State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy; Ashok Sarkar, World Bank Senior Energy Efficiency Specialist; Elizabeth Craig, Director, Climate Protection Partnerships Division, Environmental Protection Agency.

HOW WELL DO PROTECTED AREAS REDUCE MANGROVE LOSS? AN EXAMINATION OF INDONESIA USING QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL METHODS. 5/20, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Resources for the Future (RFF). Speaker: Brian Murray, Research Professor and Director for Economic Analysis, Nicholas Institute, Duke University.

MYANMAR IN TRANSITION: U.S.-MYANMAR BILATERAL RELATIONS. 5/20, 3:45pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: SAIS, Johns Hopkins. Speaker: U Thein Sein, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. By invitation only.

N.B.: Next Monday, May 27th is Memorial Day a National Holiday in the United States.

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule April 1-14

April 1, 2013 (Mon)


09:27 Imperial Palace; Report of Return
09:44 Office
10:17 Courtesy Call from the First JENESYS 2.0 ASEAN Youth Delegation
10:36 Professor Shigeki Hakamada of Niigata Prefectural University; Mr. Kouzuki, MoFA Director General, European Affairs Bureau, attends
11:04 Mr. Yoshihiro Shigehisa, Representative of Nikki Group
11:22 Photo Shoot for Facebook

12:04 Government-Ruling Party Liaison meeting
12:40 Mr. Hosoda, LDP Deputy Secretary General
01:55 Mr. Amari, Minister of Economic Revitalization
02:44 Ms. Inada, Minister in charge of Administrative Reform
03:07 Mr. Kitamura, Director, Cabinet Intelligence; and Mr. Kinomura, MoD Director of Defense Intelligence Headquarters
03:17 Mr. Kinomura leaves
03:28 Mr. Kitamura leaves
03:37 Courtesy Call from the Japan-Mongolia Parliamentarian Friendship League
04:34 Mr. Yamamoto, Minister for Territorial Issues
05:02 Parliament
05:05 LDP Executives meeting
05:36 Office
05:37 Press interview
06:12 Courtesy Call from the Minister of Finance of India, Mr. P. Chidambaram
06:39 Interview with sports newspapers that are members of Cabinet correspondents club
07:04 Study group session with Mr. Masahiko Tsugawa, Actor, and others at Chinese Restaurant “Akasaka Shisen Hanten”, Hirakawa-cho
09:00 Home in Tomigaya

April 2, 2013 (Tue)


07:11 Office
07:12 Mr. Katou, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
08:03 Parliament
08:05 Headquarters for Japan's Economic Revitalization
08:28 Ministerial meeting
08:59 Lower House Budget Committee

12:05 Office
12:06 Interview with Japan Nursing Federation
12:55 Parliament
01:00 Lower House Budget Committee
05:05 Office
05:06 Mr. Nishi and Mr. Kanazawa, New and Old Administrative Vice Defense Minister
05:21 Administrative Reform Promotion Council
06:08 Tokyo Tower: Tokyo Tower Blue Lighting Ceremony for World Autism Awareness Day; Mr. Tamura, Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare; and Mr. Otsuji, former Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare
06:43 Office
07:12 Courtesy Call from Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar Yohei Sasakawa and a Delegation of Minority Groups from Myanmar
07:38 Dinner with Mr. Hasegawa, Special Advisor for PM; Mr. Kanehara, Assistant Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary; and Mr. Taniguchi, Cabinet Office Councilor at Japanese Restaurant Suiren
09:15 Home in Tomigaya
09:20 Mr. Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary
09:31 Mr. Amari joins
09:45 Mr. Aso joins
11:08 All leave

April 3, 2013 (Wed)


09:30 Office
09:31 Administrative Vice Foreign Minister Kawai; Deputy Foreign Minister Saiki; and Mr. Sugiyama, MoFA Asia Oceania Affairs Bureau Director General
09:59 Mr. Yamazaki, MoF International Affairs Bureau Director General joins
10:25 Mr. Yamazaki leaves
10:31 All leaves
11:01 Delivers an Address to New Civil Servants
11:39 Office

01:09 Mr. Furuya and Mr. Sasaki New and Old Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries
01:56 Mr. Ichiro Aizawa, Chair, Ruling Party Caucus of Iwo Jima Issue; Mr. Kazuaki Miyaji, Adviser of the caucus; Mr. Sekou, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
02:17 Mr. Toshimichi Iwanaga, Alumni Association Director of Defense University
02:35 Mr. Saiki and Mr. Sugiyama
02:55 Mr. Shimomura, Minister of Education and Science; and Mr. Yamanaka, Deputy Minister
04:06 Expert Forum on the Abduction Issue
04:26 Mr. Kawai of MoFA; Mr. Katagami, Director General of MoFA Economic Affairs Bureau; Mr. Adachi, METI Administrative Vice Minister; and Mr. Ueda, METI Trade Policy Director General
04:55 Mr. Takayuki Kasai, President of JR Central and Space Policy Committee Chair
06:01 Conversation with Mr. Ibuki, Mr. Hirata, Chair of Lower and Upper House, and others
07:48 Home in Tomigaya

April 4, 2013 (Thu)


09:55 Office
09:56 Press Interview for 100 days of Prime Ministership
10:50 Ms. Mori, Minister in charge of Aging Issue; Mr. Yasunori Yoshimura, Cabinet Office Councilor attends
11:27 Mr. Soichiro Tahara, Journalist

12:00 Lunch with Mr. Taro Aso, Senior Advisor of Japan Myanmar Association; and Mr. Hideo Watanabe, Chair of the Association
12:55 Parliament
01:02 Lower House Plenary Session
01:31 Office
02:02 Mr. Shigeharu Aoyama, Japan’s Independent Institute
02:28 Mr. Takashi Kodama, President of Japan Pharmaceutical Association; Mr. Motoyuki Fujii, LDP Upper House member, attends
03:06 Interview with TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting Service)
03:51 Mr. Ihara, MoFA North American Bureau Director General; and Mr. Sugiyama
04:31 Mr. Furusawa and Mr. Nakao, New and Old MoF Financial Affairs Bureau Director General
04:40 Mr. Yonemura, Cabinet Crisis Management Director; and Mr. Kitamura, Director, Cabinet Intelligence
05:21 Foreign Minister Kishida; Administrative Vice Foreign Minister Kawai; and Deputy Foreign Minister Saiki
06:00 Education Rebuilding Implementation Council
07:42 Dinner with Mr. Shirou Tazaki, Analyst of Jiji Press; Mr. Hisashi Oda, Yomiuri Shimbun’s Chief Editor; Mr. Takeshi Soga, Political Director of Asahi Shimbun, and others
09:41 Home in Tomigaya

April 5, 2013 (Fri)


07:07 Office
07:08 Mr. Katou, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
08:03 Parliament
08:06 Ministerial Meeting
08:23 Headquarters for the Promotion of Administrative Reform
08:51 Lower House Budget Committee

12:17 Lower House Plenary Session
12:22 Office
12:54 Parliament
12:59 Lower House Budget Committee
05:05 Office
06:05 Joint Announcement of the Plan for the Land Returns South of Kadena
06:24 Foreign Minister Kishida; and Defense Minister Onodera
06:42 Press Interview
06:52 Imperial Hotel, Dinner with Mr. Yoshio Ookubo, President of Nippon TV
08:41 Home in Tomigaya

April 6, 2013 (Sat)
Visits Iwate Prefecture

Professor Gerald Curtis of Columbia University
11:24 Home in Tomigaya

April 7, 2013 (Sun)


Home in Tomigaya

12:38 Hair Cut at “Hair Guest” in Shibuya
02:12 Exercise in Nagomi Spa and Fitness, Hotel Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Roppongi
05:55 Dinner with Mrs. Abe and friends from his overseas studies
09:01 Home

Korea Scores a Milestone with President Park's Address to Congress

Dennis Halpin, former professional staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has recently become a Senior Fellow at Asia Policy Point. He is a retired Foreign Service officer who served in South Korea as U.S. Consul in Pusan and is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Korea. He is currently a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. The CSIS Korea Chair on May 14, 2013 published his essay below reflecting on the significance of the Park Geun-hye address to the U.S Congress on May 8, 2013.

Despite reports of a scandal involving a member of the Korean President's official party, the recent Washington visit of President Park Geun-hye scored some notable successes. Perhaps, most prominently, President Park's May 8th address to a joint meeting of the Congress demonstrated that the Republic of Korea is in the top rank of American allies. The last foreign leader to address Congress before her, in fact, was another Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, in October 2011 (There was no address by a foreign leader in the election year of 2012). With President Park's address, the Republic of Korea is now in fifth place (tied with Ireland and Italy) as to the number of times one of its leaders have addressed Congress. South Korea is behind only the United Kingdom, France, Israel, and Mexico in this regard.

More important, the Republic of Korea is unique among America's Asia-Pacific allies in having had six appearances by its presidents. Australia and the Philippines have only had three such occasions and Japan has never been given this honor (two Japanese Prime Ministers, Kishi and Ikeda, addressed House meetings but NOT joint meetings of both Houses of Congress).

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was widely expected to address a joint meeting of Congress during his 2006 visit. A letter from then-Chairman of the International Relations Committee Henry Hyde, a World War II veteran of the Pacific campaign, to then-Speaker Dennis Hastert, however, raised concerns about Koizumi's reported plans to visit the Yasukuni Shrine after his Washington visit. The shrine contains the spirit tablet of Hideki Tojo, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack, as well as other Class-A war criminals. While Hyde said that he welcomed Prime Minister Koizumi, on behalf of a major U.S. ally, addressing Congress, he added the concern that then visiting Yasukuni would be "an affront to the generation that remembers Pearl Harbor and dishonor the place where President Roosevelt made his 'Date of Infamy' speech." When the Hyde letter leaked to the Asian press, the informal plans to have an address to a joint meeting of Congress were dropped. President George W. Bush's trip with Prime Minister Koizumi to Graceland (Mr. Koizumi being an Elvis fan) ended up being the high point of that visit.

President Park also received a rare honor in being invited to address Congress so soon after her inauguration as the Republic of Koreas eleventh chief executive. It was common knowledge among Congressional staff in 2009, of which I was one, that, when President Lee Myung-bak first visited Washington in his official capacity, informal feelers sent out by the Korean Embassy for an address to the Congress were rebuffed.

Then Speaker Pelosi reportedly thought that it was premature for Lee, having served only a little over a year in the Blue House, to be given such an honor. President Lee had to wait until a return visit in 2011, and the successful passage of KORUS FTA, to be invited.

One of the reasons that President Park may have received this honor so early on in her tenure is her status as the first elected woman leader from East Asia. The failure to shatter the glass ceiling in the White House during the 2008 presidential campaign continues to be a source of severe disappointment for a number of American women, including those in political leadership positions. Honoring Confucian Korea which achieved this goal before the United States would, then, seem quite natural.

One hundred and nine foreign dignitaries and leaders have addressed joint meetings of Congress (and only two foreign dignitaries have addressed Joint Sessions of Congress the French Ambassador in 1934 on the 100th anniversary of the death of the Marquis de Lafayette and the Cuban Ambassador in 1948 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Cuban independence following the Spanish-American War of 1898). But among those one hundred and nine, only twelve were women. Two additional women addressed Congressional bodies prior to that: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands addressed the Senate in 1942 and Madam Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China addressed the House in 1943.

President Park, thus, joins a small, elite set of women leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who have been given the honor. She also is included in the smaller number of five Asia-Pacific women leaders who have appeared before the American Congress, including Madam Chiang Kai-shek, Philippine President Corazon Aquino, Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Thus, from several different perspectives, President Park's recent address to the Congress was historic. It also represented a major diplomatic achievement for the Republic of Korea.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Will history again trip up Prime Minister Shinzo Abe?

At Chidorigaifuchi
Issues of history have dominated the past few weeks of Japan's international relations. For Japan's leaders, they are defending the nation's honor, for all others Tokyo's inability to squarely confront its past undermines trust and distracts from the economy.

APP Senior Fellow William Brooks, who is an Adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, addresses the domestic repercussions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's focus on "correcting" the misperceptions of history in the essay below that first appeared in the Asahi Asia Japan Watch on May 7, 2013.

Dr. Brooks echoes The Economist's May 18th Cover Story "It's Japan." The editors are unsure if Abe is the economic modernizer, the internationalist, or the radical nationalist. The Prime Minister's emphasis on "backward-facing patriotism as a model for modern strength" and constitutional reform is troubling. Or as The Economist notes:
At best, all this could prove a distraction at a time when some structural-reform initiatives already appear to be running into the sands. At worst, it could endanger all reform by eroding the government’s popularity, at the same time increasing tensions with Japan’s neighbours. Far from having banished the ghosts of his past, as some of his advisers claim, the prime minister is in danger of summoning them up again.
More pointedly, The Economist's editors conclude
Mr Abe is right to want to awaken Japan. After the upper-house elections, he will have a real chance to do so. The way to restore Japan is to focus on reinvigorating the economy, not to end up in a needless war with China.

With the landslide victory of the Liberal Democratic Party in December, its president, Shinzo Abe, returned for the second time as prime minister, aiming to fix Japan’s perpetually ailing economy through dramatic policy measures, dubbed “Abenomics,” which were cheered by the markets and welcomed by the public.

As Abe’s popularity soared in the polls to a 70 percent or higher approval rating, it seemed the momentum would give his ruling party an easy win in the Upper House election in July. Abe also defied trade-protectionist sentiment even in his own party and wowed international opinion by making a bold decision for Japan to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations that would open the economy to what will become a huge free-trade bloc in the world.

Abe was lauded in Washington, too, by his promise of a strong national security agenda that would enhance Japan’s alliance with the United States. Washington hoped that finally, Japan had a strong leader that it needs to bring the country back on track, return stability to politics and restore Japan’s status as a “tier-one” level member in the global community.

But at the same time, the return of Abe to power has been accompanied by growing controversy due to his nationalistic agenda and revisionist views toward history.

His plan to drastically revise the Constitution, including the war-renouncing Article 9, has set off domestic alarms, even with the LDP’s coalition partner, the New Komeito. He also has upset Asian neighbors by questioning Japan’s wartime legacy and breaking his own taboo by letting Cabinet members visit Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals are enshrined.

Abe left office in 2007 in a cloud over his handling of the war-guilt issue. Will history ultimately trip up Abe’s second try as prime minister?

Abe's Right-Turn Agenda Detours To Yasukuni
While the Japanese public welcomed the new prime minister, Abe was seen overseas in quite a different light. The Western media were especially critical. The Economist of Britain on Jan. 5, 2013, called Abe an “arch-nationalist” and predicted that his “appointment of a scarily right-wing cabinet bodes ill for the region.” The magazine noted “thirteen [members] support Nippon Kaigi, a nationalist think-tank that advocates a return to ‘traditional values’ and rejects Japan’s ‘apology diplomacy’ for its wartime misdeeds.”

Similar warnings about Abe’s nationalist roots appeared in major U.S. dailies, as well. This sparked a series of rebuttals in op-eds and commentaries from scholars and think-tanks seeing Abe instead as a pragmatic leader who had learned from his unsuccessful first term.

Such concerns seemed borne out when Abe soon began to make comments that were seen in the Western media as “exposing his true nationalist colors.” Abe talked of revising the statements of wartime apologies made by earlier administrations and, in a Diet reply, he questioned the definition of “aggression” to describe Japan’s wartime actions in Asia.

Although he and his Cabinet spokesman sought to assuage irate Korean and Chinese reactions by later assurances that past apologies would always be honored, the damage had been done.

Things did not stop there, however. Abe in his previous turn as prime minister was careful to avoid visiting Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Class-A war criminals are enshrined. He was painfully aware of the trouble with China and Korea caused by the visits to Yasukuni of his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, and he desired above all to repair ties with those countries.

This time, however, Abe broke his old rule by allowing three of his Cabinet members, including Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, himself a former prime minister, to pay homage at Yasukuni during its April spring festival. Angry reactions swept across Korea and China, and scheduled high-level meetings were either postponed or canceled. Major Japanese dailies and the Western press slammed Abe. He may have miscalculated Korean and Chinese reactions, for it was clear from the start of his administration that he wanted to repair relations strained by territorial disputes. Although Abe himself did not visit the shrine, only sending a donation of a sacred plant, his allowing his deputy to pay homage at the shrine was to Asian eyes the equivalent of sending a proxy.

The impact of the Yasukuni visits has gone far beyond Asia. Abe was chastised for allegedly revealing his nationalist colors by editorials in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and other major Western dailies. The Financial Times stressed, “Yasukuni ... is irredeemably associated with the nationalist cult of emperor worship.” The New York Times charged: “Visits to Yasukuni … are often seen as proof that Japan remains unrepentant for its brutal wartime march across Asia.”

The Japanese government’s position, which under ordinary circumstances would be reasonable and understandable, is that how Japan mourns its war dead is not something that other countries can give orders on.

Such a stance may still resonate among U.S. officials, for it harks back to the Yasukuni visits of Koizumi during his tenure in office (2001-2006). Koizumi was careful always to state that his intention was to pay homage to the war dead, not to war criminals. But his actions, though certainly not personally linked to nationalism, roiled China and South Korea and wrecked relations with those countries.

Those who defend official visits to Yasukuni as no more than paying respect for the war dead are denying the reality that the shrine long ago has become hopelessly politicized as a symbol of Japan’s militarist past. The Showa emperor himself stopped going to the shrine decades ago when he found that war criminals had been enshrined there. Still, most Japanese these days are probably neutral about the shrine, seeing Yasukuni as just a place to go to pray for the war dead, perhaps their own relatives. They do not think they are praying for the war criminals enshrined there.

Neutralizing Yasukuni
There has been much talk over the years of separating the souls of the war criminals from Yasukuni and enshrining them elsewhere. Other suggestions have included establishing a secular war memorial where even a U.S. president could lay a wreath. Such talk has not led to any action, though one could persuasively argue that the 14 Class-A war criminals do not belong at Yasukuni anyway: They were never killed on the battlefield but were executed for sending millions to die in battle.

As Abe’s miscalculation shows, though, Yasukuni remains a potential lightning rod for trouble if officials believe that visiting there is just an act of respect for the war dead.

Yasukuni Adds To U.S. Security Concerns In The Region
When Yasukuni flared up again in April, Washington officials were likely more upset about the timing of the dispute than with the visits to the shrine by Cabinet ministers. Washington has become increasingly concerned about escalating tensions between Japan and China over the Senkakus, islands both countries claim. China’s maritime surveillance ships repeatedly intrude into Japanese waters near the isles, and earlier this year, a Chinese warship, locking its radar on a Japan Coast Guard vessel, was ready to fire.

Conflict could have ensued. Moreover, the isles have taken on an even more strategic significance when Beijing recently announced that the Senkakus were part of China’s “core interests,” ranking them with Tibet and Taiwan.

Adding nationalism to territorial and historical issues makes an extremely volatile mixture, and U.S. officials worry that in the case of China and the Senkakus, a military clash is not out of the question. In that case, the United States might be dragged into an unnecessary war.

America’s pivot to Asia is largely centered on protecting its maritime security interests in the region. In that connection, Washington would like Japan and China to find diplomatic ways to return relations to a more cooperative mode, putting the territorial issue on the back burner and toning down the historical rhetoric.

Japan's rocky relations with South Korea further complicate U.S. regional strategy. Washington expects trilateral cooperation among the United States, Japan and South Korea in dealing with North Korea’s dangerous nuclear and missile programs.

Officials are disappointed, too, that bilateral strategic cooperation between Japan and South Korea, such as planned agreements for intelligence and materiel sharing, have been sidelined by the territorial row in 2012 and made even more remote by the tiff over history.

Moreover, the United States and Japan at this point cannot leverage cooperation from China in pressuring North Korea to reconsider its nuclear ambitions. As Japan becomes more isolated, another casualty is the loss of access to close consultations between Beijing and Seoul over the North Korea problem--a matter of direct national security interest for Tokyo.

Comfort Women Issue Could Roil U.S. Again
The comfort women issue--sex slaves used by the Japanese military in World War II--has the potential to flare up again, not only with Asian countries but also with the United States, if Abe makes good his oft-stated intention to review the 1993 Kono Statement, which admitted military involvement in the recruitment of women, mostly Koreans, to service Japanese soldiers at the war front.

A similar review of the 1995 Murayama Statement of apology for Japan’s wartime acts has also been suggested.

The comfort women issue became a bone of contention between the United States and Japan when Abe was prime minister for the first time. Congress was upset when the Abe government began to deny military involvement in that wartime system, and subsequently passed a resolution critical of Japan’s responses to date.

Americans view the comfort women’s plight as a humanitarian issue and expect Japan to do the right thing. Should the Abe administration, in its review of the Kono Statement, take the tack of again denying coercion and military involvement in this prostitution corps, it will find that the United States has joined the chorus of international criticism, too. Relations that started out so well early in the year could quickly cool. Such a scenario need not happen, though. Abe, who says he has learned from his mistakes in his first time in office, should apply that wisdom by turning over historical issues to historians to discuss and taking politics out of the act.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Japan is leashed, for now

East and West, diplomats are puzzeled by the Abe Administration's emphasis on recasting Japan's war history as either defensive or entitled. Some think its source is the Japanese reluctance to speak ill of their ancestors, even if they are war criminals. Others believe that the Abe people are simply ideological.

Abe and his Cabinet suggest that no apologies are necessary for defending one's country or liberating another's.  That is not aggression. Treaties and international laws justified collecting colonies and territories. Imperial Japan believed in the rule of law.

The Sankei Shimbun editorial below appears to provide another explanation: it is good diplomacy to remind Japan's neighbors of how fanatical and belligerent Japanese can be. It is a unique and troubling argument of "Yasukuni/history as deterrence."

Being a 'Nice Boy' Is No Way To Do Diplomacy

Sankei Shimbun, 24 April 2013
[provisional translation/summary by APP for scholarly use]

First the author talks about the historical (late-1500s) example of the Shimazu-Clan, which ruled the Satsuma Region of southwest Kyushu. The Shimazus fought against future Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa's army, which was trying to (and eventually did) take control over all of Japan. Even though the Shimazu Clan lost against the Tokugawa forces at the large and crucial Battle of Sekigahara, they fought so hard (e.g., 1,000 warriors charged into the Tokugawa formation and fought until only 80 were left) that thereafter, the Satsuma region was not brought under as stringent control as others (i.e., because the Tokugawa Shogun didn't want to have to fight them again).

In a similar way, toward the end of WW-II, even though Japan was showing signs of weakening and being headed towards defeat, it continued to fight tenaciously, repeatedly sending "Special Attack Units" (Kamikaze) to strike at the enemy. This hard-core/fight-to-the-death Japanese combat caused fear/awe in the U.S. and Allied forces, and they did not want to fight the Japanese ever again, which resulted in the Occupation trying to "de-fang" Japan (e.g., through the Constitution) --- but, the same fear also kept the U.S./Allied Occupation from becoming too onerous to Japan and helped to keep the Showa Emperor in place.

So concerning Yasukuni Shrine... First, it is totally natural for Japanese leaders to visit the shrine and pray for the souls of the brave countrymen who fought so hard and gave their lives for their country. Secondly, it serves as a reminder of how hard/bravely Japanese soldiers fought (and could fight again) to those countries who would view Japan as an enemy or target. So, in a sense, the visits, which call attention to Japan's past military prowess, serve as a form of deterrence.

When Vice-PM Aso and over 160 Diet members recently visited Yasukuni, South Korea immediately cancelled a visit to Japan by its Foreign Minister, and subsequently made strong public/diplomatic protests. But this over-reaction only goes to show that South Korea still fears and recognizes the latent power/strength of Japan, i.e., South Korea's action should be recognized for what it really is.

The media keeps crying that the Yasukuni visits will damage Japan-China and/or Japan-Korea diplomatic relations. They also criticize the visits as "insensitive". But in the cold-reality realm of international politics, it does not pay to be a "yes man" or a "good boy" who tries to curry other countries' favor --- this is something China and South Korea themselves -- and the rest of the World -- know very well.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Monday in Washington

URBANIZATION AND POVERTY REDUCTION CONFERENCE, 2013: BRIDGING RURAL AND URBAN PERSPECTIVES. 5/13-14, 9:00am. Sponsor: World Bank. Keynote Speakers: Somik Lall, Economist for Urban Development, World Bank; Luc Christiaensen, Africa Region Senior Economist, World Bank.
US CULTURAL DIPLOMACY IN CENTRAL ASIA: BLUEGRASS WITH DELLA MAE. 5/13, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: American Security Project (ASP). Concert and Reception: Della Mae, American traditional music band.

BUILDING ON PROGRESS IN AFGHANISTAN: 2014 AND BEYOND. 5/13, 2:00-3:00pm. Sponsors: CSIS, UN Development Programme (UNDP). Speakers: Ajay Chhibber, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific; Daniel Runde, Director of the Project on Prosperity and Development; William A. Schreyer, Chair in Global Analysis, CSIS; Andrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, CSIS.

MANAGING THE MILITARY MORE EFFICIENTLY: POTENTIAL SAVINGS SEPARATE FROM STRATEGY. 5/13, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speakers: Erin Conaton, former Defense Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness; retired Navy Rear Adm. David Oliver Jr., former Defense Secretary for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics; Matthew Leatherman, Research Analyst, Stimson's Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense Program; Barry Blechman, Stimson co-founder, Chair, Peterson Foundation Defense Advisory Group.

US 123 AGREEMENTS: PERSPECTIVE OF THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY. 5/13, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: US-Korea Institute, SAIS, Johns Hopkins. Speaker: Amir Shahkarami, Senior Vice President and CEO, Exelon Nuclear Partners.

ASSESSING THE US - KOREA RELATIONSHIP: LOOKING AHEAD. 5/13, 2:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Korea Economic Institute. Speakers: His Excellency Y.J. Choi, ROK Ambassador to the United States, Embassy of the Republic of Korea; Abraham Kim, Vice President, Korea Economic Institute of America; David Pong, President, Korean-American Club; Louis Goodman, Former Dean of School of International Service and Professor, American University; Gordon Flake, Executive Director, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation; Chan-soon Nam, Former Editorial Writer , Dong-a Ilbo Daily; Sang-kyun Kim, Former President, MBC Kwang-ju, Masan; Evans Revere, Senior Director, Albright Stonebridge Group, Former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific; Chang-gi Kim, President and Publisher, Chosun Ilbo News Press; Jung-Chan Park, Former President, Yonhap News.

THE U.S. CHINA AND AFRICA: PURSUING TRILATERAL DIALOGUE AND ACTION. 5/13, 2:30-4:30pm. Sponsor: Brookings, Africa Growth Initiative. Speakers: Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States; Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, African Affairs; Yang Guang, Director General of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Mwangi Kimenyi, Director, Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings; Jonathan Pollack, Senior Fellow, Brookings; Whitney Schneidman, Nonresident Fellow, Brookings; Yun Sun, Visiting Fellow, Brookings; He Wenping, Director, African Studies Section, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Patricia Aidam, Research Fellow, Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana.

THE ROLE OF LOCAL INSTITUTIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION. 5/13, 2:30-4:30pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center, Environmental Change and Security Program. Speakers: Todd Crane, Assistant Professor of the Technology and Agrarian Development Group, Wageningen University; Belay Kassa, Economic Justice Policy Advisor, Oxfam America; Heather McGray, Co-director, Vulnerability and Adaptation Initiative, World Resources Institute; Cynthia Brady, Senior Conflict Advisor, Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation, USAID.

LEGAL ASPECTS OF FDI IN THE GOLD MINING SECTOR OF THE KYRGYZ REPUBLIC. 5/13, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: Central Asia Program, Elliot School GWU. Speaker: Begaiym Esenkulova, Columbia University visiting scholar, Assistant Professor of Law, American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan.

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China’s Evolving ‘Core Interests’

An editorial in The New York Times on May 11, 2013 (in print on May 12, 2013, on page SR10) chastises the Chinese for defining the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands as "core interests" that will be defended and the Japanese for casting doubt on their willingness to stick to their past war apologies. Neither was necessary and both undermined regional peace and stability.

On the same day, Ian Buruma in The Wall Street Journal had an extensive essay A Dangerous Rift Between China and Japan on how Asia's two great powers play politics with the past and court a crisis.

As he notes: On the surface, the dispute is about history, about which country has the best historical claim to sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diaoyu. In fact, it is more about politics, domestic and international, revealing the tangled relations in a region where history is frequently manipulated for political ends.

Buruma proposes no solution, but laments that
Things, in short, are back to square one: Pax Americana containing China, with Japan as Washington's loyal vassal. This might seem a stable, even comfortable, position from the U.S. point of view. In fact, it isn't. For a long time, the Chinese put up with the U.S. being the policeman of East Asia, because the prospect of a more independent, fully rearmed, even nuclear Japan would be worse. But Japan's role as a kind of cat's paw of American dominance, with Japanese nationalists compensating for their subservience by indulging in bellicose talk, will be the source of ever greater tensions, which are bad for everyone, including the U.S.
In December 2012, Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University, wrote in an op ed for the The Sydney Morning Herald that the protracted dispute between China and Japan over ownership of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands could serve as a flashpoint for military conflict between the two "nuclear" powers this year.

According to Professor White the dispute over the islands is a symptom of tensions engendered by China's rise in the Asia-Pacific, and the challenge it poses to American influence in the region. White believes that China's recent efforts to shore up its claim upon the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands is a means of "pushing back" against US power in the Asia-Pacific.

Here is the text of The New York Times editorial:

Whenever China wants to identify the issues considered important enough to go to war over, it uses the term “core interests.” The phrase was once restricted to Taiwan, the island nation that China has threatened to forcibly unify with the mainland. About five years ago, Chinese leaders expanded the term to include Tibet and Xinjiang, two provinces with indigenous autonomy movements that Beijing has worked feverishly to control.

Since then, Chinese officials have spoken more broadly about economic growth, territorial integrity and preserving the Communist system. But recently they narrowed their sights again, extending the term explicitly to the East China Sea, where Beijing and Tokyo are dangerously squabbling over some uninhabited islands. Top Chinese military officials first delivered the message to Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited Beijing last month. The next day, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, told reporters that “the Diaoyu Islands are about sovereignty and territorial integrity. Of course it’s China’s core interest.”

This wording, with its threatening implications, is raising new tensions in a region already on edge over North Korea and several other maritime disputes, and it will make it harder to peacefully resolve the dispute over the islands, called Diaoyu in China, and Senkaku in Japan.

While Japan has held the islands for more than a century, China also claims title and has sent armed ships and planes from civilian maritime agencies to assert a presence around them. The waters adjacent to the islands are believed to hold oil and gas deposits.

To some extent, China is simply throwing its weight around, challenging the United States and its regional allies. On Wednesday and Thursday, Chinese state-run newspapers carried commentaries questioning Japan’s sovereignty over the island of Okinawa, where about 25,000 American troops are based. Japan, whose wartime aggression against China and other countries still engenders animosity, has not helped. Last September, the government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda provocatively bought three of the islands from their private owner.

The right-wing nationalists who took power in December may be equally unwilling to put Japan’s past behind it, although the government of the new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, took a positive step on Tuesday when it said it would abide by official apologies that the country made two decades ago to victims of World War II. China and Japan have strong economic ties and are critical to regional stability. Both will lose if they stumble into war or otherwise cannot resolve this escalating dispute. Though efforts are under way to find a mutually face-saving solution, using loaded phrases like “core interests” to describe the islands only adds to the political and emotional sensitivities and will not advance that goal.