Saturday, June 3, 2023

What did the G7 achieve?

 A World Still with Nuclear Weapons

By Takuya Nishimura, Editorial Writer, The Hokkaido Shimbun
The views expressed by the author are his own and are not associated with The Hokkaido Shimbun
May 22, 2023
As the chair of the Group of Seven (G7) Hiroshima Summit, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that he would use the summit to pave the way to “a world without nuclear weapons.” Although the Leaders’ Communiqué did include those specific words, the G7 leaders did not provide a way to implement of this goal. This leaves one wondering what Kishida did achieve with this high-profile international engagement.
The document for nuclear disarmament, called the Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament, was issued a day before the Communiqué. It unequivocally declared the indispensability of nuclear weapons in the context of nuclear deterrence. The G7 thus continue to contemplate a world where nuclear weapons still exist. Those who suffered the nuclear bombs, or the Hibakusha, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were deeply disappointed by how ineffective Kishida had been.
While underscoring the importance of the 77-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons, the Hiroshima Vision firmly accuses Russia of its “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, undermining of arms control regimes, and stated intent to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.” With these and other strong words denouncing Russia’s rhetoric, the Vision statement follows: “Our security policies are based on the understanding that nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression and prevent wars and coercion.”
This document, made under the leadership of Kishida, conditionally recognized the role of nuclear weapons without showing any clear roadmap to the world without nuclear weapons. The G7 fundamentally reject the work of Hibakushas. Coming through hardships of losing loved ones, being threatened by the fear of cancer, or discrimination from the fellow citizens, Hibakushas define nuclear weapons as “absolute evil” that kill too many people immediately. Their use can never be justified.
The Hiroshima Vision ironically justifies nuclear weapons as a countermeasure to Russian aggression in Ukraine and nuclear saber-rattling. Thus, to 91-year-old atomic bomb survivor, Setsuko Thurlow, the G7 Summit was a “huge failure,” as stated in her press conference on Sunday, May 21. The International Campaign to Abolish NuclearWeapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner, stated that the G7 fell “far short of providing any meaningful outcomes for nuclear disarmament.”

Mostly ignoring the backlash from the Hibakushas, Kishida said at his post-summit press conference that he was satisfied with the outcome of the G7 Hiroshima Summit. “We shared an ideal for the future of the world without a nuclear weapon.” Recognizing appeals from nuclear-suffered cities, Kishida considers Hiroshima Vision the basis for future actions to attain a world without nuclear weapons. Kishida viewed the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Hiroshima as a chance to deliver further a message against threats to use nuclear weapons.
Although the G7 Summit was a stage to show that the G7 leaders stand together with Zelenskyy and to condemn Russia for its aggression against international law and order, inviting the Ukrainian president at war nevertheless was questionable. Hiroshima’s significance is as a place once devastated by a nuclear weapon and of the Hiroshima people’s hope for unconditional peace, not war at any cost.
After laying flowers at the cenotaph to A-bomb victims, Zelenskyy reflected that “Photographs of ruins of Hiroshima absolutely remind me of Bakhmut and other similar settlements.” For the people in Hiroshima who believe in the principle of “war is not the answer,” the sympathetic comment of Zelenskyy might have brought a sense of discomfort to them.
Obviously, Zelenskyy’s purpose in visiting Hiroshima was to continue and win the war with as much support as possible from the G7. U.S. President Joe Biden told Zelenskyy that the US would start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets. In a bilateral meeting with Zelenskyy, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is regarded as a key for anti-Russia groups to reach the countries called “global south,” conveyed his clear support for dialogue and diplomacy to find a way forward. Hiroshima had become the place where world leaders were seen deeply engaged in Ukraine’s war strategy.
For Kishida who has been promoting his positive pro-active security policies, the appearance of the Ukrainian president must have been a good opportunity to trumpet the “success” of policies to domestic audiences. In the meeting with Zelenskyy, Kishida pledged Japanese assistance by sending trucks and provisions and accepting injured Ukrainian military personnel in the Self-Defense Forces Central Hospital in Tokyo. The Kishida administration is likely to insist that current budget request for security measures or positive involvement in maintaining world order has been necessary.
In terms of dealing with China’s advances in Asia-Pacific region, the G7 summit produced some positive outcomes. Zelenskyy’s attendance reinforced the ties of democratic nations. In the outreach meeting attended by the G7 leaders, eight guests and Zelenskyy, Kishida stressed that coercive and unilateral change of status quo would not be tolerated anywhere in the world. It is necessary, he said, to protect free and open world order based on the rule of law.
The G7 Leaders’ Communiqué, in contrast to its message to Russia, was toward China, calling on engagement with G7 and recommending “de-risking” for economic resilience instead of decoupling from China. Yet, the leaders of four major powers in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, United States, India, and Australia (meeting as the quadrilateral security dialog or QUAD), also issued a statement that opposed “destabilizing or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force or coercion,” a suggestion that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be unacceptable.
Inevitably, Japan will have to deal with further pressure from China. Kishida’s inability to make progress on nuclear disarmament among his peers at the G7 Summit does not engender much confidence on how well he can pursue this. To date, Kishida has yet to offer a concrete vision for a meaningful dialogue with China. By following along with the G7's support of Ukraine and deterrence, Kishida set aside Japan's priority to stabilize the situation in Northeast Asia. China reacted against the G7 Communique with "strong dissatisfaction." It is possible that Kishida has raised the tension in Northeast Asia by introducing the structure of hostility in the Eastern Europe.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Kishida's non-surprise

The Not Surprising Visit

But was it constitutional?

By Takuya Nishimura
, Editorial Writer, The Hokkaido Shimbun
The views expressed by the author are his own and are not associated with The Hokkaido Shimbun
April 3, 2023

News organizations in Japan reported with sensational headlines the visit of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, as the chairman of Group 7, to the capital of Ukraine.  At the time the Russian invasion was showing signs of a quagmire, and Western support was indispensable. In the meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Kishida pledged multiple forms of assistance to support Ukraine its historic conflict to maintain democratic ties in the world. 

The real surprise of the visit was that most people in Japan, known as a nation whose constitution adopts strict pacifism, approved of his visit to the place where an actual war was being waged. The Japanese people appear to be accustomed to the real world that is confused by unilateral Russian aggression to Ukraine.

Prime Minister Kishida’s visit has at least one precedent. In 2003, the Koizumi Administration decided to support U.S. President George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” by sending Japanese Self-defense Forces to Samawah, Iraq. This decision led to a broad argument whether the forces’ activities would be made only within the non-combat zone. Sending the forces to a combat zone was recognized as a violation of the constitution of Japan, which renounces war as a measure of settling international conflicts. When the Ministry of Defense disclosed in 2018 the official records of SDF activities in Iraq, the opposition parties accused the government of breaching the constitution, because the description included the word “combat” around the camp.

A similar question arises here: is the PM's visit to the combat zone constitutional? As long as Kyiv was exposed to Russian missile or drone strikes, it could be said that Kishida's visit was made in the combat zone. The PM commands and controls the Self-defense Forces under Article 7 of the Self-defense Forces Act. Even though actual troops did not accompany him, Kishida’s visit means that Japan's supreme commander is not neutral in the conflict and is supporting one of the combatants that is engaged in a war (as is its enemy) as a measure of settling an international conflict. 

However, the legitimacy or implications of the PM’s visit was not discussed in Japan. It is likely that the unjust invasion by the Russians offset the uncertain constitutionality of Kishida’s visit to a country at war. And, maybe, accepting the responsibilities of being a G7 country.

During the visit, both leaders delivered a joint statement on “the special global partnership” between Japan and Ukraine. The statement denounced Russia for its baseless aggression against Ukraine, declared that Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons was unacceptable, and increased the G7 commitment to $39 billion for fiscal and economic support of Ukraine. The leaders also shared serious concerns on the situation in the East and South China Seas. Zelenskyy pronounced Kishida a protector of Ukraine and international order and accepted Kishida’s invitation to G7 Hiroshima Summit in May (Zelenskyy will attend virtually.) Before the meeting, Kishida visited the city of Bucha where Russian troops had massacred Ukrainians, and displayed solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Among the reasons why there were no active arguments on the constitutionality of the visit is that Kishida has maintained from the beginning a relatively firm position against the Russian invasion. The Japanese people could easily understand the visit as a diplomatic activity. Indeed, Kishida was the last leader among G7 nations to visit the capital of Ukraine after he had received an invitation from Zelenskyy in a telephone conversation in January. The surprise visit was therefore not surprising for Japanese people.

One possible negative aspect of the visit is the impact on Japan’s relationship with China. On the same day that Kishida met with Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Moscow in talks with Putin. Thus, two leaders of major powers in Asia were visibly standing on opposite sides of a war. A spokesperson for Foreign Ministry of China said that China hoped Japan would help settle the conflict in Ukraine rather than to do the opposite. It is obvious that Kishida has more diplomatic work to do in terms of managing Japan’s relationship with China, as the day of G7 Summit meeting in Hiroshima is approaching.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Rescinding Japan's War Apology

What Will Kishida Say on August 15 at Japan’s National Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead?

Kishida has an opportunity to demonstrate his independence now that Abe is gone. Will he return to the legacy of the Murayama statement?

By Mindy Kotler, Asia Policy Point

The Diplomat, August 13, 2022

What Will Kishida Say on August 15 at Japan's National Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead?

In the immediate aftermath of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s murder, Japan’s current leader Kishida Fumio promised to honor Abe’s legacy by building upon his accomplishments. The reportedly more liberal Kishida, however, came to power expected to do the opposite and dial back some of his predecessor’s more provocative stances. His room to maneuver was limited, however, by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s right wing and Abe’s own constant public hectoring on hewing to the course.

With Abe’s untimely death, Kishida has an opportunity to demonstrate his independence. The first indication of a new course may come with his August 15 address at the National Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead.

A crucial objective of Abe’s two terms was the freeing of Japan from “masochistic” history. This odd expression was a call to arms advocating both amending the U.S.-imposed “mind-control” constitution and ending Japan’s war apology diplomacy. Although constitutional amendment was not accomplished, the latter objective has been achieved.

Abe led an aggressive campaign to reconstruct history and monitor its telling at home and aboard. Diplomats asked the governments of the Philippines and Germany to remove statues memorializing the “comfort women” and other victims of sexual violence. Abe ordered the creation of commissions questioning the legitimacy of Japan’s 1995 official war apology, known as the Murayama statement, and the 1993 provisional apology to the comfort women, known as the Kono statement. (Here it should be noted that this particular statement is no longer prominently noted on the Foreign Ministry’s webpage explaining their position regarding the comfort women. Instead, it is buried in another document and only the knowledgeable and persistent can find it.)

Cabinet level officials squired applications for UNESCO World Heritage recognition of culturally dubious and politically fraught sites. One was an island shrine inaccessible to women. Another glorified Japan’s industrialization while disregarding the troubled use and abuse of convicts, the underclasses, children, Koreans, Chinese, and prisoners of war. Government promises to UNESCO to include this missing history have not been kept.

The Foreign Ministry was pressed into defending false history in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, scrubbing its website of historical documents containing embarrassing details, and asking the public to report historical narratives contradicting the new official positions. The Abe government used budget allocations to hire public relations firms and amateur historians to cast doubt on widely respected historians. 

In talks with the Park Geun-hye administration in South Korea seeking to resolve the disagreements over the proper means of recognizing the dignity of the comfort women, the Abe government resorted to an unprecedented diplomatic diversion. Despite announcing an “agreement,” the 2015 comfort women talks resulted in two competing unsigned memoranda distributed at a “Joint Press Occasion.” The Japanese memorandum, in particular, contains an impossible demand that “this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly.” The “Press Occasion” document was furthermore not Cabinet approved, unlike every other diplomatic agreement the government of Japan has ever announced.

The crowning moment of Abe’s revisionism was his 2020 August 15th address at the National Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead. His remarks were the culmination of a seven-year effort to completely revise, if not indeed rescind, the 1995 Murayama statement, the cabinet-approved apology for World War II released by Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi. Until Abe, the Murayama statement was the template for all Japanese apologies. The 2020 statement, however, had many of Murayama’s key phrases removed. The new statement was not an apology to Japan’s victims. Instead, it paid tribute to the Japanese people for their resilience.

As early as 2013, on August 15, Abe stopped expressing his “deep remorse” and “heartfelt apology.” He replaced “colonial rule and aggression” in the Murayama statement with the milder “Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war” causing “immeasurable damage and suffering.” The main focus shifted away from Japan’s victims to turning the war into a positive transformation where “the peace and prosperity that we now enjoy have been built upon the sacrifices of you who gave up your precious lives.” And the four mentions of unfortunate history in the Murayama statement were reduced to just one promising blandly to “face history with humility and engrave deeply into our hearts the lessons that we should learn.” 

Abe tried to codify these changes with a Cabinet-approved statement issued the day before the 2015 August 15th memorial. He explained that his Advisory Panel on the History of the 20th Century and on Japan’s Role and the World Order in the 21st Century had reevaluated Japan’s post-war period. The conclusion was that today’s Japanese are not “predestined to apologize.” Instead, “Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past” only because the peace enjoyed today “exists only upon such precious sacrifices” that are “the origin of postwar Japan.”

Abe’s last memorial statement was in 2020 for the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender ending World War II. It made no reference to history or remorse at all. The pledge to take “the lessons of history deeply into our hearts” vanished. In its place, Abe introduced a new, “forward-looking” phrase – that Japan was ready to make a “proactive contribution to peace.” 

In 2021, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide substantially repeated Abe’s 2020 reconstruction of Japan’s war apology. History remained now only with the Japanese. Like his predecessor, Suga insisted that the lesson learned from WWII was “We will not forget, even for a moment, that the peace and prosperity we enjoy today was built atop the precious lives and the history of suffering of the war dead. I express my deepest respect and gratitude once more.” 

Come August 15, Kishida has a decision to make. He can choose to accept Abe’s unrepentant, nationalistic war remembrance. This would of course please the Abe faction and revisionist pressure organization Nippon Kaigi, whose legislative wing includes Kishida and most of the members of his new Cabinet. 

Or Kishida, a legislator from Hiroshima, can reassert the centrality of the Murayama statement and the honest, forthright contrition it represents. If he does so, he would send a powerful signal to South Korea and Imperial Japan’s other victims that Japan is willing to confront its dark history.

UPDATE: August 15, 2022

On August 15th, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida repeated Abe's unrepentant statement remembering, but not apologizing for WWII. With his statement, Kishida completed the undoing of the Murayama Statement of apology and remorse.

Kishida largely focused on the damage Japan suffered on its Home Islands — the U.S. atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the massive fire-bombings across Japan, and the bloody ground battle on Okinawa. He said the peace and prosperity that the country enjoys today is built on the suffering and sacrifices of those who died in the war. The Japanese, he like Abe implied, were the victims. There was no mention of the harm Imperial Japan inflicted upon others. He repeated Abe's pledge for Japan to make "Proactive Contribution to Peace," which implies military involvement in upcoming world conflicts.

Kishida did, however, return to the August 15th statement a mention of history, however stopping short of actually learning from it: "Taking the lessons of history deeply into our hearts."

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Abe Government's War on the Press

 Biased Pressure on Broadcasters

By Takuya Nishimura, Chief Editorial Writer, The Hokkaido Shimbun

The views expressed by the author are his own and are not associated with The Hokkaido Shimbun

March 12, 2023

It should be pointed out that the former administration led by Shinzo Abe did not fully understand what democracy was. Last week, a lawmaker from the main opposition party revealed a document that described attempts by Abe's colleagues to pressure broadcasters that they thought were biased against the administration. While the minister who was in charge of the issue argued that the document was fabricated, the ministry admitted it as authentic. It is highly strange that a minister denies the truthfulness of a ministry’s document. But the point is not about whether it was true or not, but whether the Abe administration tried to oppress the freedom of expression.

A member of the House of Councillors, Hiroyuki Konishi, exposed a document of the Ministry for Internal Affairs and Communications that indicated that the Abe administration tried to change the interpretation of the Broadcasting Act on political impartiality. Article 4 of the law requires every broadcaster to be politically impartial in producing the programs and the government had been interpreting the provision as applied to the broadcasting station's programs as a whole. According to the revealed document, an adviser to the prime minister, Yosuke Isozaki, in a meeting with the officials of the ministry in 2014, questioned that interpretation and argued that there were obviously inappropriate cases among actual broadcasting programs.

The meetings on the interpretation were consecutively held and some secretaries of the Prime Minister's Office often joined. In one meeting in 2015, a secretary warned Isozaki that if the government, which had the authority to stop the broadcasting wave, would assess political impartiality by only one program, it might be an oppression of freedom of speech. Not only Isozaki, however, then Prime Minister Abe was willing to review the interpretation to make things straight, arguing he would be right to say no to some extreme programs. Among the programs discussed in the series of meetings, there were Sunday Morning and News 23 of TBS or Hodo Station of TV Asahi.

"Is there any unbiased program in TV Asahi, anyway?" was the words of Sanae Takaichi, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communities at the time, in a meeting. She was willing to answer the questions on revising the interpretation in Diet discussion, expecting positive support from Prime Minister Abe. After the documents including those exchanges were revealed, Takaichi, the current Minister in charge of Economic Security, immediately denied the description and dismissed her conversation as fabricated. 

Asked whether she would resign as the minister and lawmaker if the documents were found not to be fabricated, she said "Very well." But, a few days later, the documents were acknowledged as made in the ministry. There appeared a great contradiction that the head of the ministry denied the credibility of documents made by the ministry officials, because every policy delivered by the minister would be based on such documents.

Takaichi still insists that the description in the documents was incorrect and refused to resign. It is possible that she hoped the ministry would protect her by admitting their fabrication, as the Ministry of Finance did for Abe by admitting manipulation of internal documents on the Moritomo scandal in 2018. Upon refusing to resignation, she apologized for the incorrectness of the documents under her leadership.

What we can see in the documents is an amazing fact that Abe's colleagues believed that they could, with the approval of Abe, pressure the broadcasters they didn't like. Abe had been a politician who had a tendency of intolerance of criticisms against him and showed little hesitation in blaming news organizations skeptical of him. That kind of approach reminds of the oppression of the Hong Kong media by the Xi Jinping administration of China or the strong grip on the media by Vladimir Putin in Russia. What is biased is such a kind of politics. It might be inappropriate for Japan to advise some foreign countries to share common values of freedom of speech, rule of law and human rights.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Asia History Events February 2023

KENNAN: A LIFE BETWEEN WORLDS. 2/6, 4:00-5:30pm (EST), ZOOM. Sponsor: Washington History Seminar, Wilson Center. Speaker: author, Frank Costigliola, University of Connecticut; Beverly Gage, Yale University; Barbara Keys, Durham University. 


PRISONERS OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC WAR: HISTORY, MEMORY, AND FORGETTING. 2/7, JAPAN 4:00-7:30pm (JST), 2/8, 9:00am-5:00pm (JST); US EAST COAST 2/7, 2:00-5:30am (EST), 2/7 7:00-10:30pm (EST).  ZOOM. Sponsor: Kyoto University and JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science). This symposium brings together scholars researching the histories, memorialization and forgetting of prisoners and prison camps of the Asia Pacific War. Speakers include: Robert Cribb, Australian National University; Sarah Kovner, Columbia University; Anoma Pieris, Melbourne University; Taeko Sasamoto, POW Research Network, Japan. Organizer: Daniel Milne, Kyoto University.  [THIS CONFERENCE WILL NOT BE RECORDED]

THE 30 ANNIVERSARY OF WASHINGTON COALITION FOR COMFORT WOMEN ISSUES: CELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF COMFORT WOMEN. 2/7, 11:00am–1:00pm (EST). IN PERSON ONLY, 2168 Rayburn House Office Building (The Gold the Room). Speakers: Margaret Stetz, Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware; Yangmo Ku, Associate Director of the
Peace and War Center at Norwich University; Bonnie Oh, Georgetown University Emeritus; Dennis Halpin, former staff member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Screening of a clip from the documentary: Cry Out: The 30 Years of Comfort Women Redress Movement, Written and Directed by Professor Jungsil Lee, George Washington University. 

THE GHOST AT THE FEAST: AMERICA AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE WORLD ORDER, 1900-1941. 2/8, Noon (EST), ONLINE. Sponsor: Alexander Hamilton Society. Speaker: Author Robert Kagan, Stephen & Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings Institution. 

2/14, 5:00-6:00pm (JST), 3:00-4:00am (EST), 12:00-1:00am (PST). IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Temple University Japan. SPEAKERS AND POW PROFILES. [THIS CONFERENCE MIGHT NOT BE RECORDED]

MILITARY HISTORY FOR THE MODERN STRATEGIST: AMERICA’S MAJOR WARS SINCE 1861. 2/15, 6:30-7:30pm (EST), IN-PERSON AND ONLINE. Sponsor: New-York Historical Society. Speakers: Author Michael E. O’Hanlon, Phil Knight Chair in Defense and Strategy at Brookings; Moderator: General David H. Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.), Commander of coalition forces during the Surges in both Iraq and Afghanistan and Former Director of the CIA. 

THE GENERAL VS. THE PRESIDENT: MACARTHUR AND TRUMAN AT THE BRINK OF NUCLEAR WAR. 2/16, Noon (EST), LIVE WEBCAST. Sponsor: Korea Society. Speaker: author, Dr. Henry W. Brands, Professor and Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin. 

IMPERIAL GATEWAY: COLONIAL TAIWAN AND JAPAN’S EXPANSION IN SOUTH CHINA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA, 1895-1945. 2/24, 4:30PM (EST), IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Sigur Center, GW. Speaker: author, Seiji Shirane, Assistant Professor of Japanese History, City College of New York. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Monday January 30, 2023 Event on Asia

. 1/30, 10:00am (EST), ONLINE. Sponsor: Washington Post Live. Speaker: Gen. David H. Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.), Partner, KKR & Chair, KKR Global Institute. 

BEFORE THE WEST. 1/30, Noon-1:30pm (EST), IN-PERSON AND ZOOM. Sponsor: American University School of International Service (SIS). Speakers: Author Dr. Ayse Zarakol, Professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge, Before the West: The Rise and Fall of Eastern World Orders; Amitav Acharya, SIS; Yang Zhang, SIS; Moderator: Ji-young Lee, SIS.

BLINKEN’S TRIP TO BEIJING: U.S.–CHINA RELATIONS AT A CROSSROADS. 1/30, Noon-1:00pm (EST), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Quincy Institute. Speakers: Michael Swaine, Senior Fellow, Quincy Institute’s East Asia Program; Kendra Schaefer, Head of Tech Policy Research at Trivium China; and Michael Davidson, Assistant Professor, UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy and Jacobs School of Engineering; Moderator: Jake Werner, Research Fellow in the Quincy Institute’s East Asia Program. 

BUCHA AFTER RUSSIAN OCCUPATION: BUCHA’S MAYOR ON THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS CITY AND HOPES FOR THE FUTURE. 1/30, 12:30-1:30pm (EST), IN-PERSON AND ONLINE. Sponsors: Kennan Institute, Wilson Center; Global Europe Program, Wilson Center. Speakers: Anatolii Fedoruk, Mayor of Bucha, Ukraine; Ambassador Mark Green, President, Director, & CEO, Wilson Center; Mykhailyna Skoryk-Shkarivska, Deputy Mayor, Bucha City Council; Robin S. Quinville, Director, Global Europe Program; Moderator: Brock Bierman, CEO, Ukraine Friends.

LESSONS FROM THE RUSSO-UKRAINE WAR AND ITS U.S.-CHINA CONFLICT APPLICATION. 1/30, 5:00-6:00pm (EST), IN-PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics. Speaker: Mr. Robert Roseberry, IWP M.A. Candidate for Strategic Intelligence Studies. 

EUROMISSILES: THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS THAT NEARLY DESTROYED NATO. 1/30, 4:00pm (EST), ONLINE. Sponsors: American Historical Association; Wilson Center. Speakers: Author Susan Colbourn, Associate Director, Program in American Grand Strategy, Duke University; Giordana Pulcini, Global Fellow, Wilson Center's Nuclear Proliferation International History Project; Aaron Bateman, Assistant professor of history and international affairs, George Washington University.

1/30, 5:30-7:00pm (AEDT), IN-PERSON AND ONLINE. Sponsor: Australian Centre on China in the World, Australian National University. Speakers: Rogier Creemers, Assistant Professor, Leiden University.

A SOUTH KOREAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM? ASSESSING THE RISKS. 1/30, 7:00-8:30pm (EST), ONLINE. Sponsor: 38 North Program, Stimson. Speakers: Siegfried S. Hecker, Distinguished Professor of Practice, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies; Robert Gallucci, Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; Jamie Kwong, Fellow, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Moderator: Jenny Town, Senior Fellow, Stimson Center and Director, 38 North. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Kishida's audience with Biden

No Big Deal, but Small Progress

By Takuya Nishimura, Chief Editorial Writer, The Hokkaido Shimbun
The views expressed by the author are his own and are not associated with The Hokkaido Shimbun
January 23, 2023

The headlines of newspapers covering Prime Minister Kishida’s meeting with President Biden on January 13th mainly focused on enhancement of the deterrence capability of the Japan-US alliance, but the outcome of the meeting lacked substantial deals. During the meeting, Kishida appealed for U.S. support of Japan’s security buildup. Biden had no reason to be unhappy with Japan’s positive stance on the security in East Asian region. However, the Joint Statement issued after the meeting was mainly filled with the predictable words. While the agreement leaned toward military measures against actual or potential threats, diplomatic solutions received little attention, which has caused public uneasiness in Japan. It is too early to say that bolstering the alliance has achieved broad consensus in Japan.

Both leaders celebrated the bilateral relationship noting that it had “never been closer.” Kishida told Biden that the Japanese government had renewed major security documents and would expand the security budget in coming five years. Biden praised Japan’s effort, saying “We are modernizing our military alliance.”

While the joint statement stressed that the bilateral cooperation was unprecedented, rooted in the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific and a peaceful and prosperous world, there was no significant news in it. The two leaders “reaffirmed” that the alliance remains the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. Biden “reiterated” the unwavering commitment of US to the defense of Japan under Article V of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, and “reaffirmed” the application of the article to the Senkaku Islands. These are reconfirmations of the agreements of former leaders of both nations.

Biden commended Japan’s security reinforcement through the new National Security Strategy and the new National Defense Strategy and Defense Buildup Program, which actually are the renewals of earlier documents. One of the selling points of the new NSS is the capability to strike enemy bases, that is described as “counterstrike” capability in the joint statement. But it does not necessarily mean preemptive attack. Kishida has been insisting that the capability to strike back against an attacker would not violate Japan’s traditional security principle of exclusively defense-oriented policy. Japan’s expansion of its security budget, which Biden called an “historic increase,” is still a matter of planning. Kishida failed to include it in last month’s budget, however.

Both leaders had the reasons for making the outcome dramatic. Kishida needs to persuade the Japanese people that the US is firmly committed to the security of East Asia, where Chinese advances have been growing as seen in the missile launch at Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Biden answered Kishida’s request by saying: “Let me be crystal clear: The United States is fully, thoroughly, completely committed to the alliance.” Biden needs to assure the US people that the Japanese are ready to make enough effort to defend themselves.

Japan’s new NSS and defense budget may be the preferable tools for his Kishida’s domestic politics. However, their political boost has not been seen. In addition, Biden's controversy involving classified documents precluded a joint press conference with Kishida. Meanwhile, there remains certain unpopularity in Japan about Kishida’s handling of important policies, including tackling infectious diseases and inflation. Some even argue that Group 7 summit meeting this May may result in an exit for Kishida administration.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Monday Asia Events December 12, 2022

MAPPING CHINA’S PATHWAY TO A CARBON-NEUTRAL FOOD SYSTEM. 12/12, 9:00–10:15am (EST), WEBINAR. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Min Hu, Principal and Co-Founder, iGDP; Meian Chen, Program Director and Senior Analyst, iGDP; Kevin Mo, Principal, iGDP; Patty Fong, program director on Climate and Health & Wellbeing at FOF; Moderator: Jennifer L. Turner, Director, China Environment Forum & Manager, Global Choke Point Initiative, Wilson Center.

RAMACHANDRA GUHA ON MODI’S INDIA. 12/12, 11:00am (EST), ONLINE. Sponsor: Foreign Policy. Speakers: Ramachandra Guha, Historian and biographer, author, Environmentalism: A Global History and India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy; Ravi Agrawal, Editor in chief, Foreign Policy.

THE OUTLOOK FOR STRATEGIC COMPETITION IN THE SEMICONDUCTOR INDUSTRY. 12/12, 2:00-3:00pm (EST), ONLINE. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Duncan Wood; Vice President for Strategy & New Initiatives; Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute; Alexandra Helfgott, Office of VP of Strategy and New Initiatives; Former Research Intern, Mexico Institute; Kellee Wicker; Director, Science and Technology Innovation Program, Cordell Hull; Global Fellow; Jimmy Goodrich, Vice President, Global Policy, Semiconductors Industry Association; Moderator: Don McLellan, International Co-Chair, Woodrow Wilson Center National Cabinet.

REIMAGINING THE TPP: REVISIONS THAT COULD FACILITATE U.S. REENTRY REPORT LAUNCH EVENT. 12/12, 2:00-3:00pm (EST), WEBINAR: Sponsor: Asia Society. Speakers: Co-authors Wendy Cutler, ASPI Vice President and Clete Willems, partner at Akin Gump; Moderator: Bob Davis, Wall Street Journal, Senior Editor.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Monday Asia Events December 5, 2022

, 8:30–9:30am (EST), WEBINAR. Sponsor: Stimson. Speakers: Nobukatsu Kanehara, Professor, Faculty of Law, Department of Political Science, Doshisha University; Moderator: Yuki Tatsumi, Director, Japan Program, Stimson.

CHINA AND THE GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM. 12/5, 11:30am (BST), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: St Antony’s Asian Studies Centre, Oxford, UK. Speakers: Sarah M. Brooks, Program Director, International Service for Human Rights; Rosemary Foot, Professor and Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford; Rana Siu Inboden, Senior Fellow, Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, University of Texas at Austin; Moderator, John D. Ciorciari, Associate Dean for Research and Policy Engagement, Ford School.

THE VATICAN AND PERMANENT NEUTRALITY. 12/5, Noon-1:30pm (EST), ZOOM. Sponsor: Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Speakers Include: Marshall Breger, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America; Dr. Herbert Reginbogin, Catholic University of America; Dr. Suzanne Brown Fleming, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Dr. Piotr Kosicki, University of Maryland; Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, Catholic University of America; Dr. Matthew Shadle, Marymount University; Moderator: Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J., Georgetown University.

THE DRAGON ROARS BACK. 12/5, 4:30pm (EST), ONLINE WEBINAR. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: author, Suisheng Zhao, Professor and Director, Center for China-US Cooperation, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver; Jude Blanchette, Freeman Chair, CSIS. PURCHASE BOOK

NEW FORM OF CAPITALISM IN JAPAN AND THE NORDIC VISION: LABOR PARTICIPATION, GENDER EQUALITY, AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE. 12/5, 5:00-6:30pm (JST), ZOOM. Sponsor: Embassy of Finland, Royal Danish Embassy, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Iceland, Norwegian Embassy. Speakers Include: Atsushi Sunami, President of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation; Tanja Jääskeläinen, Ambassador of Finland to Japan; Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, President of Iceland; Masanobu Ogura, Minister of State for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Monday Asia Events November 14, 2022

, 8:30am-12:30pm (EST), ONLINE WEBCAST. Sponsor: Center for Global Development (CGD). Speakers Include: Minouche Shafik, Director, London School of Economics; Masood Ahmed, President, CGD.

UKRAINE AND THE FUTURE OF AIR WARFARE. 11/14, 10:00-11:00am (EST), ONLINE. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speakers: Margarita Konaev, Deputy Director of Analysis and a Research Fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology; Tom Karako, Senior Fellow with the International Security Program and Director of the Missile Defense Project, CSIS; Sam Bendett, Adviser with CNA Strategy, Policy, Plans and Programs Center; Kelly A. Grieco, Senior Fellow with the Reimagining US Grand Strategy Program at the Stimson Center.

TOWARD A DATA-DRIVEN SOCIETY: FROM BUSINESS TO POLICY TO SOCIAL VISION. 11/14, 11:30am-12:30pm (EST), IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Center on Japanese Economy and Business (CJEB), Columbia Business School. Speakers: Yusuke Narita, Assistant Professor, Yale University; David E. Weinstein, Director, CJEB.

US DEFENSE INNOVATION AND GREAT POWER DETERRENCE. 11/14, 2:00-3:15pm (EST), IN PERSON AND WEBCAST. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Michael E. O’Hanlon, Director, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology; David A. Ochmanek, Senior Defense Analyst, RAND Corporation; Caitlin Talmadge, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology; Christian Brose, Chief Strategy Officer, Anduril Industries.

SCIENCE AND DEMOCRACY: A TRANSATLANTIC PERSPECTIVE. 11/14, 2:00–7:30pm (EST), IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Embassy of France. Speakers: Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Professor, Panthéon-Sorbonne University; Bruce Lewenstein, Professor, Cornell University; Mireille Guyader, Science Counselor; Alondra Nelson, Deputy Director for Science and Society, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Mark B. Brown, Professor, California State University; Alexandra Givens, President and CEO, Center for Democracy and Technology; Etienne Klein, Philosopher of Science and Physicist, French Atomic Energy Commission; Rashada Alexander, Director, Science & Technology Policy Fellowships, American Association, Advancement of Science; Gaël Giraud, Director, Environmental Justice Program, Georgetown University; Pierre Henriet, Member, French National Assembly; Craig McLean, Former Chief Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Sheila Jasanoff, Professor, Harvard University; Aurélie Bonal, Deputy Chief of Mission; Moderators: Bryan Walsh, Editor, Future Project, Vox; Julia MacKenzie, Chief Program Officer, American Association, Advancement of Science; Jim Acosta, Anchor and Chief Domestic Correspondent, CNN.

, 3:00–4:00pm (EST), ONLINE AND IN PERSON. Sponsor: George Washington University Institute for Korean Studies. Speakers: Ambassador Taeyong Cho, Ambassador, Republic of Korea to United States; Moderator: Alyssa Ayres, Dean, Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. 

THE UKRAINE WAR AND THE CAUCASUS: IS RUSSIA LOSING BOTH? 11/14, 3:00–4:00pm (EST), IN PERSON. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics. Speakers: Erik Khzmalyan, Geopolitical Analyst, U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security.

IDEOLOGY IN U.S. FOREIGN RELATIONS: NEW HISTORIES. 11/14, 4:00-5:30pm (EST), ZOOM. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Author Christopher McKnight Nichols, Oregon State University; Mary L. Dudziak, Professor of Law, Emory University; Michaela Hoenicke Moore, Associate Professor of History, University of Iowa; Penny M. Von Eschen, Professor of History and American Studies, University of Virginia; Moderators: Christian F. Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project, Wilson Center; Eric Arnesen, Former Fellow, Director, National History Center of the American Historical Association. 

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HEIHACHIRO TOGO. 11/14, 6:30pm (JST), IN-PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Yokosuka Council on Asia Pacific Studies (YCAPS), Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Speakers: Hiroshige Togo, Surface Ship Officer, JMSDF, Tanaka Precious Metals; Moderators: Jenna Lindeke Heavenrich, YCAPS; Ed Thompson. 

MILITARY OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR IN CHINA’S FOREIGN POLICY. 11/14, 7:00-8:00pm (EST), ONLINE. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speakers: Courtney J. Fung, Associate Professor in the Department of Security Studies & Criminology at Macquarie University; Andrea Ghiselli, Assistant Professor, School of International Relations and Public Affairs (SIRPA), Fudan University; Jesse Marks, Nonresident Fellow, China Program, Stimson Center. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Japan's Stimulus Budget

An Uneasy Stimulus Package for Japan

By Takuya Nishimura
, Chief Editorial Writer, The Hokkaido Shimbun
The views expressed by the author are his own and are not associated with The Hokkaido Shimbun

November 7, 2022

To prepare for the risk of worldwide economic decline, the Kishida administration announced in late October a new stimulus package amounting to ¥39 trillion ($264 billion). Hoping to ease the Japanese people’s growing anger over relentless price hikes, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is offering families financial support for their utilities bills. However, it is not clear whether the new measures can keep up with the consistent inflation caused by the fall in the value of the Japanese yen. Meanwhile, disregarding widespread demands for economic stabilization, the Bank of Japan shows no sign of ending current efforts to ease monetary policy.

The administration argued that the Japanese economy is on its way to a normal condition after a significant slump caused by COVID-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Those events led to higher prices for international raw materials, while the plunging yen caused increases in the prices of energy and food products. The stimulus package aimed at moderating inflation and improving workers’ wages, by using the cheap yen to restore sales capacity.

The highest priority in the stimulus package is to moderate the unusual increase in commodity prices, a trend that other major economies in the world are also attempting to address. Japan’s stimulus package may be unique, however, in that is the government will subsidize household electricity and fuel bills through payments directly to those utilities rather than through payments to households. The government has explained the subsidies will result in a 20% reduction in the monthly electric power charges of an average family. The public is skeptical about whether the electric power companies pass the subsidies along through reductions in monthly charges, but the government has said that the reductions will be described on monthly bills. There remains the possibility that the stimulus package will be the salvation of electric corporations, without improving consumers’ purchasing power. The same can be said about gas prices.

Another key to economic revitalization is raising workers’ wages. While former administrations recognized the need for better wages, the financial benefits of tax cuts and programs for major corporations did not trickle down to small or mid-size businesses. And the wages of a majority of workers has remained low. The Kishida administration looks to be more aware of the problem than were its predecessors. The stimulus package will back small businesses on the condition that employee salaries rise. Companies will be penalized if they hesitate in reflecting governmental support on the price, or financial back-up for the companies suffered from COVID-19 or current inflation. But employers would not be required to sacrifice their businesses to get their employees to the proper wage level.

The rest of the policies in the package are politically motivated. Neo-capitalism is one of the pillars of Kishida’s policy. To promote investment in human capital, the package expands the budget for the next five years, creates a new system for “reskilling” and job transfer, removes expiration of the Nippon Individual Savings Account and improves the personal pension system. To improve job education, Japan will send one thousand young entrepreneurs to technology and finance centers in United States, including Silicon Valley and business districts in the east coast.

Subsidies for the construction of infrastructure is a traditional stimulus policy of any Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) administration because local constructors are fundamental supporters of the party. Firmly believing in Keynesian economics, the Kishida administration, as well as former LDP ones, will encourage improvements to the transportation system to better withstand disasters and will support the growth of a digital-transformation-friendly infrastructure. Finally, although the relationship to economic stimulus is unclear, the stimulus package also includes: support for the countries or regions affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine; a fund for releasing into the sea the water used for cooling Fukushima’s damaged nuclear reactors; and security enhancements for G7 leaders meeting in Hiroshima next year.

On the same day that Kishida announced his new stimulus package, the Governor of the Bank of Japan (BoJ), Haruhiko Kuroda said in a press conference that the Bank will maintain its inflation targeting policy known as “yield curb control.” Kuroda then predicted that “Although commodity prices for consumers will keep rising through the end of this year, the speed of inflation will be slowed down by mid-2023.” The Governor’s term ends next April. Supposedly frustrated with slow progress in reaching the target 2% inflation rate, Kuroda insisted that the monetary policy should support a rise in workers’ wages. But the BoJ is not necessarily responsible for workers’ wages. News reports thus focused on who will be his successor.