Sunday, August 1, 2021

Monday Asia Events, August 2, 2021

10:00-11:30am (PHDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) – Yusof Ishak Institute; Speakers: Datuk P. Kamalanathan, Chairman, Labuan Port Authority, Member, Central Working Committee, Malaysian Indian Congress; Mr. Gan Ping Sieu, Founder and Senior Partner, Gan and Zul Advocates & Solicitors. 

IMPLEMENTING A NEW MARITIME STRATEGY. Noon-1:00pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA), Vice Chair, House Armed Services Committee; Bryan Clark, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, Hudson Institute. 

A CONVERSATION WITH DR. ANTHONY FAUCI ON THE ANTIVIRAL PROGRAM FOR PANDEMICS. 3:00-4:00pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; J. Stephen Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS. 

Japan Challenges Russia in Antarctic

Sparking Concern in Moscow About West’s Plans

First printed in the Eurasia Daily Monitor, July 27, 2021 -- Volume 18, Issue 119
The Japanese government’s National Institute for Polar Research (NIPR) released four reports so far this month (July 2021) outlining Tokyo’s view that Japan should be among the countries allowed to exploit the oil and natural gas resources lying below the surface in Antarctica and to make territorial claims there once the current treaty regime expires or is modified ( cited by Rambler, July 24). That has sparked outrage in Moscow. Russian commentaries have characterized the NIPR proposals as a threat to Russian rights in the Antarctic; as a challenge to the 1959 international accord that governs the activities of countries there; as a new move on the geopolitical chessboard intended to put pressure on Moscow to sign a peace treaty with Tokyo and return the Kurile Islands; and even as a trial balloon to test out analogous plans the United States may try to employ against Russia in the Arctic in the immediate future (, July 24;, July 25).
The NIPR reports, in fact, do not speak about any immediate Japanese actions but rather appear designed to set the stage for Tokyo’s participation in talks planned to revise the 1959 international accord, which limits the activities of the signatory countries to only scientific research in the Antarctic. That accord is set to expire in 2048; but already, Russia and other countries have been talking about its revision so as to permit exploitation of oil and gas reserves there (see EDM, June 9, 2020June 24, 2020January 19, 2021). Japan raised this issue before, in 2012, but its legal position is different; and so its announcement then was largely ignored in Moscow and the West. Tokyo made expansive claims regarding Antarctica in 1939, but the post-World War II settlement forced the Japanese government to give them up in 1951. That has had two consequences. First, it has meant that Japan’s claims to the southern polar region are invariably wrapped up in the issues of the revision of the outcome of that war, something Russian President Vladimir Putin is especially sensitive to (not least because of the Kurile Islands dispute—see EDM, November 27, 2018 and January 24, 2019). And second, it has meant that whenever Japan does make a claim, however far in the future it may be, Moscow-based experts tend to see it as a stalking horse, either to make demands for a return of the Kuriles or as an action taken on behalf of the US against Russia (Svobodnaya Pressa, July 25).
Most of the coverage in Moscow over the last few days about the Japanese reports has been dismissive, viewing them as, at most, Japan’s latest effort to pressure Russia to return the Kurile Islands. Moreover, these commentaries collectively suggest that the real competition in the Antarctic is in the seas around it rather than on land, at least for now. But some Russian analysts, like Igor Shatrov of the Strategic Development Council, see what Japan has done as having far broader implications. For Shatrov, it represents a sign that Tokyo increasingly wants to act without regard to the post–World War II settlement and is an indication that Japan is working hand-in-glove with the US to come up with a strategy in the Antarctic in the distant future that the two countries can apply against Russia in the Arctic now. He and others argue Russia must work more closely with China to counter this Japanese-US move (Svobodnaya Pressa, July 25).
One who makes this case is Andrei Koshkin of the Russian Economics University, who has argued in the past that anything Japan does is the implementation of US plans and that whatever Tokyo is saying about the Antarctic provides a glimpse into what Washington intends to do in the Arctic. Because that is so, he contends, any manifestation of Japanese interest in Antarctica must be of immediate concern to Moscow. This is not so much because Japan or the US can do anything in the world’s southernmost region now or that Russia could not block them (see EDM, January 19, 2021; Meduza, December 16, 2020; N+1, December 7, 2020; Kommersant, November 26, 2020; Znak, January 28, 2020) but rather because of its implications for what is likely to happen in the Arctic in the near future (Svobodnaya Pressa, October 26, 2020).
Of course, a critical difference exists between the Arctic and Antarctic as far as international politics is concerned. A global accord restricts development in the Antarctic until mid-century; and disputes there are primarily about fishing in the seas around the continent rather than over natural resources locked away underground. But the Japanese NITR reports suggest that the differences between policies regarding the areas around the poles are narrowing. As long as the issue in the Antarctic is about fishing, the US has real advantages because many countries, including Japan, want to restrict Russian fishermen there. If the dispute shifts to land, Russia may be able to use the 1959 treaty and exploit the fears of many countries that they will be left out in a scramble for resources beneath the Antarctic ice. That means Moscow must be concerned about any territorial claims there, ally itself with China, and use their common objections to block them, Koshkin says, all while recognizing that the US is developing policies around the South Pole that it intends to use in the North (Svobodnaya Pressa, October 26, 2020).
Thus, what might appear to many as a tempest in a Moscow media teapot is anything but. It is a sign of Russian concern about Japan’s new international activism not only in the Antarctic but more generally; and it is a reflection of a broader Russian judgment that whatever the West does in Antarctica is first and foremost not about that continent but about the polar region in the north—an area Vladimir Putin has made central to his plans to project Russian power in order to defend Russian national security.

Monday, July 26, 2021

UNESCO and Japan's rewriting of history

Baron Mitsui holding a dinner for newly released
senior POWs who were slave laborers
at his Miike Coal Mine
At UNESCO, Japan lays bare the difficulties of achieving shared values within the Quad.

By Mindy L. Kotler

Originally published in The Diplomat, July 23, 2021
This version is slightly revised for clarity

On July 22nd, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, comprising the United States, India, Japan, and Australia, faced its first test. Unexpectedly, it came at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The focus was on Japan, not China, and the result reveals how fragile the idea of shared, universal values is for this multilateral coalition. As things stand, Japan is a willful outlier.

At the World Heritage Committee’s 44th virtual session, there was a review of several previously designated Japanese UNESCO World Industrial Heritage sites that were the scene of war crimes in World War II. Americans, Australians, and Indians were among the thousands of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) brought to Japan during the war. They became slave laborers in various private mines, chemical factories, and steel mills, and on docks critical to support Imperial Japan’s war effort.

These very mines, foundries, and wharves were selected by Japan to represent its “Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining.” The Japanese, however, left out any mention of this forced labor and abuse, which was the substance of the hundreds of war crimes trials throughout the postwar Pacific.

UNESCO approved the designations in 2015 but conditioned the designations on a promise to provide a “full history” of these sites. Yet, six years later, Japan has not fulfilled this promise. Japan’s forced colonial workers from Korea are given slight mention, although Japan refuses to admit they were unwilling or unhappy. The POWs, which included soldiers, civilians, and mariners from Ireland, Egypt, Norway, Argentina, Jamaica, Portugal, Italy, and Arabia are unmentioned in any official publications, whether at the particular sites or at the Tokyo Industrial Heritage Information Center, which was opened in March 2020.

On July 12, 2021, a UNESCO draft decision noted that Japan still had to improve its interpretive strategy. The reprimand of Japan’s unwillingness to tell the “full history” of these properties was approved July 22. The Committee believes measures are still necessary to “allow an understanding of a large number of Koreans and others” who were forced or slave laborers. 

Unfortunately, UNESCO identifies POWs only as “others. This euphemism affirms Japan’s effort to censor its war crimes and rewrite the history of World War II. UNESCO members Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Norway, and the Netherlands need to insist that “others” means their veterans.

To satisfy UNESCO’s directive to include “others,” it is implied that Japan must acknowledge that five of the UNESCO industrial heritage sites — Hagi, Kamaishi, Miike, Nagasaki, and Yawata — held 26 POW camps during the war and provided more than 13,000 POW slave laborers from over 16 countries to Japan’s industrial giants, including Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, and Nippon Steel.

The Miike Coal Mine (Fukuoka #17) warrants particular attention. The mine, owned by the Mitsui conglomerate, was Japan’s largest. Nearly 2,000 Allied POWs suffered capricious brutality and starvation in deadly and primitive conditions. Hundreds died. American POWs were so desperate for a respite from the coal pits that they traded their meager rice bowls for someone to break their arms or legs.

Kamaishi’s industrial area (Sendai #4B and Sendai #5B) is also illustrative of missing war history. The site was the first to be bombed by U.S. Navy warships off Japan’s unguarded coastline. The iron works at this site, still owned by Nippon Steel, were among Japan’s largest. On July 14, 1945, more than 40 American, Dutch, New Zealand, and British POWs as well as hundreds of Japanese were killed in the bombardment.

Nippon Steel’s Yawata’s steel works (Fukuoka #3) was Japan’s most important armament manufacturer. The workforce was primarily composed of POWs who endured intense manual labor shoveling iron ore and tending the furnaces. Yawata was the primary target for the second atomic bomb. Cloud cover from aerial bombing on August 8, 1945, shifted the mission to Nagasaki, close to the Miike Coal Mine.

Japan’s unstated history of Allied slave labor at its UNESCO sites is part of a larger trend of the government’s rewriting history. The narratives presented at Japan’s industrial heritage sites also diminish the use of Korean forced labor and Chinese slave labor. This all dovetails with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s quest to retell Japan’s story in an uncritical, more glorious manner. So important was the UNESCO heritage designation to the former Abe administration that one cabinet adviser had the sole job of shepherding the application through UNESCO.

Highlighting the effort to annul history was last August’s 75th anniversary memorial address for the end of World War II. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, unlike his predecessors, did not mention, “learning from history” or having “remorse.” Instead, he said “we will never forget that the peace and prosperity we enjoy today was built atop the precious sacrifices of the war dead.”

This ahistorical take on Japan’s disastrous war is not a reassurance to UNESCO that Japan will correct the histories of its industrial heritage sites. Nor does it comfort the Quad allies that their shared history will not be recognized and reflected upon. Upholding historical facts is a value of democracy now being undermined by Japan as rapidly as in authoritarian China or Hungary. Japan’s defiance of UNESCO’s recommendations to explain the “full history” of its cultural properties shows how fragile the Quad’s so-called unifying principles are.

Mindy L. Kotler
 is director and founder of Asia Policy Point, a Washington think tank focused on Northeast Asia. She is also an adviser to the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society that represents the American POWs of Japan and their families.

Monday Asia Events, July 26, 2021

10:00am-3:00pm (GMT), WEBINAR. Sponsors: USC Center on Public Diplomacy; Singapore International Foundation. Speakers: Seksan Anantasirikiat, Researcher, KlangPanya Institute for National Strategies; Alan Chong, Associate Professor, and Acting Head, Centre for Multilateralism Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies; Dr. Chheang Vannarith, President, Asian Vision Institute; Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, President, KSI Strategic Institute for the Asia Pacific; Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, Founder and Chairman, Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia and Former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Indonesia; Dr. Lee Geun, President, Korea Foundation; Jonathan McClory, Partner, Sanctuary Counsel; Amb. Ong Keng Yong, Chairman, Singapore International Foundation; Zhao Kejin, Chair, Department of International Relations, Tsinghua University; Moderators: Caitlin Byrne, Director, Griffith Asia Institute; Dr. Jay Wang, Director, Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California. 

A NAVY ADMIRAL’S BRONZE RULES: MANAGING RISK AND LEADERSHIP. Noon-1:00pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: author, Rear Adm. Dave Oliver, USN (Ret.); Seth G. Jones, Senior Vice President, Harold Brown Chair, Director, International Security Program, CSIS. PURCHASE BOOK:

THE US & INDO-PACIFIC: A CONVERSATION WITH REP. YOUNG KIM. Noon-1:00pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: Hudson. Speakers: Representative Young Kim (R-CA), Member, House Committees on Foreign Affairs; Eric Brown, Senior Fellow, Hudson; Nury Turkel, Senior Fellow, Hudson.

CENTRAL BANK DIGITAL CURRENCY (CBDC)RELEVANT DESIGN CHOICES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNOVATION. Noon (PDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: Hoover Institution. Speaker: Dr. Neha Narula, Director, Digital Currency Initiative, MIT Media Lab. 

SHAPING SUSTAINABLE SECURITY ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA. 2:00-3:15 (BDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Chatham House. Speakers: Hazel Smith, Professorial Research Associate in Korean Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Professor Emerita of International Security, Cranfield University; Chung-in Moon, Chairman, Sejong Institute; Jean Lee, Director, Center for Korean History and Public Policy, Wilson Center (WWC); Robin Niblett, Director and Chief Executive, Chatham House; Moderator: John Nilsson-Wright, Korea Fellow, Korea Foundation, Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Monday Asia Events, July 19, 2021

 10:30am-Noon (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: Wilson Center (WWC). Speakers: David Hale, Distinguished Diplomatic Fellow, WWC, Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs; Nadia Naviwala, Global Fellow, WWC, Former USAID Staffer; Tamanna Salikuddin, Director, South Asia Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace, Former National Security Council and State Department Staffer; James Schwemlein, Senior Director, Albright Stonebridge Group, Former State Department Staffer; Moderator: Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia, WWC.

RESPONSIBLE AI: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR NATIONAL SECURITY? 1:00-2:00pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Women’s Foreign Policy Group. Speakers: José-Marie Griffiths, Member, National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence; Haniyeh Mahmoudian, Member, Applied AI Ethics Team at DataRobot; Jacqueline Sarah Tame, Former Acting Deputy Director, DoD Joint Artificial Intelligence Center; Moderator: Hon. Andrea Thompson, VP for International Programs, Northrop Grumman. 

CAN THE US AND RUSSIA AGREE ON CYBER RULES? 2:00-3:00pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Center for the National Interest. Speakers: Elena Chernenko, Head of the International Section, Kommersant, Member, Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Russia, Member, Working Group on International Information Security and Global Internet Governance, PIR Center; Joseph Nye, Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University, Former Chairman, National Intelligence Council, Former Dean, Kennedy School, Harvard University; Moderator: George Beebe, Vice President and Director of Studies, Center for the National Interest, Former Head of Russia Analysis, Central Intelligence Agency. 

JAPANESE BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS RISKS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA - REPORTS FROM THAILAND AND INDONESIA. 4:00-6:00pm (JST), ZOOM. Sponsor: Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Speakers: Dr. Pochoy Labog, Southeast Asia Researcher and Representative, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, Senior Lecturer, Mahidol University; Dr. Michelle Staggs Kelsall, Senior Research Fellow, Human Rights Resource Centre; Mr. Hiroshi Sato, Research Operations Department Chief Senior Researcher, Institute of Developing Economics- Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO); Moderator: Dr. Akihiro Ueda, Program Officer, Sasakawa Peace Foundation. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Monday Events July 12, 2021

 9:00-10:00am (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Stimson. Speakers: Nvard Chalikyan, Nonresident Fellow, Stimson; Sumitha Narayanan Kutty, Adjunct Research Associate, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS); Ayesha Malik, Doctoral Candidate, Quaid-I Azam University; Soraya Parwani, Research Analyst, Vancouver Coastal Health; Moderator: Brigitta Schuchert, Research Associate and Managing Editor, South Asian Voices.

VIEWS FROM THE HILL: A CONVERSATION WITH REP. TOM MALINOWSKI. 11:30am-12:30pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Middle East Institute (MEI). Speakers: Rep. Tom Malinowski, US congressman, 7th District of New Jersey; Moderator: Amb. (ret.) Gerald Feierstein, Senior vice president, MEI. 

BP STATISTICAL REVIEW OF WORLD ENERGY 2021. Noon-1:30pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University; Spencer Dale, Chief Economist, BP; James Glynn, Senior Research Scholar, CGEP; Laura Cozzi, Chief Energy Modeler, International Energy Agency (IEA); Moderator: Jason Bordoff, Co-Founding Dean, Climate School, Columbia University, Founding Director, CGEP, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. 

SAVING DEMOCRACY: REINVENTING INSTITUTIONS AND PRACTICES FOR THE 21 ST CENTURY. 2:00pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsors: World Affairs Council of America (WACA), American Council on Germany (ACG), Atlantik-Brücke. Speaker: Dr. Jan-Werner Müller, Professor of Politics, Princeton University. 

A Leadership Vacuum

On Japan–South Korea cooperation

East Asia Forum, 11 July 2021

by Daniel Sneider, Lecturer in International Policy and East Asian Studies at Stanford University and APP member

The dysfunctionality of Japan–South Korea relations led many to despair about whether the two Northeast Asian neighbours can l ever get along. Efforts by US officials to create trilateral opportunities on security, climate or cybersecurity have largely foundered.

History provides two lessons, which point in contradictory directions

The first is that the tensions are deeply rooted and fundamental to national identity in both countries. The other is that progress is possible, but requires political leadership and the help of the United States. While historical enmity remains, strategic and even tactical conditions can create opportunities.

Specifically, two moments in Japan–South Korea relations provide relevant lessons: the 1965 treaty to normalise relations and the 2015 agreement on so-called ‘comfort women’*.

Post-war efforts to establish relations began in 1951 amid fierce fighting in Korea and with Japan on the verge of restoring sovereignty. The United States was eager to bind its two allies together, but neither South Korean leader Syngman Rhee nor Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida were enthusiastic about dealing with thorny issues, such as the treatment of the Koreans living in Japan and compensation for Japanese colonial rule.

Successful talks on a treaty to normalise relations and settle post-war claims finally took place in 1965. Despite strong opposition in both countries to the compromises needed to reach a deal, the treaty became the legal foundation for post-war Japan–South Korea ties.

A change in leadership was needed to make that possible, particularly in South Korea, where the military-led regime of Park Chung-hee had taken power in 1962. A Japanese-trained officer in the wartime Imperial Army, Park was determined to follow the Japanese model of export-led industrialisation and needed Japan as a source of aid, investment and technology. The Japanese government of Eisaku Sato understood that this was the best partner they could hope for and saw economic opportunity.

The strategic situation also pushed them together. China tested nuclear weapons in 1964 and 1965, the Vietnam War was in full swing and North Korea was emboldened. The United States saw a Japan–South Korea partnership as crucial to meeting the communist threat. Washington made normalisation a priority in every meeting with South Korean and Japanese leadership, pushed for the treaty and intervened when talks hit snags.

A similar convergence led to the 2015 comfort women agreement, which created a Japanese-funded foundation to provide compensation to survivors and affirmed Japan’s responsibility for wartime acts. The then South Korean president Park Geun-hye, daughter of the late military dictator, held a strong personal concern for the women but wasn’t wedded to the progressive narrative of victimisation. Then Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe advocated a conservative revisionist narrative, but was also pragmatic and not vulnerable to criticism from the Japanese right.

Strategic realities also played a key role then. The Chinese challenge was manifest. North Korea’s nuclear program was progressing rapidly and efforts at negotiation had stalled.

Japan–South Korea relations dived after Abe’s December 2013 visit to the Yasukuni shrine to Japan’s war dead, but once Japanese and South Korean officials began talking to each other again, the United States combined direct pressure from the President and behind-the-scenes mediation to help facilitate a deal.

Renewed cooperation seems unlikely today, but this could change. The South Korean government of Moon Jae-in, reflecting long-held views of South Korean progressives, and prompted by court decisions, has challenged both the legitimacy of the 1965 treaty and moved to effectively dismantle the 2015 agreement. From this perspective, the deals were unequal bargains, compounded by Japan’s ongoing denial of its war crimes.

For the Japanese right, this gives credence to their insistence that South Koreans are unreliable partners, unable to hold an agreement. They dismiss the progressive government in Seoul as de facto partners of China.

The strategic situation, however, lends weight to those who argue that the threat from China and North Korea should bind them together. In Washington, the broad effort to encircle China requires close ties to allies and between them. Both Tokyo and Seoul nominally support trilateral cooperation.

The US role has also shifted back toward bringing Tokyo and Seoul together. When relations took their latest nosedive, the Trump administration was notably disengaged. But the Biden administration is emphasising the role of allies and actively encouraging trilateral meetings.

Perhaps partly in response, the Moon administration has signalled, but not manifested, a desire to step back from its opposition to the 1965 treaty and the 2015 agreement. But Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, confident in his alignment with Washington on China policy, has so far not reciprocated.

The missing element to bilateral cooperation then is political leadership. Moon is deeply committed to the progressive agenda and his party faces a serious challenge in next year’s presidential election. Suga is weakened, facing challenges both from within his ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party and from the liberal opposition. Neither man seems personally inclined to take on the risks of compromise.

The Biden administration may have concluded that any breakthrough will have to wait until next year and a change of leadership, perhaps in both countries.

Yet officials in Tokyo and Seoul are quietly working to lay the groundwork for a potential deal on wartime history issues and it is essential that the United States makes clear, from the highest level, the imperative to repair relations. The coming Summer Olympic Games, which Moon is planning to attend, could provide a moment to set relations on a different path. History shows that progress is possible with leadership and patience.

*This is only an agreement to Westerners. Neither country describes it as such. There is no one, signed document approved by the legislature. There are two different summaries of a discussion. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Does Biden have a North Korea Policy?

Not Really

By Daniel Sneider : Lecturer, International Policy at Stanford University and APP member

Toyo Keizai, June 29,2021

Speculation about a resumption of negotiations between North Korea and the United States is once again in the air. While senior American officials talk about “interesting signals” from Pyongyang, the North Koreans rush to say, not so fast, let’s see what you have to offer. The newly appointed American North Korea special envoy, Sung Kim, was received like visiting royalty in Seoul.

Is this the beginning of the much-awaited North Korea policy of the Biden administration, a prelude to talks, or perhaps to provocations designed to up the pressure for concessions?

Reading between the lines, and based on recent conversations with senior South Korean and U.S. officials, it is clear that in reality, there is no North Korea policy in Washington. There is a China policy, and the priority is to strengthen alliances to build a broad front against China.

When it comes to the Korean peninsula, the Biden administration is focused on keeping South Korea inside the alliance camp. Senior administration officials ended their review concluding there is little to be gained from negotiations with Pyongyang.

They assess that the North Koreans are only prepared to offer what they put on the table at the failed Hanoi summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un – an exchange of a limited freeze of some nuclear facilities in exchange for lifting the sanctions which continue to undermine the regime’s survival.

“The Americans are probably not that interested in talking to the North,” Andrei Lankov, a leading authority on North Korea based on Kookmin University, told Toyo Keizai.

“The only result such talks are going to produce might be some refined version of the ‘Hanoi compromise’, and such a deal is not going to sell well with the U.S. Congress, U.S. public and U.S. media. So, President Biden, fully understanding that no spectacular victory is possible in dealing with North Korea, seemingly prefers to concentrate on more important issues –above all, China.”

Veteran American policy makers on North Korea share that understanding, and see mainly efforts to offer the progressive South Korean government of President Moon Jae-in nominal support for its almost desperate pursuit of a progress toward the goal of engagement with the North.

“The essence of the Biden policy approach is to maximize your options,” says Evans Revere, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific and a veteran of talks with North Korea.

“That requires them to talk about the goal of denuclearization, to beat their breast about sanctions, but also to tell the North Koreans that we are prepared to talk. It also explains why they are working so hard to keep the South Koreans on board and happy.” Meanwhile, however, “we have bigger fish to fry – the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians.”

From that perspective, the summit meeting in late May in Washington between Moon and Biden was a great success. In the negotiations on the joint statement issued by the two leaders, led on the U.S. side by White House Indo-Pacific director Kurt Campbell, the U.S. was mainly concerned with getting Seoul to line up on the China issues.

South Korean senior officials acknowledge there was heavy pressure to get them to echo the language of the joint statement with Japan on Taiwan and human rights issues, though they point to some softening of the wording and their insistence not to name China in the document.

President Moon went into the summit eager to shore up his sagging domestic standing, following tough local election losses and increasing fears that conservatives could mount a comeback victory in next year’s presidential vote.

According to senior American officials, the Blue House priority going into Washington was not to discuss North Korea policy but to get help on the supply of vaccines to counter rising Covid-19 infection rates. And Washington delivered in the form of half a million doses, targeted at the South Korean military.

Moon also wanted badly to convey the optics of a close and friendly relationship with the new administration, which is popular back home. South Korean senior officials emerged almost gushing about the Moon-Biden relationship, marked by more than 5 hours of talks and personal chemistry.

They contrast that to the last meeting between Moon and Trump, in September 2019, described as “simply awful.” Trump apparently spent the entire time complaining about the level of South Korean contribution to shared defense costs, berating Moon for not yielding to his outrageous demands for a five-fold increase in South Korea’s contribution.

South Korean officials insist there was significant dialogue and understanding reached on how to handle North Korea. Largely that was a matter of the White House bending over backwards to at least convey their readiness to talk to Pyongyang, while retaining the familiar stance of seeking denuclearization and maintaining sactions pressure until there are real concessions. The decision to appoint Amb Sung Kim as the new special representative for North Korea was made only days before the White House summit, a response to pleading from Seoul.

Kim, who notably will retain his ‘day job’ as the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, is a tough, seasoned Korea expert. He served as Amb to South Korea, ran North Korea policy in the last years of the Obama administration, and led the working level talks with the North Koreans leading up the Singapore Summit.

He has few illusions about the prospects for negotiations with Pyongyang, and that view is shared by his deputy, Jung Pak, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst who came over from the Brookings Institution think tank.

The Moon administration is pressing for Washington to approve steps to ease sanctions against the North, hoping that will bring Pyongang to the table. Unification Minister Lee In-young is the voice for this in Seoul, calling for a “flexible application of sanctions.” His views, however, are not shared by the Foreign Ministry, which tends to mirror the American position.

The visit of Kim and Pak to Seoul provided a glimpse into the power struggles within the Moon administration on North Korea policy. The Unification Ministry demanded and won direct meetings with the Americans and the dissolution of a joint working group that had enforced tough sanctions, to the dismay of the progressives in Seoul and the North Korean regime.

The South Koreans have one open channel to the North, well informed sources say, and claim to be receiving encouraging messages from Pyongyang about resuming talks.

“Moon would like to have talks with North Korea, but only as long as these talks do not annoy the U.S. too much and do not constitute an open violation of the sanctions regime,” says Lankov, who is a Russian-educated North Korea expert.

For now, agrees Revere, the South Korean government is content. “As long as Washington is making positive noises about dialogue and engagement with North Korea, as long as Washington continues to do things that underscore Washington’s interest in dialogue, then South Korea can remain hopeful during the remaining months of Moon’s administration there is some hope for resumption of dialogue,” the former senior official told Toyo Keizai.

North Korea and China in the game

In Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un seems to have read these tea leaves quite well. He too very deliberately keeps the door open to dialogue but makes it clear that there must be something substantial in it for him.

He let loose his somewhat unconventional sister, Kim Yo Jong, to rudely brush off the vague talk from U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan about ‘interesting signals’ from the North, followed up by the North Korean Foreign Minister’s statement that they have no interest in talks “which would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time.”

The regime meanwhile is admitting serious internal problems, such as food shortages, reflected in unusual inflationary spikes for basic goods on the country’s semi-free markets.

There remains a deep fear of potential spread of Covid in the North, leading the regime to continue tight border controls, despite the severe economic impact. Some analysts suggest that this might make Kim Jong Un ready for an elusive deal to significantly rollback the nuclear and missile program in exchange for economic assistance.

Despite unease over dependency on China, Kim Jong Un can still rely on his powerful neighbor and treaty ally as a safety valve if things get worse.

“If the North Koreans are willing to accept Chinese food aid, they can easily get it,” says Lankov. “As long as the North Koreans decide to relax their irrationally tough quarantine regime and start getting Chinese aid, China will give them as much as they need.”

Relations between North Korea and China are now in an upswing, manifested in a flood of effusive propaganda celebrating their alliance and the Chinese role in the Korean war.

Lately, the Chinese have put a priority on that partnership over the goals of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. With the Biden administration’s focus on confronting China, there is even more incentive for Beijing to keep North Korea alive and well.

The price, for now, may be that North Korea not raise tensions with Washington by carrying out missile or nuclear tests designed to force talks on its terms.

But the Chinese will also have little interest in resolving the underlying security issues or in enforcing tight sanctions. The Biden administration’s new version of ‘strategic patience,’ as the Obama administration’s policy was labeled, is always subject to North Korea’s own readiness to maintain the status quo. Certainly, in Pyongyang, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, but no one in Washington, or in Seoul or Tokyo, can sleep well either.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Monday Asia Events June 28, 2021

BUY AMERICA MEETS STRATEGIC AUTONOMY. 6/28, 11:00am-Noon (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Kerstin Jorna, Director General of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs, European Commission; Peter Harrell, Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness, White House National Security Council; Bill Reinsch, Senior Adviser and Scholl Chair in International Business, CSIS. 

GENDER EQUALITY AND THE WORLD’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY. 6/28, 11:00am-Noon (EDT), ZOOM. Sponsor: Foreign Policy (FP). Speakers: Anila Denaj, Minister of Finance and Economy, Republic of Albania; Dr. Nadine Gasman Zylbermann, President, National Institute for Women of Mexico; Saba Gebremedhin, Executive Director, Network of Ethiopian Women’s Associations; Jennifer Klein, Co-Chair and Executive Director, White House Gender Policy Council; Reena Ninan, Founder, Good Trouble Productions; Anita Zaidi, President, Gender Equality, and Director, Vaccine Development and Surveillance, and Director, Enteric & Diarrheal Diseases (EDD), Gates Foundation.

UK-EU-JAPAN DIGITAL POLICY COORDINATION. 6/28, 1:00-2:00pm (BST), WEBCAST. Sponsor: Chatham House. Speakers: Yoichi Iida, Deputy Director-General, G7, and G20 Relations, and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan; Silvia Viceconte, Head of Sector, Multilateral Affairs and Economic Cooperation, International Affairs and Policy Outreach Unit, European Commission, and Directorate General, Communication Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission; David Prodger, Deputy Director, International Strategy, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports, UK; Harriet Moynihan, Senior Research Fellow, International Law Programme, Chatham House. 

THE TRANSFORMATION OF JAPAN’S SECURITY STRATEGY. 6/28, Noon-1:00pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Hudson. Speakers: The Honorable Yasuhide Nakayama, Japan’s State Minister of Defense; Kenneth R. Weinstein, Walter P. Stern Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute. 

THE ROLE OF OIL AND GAS IN NET-ZERO. 6/28, 2:00-3:00pm (EDT), WEBINAR. Sponsor: Atlantic Council Global Energy Center. Speakers: Al Cook, Executive Vice President, Exploration & Production International, Equinor; Juliana Garaizar, Vice President of Innovation, Greentown Labs; Greg Sharenow, Portfolio Manager, Real Assets, PIMCO. Moderator: Helima Croft, Managing and Global Head of Commodity Strategy, RBC Capital Markets. 

DEMOCRACY IN ACTION: PAST AND PRESENT MOVEMENTS IN TAIWAN, HONG KONG, AND MYANMAR. 6/28, 8:00-9:30pm (EDT), WEBINAR. Sponsor: Sigur Center for Asian Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University (GWU). Speakers: Michael Hsiao, Chairman, Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation; Kharis Templeman, Program Manager, Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific, Stanford University; Christina Fink, Professor of Practice of International Affairs, GWU; Syaru Shirley Lin, Compton Visiting Professor in World Politics, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia; Moderator: Deepa Ollapally, Research Professor of International Affairs, Associate Director of Sigur Center for Asian Studies, GWU. 

ADVANCING A RULES-BASED MARITIME ORDER: THE ROLE OF THE U.S.-JAPAN ALLIANCE. 6/28, 9:20-11:00pm (EDT), ZOOM. Sponsor: Pacific Forum. Speakers: Dr. Virginia Watson, Professor, DKI Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii; Dr. Kyoko Hatakeyama, Professor, University of Niigata Prefecture, Niigata, Japan; Moderator: John Bradford, (CDR, USN, Ret.), Senior Fellow, Maritime Security Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. 

EU DEFENSE WASHINGTON FORUM. 6/28-6/29, 9:00am-12:30pm (EDT), WEBINAR. Sponsors: CSIS; European Union. Speakers include: Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union, Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Jonathan Finer, US Deputy National Security Advisor; Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Ambassador to the United States; Trine Bramsen, Minister of Defense, Denmark.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Monday Asia Events June 21, 2021

, 9:00am-12:30pm (EDT), ZOOM. Sponsor: Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP). Speakers: Marko Klašnja, Assistant Professor, Georgetown University, and Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and Government Department; Nina Eichacker, Assistant Professor, University of Rhode Island; Timothy Shenk, Historian of Modern United States, and Author of Maurice Dobb: Political Economist; James E. Foster, Professor, International Affairs and Economics, and Co-Director of IIEP, George Washington University, and Research Associate, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, Oxford University. 

THE REALITY OF ROLLING OUT COVID-19 VACCINES. 6/21, 10:00-11:00am (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF; Charles Akataobi, Epidemiologist/Field Coordinator, African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Nigeria; Martha Ngoe, Bureau Chief for International Vaccination and Travel Medicine and Sub-National Surveillance Officer, South-West Region, Ministry of Public Health, Cameroon; Shyam Raj Upreti, Coordinator, COVID-19 Vaccine Expert Advisory Committee, Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal; Katherine E. Bliss, Senior Fellow, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS; John J. Hamre, President, CEO and Langone Chair in American Leadership, CSIS. 

A GENDER FRAMEWORK FROM ARMS CONTROL & DISARMAMENT. 6/21, 11:00am-Noon (EDT), ZOOM. Sponsors: Women in International Security (WIIS); Embassy of Liechtenstein. Speakers: Amb. Kurt Jaeger, Liechtenstein; Jana Wattenberg, Lecturer, Aberystwyth University, and Fellow, WIIS; Renata Hessman Dalaqua, Program Lead, Gender and Disarmament Program, UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR); Deepti Choubey, Director of Knowledge Management and Human Resources Services, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and Former Head of Public Affairs, Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); Moderator: Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, President, WIIS. 

U.S.-EU RELATIONS AFTER THE SUMMIT: A CONVERSATION WITH EU AMBASSADOR STAVROS LAMBRINIDIS. 6/21, 11:00am-Noon (EDT), WEBCAST. Sponsor: Wilson Center (WWC). Speakers: Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Ambassador to the United States; Moderator: Daniel S. Hamilton, Director, Global Europe Program, WWC, Distinguished Fellow, Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation. 

click to buy
. 6/21
, Noon-1:00pm (CDT), ZOOM. Sponsor: National WWII Museum New Orleans. Speaker: Author, Jonathan Parshall, Adjunct Professor, US Naval War College, and Founder,  PURCHASE BOOK:

WHAT IRAN’S ELECTION RESULTS PORTEND. 6/21, Noon-1:30pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Borzou Daragahi, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, Director, Nonviolent Initiative for Democracy; Azadeh Zamirirad, Iran Researcher and Deputy Head, Africa and Middle East Division, German Institute for International and Security Affairs; Sadegh Zibakalam, Author, Professor, University of Tehran; Moderator: Barbara Slavin, Director, Future of Iran Initiative; Atlantic Council. 

A CONVERSATION WITH US SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY J. BLINKEN. 6/21, 1:00-1:45pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsors: Atlantic Council; Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA). Speakers: The Hon. Antony J. Blinken, US Secretary of State; Jonathan Capehart, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist, Washington Post, MSNBC. 

OCEANS OF OPPORTUNITY: SOUTHEAST ASIA’S SHARED MARITIME CHALLENGES, SESSION THREE. 6/21, 8:00-10:30pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsors: CSIS; University of the Philippines. Speakers: Laura David, Director, Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines; Jurgenne Primavera, Chief Mangrove Scientific Advisor, Zoological Society of London; John McManus, Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research, University of Miami; Amanda Hsiao, Senior Analyst, China, International Crisis Group; Jay Batongbacal, Director, Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, University of the Philippines; Gregory B. Poling, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia, Director, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS; Whitley Saumweber, Director, Stephenson Ocean Security Project, and Senior Associate (Non-Resident), Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS. 

CAN INTERNATIONAL RULES IMPROVE DOMESTIC REGULATION OF DIGITAL TRADE? 6/21, 9:00-10:00pm (EDT), WEBCAST. Sponsor: Cato Institute. Speaker: David Weller, Director of Economic and Trade Policy, Google; Neha Mishra, Lecturer, Australia National University College of Law; Henry Gao, Associate Professor of Law, Singapore Management University; Simon Lester, Associate Director, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute. 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Monday Asia Events, June 14, 2021

Flag Day in the U.S.

The Facts. In 2007, members of the Japanese rightwing published in the Washington Post a full page advertorial "The Facts" condemning the Comfort Women--sex slaves for Imperial Japan's military and colonial administrators--as liars and well-paid prostitutes. The ad was part of an effort to convince members of the House of Representatives to reject a House resolution, H.Res. 121, that asked Japan to unequivocally apologize to Imperial Japan's Comfort Women victims. The Comfort Women system was a state initiated, organized, and managed form of human trafficking. Two of Prime Minister Suga's current Cabinet advisers signed this denialist document: Manabu Sakai (坂井学) and Minoru Kihara (木原稔)

BRUSSELS FORUM - DAY 1. 6/14, 4:00am-2:00pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: German Marshall Fund. Speakers include: Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General, NATO; Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister, Canada; Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany; Justyna Gotkowska, Program Coordinator, Regional Security Program, Center for Eastern Studies; Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President, Turkey; Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister, Greece; Tacan Ildem, Former Assistant Secretary General, Public Diplomacy, NATO; Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA), U.S. House of Representatives; Peter Dutton, Minister of Defence, Australia; Noah Barkin, Senior Visiting Fellow, Asia Program, German Marshall Fund; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), U.S. Senate; Tanvi Madan, Senior Fellow, Project on International Order and Strategy, Foreign Policy Program, Director, The India Project, Brookings; Janka Oertel, Director, Asia Program, European Council on Foreign Relations; Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), U.S. House of Representatives; Alexander de Croo, Prime Minister, Belgium. 

, 9:00am (EDT), ZOOM. Sponsor: International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Speakers: Alexander Neill, Executive Director, Alex Neill Consulting; Camille Lons, Research Associate, IISS-Middle East Office, Bahrain; Nawafel Shehab, Research Assistant, IISS-Middle East Office, Bahrain; Scott Malcomson, Director of Special Projects, Strategic Insight Group; Meia Nouwens, Senior Fellow, Chinese Defense Policy and Modernisation, IISS; Dr. Bastian Giegerich, Director of Defence and Military Analysis, IISS. 

THE ROLE OF NATURAL GAS IN A DECARBONIZED WORLD – REGIONAL INSIGHTS. 6/14, 9:00am (EDT), ZOOM PANEL. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Secretary Ernest Moniz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Energy Futures Initiative; Melanie Kenderdine, Principal, Energy Futures Initiative; Astha Gupta, Asia EDGE Fellow, National Bureau of Asian Research; Anouk Honoré, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies; Ken Koyama, Chief Economist and Managing Director, Institute for Energy Economics, Japan; Leila Ben Ali, Chief Economist, International Energy Forum; Alain Ebobissé, Chief Executive Officer, Africa50; Ruslan Stefanov, Program Director and Chief Economist, Center for the Study of Democracy; Lisa Viscidi, Director, Energy, Climate Change & Extractive Industries Program, Inter-American Dialogue; Moderators: David Goldwyn, Chairman, Energy Advisory Group, Atlantic Council; Robert Stoner, Deputy Director for Science and Technology, MIT Energy Initiative.

TAIWAN - GEOPOLITICAL FLASHPOINT: FACTS V HYPERBOLE. 6/14, 9:30am (EDT), WEBINAR. Sponsor: US-China Series. Speakers: Maggie Lewis, Seton Hall University; Bonnie Glaser, German Marshall Fund of the United States. 

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION DURING CRISES: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE. 6/14, Noon-1:15pm (EDT), WEBINAR. Sponsor: U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Speakers: Mahan Mirza, Executive Director, Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, University of Notre Dame; Sabrina Dent, Senior Faith Advisor, Americans United for Separation of Church and State; Susan Hayward, Visiting Fellow, Religion in Public Life, Harvard Divinity School; Knox Thames, Senior Fellow, Institute of Global Engagement; Moderator: Jason Klocek, Senior Researcher, USIP. 

WHAT THE US-JAPAN ALLIANCE HOPES TO SEE EUROPE CONTRIBUTE TO THE INDO-PACIFIC. 6/14, 7:00-8:00pm (JST), WEBINAR. Sponsors: Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS); Jeunes IHEDN; Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS), Temple University Japan Campus. Speakers: Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Research Fellow, Sasakawa Peace Foundation; Kevin Maher, Senior Advisor, NMV Consulting, LLC; Moderators: John Bradford, Executive Director, YCAPS; Stephen Nagy, Director for Policy Research, YCAPS. 

WE HEREBY REFUSE: JAPANESE AMERICAN RESISTANCE TO WARTIME INCARCERATION. 6/14, 9:00pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsors: Elliott Bay Book Company; Seattle Public Library; Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience; Densho. Speakers: Author, Frank Abe, Writer; Author, Tamiko Nimura, Writer; Ross Ishikawa, Cartoonist, and Animator; Tom Ikeda, Executive Director, Densho. PURCHASE BOOK:

JAPAN IN THE AGE OF SINO-AMERICAN CONFRONTATION. 6/14, 9:30pm (EDT). WEBINAR. Sponsors: Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS), Temple University Japan (TUJ); Center for Rule-making Strategies (CRS), Tama University. Speakers: Shihoko Goto, Deputy Director for Geoeconomics, Asia Program, Wilson Center; Tobias Harris, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Moderator: Robert Dujarric, Co-Director, ICAS, TUJ. 

COMPARATIVE CONNECTIONS ROUNDTABLE. 6/14, 8:00-9:30pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Pacific Forum. Speakers: Dr. Catherine Dalpino, Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University; Dr. Chin-Hao Huang, Assistant Professor, Yale-NUS College; Dr. Robert Sutter, Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University. 

OCEANS OF OPPORTUNITY: SOUTHEAST ASIA’S SHARED MARITIME CHALLENGES, SESSION TWO. 6/14, 8:00-10:30pm (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsors: CSIS; University of the Philippines. Speakers: Deo Onda, Deputy Director, Marine Science Institute, University Philippines; Sandra Whitehouse, Founding Member, Ocean Collective; Antonio Carpio, Former Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines; Tara Davenport, Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore; Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program, Environmental Law Institute; Jay Batongbacal, Director, Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, University of the Philippines. Gregory B. Poling, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia, Director, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS; Whitley Saumweber, Director, Stephenson Ocean Security Project, and Senior Associate (Non-Resident), Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, CSIS.