Friday, January 29, 2010

Nago to DC: Henoko is dead in the water

In the wake of last Sunday’s mayoral elections in the Okinawan city of Nago, many politicians and commentators have rushed in to provide analysis of what the victory of Susumu Inamine over incumbent Yoshikazu Shimabukuro really means.

As I was actually there, I would like to add my own observations.

Particularly striking among these comments was the interpretation provided by Adm Robert F. Willard, the top US military commander in the Pacific, who stated: “I don’t think it should be regarded as a setback” for the Henoko relocation plan. “There’s probably a broader set of questions and a broader analysis that is appropriate to determine who won the election and why.”

The Okinawans would disagree. The locals are quite prepared to strongly resist any further impositions from both the US military as well as the Japanese central government in Tokyo. The heart of Inamine’s victory was very much a rejection of the plan to build a new US military base on the island and to destroy the ecology of the Henoko coastline.

Even many of those who voted for Yoshikazu Shimabukuro were actually against the plan, but they were more afraid of the economic and political consequences of openly rejecting it than the Inamine supporters. The fact that a majority of the voters overcame their natural timidity and cast a vote that they knew would lead to confrontation with powerful forces is clear testament to just how strongly entrenched the opposition really is.

The Hatoyama cabinet is divided on how to proceed. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano suggested that public opinion was irrelevant as far as he was concerned. Other cabinet members disagreed: Kyodo News cited one senior cabinet official who deemed the existing plan "absolutely impossible under the current circumstances."

He continued, “There is strong opposition in the locality… [If the government forcibly builds a new US military facility in Nago,] it will be like the Narita struggle. That’s a sad thing and not acceptable.”
Michael Penn
APP Nonresident Senior Fellow
Executive Director Shingetsu Institute

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hatoyama fiddles as Ozawa scandal burns

Allegations of dirty money smearing postwar Japan's biggest political heavyweight have been dominating the national agenda this week.

The only relief for Ichiro Ozawa was the reappearance of the US base relocation issue, which has been wrestling Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's decision-making skills, when voters in Nago City elected a mayor opposed to moving the Marine base to the outskirts of his city.

Japanese voters are being treated to televised scraps in the Diet reminiscent of when the Liberal Democratic Party was in power. Then, LDP prime ministers were regularly pummeled by such Democratic Party of Japan leaders as Hatoyama, but this time, the boot is on the other foot. During January 21st’s Diet session, LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki and other opposition leaders formed a tag team that had Hatoyama on the ropes for almost four hours about his and Ozawa’s political fund improprieties.

This week another group, with Upper House LDP lawmaker Yoichi Masuzoe in the lead, has relentlessly pursued the prime minister, tying up the Budget Committee from making progress on the second supplementary budget to stimulate the economy.

The LDP has been having a field day with the Ozawa scandal. Last Thursday, a group of lawmakers took a half-day bus tour to the various properties that Ozawa owns in Tokyo, with a cavalcade of press people in tow. Then, early this week, another group of LDP legislators braved the bitter cold and snow to visit the remote mountainous area of Iwate Prefecture, Ozawa’s home turf, to poke holes in a monsterous dam scheme. The project allegedly was rigged in part by Ozawa’s local office secretary, who is now in jail for his role in the scandal. Some local companies with contracts have implied Ozawa’s direct involvement, as well.

These were obvious political stunts by the LDP, but they could add to the level of public distrust and disappointment with the DPJ for being just as susceptible to such shenanigans as were the LDP power brokers of yesteryear.

Meanwhile, the tabloid weeklies, always a bellwether for popular sentiment, have been mercilessly attacking Hatoyama and Ozawa, revealing juicy details about the money scandals. The magazines have assailed the power relationship between Ozawa, the DPJ Secretary General, who is seen as manipulating the Hatoyama government behind-the-scenes, and the prime minister, depicted as weak and indecisive. One weekly, the Shukan Asahi is already predicting that the DPJ will go down to a “crushing defeat” in the July Upper House election.

A prominent political blog, Masaharu Miyazaki`s International News Quick Read (Japanese only), even has a political scenario that envisions Hatoyama, hounded by scandal and low popularity, stepping down this spring to let Naoto Kan, now finance minister, take the helm. While such gloom and doom may be premature, there is cause for worry since such cynicism about incumbent administrations and predictions of their imminent demise cannot help but be self-fulfilling.

The Nago City mayoral election in Okinawa in which the winner has pledged to reject the Henoko relocation plan has made Hatoyama’s decision in May even more difficult. Still, since the incumbent mayor only lost by about 2,000 votes in a low-turnout election, the result should not be taken as a mandate to scrap the existing plan, as the coalition partner Social Democratic Party is urging.

Hatoyama has refused to rule out Henoko. Thus in May it is still possible that he will come down in favor of it, with conditions. Okinawans would not be happy, given the track record of flip-flops on the issue, and the SDP could even bolt the coalition. But Hatoyama could still earn respect for having finally made a clear-cut decision. He could persuasively argue that a Henoko decision came as the last resort after all other options, though relentlessly pursued, had failed.

Ozawa is a harder case. Following his voluntary questioning by prosecutors, his fate is in the hands of the people, and he might even decide to step down if the next round of polls shows a strong desire for such a course of action. But if he decides to stay on to run the July Upper House election, Hatoyama may be helpless to stop him.

There is no one in the DPJ with the wherewithal to hold him back.

Dr William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Put China economy myths to the sword

Robert Samuelson's opinion piece in the Washington Post on Monday offers an excellent opportunity to to slay a few dragons - the many widespread myths about China's foreign exchange reserves and related policies.

Myth I: China's $2.4 trillion in reserves are "stupendous." This is a common misunderstanding. Compared to the size of China's economy, its money supply, its population or any other relevant denominator, China's reserves-to-size ratio is modest and appropriate when compared with similar ratios for other developing Asian economies like Singapore, Malaysia, India and South Korea (before the global financial crisis depleted it).

Remember, the US, German, Japanese and other economies China's size are fully developed and print their own reserves. Their currencies are hard currencies, so they don't hold reserves like a poor or middle-income country. China's per-capita development level ($4,000 versus $40,000 for the US) is too low to allow its currency, the RMB, to be accepted worldwide like the dollar, euro or yen. Stupendous? In a world of rapid capital flows, the more accurate terms would be "reasonable" or "prudent."

Myth II: China has been "cheating" to achieve growth. The Post piece rehashed the same worn-out formula about China's exchange rate, supposed export-led growth and alleged mercantilist trade policies. Actually, China's growth has not been export-led, has not relied on its exchange rate and is not mercantilist. In the global scale of deficits and surpluses, the United States, northern Europe, oil exporters, and non-China East Asia (eg. Japan) rule the roost.

Compared to their imbalances in the past decade, China's imbalances have been small and appeared quite late in the game. The clear cause of China's surpluses, when they finally did appear in 2005-2007, was the huge US spending spree, financed by highly leveraged debt creation, in turn made possible by excessive US financial deregulation beginning in the late 1990s.

The US spending spree sprouted large surpluses in the rest of the world beginning also in the late 1990s. These non-Chinese global surpluses matched the timing of the US real estate bubble's creation. By 2005, subprime mortgage defaults in America were already spiking and the global crisis was primed to pop.

China had nothing to do with low US interest rates in 2002-2004. China's trade balance finally succumbed in 2005-06 because it had to slow its investment and the related import of equipment to fight inflation. China's surpluses were not caused by accelerated export growth but rather by slowed importation of equipment. The whole "mercantilist" assertion flies in the face of the facts.

Myth III: China has "re-pegged" its currency to the dollar. In fact, China has followed a "basket guidance" strategy since 2005. But in 2008, when the euro suddenly weakened, China abandoned its basket guidance rather than devalue against the dollar. Even now, with the euro still weak, if China returned to its basket guidance, it would have to devalue against the dollar. To do so would only promote protectionist sentiments in America. So, China hasn't re-pegged to the dollar; it has suspended its basket guidance approach until the euro strengthens again to where it was in June 2008.

Myth IV: China is promoting growth and economic stability so the government can stay in power. Well, granted, but how different is this from the goals of any government in the world today? Denial that China's policies and performance are legitimate serves American national interest poorly. Chasing the wrong dragons only undermines America's long-term national security.

For a more detailed presentation of this analysis, click here.

Dr Albert Keidel
APP Senior Fellow

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Asia no longer blinded by US science

American dominance of science and technology has slipped dramatically, according to The National Science Foundation.

The foundation has released its biennial account of the state of S&T in the United States, Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. The 566-page report is a synthesis of thousands of different statistics on the conduct of science and engineering in the US.

"The data begin to tell a worrisome story," said Kei Koizumi, assistant director for federal research and development R&D in the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Calling the report 2010 a "State of the Union on science, technology, engineering and mathematics," he said, "US dominance has eroded significantly."

Over the past decade, R&D intensity--how much of a country's economic activity or gross domestic product is expended on R&D--has grown considerably in Asia, while remaining steady in the US. Annual growth of R&D expenditures in the US averaged five to six percent while in Asia, it has skyrocketed. In some Asian countries, R&D growth rate is two, three, even four, times that of the US.

In terms of R&D expenditures as a share of economic output, while Japan has surpassed the US for quite some time, South Korea is now in the lead.

A digest of the report is here.

Supporting this report's findings was a January 25th Financial Times article, China scientists lead world in research growth. It reports on an October 2009 study by Thomson Reuters on the growth in Chinese scientific research: "‘China has experienced the strongest growth in scientific research over the past three decades of any country, according to figures compiled for the Financial Times, and the pace shows no sign of slowing…. China far outperformed every other nation, with a 64-fold increase in peer-reviewed scientific papers since 1981, with particular strength in chemistry and materials science.”

Jonathan Adams, the project's manager, discusses Chinese scientific research with the BBC here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Japan economics, India, Pacific trade, peace in Korea

WHAT IS NEXT FOR THE US AND JAPANESE ECONOMIES? A BILATERAL DIALOGUE. January 27th, 9am-2pm, Washington, DC. Sponsors: CSIS/Japan Economic Foundation (METI). Speakers: Noboru Hatakeyama, Chairman and CEO, Japan Economic Foundation (JEF); Akira Kojima, Trustee and Senior Fellow, Japan Center for Economic Research; Yoshikazu Goto, Director-General for Manufacturing Industries Policy, Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI);Richard Katz, Editor-in-Chief, Oriental Economist Report; Derek Scissors, Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation; Michael Mussa, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Steve Schrage, Scholl Chair in International Business, CSIS; Grant Aldonas, Senior Adviser, CSIS; Kevin Nealer, Principal, Scowcroft Group; Shunji Yanai, Judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; Former Japanese Ambassador to the United States; Ryo Kubota, Chairman, President & CEO, ACUCELA, Inc.; Amy Searight, Adjunct Fellow, CSIS; Matthew P. Goodman, Senior Adviser to the Under Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Location: CSIS, B1 Conference Center, 1800 K Street, NW. Contact: RSVP to no later than noon on January 26th.

THE EMERGING US-INDIA STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP. January 27th, 3:30-5:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC). Speaker: C. Raja Mohan, Kissinger Scholar, Library of Congress; Dinshaw Mistry, Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center; Bethany Danyluk, Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton. Location: One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

US TRADE PRIORITIES IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC: TRANS PACIFIC PROGRAM AND BEYOND. January 28, 11am-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Speaker: Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, Deputy United States Trade Representative. Location: Grand Ballroom, Willard Intercontinental Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

PEACE AND SECURITY ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA. January 29th, 9am-5pm, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Wilson Center’s North Korea International Documentation Project and Asia Program in cooperation with the Institute for Far Eastern Studies and University of North Korean Studies. Speakers: Keynote Address by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg; Luncheon Address by Director of the National Counterproliferation Center of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Ambassador Joseph DeTrani, former North Korea Mission Manager for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Special Envoy to the Six Party Talks. Panelists: Charles K. Armstrong, Columbia University; Victor Cha, Georgetown University; Kang Choi, Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security; Young-sun Ha, Seoul National University; Byung-Kook Kim, Korea University; Tae Hyun Kim, Chungang University; Samuel Kim, Columbia University; Alexandre Mansourov, Johns Hopkins, SAIS; Christian F. Ostermann, Woodrow Wilson Center; James F. Person, Woodrow Wilson Center; Kihl-jae Ryoo, University of North Korean Studies; William Stueck, University of Georgia; Amb. Jounyung Sun, University of North Korean Studies; Robert Sutter, Georgetown University; Zhu Feng, Beijing University. Location: WWC, 6th floor Flom Auditorium, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

US-Japan alliance: The rethink starts here

Anyone who thought the Futenma question was about to be answered by Tokyo and Washington didn't factor in Nago.

Residents of the Okinawan city elected an anti-base mayor on Sunday, Susumu Inamine. The Democratic Party of Japan-backed challenger had campaigned against any expansion of US military presence in the area, specifically Henoko Bay.

Nago is where Washington and Tokyo agreed in 2006 to move the Futenma US Marine airfield - one of the Corps' largest facilities in the Pacific - to a less crowded part of the southern Japanese island. The deal was part of a broader realignment of US troops in Asia.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama called the victory a "manifestation of the popular will." Noting that a government committee was "energetically" studying the relocation issue, he said: "We have said the state will responsibly reach a conclusion on this issue by the end of May by conducting a zero-base review. We will implement it without fail."

The Obama Administration has been adamant that the original agreement remains in place. Although officials in Washington have begun to counsel patience and understanding, they all remain committed to the transfer of Futenma operations to Henoko. At a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Hawaii on January 12th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "Our two governments drew up the realignment roadmap with these dual goals in mind, and we look to our Japanese allies and friends to follow through on their commitments, including on Futenma."

Okada avoided direct comment, but said: "We must make the Japan-US alliance sustainable for the next 30 or 50 years, and further deepen this alliance. And we would like to make efforts to that end mutually."

"Sustainable" is a word that is now popping up in all discussions about the alliance, on both sides of the Pacific. On Thursday, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell for East Asian and Pacific Affairs testified to Congress that, "our alliance with Japan is a cornerstone of our strategic engagement in Asia. The May 2006 agreement on defense transformation and realignment will enhance deterrence while creating a more sustainable military presence in the region."

Although this interpretation of sustainable might not be the same as understood by Okada - it implies that Japan should stick to its Henoko commitment - it is significant that the phrase is being used.

January 19th was the 50th anniversary of the signing Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan. A joint statement was issued highlighting that the US-Japan alliance can "adapt to the evolving environment of the 21st century, learning from the challenges the alliance has faced in the past. For this purpose, the ministers will intensify the dialogue which is underway to further promote and deepen security cooperation in wide-ranging areas."

The White House issued a brief statement of encouragement for this "enduring partnership." At a press briefing, Campbell commended the "anniversary of the US-Japan security alliance, security partnership" and said "It’s no exaggeration to say that it has been the cornerstone and the foundation of everything that we’ve managed to accomplish over the course of the last few generations in Asia."

The 16th annual Japan-US Security Seminar held January 15-16, was a good review of conventional wisdom on the US-Japan alliance. The event’s website provides a video clip of a panel discussion reviewing current thinking. Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage advises his colleagues "to get back up on the bicycle and ride" after they had the wind knocked out of them by the election of the DPJ. There is still a role for them to advise the new government.

A loose coalition of organizations and interests appears to be behind a new YouTube Channel seeking a greater dialogue on the US military presence on Okinawa. This site, 2010 Okinawa, hosts some of the discussion from the above Seminar as well as interviews with Okinawan citizens and activists. It is expanding daily to include commentary from all sides of the debate.

Image from here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti tests foreign aid and development policy

Less than a week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a major policy speech (January 6th) promising to elevate "development as a central pillar of American foreign policy" and the swearing in of the new administrator the US Agency for International Development, Dr. Rajiv Shah (January 7th), that policy is being tested in Haiti. They both spoke of creating a new model of "partnership and not patronage" for American development assistance.

US aid and development policy is still under review. Two important reviews of American development policy are now underway. The first is the inaugural Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review by officials from USAID and the State Department (co-led by Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter and Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, with assistance from then-acting USAID coordinator Alonzo Fulgham). And the second, the Presidential Study Directive on US Global Development Policy (cannot find the announcement on the White House website) led by the White House (formally co-led by National Security Advisor General Jim Jones and chairman of the National Economic Council Larry Summers) and includes representatives from more than 15 agencies that contribute to the US global development mission.
For China and Taiwan, aid to Haiti remains one of patronage. Haiti is one of the few countries that still recognizes Taipei as the official China. Both Taipei and Beijing have sent rescue and medical teams for disaster relief. Taipei has pledged $5 million in aid, while Beijing $4.4 million. Eight Chinese UN police officers were killed in the earthquake. As APP member and Taiwan scholar Shelley Rigger of North Carolina's Davidson College observed, "What's really interesting here is that China apparently is providing Haiti with assistance without making any demands regarding Haiti's relationship with Taiwan."

President Ma Ying-jeou is scheduled to depart Taipei January 25th for Honduras via San Francisco to attend the January 27th inauguration of Honduran President-elect Portfirio Lobo Sosa. Following his Honduras visit, he will travel to the Dominican Republic for a brief stopover, during which he will deliver a speech expressing Taiwan's condolences for the Haitian quake victims and announcing the country's aid programs for Haiti.

One of the new intellectual trends driving the reevaluation of aid are efforts at "metrics" or measures of success. Dara in the United Kingdom publishes annually its Humanitarian Response Index. Created in 2007, the HRI is measures the individual performance of the top humanitarian donors. The index ranks the performance of the 22 donor countries of the OECD Development Assistance Committee plus the European Commission in funding and supporting humanitarian action. For 2009, Norway was ranked number 1, the US 14, Australia 10, New Zealand 11, and Japan 19.

The Center for Global Development sponsors the Commitment to Development Index. The index rates 22 rich countries on how much they help poor countries build prosperity, good government, and security. For 2009, Sweden had the highest score of 7, the United States 4.9, Australia 5.6, New Zealand 5.8, South Korea 2.8, and Japan 3.1.

For further research on the reevaluation of American foreign aid see these organizations: Modernizing Foreign Assistance, Center for Global Development, and Brookings' Wolfensohn Center for Development.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ozawa's position weakens as media smell blood

Forget Futenma. All eyes are on Ozawa now.

The Futenma relocation issue is slipping off the Japanese media radar as nothing much is likely to happen until Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s decision in May, and the media have a bigger target in their sights.

Now, attention is on the daily revelations about the questionable flows of money coming in and out of Rikuzankai, the political fund management association of Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa (pictured). Pressure for him to resign appears to be growing.

Three of his former private secretaries have been arrested for illegal use of political funds, including over the weekend a seated member of the Diet, Tomohiro Ishikawa. Yet, Ozawa has neither moved to step down nor to explain his role. Prime Minister Hatoyama and other DPJ leaders, for now, have decided to hunker down and try to outride the political storm.

Most have lined up firmly behind Ozawa, with almost daily assurances that he will stay. The Party’s avoidance of the issue was evidenced by comments by the new Finance Minister Naoto Kan on a TV talk show on January 17th. He claimed that the money scandal was just a difference in “interpretation” of the law and not a violation, as prosecutors charge.

That denial notwithstanding, calls for Ozawa to fully account for funding suspicions are coming not only from opposition leaders, but also from coalition member Social Democratic Party. The defiant Ozawa continues to stonewall, claiming that neither he nor his former aides did anything wrong.

At the party convention on January 16th, they vowed to fight prosecutors’ allegations to the end. Party members, applauding, seemed largely to agree. The DPJ, further, has gone on the offensive by setting up a task force on January 18th to investigate the investigators.

One group of DPJ members, the Ryoun-kai, lead by Land Minister Seiji Maehara, is less supportive and increasingly outspoken. On Sunday, Maehara told a gathering in Shizuoka that "if Secretary-General Ozawa maintains his innocence, he should comply with prosecutors' questioning and fulfill his accountability."

The day before, Maehara met at a Tokyo restaurant to discuss the Ozawa issue with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, Senior Vice Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, House of Representatives Committee on Financial Affairs Chairman Koichiro Gemba, former Lower House Vice-Speaker Kozo Watanabe, State Minister for National Policy Yoshito Sengoku, and former head of the DPJ Policy Research Committee Yukio Edano. The long knives are out, it appears.

Keeping Ozawa on is risky for the DPJ come July’s Upper House election. His role as election strategist is deemed essential, but if he continues to stonewall on explaining his part in the money scandal, the hemorrhaging of public support for the party will continue. Strong until now, public support for the Hatoyama government and the DPJ is dropping. The public weren't kidding when they voted for change.

In the latest Yomiuri poll, taken over the weekend, 70% of the public thought that Ozawa should resign his post, and 50% wanted him to resign his Diet seat. Kyodo and Asahi polls had similar results. Though the Hatoyama cabinet support rate in the three polls plummeted, the Kyodo poll, showing support down 10 points from only a week ago, now finds 44.1% against and 41% in favor of the Cabinet. Cabinet support dropped 11 points from a week ago in the Yomiuri survey to 45%, and slipped 6 points to 42% in the Asahi poll.

The DPJ’s support rate also dropped, down 5 points to 34% in the Asahi survey. Major dailies weighed in with editorials over the weekend demanding a full explanation from Ozawa. Some, like the Asahi, even hinted that he should consider resigning.

If Ozawa stays put, the opposition parties may block debate on the budget to demand his testimony. His intransigence also risks dividing the party as public support plummets. Calls not just for a full accounting but even for his resignation could start to be heard from DPJ lawmakers increasingly worried that the promised land of Upper House control appears beyond reach.

Criticism will likely be directed, too, at Hatoyama, for “again” failing to manage a critical issue. Unaffiliated voters, whose abandonment of the LDP gave the DPJ its landslide victory in the Lower House election on August 30th, could just as easily decide to bestow their affections elsewhere come the July poll.

William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

Engagement, squaring triangles and chasing dragons

U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN ASIA,1/21 – 10:00am, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg. Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee hearing on "Principles for U.S. Engagement in Asia." Witnesses: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell; Robert Sutter, visiting professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University; and Robert Herman, director of programs for Freedom House.

SQUARING THE IRON TRIANGLE: THE FATE OF ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REFORM IN JAPAN. 1/19, 3:30-5:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC). Speakers: Patricia Maclachlan, University of Texas at Austin; Ulrike Schaede, University of California at San Diego; Matthew Carlson, University of Vermont. Location: WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 5th Floor Conference Room.

CHASING THE DRAGON: WILL INDIA CATCH UP WITH CHINA? 1/22, 10:30am-Noon., Washington DC. Sponsor: Heritage Foundation. Speakers: Mohan Guruswamy, Chairman, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Raja Mohan, Henry Alfred Kissinger Scholar, John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress, and Dr. Derek Scissors, Research Fellow in Asia Economics, Asian Studies Center, Heritage Foundation. Location: Lehrman Auditorium, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave, NE.

See General Tamogami for yourself

In the previous post, Professor Penn mentioned the effect of former Air Self Defense Force General Toshio Tamogami's revisionist views on Japanese politics. He won a prize for an essay, Was Japan an Aggressor Nation, which concluded that Japan was a victim of American deception and colonialism. Since being "retired" in October 2008 from Japan's Self-Defense Forces where he was Chief of Staff, the General has had an active speaking and publishing career.

He has a dynamic website that the lists all his writings and speaking engagements. The photo above is from this site.

On March 25-26th, he will be in New York City giving talks at the University Club and during a dinner cruise on the Hudson. There was some controversy surrounding these engagements, as former Governor Mike Huckabee had been scheduled to moderate. The Governor is no longer on the program.

Later: The January 24, 2010 edition of the Japan Times has an interview with General Tamogami by David McNeil, "The wartime leaders of Japan were heros."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Why DPJ said 'no' to an Indian Ocean mission

It shouldn’t really be necessary to explain why the Hatoyama government allowed the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean to lapse this week.

For several years, Democratic Party of Japan leaders have made their objections to this military operation loud and clear. Yet somehow, the message doesn’t seem to have penetrated many quarters.

It is true that the DPJ didn’t really find a unified voice on this issue until around 2007, but under the leadership of Ichiro Ozawa an articulate party stance on the Maritime Self-Defence Force refueling mission was forged that was accepted by all but a handful of DPJ members. Ozawa’s position remains, in effect, the DPJ position.

Ozawa’s main argument has been that the Japanese Constitution permits the existence of the SDF and allows them to be deployed abroad on humanitarian relief missions and when specifically authorized by the UN Security Council. Ozawa has indicated, however, that the SDF may not participate in any “Coalition of the Willing” exercises, as this falls outside the bounds of his understanding of Article Nine of the Constitution.

Since taking power, the Hatoyama administration has put some degree of distance between itself and the very clear principles enunciated by Ichiro Ozawa in 2007, saying that Ozawa’s view is not necessarily the official view of the DPJ government. In practical terms, however, the DPJ has so far acted in a manner consistent with the Ozawa line.

Let's not forget that the DPJ has campaigned through several elections against the continuation of the MSDF refueling mission. Were they to suddenly come out in favor of the mission after fighting against it so fiercely for some years, this would raise many legitimate questions about the DPJ’s commitment to any of its stated goals.

Some commentators have made the questionable assertion that the August 2009 electoral victory of the DPJ was entirely attributable to the deficiencies of the LDP and had nothing to do with the manner in which the US-Japan alliance has functioned in recent years. As evidence, they point to polls that find large majorities of Japanese in favor of the alliance.

But this assertion is disingenuous. It is obviously quite a different thing to feel dissatisfied with the way the alliance has been operating and opposing the very notion of the alliance altogether. Anecdotal evidence suggests that most Japanese people have some misgivings about their American allies, but nevertheless see the importance and utility of the alliance for Japanese security interests.

While the LDP’s fall from power was related primarily to failures in its domestic policies, the demands made upon the former government by the US contributed significantly to that failure by tying up Diet affairs in battles over foreign policy irrelevant to Japanese interests. Doing the Pentagon's bidding did the LDP no electoral favors.

The DPJ also wants to assert civilian control of the military. The most alarming of recent scandals was the emergence of the outspoken ASDF General Toshio Tamogami, who has made a second career in shooting his mouth off not exactly in the spirit of the Japanese Constitution. Among those DPJ leaders who were clearly shaken by the Tamogami Tiff is Toshimi Kitazawa, the current defense minister. Ending the MSDF refueling mission now is an important measure to demonstrate the generals can't always get what they want.

Many of the intellectual leaders of the DPJ wish to move Japan’s anti-terrorism policies away from a military-oriented approach. Their thinking revolves around the notion that military action against terrorism only feeds the cycle of violence. Sure, the political coalition with the pacifist Social Democratic Party, which currently holds crucial votes in the House of Councillors, is a factor. To remain part of the governing coalition—and even to survive as a credible political party—the SDP must gain key concessions from Hatoyama and his cabinet.

Terminating the MSDF refueling mission is a necessary step to maintain harmony within DPJ-SDP coalition. Some analysts see this as a political accommodation that will soon be and can be easily compromised. It is important, therefore, to understand that the ideological distance between some DPJ members and the SDP is not very wide. Policy officials need to realize that they are dealing with a bigger intellectual shift in Japanese foreign policy than they suspect.

Michael Penn
APP Nonresident Senior Fellow
Executive Director Shingetsu Institute

Picture from here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Japan polls: The rot has stopped

The Hatoyama Cabinet's opinion poll numbers this month have stabilized. In one poll, Kyodo’s, the negative trend has even reversed. The fortunes have apparently reversed in the heretofore declining support rates for the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the growing support for its opposition rival, the Liberal Democratic Party.

What has not changed, however, is the public’s concern about the prime minister himself, particularly his failure to pay taxes on political donations, and his policy stances, most notably, the postponement of a decision on whether to honor the LDP agreement with the US to relocate a US Marine base to another spot in Okinawa.

Support slide continues in NHK poll
NHK’s latest opinion poll, released Jan. 12, finds the public’s support for the cabinet of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama dropped four points to 52%, while the non-support rate rose two points to 36. Since November, support has dropped by 13%; non-support has risen by 15%. Party support basically has stayed the same since December, with the DPJ now at 34.9% (down 0.7%), and the LDP at 18.3% (up 1.2%).

But when the support rate is disaggregated to focus on unaffiliated voters, the force that propelled the DPJ into power in the Lower House election last Aug. 30, the NHK poll shows a sudden reversal of the Prime Minister’s popularity with the non-support rate at 46% and the support rate at 38%.

Asked about why they did not support the Hatoyama Cabinet, 46% of that segment of the public cited the lack of capability of implementing policy, and another 26% said they did not have any expectations about its policies. On the question of what they hoped to see tackled by the cabinet, 23% of the public listed social security, such as pensions and health care, 23% wanted elimination of waste of tax money, and 21% said jobs and the economy.

The poll also indicated that the public is increasingly dissatisfied with the results of the Hatoyama economic team. Queried about the recent appointment of Naoto Kan, national strategy minister, to fill the post of finance minister vacated by the now hospitalized Hirohisa Fujii, 65% of the public were unhappy with handing Kan another portfolio, calling it “inappropriate.” A majority of the public, 56%, were also negative about the size of next fiscal year’s budget, a record 92 trillion yen. Only 35% of the public supported such a level of spending.

On Prime Minister Hatoyama’s explanation that he did not know anything about the secret transactions involving his mother’s political contributions to him that got his former private secretary in trouble with the law, 78% remain unconvinced. But only 17% would have Hatoyama resign over it, and 35% would have him stay. The lion's share - 43% - were undecided.

In a second part of the poll released on Jan. 13, NHK’s sampling of opinion found the nation split down the middle on the broad question of whether they felt “politics has changed.” Fifty percent of the public said they felt it had changed, while 47% said it had not.

Yomiuri poll sees support rising slightly
The Yomiuri’s Jan. 11 poll found support for the cabinet had inched up in January by a point to a healthy 56%. The non-support rate also was up a notch to 34%. Oddly, the support rate for the DPJ dropped from 43% in Dec. to 39%, while the support rate for the LDP dipped to a record low of 16%, down two points from last month. If the Upper House election were held today, 35% said they would vote for the DPJ and 20% for the LDP. Most of the rest of the population, unaffiliated voters, are not sure.

On the appointment of Kan to replace Fujii as finance minister, 47% indicated approval, while 33% were opposed. This is in stark contrast to the NHK poll, which had a solid majority against the appointment. In many cases, however, the questionnaire itself could lead respondents to choose a certain answer. One could conjecture that this may have influenced one or both of the sets of divergent answers.

Despite the cabinet’s support remaining stable this month, Prime Minister Hatoyama remains unpopular. The Yomiuri poll found only 18% of the public crediting him for his leadership, and 73 saying that he had none. Asked who they thought was the most influential politician in the DPJ, 68% chose Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa. Only 10% chose Hatoyama.

Kyodo poll reverses the trend
Kyodo’s January poll, released on the 11th, shows a slight recovery in the Hatoyama Cabinet’s popularity, in contrast to other polls indicating continuing decline (for another take on this poll see the blog Shisaku. The cabinet support rate rose 3.6 points from Dec. to 50.8% in the latest survey. The non-support rate was 33.2, down 4.9 points. The survey also showed a rise in the DPJ’s support rate, up 2.6 points to 38.7%. The LDP’s support rate in contrast plummeted 6.4 points to a low of 17.3% -- about where the DPJ used to be during its worst years in the opposition camp.

Oddly, despite its apparent good feelings toward the cabinet and the ruling DPJ, the public had only harsh views toward the way Ozawa has been responding to his cash scandal, in which his former secretary has taken the blame for illegal land transactions and shady political contributions. Asked about his explanation denying any connection, an overwhelming 85.4% of the public thought that Ozawa’s explanation was “insufficient.” On the question of whether he should resign, the public was split, with 35.1% answering that he should resign his party post, 25.3% saying that he should even resign his Diet seat, and 34.6% indicating that a full explanation and resolve to improve the situation would suffice.

The unanswerable Futenma question?
Each of the polls had a question about the pending issue of the relocation of the Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa. In the NHK poll, the public took a stern view, with 56% unhappy with Hatoyama’s decision to postpone a decision on the relocation until May, with 37% in favor. The Yomiuri poll found the public split three ways, with 47% wanting the current plan to be implemented, 30% seeking relocation outside of Japan, and only 13% (14% last month) willing to see the facility relocated elsewhere in Japan.

Hatoyama may have improved his cabinet’s support rate in some of the polls this month, but the prime minister is not out of the woods by any means, remaining vulnerable over the political funds scandals. If the support rate in the polls were to sink below 40%, it could have an impact on the next election in July for the Upper House. Still, the polls also show that people are willing to give him and his cabinet more time, but that they remain adamant about keeping the Futenma base out of their own backyard. It is most likely that Hatoyama will still be in place come the Upper House elections in July, but his cabinet's popularity could make or break the DPJ in the election.

From this vantage point, Ozawa's goal to land 60 seats and control of both houses of the Diet seems distant to say the least.

William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Golden opportunity to reaffirm vows, editors hope

The Japanese press is hoping the 50th anniversary of the signing of the US-Japan Security Treaty will be something to write home about.

The major dailies were also encouraged by the announcement that Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Okada would meet in Hawaii, ostensibly to discuss Futenma. To be sure, Japan’s editors have been uniformly and uncharacteristically negative toward the Hatoyama Administration.

The announcement comes against the backdrop of increasing discord between the central government and Okinawa. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano tangled with Governor Nakaima (of the Liberal Democratic Party) last weekend and whether Okinawa prefecture had actually concurred with the 2006 agreement on building a V-shaped runway on the shore of Camp Schwab in Nago City.

To make matters worse, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, aiming to reach a conclusion on the relocation issue by May, continues to be hounded by his party’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, not only to abandon the original agreement but to move the Marines out of Japan. Appearing on an NHK talk show on Jan. 10, SDP head Fukushima beamed when she said that if it was not for her party having stopped Hatoyama, he would have made a decision last December to go with the Camp Schwab option.

If there ever was any doubt about how seriously Japan’s major dailies back the “deepening of the alliance,” as Hatoyama and President Obama agreed last November, such should have been erased by the editorials that have been coming out commemorating the security treaty’s 50th anniversary. Two came out over the weekend.

The Mainichi’s editorial, linking the strengthening of bilateral ties to Japan’s national interests, stressed values, such as freedom and democracy, which Japan and the US share. But the daily warned that “there is distrust and disappointment at the Hatoyama administration in the US” over the postponement of the decision on the relocation of Futenma Air Station. While not worried about an immediate collapse of the alliance, the Mainichi was concerned that such festering issue could eventually make it “hollow out.” It concluded that in the months ahead, “Hatoyama’s qualifications as Japan’s leader will be tested.”

The more liberal Asahi took a similar tone of alarm about the state of bilateral ties in its editorial on Jan. 9 welcoming the Clinton-Okada meeting. The editorial hoped that “this will be a starting point for rebuilding the damaged trust relationship.” It surmised that “Secretary Clinton likely responded to Foreign Minister Okada’s request because, from the perspective of the importance of Japan-US relations, it was not desirable to give domestic and foreign audiences the impression that the leaders of the two countries could not even meet, owing to the souring of ties over the Futenma issue.”

The Asahi hoped that the two would discuss not only Futenma but the “second important topic” of “deepening the alliance.” The paper, noting that the last issuance of a joint statement on the security arrangements came in 1996, stated: “It is good timing now to redefine the significance of Japan-US cooperation and the role of each country in the alliance," listing such areas as dealing with a changing security environment in the region, such as rising China, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and other global threats. The daily also pointed out the gap between the two allies, the US expecting Japan to play a more constructive role, such as dispatching troops overseas for peacekeeping, while the Hatoyama administration wanted to expand the alliance in non-military areas.

On Futenma, the Asahi hoped that Clinton and Okada would separate that issue, focusing on confirming the importance of the broader relationship. But the daily could not conceal its concern in the end: “There is no change in what we have said before about a quick resolution of the Futenma issue. If there is no responsible settlement by May, the main body of the alliance can only be cast adrift.”

Asahi could not help bringing up the US connection in a Jan. 10 editorial on Japan-South Korean relations. Ironically, the 50th anniversary of the security treaty also happens to be the 100th of Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910. It noted that it was the US that nudged Japan to normalize postwar relations with South Korea in 1965, despite the strong lingering enmity there toward Japan. The editorial focused on the statements 15 years ago by then Prime Minister Murayama and others expressing regret for Japan’s militarist and colonial past, lamenting that after that, some members of the then ruling Liberal Democratic Party rejected them.

The daily urged Prime Minister Hatoyama to “directly face the history of colonial rule and aggression in Asia that Japan had carried out, and based on that lay out an initiative in which Japan would contribute to the peace and prosperity of Asia, which is now changing.”

William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

This Week in Washington

From the left to the right, Japanese politicians are
in Washington this week.

CLOSING OKINAWA'S BASES THE VIEW FROM JAPAN'S SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY. 1/14, Noon-2:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: PacFreeze. Brown-bag lunch with a parliamentary delegation from Japan’s ruling coalition partner Social Democratic Party, which includes Ms. Abe Tomoko and Mr. Hattori Ryoichi. Location: United Methodist Building Conference Room 3, 100 Maryland Avenue, NE.

THE JAPAN-U.S. ALLIANCE AT FIFTY – WHERE WE HAVE BEEN; WHERE WE ARE HEADING. 1/15, 2:00-5:00pm, Washington DC. Sponsor: Pacific Forum CSIS. Speakers: Professor Shinichi Kitaoka, University of Tokyo, William Perry, former Secretary of Defense, Yukio Okamoto, Former Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, and Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State. Location: Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Ballroom - Lower Level,1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

THE CHALLENGES FACING THE NEW DPJ GOVERNMENT. 1/15, 10:00am-Noon, Washington DC. Sponsor: Pacific Forum CSIS. Speakers: Hideki Kato, Tokyo Foundation Chairman, Lt. Gen. Noburo Yamaguchi, National Defense Academy of Japan, and Tsuneo "Nabe" Watanabe, Tokyo Foundation Director of Foreign and Security Policy Research.Location: Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Ballroom - Lower Level, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

N.B.: The last two programs are the public seminars of a two-day conference on the U.S.-Japan security alliance featuring American conservatives and Japanese conservative nationalists.

Did you make the China list?

Don't know your Du Zanqi from your Prasenjit Duara*? An enterprising chap at the University of Leipzig has a list you might be interested in. He is busy correlating Asia scholars' Western names with their Chinese names. So far he has over 600.

We at The Point say well done Philip Clart, er, that is 柯若樸.

* Prof. Du Zanqi and Prasenjit Duara are in fact the same person.

Monday, January 11, 2010

America: Japan loves you

Japan's back in love with America, is quite fond of South Korea - but has yet to find a place in its heart for China.

In its annual survey for 2009 of Japanese opinions toward other countries, the Cabinet Office found feelings of friendliness toward America and South Korea at an all time high - 78.9% and 63.1%, respectively. Although good feelings toward China rose significantly compared to last year’s poll, almost two-thirds of all Japanese continue to have negative feelings.

The survey posed two simple questions toward each country with which Japan has close ties: “Do you have friendly or unfriendly feelings?” and, “Do you think that relations now are in good shape?” The latest poll was carried out in October 2009, just after Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party of Japan took office. It therefore does not reflect the public’s reaction to growing friction between the US and Japan over the proposed relocation of the US Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa.

The record is probably thanks to the Obama effect. Particularly resonating was his April 4, 2009, speech in Prague calling for a world without nuclear weapons. Obama’s November 13-14 visit to Japan, where he delivered a major foreign policy speech on America’s role in the region was especially well received by the Japanese public.

Only 19.1% of Japanese felt unfriendly toward America. The 2008 survey recorded 73.3% feeling friendly toward the United States and 24.8% who were not. The long-term trend in the poll, which has been carried out annually since 1978, shows the percentage of those with friendly feelings toward the US fluctuating between the high 60s and the high 70s. The previous high was 78.1% in 1991, attributed to: the end of the Cold War; lessening economic friction; and strengthening diplomatic ties regarding the first Gulf War and the growing regional threat from North Korea.

The previous high for unfriendly feelings toward the US was 28.1% in 1986, a year of strained relations over market access and tensions over American expectations of Japan in responding to the Iran-Iraq war, including a refusal to join minesweeper operations in the Persian Gulf.

In the latest poll, the percentage of Japanese who felt US-Japan relations were in good shape reached 81.8%, soaring 13 points from the record low (since 1998) of 68.9% in 2008. Those who felt relations were in bad shape dropped from a record high of 28.1% in 2008 to 14.4% in the new poll.

Previous high points were 81.8% in 2001, following 9/11, and 82.7% in 2006, an accumulation of the goodwill toward the US stemming from Japan’s contributions to the war on terror during the administrations of prime ministers Koizumi and Abe.

Given the Japanese people’s highly positive attitude toward the United States and the overall state of US relations with Japan, now would appear to be the right time for the administration in Japan to promote deeper cooperation not only on conventional areas of strategic convergence, such as dealing with the threat from North Korea, but also in productive areas of mutual global interest, such as nuclear nonproliferation and climate change.

Instead, the first few months of the Hatoyama administration have been spent wrangling over the relocation of a base in Okinawa that was decided years ago, creating strains that could affect the overall relationship over time. It would be interesting to see what Japanese views of the US would be if the poll were carried out today.

William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

Picture from here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

APP seminar on Japan's economy, January 18th

Don't Count Japan Out
Japan's Economic Hidden Strengths

Monday, January 18, 2010
Noon – 1:30 PM
Brown Bag Lunch


Professor of Japanese Business
University of California, San Diego,
Graduate School of International Relations & Pacific Studies

Her new book,
(Cornell UP, 2008) will be available for purchase,

1150 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 801 (Blake Real Estate)
Washington, DC, (202) 778-0400

Asia Policy Point
Free, Reservations required
202-822-6040, access[a]

Are blood minerials for plunder or peace?

This will be the topic of discussion in two seminars scheduled this week in Washington:

NATURAL RESOURCES: PLUNDER OR PEACE. 1/12, 2:00-4:00pm, Washington DC. Sponsor: US Institute of Peace (USIP). Speaker: Paul Collier, Director, Center of African Economies, Oxford University, Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development and Raymond Gilpin, Director, Center for Sustainable Economies, USIP. Location: USIP, 1200 17th Street NW, 2nd Floor. This event is no longer accepting reservations and will be webcast.

RESOLVING NATURAL RESOURCE CONFLICTS: A PATH TO DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE. 1/13, Noon-2:00pm, Washington DC. Sponsor: Woodrow Wilson Center. Speakers: Aaron Wolf, Professor, Geosciences, Oregon State University, Gidon Bromberg, Co-Director, Friends of the Earth in the Middle East; Juan Dumas, Senior Adviser, Fundacion Futuro Latinamericano, Geoff Dabelko, Director, Environmental Change and Security, Woodrow Wilson Center. Location: B-338 Rayburn House Office Building.

The websites of these organizations can help you prepare for these discussions: Global Witness; Conflict Minerals; Enough Project; Stop Blood Minerals.

Last year, both the House and Senate introduced legislation to help stop the trade in conflict minerals. On November 19, 2009, Rep Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced H.R. 4128, The Conflict Minerals Act of 2009. On April 23, 2009, Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced S. 891, the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009. Neither bill has been reported out of their appropriate committees.

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Twitter

An enterprising soul is already translating into English Japanese Prime Minister's Tweets on Hato Cafe. See here.

There is also an aggregator of Japanese politicians' tweets, Japanese only, here.

If all that gets too tiring, then jump to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's News Twitter Feed here. It unfortunately ends in July 2009. We liked this tweet:
Ignorant talk from US about change in DPRK dismissed as ridiculous day-dream!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Put another shrimp on the barbie, Secretary Clinton to visit Australia

The State Department announced on Wednesday, that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to the Western Pacific January 11-19, 2010.

Secretary Clinton will deliver a major Asia policy speech in Honolulu, Hawaii at the East West Center on January 12th focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement. She will also be consulting with the Pacific Command and hold a ministerial meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada on the relocation of the Futenma Air Station.

From Hawaii the Secretary will travel to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia, returning to the U.S. on the 19th.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell briefed the foreign press on the trip Thursday. He noted that Washington "want[s] the Japanese Government to support strongly a robust military and particularly Marine commitment on Okinawa and elsewhere, at the same time, we also recognize that this is a broader relationship, that so many things are in play, and I would just point out over the course of the last couple of months, several things have occurred that underscore the importance of Japan as a partner to the United States."

For an official State Department summary of Mr. Campbell's briefing see HERE.

The evening edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Campbell's statements a bit more stridently. Their Washington correspondent wrote:
Campbell pointed out that "the security alliance is the core of the Japan-U.S. relationship." He said: "The U.S. would like the Japanese government to provide strong support for robust troops in Okinawa, particularly for the presence of the Marines," demanding progress in the issue of the relocation of the USFJ's Futenma Air Station. He added, "Security issues are important in an Asia characterized by complexity and undergoing major changes. The U.S. wants a very clear declaration (from the Japanese side) of its intent to continue close cooperation with the U.S." He indicated that the U.S. will confirm this in the talks on deepening the alliance.

Campbell also stated: "The Japan-U.S. alliance provides the basis for economic development in Asia. Today, when the U.S. talks with its Asian friends, the first topic that comes up is: 'We want Japan and the U.S. to maintain a strong relationship'." He disclosed that Asian countries have expressed their concern about the present state of the Japan-U.S. relationship to the U.S. directly.

Korea beats the world to $20 billion nuclear jackpot

South Korea has beaten the US, Europe and Japan at their own game to land the country's first international nuclear power project.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) has won a contract to build and operate four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates, beating out rival bids from a U.S.-Japanese consortium comprising General Electric and Hitachi, as well as a French team of GdF Suez, Areva, and Total.

Construction of the reactors alone is expected to be worth more than $20 billion, not to mention Kepco will be in the driving seat for future lucrative service contracts. This deal, announced Dec. 28, marks the first full-scale nuclear development in the Arab country.

Although Japan’s main bid failed to be accepted by the UAE government, it is nonetheless a junior partner in the Korean consortium through Westinghouse and Toshiba Power Systems. These companies apparently possess patented technologies necessary to build third-generation light water reactors.

David Adam Stott reported for the Shingetsu Institute that Japan had become the fourth major player to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with the UAE on January 19, 2009. This followed a week-long visit by a UAE delegation, led by Muhammad al-Hammadi, CEO of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, to Tokyo in December 2008 to meet representatives of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, visit a nuclear power plant, and tour Hitachi and Toshiba nuclear factories.

Westinghouse is to supply equipment, engineering, and fuel-service contracts to the Korean consortium. The precise value of these Japan-affiliated contracts is unclear, but is likely to be substantial.

Michael Penn
APP Nonresident Senior Fellow
Executive Director, Shingetsu Institute

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This Week in Washington

EXPANDING THE AGENDA FOR COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND REPUBLIC OF KOREA. 1/5, 9:30-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsor: CNAPS Brookings. Speakers: Richard Bush, director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies; Scott Snyder of the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation; Heejun Chang of Portland State University; Michael Finnegan of the National Bureau of Asian Research; and Peter Beck of Stanford University. Location: Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

JAPAN’S ENERGY POLICY STATUS AND ISSUES. 1/6, 4:30-6:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Reischauer Center, SAIS. Speaker: Tokio Kanoh, Member of the House of Councilors, LDP. Location: SAIS, Rome 806, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue, NW.

IRAN'S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS IN PERSPECTIVE. 1/8, Noon-1:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) and and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Speaker: Shahram Chubin, Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center and Non-resident Senior Associate, Carnegie Nonproliferation Program. Location: WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, 5th Floor Conference Room.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Unhappy New Year for Hatoyama's foreign policy

A New Year, a new pessimism.

At least, that seems to be the case for Japan's editorial writers. This is surprising given the initial burst of national optimism following last August’s landslide victory by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the House of Representatives election, ending over 50 year of Liberal Democratic Party rule.

Two conservative dailies, the Yomiuri and Sankei, bemoaned the apparently sorry state of US-Japan relations. In two editorials between Dec. 31 and Jan. 4, both newspapers castigated the DPJ and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama for its handling of foreign relations and exhorted the government to get a grip, before it was too late.

In its New Year’s editorial, Yomiuri editors thundered that the Hatoyama administration lacked a national strategy, risking casting Japan “adrift on the rough seas of global politics – a dreadful situation.” Sankei, in a December 31, editorial also berated the government for causing the “United States to become more distrustful of Japan.” The daily warned: “For the sake of the security and national interests of Japan, the Prime Minister should make decisions that place top priority on the Japan-US alliance.” It chided that more attention was being paid to India and its strategic interests than to Japan’s ally, the United States.

Both dailies have had long ties to the previous Liberal Democratic Party government but interestingly, a similar critical tone is present in the more liberal papers Mainichi and Asahi. The Mainichi, in a rambling January 1 editorial that even referred to the Nara Period in the 8th Century, urged Japan to engage in a “year of rebuilding,” by putting everything into overcoming a mountain of domestic and external challenges. The rebuilding would also involve savoring Japan’s cultural heritage and exporting aspects of it abroad. Yet, the overall tone was pessimistic: “The road to rebuilding the economy is long and far; doubts remain about fiscal resources to back the budget; and the government has brought on the predicament created by its mishandling of foreign policy and relations with the US.

“There must be a deepening of the US-Japan alliance, which is the axis of Japan’s diplomacy. There needs to be a recovery of the relationship of trust between the two countries that has been shaken.” The relatively liberal Asahi, Japan’s second largest daily, focused its New Year’s editorial on how to best broaden the US-Japan relationship. The focus was on cooperating on such global challenges as President Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world, global warming, and dwindling energy resources. The Asahi editors asked: “In the midst of such tectonic shifts, how can Japan help maintain peace and prosperity in the world, and play a role in stabilizing it?”

Noting that with North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and China engaged in a military buildup, the editorial was unequivocal in its support for the alliance. In language that seems to chide the Hatoyama administration for letting relations with the US slide, the daily noted that the Japanese people were satisfied with US defence of Japan, while balancing the security treaty with war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution. Asians were also generally pleased with the security arrangements and their stabilizing impact on the region, the Asahi added. The editorial concluded that even though US-Japan interests may not always converge, there was no other option for Japan.

The business daily Nikkei has emerged in recent months as a sharp critic of the Hatoyama administration. The editors have a long record of strong support for the alliance. Although the business daily, unsurprisingly, focused its January 1 editorial on the sorry state of the economy and the need to rebuild for future generations, it also touched on the alliance. Noting that the security treaty marks its 50th anniversary this year, Nikkei suggested there was “need to give thought to making the alliance more meaningful, taking a future-oriented perspective.”

In a companion editorial on January 3, the daily observed: “Japan-US relations are now neither ‘equal’ nor ‘close’ as Prime Minister Hatoyama wants. The cause is the prime minister’s words and actions centered on the relocation of Futenma Air Station. The alarm bell was sounded, but the prime minister did not hear it.”On Japan’s Asia diplomacy, Nikkei warned: “At a time when Japan is turning more toward Asia and away from the US, ironically, Asia is turning toward America. We fear that Japan could become isolated by this misalignment.”

In all, Japan’s mainstream press is decidedly negative toward the Hatoyama administration. There is a surprising emphasis on foreign policy, especially with the United States. A general pessimism about the future is being wrapped around a criticism of the emerging policies of the DPJ. Although opinion polls still show strong support for the new government and little support for an air base in Henoko, the major dailies do not reflect this public acceptance of the fledgling government.

Picture from here.

William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow