Friday, July 30, 2010

USS Missouri

On Saturday, July 31 the US Navy will commission its seventh Virginia-class nuclear submarine, the Missouri, entering the 7,800-ton ship into service at a ceremony in Groton. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughheadwill be in attendance at the commissioning ceremony of USS Missouri. You can watch the ceremony live HERE.

The sub was partially built by Groton-based Electric Boat and will be based at Naval Submarine Base New London, joining three other Virginia-class subs there. A fifth, the North Carolina, is transferring to the sub base in Hawaii.

The most famous USS Missouri, an Iowa-class battleship, was commissioned in June 1944. About 15 months later it was the site of Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces, which ended World War II. The battleship was finally decommissioned in 1992 and is now a museum in Hawaii. The Battleship Missouri Memorial is located a ship’s length from the USS Arizona Memorial.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hearings on the Hill

7/27 – 10:00am, 2118 Rayburn House Office Bldg., House Armed Services Committee Full committee hearing on "Japan: Recent Security Developments." Witnesses: Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Wallace Gregson, Assistant Defense Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs; Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, Assistant Secretary of the Navy For Energy, Installations, And Environment.  

7/27 – 9:30am, 2172 Rayburn House Office Bldg., House Foreign Affairs Committee International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight Subcommittee hearing on "Achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals: Progress through Partnerships." Witnesses: Kathy Calvin, Chief Executive Officer, United Nations Foundation; John McArthur, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Promise; Scott C. Ratzan, Vice President, Global Health, Government Affairs and Policy, Johnson & Johnson. 

7/27- 2:00pm, 2172 Rayburn House Office Bldg., House Foreign Affairs Committee Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment Subcommittee hearing on "Climate Change Finance: Providing Assistance for Vulnerable Countries." Witnesses: Lael Brainard, Treasury Undersecretary, International Affairs; Jonathan Pershing, Deputy, Special Envoy for Climate Change, State Department; Navy Rear Adm. David Titley, Oceanographer, and Navigator, Navy; Elliot Diringer, Vice President, International Strategies, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; Redmond Clark, Chairman, and CEO, CBL Industrial Service. 

7/29- 10:00am, 2154 Rayburn House Office Bldg., House Oversight and Government Reform Full Committee hearing on "Implementation of Iran Sanctions," focusing on efforts to discourage companies from doing business with Iran while the country continues to attempt to develop nuclear weapons and support terrorism. Witnesses: Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Partner, Covington and Burling LLP; Joseph Christoff, Director, International Affairs and Trade, Government Accountability Office; Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director, Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

7/29- 10:00am, 2118 Rayburn House Office Bldg., House Armed Services Full Committee hearing on "Final Report of the Independent Panel's Assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review." Witnesses: William Perry, Former Defense Secretary; Stephen Hadley, Co-Chairman, Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel.

7/29 – 9:30am, G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Senate Armed Services Committee Full committee hearing on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Witnesses: Hon. Rose E. Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, Department of State; Edward L. Warner III, Secretary of Defense Representative to Post-START Negotiations, Department of Defense.

7/29 – 2:30pm, 342 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia Subcommittee hearing on "Closing the Language Gap: Improving the Federal Government's Foreign Language Capabilities." Witnesses: David Maurer, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Team, Government Accountability Office; Jeff Neal, Chief Human Capital Officer, Department of Homeland Security; Nancy Weaver, Director, Defense Language Office, Defense Department; David Chu, former Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness; Richard Brecht, Executive Director, Center for Advanced Study of Language, University of Maryland; Daniel Davidson, President, Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Councils for Languages and International Studies.

Note: The House of Representatives goes on recess on Friday July 30 and will not return until September 14.

Battery Charges

The big buzz in Washington is Sunday's WikiLeak of six years of classified U.S. military Af-Pak documents. They provide an unvarnished glimpse into the brutal conflict and suggest that Pakistan's spy service has long guided the Afghan insurgency. It is an unhappy read.

Two enterprising journalism students have searched the documents and cataloged all the citations of Japan.  There are only 41. There is nothing surprising, but some are morbidly amusing and all are sad. It appears that Japanese batteries are the IED-maker's battery of choice.

It would be interesting to do a similar search for China.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Japan's Corporate Responsibilities

The Sigur Center for Asian Studies and Asia Policy Point Cordially Invite You To:

Japan's Corporate Responsibilities for
Wartime Forced Labor: Research and Response
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
3:30-5:00 PM

William Underwood
Independent Scholar
Dr. William Underwood's doctoral research analyzed the origins and development of the reparations movement for Chinese forced labor in Japan during World War Two, while locating ongoing redress efforts within the emerging global trend toward repairing historical injustices. He directly observed forced labor reparations work involving Chinese, Korean and Allied POW victims at the grassroots level in Fukuoka from 2002 until 2008, when he returned to California. Since 2005 Mr. Underwood has served as a coordinator for The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, a peer-reviewed open source journal available at . Dr. Underwood received his Ph.D. in political science from Kyushu University while teaching at Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University and Kurume Institute of Technology as well as two years in Aomori for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. He received an M.A. in Government from California State University, Sacramento, where his thesis examined the Japanese American redress movement. He also has a B.A. in Government-Journalism from CSUS. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer, and as a Japanese-English technical translator in the semiconductor industry.
The Chung-wen Shih Conference Room
The Sigur Center for Asian Studies
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW, Suite 503

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Energy Insecurity

THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE US-INDIA NUCLEAR AGREEMENT. 7/22, 12:30-2:00pm (lunch included), Washington, DC. Sponsor: The Cato Institute (CI). Speakers: Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, CI; Henry Sokolski, Executive Director, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center; Stephen Cohen, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Brookings Institution.

WHY THE WORLD NEEDS US CLIMATE ACTION. 7/22, Noon-1:30pm (light lunch at 11:30), Washington, DC. Sponsor: Center for American Progress (CAP). Speakers: Jiahua Pan, Executive Director, Research Centre for Sustainable Development, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Arabinda Mishra, Director, Climate Change Division, Energy and Resources Institute, India; Andrew Pendleton, Senior Research Fellow, Global Change Team, Institute for Public Policy Research, United Kingdom; Marie Parramon, IMBEWU Sustainability Legal Specialists, South Africa.

CHINA AND INDIA'S ENERGY POLICY DIRECTIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE GLOBAL OIL AND GAS MARKETS AND IRAN SANCTIONS. 7/22, 2:00-3:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: CSIS. Speaker: Fereidun Fesharaki, Chairman, FACTS Global Energy Senior Fellow, East-West Center, Senior Associate, CSIS.

Kan's policies float like a butterfly, voters sting like a bee

Stung by the loss of his party’s Upper House majority and his dramatic decline in popularity, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan (right) is struggling to find the Calamine lotion.

He is now more sensitive to public opinion and more realistic about the domestic constraints on his actions. Not unexpectedly, Kan’s promise to resolve the Futenma relocation by the end of August is unrealistic and unlikely to soothe raw nerves any time soon.

The public continues to disapprove of how the DPJ is running the country. In the latest Yomiuri poll (July 14), the support rate for the Kan cabinet plummeted seven points from the July 2-4 survey to 38%, with a majority, 54%, welcoming the DPJ’s election loss. The non-support rate soared 13 points to an alarming 52%, overtaking the approval rate for the first time. Only a month ago (June 8-9 survey), just after Kan took over, the support rate was a healthy 64% and the non-support an insignificant 25%.

The DPJ’s support rate has also taken a beating, dropping from 34% to 28% in just one week. In contrast, the support rate for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the anointed "winner" in the recent election, jumped from 18% to 24% in a week. Support for the splinter party, Your Party, which picked up 10 seats in the election, placing it on the political map, jumped from 5% to 12%. Asked about the DPJ’s loss of 10 seats in the election, 38% of the public blamed it on Prime Minister Kan’s remarks about hiking the consumption tax, but a significant 31% said they were dissatisfied with the party’s campaign manifesto.

According to press reports, rather than confront the wrath of Okinawans opposed to any relocation of Futenma inside the prefecture, Tokyo is now pressing for an ambiguous late-August decision, veering away from any specific plan. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told the press on July 13 that the government would work to rebuild confidence in it in Okinawa even if it takes time. Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku separately added that he did not expect a final resolution of the Futenma relocation by November, when President Obama is scheduled to visit Japan. On July 16th, Okada told the press "I would like to continue mulling over whether to announce it publicly, or not to disclose it even if it becomes clear effectively."

Okinawa is now represented in the Upper House by a newly elected lawmaker from the Liberal Democratic Party, Aiko Shimajiri. She won not because of her association with the party that brought Okinawa the Futenma dilemma, but because she promised to do what the DPJ could not deliver: completely reject any Futenma relocation plan that left the facility in Okinawa. She also went one step further, promising in her campaign to follow the will of the prefecture to “establish a peaceful Okinawa with no bases,” and to “return to the starting point.” She says she plans to visit Washington soon to deliver that anti-base message.

In addition this new and unique LDP voice, Social Democratic Party head Mizuho Fukushima, who kept repeating her Futenma solution of kengai, kokugai (out of the prefecture, out of the country) during the election campaign, convinced an overwhelming number of Okinawa voters to choose her party in the proportional representation race. The SDP led the pack with 126,400 votes or 22.7% of the total, compared to the mere 3.8% of the vote that it tallied in the rest of the country. It unseated, ironically, the incumbent, a peace activist from the DPJ, who later bitterly denounced his party for its “betrayal” of Okinawa.

This angry mood across Okinawa is likely to affect the outcome of the Nago City assembly election on September 12 as well as the gubernatorial election on November 28. These are likely to pit an anti-base activist against the moderate incumbent. It is still unclear how much the rest of Japan is sensitive to the issues on Okinawa.

The Japanese people are feeling injured and less tolerant of central government prescriptions. Little wonder that the Kan government wants to postpone or not even announce its final decision on Futenma. Left as is, the open sores are unlikely to improve and could become inoperable. The inevitable clash of political forces in Japan has merely been delayed.

In response, the US-Japan Alliance will either have to restructure and adjust or cease.

Dr William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow
Mindy Kotler
APP Director

Monday, July 19, 2010

Japan's Industrial Structure Vision 2010

Industrial Structure Vision: The Way Forward for Japanese Industry. 7/20, 8:00-9:30am, New York, NY. Sponsor: Japan Society, New York. Speakers: Tadao Yanase, Director, Industrial Revitalization Division, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Presider: Jonathan Colby, Managing Director, The Carlyle Group; Director, Japan Society.

Report to be discussed can be found HERE in English.

Mr. Yanase will give a similar presentation on Japan's new industrial policy in Washington, DC the following day, Wednesday, July 21 to the Eurasia Group at 2:30 pm. Contact Evan Feigenbaum for details.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

APP's Al Keidel to speak on China's economy

CHINA AT MULTIPLE CROSSROADS: THE STATE AND TRAJECTORY OF CHINA’S ECONOMIC GROWTH. 7/15, 10:00am-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Atlantic Council; US Chamber of Commerce. Speakers: Albert Keidel, Senior Fellow, Asia Program, Atlantic Council, Senior Fellow Asia Policy Point; Pieter Bottelier, Adjunct Professor, SAIS; David Dollar, Economic and Financial Emissary, China, US Department of Treasury. 

ASIA'S RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL DISASTERS: IMPLICATIONS FOR AN EVOLVING REGIONAL ARCHITECTURE. 7/16, 2:00-4:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Charles Freeman, Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS; Victor Cha, Senior Advisor and Korea Chair, CSIS; David Pumphrey, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program, CSIS; Stacey White, Fellow, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project, CSIS; Kurt Tong, Senior U.S. Representative to APEC, U.S. Department of State. 

A Decade of the Trafficking in Persons Report. 7/14, 10:00am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission). Speakers: Sen. Ben Cardin, (D-MD); Rep. Alcee Hastings, (D-FL); Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Jolene Smith, CEO, Co-Founder, Free the Slaves; Holly Burkhalter, Vice President for Government Relations, International Justice Mission. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

After the DPJ party: Japan wakes up to politics as normal

[corrected 7/13/10]

In Sunday’s Upper House elections, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), barely a year in power, suffered a serious defeat. It lost its majority in that chamber, thus placing its policy agenda in jeopardy. The lesson is that Japan is finally experiencing the rough, fickle politics of a “normal” democracy.

The DPJ lost 10 seats to end up with 106 (44 this time and 62 not up for election). The tally is far short of the 122 seats the DPJ needs to maintain a sole majority. Making matters worse, its coalition partner, the People’s New Party (PNP), won no new seats and has only three seats not up for election – a total of 109.

Worse, no other opposition party is willing to form a coalition with the DPJ. In sharp contrast, the former ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is overjoyed at having outpaced the DPJ to garnered 51 seats to the DPJ’s 44. But this is a limited victory since the LDP still only has a total of 84 seats in the Upper House, the result of its blood bath in the 2007 election that reduced the number of seats not up for election to a mere 33.

The other “winner” in the race was the LDP splinter party, Your Party (YP), led by former LDP lawmaker Yoshimi Watanabe. It came away from the election with an 11-seat first-time win. The New Komeito, former coalition partner of the LDP, dropped two seats to end up with a total of 19 seats, making its role in the legislative process in the upper chamber critical.

Conversely, the Social Democratic Party, which bolted from the ruling coalition in a pique over the Okinawa base issue, found no sympathy from the public. It continues to be a relic of the past, losing one seat in the election to end up with a mere four seats in the Upper House. Another fading force is the Japanese Communist Party, which also lost a seat to command only six seats.

[Tally updated 7/13/10]

Judgment Day

The DPJ had blown the Upper House election when Prime Minister Kan launched the campaign with a promise to raise taxes. He actually only meant to usher in a debate on tax reform including a possible consumption tax hike to 10%. But the “promise” to raise taxes became in essence the only campaign issue of the election. Historically, those prime ministers who introduced the taboo issue of a consumption-tax hike suffered defeat in the next election.

Political scientists in Japan liken Upper House elections, which occur every three years for half of the 242-seat chamber, to a mid-term election in the US, like the one the Congress faces this fall. Voters go to the polls essentially to evaluate the performance of the administration in office.

Most analysts of the July 11 Upper House election saw it as judgment day. The verdict was not only on Kan’s ill-advised promise to raise taxes. Since the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan in its month or so in office had virtually no achievements yet to tout, the election also became a referendum on the performance of his predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned to take responsibility for a political scandal and a vastly unpopular decision to resolve a U.S. base issue in Okinawa.

Kan, who was deputy prime minister and then finance minister in the Hatoyama government, had to share blame for the DPJ administration’s inability to implement many of the campaign promises contained in its manifesto used in the campaign last summer. Moreover, Kan’s economic strategy of fiscal constraint raised further skepticism among the public. The result was a flight away from the DPJ by the electorate in Sunday’s poll.

Since 1989, three prime ministers have resigned as a result of poor party performances in the Upper House elections of 1989 (Takeshita), 1998 (Hashimoto), and 2007 (Abe). The Lower House elections determine which party will rule, but the Upper House elections can determine whether an administration will continue or fall.

Kan maintains that he will stay on at the helm despite his party’s defeat on Sunday, but this may only postpone the inevitable. He is already being strongly criticized from within the party for contributing to the party’s defeat by his kiss-of-death campaign promise to consider raising the consumption. In a month, the Prime Minister squandered his party’s resurgent popularity, something that his predecessor took nine months to do.

The election turnout was 57%, a point under the previous Upper House election in 2007. This means that many unaffiliated voters, who make up close to half of the electorate, stayed home. Those who did vote deserted the DPJ that they favored only last August in the Lower House election. They turned instead to the LDP and YP as the parties of preference.

An NHK exit poll showed a 21% drop in votes for the DPJ by the unaffiliated voters, compared to the Lower House election on August 30, 2009. The exit poll showed 21% of unaffiliated voters favoring Your Party and another 18% choosing the LDP.

Ozawa the Terminator?

Kan may stay on as prime minister, but his days may be numbered, particularly if his now arch-enemy Ichiro Ozawa has his way. Ozawa is still smarting from Kan’s words after he resigned as party secretary general. Kan said that Ozawa, having plagued the party with his politics and money scandal should now “stay quiet for a while.”

There are strong rumors in the press that he will make his next move in September to terminate Kan during the election for DPJ party president. Ozawa would either run for the post himself or field a proxy to unseat Kan.

Ozawa’s own fate is still far from certain, though, since he may still be indicted for the money scandal that has put three former aides in jail. Tokyo prosecutors, who twice rejected the possibility of indicting Ozawa, citing a lack of evidence, could be overturned by a review panel looking into the case if it reaches the same decision to indict a second time.

If Ozawa manages to avoid again indictment, Japanese voters this fall may see their third DPJ prime minister in a year. This man may very well bear the imprint of the very politician they thought they had finally dismissed. Again, the Japanese voter will be frustrated and disappointed.

Shattered Dreams

The DPJ had dreamed of becoming a full-fledged administration that could guarantee stable politics and policy-making by landing a sole majority of 122 or more seats in the Upper House to match its dominance in the Lower House. It needed to win 60 seats in the July 11 election to do so, but only attained 44. It had to attain 56 seats in order to reach a majority with its coalition partner, the People’s New Party.

That dream has been dashed. The LDP has emerged at the top, although far from a majority even with its former coalition partner, the New Komeito. However, the opposition in the Upper House is now able to block any legislation except the annual budget coming up from the Lower House for passage.

The LDP was able to survive three years of such a “twisted Diet” (nejire-Kokkai) situation because it had the constitutionally necessary two-thirds control of the Lower House to override bills rejected by the other chamber. The DPJ, however, does not have the votes in the Lower House even with its coalition partner to override bills, so the possibility is high that bills sent to the Upper House will be killed.

With this gridlock scenario in mind, the reinvigorated LDP is likely now to press hard to force a snap election of the Lower House that might raise the possibility of its return to power in some form of coalition. This is a feat that it managed to pull off in 1994 when it replaced the short-lived Hosokawa administration with a coalition that included its old enemy the then Japan Socialist Party.

Only through strategic cooperation on specific policy issues can the DPJ survive in power. Much like the situation in the US Congress. It is questionable, especially with politicians unused to this situation, as to how long such a tenuous situation can continue. And like voters in other industrial democracies, the Japanese electorate is likely to become impatient again.

Dr William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

*After the Party by Andy Warhol, 1979

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Washington's short week is busy

U.S. POLICY TOWARDS THE KOREAN PENINSULA NOW: A FORUM WITH THE LEADERS OF CFR'S LATEST TASK FORCE REPORT. 7/7, 2:00-3:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Korea Economic Institute. Speakers: Charles L. (Jack) Pritchard, President, Korea Economic Institute; John H. Tilelli Jr., Chairman and CEO, Cypress International; Scott Snyder, Director, Center for U.S.-Korea Policy.

A CHANGING JAPAN IN A CHANGING WORLD. 7/8, 3:30-5:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, Brookings Institution. Speaker: His Excellency, Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States.
DOING BUSINESS IN TODAY'S CHINA WITH JAMES ZIMMERMAN. 7/9, 9:00-11:00am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: CNA China Studies. Speaker: James Zimmerman, Author, China Law Deskbook: A Legal Guide for Foreign-Invested Enterprises.