Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The China threat

CHINA IN 2020: A NEW TYPE OF SUPERPOWER. 6/15, 2:00-3:45pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings. Speakers: Hu Angang, Director, Center for China Studies, Tsinghua University; Nicholas R. Lardy, Anthony M. Solomon Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Cheng Li, Director of Research, John L. Thornton China Center.

CHINA’S FIVE-YEAR PLAN, INDIGENOUS INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS, AND OUTSOURCING. 6/15, 9:00am-3:15pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Speakers: Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA); Dr. Willy C. Shih, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School; Dr. Eswar Prasad, Nandlal P. Tolani Professor of Trade Policy, Cornell University and Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Dr. Adam Segal, Ira A. Lipman Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; Mr. John Neuffer, Vice President for Global Policy, Information Technology Industry Council; Dr. Dieter Ernst, Senior Fellow, East-West Center; Dr. Ralph E. Gomory, Research Professor, NYU Stern School of Business and President Emeritus, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Mr. Leo Hindery, Jr., Chairman, U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative, New America Foundation; Dr. Philip I. Levy, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute.

DEATH BY CHINA. 6/16, Noon-1:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: American Iron and Steel Institute. Speakers: Peter Navarro, Business Professor, Paul Merage School of Business, University of California-Irvine; Greg Autry, Economics Professor, Paulo Merage School of Business, University of California-Irvine; Richard Fisher, senior fellow of Asian military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center; Richard McCormack, editor and publisher of Manufacturing and Technology News; Peter Morici, professor of international business at the University of Maryland; and Alan Tonelson, research fellow of the U.S. Business and Industrial Council Educational Foundation.

FRIEND, FOE, OR FALLACY: HOW TO THINK ABOUT CHINA’S RISE. 6/16, 12:45-1:45pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: New American Foundation (NAF). Speakers: Ely Ratner, Associate Political Scientist, RAND Corporation; Steven Weber, Professor of Political Science and the School of Information, University of California-Berkley.

CHINESE FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT: IS IT A THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES, DOMESTICALLY OR GLOBALLY? 6/21, 10:00am–Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Wilson Center and Asia Society Washington Center. Speakers: Daniel H. Rosen, Rhodium Group; Derek Scissors, Heritage Foundation; J.Stapleton Roy, Director, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Shangri-La Previewed

The above talk given by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell at CSIS on May 31, previews many of the points the US government hopes to make at this weekend's Shangri-La Dialogue where anyone who is anybody goes to discuss Asia. APP member, The Cable Guy Josh Rogin, has a good summary of the presentation HERE. Essentially, Campbell made it very firm that the US has strategic interests in the region and is not going away anytime soon.

Note that the talk was very focused on Southeast Asia with little reference to China, Japan or Korea except as elements of cooperation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Can Kan Survive?

Getty Images
By tomorrow we will know if the Kan government has survived. On Thursday, June 2 the opposition LDP and New Komeito coalition promises to bring a no-confidence motion to a vote. How many rebels within Kan’s own party, the DPJ, will join is the question. Note, it is not “whether” but “how many.” No matter the outcome, Prime Minister Kan’s leadership is shaken and the DPJ is shredded.

The G8 Summit and the bilateral with President Obama was important for Prime Minister Naoto Kan. They bolstered Japan’s international presence as well as the beleaguered leader’s image. At home, Japan’s triple disasters have created profound physical and psychological damage. Japanese remain panicked about the continued radiation from Fukushima.

Kan is under heavy criticism for his allegedly bungling responses, particularly to the nuclear accident. Kan and his cabinet have been pummeled daily in the Diet and the press. The U.S.-Japan summit meeting thus turned into an anchor of calm for Japan in a sea of political chaos at home.

Japan needed the personal assurances of its good friend and ally, the U.S., that the bilateral relationship remains high on the President’s agenda, including assistance to help its long-term recovery. That being said, the bilateral meeting did not address pending problems, nor was it supposed to. It simply gave Kan more time to work on domestic issues such as the future course of the Futenma relocation issue and Japan’s preparations for possibly joining TPP – hopefully by the Prime Minister’s official U.S. visit, now delayed to September.

That is, if Kan can survive politically beyond tomorrow.

Kan’s visible presence among the G8 leaders, his speeches that showed Japan’s resolve, and promises on the energy front were impressive. It was also good for the Japanese people to see their leader no longer in a crisis-management mode, but actively engaged in fulfilling the international responsibilities of his position. Press reaction initially to his summit diplomacy was positive. The media have been far less friendly, though, on the highly volatile issue of managing the nuclear crisis set off by the Fukushima disaster.

Kan may have bought some time with the U.S., but the political opposition in the Diet has not given him any slack. He returned from France not only with heavy Summit homework to address, but also a Diet in turmoil, key bills in limbo, and a reinvigorated opposition camp ready to submit a no-confidence motion against him. The irony of the U.S. President praising Kan’s leadership, when it is under severe attack at home, was not lost on the Japanese media.

It is likely that some of the anti-Kan forces in the DPJ, mostly loyal followers of former Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, will bolt from the party to support the motion. DPJ leaders have warned that they would throw any rebels out of the party. Nevertheless, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has also indicated that he will support the no-confidence motion. Further, on Wednesday evening three Vice Ministers and two Parliamentary Secretaries turned in their resignations to the government. The five men, all close to Ozawa, said that they had to resign in order to vote for the no confidence motion.*

As of today (June 1, U.S. time), it still seems unlikely that there will be enough rebels (85 or so needed) to allow the motion to pass. Conventional wisdom, however, has the number at around 50. Kan told the Diet he was not about to resign with his job of reconstructing Japan undone, and the DPJ has warned that the Prime Minister might dissolve the Diet as punishment to the rebels and the LDP.

But an election could be political suicide for the DPJ. At least four political pundits have predicted that if there were a snap election, the DPJ would lose badly, with the LDP winning big enough to put it back into power with the Komeito. Recently, however, the Japanese Supreme Court ruled the previous Diet elections unconstitutional. They can prohibit another election until the Diet fixes the apportionment inequalities in the voting system. It is anybody's guess how this political drama will play out, but the mood of the public is very negative that at a time of national calamity the politicians are playing a game of chicken.

Assuming he survives this ordeal, Kan must then start to work on delivering on his G8 Summit homework. His still-to-fleshed out energy plan, announced at the OECD, is bold and ambitious, but the target, for example, of doubling reliance on renewable energy by 2020 is seen as admirable as it is unattainable. And whether the Japanese economy – and society – can take another 10 years of austere restrictions on energy – another target – remains to be seen. There is fear in industry that power restrictions and rising costs could drive even more production offshore.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Kan would like Japan to join, but the domestic obstacles to including agriculture among Japan’s concessions remain even more formidable now after the earthquake that destroyed precious farmland in the north. The delay in TPP preparations also has given anti-TPP forces the advantage in their campaign to convince the public that joining would “destroy” Japanese agriculture. The new arrival sections of bookstores are already filling with such propaganda.

It is the herculean task of finally resolving the Futenma base relocation issue that may ultimately make or break Mr. Kan. Committed firmly to implementing the current relocation plan, the central government must now do the kind of heavy lifting in Okinawa that it previously was loathe to do – namely, convince the governor and local officials to allow the base to agree to let the base be moved to another part of Okinawa and not out of the prefecture.

Defense Minister Kitazawa’s meeting last week with Okinawa’s Governor Nakaima went predictably nowhere. Whether the exhausted Kan Cabinet, assuming is survives the June crisis, has the will and the energy to devote to convincing Okinawa to swallow a very bitter pill that is likely to include offers of significant economic measures to affected areas to win them over remains unclear. And frankly, neither the DPJ rebels nor the too long ruling and opposition LDP have proposed better solutions.

Spiteful politics is no way to run a country.

William Brooks
APP Senior Fellow

Mindy Kotler
APP Director

*The five, all Lower House lawmakers, are Shozo Azuma, senior vice minister at the Cabinet Office, Wakio Mitsui, senior vice minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, Katsumasa Suzuki, senior vice minister of internal affairs and communications, Akira Uchiyama, parliamentary secretary of internal affairs and communications, and Takeshi Hidaka, parliament secretary of environment.

EuroAsia Film in DC

EuroAsia Shorts 2011, now in its sixth year, proudly presents a selection of 27 short films from Europe, Asia, and the United States, screened at embassies and cultural centers in Washington D.C. for five nights, June 6 – 10. Each evening allows the local public to experience a cinematic international dialogue through the medium of short films from one European and one Asian country, including many award-winning films making their U.S. premier.

The theme for 2011 is men, women, and the challenges of relating to one another. In both familial and romantic relationships as well as society in general, it is not always easy to connect, communicate, and truly live in happiness and harmony across the sexes. This year’s selection of films explores that universal struggle and the different underlying thought processes of men and women from nine countries.

The final evening on June 10 will include short films from all countries, including the United States. Each screening throughout the week will serve as a springboard for a lively discussion with panelists and audience members following the films.

EuroAsia Shorts is organized by: the Korean Cultural Center, Embassy of the Republic of Korea; Alliance Française de Washington; Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan; Istituto Italiano di Cultura (Italian Cultural Institute), Embassy of Italy; Royal Thai Embassy; Goethe-Institut Washington (Germany); Chinatown Community Cultural Center; Embassy of Spain; and the DC Shorts Film Festival.

Free reservations are required to attend. Complete details and reservations at http://www.euroasiashorts.com/.