Sunday, January 26, 2014

Japan Urged To Take Pride In Admitting To Troubled Past

On January 12th, Kyodo News interviewed APP member Columbia University Professor Gerald Curtis

He described Japan's ties with China and South Korea as "worrisome," with the "history issue" as an underlying factor. His advice was for Japan to "take pride in admitting what you're not proud of," just as other countries have reevaluated their own past like the United Sates where schools are facing uncomfortable truths about issues such as the treatment of native Americans, the segregation era and the Vietnam War.

Selections from the interview follow:

"This history issue, you can't just say it doesn't matter or there's nothing Japan can do, Japan has to do something."

Nearly 70 years after World War II ended, this question, he said, is "more controversial now than it ever has been in the post-war period" and there is now "all this anger directed against Japan."

This is despite Japan being a peaceful country and providing sizable economic assistance to China and South Korea in the postwar period.

"I think a lot of Japanese are really perplexed by this development."

The Chinese and South Korean governments downplayed Japan's wartime role in the past, according Curtis, because they needed a good relationship with Japan to rebuild their struggling countries.

"There was a kind of collusion between the Japanese, the Koreans and the Chinese not to make a big issue of Japan's war crimes and so on, because they had other objectives that the Japanese could help achieve in terms of economic growth."

However, as the Chinese and South Korean economies took off, the people there began to revisit Japan's role as a colonizer while Japanese schools continued to leave out "unpleasant and awful" parts of its history.

"There is a loss of memory in Japan and an intensified memory in China and Korea," Curtis said, adding that Japanese youth now are unaware of the historical context surrounding Yasukuni, where 14 Class A war criminals are honored along with the war dead. The shrine is seen as having been an instrument of state Shinto worship and a symbol of Japan's militarism.

"The Koreans and the Chinese don't let this history go; they think it somehow benefits them to bash Japan and it's wrong," he said, adding, "They're helping to make the nationalist sentiment stronger in Japan."

Although Seoul and Beijing have repeatedly called on Tokyo to apologize for its colonial past, Curtis said that the 1995 statement on Japan's wartime conduct by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama was sufficient. "It's not a question of apology, Japan has apologized many times and the Murayama apology is about as strong and as full an apology as you can ask for," he said.

The current government needs to proactively reach out to its neighbors to assure them that it will not repeat its militarist past, the scholar suggested.

"Abe has to come out and say...there is no room in Japan today for the values that led Japan to do what it did before the war," Curtis said, elaborating that they are the values that led Japan "to become a colonial power, to use force against neighboring countries, that accepted the recruitment of young girls to provide sex for Japanese soldiers."

Abe needs to make such a statement "whether or not he believes it."

"Without that kind of reflection on its past, I don't see how you can really improve the situation."

On China, Curtis said, "the issue is a real, palpable sense of concern, if not fear, on the Japanese part" about the implications for its security of Beijing's growing power as it challenges the American position in Asia, where the United States has exerted hegemony.

In this context, Curtis said the United States, bound by a security alliance accord with Japan, is concerned about being entangled in a conflict it does not want to be part of, such as a military clash over the Senkakus, a group of islands at the heart of a row between Tokyo and Beijing.

The United States would not want to get involved in a war with China for Japan over those "barren rocks in the East China Sea," given the war fatigue Americans are experiencing after Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Curtis.

For the U.S. administration, "the question is how do you demonstrate to the Japanese that our commitment to Japanese security is as strong as ever, but not give Mr. Abe a free hand to create problems that will then drag us into a situation we don't want to be a part of?" he said.

Curtis questioned the growing view in Japan that things would be different if the Republicans were in power instead of Democrat President Barack Obama, perceived as weak and indecisive. "This is an illusion," Curtis said. "This is not about Obama. This is about a changed world and a changed U.S. in the world."

While the Japanese media "exaggerates" the extent of anti-Japanese sentiment among the public in China and South Korea, there is room for ameliorating relations in East Asia, the professor suggested, citing the South Korean business community, which he sees as not necessarily anti-Japanese, and young Chinese people.

Monday in Washington, January 27, 2014

REVOLUTIONIZING THE FUTURE OF BATTLEFIELD ENERGY. 1/27-29. Sponsor: Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA). Speakers: Thomas Trabold, Director, Center for Sustainable Mobility, ROchester Institute of TEchnology; George Miley, Professor, Nuclear Engineering Lab, University of Illinois; Swastik Kar, Professor of Physics, Northwestern University.

ADVANCING AND DEFENDING THE SEC'S CORE MISSION. 1/27, 9:00am. Sponsor: US Chamber of Commerce (USCC). Speakers: Michael Piwowar, Commissioner, SEC; David Hirschmann, President and CEO, Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, USCC.

CHINA'S GOVERNMENT DEBT: SIGNS OF CRISIS? 1/27, 9:30-11:00am. Sponsor: Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS. Speakers: Nicholas Lardy, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Derek Scissors, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute.

PREPARING FOR NIGERIA'S 2015 ELECTIONS: KEY CHALLENGES AND PRIORITIES. 1/27, 10:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Africa Program, CSIS. Speakers: Attahiru Jega, Chair, Independent National Electoral Commission; Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advisory Center; Ayisha Osori, CEO, Nigerian Women Trust Fund; Jude Chimdi Ohanele, President, South East Governance Network; Festus Okoye, National Coordinator, Independent Election Monitoring Group; Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center; Inemo Samiama, Country Director, Stakeholder Democracy Network.

THE CONGRESS PARTY'S FOREIGN POLICY LEGACY. 1/27, 11:00am-12:30pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Shashank Joshi, Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute; Bharath Gopalaswamy, Deputy Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council.

WAR CRIMES, YOUTH ACTIVISM AND MEMORY IN THE BALKANS. 1/27, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Arnaud Kurze, Visiting Scholar, George Mason University; John Lampe, Senior Scholar, University of Maryland.

CONFLICT IN SYRIA: GENEVA II AND THE ROAD AHEAD. 1/27, Noon. Sponsor: Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Speakers: Andrew Tabler, Senior Fellow, Program on Arab Politics, WINEP; Jeffrey White, Defense Fellow, WINEP; Aaron Zelin, Fellow, WINEP.

CHINESE PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITIONS AND CONTEMPORARY TAIWANESE POLITICAL CULTURE. 1/27, 12:30-1:45pm. Sponsor: Spotlight Taiwan Program, Sigur Center, Elliott School, George Washington University. Speaker: David Lorenzo, Associate Professor, National Chengchi University.

AVOIDING A COLLISION COURSE: MUTUALLY-ASSURED RESTRAINT IN US-CHINA RELATIONS. 1/27, 1:00-2:30pm. Sponsor: Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, George Washington University (GWU). Speakers: Philip Crowley, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs; Tu Weiming, Director, Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Peking University; Amitai Etzioni, Professor of International Affairs, GWU.

AFTER KHOBRAGADE: CAN U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS RECOVER? 1/27, Conference Call 3:30– 4:15pm. Sponsor: Asia Society. Speaker: Frank G. Wisner, Former U.S. Ambassador to India; Senior Advisor, Asia Society Policy Institute.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL AFFAIRS: THE PAST AND FUTURE OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS SERIES. 1/27, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Stephen Randolph, Historian, US State Department; Richard Immerman, Director, Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy, Temple University; Warren Kimball, Professor, Rutgers University.

REBALANCING AND REINFORCING THE TRANSATLANTIC BOND. 1/27, 4:15-5:15pm. Sponsors: CSIS, NATO Allied Command Transformation. Speakers: John McCain, R-AZ, Christopher Murphy, D-CT; John Hamre, President and CEO, Pritzker Chair, CSIS; Jean-Paul Palomeros, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation; Kathleen Hicks, Senior Vice President and Director, International Security Program, CSIS; Heather Conley, Senior Fellow and Director, Europe Program, CSIS.

RELIGION, FOREIGN POLICY, AND NATIONAL SECURITY: WHY RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM MATTER. 1/27, 4:30-6:00pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics. Speaker: Knox Thames, Director of Policy Research, US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

RESOLVED: THE US SHOULD MODERNIZE ONLY ONE LEG OF THE NUCLEAR TRIAD. 1/27, 6:00-8:00pm. Sponsor: International Security Program, CSIS. Speakers: Elbridge Colby, Fellow, Center for a New American Security; Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, CATO Institute.

MAKING SENSE OF CYBERSECURITY. 1/27, 6:00pm. Sponsors: Women's Foreign Policy Group; Embassy of Finland. Speaker: Jane Lute, President and Chief Executive Officer, Council on Cyber Security, fee.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

China's Energy Sector Reform

MIT PhD student and former Asia Policy Point intern, Michael Davidson, discusses China's energy policy with Channel News Asia on January 21, 2014. He finds that China has the tools and plans to reform the energy sector, yet questions if the government will move forward. He is an Assistant Researcher in the China Energy and Climate Project at MIT and is spending this month in northern China. 
You can follow his research on his blog, East Winds

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Abe's Yasukuni Visit as Preview to Policy

Will the Yasukuni Visit Set the Tone for Abe’s Policy Agenda for 2014?

By William Brooks
Senior Fellow APP, Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins, SAIS

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's December 26th appearance at the Yasukuni Shrine was a simple personal decision to make good on a campaign promise. His well-thought out official visit to pay homage to Imperial Japan’s war dead that include 14 Class-A war criminals is part of Abe’s greater strategy to assert Japan’s independence and strength. The steely determination of the Shrine visit sets the tone for Japan’s foreign policy in the year ahead.

Abe, specifically, wants to push back at China and South Korea, which he believes have unnecessarily brow-beaten Japan over territorial, historical, and other bilateral issues. He feels that he had nothing to lose with this “symbolic slap.” And he appears to have the agreement of most of the Japanese people.

Worth the risk
For the Abe Administration, the collateral damage, at least diplomatically, of being chided by a “disappointed” United States was a small price to pay. It was a calculated risk that could easily explained to an ally otherwise satisfied with the current state of bilateral relations. After all, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had paid homage at the war shrine many times during his 2001-2006 tenure without a word of approbation from Washington.

This time, Abe probably felt that Washington would factor in Japan’s cooperative posture in the Alliance, particularly toward China’s increasingly aggressive maritime posture in the region. Moreover, Abe’s recent efforts to resolve the Futenma reversion issue, generally to the U.S.’ satisfaction, and Japan’s serious negotiations with the U.S. to overcome obstacles for it to join the TPP, also can be seen by Tokyo as capital well-invested in the bilateral relationship that could be used to transcend such bumps in the road as the trip to Yasukuni.

Yasukuni Visit Well Timed
The Yasukuni visit occurred on the anniversary of Prime Minister Abe’s first year in office. He had oft-stated his regret that he was never able to pay homage at the shrine during his first time in office (2006-2007). Abe reportedly told his aides that he intended to visit Yasukuni before the end of 2013, and he has shown that he keeps his word.

He chose his time wisely, December 26, just when the Diet was out of session and the country was about to go on extended New Year’s holiday. He gambled, correctly, that a nation on vacation was not likely to pay as much attention. Aside from editorial protests in the media, the Japanese public indeed continues to pay more attention to economic issues and has even given the Abe Cabinet a bump in popularity in Sankei’s most recent poll – even though a majority did not approve Abe’s going to Yasukuni.

Abe may also have calculated that since Japan’s relations with China and South Korea before the Yasukuni visit were so icy, a Yasukuni visit would only raise the protest decibel a level or two. Indeed, even without the Shrine visit, there was little or no chance of summit meetings with either country any time soon, no matter how many diplomatic approaches the Abe administration might make.

Nor was there any incentive for Tokyo to accede to Beijing and Seoul’s prerequisite demands – amounting to unacceptable concessions on the historical or territorial issues – to achieve a summit meeting. Abe’s tough stance also benefited from a furious anti-China and anti-Korea campaigns being waged in the popular media, including daily front-page bashing articles in the well-read sports daily Yukan Fuji, and similar anti-Japan campaigns going on in China and South Korea. The vitriolic atmosphere has helped shape sharply negative opinions in Japan toward the two countries – as seen even in government and private opinion polls.

A game plan
Abe’s game plan most likely is to make it so that Yasukuni visits by prime ministers and cabinet members become so common place that even the sharpest critics of such will have no choice, but to accept them as a fait accompli. There is no sign at all of any attempt to remove the cause of the controversy, the enshrined Class A war criminals, by removing their names from Yasukuni’s list, or of establishing a secularized memorial for the war dead. Abe may assume that protests over his paying homage at the Shrine will become pro forma, allowing the mainstream aspects of at least economic relations with China and South Korea to remain on track.

Indeed, even on the business side, especially with China, there are few signs of a slowdown in bilateral trade and investment transactions, despite the grumblings of Japan’s business associations. Things can change, but so far, the levels of business activity with China and South Korea apparently have not noticeably changed.

Abe is riding high
As for 2014, with the economy steadily recovering, the Abe Administration has been reaping the political benefits. The latest polls that have found the Cabinet’s popularity again rising to over 50 percent. The Japanese public remain upset over repeated Chinese military intrusions into Japanese waters, and China's newly declared air identification defense zone (ADIZ) for areas covering the East China Sea. As a result, Abe gets high public marks for his tough responses, including boosting defenses not only around the disputed Senkakus but other remote islands to the south.

Moreover, the public has been impressed with Abe’s strategic foreign policy. The Prime Minister has embarked on a massive diplomatic effort to blunt in effect China’s influence in Asia and other regions, visiting 25 countries in his first year, including all 10 ASEAN nations, and with Middle East and African visits now scheduled for early 2014. He has also amassed an amazing 150 summit conferences by telephone with world leaders in 2013.

In addition, as seen with the passage of the controversial secrets protection act last fall, Abe benefits from an opposition camp that is divided ideologically and fragmented functionally. There is no force left in the Diet that can stop dubious laws from being enacted. The LDP’s coalition partner, the New Komeito, also seems unable to put a brake on Abe’s nationalist agenda. Although the party is cautious about legitimizing the use of collective self-defense and revising the Constitution, they have not been able to stop their acceptance. Abe, thus, goes into 2014 with considerable momentum for implementing key parts of his policy agenda.

But there may unexpected trouble in 2014
It is possible that there will be a public backlash from Abe’s risky decisions to raise the consumption tax to 10% in April and to restart as many idle nuclear power plants as possible this year. Both moves are still highly controversial and could seriously affect the mood of the country.

Another decision that could turn south is Abe’s intention to join TPP by working out an arrangement for Japan to maintain a certain amount of tariff protection for such sensitive agricultural items as rice and sugar. Talks centered on the U.S. wrap up soon, with no sign that the stalemate over exceptions to the zero-tariff rule will be broken. If Japan caves in and accepts U.S. demands for no exceptions, Japan’s agricultural lobby, led by the powerful agricultural cooperative association JA, will launch a massive negative campaign. JA is already upset that the Abe Administration’s new agricultural reforms designed to increase rice supply and lower prices are eroding its monopoly interests in the agricultural sector. TPP could make or break the Abe government if mishandled.

On the security side, Abe is counting on continued strong support from the U.S. for his defense agenda in 2014. He expects China’s increasingly provocative actions to help keep the U.S. actively committed to region, and domestic opinion to continue to back his defense moves centered on the southern islands. He knows that the U.S., weakened by two long wars – Iraq and Afghanistan – and still preoccupied in the Middle East, needs time to heal itself at home and rebuild the home front.

The U.S.’s rebalancing to Asia, as a result, has a strategic expectation that the U.S. must rely now even more on its allies – especially Japan – to do more. The U.S. needs Japan, Abe believes, to defend itself and to help deal with a rising China so that it does not become a real military threat. In other words, Japan is especially important to the U.S. which cannot bear the load of Asian security all by itself.

Abe’s military plans have certainly won over Washington, but there is a diplomatic component to security that remains unfulfilled. Here is where the Abe Administration could run aground. He has yet to make good-faith efforts to repair severely damaged political relations with China and South Korea.

Washington has already asked Tokyo to do more than just squabble. The Abe Administration has a heady sense of self-confidence from a successful first year. It believes its assertive nationalism is working. The test of Japan’s diplomacy, however, will be Abe’s ability to refocus on serious efforts of reconciliation with those countries on historically sensitive issues. If it sees only Pyrrhic victories like visiting shrines and saying “no” that only further irritate its neighbors, the damage will be a contagion spreading to the U.S.-Japan relationship. U.S. “disappointment” with Japan may give way to dismay and even distrust of its ally.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule October 19-25, 2013

Saturday October 19, 2013


07:50 Arrive at JR Tokyo Station
08:00 Depart for JR Fukushima Station
10:59 Arrive at Matsukawaura fishing port of Soma City for seafood tasting and to meet with Soma Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association stakeholders

12:27 Visit planned to disaster prevention population relocation site of Shinchi Town and meeting with Town Mayor Norio Kato
12:41 Visit temporary housing area in Ogawa Park
01:37 Meet with commercial kitchen equipment manufacturers in the same city. Meet with company president Taniguchi Shuichi and Prefectural Mayor Sakurai Katsunobe
01:57 Interview with media outlets
02:58 Meet with workers of precision parts processing company Hayashi Works
03:57 Photo shoot with employees
04:23 Departure from JR Fukushima station
05:56 Arrive at JR Tokyo Station
06:13 Arrive at private residence (no visitors)

Sunday October 20, 2013


10:00 At private residence in Tomigaya (No visitors)
11:26 Departure from private residence
11:39 Arrival at office

Monday October 21, 2013


07:22 Departure from private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
07:35 Arrive at office
07:36 Meet with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu
07:54 Arrive at Diet
07:56 Go to Lower House Committee room
09:00 Lower House Budget Committee commencement

12:02 Committee break
12:06 Return to office
12:58 Depart from office
12:59 Arrive at Diet
01:00 Budget Committee recommences
05:03 House of Representatives Budget Committee adjourned
05:04 Brief meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Aso Taro and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hayashi Yoshimasa and Budget Committee Chairman Nikai Toshihiro
05:22 Departure from Diet
05:24 Arrive at office
05:25 Meet with Cabinet Secretariat adviser Iijima Isao
06:02 Advisory Panel on Security and Defense Capabilities
07:21 Departure from office

Tuesday October 22, 2013 

07:09 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
08:33 Meeting with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu
08:56 Arrive at Diet
09:00 House of Representatives Budget Committee

12:04 Return to office
12:55 Return to Diet
01:00 Budget Committee recommences
05:00 Budget Committee adjourns
05:04 Return to office
05:09 Courtesy call from Nitta Yuiyume, Ambassador of the “Persimmon Village”
05:22 Meeting with Cabinet Information Officer and Tokuji Defense Policy Officer Kitamura Shigeru; Kinomura Kenichi, Lieutenant General of the Japanese Self-Defense Force
05:51 Kitamura leaves
06:15 Yachi Shotaro,of the Cabinet Secretariat arrives
06:24 Nishioka Takashi, Adviser of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries; Igarashi Hisaya President of Shibaura Institute of Technology; Miyagawa Makio, Director of Middle East and Africa Affairs
06:34 Return to residence for dinner with Vice President Komura Masahiko; LDP Secretary-General Ishiba Shigeru; Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Sato Yukari

Wednesday October 23, 2013
07:21 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
07:22 Briefing with Chief Cabinet Deputy Secretary Seko Hiroshige
08:51 Attends Diet session
08:55 House of Councilors Budget Committee
11:57 Return to office
11:59 Meet with House of Councilors LDP members Sakamoto Tsuyoshini and Masayoshi Yoshino

12:55 Diet session resumes
01:00 House of Councilors Budget Committee begins
05:05 Return to office
05:06 Meeting with Saiki Shigeru Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ihara Junichi, Asia Pacific Director
05:25 Ihara leave
05:32 Saiki leaves
05:33 Meeting with Japanese Ambassador to South Sudan Akematsu Takeshi
06:11 Meeting with Kyodo News Agency in Higashi-Shimbashi, Tokyo
06:13 Meeting with President of Kyodo Fukuyama Masayoshi
07:08 Dinner at Yakiniku restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo
08:32 Return to private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Monday in Washington, January 13, 2014

AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS (AIAA) SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FORUM 2014. 1/13, 8:00am-10:00pm, 1/14, 8:00am-6:30pm, 1/15, 8:00am-6:30pm, 1/16, 8:00am-10:00pm. Sponsor: AIAA. Speakers: John Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House; Chaka Fattah, D-PA; Arati Prabhakar, Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Mark Lewis, Director, Science and Technology Policy Institute, Institute of Defense Analyses.

OECD'S SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INDUSTRY SCOREBOARD 2013, AND SUPPORTING INVESTMENT IN KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL, GROWTH AND INNOVATION. 1/13, 9:00-11:00am. Sponsor: OECD. Speakers: Andrew Wyckoff, Director, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry; Alistair Nolan, Senior Policy Analyst, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry.

US-TAIWAN ECONOMIC RELATIONS. 1/13, 10:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: William Liu, Senior Executive Economic Officer, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US; Patrick Cronin, Senior Advisor and Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Program, Center for a New American Security; Derek Scissors, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute.

THE TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY. 1/13, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Women in International Trade (WIIT). Speaker: Angela Ellard, Staff Director and Chief Trade Counsel, House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade.

DECIPHERING JAPAN'S SECURITY STRATEGY: ABE ADMINISTRATION'S SECURITY POLICY AGENDA. 1/13, 12:15-1:45pm. Sponsor: Japan Program, Stimson Center. Speaker: Ken Jimbo, Keio University.

BATTLEFIELD EARTH: REASSESSING US RESPONSES TO TERRORIST THREATS. 1/13, 12:15-1:45pm. Sponsors: New America Foundation (NAF); Democracy: Journal of Ideas. Speakers: Heather Hurlburt, Senior Advisor, National Security Network; Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings; Micah Zenko, Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations.

JAPAN'S BREAKTHROUGH IN ITS ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION - OUR EFFORTS IN REGULATORY REFORM. 1/13, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsor: Peterson Institute for International Economics (IIE). Speaker: Tomomi INADA, Japanese Minister for Regulatory Reform.

AMERICA VS IRAN: COMPETING STRATEGIES IN A CHANGING MIDDLE EAST. 1/13, 2:30-4:00pm. Sponsor: American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Speakers: Michael Gfoeller, Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Russia, Armenia, Moldova, Poland and Belgium; Frederick Kagan, Director, Critical Threats Project, AEI; J. Matthew McInnis, Resident Fellow, AEI; Danielle Pletka, Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, AEI.

A CITIZEN'S GUIDE TO TERRORISM AND COUNTERTERRORISM. 1/13, 4:30-6:00pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics. Speaker: Author Christopher Harmon, Chair of Military Theory, Marine Corps University.

Shinto in the Spotlight

Blessing of the Thames
Japanese Prime Minister ABE Shinzo's Christmas Day (U.S. time) visit to the Yasukuni Shrine spotlights the Shinto faith. For the Prime Minister, Shinto is a religious and ritualistic form of Japanese patriotism.

For the average Japanese, it is as much Japan's religion as it is a cultural tradition that honors and apotheosizes nature and the dead.

John Dougill, a professor of British Culture at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, maintains an excellent blog, Green Shinto, dedicated to "the promotion of an open, international and environmental Shinto." He provides insights into both the history and practice of Shinto.

He has collected the many definitions of Shinto, among them:
"Shinto”, indeed, is a term that should be used with great caution, since it can be applied to an animistic cult, to a theocratic myth, to a simple folklore that expresses indigenous Japanese sentiments about life and society, and to an organized system of ritual with a certain political content.’ – George Sansom, The Western World And Japan A Study In The Interaction Of European And Asiatic Cultures
‘Shinto is the Japanese conception of the universe. It is a combination of the worship of nature and of their own ancestors.’ Percival Lowell, Occult Japan: Or, the Way of the Gods; An Esoteric Study of Japanese Personality and Possession
‘The term Shinto covers a many-hued array of Japanese religious traditions.’ - Mark Teeuwen and John Breen in Shinto – Shinto: A Short History
But Shinto's veneration of nature and the past is not foreign to Westerners. On Sunday, January 12, London's Southwark Cathedral holds its Annual Ceremony of the Blessing of the River Thames and Those Who Use It. The ceremony involves throwing a cross into the water as a symbol of Christ's baptism, and praying for the people working on the river.

Southwark is the oldest cathedral church building in London (AD 606). Significantly, Southwark stands at the oldest crossing point of the tidal Thames at what was the only entrance to the City of London across the river for many centuries.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Monday in Washington, January 6, 2014

EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT'S (EBRD) TRANSITION REPORT 2013. 1/6, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsor: Peterson Institute for International Economics (IIE). Speakers: Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Deputy Chief Economist, EBRD; Anders Aslund, Senior Fellow, IIE.

KOREA'S GROWING INFLUENCE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY. 1/6, 3:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: Korea Economic Institute. Speakers: Donald Manzullo, President and CEO, Korea Economic Institute of America; Lee Houng, President, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.

AMERICA'S GREAT GAME: THE CIA'S SECRET ARABISTS AND THE SHAPING OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST. 1/6, 7:00pm. Sponsor: Politics and Prose Bookstore. Speaker: Author, Hugh Wilford, Professor of History, University of California.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule October 12-18, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013


08:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
10:24 Depart from private residence
10:37 Arrival at office
11:06 Comprehensive Nuclear preparedness training

1:20 Meet with James Auer former U.S. Department of Defense Director of Japan; now director of Vanderbilt University's Center for US-Japan Studies and Cooperation
12:36 Courtesy Call from Girl Scouts Chihiro Yamamoto 
01:11 Depart from office
01:28 Meet with Professor Yasushi Akimoto; Hakubun Shimomura, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Shinjiro Koizumi, Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Tohoku Reconstruction, and others in Shibuya, Tokyo
02:50 Departure from the home of Yasushi Akimoto
02:59 Arrive at private residence
04:06 Departure from private residence
05:27 Arrival in Yamanashi Prefecture
06: 35 Dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Fujikawaguchiko with friends and secretary
08:58 Departure from restaurant
00:00 At villa (no visitors)

Sunday, October 13, 2013


08:01 At golf club in Yamanashi Prefecture, Fujikawaguchiko, Fujizakura Country Club

06:54 Arrival at private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo

Monday, October 14, 2013

08:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo

07:00 Dinner with LDP representative (brother) Nobuo Kishi and other lawmakers
10:03 Kishi and others leave

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


08:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
08:46 Arrive at Security Council meeting
09:01 Cabinet meeting
09:14 Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga enters
11:28 Attend Diet
11:30 LDP convenes
11:48 Party Deputy Association

12:02 House of Representatives Plenary Session
12:15 Return to office
01:01 Policy speech at the opening of the 185th Diet Session
01:12 Return to office
01:53 Diet attendance
02:02 House of Representatives policy speech
02:41 Upper House Plenary Session
03:08 Return to office
03:59 Go to the Upper House Office Building to attend the convention promoting Parliamentary organization meeting to discuss the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic
04:25 Return to office
04:33 Meet with Yotaro Kobayashi of the Japan Aspen Foundation
04:51 Meet Jean Todt, President of the International Automobile Federation and Vice Chairman Yasahiro Takayoshi
05:20 Meet Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Cabinet Information Officer Kitamura Shigeru
07:10 Kitamura leaves
07:49 Arrive at Yakiniku restaurant in Akasaka, Tokyo
09:40 Arrive at private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
09:47 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
10:00 Meeting with Katsunobu Kato, Deputy Chief Cabinet
11:55 Meeting with Koichi Hosokawa, governor of Japan Finance Corporation (JFC) and Shosaku Yasui, former governor of JFC

12:04 Meeting with METI Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, METI Economic Industrial Policy Director Ikuro Sugawara and Natural Resources and Energy Agency Secretary Takayuki Ueda
12:25 Meeting with Shigeru Kitamura, Cabinet Information Officer
12:53 Diet
01:02 House of Representatives Plenary Session
03:11 Recommendation card passes to the expected candidate for Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture election
03:33 Arrival at official residence
04:12 Courtesy call from British Foreign Minister William Hague
04:34 Meeting with Yoshitaka Shindo, Minister of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications; Akira Amari Financial Minister; and Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary
05:05 Meet with Matsumoto; Permanent Secretary; Ishii, Director-General for Policy Planning of the Cabinet Office.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


08:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
08:20 Depart from private residence
08:22 Meet with Chief Cabinet Deputy Hirochika Sekou
09:15 Meet with Katsunobu Kato, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary 
09:48 Meet with Shigeru Kitamura, Cabinet Information Officer 
09:56 Diet
10:01 Upper House Plenary Session (Interpellation Session)
11:38 Return to office
11:39 Meet with Hisashi Hieda, Chairman of Fuji TV, Fuji Media Holdings

01:06 Meeting with Yosuke Isozaki, Assistant to the Prime Minister
01:51 Diet
02:02 House of Representative Plenary Session
04:32 Return to office
05:04 Tripartite meeting
06:05 Prime Minister Honors Contributors to the Building of Safe and Reassuring Communities
06:55 Arrive in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills for Tokyo International Film Festival
7:34 Arrive at Excel Hotel Tokyu for dinner with former correspondent at “Akasaka Zipangu.”
10:02 Return to private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo

Friday, October 18, 2013


08:01 At official residence
09:06 Meet with Chief Cabinet Deputy Hirochika Sekou at Japan’s Headquarters for Economic Revitalization
09:20 Cabinet meeting
09:53 Attend Diet
10:01 Attend Upper House Plenary Session (Interpellation Session)
11:47 Return to office

12:54 Diet meeting
01:01 Upper House Plenary Session
03:02 Return to office
04:23 Interview with Sontoku Sato, President of web magazine Break-Even Building
05:06 Meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Saiki, Nagamine Deputy Foreign Minister, International Cooperation Director Umeda
05:18 Meet with George Ariyoshi, former governor of Hawaii and his wife. 
05:35 Meet with Yoshio Mochizuki  LDP Administrative Reform Promotion general manager, and others
05:49 Meet with Yukimi Matsuo, 2013 Miss Universe, Japan
05:56 Meet with Shigeru Kitamura Cabinet Information Officer 
06:31 ANA InterContinental Hotel Tokyo to attend pan-industry social "Forum 21" event
06:53 Return to private residence