Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Comfort Women of the Pacific deserve Justice too

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Australia must face up to its role in the lack of justice for comfort women

The Sydney Morning Herald, December 30, 2015

by Dr. Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University and author of The Japanese comfort women and sexual slavery during the China and Pacific wars (Bloomsbury, 2016).

The Australian and US governments will enthusiastically welcome Monday's agreement between Japan and South Korea that "finally and irreversibly" settles diplomatic disputation between the two countries over the wartime history of Japanese military sexual slavery.

But Australia should play no part in the international pantomime that will now be staged on the basis of Monday's agreement on comfort women.

The truth is, Australia has been performing a farce of its own about the history of the comfort women for too long already. The Japanese military organised the sexual enslavement of women in an Australian territory during the war (New Guinea), which we inexplicably failed to prosecute in trials after the war. Civic groups in Papua New Guinea today retain evidence of tens of thousands of cases of Japanese military war crimes, and cry out for assistance in approaching Japan for recognition and restitution. 
[NB: In The New Guinea Comfort Women, Japan and the Australian Connection: out of the shadows by the late-Professor Hank Nelson definitively lays out the extent of Japan's comfort women system in PNG and the abuse of the local women. He writes:
there is scattered material on perhaps 3000 comfort women in an Australian Territory, but when Australian reporters and commentators need to give the comfort women an Australian relevance, these women are never mentioned. Their experiences are not used to provide evidence on the recurring debates about whether the comfort women were coerced or free and whether they were recruited, shipped and employed by private contractors rather than the Japanese military or government.
Dr. Nelson's research is a stark contrast to the essay by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's chief political adviser and cabinet official Isao Iijima you can find below this article. Iijima claims to have asked on PNG if there were incidents of rape of local women by Japanese soldiers and he said he was assured there were none. This he finds as a contrast to the behavior of Korean troops in Vietnam. He quotes information from a new nonprofit created by the law/lobbying firm of HoganLovells for Vietnamese women who were raped for Korean troops. The firm happens also to be the Embassy of Japan's longtime lobbyists.]
Australia has never responded to these appeals, despite the enduring fact of our own historical liability for failing to protect women in an Australian jurisdiction and failing to pursue justice for them after the war.

If we want to celebrate an occasion of justice delivered the wartime comfort women, Australia should immediately commence investigation of what happened in wartime New Guinea. But for this to be politically possible, our relationship with Japan needs to be placed second to the historical justice owed to sexual slavery survivors. For their sake, I hope the pull of our allied interests will be resistible. Monday's agreement only makes the pull stronger.

Western governments have been itching for Prime Minster Abe Shinzou to deliver them some kind of pretence upon which they can rationalise their continuing military collaboration with a government in Japan that is increasingly warmongering, rightist and hostile to survivors of wartime military comfort stations. Joint military manoeuvres, arms trading and reciprocal defence agreements with Japan got awkward in recent years due to the Abe regime re-enacting too realistically the military fascism of the country's past. Now, western governments hope, the world will view Japan as having turned a corner.

The pretence established by this agreement costs Japan little and delivers its allies much. It creates the political fiction that Japan's government has ceded to the demands of sexual slavery survivors and their representative organisations in finally making amends for past wrongs. In reality, the Japanese government has done no such thing.

The agreement adds new insults to the long list of outrages the Abe-led government has perpetrated against survivors. It calls for steps towards the removal of a memorial statue to the comfort women outside Japan's embassy in Seoul, and imposes a gag on the Korean government critically mentioning Japan's history of military sexual slavery in international settings.

For more than two decades, survivors have called for the Japanese government to admit legal liability for its organisation of military sexual slavery during the China and Pacific wars. Monday's agreement admits vague responsibility but not any kind of liability: "The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honour and dignity of large numbers of women, and the government of Japan is painfully aware of responsibilities from this perspective."

The distinction is very important to Japan's international standing today because, by any measure, its wartime actions warrant retrospective scrutiny under international law. By the time of the war, Japan had ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children, and the United Nations declared "enforced prostitution" a war crime in 1943. The Japanese government was well across its international legal obligations. Its military dressed sex slaves in nurses uniforms at the end of the war when allied liberators entered occupied areas, so legal liability was obviously a front-of-mind concern.

Monday's agreement is a step backwards compared with the Kono Statement of 1993 because "coercion" is no longer acknowledged for women entering military brothels. The agreement makes no remorseful mention of the numerous civil actions brought by Korean and Chinese survivors that Japanese government lawyers vigorously and doggedly opposed, dragging the cases out over years, even in cases where survivors sought no monetary damages. The agreement leaves in doubt the issue of history textbooks used in Japan's schools that mostly omit any mention of the history of wartime sexual slavery.

Most importantly, the agreement imposes no obligation on Japan to release to governments in Korea, China and the Asia-Pacific documents showing the nature and extent of enslavement of their female populations during the war. These countries are currently hamstrung by a lack of records, given the difficulty of assessing war crimes occurring 70 years ago against victims now mostly gone.

Without Australian help, Papua New Guinea has little chance of overcoming these hurdles, and their wartime comfort women little possibility of ever attaining justice.

-And Now for Something Completely Different-

Isao Ijima

Comfort women issue --The Achilles' Heel of South Korea

by Isao Iijima
Weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, November 26 2015

The summit meeting between Japan and South Korea was held for the first time since the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned (from G-20 meetings). The whole development was what Prime Minister Abe expected that China would start moving on improving the relationship between China and Japan, with the help of economic slowdown, and that South Korea would follow after all (to improve ties with Japan.)

In the meantime, Director-general level talks over the "comfort women" issue have started, following the developments of the summit meeting. It's been widely reported that they would seek for new points to compromise, or they would do something by the end of year, but it's so out of the way.

Japan should reflect on its past conduct, but why does South Korea blame Japan so much in a unilateral way?

I'd like to ask if they are entitled to do so.

At the time of the Vietnam War, 312,853 of soldiers of South Korean forces were dispatched to Vietnam between 1964 and 1973. The Command Headquarters was located in the capital of South Vietnam, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), at that time, but various units such as White Horse, Blue Dragon, and Tiger Divisions took active parts in all over the regions.

Among of all, the worst incident (by ROK forces) was the massacre which occurred between 03 and 06 Dec 1966 in Binh Hoa city, Quang Ngai Province. 430 Vietnamese civilians were killed by members of South Korean forces. I bet no one knew this happened. This incident was referred as "Binh Hoa massacre" and 269 out of 430 were females whose ages from elderly to children including 21 pregnant women. The most tragic part of the incident was that 12 women were repeatedly sexually assaulted until they died.

Prior to this incident, there was another awful incident which happened on 26 Feb 1966 in Tay Son district, Binh Dinh Province. The South Korean forces killed about 380 people in 1 hour and assaulted many women.

-- The origin of worsening feelings towards South Korea

The comfort women issue caused by the Japanese troops has been highlighted by South Korea, but how could they say it out loud to the people in the Vietnam to whom they repeated their awful conducts?

During the WW-II, Vietnam was the part of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" due to occupation by Japan. Because of Japan's defeat at the war, Vietnam had an opportunity to be independent from France, which was a former suzerain power after a fierce battle. Vietnam has better feelings towards Japan than South Korea because of its past conduct during the Vietnam War.

Furthermore, the behaviors of Japanese troops during the wars were evaluated differently in the Pacific region where they fought against the US forces.

As you know, it is prominent in many small island states in the Pacific that they are pro-Japan nations. Do you know why? --- Before fighting against the US forces, the Japanese troops had residents evacuated from the battle field.

I accompanied Junichiro Koizumi, a former Prime Minister, when he served as Minister of Health and Welfare, to Papua New Guinea to collect remains of the war. So I asked the people there, "honestly, how were the Japanese troops at that time?" It was said that 22 thousand soldiers were dispatched to Papua New Guinea, but I was told that "even if they (Japanese troops) got drunk, no incident of rape had occurred; not even one got victimized."

I was impressed. That's why people there still respect Japan, and they are the representatives of a pro-Japan nation.

Now I look back the history, South Korean forces did terrible things during the Vietnam War. With my intelligence, more stories of badly behaved South Korea are piling up.

I would like representatives of Japan to act firmly at the Director-general level meetings.

Japan’s new history rising

Japan's reactionary shift makes it difficult for scholarly inquiry, rational discussion, and meaningful reconciliation over wartime crimes and grievances.

San Francisco Examiner, December 29, 2015

By William Underwood, a Sacramento-based writer, completed his Ph.D. at Kyushu University while researching reparations movements for forced labor in wartime Japan. He is an APP member.

I moved to Japan for the first time in 1991, the year the Cold War ended. The wave of democratization in Asia and new focus on human rights raised expectations about unresolved issues of historical justice related to World War II.

I returned home to California in 1993, which saw the election of Japan’s first non-Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) prime minister in four decades. Morihiro Hosokawa declared in his inaugural press conference that his nation had waged “a war of aggression, a war that was wrong” — an observation both self-evident and unprecedented for a Japanese leader.

The Murayama Statement of 1995, coming 50 years after the war’s end during the brief tenure of Japan’s only socialist prime minister, still represents the clearest apology for Japanese war conduct. The LDP soon regained power in Tokyo, and the fleeting window of Japanese contrition began sliding shut.

Entering 2016, two decades of incremental historical revisionism have trickled down from Japan’s national leadership into much of Japanese society, poisoning the geopolitical well across Northeast Asia — and beyond.

This negative spillover can be seen in Japan’s stepped-up campaign against a proposed “comfort women” memorial in San Francisco, an effort that has included the LDP-linked mass mailing [by the FujiSankei communications company] of two polemical books to Bay Area lawmakers, academics and journalists [as well as members of congress, policy officials, think tankers, and journalists in Washington and across the country].

Getting Over It! Why Korea Needs to Stop Bashing Japan portrays Japan’s brutal colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945 as innocuous and even benevolent. History Wars: Japan — False Indictment of the Century, published by Japan’s most influential conservative newspaper [Sankei Shimbun and written by Sankei Washington reporter Komori Yoshihisa], features a subchapter called “‘Anti-Japan Base’ in San Francisco” alleging a plot masterminded by Beijing.

Such well-connected invective makes yesterday’s diplomatic breakthrough between Japan and South Korea on the comfort women issue all the more remarkable. The foreign ministers of the two nations announced in Seoul on Monday a “final and irreversible resolution” to the long-running impasse, consisting of a new Japanese apology and promise to pay $8.3 million for the care of the dwindling number of Korean women coerced into providing sexual services to the Japanese armed forces. The agreement was unexpected because Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has for years staunchly refuted a 1993 finding by the Japanese government that its wartime military had been directly involved in organizing the forced prostitution enterprise.

Yet until recently, historical awareness at the community level within Japan was relatively enlightened.

I moved back to Japan in 1997 to teach at a university in Fukuoka, after finishing a master’s degree in political science with a thesis on the Japanese American redress movement. When I later entered the Ph.D. program at Kyushu University (a former imperial institution whose medical school had vivisected eight American airmen in 1945), I assumed a WWII-related dissertation would be out of bounds.

But Professor Ishikawa steered me straight toward the war and its lingering legacy. Kyushu had been the backbone of Japan’s wartime coal industry and, for the 11 years I lived there, Fukuoka was a center of vigorous redress activities for forced labor involving Chinese, Korean and Allied POW victims. These movements became my dissertation topic.

It turned out that Ishikawa was born — and orphaned — in the war’s final year; his schoolteacher father had been drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army and dispatched to his death in China. Ishikawa came of political age during the Japanese student movement of the 1960s, which opposed the Japan-U.S. security treaty, the Vietnam War and aspects of society seen as remnants of the prewar establishment.

I attended court hearings for ultimately unsuccessful forced labor compensation lawsuits, spearheaded by Japanese attorneys who mostly resembled my doctoral adviser’s demographic and political profile. During trips to Kyushu’s former coal fields, I met local activists including shop owners, housewives and teachers (typically retired).

The energy and commitment of progressive Japanese citizens concerning a wide range of war responsibility issues was surprising and impressive. Younger Japanese, however, were mostly absent from redress work.

The “Japan and America” course I taught confirmed that Japanese college students were, at best, a blank slate when it comes to history of the Asia Pacific War. My students and I explored the American firebombing of nearly all major Japanese cities late in the war, as well as Japan’s far longer list of transgressions.

One student, upon learning of the 25-percent fatality rate for Chinese workers at the Mitsubishi coal mine in her small hometown, reported: “I live there and didn’t know anything about it.” Another student, a female in her early 20s, more disturbingly informed me that the comfort women were “all prostitutes,” basing her conclusion on Japan’s revisionist comic books that sell briskly among all ages.

Generational turnover bodes ill for Japan’s willingness or ability to address the persistent, legitimate historical grievances of its neighbors. So does Abe’s increasingly nationalistic premiership. Most sitting cabinet members are supporters of Nippon Kaigi (or Japan Conference), an emperor-centric lobbying group that basically contends that any Japanese remorse about WWII should be limited to the outcome.

Last spring, an “Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan” circulated globally among Japan specialists in response to rising revisionism. Last month, the LDP announced it will “scrutinize” the verdicts of the Tokyo war crimes trials of the late 1940s, said to have produced a “poorly constructed perception of history.”

Japan and South Korea’s fresh accord on the comfort women, while surely welcome, belies the reality. There will be little room for redress-receptive voices within Japan’s new history.

Déjà vu says the Prime Minister...

"don't you stay in such a place, but come with me
 - I will help you make a lot of money..."
December 27, 2015

A Dutch Comfort Woman responds to the Japan-Korea agreement

Chung Sung-Jun—Getty Images
Girl Statue symbolizing the "comfort women"
in front of the Japanese Embassy
on December 28, 2015, Seoul, South Korea 

‘Comfort Women’ Have Waited a Long Time for an Apology

Time, Dec. 29, 2015

by Carol Ruff

Carol Ruff is co-producer of the documentary film 50 Years of Silence, based on her mother's memoir of the same name.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met to discuss the issue of Korean 'comfort women' in Japanese military brothels before and during World War II.

My 93-year-old mother was forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II. She has waited too long

What wonderful news it is that South Korea and Japan have finally reached a formal deal over “comfort women,” those forced into Japanese military brothels during World War II. Japan offered an apology and a $8.3 million aid fund for the former sex slaves.

My mother, a Dutch woman, Jan Ruff O’Herne, was a former “comfort woman” in Java in 1944. When the Japanese invaded Java in 1942, my mother, who was living in Java with her Dutch colonial family, was interned in Ambarawa Prison Camp along with her mother and two younger sisters. When she was 21 years old, she was taken out and forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military, where she was repeatedly beaten and raped.

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According to historians, tens of thousands of women, including up to 300 Dutch women [current research puts the Dutch figure over 1,000], were forced to work in Japanese military brothels. My mother, who is about to turn 93, and so many of the former “comfort women” have waited a long time for an official apology and compensation. My mother was shocked and insulted in 2007 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that enforced sexual slavery never happened and that the women were all volunteers.

My mother welcomes any agreement that might ease the pain and suffering of the “comfort women.” She is pleased that even the Abe government has acknowledged that the Japanese military was involved in creating the “comfort women” system and that the current government is aware of “responsibilities.”

I now wonder if the Japanese government will negotiate similar agreements with the victims of other countries. My mother has never received an apology, nor a letter, nor any funds “for recovering her honor and dignity and healing the psychological wounds.”

She says: “All of us deserve an apology and compensation. It is our right.”


On July 26, 2014, Mrs. O'Herne sent a letter to Pope Francis who was to visit South Korea and meet with several Korean Comfort Women. Although asked by the women to join them, her health prevented her from traveling to Seoul. She sent the letter below, instead.

Your Holiness, Pope Francis,

I feel very honoured to be able to send a message to you. I admire the wonderful work you do for the church and all mankind.

My name is Jeanne Ruff-O’Herne. I am a devout Catholic. During WW II I became a so-called Comfort Woman. I know you understand the immense suffering the C.W. endured at the brutal hands of the Japanese military. Like Jesus, I am able to forgive.

Only in forgiveness can healing be found. I have forgiven the Japanese for what they did to me, but I can never forget. In suffering I came very close to Christ, and good has come out for me after all the suffering.

I wish you God’s grace and blessing. Let us pray for our sins, your obedient child in Christ.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Did you know that Japan's elections are unconstitutional?

And that the current Diet is considered illegally elected?

The Supreme Court and the state of unconstitutionality

By Andrew J. Sutter, a specially appointed professor at the College of Law and Politics, Rikkyo University.

Commentary for The Japan Times, December 4, 2015

For the third time this decade, a majority of the Supreme Court Grand Bench has ruled that a Lower House election was “in a state of unconstitutionality.” Districts drawn under the Public Offices Election Law for the 2014 election violated the constitutional principle of equality of votes — or at least, violated it by too wide a margin. A vote in the least densely populated district had the same impact as more than two votes in the most densely populated one.

What does this vague phrase mean? From 1976 to 2011, the court had found several Upper and Lower House elections to be “unconstitutional” (kenpo ihan). The euphemism “in a state of unconstitutionality” (iken jotai) was first used in 2011. It means that the districts were unconstitutional (really), but that a reasonable time for the Diet to fix the election law had not yet passed. Had the districts been unconstitutional and a reasonable time for remediation passed, the court would have called them “unconstitutional.” Indeed, the other day three of the 15 justices did that.

As in all previous cases of unconstitutional elections, though, the Supreme Court refused to invalidate the election results. It simply reminded the (illegally elected) Diet members to clean up the election law. To many commentators, this perverse result is the best we can reasonably expect. Respected scholar and blogger Michael Cucek [APP member], for example, calls the ruling “all that anyone could have and can reasonably hope for in terms of the Supreme Court’s making Japanese elections more fair.”

Here’s the rationale: The Constitution’s Article 41 says that the Diet is the sole lawmaking organ of the state (kuni no yuiitsu no rippou kikan). And Article 47 says that electoral districts, method of voting and other matters pertaining to the election of both houses of the Diet are to be determined by law (houritsu, which connotes statutes passed by the Diet). If the election results are set aside, the Diet dissolved and a new election held, who’s going to fix the election law in the meantime? And if the election is invalid, aren’t laws enacted since then invalid too?

It’s not clear how calling an election unconstitutional but valid fixes the last problem, but it’s easy to minimize in the future if courts expedite election-related lawsuits. To solve the other issues, though, the Supreme Court has to ignore (some might say violate) another article of the Constitution. Article 98 says that if any law or other act of the state is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, it doesn’t have legal force or validity. The court can’t choose whether or not an unconstitutional election is invalid — it’s automatically so.

Would taking Article 98 seriously be a disaster? Suppose the court declared the election invalid and the sitting Lower House illegitimate but left some pieces of the election law intact, including the number of seats. (Article 43 requires that number to be fixed by statute, too.) And suppose the court ordered a new election to be held within 15 days of its ruling. One way to avoid the districting problem would be for the court to choose to base the election on a single, nationwide district, with seats awarded in proportion to the number of votes each party receives. To minimize changes to existing law, the court could choose to keep the election law’s algorithm for allocating proportional seats — though there are other methods that better represent the vote, such as the one used in Germany. The court can easily avoid the question of the validity of laws enacted after the invalidated election by waiting for challenges case by case.

This doesn’t result in a crisis, since we get along fine without a Diet for a couple of weeks before an election anyway. The Supreme Court can say that it’s not violating Article 41 because this election scheme isn’t a law — it’s a one-time remedy. Also, though less plausibly, it might claim it’s not violating Article 47 either: Rather than establishing districts or a method of selection, it’s crafting a one-time solution based on dividing the number of seats fixed by the election law among the parties, in the absence of any election districts.

Some objections could be raised. For example, by choosing proportionality instead of, say, awarding 100 percent of the Diet seats to the party who wins the most votes, the Supreme Court violates Article 47 by choosing a method of voting. In fact, if the court clears the hurdle of Article 41 by claiming the scheme isn’t a law, then some might argue it stumbles over Article 47, which requires a law. And then the trump card: Article 41, paragraph 1 claims that the Diet is the highest organ of state power — so it’s free to ignore the Supreme Court.

That last objection isn’t so politically viable within our constitutional order. Not only is it hard to reconcile with history, it would create a voter uproar. The ruling party who made such a claim would risk getting clobbered at the next election. And two other points should silence the more technical objections.

First, the Constitution’s preamble and Article 1 declare that all sovereignty is in the Japanese people. The Diet’s power is therefore lesser than the people’s. When constitutional provisions clash, priority ought to be given to the people’s sovereignty and their ability to choose their representatives, not to the powers those representatives claim to wield — especially when the representatives hold their office illegally.

The second is more pragmatic. Even if the Supreme Court itself “violates” the Constitution, according to Article 81 it’s the only party authorized to say so. In fact, that’s the precise explanation for why we’re in the mess we’re in today. The court doesn’t currently ignore Article 47, but instead it does ignore Article 98 — and no one can tell the justices they’re wrong.

The question is, do we want the Supreme Court to violate the Constitution by continually allowing illegally elected politicians to stay in office? Or would we prefer that the court act instead to allow something closer to real democracy? Maybe not a question we’ll ever be able to ask as a practical matter. But one that needs to be asked, in principle.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Monday in Washington, December 14, 2015

12/13 - 1937. Beginning of the Rape of Nanking
12/14 - 1944. Palawan Massacre
12/22 - 1941. Fall of Wake Island
12/23 - Japanese Emperor Akihito's birthday
12/25 - 1941. Japanese capture Hong Kong

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FIGHTING KLEPTOCRACY. 12/14, 11:45am-1:30pm. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Ben Judah, Creative Consultant, From Russia with Cash, and Author of Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin; Natalie Sedletska, Investigative Journalist and Host, Schemes: Corruption in Detail; Roman Borisovich, Supervisory Board Member, Anti-Corruption Foundation; Moderator: Karen Dawisha, Professor and Director, Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University; Advisory Council Member, Kleptocracy Initiative, Hudson Institute.

NORTH KOREA: MARKETS AND MILITARY RULE. 12/14, 1:00-2:30pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Hazel Smith, Professor, Director of Korean Studies, University of Central Lancashire, UK, Author of North Korea: Markets and Military Rule; Katharine H.S. Moon, SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies, Brookings; Moderator: James Person, Coordinator, Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy, Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program, Wilson Center.
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REFLECTIONS ON GLOBAL HISTORY IN THE 20TH CENTURY: TOWARDS A NEW VISION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. 12/14, 2:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Japan Chair, CSIS. Speakers: Sebastian Conrad, Professor of History, Freie Universitat Berlin; Yuichi Hosoya, Professor, Keio University; Satoshi Ikeuchi, Associate Professor, University of Tokyo; William Inboden, Associate Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas-Austin; Jian Chen, Hu Shih Professor of History for U.S.-China Relations, Cornell University; Cemil Ayden, Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Moderator: Michael J. Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Toyota Japan Chair, CSIS; Chair in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Georgetown University.

THE WISDOM OF A GRAND NUCLEAR BARGAIN WITH PAKISTAN. 12/14, 3:30-5:00pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Toby Dalton, Co-Director, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie; Gaurav Kampani, Nonresident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council; Sameer Lalwani, Deputy Director, South Asia Program, Stimson; Moderator: Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Prime Minister of Japan's Schedule June 1 to June 7, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

07:10 Depart from private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
07:23 Arrive at office
07:24 Meet with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu
08:12 End meeting with Mr. Kato
08:54 Depart from office
08:57 Enter Lower House Committee Room No. 1
09:00 Meeting of the Special Committee of the House of Representatives on the Legislation for Peace and Security of Japan and the International Community

12:03 Meeting adjourns
12:04 Leave Lower House Committee Room No. 1
12:06 Depart from Diet
12:08 Arrive at office
12:54 Depart from office
12:55 Arrive at Diet
12:57 Enter Lower House Committee Room No. 1
01:00 Meeting of the Special Committee of the House of Representatives on the Legislation for Peace and Security of Japan and the International Community reopens
05:01 Meeting adjourns
05:02 Leave Lower House Committee Room No. 1
05:03 Enter LDP President’s Office
05:06 LDP Officers Meeting
05:23 Meeting ends
05:24 Speak with LDP Secretary-General Tanigaki Sadakazu, Chairman of LDP General Council Nikai Toshihiro, and LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Hosoda Hiroyuki
05:32 Leave LDP President’s Office
05:33 Depart from Diet
05:34 Arrive at office
05:35 Interview open to all media: when asked “the feeling of hearing the news of the former Lower House Speaker Machimura Nobutaka’s death,” Mr. Abe answers, “I have been receiving his guidance since I was young. I feel really sorry.”
05:36 Interview ends
05:47 The 8th meeting in 2015 of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy
06:46 Meeting ends
06:47 Interview open to all media: when asked, “how will the government respond to the information leak of Japan Pension Service?” Mr. Abe answers, “ I have instructed Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Shiozaki that we must put the pensioners in first and guarantee the completeness of our measures.”
06:48 Interview ends
06:49 Depart from office
06:52 Arrive at ANA InterContinental Hotel Tokyo in Akasaka, Tokyo. Attend the party hosted by LDP members’ group Yurinkai  [有隣会] that is led by Secretary-General Tanigaki Sadakazu in the banquet hall Prominence within the hotel, deliver an address
06:58 Depart from the hotel
07:05 Arrive at Chinese restaurant Akasaka Hanten in Akasaka, Tokyo. Informal talks with all top reporters of Cabinet Kisha Club
08:32 Depart from the restaurant
08:52 Arrive at the residence of the late former Lower House Speaker Machimura Nobutaka, condolence call
09:11 Depart from the residence
09:28 Arrive at private residence

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

12:00 At private residence (no visitors)
07:46 Depart from private residence
07:59 Interview open to all media: when asked “the feeling of wearing Kariyushi shirt” (a style of dress shirt originating in Okinawa), Mr. Abe answers, “Light and cool, I feel great.”
08:00 Interview ends
08:07 Hold the 29th meeting of the Global Warming Prevention Headquarters
08:20 Meeting ends
08:24 Cabinet meeting
08:37 Meeting ends
08:39 Meet with Commissioner of Japan Tourism Agency Kubo Shigeto and others
08:55 End meeting with Mr. Kubo and others
09:05 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Iijima Isao
09:21 End meeting with Mr. Ijima
09:52 Meet with Chairman of LDP Election Strategy Committee Motegi Toshimitsu
10:31 End meeting with Mr. Motegi
10:32 Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Saiki Akitaka, Administrative Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Nagamine Yasumasa, and MOFA’s Director-General of Economic Affairs Bureau Saiki Naoko enter
10:52 Mr. Nagamine leaves
11:06 Mr. Saiki and Ms. Saiki leave
11:07 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Sakaiya Taichi
11:15 End meeting with Mr. Sakaiya
11:16 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Honda Etsuro
11:30 End meeting with Mr. Honda
11:31 Meet with President of Parliamentary League for Promotion of Soccer Diplomacy Eto Seishiro
11:44 End meeting with Mr. Eto
11:45 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Kiso Isao
11:47 End meeting with Mr. Kiso
11:48 President of Bank of Japan Kuroda Haruhiko enters

12:47 Mr. Kuroda leaves
01:33 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Hirata Takeo
01:46 End meeting with Mr. Hirata
01:49 Depart from office
02:02 Arrive at Federation of Economic Organizations [Nippon Keidanren] Assembly Hall in Otemachi, Tokyo. Attend the Regular General Meeting of the Nippon Keidanren, deliver an address
02:30 Depart from the hall
02:39 Arrive at office
02:40 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Fuji Satoshi
02:48 End meeting with Mr. Fuji
02:49 Meet with former Lower House member Nishikawa Kyoko
02:57 End meeting with Ms. Nishikawa
02:58 Meet with the Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Kenneth C. Frazier and others
03:12 End meeting with Mr. Frazier and others
03:13 Meet with Minister of Finance Aso Taro, Vice-Minister of Finance for International Affairs Yamasaki Tatsuo, and Ministry of Finance’s Director-General of International Bureau Asakawa Masatsugu
03:45 End meeting with Mr. Aso, Mr. Yamasaki, and Mr. Asakawa
03:50 Meet with Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Kimura Taro
03:54 End meeting with Mr. Kimura
04:02 Receive a courtesy call from the four winners of the 46th National Truck Driver Contes
04:09 Courtesy call ends
04:14 Meet with the CEO of Korean Lotte Group Shigemitsu Akio
04:24 End meeting with Mr. Shigemitsu
04:44 Director of National Security Council (NSC) Yachi Shotaro, Director of Cabinet Intelligence Kitamura Shigeru, and Director of Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center Shimohira Koji enter
04:55 Mr. Shimohira leaves
04:56 National Police Agency (NPA)’s Director of Security Bureau Takahashi Kiyotaka enters
05:01 Mr. Yachi and Mr. Takahashi leave
05:16 Mr. Kitamura leaves
05:17 Receive a courtesy call from former President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy
05:38 Courtesy call ends
06:03 Receive a courtesy call from Team Japan of the J7 Summit and Dr. Agnes Chan, Goodwill Ambassador of the Japan Committee for UNICEF
06:19 Courtesy call ends
06:20 Depart from office
06:30 Arrive at wine bar Amuruzu in Ginza, Tokyo. Dinner meeting with President of New Renaissance Party Arai Hiroyuki
08:46 Depart from the bar
09:07 Arrive at private residence

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
12:00 At private residence
08:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo (no morning visitors)
08:36 Depart from private residence
08:52 Arrive at Imperial Palace. Reception event for President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III
09:41 Depart from Imperial Palace
09:51 Arrive at office
10:51 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Yoshimura Yasunori
11:00 End meeting with Mr. Yoshimura
11:01 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Otani Yasuo
11:25 Receive a courtesy call from Minister for Defence of Australia Kevin Andrews MP. Minister of Defense Nakatani Gen
11:47 Courtesy call ends

01:22 Meet with Administrative Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Sugiyama Shinsuke, Administrative Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Nagamine Yasumasa, MOFA’s Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Ihara Junichi, MOFA’s Director-General of European Affairs Bureau Hayashi Hajime, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)’s Director-General of Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau Uemura Tsukasa
02:29 End meeting with Mr. Sugiyama, Mr. Nagamine, Mr. Ihara, Mr. Hayashi, and Mr. Uemura
02:30 Meet with Director of National Security Council (NSC) Yachi Shotaro, Director of Cabinet Intelligence Kitamura Shigeru, MOFA’s Director-General of Foreign Policy Bureau Hiramatsu Kenji, Ministry of Defense (MOD)’s Director-General of Bureau of Defense Policy Kuroe Tetsuro, and Chief of Staff for Joint Staff Council Kawano Katsutoshi
02:47 End meeting with Mr. Yachi, Mr. Kitamura, Mr. Hiramatsu, Mr. Kuroe, and Mr. Kawano
02:53 Depart from office
02:54 Arrive at Diet
02:57 Enter Upper House Chamber
03:09 Welcome ceremony for President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III
03:37 Ceremony ends
03:38 Leave Upper House Chamber
03:40 Depart from Diet
03:42 Arrive at office
04:01 Depart from office
04:09 Arrive at Hotel New Otani in Kioicho, Tokyo. Attend the in the banquet hall Fuyo within the hotel, deliver an address
04:32 Depart from the hotel
04:39 Arrive at office
05:45 Receive a courtesy call from the Editor–in-chief of Bloomberg News Micklethwait. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seko Hiroshige also attends
06:09 Courtesy call ends
06:31 Depart from office
06:38 Arrive at Imperial Palace. Attend Imperial Banquet Reception for President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III
09:50 Depart from Imperial Palace
10:03 Arrive at private residence

Thursday, June 4, 2015
12:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo (no visitors)
08:00 At private residence (no morning visitors)
09:33 Depart from private residence
09:48 Arrive at office
10:00 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Munakata Norio
10:19 End meeting with Mr. Munakata
10:20 Meet with Chairman of LDP International Intelligence Investigative Committee Harada Yoshiaki and others
10:28 End meeting with Mr. Harada and others
10:29 Meet with Chairman of LDP Headquarters for Regional Diplomatic and Economic Partnership Eto Seishiro, Director of LDP Foreign Affairs Division Akiba Kenya, and others
10:40 End meeting with Mr. Eto, Mr. Akiba, and others
10:41 Meet with Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Eto Seiichi
10:52 End meeting with Mr. Eto
10:59 Meet with The Governor of Maryland of the U.S. Larry Hogan
11:11 End meeting with Mr. Hogan
11:12 Meet with Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Amari Akira and Acting Director of Bureau of Headquarters for Japan’s Economic Revitalization Sugawara Ikuro
11:46 End meeting with Mr. Amari and Mr. Sugawara

12:04 Meet with LDP Secretary-General Tanigaki Sadakazu
12:37 End meeting with Mr. Tanigaki
12:52 Depart from office
12:54 Arrive at Diet
12:56 Enter Lower House Chamber
12:57 Speak with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Aso Taro and Chairman of LDP Diet Affairs Committee Sato Tsutomu
12:59 Finish speaking with Mr. Aso and Mr. Sato
01:00 Speak with LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Hosoda Hiroyuki and Chairman of LDP Election Strategy Committee Motegi Toshimitsu
01:01 Finish speaking with Mr. Hosoda and Mr. Motegi
01:02 Lower House Plenary Session begins
01:04 Leave in the middle of Lower House Plenary Session
01:05 Depart from Diet
01:07 Arrive at office
01:09 Meet with Cabinet Advisor Nakamura Yoshio
01:14 End meeting with Mr. Nakamura
01:37 Meet with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seko Hiroshige, Administrative Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Nagamine Yasumasa, Vice-Minister of Finance for International Affairs Yamasaki Tatsuo, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry‘s Administrative Vice-Minister Ishiguro Norihiko, Ministry of Environment’s Vice-Minister for Global Environment Seki Soichiro
02:59 End meeting with Mr. Seko, Mr. Nagamine, Mr. Yamasaki, Mr. Ishiguro, and Mr. Seki
03:04 Receive a courtesy call from the 67th United States Cherry Blossom Queen Noelle Mary Verhelst and others
03:13 Courtesy call ends
03:17 Send off the funeral procession for the late former Lower House Speaker Machimura Nobutaka in front of Prime Minister’s Office. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Aso Taro, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide also attend
03:19 Send-off ends
03:22 Meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Aso Taro, Ministry of Finance (MOF)’s Deputy Vice-Minister Fukuda Junichi, MOF’s Director-General of Budget Bureau Tanaka Kazuho, and MOF’s Director-General of Tax Bureau Sato Shinichi
04:19 End meeting with Mr. Aso, Mr. Fukuda, Mr. Tanaka, and Mr. Sato
04:21 The seventh Thematic Meeting of the Industrial Competitiveness Council
04:57 Meeting ends
05:19 Depart from office
05:24 Arrive at Akasaka Palace State Guest House in Moto-akasaka, Tokyo.
05:59 Japan-Philippines Summit Meeting with President of the Republic of the Philippines Benigno S. Aquino III
06:45 Summit meeting ends
06:49 Signing ceremony, exchange of documents, and joint press announcement.
07:11 Joint press announcement ends
07:22 Host a banquet, deliver an address
08:55 Banquet ends
09:08 Depart from Akasaka Palace
09:13 Arrive at Aoyama Funeral Hall in Minamiaoyama, Tokyo. Attend the Tsuya (the Japanese practice of keeping vigil over the dead) for the late former Lower House Speaker Machimura Nobutaka
09:17 Depart from Aoyama Funeral Hall
09:30 Arrive at private residence

Friday, June 5, 2015

12:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo (no visitors)
07:47 Depart from private residence
08:00 Arrive at office
08:07 The fifth meeting of the Ministerial Council on the Promotion of Japan as a Tourism-Oriented Country
08:21 Meeting ends
08:26 Cabinet meeting
08:38 Cabinet meeting ends
09:24 Meet with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seko Hiroshige, Administrative Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Nagamine Yasumasa, and MOFA’s Director-General of European Affairs Bureau Hayashi Hajime
10:40 Depart from office
10:51 Arrive at Aoyama Funeral Hall in Minamiaoyama, Tokyo. Attend the funeral for the late former Lower House Speaker Machimura Nobutaka, deliver a memorial address
11:53 Depart from Aoyama Funeral Hall

12:05 Arrive at office
01:01 Ruling Party Liaison Conference
01:23 Conference ends
01:25 Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Amari Akira, Vice-Minister of Cabinet Office Matsuyama Kenji, Cabinet Office Director-General for Policies on Cohesive Society Maekawa Mamoru, and Cabinet Office’s Director-General for Policies on Cohesive Society Tawa Hiroshi enter
01:46 Mr. Matsuyama, Mr. Maekawa, and Mr. Tawa leave
02:02 Mr. Amari leaves
02:07 Receive a courtesy call from the Miss Plum Girls. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seko Hiroshige also attends
02:15 Courtesy call ends
02:20 Receive a courtesy call from Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
02:35 Courtesy call ends
02:40 Receive a courtesy call from the President of International Association of Athletics Federations Lamine Diack, the President of Japan Association of Athletics Federations Yokokawa Hiroshi. Cabinet Advisor Hirata Takeo also attends
03:05 Meet with Director of Cabinet Intelligence Kitamura Shigeru
03:23 End meeting with Mr. Kitamura
03:28 Meet with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seko Hiroshige, Administrative Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Sugiyama Shinsuke, Administrative Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Nagamine Yasumasa, MOFA’s Director-General of European Affairs Bureau Hayashi Hajime, MOFA’s Director-General of International Cooperation Bureau Ishikane Kimihiro, and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry‘s Administrative Vice-Minister Ishiguro Norihiko
04:10 End meeting with Mr. Seko, Mr. Sugiyama, Mr. Nagamine, Mr. Hayashi, Mr. Ishikane, and Mr. Ishiguro
04:11 Meet with Director of National Security Council (NSC) Yachi Shotaro and Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Saiki Akitaka
04:31 End meeting with Mr. Yachi and Mr. Saiki
04:37 Receive a courtesy call from Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Cemil Çiçek
04:54 Courtesy call ends
05:14 Depart from office
05:23 Arrive at Hotel New Otani in Kioicho, Tokyo. Attend the party hosted by LDP Faction Nikai in the banquet hall Fuyo within the hotel, deliver an address
05:34 Depart from hotel
06:03 Arrive at Haneda Airport
06:24 Interview open to all media: when asked “where will the G7 Summit be held next year?” Mr. Abe answers, “as we hope to choose a venue where world leaders could feel and enjoy Japan’s rich culture and tradition, along with its beautiful scenery, we decided that Mie prefecture would be hosting the summit.”
06:28 Interview ends
06:54 Depart from airport on personal government aircraft with wife Akie bound for Ukraine in order to attend the 2016 G7 Summit
(Local time in Ukraine)
Arrive at Boryspil International Airport in Kiev, Ukraine. Stay night at Hotel Hyatt Regency Kyiv in Kiev city.

Ukraine Famine Memorial
Saturday, June 6, 2015
(Local time in Ukraine)

Offer flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ (Holodomor) Victims in Ukraine, and the Maidan memorial
Attend a military parade. Attend a summit meeting with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. Signing ceremony. Joint press announcement
Attend a welcome lunch hosted by President Poroshenko and his wife

(Local time in Ukraine)
Hold talks with Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Groysman
Observe a hybrid car being used by traffic police. Visit Saint Sophia’s Cathedral
Depart from Boryspil International Airport
(Evening) Arrive at Munich Airport in German
Stay night at Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich city

Sunday, June 7, 2015
(Local time in German)
Depart from Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich city
Arrive at the venue of the 2015 G7 Summit Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, Southern German by helicopter
Hold talks with President of the French Republic François Hollande

Attend G7 Summit
Welcome ceremony hosted by Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel. Commemoration Photo Session. Discuss on the themes of global economy

Provisional Translation by Pengqiao Lu

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Monday in Washington, December 7, 2015

December 7 - 74th anniversary (1941) of Imperial Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor Day honors the 2,400 people who died when the Japanese attacked the base in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, which brought a war being fought largely in Europe to U.S. soil. Flags will be flown at half-staff at government locations to honor those who died, and many homes across the country will display the American flag.

A ceremony will be held Monday afternoon in Washington at the National World War II Memorial. In Honolulu, the annual Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade will extend a mile through the city Monday evening.

Many of the day's events from Pearl Harbor will be live-streamed at, Participants will be able to ask questions about the attack from National Park Service experts.

In addition, the live-stream will show a special commemoration of the sinking of the USS Oklahoma with the loss of 429 crew, and observe interment in the hull of the USS Arizona of an urn with the ashes of Joseph Langdell, a former ensign on the ship. The events are sponsored by the park service, the U.S. Navy and the Pacific Historic Parks.

On Tuesday, a dive to the wreck of the USS Arizona by a Pacific National Monuments cultural resources chief will be broadcast live, and people can ask questions through Facebook.

NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE LAW OF THE SEA. 12/7, 9:00am-5:00pm, Lunch. Sponsor: International Law Institute. Speakers: Vladimir Golitsyn, President, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; Tullio Treves, Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle LLP; Judge Tomas Heidar, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; John Norton Moore, University of Virginia School of Law; Bernard Oxman, University of Miami School of Law; Sean Murphy, George Washington University School of Law; Paul Reichler, Foley Hoag LLP.

A DISCUSSION OF THE KEY ECONOMIC ISSUES IN ELECTION 2016. 12/7, 9:30-11:00am. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum; R. Glenn Hubbard, Dean, Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School; Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress.

OECD EXPERT BRIEFING: THE CHANGING FACE OF STRATEGIC CRISIS MANAGEMENT. 12/7, 10:00-11:00am. Sponsor: OECD. Speakers: Charles Baubion, Policy Analyst, High-level Risk Forum, OECD Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate; Mads Ecklon, Head of Division, Center for Preparedness Planning and Crisis Management, Danish Emergency Management Agency; Nicolas Mueller, Head, Federal Crisis Management Training, Swiss Federal Chancellery; Jack Radisch, Project Manager, High-level Risk Forum, OECD Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate; Eric Stern, Professor, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware; Bengt Sundelius, Senior Adviser, Civil Contingencies Agency, Sweden.

THE COMPETITION FOR CAPITAL IN THE NATIONAL SECURITY SECTOR. 12/7, 10:40am-Noon. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: John Hamre, President and CEO, CSIS; Pierre Chao, Founding Partner, Renaissance Strategic Advisors.

TAIWAN’S ONGOING DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT AND GROWING CHINESE MILITARY THREATS. 12/7, Noon, Lunch. Sponsor: International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC). Speakers: Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor, University of Pennsylvania, Vice President, IASC; Richard D. Fisher, Jr., Senior Fellow, IASC.

ASSESSING IRAN'S SUPPORT FOR REGIONAL MILITIAS. 12/7, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Middle East Institute (MEI). Speakers: Fouad Hamdan, Founder and Executive Director, Rule of Law Foundation; Kate Seelye, Senior Vice President, MEI.

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SHADOW FINANCIAL REGULATORY COMMITTEE CONFERENCE. 12/7, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: Franklin Edwards, Columbia University; Robert A. Eisenbeis, Cumberland Advisors; Richard J. Herring, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; Edward Kane, Boston College; George G. Kaufman, Loyola University Chicago; Albert S. Kyle, University of Maryland; Erik R. Sirri, Babson College; Chester Spatt, Carnegie Mellon University.

DEFEATING THE ISLAMIST EXTREMISTS: A GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR COMBATING AL QAEDA AND THE ISLAMIC STATE. 12/7, 2:30-4:30pm. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: General Michael T. Flynn, US Army (ret.); Mary Habeck, Visiting Scholar, AEI; Seth Jones, Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation; Frederick W. Kagan, Christopher DeMuth Chair and Director, Critical Threats Project, AEI; Katherine Zimmerman, Research Fellow, AEI.

BOOK LAUNCH: A WORLD OF THREE CULTURES BY AMBASSADOR MIGUEL BASÁŇEZ. 12/7, 5:30-7:30pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center's Mexico Institute. Speakers: Author Miguel E. Basáňez, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States; Alejandro Moreno, Professor of Political Science, Instituto Tecnologico de Mexico; Enrique Alduncin, Director General, Alduncin y Asociados S.A. de C.V. The event will be in Spanish, no simultaneous interpretation will be provided.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mr. Abe and His "100 Million"

The minister in charge Katsunobu Kato, 
appointed to lead the “100 million” effort
Why is Japan's prime minister using wartime propaganda buzzwords to promote his social and economic programs?

And why should the world care?

by Michael Cucek, a Tokyo-based consultant to the financial and diplomatic communities and author of the Shisaku blog on Japanese politics and society and an APP member

First published in Number 1 Shimbun, Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Imagine German Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing a new set of national economics, labor and natality initiatives that proudly promise to preserve 80 percent of the current population without immigration, increase the size of the economy by a third in five years and turn back the clock on sex, work and marriage to the 1970s. Imagine that the program is called the “Arbeitszeit macht Freizeit” (“Work Time Makes Free Time”) Program, that she is appointing a special cabinet minister with that title and is insisting that there is no resemblance between the program’s name and the notorious “Arbeit Macht Frei” slogan hanging over the gates at Auschwitz.

Then imagine that Angela Merkel, rather than being a former East German citizen from a Protestant church family with no ties to the Nazi era (which she is), instead is the scion of a leading Third Reich family – Albert Speer’s eldest granddaughter, perhaps – and a well-known apologist for the excesses of the Nazi state.

The world would likely have a nervous breakdown.

Yet the world’s financial and political commentators merely shrugged when on Sept. 24 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled his “Ichi oku so katsuyaku” (100 Million Making Eye Opening Efforts As One” initiative – a.k.a. The New Three Arrows of Abenomics.) Two weeks later, when he introduced his new Cabinet, it included Katsunobu Kato in a newly created position in charge of driving the program.

What is stunning is the decision to use the historically fraught number 100 million (ichi oku) as his target population level.

One cannot fault the overall goals of the New Three Arrows. After all, Japan’s current population level of 127 million is unsustainable when the number of births per woman is at 1.42 and immigration is a negligible force. Indeed, the population is already dropping, last year by 268,000. If no special measures are taken, the population will fall below 100 million somewhere around the year 2050 and decline to around 80 million by the millennium. Japan’s relative and absolute economic power will decline in step, leaving the country a still populous but minor player at the end of the century.

That the ambitious Mr. Abe wants more for his country than a slide into sleepy irrelevance is not surprising. What is stunning is the decision by Abe, the grandson of the wartime government’s munitions minister and a known admirer of Imperial Japan, to use the historically fraught number 100 million (ichi oku) as his target population level.

ANYONE WITH A PASSING knowledge of pre-1945 propaganda can rattle off a string of ichi oku phrases, none of which invokes happy memories. There is the commandment for ideological unanimity – Ichi oku isshin ("100 Million Persons: One Mind”) – or the encouragement to press forward with the war effort – Susume ichi oku hi no tama da (“Forward The 100 Million Balls of Flame!”). There is the call for to be prepared for extermination of every single Japanese citizen in the final defense of the country: Ichi oku gyokusai (“100 Million Crushed Jewels”).

In his speech announcing Japan’s surrender, Emperor Hirohito thanked the ichi oku shusho (“the 100 million commoners”) for their efforts, vain as those efforts turned out to be. And most disturbingly, there is the infamous call of Prince Higashikuni, the interim prime minister after the surrender, for an Ichi oku so zange (“100 Million Reflecting Upon Their Responsibility as One”) – as if the Japanese people were collectively responsible for the country’s descent into war rather than the nation’s leaders – where Higashikuni’s phrase is the same ichi oku that appears in Shinzo Abe’s new program.

Ever since announcing the new program and ministerial post, Abe has been denying any link between his 100 million population goal and the wartime propaganda use of that number as a shorthand for “all Japanese.” Mr. Abe’s protestations, however are undercut by the peculiar and inaccurate official government English translation of ichi oku so katsuyaku as “Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens.” If there is nothing wrong with saying “100 Million As One” in Japanese, why does the English translation not use that phrase as well?

Abe also maintains open ties to the revisionist and denialist Nippon Kaigi, and addressed that organization’s mass meeting via video message

If the use of the 100 million figure is dog whistle politics – a signal sent out to those whose political ears are set to hear a specific pitch – it is not as if Abe’s continuing allegiance to Japan’s revisionist right is a secret. While he has suspended his annual pilgrimages to Yasukuni Shrine in order to secure summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, he still sends cash donations and presents to the shrine during its spring and autumn festivals and on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s acceptance of defeat in World War II.

Abe also maintains open ties to the revisionist and denialist Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), and addressed that organization’s “Let’s Revise the Constitution – the Great Gathering of the 10,000” mass meeting at the Nippon Budokan via video message on Nov. 10. He also tucks into his schedule meetings or visits, such as pilgrimages to Ise Shrine or paying respects at the grave of anti-Tokugawa activist Shoin Yoshida [his home was mysteriously included among Japan's UNESCO World Industrial Heritage sites approved this past July], that appear benign but which revisionists can read as quiet assurances that the hard right’s longtime champion still holds their issues and values close to his heart.

IS IT WRONG FOR Abe to pander to the revisionists or blend his economic revival and social inclusion programs with elements of his romantic view of pre-1945 Japan? Not necessarily. A politician has to demonstrate his gratitude to the knot of loyalists who have been with him from the very beginning, granting them some measure of their wishes and taking stances they will applaud. He cannot turn his back on his original supporters, even if he has since supplanted them with richer and more socially acceptable backers – a political reality the great political satirist Molly Ivins summed up in the phrase, “You gotta dance with them what brung you.” [Abe also spent nearly two hours on November 28th at the revanchist Sosei Nippon gathering.]

The revisionists “brought” us Shinzo Abe – at least the first Shinzo Abe premiership of 2006-7. Ignoring them and their issues would represent a risky bet by the prime minister on the economy’s performing above trend or his new friends in big business staying as close to him in the future as they are now.

Many of the changes the Abe Cabinet and the LDP have been molding into legislation are, from an international perspective, socially liberal and market-oriented transformations.

Affixing revisionist labels on ambitious economic and social engineering changes could also represent clever political salesmanship on Abe’s part. Many of the changes the Abe Cabinet and the Liberal Democratic Party have been molding into legislation are, from an international perspective, socially liberal and market-oriented transformations. These would be inimical to the party’s core support among economic and social conservatives, who have taken Mr. Abe’s campaign slogan Nippon o torimodosu (“We Will Take Japan Back”) at face value. By applying a gloss of pre-war Imperial Japan on these programs, Abe is ostensibly shielding them from the automatic rejection they would have received were they presented as liberal or neo-liberal reforms.

A noble reading of the intentions of Mr. Abe and his allies would be that they are plastering a disingenuous pre-1945 “100 Million as One” label on their plans for a post-industrial, post-mercantilist 21st-century democracy in order to sell what would otherwise be unsaleable. However, for that reading to be plausible, the reforms themselves would have to be honest and profound – so much so that it was worthwhile for the government to lie about their true nature in its sale pitch.

THIS IS PRECISELY THE point where the generous view of the Abe administration falls apart. The New Three Arrows of Abenomics – a 600 trillion yen economy by 2020, 1.8 births per woman by 2025 and the zeroing out of persons leaving the workforce to care for an elderly relative (currently over 100,000 workers per year and rising) – are unachievable. Economists and business writers have scoffed at the proposal to increase the nominal GDP 22 percent in five years—though a recent proposed revision of the calculation of GDP figures seems to have lowered the bar.

As for 1.8 births per woman, the last time that happened was back in 1984 – and even that figure was a fluke. One has to go back to 1977, when the marriage, development and labor environments were so different as to be those of another country to get a realistic sustained rate of 1.8 births per Japanese woman. As for the third proposal to zero out the number of job leavers due to eldercare – without the mass immigration of healthcare workers the promise is beyond absurd. The very oldest members of the postwar baby boom generation that dwarfs all its predecessors are not even 70 years of age yet. Many of these boomers indeed are already the stressed-to-the-breaking point caregivers of the relatively tiny generation of their parents. When the boomers themselves become the cared-for rather than the care-giving, the loss of only 100,000 workers a year to eldercare will seem a dream by comparison.

What then are we to make of the “100 Million Making Eye Opening Efforts As One” initiatives? Why go to all the trouble of associating them with the pre-war Japanese imperial state when they are not even realizable? And what kind of modern democratic government has a core policy program whose goals are not just difficult but impossible to achieve?

The answers to these questions may be simple ones. Mr. Abe and his government face a national election in 2016 – far enough in the future that the wide-ranging protests against the security bill and the little sense of any opposition that they seemed to engender will very likely have faded from the public’s memory. If the pure fantasy of these initiatives and their unrealistic goals succeed in stupefying the non-aligned voters into a lethargic state, the ruling coalition may conceivably be able to motivate its base and seize control of both Houses of the Diet, setting the stage for revision of the Constitution – Mr. Abe’s well-known, long-cherished goal. ❶