Sunday, January 29, 2017

Monday in Washington, January 30, 2017

COOPERATION IN A TIME OF BACKLASH: THE FUTURE OF INTERNATIONAL JOINT DEVELOPMENT. 1/30, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Andrew Philip Hunter, Director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, CSIS; Gregory Sanders, Deputy Director and Fellow, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group.
HONG KONG AT A CRITICAL JUNCTURE. 1/30. Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: US-Asia Institute. Speakers: Alejandro Reyes, Visiting Associate Professor, University of Hong Kong.

DOES THE IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL HELP OR HARM US INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST? 1/30, Noon. Sponsor: Future of Iran Initiative, Iran Project, Atlantic Council. Speakers: Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD); Ellen Laipson, Distinguished Fellow, President Emeritus, Stimson; Boris Ruge, Minister, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Germany; Jim Walsh, Senior Research Associate, Security Studies Program, MIT; Senator Chris Murphy, Junior US Senate for Connecticut; Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, Counselor, CSIS, President, CEO, Gryphon Partners, Board Director, Atlantic Council; Amb. Marcelle M. Wahba, President, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW); Amb. Daniel Kurtzer, S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; Amb. William H. Luers, Director, Iran Project, Adjunct Professor, Columbia University; Barbara Slavin, Acting Director, Future of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council. 

DEFENDING LIBERAL DEMOCRACY IN EMERGING MARKETS: THE ROLE OF FREE MARKETS AND RULE OF LAW. 1/30, 2:00-4:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Center for International Private Enterprise; National Endowment for Democracy; Free Enterprise and Democracy Network. Speakers: Aurelio Concheso, President, Aspen Consulting S.A., Chairman, Fedecámaras’ Labor and Social Security Committee, Director, Treasurer ,Transparency Venezuela; Güray Karacar, Member, Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists Association (TUSIAD), Corporate Governance Committee, International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN); Selima Ahmad, Founder, President, Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI); Moderator: Karen Kerrigan, President, CEO, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council; Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy; Greg Lebedev, Chair, Center for International Private Enterprise. Location: US Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H St., NW, Briefing Center.

THE AFTERLIFE OF DIVISION: RECONSIDERING THE POST-SUMMIT REUNIONS OF KOREAN FAMILIES SEPARATED BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH. 1/30, 2:30-4:30pm. Sponsor: Institute for Korean Studies, GWU. Speaker: Nan Kim, Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

COMBATING CORRUPTION IN ASIA. 1/30, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsors: International Republican Institute (IRI); Open Government Partnership, Center for International Private Enterprise. Speakers: John Morrell, Asia Director, Center for International Private Enterprise; Ashleigh Whelan, Mongolia Director, IRI; Stephen Leach, Indonesia Director, IRI; Tinatin Ninua, Research Manager, Open Government Partnership. 

ATROCITY SPEECH LAW 1/30, 4:00pm. Sponsor: International and Comparative Law Program, George Washington University Law School. Speaker: Author Greg Gordon, Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong.    

UNDERSTANDING TRUMP AND TRUMPISM: PART SIX. 1/30, 5:00-6:00pm. Sponsor: Heritage. Speaker: Hon. Newt Gingrich, 50th Speaker of the House of Representatives; Moderator: Thomas A. Saunders III, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Heritage. 

AMERICA'S PLACE IN THE WORLD - A CONVERSATION WITH FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT. 1/30, 5:30-6:30pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Madeleine Albright, Former Secretary of State; Kathleen H. Hicks, Senior Vice President; Henry A. Kissinger Chair; Director, International Security Program, CSIS; Nina Easton, Senior Associate (Non-resident), CSIS.

DOES TRUMP NEED THE NEWS MEDIA? 1/30, 6:30pm. Sponsor: School of Media & Public Affairs, GWU. Speakers: Sean Spicer, Press Secretary, White House; Jim Acosta, Senior White House Correspondent, CNN; Ari Fleischer, Former Press Secretary, White House, George W. Bush; Hadas Gold, Media Reporter, Politico; Carol Lee, White House Correspondent, Wall Street Journal; Jeff Mason, President, White House Correspondents’ Association, White House Correspondent, Reuters. Moderator: Frank Sesno. Webcast only.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Know your Abe Administration: A Guide

On January 24, 2017, Asia Policy Point issued its 91-page directory of biographical and background information on all top 100 members of the current Abe Administration: 20 Cabinet Ministers and top appointed government officials. Seventy-four are Dietmembers and 26 are non-politicians such as academics and bureaucrats.
The officials are organized by government ministry and by last name. All known social media accounts are included. Automatic Google Translate can be very helpful in looking at these Japanese-language resources.
Each member’s known affiliations with 20 prominent conservative nationalist parliamentary leagues, caucuses, and issue groups are also identified. 
Included is a chapter describing these groups followed by a chapter of charts and graphs for you to visualize the strength and depth of these ideological memberships in the Abe Administration.
For perspective, a Japanese conservative nationalist is different from an American conservative in a number of critical ways. A Japanese conservative nationalist advocates big government; defends social welfare; is wary of individual rights and freedoms; believes in a central government headed by the Emperor under the Shinto religion; aspires to Japan’s independent defense, and rejects that Imperial Japan committed war crimes or started WWII.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Power of Nippon Kaigi

Limited Influence over Politics [?]

[says Nikkei's headline, but the article text contradicts this conclusion]

Nikkei Shimbun, October 16, 2016. (in Japanese) Provisional translation for scholarly discussion by Asia Policy Point

Nippon Kaigi [Japan Conference] proposes constitutional revision, visits to Yasukuni Shrine, and the introduction of an education system that better reflects the intrinsic values of Japan to conservative politicians inside the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party and other political parties. It hopes to attract like-minded lawmakers. It calls for support for conservative politicians and backs them. In this way it maintains its influence.

“This gathering became my first step toward a career in politics,” said Defense Minister Tomomi Inada when as LDP policy affairs chief she attended an annual national convention for the commemoration of war dead that the Japan Conference co-hosted with other groups last year at Yasukuni Shrine.

At this year’s event, Yoshitaka Shindo, the minister of internal affairs and communications in the second Abe cabinet, was present and called for support for the Japan Conference’s activities. Inada and Shindo are two of the core members of the group’s bipartisan parliamentary league, Nippon Kaigi Kokkai Giin Kondai Kai (the Japan Conference Diet members’ council).

Participation Is Merely “Adding Names to the Roster”
This parliamentarians’ group convenes a general meeting once a year. At the meeting held in March, over 30 Diet members attended and decided on policies on such matters as how to lobby for holding a national referendum on constitutional revision.

Speculation that the Japan Conference has a greater say in the government’s policymaking is sparked by the fact that many incumbent cabinet ministers belong to the group. Though the roster of the latest membership is not made public, Prime Minister Abe and 15 of 19 cabinet ministers belong, according to a source familiar with the matter.

But [asked about their membership,] the offices of several cabinet ministers replied they “have never attended gatherings of the league.” One office staffer said, “We are not aware that we belong to the group.” Though it has a membership of about 290 politicians, only a handful of them – mainly senior old-guard politicians – are active.

Then how much influence does the Japan Conference actually wield over elections? A person with the Japan Conference says that it acts as a “node” of various conservative forces and consolidates them into a single organism. This becomes the source of its influence.

The Japan Conference maintains its influence by closely working with the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership (Shindo Seiji Renmei, or Shinseiren), which comprises religious groups, such as the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja Honcho). With the help of the Shinto community, it has been rolling out a campaign to collect 10 million signatures to revise the Constitution.

But the Japan Conference has a membership of about 38,000 people. While Nichiiren (Federation of Japanese Doctors), the political arm of the Japan Medical Association, delivers about 200,000 votes to the LDP every election, the Japan Conference has an extremely small organizational base and is not in the position to field its own candidates. Its activities are mainly funded by membership fees and it cannot afford to make political donations to conservative members.

With the Abe government shifting to a realistic approach, how to maintain the national momentum of conservative movements will become one issue that the Japan Conference needs to tackle down the road.

The key is how the Japan Conference will keep facilitating discussions on constitutional revision. Within the LDP, there has been talk of extending Abe’s time in office as the party’s president. On the surface, it stands to gain if Abe, who it backs, stays in power for a longer period of time, but matters are not as simple as that.

“Rather, we are concerned that there is a developing mood wherein constitutional revision needs not to be done quickly if there is an extension of the length of time the LDP president can remain in office,” said a policymaking committee member in the Japan Conference. There are fears the momentum of its national campaign for constitutional revision may slow.

Another worrisome issue is that its activities are not attracting wide support from the public. Birei Kin, a conservative critic and supporter of the Japan Conference, points out that “the same people always participate in its events” and deplores that its campaigns do not reach many.

The Abduction Issue Potentially Starting a New Fire

Now, the emperor, who is the greatest centripetal force of the Nippon Kaigi, also poses a new challenge for the organization. After the Emperor hinted that he would like to step down while alive, nervousness that the current emperor system (in which the Emperor plays a symbolic role) might change fundamentally is simmering inside the Nippon Kaigi. Although the organization on the surface follows the direction that “we must realize it if that is the Emperor’s will,” among the members opposition and push back are strong. For the Nippon Kaigi, the issue might start a new fire.

In recent years, new members recruited through the Internet, especially among the young, are increasing. That said, the trend of non-partisan groups’ conservatism is the real source of the growing attention paid to the Nippon Kaigi. If in the future the non-partisan groups’ preferences change, the possibility of the Nippon Kaigi losing influence certainly exists.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Monday in Washington, January 23, 2017

INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE TRUMP ERA: EXPECTATIONS,HOPES, AND FEARS. 1/23, 8:30am-2:00pm. Sponsor: Federalist Society's Practice Group and Student Divisions and the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA). Speakers: Prof. Timothy J. Keeler, Former Chief of Staff, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR); Prof. John O. McGinnis, Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice; Mr. Jeff Pavlak, Legislative Representative at Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO; Prof. Alvaro Santos, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Moderator: Mr. Matthew R. A. Heiman, Former Attorney Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice for the National Security Division; Hon. Brian H. Hook, Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations; Hon. Lawrence Korb, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense; Amb. Kristen Silverberg, Former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union; Moderator: Prof. Jamil N. Jaffer, Former Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Hon. John B. Bellinger, III, former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council; Prof. Rosa Brooks, Associate Dean, Graduate Programs & Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Moderator: Prof. David Stewart, President, American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA). 

PROSPECTS FOR THE DEFENSE BUDGET IN THE NEW ADMINISTRATION. 1/23, 10:30am-Noon. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Mackenzie Eaglen,Resident Fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, American Enterprise Institute; Richard Kogan, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Mark F. Cancian, Senior Adviser, International Security Program, CSIS; Todd Harrison, Director, Defense Budget Analysis, Director, Aerospace Security Project and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, CSIS; Andrew Philip Hunter, Director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, CSIS.

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UNDERSTANDING TRUMP AND TRUMPISM: PART FOUR. 1/23, 11:00-Noon. Sponsor: Heritage. Speakers: The Honorable Newt Gingrich, 50th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; James Wallner Group Vice President, Heritage.

ASIAN IR: A NEW MORAL IMAGINATION FOR WORLD POLITICS. 1/23, 12:30-1:30pm. Speaker: L.H.M. Ling, Professor of International Affairs, The New School, Author, Imagining World Politics: Sihar & Shenya, A Fable for Our Times. Location: Georgetown University, Mortara Building, 3600 N St., NW, Conference Room. Contact:

THE WASHINGTON EU-U.S. CONFERENCE. 1/23-25, Lunch, Reception. Sponsor: Delegation of the European Union to the United States, Le Monde Diplomatique Debates, American University (AU) School of International Service (SIS). Speakers: James Barbour, Spokesperson of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States; Romuald Sciora, Head, Le Monde Diplomatique Debates; Moderator: James Goldgeier, Dean, SIS, AU; Klaus Botzet, Head of the Political, Security and Development Section, EU Delegation to the U.S.; J.D. Gordon, Senior Fellow, Center for a Secure, Free Society (SFS), former Pentagon Spokesman and former Director, National Security Advisory Committee, Trump Campaign; Jeff Lightfoot, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council; Dr. Garret Martin, Professorial Lecturer, AU SIS, Editor at Large, European Institute; Jeffrey Rathke, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Europe Program, CSIS; Dr. Randall Henning, Professor, SIS, AU; Frédéric Lefebvre, French Member of Parliament, former State Secretary of Trade and SMEs; Damien Levie, Head of the Trade and Agriculture Section, EU Delegation to the U.S.; Dr. Harvey Feigenbaum, Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University (GWU); James Barbour, Spokesperson, Head of the Press and Public Diplomacy Section, EU Delegation to the U.S.; Lorenzo Morris, Professor, Howard University; Dr. Kimberly Morgan, Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, GWU; Anne-Cecile Robert, Director of International Editions, Le Monde Diplomatique; Moderator: Michelle Breslauer, Deputy Director of Programs, Institute for Economics and Peace; Steve Clemons, Editor at Large, The Atlantic; Dr. James Goldgeier, Dean, SIS, AU; Anne-Cécile Robert, Director of International Editions, Le Monde Diplomatique; Caroline Vicini, Deputy-Head of Delegation, EU Delegation to the U.S.; Dr. Kate McNamara, Professor, Georgetown University; David O'Sullivan, EU Ambassador to the U.S.

Friday, January 6, 2017


How Defense Minister Inada's Yasukuni undermined reconciliation

By Mindy Kotler, APP Director

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s tour of Pearl Harbor highlighted reconciliation and putting an end to Pacific War history. However, Abe’s Cabinet officials were of a different mind. While Abe was in the air returning from Pearl Harbor, his Reconstruction Minister and good friend, Masahiro Imamura, paid homage to the war deities at the Yasukuni Shrine.

Shortly after returning to Japan, Defense Minister Tomomi INADA, who had accompanied the Prime Minister to Pearl Harbor, also visited the Yasukuni Shrine. She is said to be Mr. Abe’s preferred successor. When she was the LDP’s policy chief, she initiated a reevaluation the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. She now administers this on-going investigation. Reportedly, she once said “Yasukuni is not a place to pledge not to repeat the horror of war again. It is a place to promise that 'we will follow in your footsteps if a contingency occurs in our homeland.'"

Yasukuni is not Arlington, nor is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific that Prime Minister Abe visited in Hawaii. Yasukuni visits have been used in recent decades by Japanese politicians to be naughty. It is a cost-free way to demonstrate independence from the US. The irony is that the visits so antagonize the Chinese that the US is compelled to reaffirm its defense of Japan soon after, drawing Japan closer to the US.

The Meiji Emperor created Yasukuni to militarize a religion (Shinto) in service of the state and to de-legitimatize his enemies (they cannot be enshrined there). It is not a cemetery and it represents only one religion. There are no bodies buried on the grounds. It is for the spirits of the military dead who died fighting for the Emperor who can be identified (the unidentified have their ashes at a non-religious site not far from Yasukuni) and who are not from the under-classes.

Those approved are apostatized--they become gods, one with the Emperor. There are many convicted and otherwise war criminals turned into gods at the Shrine. The Shrine is also only for the Imperial era, which ended August 15, 1945. No one after that date is enshrined. The park surrounding the Shrine has many small memorials to military units that served in the Pacific War, including the Kempeitai (SS-like military police).

The Ministers’ appearance at the Yasukuni Shrine does lessen the impact of PM Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor. It undermines through deed, his words at Hickam Field, barely 12 hours before. That PM Abe did not fire Inada—who visited Yasukuni as Defense Minister not in her personal capacity—suggests that he condoned her actions.

Abe’s tortured prose lingered on expressions of gratitude toward US treatment of defeated Japan. He interpreted reconciliation as American “tolerance” and posed Japan as being passive in its appreciation. It is as if a thesaurus was consulted for a politically acceptable word meaning compassion, mercy, and humanity.

Unsaid, and maybe unintended, was the contrast of American “tolerance” toward its conquered people to Japan’s own conduct of its war in China and the Pacific. Imperial Japan’s conquests were impressive military victories. They were, however, followed by unjustified and horrific violence against noncombatants, POWs, laborers, and the dead.

Condolences are what Mr. Abe gave to those military dead who died in combat at Pearl Harbor. He did not apologize or justify. The visit was framed as if he was going to Yasukuni to honor and pacify the spirits of warriors.

Standing tall at the water's edge does not turn Pearl Harbor into a symbol of reconciliation. It is not a tolerance for an enemies soldiers and sailors. Reconciliation is how today’s Japan answers to Imperial Japan’s wartime atrocities committed against the unarmed. It is no surprise that the trauma of these cruelties is intergenerational.

As Abe ended his remarks, he acknowledged this by promising to continue to make his “wish a reality.” It is something that still needs work. And something that is a responsibility of the Trump White House.