Sunday, March 31, 2019

Monday in Washington, April 1, 2019

THE KALB REPORT: A CONVERSATION WITH COKIE ROBERTS ON DEMOCRACY, POLITICS, AND THE PRESS. 4/1, 8:00-9:30pm. Sponsor: National Press Club. Speaker: Cokie Roberts, Journalist and Author, National Public Radio.

ROUNDTABLE WITH H.E. DARELL LEIKING, MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND INDUSTRY OF MALAYSIA. 4/1, Noon-1:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: U.S. Chamber of Commerce; US-ASEAN Business Council. Speaker: Minister Datuk Darell Leiking, Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia. BY INVITATION ONLY.

A CONVERSATION WITH CONGRESSMAN MICHAEL MCCAUL. 4/1, 2:00-3:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speaker: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee; Jane Harman, Director, President, and CEO, Wilson Center.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Japan moves away from nuclear energy, Maybe

The above Japan analysts say the Japanese people have rejected nuclear energy. Below Japanese officials say there is no option other than nuclear energy. The current option, dramatic population decline is also effective way for Japan to reach its climate change goals.

Monday, March 25, 2019


Ichiro Suzuki

By Dan Sneider, Stanford University, APP member

Reprinted from The Nelson Report, March 22, 2019

On April 30, the Heisei Era will come to an end in Japan, after 30 years of the reign of Emperor Akihito. I was fortunate as a reporter to be here when the Showa Era came to an end with the passing of Emperor Hirohito in January of 1989. It was a dramatic moment, marking the end of a turbulent passage of Japan from democracy, to militarism and war, followed by defeat, occupation and rebirth. 

The Heisei Era, despite the now constant stream of reflections on Japanese television, does not carry that sense of drama. Of course, it was momentous in its way - the collapse of the bubble economy and the end of LDP dominance, but, as the name suggested (sometimes translated as "achieving peace"), it also embodied the stability and constancy of Japanese life, marked by the return to moderate growth and conservative rule.

What comes next? The first thing will be the naming of the new era, to be announced on April 1 by the Chief Cabinet Secretary. These moments are rare in Japanese life and always seem to carry a lot of weight in defining where the nation is headed. The Imperial era name is seen as defining an entire generation, or sometimes more. Crown Prince Naruhito will take the throne on May 1, after his father abdicates on April 30.

For now, the news in Japan is dominated by two very different events - the beginning of the cherry blossom season, always marking a passage, and the retirement of Ichiro Suzuki, who used the official start of the Major League Baseball season - a two-game series here this week between the Mariners and the A's - to finally announce the end of his professional baseball career, at the grand old age of 45. Ichiro is story number one around here - NHK showed every single one of his 3,089 MLB hits yesterday and I watched enough to remind myself, as a life-long fan of the game, that he was the best pure hitter I have ever seen.

But when it comes to shaping the events ahead in Japan, the more significant news came in the form of the government's admission this week in its monthly report on the economy, after three years of upbeat assessments, that things were heading downward. The Cabinet Office still claims the economy is experiencing "gradual recovery," but it admitted the economy was weakening and will do so for the foreseeable future. Consumer spending and capital expenditure remain positive but there are already signs of significant cutbacks in corporate investment plans, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

The cause of this slowdown is a slump in exports which has been statistically evident for several months. The big-ticket Japanese exports, which remain the driver of this economy, are all being hit - cars, steel, and semiconductor production equipment. This is mainly driven by the slowdown in China, compounded by the rise in U.S.-China trade frictions, which directly affects Japanese exports that feed China's own exports. Uncertainties over Brexit also impact Japan's export sector and investment plans.

Still Japanese firms continue to invest heavily in China, reports my Canon Institute colleague Kiyoshi Seguchi, one of the foremost experts in Japan on the Chinese economy. This is especially true for the Japanese automakers who see a continued value in the domestic car market in China and are increasing their presence in China. His somewhat contrarian look at the Chinese economy and investment plans there is worth reading.

Seguchi and other analysts believe the downturn in Chinese exports will begin to slowly turn around as domestic demand resumes in China. He says the sharp drop in Chinese exports started last October but has bottomed out and that the Chinese economy is now situated to absorb the current level of U.S. tariffs. Japanese analysts are anticipating as well that the U.S. economy will start to slow down later this year. The Chinese market then may be even more crucial to Japan in the latter half of this year.

This underscores why while Japanese share the view of China as a strategic and economic threat but are not happy with the Trump tariff wars against China. A U.S-China trade deal would be welcomed here, and could have significant positive impact on the Japanese economy.

Japanese business and the government also worry about the potential negative impact of U.S. pressure for a quick trade deal with Japan. The imposition of auto tariffs, as part of that negotiating process, would be a shock to the Japanese economy.

This economic news forms the backdrop of the complex political calendar of the next months, and those domestic political calculations shape in turn, as they do in many countries, some important foreign policy decisions. Prime Minister Abe is now engaging in a very delicate balancing game between the U.S. and China, though primacy always goes to the former.

We are now heading into an election season in Japan. On April 7th there will be the first round (second round on April 21) of unified local elections, held every four years in Japan. Prefectural governors, big city mayors, and prefectural assembly elections, then the vote for smaller cities, towns and villages, as well as by-elections for two Diet seats. While local issues can drive these votes, it is always seen as an indicator of voter mood more broadly. It sets the stage for the Upper House election in late July - or, as is constantly rumored in the Japanese press, a decision to dissolve the lower house as well and make it a double election.

There is no danger that the LDP and its coalition with Komeito will lose power. The splintered opposition is way too weak to imagine that happening. But a significant shift downward in the LDP vote in the local elections could signal a potential loss of seats in the upper house, all of which will unleash the barely contained desire of rivals to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe within the LDP to have him finally give up the reins of power.

Almost anticipating such challenges, senior party leaders are openly calling for a change in party rules to allow Abe an unprecedented fourth term as party president, and therefore as Premier. This would extend his rule beyond the current end date of September 2021. Abe denied any intention along those lines, causing laughter among veteran Japanese political reporters.

For Abe, the economic slowdown is a serious threat to his authority. His popularity rests almost entirely on his record of reviving economic growth, not on his nationalist yearnings for constitutional revision or even on his management of relations with the U.S. and Donald Trump, though he gets credit for that among voters. The latest economic news is feeding increased speculation that Abe will again postpone the scheduled increase in Japan's value added tax, from 8 to 10 percent, which is take place on October 1. As he did before, Abe may use that as an excuse to call a double election, especially if there is no rebound in economic indicators.

These economic and political factors are shaping Abe's diplomatic agenda as well. He hoped to pull off a long-sought settlement of the territorial dispute with Russia as a signature triumph ahead of the upper house vote. But although negotiations are still ongoing, the prospects of a deal are fading due to Moscow's less than accommodating position.

Improvement relations with China is also high on the agenda, with a Xi Jinping visit this year anticipated. But that visit has to take place within the framework of the Imperial succession and the hosting of the G20 meeting June 28-29. Both events are intended to showcase Abe's diplomatic prowess. But the Abe administration does not want either of those events to be painted in Chinese colors.

In the end, relations with Washington still trumps (excuse the bad pun) everything else. So, the Abe administration has pushed for Donald Trump to come in late May on an official visit - which usually is paired with an audience with the Emperor - so that he will be the first foreigner to meet Emperor Naruhito. They have also indicated that if Xi comes for the G20, it will not be accompanied by a state visit, claiming there are already too many demands on their ability to provide security. An unusual second visit by Xi in the fall is being discussed and if it happens, it would signal the Chinese need to sustain high levels of Japanese investment in their economy, some analysts believe.

Meanwhile, seemingly out of nowhere, the Japanese government leaked plans this week for Abe to head to the U.S. in April - later in the month supposedly (April 23-29)* - possibly a redux trip for golf and dinner at Mar-a-Lago. The nominal purpose of this is to talk about North Korea but the Japanese are not worried that much anymore about Trump wandering off the reservation with Pyongyang. The real reason is to head off a trade crisis and auto tariffs and to smooth the path for the glorious audience with the Emperor, a moment sure to flatter The Donald, followed by a trouble-free G20 gathering.

By then, the cherry blossoms will be gone, a new era named, and baseball season will be in full swing on both sides of the Pacific.

*Trump is expected to visit Japan May 26-28 as a state guest and June 28-29 to attend a G-20 summit in Osaka. If Abe's April trip is realized, the two leaders would meet face to face three months in a row.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Monday in Washington, March 25, 2019

DIVIDED POLITICS, DIVIDED NATION: HYPERCONFLICT IN THE TRUMP ERA. 3/25, 10:00-11:00am. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: author Darrell M. West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, Brookings; Karen Tumulty, National Political Correspondent, Washington Post.

click to order
A VIETNAMESE PERSPECTIVE OF THE U.S.-JAPAN ALLIANCE & ASEAN-CENTRIC SECURITY INSTITUTIONS. 3/25, Noon-1:30pm, Lunch. Sponsor: East-West Center. Speakers: Quang Huy Pham, Visiting Fellow, U.S.-Japan-Southeast Asia Partnership in a Dynamic Asia Fellowship, East-West Center in Washington; Catharin Dalpino, Professor Emeritus, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Dr. Ellen L. Frost, Senior Advisor, East-West Center in Washington.

BOOK LAUNCH - THE RETURN OF BIPOLARITY IN WORLD POLITICS: CHINA, THE UNITED STATES AND GEOSTRUCTURAL REALISM. 3/25, 12:30-1:45pm. Sponsor: Sigur Center, GW. Speaker: author Dr. Øystein Tunsjø, Professor of International Relations and Head of Asia Program Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (IFS).

click to order
NAVIGATING CHINA AND THE U.S.: A CONVERSATION WITH PRIME MINISTER JOSÉ ULISSES DE PINA CORREIA E SILVA OF CABO VERDE. 3/25, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsors: Wilson Center; CSIS. Speakers: H.E. Prime Minister José Ulisses de Pina Correia e Silva, Prime Minister, Cabo Verde; Moderator: Judd Devermont, Africa Program Director, CSIS.

A REAL EMERGENCY: EXECUTIVE POWER UNDER THE NATIONAL EMERGENCIES ACT. 3/25, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsor: Cato Institute. Speakers: Spencer P. Boyer, Director of the Washington office, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law; Ilya Somin, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, and Adjunct Scholar, Cato Institute; Deborah Pearlstein, Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Adam J. White, Executive Director, C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, and Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Moderator: Gene Healy, Vice President, Cato Institute.

SECURING MARITIME COMMERCE: THE U.S. STRATEGIC OUTLOOK. 3/25, 1:00-2:30pm. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Vice Admiral Daniel B. Abel, Deputy Commandant for Operations, United States Coast Guard; Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Jennifer A. Carpenter, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, American Waterways Operators; The Hon. Sean Maloney, Chairman, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee; Moderator: Bruce Jones, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy, and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Project on International Order and Strategy, Brookings.

click to order
WOMEN AND CHINA’S REVOLUTIONS. 3/25, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Eric Arnesen, Fellow, Professor of History, GW; author Gail Hershatter, Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, Santa Cruz; Moderator: Christian F. Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Wilson Center.

click to order

THE NEW RULES OF WAR: VICTORY IN THE AGE OF DURABLE DISORDER. 3/25, 4:00-5:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics. Speaker: author Dr. Sean McFate, Professor of Strategy, NDU. Order Book.

HONG KONG'S ROLE IN THE U.S.-CHINA RELATIONSHIP. 3/25, 4:45-6:00pm. Sponsor: SFS, GU. Speakers: Ms. Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong; Mr. Charles Mok, HK Legislative Council Member; Dennis Kwok, HK Legislative Council Member; Moderator: Dr. Michael Green, Director of Asian Studies Program, GU. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Celebrating the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979

On March 6th, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, DC held a reception for members of congress, diplomatic corps, and the Washington think tank community inaugurating its series of events to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Taiwan Relations Act.

The reception was hosted by Ambassador Stanley Kao and his wife Sherry at the historic Twin Oaks. Three members of the U.S. Congress, including Ranking Republican Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Republican Member of the Asia Pacific Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL), and Co-Chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) charmed the crowd with their glowing praise of Taiwan the country, the nation, the ally.

Special guest, was 100-year old former Congressman Lester Wolff (D-NY) who one of the authors of the Taiwan Relations Act. A number of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives who were unable to attend sent their congratulatory messages by a pre-recorded video clips. [see above] Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also sent a congratulatory letter.

April 10th is the anniversary of the enactment of the TRA. In a forthcoming blogpost we will list the upcoming TRA events.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Monday in Washington, March 18, 2019

PROJECT CONFLUENCE: ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL, CLIMATE, AND ENERGY JUSTICE. 3/18, 8:30-10:30am. Sponsor: Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) in DC, Arizona State University. Speaker: Darshan Karwat, Faculty, School for Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University.

KEY ISSUES ON THE MINDS OF ASIAN EDITORS. 3/18, 10:00-11:00am. Sponsor: East-West Center in Washington. Speakers: Ms. Sheryl Shum, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Republic of Singapore; Warren Fernandez, Editor-in-Chief, English/Malay/Tamil Media, Singapore Press Holdings, and Editor, Straits Times; Moderator: Dr. Satu Limaye, Director, East-West Center in Washington.

EUROPE'S EXPANDING ROLE IN THE INDO-PACIFIC. 3/18, 11:45am-1:30pm, Lunch. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Patrick M. Cronin, Asia-Pacific Security Chair, Hudson Institute; John Hemmings, Deputy Director of Research, and Director, Asia Studies Centre of Henry Jackson Society; Aparna Pande, Director, Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia, Hudson Institute; Satoru Nagao, Visiting Fellow, Hudson Institute.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Religion in Japanese Politics

Ask your average Japanese if he or she is religious, they will say no. Observe how they live their day and note the organizations they join, and your answer is different. Religious organizations and beliefs have considerable influence on Japanese politics. This is especially true of conservative nationalist groups that seek the restoration of an Emperor-focused government and society. On March 5, 2019, at Harvard University, Associate Professor of Asian Religions, North Carolina State University Levi McLaughlin discussed this topic. His presentation is only accessible via the audio above. He is the author of Soka Gakkai’s Human Revolution: The Rise of a Mimetic Nation in Modern Japan. He will speak on Friday, April 12th from 12:30-2:00pm at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Monday in Washington, March 11, 2019

ROUNDTABLE ON INDIAN INVESTMENT. 3/11, 10:00am-Noon, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Wilson Center; NASSCOM. Speakers: Carlos Gutierrez, chair, Albright Stonebridge Group, and former U.S. secretary of commerce; Karen Campbell, associate director—Economics & Country Risk, IHS Markit; Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO, Everest Group; Jonathan Samford, senior vice president, Organization for International Investment (OFII); Raju Chinthala, senior advisor for India, Indiana Economic Development Corporation; Daniel Griswold, senior research fellow and co-director, Trade and Immigration Project, Mercatus Center, George Mason University. Invitation only. Livestream.

CHINA'S HYPERSONIC MISSILE ADVANCES AND U.S. DEFENSE RESPONSES. 3/11, 10:45-Noon. Sponsor: Hudson. Speakers: Dr. Thomas Karako, Senior Fellow and Director, Missile Defense Project, International Security Program, CSIS; Dr. Austin Long, Nuclear Policy Advisor, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Policy Division, Joint Staff J5, Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff; Roger Zakheim, Washington Director, Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute; Rebeccah Heinrichs, Senior Fellow, Hudson. 

CANADIAN NUCLEAR LABORATORIES SMR DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM. 3/11, Noon-1:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Global America Business Institute (GABI). Speakers: Dr. Kathryn McCarthy, Vice President for Research & Development, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories; Dr. Corey McDaniel, Vice President for Business Development, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.

LAUNCH OF INTERNATIONAL DISASTER RESPONSE: REBUILDING THE QUAD? 3/11, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speakers: Yuki Tatsumi, Co-Director, East Asia Program, Stimson Center; Yasuhito Jibiki, Assistant Professor, International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University; Pamela Kennedy, Research Associate, East Asia Program, Stimson Center; Kate Stevenson, Fellow, Australia-Japan Research Centre; Akriti Vasudeva, Research Associate, South Asia Program, Stimson Center.

HOW PAKISTAN NAVIGATES THE SAUDI ARABIA-IRAN RIVALRY. 3/11, 1:00-2:30pm. Sponsor: United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Speakers: Ankit Panda, Senior Editor, The Diplomat; Karen Young, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Alex Vatanka, Senior Fellow, Middle East Institute; Moderator: Amb. Richard Olson, Former United States Ambassador to Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. 

HOW RUSSIA IS SURVIVING WESTERN SANCTIONS. 3/11, 2:00-3:00pm. Sponsors: Wilson Center; Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security. Speaker: Martin Gilman, Martin Gilman, Professor of Economics, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow; Former Senior Resident Representative, Moscow Office, International Monetary Fund (1996-2002).

click to order
THE ARC OF CONTAINMENT: BRITAIN, THE UNITED STATES, AND ANTICOMMUNISM IN SOUTHEAST ASIA. 3/11, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsors: Wilson Center. Speaker: author Wen-Qing Ngoei, assistant professor of history at Nanyang Technological University; Moderators: Christian F. Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Woodrow Wilson Center; Eric Arnesen, Fellow, Professor of History, The George Washington University. PURCHASE BOOK

CHINA: KIDNAPPED BY THE COMMUNIST PARTY. 3/11, 4:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speaker: Mr. Chen Guangcheng, Chinese Lawyer, Visiting Fellow at the Catholic University of America, Distinguished Senior Fellow in Human Rights at the Witherspoon Institute, and Senior Distinguished Advisor to the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.

REPORT: THE KREMLIN PLAYBOOK 2: THE ENABLERS. 3/11, 5:00-6:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Europe Program, CSIS; Center for the Study of Democracy. Speakers: Heather Conley, Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic; and Director, Europe Program, CSIS; Juan Zarate, Senior Adviser, Transnational Threats Project and Human Rights Initiative, CSIS; Moderator: Bob Schieffer, CSIS Trustee. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Feminist Movement In China

Journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues in her book Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China that the popular, broad-based movement poses a unique challenge to China’s authoritarian regime today. [see video below]

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for 37 days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf, and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Feminist Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of university students, civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists and online warriors that is prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s urban, educated women. 

Feminism and the demand to be taken seriously is an equal challenge across Asia. At the heart of the Comfort Women discussion is women's rights and the need to reverse centuries of accepted abuse against women. Deniers are talking about themselves and their fear of losing control. The false narratives are used to prop up a disintegrating patriarchy.