Sunday, April 28, 2019

Monday in Washington, April 29, 2019

April 29th -
1901 - Japanese Emperor Hirohito born, National Holiday
1945 - German armies in Italy sign an unconditional surrender to the Western Allies to be carried out on 2 May
1945 - US Army liberates 31,601 in Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany
1946 - 28 former Japanese leaders indicted in Tokyo as war criminals; Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal convenes
1974 - US President Nixon says he will release the Watergate tapes
1975 - US begins to  evacuate its citizens from Saigon, which falls the next day

THE KREMLIN'S POLITICAL PRISONERS REPORT LAUNCH. 4/29, 10:00-11:00am. Sponsor: Perseus Strategies, Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center, Free Russia Foundation, Human Rights Foundation, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, and Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. Speakers: Vladimir Kara-Murza, Chairman, Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom; Sergei Davidis, Head of Political Prisoners Support Program, Memorial Human Rights Center; Natalia Arno, President, Free Russia Foundation.

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THE SENKAKU PARADOX: RISKING GREAT POWER WAR OVER SMALL STAKES.4/29, 10:30-11:30am. Sponsor: Brookings. Speaker: author Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon and Rachel Martin, co-host of NPR’s Morning Edition. 

TRUMP’S IRAN ESCALATION. 4/29, Noon-1:15pm. Sponsor: Carnegie Endowment. Speakers: General David Petraeus, Former Director, CIA; William J. Burns, President, Carnegie Endowment; Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy and Energy Security and Climate Initiative, Brookings; Moderator: Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment.

JUMP-STARTING AMERICA: HOW BREAKTHROUGH SCIENCE CAN REVIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH AND THE AMERICAN DREAM. 4/29, 12:15-1:30pm. Sponsor: Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE). Speakers:Jonathan Gruber,Ford Professor of Economics, MIT; Simon Johnson,Senior Fellow, PIIE. STREAMING ONLY.

MAXIMUM PRESSURE: IRAN IN THE AGE OF TRUMP. 4/29, 12:45pm. Sponsor: SAIS, JHU. Speakers: Dina Esfandiary, International Security Program Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center; Ali Vaez '11, Director of Iran Program, International Crisis Group; Moderator: Narges Bajoghli, Middle East Studies Professor, SAIS, JHU. 

BEYOND ISIS: WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE U.S. IN SYRIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST? 4/29, 1:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Speakers: Frances Z. Brown, Fellow, Carnegie; Hassan Hassan, Director, Program on Non-State Actors in Fragile Environments, Center for Global Policy; Jomana Qaddaour, Doctoral Candidate, Law Center, GTU; Nicholas A. Heras, Fellow, Middle East Security Program, CNAS; Dr. Mara Karlin, Director, Strategic Studies Program, SAIS, JHU; Brian Katz, Visiting Fellow, CSIS; Kenneth Pollack, Resident Scholar, AEI; Ilan Goldenberg, Director and Senior Fellow, Middle East Security Program, CNAS. 

WOMEN AND MARKET MECHANISMS IN NORTH KOREA. 4/29, 2:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Mr. H. Andrew Schwartz, Chief Communications Officer, CSIS; Ms. Suzanne Scholte, Chair, North Korea Freedom Coalition; Ms. Amy Lehr, Director, Human Rights Initiative, CSIS; Dr. Victor Cha, Senior Adviser and Korea Chair, CSIS; D.S. Song-KF Professor of Government, GTU; Dr. Andrew Yeo, Associate Professor and Director of Asian Studies, Catholic University of America; Ms. Olivia Enos, Policy Analyst, Asian Studies Center, Heritage Foundation; Ms. Suzanne Scholte, North Korea Freedom Coalition; Ms. Lee, Hyo-joo, North Korean Escapee with Experience as Wholesale Market Vendor and Diesel Oil Trader; Ms. Park, Ji-hye, North Korean Escapee with Experience as Rice and Corn Trader; Ms. Heo, Cho-hee, North Korean Escapee with Experience as Small Consumer Goods Trader; Ms. Kim, Ji-young, North Korean Escapee. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Drive-by Summits


by Dan Sneider, Stanford University, Associate Editor Nelson Report, APP member

This week's Tokyo Report will focus on two summit meetings - the Kim-Putin encounter in Vladivostok earlier today (April 25) and the Abe-Trump meeting at the White House tomorrow (April 26). Both summits fall more into the realm of symbolism than substance but neither are without significance. Let's start with the events on the Pacific rim - and a reminder that your correspondent comes to this from a deep involvement with Russia, beginning with four years as Moscow Bureau Chief for The Christian Science Monitor and continuing today to regular visits to Russia. I have a long acquaintance with Vladivostok, having first visited the Pacific port in 1990 as one of the first American correspondents to go there after the previously closed city was opened to foreigners.

In recent years, I went there twice, including lecturing at the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), where the Kim-Putin summit took place, and carrying out a study of regional cooperation in the Russian Far East. I joined my son, who is the Moscow correspondent of The Economist, in a reporting trip that took us to rundown border crossings with China and a glittering Chinese-built casino outside of Vladivostok, as well as conversations with local officials who manage the railway line to the Russian docks at the North Korean warm water port at Rajin.

A visit by Kim Jong Un to Russia has been rumored, and even planned, many times over the last few years. Both Moscow and Pyongyang were interested in a meeting, which would have been the first between Putin and Kim, but it was never a high priority for either leader. What finally took place was a Russian version of a drive-by summit - not a grand official visit to Moscow, with all the pomp and circumstance that entails, but a short train hop across the border to Vladivostok for Kim.

For Putin, the Vladivostok summit was a stopover at one his favorite haunts - the beautiful modern campus of the Far Eastern Federal University spread out along the shores of Russky island, built to host the 2012 APEC summit - on his way to a far more strategically important summit in Beijing of China's Belt and Road Initiative. Putin had already moved on to Beijing by the night, leaving Kim to wander around Vladivostok on his own for a day - a charming and historic city that is highly recommended for all global travelers!

The two men spent a couple of hours together, followed by a meeting with senior officials, and then by an official banquet. Only Putin talked to the gathered media. Kim presumably had little to say, especially compared to his loquacious appearance in Hanoi. There was no joint statement, no formal declarations, no announcements of new economic projects, no diplomatic initiatives. No hugs were exchanged - from the body language to the imagery of the meetings, it was a somewhat formal affair. So why hold this drive-by summit?

For Kim, the decision to finally go, but not too far, to Russia has a transparent logic. He is now engaged in a somewhat desperate attempt to recover the bargaining leverage that was squandered in Hanoi. He is eager to remind the United States, China, and even South Korea, that he can still command a world stage. Kim may have hoped as well for some sign that Moscow was prepared to ease economic sanctions - there has been some of that taking place in unofficial fashion, mainly in the form of allowing North Korean coal exports to be transshipped via Russian Far Eastern ports and some sales of oil.

Very important to North Korea's thirst for hard currency are the remittances of North Korean workers who at one point reached the level of 40,000 plus in Russia. These are no longer just the North Koreans sealed off in labor camps doing forestry work - a legacy of Soviet days - but North Korean construction workers whose work ethic and honesty (and low wages) make them the favored choice for Russians remodeling their apartments in Vladivostok or building a new dacha. Russia has cut back their numbers greatly as part of UN sanctions enforcement but at least 10,000 or more remain. Pyongyang was seeking to keep them in place and there is great demand for them in the labor-short Russian Far East.

For Putin, North Korea mainly is viewed within the broader context of the less than successful effort to promote its role as a global player and also as a Pacific power, an age-old Russian obsession. The location of the meeting at FEFU, which is the symbol of the hopes for development of the Russian Far East, was deliberate. Out in the region, though, there is a healthy dose of cynicism about this. Little money is coming from Moscow these days, with regional authorities encouraged to seek investment from China, South Korea and Japan. The business with North Korea is a minor part of that. There is no pot of gold waiting for Kim in Russia.

Russia of course wants to be part of the diplomatic game, which is formalized in its participation in the six-party talks, which exist in name only. But Putin's main focus is on China, whose dominance in the Korean peninsula is readily acknowledged by Moscow. Putin, in his comments after the Kim meeting, did not really call for resuming the six party talks as some misreported. He was more precise in saying that the structure could play a role in providing a broader security guarantee for any deals reached bilaterally - in fact, the role it played before.

"I don't know if we should resume six-party talks right now, but if we get to the point where we will have to come up with guarantees for [North Korea], we will certainly need international guarantees," Putin told reporters.

For an excellent analysis of Russian policy, I recommend very highly the writings of Alexander Gabuev and Dmitri Trenin of Carnegie's Moscow Center. In an analysis published ahead of the summit, Bad Cop, Mediator or Spoiler: Russia’s Role on the Korean Peninsula, Gabuev writes:
The summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the Russian city of Vladivostok brings Moscow back into the diplomatic game focused on the Korean Peninsula. This symbolic breakthrough aside, however, Russia doesn't have a very strong hand among all the global and regional powers involved in the crisis resolution. The tools Russia has at its disposal are too limited to have an impact on the calculations and behavior of North Korea or the U.S. As asymmetry in the Sino-Russian entente gradually grows in China's favor, Moscow is increasingly receptive to Beijing's agenda and prepared to play bad cop in an unofficial division of labor on the Korean Peninsula. Russia could, however, be an indispensable partner in a broader conversation on security mechanisms in Northeast Asia, including offensive missiles and missile defense systems. The current lack of this broader conversation makes a solution to the North Korean nuclear issue less likely, if not impossible. 
In the short term, there were only a few visible crumbs on the table for Kim Jong Un to dine upon. Putin referred to the long-discussed project, heavily promoted by South Korea, to create rail and pipeline links that would run up through the peninsula into Russia, allowing rail freight to be transshipped on the Trans-Siberian and bringing Russian natural gas to South Korea.

As TASS reported it:

"I spoke about it before. It is not the first year we have been talking about it," the President said, answering a question about possible joint projects between Russia and two Koreas. "In particular this includes a direct rail link between the south of the Korean Peninsula, the north, and Russia, with access to the Trans-Siberian Railway. This also includes the possibility of laying pipelines, if we talk about oil and gas and possible construction of new power lines," the Russian leader said.

Putin also made clear that these projects will have to await a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, on which Moscow remains firm in its own belief that dismantlement is the only acceptable final outcome. As is his custom, Putin did not miss an opportunity to take a shot along the way at the U.S. and its security presence in the region, again as reported by TASS.

"All this is possible. Moreover, in my opinion, it is in the interests of the Republic of Korea. But there seems to be a lack of sovereignty in making final decisions, there are some allied obligations of the Republic of Korea to the US, and at some point everything stops," the Russian leader noted. "If these projects and the similar ones were implemented, this would create necessary conditions for building trust, which is so needed for solving the key issues."

The only thing left was a hint that Moscow would allow some North Korean workers to remain in Russia - "those Korean laborers work well in Russia, they're diligent, law-abiding people" - by possibly trying to exploit the loophole in UN sanctions allowing for humanitarian aid. Russian press reports make it clear that Moscow is ready to support an easing of sanctions at the UN, but it will not act unilaterally, except in very marginal ways.

It is not much yield for a summit, but then again, there was not much invested either in this drive-by summit. Not even the class schedule at FEFU was disrupted, so no loss there. One hopes that Comrade Kim, as Putin nostalgically referred to him, will enjoy his visit to the metropolis of Vladivostok. Maybe next visit, he can spare some time for a trip to the marbled gaming rooms at the Ho family casino in the woods outside the city, where Chinese high rollers go to lose their money to the beautiful Russian lady blackjack dealers.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo will be in DC for his own version of a quick visit/summit - he stops on his way from Europe, and will also visit Canada. Trade negotiators Lighthizer and Motegi met again today in DC (see elsewhere in the Nelson Report for updates on this) and there is still talk of a quick path to a trade deal. But your correspondent, based on touching base with veteran Japanese political reporters back in Tokyo, would guess that Abe's mind, not unlike that of our own Supreme Leader, is focused like a laser on his own domestic political situation.

Everything is heading toward a possible double election in July - the Upper House has a schedule vote for part of its seats but Abe is increasingly inclined to dissolve the Lower House in hopes of not only increasing voter turnout, which he believes will favor the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties, but perhaps set him up to extend his time in office beyond current plans to leave in 2021. The opposition parties are accelerating their own talks aimed at a partial merger in preparation for this vote, well aware that the split in their ranks almost guarantees an easy LDP victory.

The double loss suffered by the LDP in the by-elections for two open Lower House seats in Okinawa and Osaka had some negative impact for Abe - it cracked a bit the six-year long myth of invincibility that he so carefully cultivates. That myth is important not only for keeping the opposition confined to the role of gadflies but perhaps more crucially in restraining the ambitions of those inside the LDP who are eager to have their own turn in power. But the election losses were too driven by local issues - bases in Okinawa, the call to merge the city and prefectural governments of Osaka, a la Tokyo - to be seen as harbingers of a national trend. Even though there has been turmoil in Tokyo with the resignation of two gaffe prone and incompetent members of Abe's cabinet, this does not seem to have harmed his poll ratings.

All this makes Abe more likely to go for double elections, confident that even with higher turnout, the voters will not be in a mood to punish him. But in Japanese political culture, there has to be an ostensible reason to call an early election. One idea was to reach a territorial deal with Moscow and call the election to ratify that diplomatic triumph. But that seems out of reach now, thanks to Putin.

This leaves the tried and true - it was used before for the same purpose - gambit of delaying the planned hike in the value added tax to 10 percent in October. The Finance Ministry is opposed of course, as are some in the business community and even within the LDP, where fiscal policy concerns remain strong. But the signs of a slowdown in the economy are feeding the argument that a tax hike at this time could send the economy into recession. So Abe can plausibly portray himself as coming to the relief of poor Japanese consumers and households. Of course, many will see this - justifiably - as a cynical ploy. But that is not likely to stop Abe.

That brings us to tomorrow's meeting in DC. Whatever the ostensible agenda is said to be - or what the Japanese media is told by the Prime Minister's Office and dutifully reports as if it is true - the actual purpose of this meeting, and the current tour of Europe, is to show off Abe as the irreplaceable leader of a Japan that is again emergent on the world scene. That includes Japan as the leader and defender of the liberal world order and the internal trading system. So a bad trade deal, one that does not reinforce the TPP and remove the threat of auto sanctions, is not in Abe's interest.

Abe's political future is now linked to the new Imperial era going forward and the showcase for that is to be the official visit of Trump to Japan in late May, for the first audience of the new Emperor with a foreign visitor, and other dog and pony show moments (Sumo tournaments, a visit to Japan's own de facto aircraft carrier, soon to be equipped with American-made F35B short take and landing jets, and whatever else they can come up with). That will be followed in June by hosting the G20 meeting in Osaka. The meeting with Trump is all to prepare for this "grand political gala in May/June," as a veteran Japanese journalist told me, "as long as Trump behaves."

And that, as is always the case, is the rub.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Monday in Washington, April 22, 2019

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UNDERSTANDING CLIMATE RELATED PHYSICAL RISK. 4/22, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: CSIS. Speaker: Trevor Houser, Partner, Rhodium Group, co-director, Climate Impact Lab. Location: CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Ave., NW.

US-CHINA DIPLOMACY: 40 YEARS OF WHAT’S WORKED AND WHAT HASN’T. 4/22,10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Ryan Hass, David M. Rubenstein Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, John L. Thornton China Center; Wendy Cutler, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia Society Policy Institute; Amb. David Shear, Senior Advisor, McLarty Associates; Dennis Wilder, Assistant Professor of Practice, GTU, and Managing Director, Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues; Moderator: James Green, Senior Research Fellow, Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues, GTU.

THE SIMON ABUNDANCE INDEX: A NEW WAY TO MEASURE AVAILABILITY OF RESOURCES. 4/22, 11:00-12:30pm. Sponsor: CATO. Speakers: David M. Simon, Lawyer, Eimer Stahl LLP, Chicago; Gale Pooley, Associate Professor of Business Management, Brigham Young University; George Gilder, Investor, writer, economist, techno-utopian, and author of Life after Google; Moderator: Marian L. Tupy, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, CATO.

THE FUTURE OF AFGHANISTAN: ONGOING NEGOTIATIONS AND THE ROLE OF REGIONAL PARTNERS. 4/22, 11:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Daud Khattak, Senior Editor, Radio Mashaal, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty; Ambassador Omar Samad, Nonresident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council; Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia, Wilson Center; Moderator: Fatemeh Aman, Nonresident Senior Fellow, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council.

EARTH DAY: THE ETHICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE. 4/22, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Elliott School of International Affairs, GW. Speaker: Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute (WRI).

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NO GREAT WALL: TRADE, TARIFFS, AND NATIONALISM IN REPUBLICAN CHINA, 1927-1945. 4/22, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speaker: Felix Boecking, author, Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese Economic and Political History, University of Edinburgh, UK, Fellow, Wilson Center; 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, George Washington University. PURCHASE BOOK:

NEW DYNAMICS OF ENERGY SECURITY. 4/22, 4:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics. Speaker: Dr. Sara Vakhshouri, Founder and President of SVB Energy International.

WORLD CLASS: A CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR DR. WILLIAM A. HASELTINE, 4/22, 5:00-6:00pm. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: John R. Allen, President, Brookings; William A. Haseltine, Trustee, Brookings, and Author of World Class: A Story of Adversity, Transformation, and Success at NYU Langone Health; Paul B. Ginsburg, Director, USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Two Roads Ahead For U.S.-Japan Trade Talks

USTR Robert Lighthizer
The preview is also the postview...

By Daniel Sneider : Lecturer, International Policy at Stanford University and APP member
First published in Toyokeizai Online, April 16, 2019

When Japan's top trade negotiator Motegi Toshimitsu meets his American counterpart, Robert Lighthizer, this week in Washington, to begin Japan-U.S. trade talks, there are two possible roads that the two men can take.

One road is a freeway leading to a quick deal, one that can be reached even as soon as later this month when Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is scheduled to head to Washington for his own meeting with President Donald Trump. The second road is a slower path along a longer route to a deal, perhaps, somewhere farther down the road.

The first road is faster, but more dangerous. The second is slower, but perhaps safer, although to be honest, there is no really safe road when you are driving in Trump Country.

Before we describe these two roads, it is important to set out the current state of trade discussions between the two countries. The reality is that since a joint declaration was issued between the U.S. and Japan last September declaring the start of negotiations, there has been no movement towards talks.

The April 15-16 meeting in Washington marks the first time that Motegi and Lighthizer will actually sit down and begin to shape what an agreement might actually look like.

The talks were first delayed by the government shutdown in the U.S. But even under the best circumstances, Japan is low on the list of priorities facing U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer. He has been managing a series of more important trade issues - beginning with still pending Congressional passage of the replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Talks with Europe on a broad trade pact are also high on the agenda. But most of all, the negotiations with China absorb the attention of USTR and Trump himself. Those talks are reportedly making progress but a quick deal, which has been repeatedly reported, has yet to be realized.

At this moment, "the Americans are still dedicating all their efforts to conclude the negotiations with China," Brookings Institution East Asia economy expert Mireya Solis told me. "Motegi and Lighthizer will use their first meeting to define the scope of the bilateral talks," she predicts.

"My sense is that Bob [Lighthizer] is pretty much completely engaged with China at the moment," trade guru Clyde Prestowitz, a former USTR negotiator with close ties to Lighthizer, agrees. "I doubt he's had time to really think through the Japanese discussions."

The Abe administration keeps insisting that this is a negotiation on a "Trade Agreement on goods (TAG)," hoping to avoid describing this as a broad, bilateral Free Trade Agreement that covers everything from tariff issues to services, even currency questions. The Trump administration just as clearly dismisses that term - and points out that the September statement makes clear that this will cover "other key areas including services."

Despite his claim, Abe has already conceded to the concept of a broader agreement that could include issues such as customs procedures and even currency levels. The question to be answered is what does Japan get in return.

The big issue for Tokyo is to remove the Trump threat to impose 25 percent tariffs on automobile exports to the U.S., on national security grounds, under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Another goal is to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum that Japan has been under since last year.

Japan has some crucial leverage with Trump. The administration is under mounting pressure from agricultural producers and their representatives in Congress. Meat producers are rapidly losing market share to competitors from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere since the new Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, the TPP-11, went into effect on January 1. Canadian beef exports to Japan tripled and Japanese imports from the TPP countries has grown by 60 percent.

There is also the impact of the Japan-EU partnership agreement which also reduces tariffs for European exports of wine, cheese and other products to Japan. Lighthizer told a congressional hearing recently that he felt "a great urgency over negotiations with Japan" as the TPP and EU partnership deals take effect.

In the September joint statement, the Japanese government very cleverly linked a readiness to an agreement that would increase jobs in the auto sector in the U.S. to an agricultural deal in which the TPP and EU agreements would set the "maximum level" for access to Japan's market. For Japan that means they are ready to give the U.S. the same concessions - but not more - that they have given to the TPP members and Europe.

The Fast Road to a Trade Deal
This has led to some speculation that Lighthizer might seek an early agreement on agricultural market issues, leaving the rest of the issues to be negotiated later. There is a political logic for this on both sides - for Trump it would be to claim a clear and visible 'victory' of great utility in certain states such as Iowa.

Abe has his own domestic politics to worry about - an election for the Upper House of the Diet in July, or even possibly a double election that would include the entire lower house. Given the relatively positive outcome of the local elections so far, Abe may not feel as much pressure now for a double election. But he is still facing difficult circumstances politically.

The Japanese economy is slowing down, largely due to the slowdown in China, and when the first quarter numbers are released in May, they may show an end to the long period of growth in Japan. Abe's efforts to produce a diplomatic triumph with a territorial and peace treaty deal with Russia are looking increasingly daunting due to Moscow's tough position.

So, a lot may hang on a planned Trump visit in late May, where he will be the first foreign leader to be received by the new Emperor. That would be followed by the G20 meeting in June hosted by Japan. Abe's visit to the US later this month is intended to smooth the path toward the May visit and the G20 gathering.

These events seem to lend weight to the idea of an early deal on trade with the U.S. But the rules of the World Trade Organization bar a deal that focuses on only one sector like agriculture. And for Japan, if a deal does not include a lifting of the threat of auto tariffs, something that would have huge impact on the Japanese economy with clear political ramifications, there is little incentive to make such a bargain at this point.

Former White House trade and economic policy advisor Matthew Goodman, a respected expert on Japan trade, believes that a broader version of a quick deal is possible. Abe could offer Trump the same market access on agriculture as TPP and EU exporters and some gestures on the auto front such as relaxing regulations on certification of cars for the Japanese market.

This could be paired with increased purchases of U.S. natural gas and weapons so that Trump could point to gains on the bilateral trade imbalance. He might even allow some language on currency issues that is similar to the US-Mexico-Canada agreement.

This kind of fast road deal might have some attraction to American business interests - not only agricultural producers but also some in the auto industry who oppose the imposition of tariffs. And it could satisfy even those American firms who are more interested in other areas such as services, digital technology and trade, and health industries and who advocate a comprehensive agreement.

The slow road and the Trump problem
A fast road deal is not out of the question. The problem lies with Donald Trump who has a fixed idea about automobiles and wants to see a significant cut back in the level of Japanese auto shipments to the U.S., which are now at around 1.7 million cars a year. Trump wants to force a large shift in auto production to the U.S. - and is ready to set quotas for the level of Japanese auto exports, a defacto voluntary restraint agreement of the kind the Trump administration forced on South Korea for steel.

The Abe administration would love to come up with a deal that can satisfy Trump's need to declare victory without undermining the Japanese economy, or Abe's own political future. That means no additional access on agriculture than what is already given in TPP and no auto export restrictions.

"Japan's preferred outcome would be for the Americans to altogether forego 232 actions (very unlikely)," says Brookings' Solis, "and they are bound to reject quotas that reduce their exports to the U.S."

That may mean a slower path to negotiation, one that does not initially involve Trump. Neither Motegi or Lighthizer are eager to bring the Japan trade talks to a level that will get the attention of President Trump, which brings with it all sorts of unpredictable and uncontrollable elements.

"I think Lighthizer and Motegi have a common concern which is to keep things below the Trump radar," says Prestowitz. Lighthizer is already struggling to keep Trump from blowing up the talks with China and is not eager right now to also have to deal with Trump when it comes to Japan.

That may not be easy. "Lighthizer isn't interested in Japan and would do a deal today if he could," says Goodman. "But of course, it's up to Trump, and he's got such a bee in his bonnet about cars that he may not take what I still think would be a good deal."

Any deal with Trump is perilous. The unstable American president has been threatening to impose tariffs on Mexico over immigration policy, ignoring promises he made in the new NAFTA pact. Trump, in short, cannot be trusted to keep his word. Whether it is a fast road or a slow road, Abe is facing some difficult choices in the coming weeks.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Film Screening: Silence


Friday, April 19, 2019 from 12:30-3:30 PM

Fairfax County Government Building
12000 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035

WCCW is pleased to bring a free screening of Silence by Korean-Japanese director Park Soonam as a commemoration of the 5th anniversary the Comfort Women Memorial Peace Garden in Fairfax, Virginia. It is a vivid and down to earth testimony of the history. Director Park spent 20 years making this documentary in Japan.

Two-hour film screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Producer and Editor
Ms. Park Mayeu, daughter of Director Park Soonam.

          12:45 PM -- Seated in the auditorium
          1:00 PM -- Film Screening
          3:00 PM -- Panel Discussion: Park Maeui, Prof. Eunah Lee (St. Joseph's College-New York), Prof. Jungah Kim (CUNY: Borough of Manhattan Community College), Dr. Jungsil Lee (George Washington Univ.)
           3:45 PM -- Reception

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Monday in Washington, April 15, 2019

2019 ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING. 4/15, 9:00am-3:30pm. Sponsor: Arms Control Association. Speakers: Ambassador Richard Burt, Former U.S. Diplomat and Negotiator on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and U.S. Chair, Global Zero; Thomas Countryman, Former Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and Chair of the Board, Arms Control Association; Joan Rohlfing, Chief Operating Officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative; Heather Hurlburt, Director of the New Models of Policy Change, New America; Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Founder of Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS), Member of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors; Admiral Michael Mullen, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Bonnie Docherty, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch, Arms Division; Erin Dumbacher, Program Officer for the Scientific and Technical Affair Program, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI); Amy Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy, Congressional Research Service; Suzanne DiMaggio, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Frank Aum, Senior Expert on North Korea, United States Institute of Peace; Thomas Countryman, Chair of the Board, Arms Control Association; Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MA).

NEW RISKS AND NEW ARMS CONTROL SOLUTIONS: NORTH KOREA, DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES, AND THE NEW ARMS RACE. 4/15, 9:00am-3:30pm. Sponsor: Arms Control Association. Speaker: Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

DECIPHERING THE NAVY’S 2020 BUDGET REQUEST AND SHIPBUILDING PLAN. 4/15, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Heritage Foundation. Speakers: Ronald O’Rourke, Specialist in Naval Affairs, Congressional Research Service; Eric Labs, Senior Analyst for Naval Force and Weapons, Congressional Budget Office; Bryan Clark, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; Jerry Hendrix, Vice President, Telemus Group; Bryan McGrath, Managing Director, The FerryBridge Group LLC; Thomas Callender, Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs, Heritage Foundation.

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INSIDE THE MIND OF LASHKAR-E-TAYYABA. 4/15, 10:30am-Noon. Sponsor: Carnegie Endowment. Speakers: author, Christine Fair, Provost’s distinguished associate professor, Security Studies Program, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Polly Nayak, distinguished fellow, South Asia Program, Stimson Center; Joshua T. White, associate professor, Practice of South Asia Studies and fellow, Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asia Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS.

THE SHRINES OF ISE: ARCHITECTURE AS METAPHOR. 4/15, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Library of Congress. Speaker: Jordan Sand, Professor of Japanese History and Culture, Georgetown University.

U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN ASIA: A CONVERSATION WITH SINGAPORE’S MINISTER OF FINANCE HENG SWEE KEAT. 4/15, 3:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: John R. Allen, President, Brookings; Heng Swee Keat, Minister of Finance, Republic of Singapore; Jonathan Stromseth, Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asian Studies, and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, John L. Thornton China Center.

AN ACTION AGENDA FOR LEGAL PATHWAYS TO DEEP DECARBONIZATION IN THE UNITED STATES. 4/15, 3:30-5:30pm. Sponsor: Environmental Law Institute. Speakers: William K. Reilly, Former EPA Administrator; Scott Fulton, President, ELI; John C. Dernbach, Commonwealth Professor of Environmental Law and Sustainability, Widener University Commonwealth Law School; Michael B. Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Law School; Kit Kennedy, Senior Director, Climate and Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council; Peter Lehner, Senior Strategic Advisor and Senior Attorney, Earthjustice; Charles (Chuck) Sensiba, Partner, Troutman Sanders LLP; Moderator: Rachel Jean-Baptiste, Director of Communications & Publications, ELI.

BLOCKCHAIN 2035: THE DIGITAL DNA OF INTERNET 3.0. 4/15, 4:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speakers: Jared C. Tate, Founder, DigiByte; Andrew D. Knapp, CEO and founder, VESTi Inc.

PRINCIPLED AGENTS: REFLECTIONS ON CENTRAL BANK INDEPENDENCE. 4/15, 5:30-6:45pm. Sponsor: Peterson Institute. Speaker: Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of South African Reserve Bank. Webcast.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Monday in Washington, April 8, 2019

SSANSE PROJECT: SYMPOSIUM ON RUSSIA AND CHINA'S POLITICAL INTERFERENCE ACTIVITIES IN NATO SMALL STATES. 4/8, 9:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Neringa Bladaitė, University of Vilnius; Anne-Marie Brady, Wilson Center, University of Canterbury; Donald J. Jensen, Center for European Policy Analysis; Ryan Knight, GTU; Martin Hála, Charles University; Margarita Šešelgytė, University of Vilnius; Khamza Sharifzoda, GTU; Mark Stokes, 2049 Project; Alan Tidwell, GTU; Baldur Thorhallson, University of Iceland; Moderator: Abe Denmark, Asia Program, Wilson Center.

THE POLITICAL ECOLOGY OF CATASTROPHIC DISASTERS VERSUS SLOW VIOLENCE: THINKING ABOUT THE IMPACTS OF THE XE PIAN XE NAMNOY HYDROPOWER DAM IN SOUTHERN LAOS. 4/8, Noon-1:30pm, Lunch. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speakers: Ian G. Baird, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Brian Eyler, Director, South East Asia Program, Stimson Center.

THE WEAPONIZATION OF SOCIAL MEDIA. 4/8, 12:15-1:15pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics. Speaker: Ethan Burger, Washington-based International Legal Consultant and Educator, and Adjunct Professor, Institute of World Politics.

AMERICAN AND RUSSIAN PUBLIC OPINION. 4/8, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Lily Wojtowicz, Research Associate, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Denis Volkov, Head of Applied Research, Levada Center; Stepan Goncharov, Senior Research Fellow, Levada Center; Jeffrey Mankoff, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, CSIS.

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CHINA'S INFLUENCE ACTIVITIES: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE US-TAIWAN RELATIONSHIP. 4/8, 4:00-5:15pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Bi-khim Hsiao, Legislator, Legislative Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan); Michael Mazza, Visiting Fellow, Foreign & Defense Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute; Barry Pavel, Senior Vice President, Arnold Kanter Chair, and Director, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council.

COLD WAR DEMOCRACY: THE UNITED STATES AND JAPAN. 4/8, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: author Jennifer Miller, Assistant Professor of History, Dartmouth College; Moderator: Christian F. Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nucleaclr Proliferation International History Project, Wilson Center.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Comfort Women Deniers on View

Thursday, April 04, 2019, 18:30 - 21:30
One of Asia's most incendiary issues gets a must-see cinematic investigation
Sneak Preview Screening:04042019 Shusenjo 356p  No Man Producions LLC
"Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue"
followed by a Q&A session with director Miki Dezaki
Thursday, April 4 at 6:30 pm
In Japanese, English and Korean with Japanese and English subtitles
USA, 2018 122 minutes 
Directed and edited by: Miki Dezaki
Produced by: Miki Dezaki and Momoko Hata
Featuring: Yoshiko Sakurai, Mio Sugita, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Koichi Nakano, Kent Gilbert,
Tony Marano, Nobukatsu Fujioka, Mina Watanabe, Setsu Kobayashi, Hirofumi Hayashi and more
Film courtesy of Tofoo LLC
Unless you're the member of a neo-nationalist group with ties to Japan, you have probably not heard of Miki Dezaki, the Japanese-American teacher who raised uyoku (far-right) ire by posting a video about racism in Japan on YouTube. Rather than ducking for cover as the harassment and death threats continued, Dezaki decided to meet the challenge head-on.
He spent the next several years amassing the type of balanced, in-depth reporting that was once the purview of the news media. On his own dime, he criss-crossed the globe, meeting with a wide-ranging group of experts and eyewitnesses, gathering footage from milestone events dating back to before WWII, even conducting man-on-the-street-style interviews, and then he edited it all into a comprehensive, comprehensible whole.
Dezaki's debut documentary is boldly - and aptly - titled "Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue." As it lays out its complicated timeline of acceptance of facts and increasingly aggressive denials, it takes the audience on an amazing, deep dive into this most contentious of disputes between Japan and Korea, this "gross human rights violation" that has also impacted the lives of women in China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, East Timor and Micronesia.
By casting himself as the lead inquisitor and seeker of understanding, and by patiently countering arguments on both sides of the ideological divide, Dezaki helps us all see just how little we actually knew of the issue. Were all comfort women "sexual slaves?" What does "coercive recruiting" really mean? Does the often-inconsistent testimony of the elderly victims even matter? Does Japan have a legal responsibility to apologize? Are the Chinese paying for those comfort women statues in California? Where the hell is the smoking gun? Why are venerable newspapers like the Japan Times "redefining" their vocabulary around the issue? And what does it all have to do with Shinzo Abe's march to remilitarize Japan?
As the film's surprising confessions and revelations start coming, "Shusenjo" deconstructs the dominant narratives and uncovers the hidden intentions of both supporters and detractors, revealing that few are innocent of fanning the flames of outrage. That Dezaki has managed to de-sensationalize this social flashpoint is just one of the many reasons that "Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue" is a must-see work.
Please join us for this important sneak preview and Q&A with the director, prior to the film's opening on April 20 at Theater Image Forum in Shibuya.
For more on the film:
For Japanese:
MIKI DEZAKI is a graduate of the Global Studies Graduate Program at Sophia University. He worked for the Japan Exchange Teaching Program for five years in Yamanashi and Okinawa before becoming a Buddhist monk in Thailand for a year. As "Medamasensei," he posted numerous comedy and social issues videos on YouTube. His video "Racism in Japan," discussing zainichi Koreans and burakumin outcasts, led to relentless online attacks by Japanese neo-nationalists. "Shusenjo" is an outgrowth of those attacks. Dezaki's directorial debut, it had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in 2018.
Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.