Saturday, May 25, 2019

Repairing the Past

Comfort Women before US House
of Representatives 2007
Recent attempts at reparations show that World War II is not over 

by Timothy Webster is an Associate Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University
First appeared in The Conversation, May 23, 2019.

World War II ended in 1945.

But the world has never stopped debating its legacy and how to make restitution for the damage done to the war’s victims. Consider some recent events.

In February, the Holocaust Deportation Claims Program, which compensates Jewish survivors of Nazi death camps transported on French trains, doubled its compensation payments, from US$200,000 to nearly $400,000. This makes it the most generous of any of the recent compensatory programs worked out by U.S. and European governments. This one is paid for by the French government, but administered by the U.S. State Department.

In March, a South Korean trial court ordered the seizure of property owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation in South Korea. Such efforts are apparently needed to enforce a November judgment by the South Korean Supreme Court, ordering Mitsubishi to pay $100,000 to each of five Koreans who performed forced labor during the war.

Whether the Koreans will ever see that money, or die before the forfeiture action is completed, remains up in the air.

These are among the latest manifestations of global efforts to review, revise, repair and remember the war – akin to the Nuremberg or Tokyo War Crimes Trials - but for the 21st century.

RESTORING HUMAN DIGNITY
In the 1990s, a renewed interest in human rights, greater access to historical materials and a less polarized international political environment converged to spur reflection on World War II.
In the United States, civil lawsuits emerged as one tool, among many, to probe wartime human rights violations.

Federal courts in New Jersey, New York and California presided over cases against Swiss banks, French insurers, German corporations and even the Austrian government.
Plaintiffs sought wages for unpaid labor, return of looted art, restitution of bank accounts and other assets, and the restoration of their human dignity.

Two cases ended up in the United States Supreme Court. One, in which an elderly refugee mounted a lawsuit to recover family artwork seized by the Nazis, got a Hollywood ending. In “Woman in Gold,” Ryan Reynolds helps Helen Mirren sue Austria to recover a painting by Gustav Klimt.
Most cases did not follow the Hollywood script. Plaintiffs generally lost, either because the claims were too old or already resolved by postwar treaties.

SELECTIVE LEADERSHIP
But that did not dispel the pressure from Jewish organizations or human rights activists to provide reparations.

During President Bill Clinton’s second term (1996-2000), the U.S. government, led by Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, worked with European allies to craft international agreements and reparations mechanisms.

Germany set up a $5 billion fund to compensate wartime forced laborers and slave laborers, and to support projects on history and human rights.

Later, the State Department set up additional programs, including the 2016 Holocaust Deportation Claims Program. The French government still runs the Commission for Reparations of Victims of Spoliation, established in 1999 to process claims about seized property and art.

In East Asia, survivors of World War II human rights abuses have had their day (decades, actually) in court.

Chinese victims of wartime medical experimentation, Korean forced laborers and Filipina “comfort women,” among others, have sued Japan and the Japanese government throughout the Asia-Pacific, including the United States.

But instead of using these lawsuits to reevaluate Japan’s role in World War II – as other programs did for European countries – the U.S. government has either absented itself from these discussions, or challenged the lawsuits on various grounds.

The moral leadership that yielded transatlantic solutions to war responsibility issues in Europe dissolved when the topic emerged in East Asia.

Whereas the Clinton administration, especially Stuart Eizenstat, worked with European officials to set up compensation mechanisms in France, Germany and Switzerland, the administration of President George W. Bush asked U.S. courts to dismiss the East Asian cases.

US SECURITY INTERESTS
South Korea and Japan are America’s closest and most important allies in a region simmering with geopolitical tension, from trade wars with China to nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula. U.S. regional security interests hinge upon the successful coordination of relations among Japan, Korea and the United States.

As an international legal scholar with a background in Asian legal systems, international human rights and international economic law, I believe the United States ignores the Asian tensions over World War II at its peril.

The Obama administration understood this, and tried to persuade both Japan and South Korea to resolve their “difficult historical issues.” Chief among those issues is, of course, making reparations for injuries that Japan visited upon Koreans during the war: from the comfort women system to the forced mobilization of Korean laborers.

But the Trump administration seems unconcerned. It has exhibited indifference or hostility to human rights matters generally, refusing to respond to U.N. investigations about U.S. abuses along the Mexican border, and withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council. Nor does the administration place much stock in international relations or diplomacy, with its attempts to starve the State Department of funding, and belatedly appointing an ambassador to South Korea.

In Asia, civil litigation has emerged as the key method to seek war reparations, though the track record is spotty.

Japanese courts have largely dismissed these suits, although a small handful of Japanese corporations decided to settle the cases and to pay modest amounts of compensation.

That state of affairs changed with recent decisions from the South Korean Supreme Court. The November judgment against Mitsubishi suggests compensation is still possible, at least in certain jurisdictions. Henceforth, Korean courts will almost certainly order other Japanese companies to pay compensation.

But even if plaintiffs win, they might still encounter difficulties enforcing the judgment. Losing Japanese companies may refuse to pay the Korean judgments, requiring Korean courts to seize Japanese assets located in South Korea.

TRANSFORMING THE TRAGIC PAST
The agreements reached in the 1990s and early 2000s by the United States with Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria to provide war reparations are not perfect, but each aspires to transform and repair a tragically forgotten past.

The United States’ failure to do the same in Asia perpetuates a pernicious double standard set after the war.

The United States has the experience, leverage and opportunity to resolve simmering animosities between its allies in Asia, as it did in Europe.

But does it have the ambition?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Trump's Excellent Tokyo Adveture

The Death Bill & Ted Met
HOW TO STAGE A POLICY-FREE OFFICIAL VISIT, JAPANESE STYLE

TOKYO REPORT by Dan Sneider, Stanford University and APP member
First appeared in the Nelson Report, May 22, 2019

If there were an Oscar or a Tony for diplomacy, it should go to Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and his team at the Prime Minister's office. They have managed to stage an official visit by the President of the United States that is almost completely free of serious policy discussion, but laden with policy purpose.

If all goes according to plan - always a big 'if' for any official visit but even more for one involving Donald Trump - this will be a series of visuals that should fill the airwaves of both countries, with barely a hint of a cloud to block the sunny scene. The message of alliance unity, and the equally important nod to the great leadership of both men, will be uninterrupted.

The schedule for the visit is a carefully orchestrated series of message moments. And the first and most important purpose is to showcase the personal relationship between the two men, one cultivated by Abe and the Japanese government to an extent that dwarfs similar efforts by other governments around the globe.

At the core of Abe's care and feeding of Trump is, quite naturally, golf. After Trump's arrival on Saturday May 25, the visit begins on Sunday morning with a round of golf at the Mobara Country Club course in nearby Chiba, accompanied by Japanese golf pro Isao Aoki. The first ladies will head to a nearby art museum for a bit of culture.

Then it is off to the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, now in process, at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo where Trump will present the President's Cup (or by some accounts, the Trump Cup) to the winner. Needless to say, a moment designed not only to promote traditional Japanese culture but also to offer a slimming visual contrast with our own heavyweight. Dinner that evening is at a very nicerobatayaki (traditional Japanese grilled food) in Roppongi (your author admits to having dined there).

Where is the real beef you ask? Well on the next day, there are some talks scheduled, along with a press conference. If there is anything of substance to discuss, it will take place there. "Tokyo will want to talk about some issues - North Korea, US-China trade talks, and perhaps the political prospects ahead for both Abe and Trump," says Sheila Smith of the Council on Foreign Relations, author of a must-read new book, Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power.

But the centerpiece of the trip will be the audience, the first for any foreign leader, with newly installed Emperor Naruhito, a moment redolent with meaning as it is the start of the new Reiwa Imperial era. The Imperial couple will host, as is traditional for state visits, a very formal banquet that evening--no off the cuff moments allowed.

The symbolic significance of this Imperial encounter cannot be underestimated. The Japanese government's central goal in organizing this trip was to make sure that the American president was the first one to see the new Emperor--not, heaven forbid, the Chinese leader who comes next month.

On Tuesday (May 28), on Trump's way out of town, the visual narrative will be all about the US-Japan security alliance and, not accidentally, Japanese arms purchases from the US. Trump will head to the strategic shared naval base at Yokosuka on Tokyo Bay for a visit with US 7th Fleet headquartered there and to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force fleet anchored across the way. [N.B.: Former base of the Imperial Navy]

He will be taken to the Japanese helicopter carrier JS Kaga (DDH-184), which is a de facto flattop (aircraft carrier). [N.B.: Named after the Imperial Navy's aircraft carrier Kaga that led the attack on Pearl Harbor.] It is likely to be equipped with the short take-off and vertical landing version of the F-35 fighter, the F-35B, made in the good old USA.

Is this all about imagery and symbols of alliance? What about the things that really require alliance management--economic and trade relations, Iran, the trade/cold war with China, North Korea?

"Of course, there are substantive questions for the bilateral relationship," the great Japan scholar from MIT, Richard Samuels, told me. "But I don't expect the Japanese to make great efforts to call attention to them. To the contrary. My guess is that this will be an all hands-on deck charm offensive by Abe and the GOJ-- just their latest play to Trump 's outsized vanity.

If it goes well-- and it should because they have practiced this for more than two years-- we will all be able to hear a collective exhale of relief just as soon as Air Force 1 goes wheels up. (And I would guess much of that released hot air will come from the US side, too.)"

Even the White House could not manage to spin this as a substantive visit, though presumably they will try better in next days. But in the background briefing yesterday, a senior administration official admitted that trade, the big bilateral issue on the table, will not be the focus of the visit.

Even in Tokyo, where the media is more dutiful about conveying the briefings of the Prime Minister's office, there is a healthy dose of skepticism behind the scenes.

Japanese journalists know that both men have their eyes firmly fixed on domestic audiences - and on the elections coming up for both of them. For Abe, that means the Upper House elections in late July, and possible dissolution of the entire Lower house for a 'double election.' For Trump, of course, it means the constant campaign.

"It's all show," a veteran Japanese political reporter told me. "It's all about the upcoming election of Upper (and possibly Lower) House. This is a big wining and dining display of omotenashi [hospitality to a guest] toward POTUS in hopes to emphasize PM Abe's status both in Japan and in the world as the closest partner of Trump's. Opinion polls indicate the change of era with the new emperor's enthronement has been working pretty well as tailwind for the sitting PM's administration, as was deliberately planned and choreographed.

The new emperor and POTUS are to be the ideal combo to highlight Abe's irreplaceable leadership to the Japanese audience. There will be no substance in terms of real policy, or at least any unwelcome request from the US side will be hidden until after the election. That should be the deal between these two populist leaders."

Granting the "policy-lite" nature of this visit, as Sheila Smith puts it, what are the messages being sent and where can things go sideways? Let's look at three key areas - trade, defense, and the sideways dangers posed by China and by Iran.

As for North Korea, it may get some visuals in the form of planned meeting by Trump with the families of the abductees--a gift to Abe--but there is actually little to discuss for now on that front. Trump is back to the place Tokyo prefers when it comes to Pyongyang and all that is needed is to make a show of discussion.

KICKING THE TRADE CAN DOWN THE ROAD
Japanese and US working level negotiators met this week in Washington and USTR Bob Lighthizer will be meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi on Saturday (May 25). Despite some loose talk about moving quickly to a deal in the aftermath of the wonderful weekend, perhaps ahead of or alongside the upcoming G20 meeting in Osaka in June, there is no reason to think that is actually happening.

From Tokyo's point of view, there is every reason to drag this process out - not only because of the summer elections in Japan but also because there is no sign that Trump is ready to give Abe what he needs to make a deal. Washington, for its part, is preoccupied with China.

The crux of the matter between Japan and the US is relatively simple. The US wants an early and politically important decision by Japan to give American agricultural producers - mainly beef and pork but also wheat, dairy, wine and other agricultural products - the same reductions in tariffs and greater market access that have been given to the 11 members of the Trans Pacific Partnership and to the EU.

Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and others are already rapidly increasing market share at American expense. Ironically perhaps, the agricultural agreement was negotiated by the Obama administration as part of the TPP which Trump threw out the window on his first day in office. Now the US has the temerity to suggest that Japan has committed a hostile act by implementing that agreement with the other members of the TPP and with the EU.

The Japanese are perfectly happy to give that same access to the US--though not anything more--but only under two important conditions. First it cannot be a one-off separate deal, one that would violate WTO rules. Second, it must be paired with US concessions on autos, namely removing permanently the threat of imposing tariffs on Japanese cars under Section 232, as well as the ongoing tariffs on steel and aluminum exports. Trump has merely postponed the auto threat and that only ensures that talks will continue.

The Japanese mood can best be described as quietly tough. "Tokyo is not in a hurry and has no need to be so," former senior foreign ministry official and prominent Japanese commentator Miyake Kuni told me. "If there would be a deal before or on the side of the G20 summit, there should be a package deal address all the issues, including the U.S. abolishing tariffs newly imposed on steel and aluminum or to be imposed on autos," says Miyake, who directs research at the Canon Institute for Global Studies.

Most analysts believe that the administration trade focus remains firmly fixed on China in any case and Japan is a back-burner issue. Hence its actual non-appearance on the Wonderful Weekend agenda. Still, there is the reality that while Trump may be physically in Tokyo, his mind will be back home.

"I do worry that Trump could go off script in Tokyo," says Jim Schoff, who runs Japan studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The visit is so tightly scheduled that the only place that can occur is at the joint presser--armies of aides on both sides will work overtime to make sure that doesn't happen, if they can.

DEFENSE AND SECURITY TIES ON PARADE
The Japanese government, and Abe personally, wants this visit to showcase the close security ties between the two allies. There will be lots of talk about the shared commitment to "a free and open Indo Pacific," accompanied perhaps by over hyped talk of Japan's readiness to play a broader regional security role. This serves also to deflect attention from the trade front.

But Tokyo's real intent is to head off the threat from Trump to link Japan's alleged free ride on defense to trade issues. One piece of that is to keep talking about Japanese arms purchases - something Trump loves to brag about. There is nothing new to announce but look for Tokyo to rebuy what has already been sold. The Japanese already face difficulties funding the commitments they made to date, Smith points out, "so I don't see a lot of room for more."

More seriously, the US and Japan are already beginning to discuss, ahead of more formal talks, the levels of Japanese contribution to the cost of American forces based in Japan--Host Nation Support as it is called in Japan [N.B.: in Japanese the sympathy budget]. The Japanese are watching the escalating rhetoric from Trump toward South Korea demanding more money and point out they already provide the greatest levels of support of any ally. As Miyake told me, there will be "no new Japanese concessions" on this issue.

The visit to the United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka (横須賀海軍施設 Yokosuka kaigunshisetsu) serves these multiple purposes beautifully--and will offer the kind of television images that Trump revels in showing.

THE ICEBERGS - CHINA AND IRAN
Beneath the placid surface of the Imperial weekend, two icebergs lurk that may show themselves slightly. The most likely one of these is China. Japanese policy makers, and particularly the business community, are growing very alarmed by the prospect of an unending and even escalating trade war with China. While they share important goals with the US regarding China as a market and a competitor, they are already feeling the impact of this trade war on their own economy.

Japan's goods trade surplus dropped a dramatic 90 percent in April from the year previous, largely due to the US-China trade tensions. While growth remained strong in the first quarter, it was due in part to the effect of a slump in imports and showed weakening domestic consumption and business spending. A downturn seems imminent and that has large political implications for Abe heading into summer elections and the looming issue of a scheduled increase in the consumption tax from 8 to 10 percent in the fall.

Japan has already moved to improve relations with Beijing - partly in response to efforts by the Chinese to the same end. Xi will be visiting for the G20 meeting and Abe needs to ensure that gathering will go well.

Then there is Iran. The Iranian foreign minister was in Tokyo last week and the Japanese made clear, again, that they do not support the US decision to upend the nuclear agreement with Iran. Japan has important oil and other economic ties to Iran and has never backed a confrontation with it, though the Japanese government keeps a low-key posture on this compared to European allies.

"The prospect of conflict with Iran and an end to the effort to find a trade agreement with China would have considerably negative consequences for Japan," the CFR's Smith told me. "The overall impact of either of these on the global economy would shake Japan's precarious economic growth, and each on its own impacts considerably Japan's oil and Middle East diplomacy and its relations with China."

This visit would be an opportunity for two allies to have a strategic dialogue, particularly when it comes to China. But don't hold your breath, says Carnegie's Schoff:

"Abe is sympathetic to some of Washington's concerns and even part of its strategy [toward China], but two things are preventing truly productive alliance collaboration on this. First is the poorly thought through, prepared, and coordinated trade and tech policies/penalties Trump is employing, and second is the simultaneous targeting of Japan and the EU for trade concessions under groundless 'national security' pretenses.

That puts Abe on the defensive with Trump and diverts the agenda. Trump only gains politically if he presses Abe hard and publicly, which would undermine all that this trip is supposed to achieve, namely a symbolic reaffirmation of the alliance in the new Reiwa Era."

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE ELECTIONS, STUPID
This brings us back to where we started - in the end, both leaders have domestic politics first and foremost on their minds. The visit is "very important for Abe in terms of his calculus for the upcoming election(s)," the veteran Japanese reporter told me. "For Trump? Maybe. When Abe rushed to greet with Trump right after the presidential election in 2016 and also when Abe paid a courtesy call to Mar-a-Largo in 2017, I think it helped make Trump look like a new president sufficiently respected by foreign leaders."

That is less urgent for Trump now - and there is the competing pressure to look tough on trade. But Abe is counting on the reality that Trump too wants to look presidential at a time when his legitimacy is again under assault back home.

Does this award-winning diplomatic show win elections? "It all depends on the outcome but voters are no fools in both Japan and the U.S.," says Japan's Miyake. "Diplomatic success won't guarantee domestic political victories."


BONUS FROM APP POINTS FOR READING TO THE END

In the week leading up to Trump's weekend great adventure in Japan:

Prior to Trump leaving for Japan, he visited Arlington Memorial Cemetery to pay his respects to the fallen. He will be with Emperor Hirohito's grandson, Naruhito, on Memorial Day. Trump spent 20 minutes placing small flags on three graves from WWI. One was placed on Frank Buckles' tombstone. Buckles at 110 was the longest surviving veteran of WWI. He was also a POW of Japan. He was captured in Manila while on a business trip when the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941. He spent the entire war in the squalid Los Baños Internment Camp.

➧Japan's government asked for official names in the Western press to be family name first. Starting with 19th Century modernization, Japan's leaders wanted to have their names put in Western convention (read "modern"). It was part of the Meiji Restoration's way of turning its back on old man Asia. Foreign Minister Kono said the move was to align the Japanese prime minister with other Asian leaders. Maybe.

Another view is that now Japan is turning its back on old man America. It is also part to Abe's backwards shift to reacquaint the Japanese people with their pre-modern past. The greatest gripe that Abe and his followers have is that the Japanese have become too individualistic, too concerned with personal rights, too Westernized. This view under-grids their desire to amend the Constitution. What better way to remind voters that state and family come before oneself and the West (United States) than to have the foreigners recognize it as well.

➧It appears that Tokyo is hedging its bets and not relying too much in the Abe-Trump bromance to protect itself from the President's trade eruptions, The Japanese government has postponed a decision on Trump's greatest interest in Japan: the where, when, and how of casinos. Trump and friends will have to wait until fall or maybe later for the guidelines designating areas that can host integrated resorts (IR) featuring casinos. The initial plan was to set up a casino management committee during the current Diet session (ends June 26) and release a basic policy in the summer. Tokyo is either wagering Trump will be gone by fall or believes withholding the details of the casino policy is a sufficient inducement for good behavior.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Monday in Washington, May 13, 2019

THE U.S. ARMY HISTORY OF THE IRAQ WAR. 5/13, 9:00-11:00am. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Michael Gordon, Reporter, Wall Street Journal; Peter Bergen, Vice President of Global Studies and Fellows, New America; Kim Dozier, CNN Global Affairs Analyst and Contributor, Daily Beast; Kenneth Pollack, Resident Scholar, AEI; Seth Center, Senior Fellow and Director, Brzezinski Institute's Project on History and Strategy, CSIS.

WE KNOW WHO CAUSED CLIMATE CHANGE. 5/13, 11:00am. Sponsor: Institute for Policy Studies. Speakers: Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; Charles P. Abrahams, Founding Director, Abrahams Kiewitz Incorporated Lawyers, South Africa (joining via Zoom); Basav Sen, Climate Justice Project Director, Institute for Policy Studies. Livestream only

SOLVING THE INDIAN EQUATION: THE EVOLVING AND UNCERTAIN NATURE OF U.S.- INDIA TRADE TIES. 5/13, 11:00am-12:30pm. Sponsors: Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT); Atlantic Council. Speakers: Amb. Richard Verma, Vice Chairman and Partner, Asia Group, and Former U.S. Ambassador to India; Prof. Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics and Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy, Columbia University. First Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog; Mark Linscott, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Senior Advisor Asia Group. Former Asst. USTR for South and Central Asia; Nisha Biswal, President, U.S.-India Business Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Stephan Becker, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; Moderator: Moushami P. Joshi, Attorney, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

INVESTING IN WOMEN FOR A NEW ECONOMIC FUTURE. 5/13, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Kathryn Kaufman, Managing Director for Global Women's Issues, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC); Daniel F. Runde, Senior Vice President; William A. Schreyer Chair and Director, Project on Prosperity and Development, CSIS.

IS THE RISE OF CHINA A THREAT TO THE REST OF US? 5/13, 6:30-8:30pm. Sponsor: Harvard Club of Washington, DC. Speakers: Syaru Shirley Lin, Adjunct Associate Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Harry Harding, Professor of Public Policy, University of Virginia, and Adjunct Chair Professor, College of Social Sciences, National Chengchi University. FEE

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Corregidor, MacArthur, and Japan's New Emperor

This article first appeared in Medium on May 6, 2019.
Staged picture of the Surrender of Corregidor


The 77th Anniversary of the day Corregidor fell was May 6, 1942. It is a history that shadows every Japanese Golden Week and especially last week’s imperial succession ceremonies.

From December 29, 1941 to the end of April 1942, despite incessant Japanese aerial, naval, and artillery bombardment, the men and women on the fortress Island of Corregidor in Manila Bay, which consisted of the 4th Marine Regiment and combined units from the United States Army, the US Navy, and Filipino soldiers, resisted valiantly, inflicting heavy enemy losses in men, ships, and aircraft.

The last week on Corregidor was brutal. The Japanese celebrated Emperor Hirohito’s April 29th birthday by intensifying their shelling. By week’s end, the island’s infrastructure was destroyed, bombing incessant, water scarce, and the invasion begun. The siege of Corregidor had succeeded.

Fearful of a complete annihilation of the more than 12,000 Americans and Filipinos on Corregidor and the three nearby island forts, Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright surrendered all on May 6, 1942. The rest of the Philippines were surrendered over the next month after the Japanese threatened to massacre all the POWs and civilians on Corregidor.

Seventy-seven years later, the 1942 fall of Corregidor still matters. It set the timetable for the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Japan General Douglas MacArthur’s punishment of Japan’s militarists. And thus, it set the Abe Government’s timetable the abdication for Emperor Hirohito’s son, Emperor Akihito, on April 30, 2019 and the ascension of his son, Naruhito, to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019. Abe wanted to expunge an ugly history that MacArthur wanted to embed.

As noted, April 29th was Emperor Hirohito’s birthday. It was a sacred day in wartime Japan. General MacArthur ended that practice and humanized the Emperor. After the War, this date became a holiday to appreciate nature called Greenery Day. In 2007, soon after anti-Japanese riots in China, Greenery Day was replaced by Showa Day to again remember Emperor Hirohito and his reign called Showa. Greenery Day is now held on May 4.

It was no coincidence that General MacArthur chose the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal to begin and the indictments for Tojo and other war criminals to be read on April 29, 1946. MacArthur, commander of all US Army Forces in the Far East, forced to escape Corregidor, remembered bitterly his abandonment of his troops and the fall of Corregidor. MacArthur wanted the Japanese also to feel his loss and to forever associate Hirohito with war crimes. In turn, the Tribunal proceedings began on May 3, which in 1947 the new Japanese Constitution came into effect.

It was also the same thinking that led MacArthur to have General Hideki Tojo and six other Class-A war criminals hanged on December 23, 1948. This day is now-former Emperor Akihito’s birthday and long celebrated as the national day for Japan with Embassy parties worldwide. Akihito, however, is forever reminded of the date’s other history.

MacArthur did not want the Japanese to ever forget what they suffered from their loyalty to their monarchs. And he did not want the emperors to forget the consequences and responsibilities of this power. MacArthur wanted to translate the reverence the Japanese had for their emperors into a deep respect for peace.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has different goals. By sandwiching the Imperial abdication and ascension in between the important dates of April 29 and May 3, Prime Minister Abe hopes to diminish if not erase their historical significance. This is what he means when he declares that he wants to “end Japan’s postwar regime. Abe believes he must and can free Japan from these embedded reminders of the war and all that it wrought. The Prime Minister believes the Japanese people should remember the war years as a happier, simpler, and prouder time.

Yet, in his hubris and revisionist history, Abe misses that MacArthur is still setting down the markers and forcing the timetable in Japan. By maneuvering around MacArthur’s touchstones, Abe simply emphasizes them. They are now the brackets sanctioning imperial succession and the rule of law.

MacArthur’s war history will again loom large over the October 22nd formal coronation of Emperor Naruhito. October 20th, will be the 75th Anniversary of MacArthur’s promised return to the Philippines and the beginning of its liberation from Japanese rule. The last, largest and finally decisive naval battle between the US Fleets in the Pacific and the Japanese Combined Fleet was fought in the Philippines’ Gulf of Leyte from October 23–26, 1944.

Emperor Naruhito, who studied history at Oxford, is likely aware of this history. His father, Emperor Akihito, held his coronation on November 12, 1990, 42 years to the day that General Tojo was sentenced to death. Naruhito’s challenge is to be true to the MacArthur’s lessons and to administering the peace, which is the literal, albeit not official Abe government, translation of the Reiwa Era.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Monday in Washington, May 6, 2019

MUST THE FEDERAL RESERVE RESTRICT ENTRY AND INNOVATION TO ENSURE FINANCIAL STABILITY? 5/6, 9:30am-Noon. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: Bert Ely, Ely & Co.; Andrew Levin, Dartmouth College; Bill Nelson, Bank Policy Institute; Jerry Dwyer, Clemson University; Jamie McAndrews, The Narrow Bank; George Selgin, Cato Institute; Moderator: Paul H. Kupiec, AEI; Oliver Ireland, Morrison & Foerster.

GROWTH IN GLOBAL ARMS TRANSFERS AND MILITARY SPENDING. 5/6, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speakers: Aude Fleurant, Director, Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, SIPRI; Rachel Stohl, Managing Director, Stimson Center.

THE SENKAKU PARADOX: RISKING GREAT POWER WAR OVER SMALL STAKES. 5/6, 10:00-11:15am. Sponsor: CSIS. Speaker: author Dr. Michael O'Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute; Dr. Thomas Karako, Senior Fellow, International Security Program and Director, Missile Defense Project, CSIS.

click to order
KOREA POLICY FORUM: “NORTH KOREA AND MYANMAR: DIVERGENT PATHS”. 5/6, 2:00-4:00pm. Sponsors: GW Institute for Korean Studies; Sigur Center for Asian Studies, GW. Speakers: Andray Abrahamian, 2018-2019 Koret Fellow, Stanford University; Moderator: Jisoo M. Kim, Director, GW Institute for Korean Studies.

CHINA’S ROLE IN NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR AND PEACE NEGOTIATIONS. 5/6, 1:30-3:00pm. Sponsor: US Institute of Peace (USIP). Speakers: Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, Founding Director Emeritus, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, and Former U.S. Ambassador to China; Ambassador Joseph Yun, Senior Advisor, USIP, and Former U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy; Daniel Russel, Vice President, International Security and Diplomacy, Asia Society Policy Institute, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs; Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, President, Korea Economic Institute of America, Former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea; Moderator: Jennifer Staats, Director, East and Southeast Asia Programs, USIP. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

A Comfort Women Legacy



These women in Indonesia were able to avoid being raped and taken to become Comfort Women because their matriarchal tribe understood what the invading Japanese wanted and what they were fearful of. Thus, as young girls they were painfully and extensively tattooed to give the impression that they were already taken, married. The Japanese did not question why such young girls were already married. So much history here.

Monday Asia Events, September 21, 2020

GLOBAL CHINA: EXAMINING CHINA’S APPROACH TO GLOBAL GOVERNANCE AND NORMS. 9:30-10:45am (EDT), ONLINE. Sponsor: Brookings. Speaker: Welcome: ...