Monday, August 30, 2021

Foreign Influence and Academic Integrity - the Comfort Women


Foreign Influence and Academic Integrity By Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Emeritus Professor in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, and a past President of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, April 22, 2021, Australian Institute of International Affairs.

The risks of improper foreign influence on academic research have become a topic of growing concern in many parts of the world over the past year or so. Much of this concern has focused on efforts by China to restrict the freedom of expression of academics and students abroad as well as at home, or to obtain access to research findings. Anxiety about the role of China is very well-founded, but this issue clearly goes further than any one country. Many national governments or overseas interest groups seek in one way or another to exert their influence on research being carried out beyond the boundaries of their own nation.

Professor Morris-Suzuki uses as an example the Government of Japan's activities to influence the discussion and academic work on the Comfort Women--sex slaves to Imperial Japan's military and colonial administrators. Most of these women and girls were forced into this service. The government currently contends that no official Japanese participated in coercing anyone. This is contrary to fact.

Japan's government and its supporters have cultivated a network of history denialist groups that want to change the history narrative of aggressive industrialization and imperialism to one of innovative opportunity cut short by the victimization of the West. The war was forced upon Japan and war crimes were inventions of the Allies.

Morris-Suzuki focuses on the flawed Mark Ramseyer journal article that claims the Comfort Women were simply commercial prostitutes. She points out how this Harvard Law School professor ignored traditional scholarship and current documentation. It is alarming that he is promoted and defended by the Japanese government and well-known rightists as an example of the assault on free speech. As a result, she believes this is the "worst crisis of academic integrity" in her lifetime.

Japan's "weaponization of research" is a model followed by many. Scholars are not necessarily being paid to say something, but support is forthcoming to those who are already sympathetic. Money amplifies denier history, that she likens to Holocaust denial. What was once ignored backwater arguments are now promoted above rigorous scholarship and historical truth.

Morris-Suzuki was asked for specific examples of Japanese pressure. She could not cite any other than to say that implicit pressure is exerted by Japan. A good example of this, however, was the title and description of her presentation by the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Nowhere is there mention of Japan or Comfort Women or Ramseyer. AIIA protected itself by simply giving an anodyne title of foreign influence suggesting the talk is about China. 

Only those who attended the event would know, and they were few.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Monday Asia Events, August 23, 2021

SPACE POLICY TRENDS IN THE INDO-PACIFIC. 8/23rd, 6:00-7:45PM (JST), ZOOM. Sponsors: Yokosuka Council on Asia Pacific Studies, Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS) and Japan US Military Program (JUMP). Speakers: Senior Analyst Dr Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has been invited to participate in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Stephen Nagy a senior associate professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo. 
. 8/23, 8:00-9:00am (EDT), VIDEO WEBCAST. Sponsor: Asia Society. Speakers: Toshi Arimura is a professor of Political Science and Economics, and Director of the Research Institute for Environment Economics and Management at Waseda University; Mika Ohbayashi is Director at the Renewable Energy Institute;Jackson Ewing, Ph.D. holds appointments as a Senior Fellow at Duke University's Nicholas Institute of Environmental Policy Solutions. 

AFGHANISTAN’S COLLAPSE & THE IMPLICATIONS FOR GLOBAL JIHADISM AND COUNTERTERRORISM. 10:30am-Noon (EDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Middle East Institute (MEI). Speakers: Karen Joy Greenberg , Director, Center on National Security, Fordham University School of Law; David Kilcullen, President and CEO, Cordillera Applications Group, Inc., Director, Thesigers and Native Data; Anne Likuski, Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI); Asfandyar Ali Mir, Senior Expert, United States Institute of Peace (USIP); Moderator: Charles Lister, Senior Fellow and Director, Syria and Countering Terrorism and Extremism programs, MEI.

GROUND TRUTH: LOCAL VIEWS ABOUT THE TALIBAN'S RETURN. 8/23, 11:00am-Noon (EDT), ONLINE. Sponsors: Central Asia Program at George Washington University and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Present. Speakers: Malali Bashir, Radio Free Afghanistan; Tohir Safarov, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; and Mélanie Sadozaï, George Washington University.  

SUSTAINING US MICROELECTRONICS LEADERSHIP. Noon-1:00pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: Hudson. Speakers: Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Vice-Chair, Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, House Armed Services Committee; Dr. Victoria Coleman, Chief Scientist, U.S. Air Force; Jay Goldberg, CEO, D2D Advisory; Bryan Clark, Senior Fellow, Director, Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, Hudson; Dr. Dan Patt, Adjunct Fellow, Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, Hudson. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

No Sign, yet,

Of Afghan fallout in Korea and Japan

By Daniel Sneider, Lecturer, International Policy at Stanford University and APP member

Toyo Keizai, August 20,2021

In the middle of April, 1975, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung hurried to Beijing to meet with Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Communist leadership. Phnom Penh had just fallen to the Khmer Rouge, the North Vietnamese were marching toward victory in Saigon, and the U.S. seemed to be in retreat around the globe. Now was the time, Kim told his Chinese patrons, to liberate South Korea.

America’s allies in Northeast Asia were undoubtedly shaken by the events in Indochina, beginning from the late 60s. The U.S. had withdrawn the 7th Infantry division from Korea and Nixon told allies to rely more on their own resources to defend themselves.

South Korea’s Park Chung-hee embarked on a clandestine program to develop nuclear weapons, as did Taiwan. Japan pondered that choice but opted instead to reach out to China, moving quickly to normalize relations after Nixon’s shocking opening of ties to Beijing.

Comparisons between the fall of Saigon and the stunningly rapid collapse of the American-backed government in Kabul are now the fodder of front pages from Beijing to Washington. In the U.S., pundits claim that U.S. allies in Europe and Asia are again questioning American resolve and reliability, while China and Russia rush to fill the strategic vacuum.

European angst is clearly visible, not surprisingly since NATO allies committed their own military forces to the war in Afghanistan and had to rush to remove their troops, diplomats and Afghan support staff. But in Korea and Japan, now the largest concentration of U.S. overseas military power -- almost 85,000 American naval, air and ground troops – there is not yet the same level of anxiety.

In conversations this writer has had in recent days with senior Korean and Japanese former officials and current advisors, the events in Kabul seem to have actually strengthened the belief in the importance of the alliance with the U.S. Those policy makers in Northeast Asia echo President Joe Biden in pointing to the failure of the Afghan government and military to be willing to fight in their own defense.

“The fall of Kabul may not damage our alliance with the U.S. as much as you may imagine,” Miyake Kuni, a former senior Foreign Ministry official who advises Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, told me.

“Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his friends did not help the Afghans, and they had to pay the price. For Japan, if we don’t have the will to fight and defend ourselves, we will be like Afghanistan.”

As for the chaotic events in Afghanistan and the decision of the Biden administration to withdraw, Miyake and others do not see a loss of American credibility at stake, but rather the consequence of bad policy decisions made long ago.

“America should have known that Afghanistan has been, and will be, like this forever and it should not have stayed there for 20 years, or even a year,” said Miyake, who was in charge of Afghanistan for the foreign ministry in the late 1990s.

“The fall of the Afghan government is seen as the failure of the Afghan government, in spite of 20 years of international help, rather than the loss of credibility of the U.S. commitment,” Umemoto Kazuyoshi, who recently retired as the senior Foreign Ministry official directing relations with the U.S, told me as well.

So far, Japanese policy makers reject facile comparisons between Afghanistan and potential flash points in their own region, particularly Taiwan and the disputed territory in the East China Sea.

The risks of the failure of the U.S. to respond to Chinese aggression in either case are far higher than the danger of a possible return of terrorists to Afghanistan, which triggered the U.S. intervention there. “With Taiwan,” a former senior official said privately, “it would affect the world order immediately if the U.S. did not intervene.”

The view from Seoul

In South Korea, facing potential escalation from a North Korean regime that is under growing internal pressure, the view is a bit more cautious, though still far from panicked.

Confidence in the U.S. commitment is not yet shaken, Korean policy makers from across the spectrum agree. “On the contrary, this event invoked for many people the importance of the Korea-U.S. alliance,” former senior Foreign Ministry official Kim Sook, who also served as deputy director of the National Intelligence Service, told me.

Koreans were particularly reassured by the statement from U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that troop withdrawal from Korea was not on the Biden agenda. In conservative circles in Korea, where a presidential election is looming next March, the Afghan events have been used to bolster the criticism of the current progressive government of Moon Jae-In.

“The situation in Afghanistan shows how important it is to maintain a strong military,” the conservative daily JoongAng Ilbo wrote. “North Korea continues ratcheting up its nuclear capabilities. Under such circumstances, the decades-old Korea-U.S. alliance cannot be overemphasized.”

Even among progressives, the focus has been on the failed effort to transform Afghanistan rather than American retreat. The defeat doesn’t do much to shake confidence in the U.S, security commitment to Korea, says Paik Hak-soon, the executive director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Forum.

“We know why the U.S. was defeated and decided to pull out its forces, and also why it keeps its forces in Korea, even though we’re reminded that the U.S. forces cannot stay forever in foreign lands.”

“Many Koreans understand that there are more differences than similarities between the two cases,” agrees former senior foreign ministry official, Amb Wi Sung-lac.

Still, the corrosive impact of the images from Kabul touches nerves in Korea, where dependence on the U.S. is still deeply felt.

“The notion that the US may abandon an ally depending on the capabilities of the allied partner will linger in the memory of Koreans,” adds Wi, who was formerly in charge of relations with the U.S. and led the South Korean delegation to the Six-party talks with North Korea.

“In that sense, the messy nature of the retreat in Afghanistan will not be helpful to strengthen the US message on the alliances,” he cautions.

Will Kim Jong Un Follow his Grandfather?

The view from Pyongyang is far more difficult to discern. Kim Jong Un is struggling to cope with a severe economic crisis, triggered by the border closure measures taken to avoid the spread of Covid-19 and compounded by severe weather conditions.

Rather than take up offers of humanitarian aid from the Moon government in South Korea, the North Korean regime has engaged in vague threats to escalate tensions in response to the decision to go ahead with joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long modeled himself on his grandfather, Kim Il Sung. It raises the question of whether he too will see the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan as another opportunity to undermine the U.S.-South Korean alliance. Kim might, for example, test the alliance by carrying out a cross-border attack of the type seen in 2010 when North Korean forces shelled a South Korean-held island off its shores.

“I don’t think Kim Jong Un will do anything particular because of what happened in Afghanistan,” says Paik, who was a long-time North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute.

“These days, he's totally focused on domestic economic survival, and has no reason whatsoever to engage in provocations when the Moon and Biden Administrations are not provoking towards North Korea.”

Even more conservative analysts tend to agree with that assessment. “Pyongyang knows that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is not identical to the one in Afghanistan,” Amb Wi says. “Pyongyang wouldn't see this as an opportunity to test the US.”

But the Korean experts are careful not to rule out the possibility of escalation. But they see that not as a consequence of events in Afghanistan but as an attempt to restart the stalled negotiations following the breakdown of the Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi in 2019.

The role of China is also a large question mark. When Kim Il Sung pleaded for backing for his revolutionary dreams in 1975, the Chinese Communist leadership, according to the archives of East European diplomats, turned him away. They were not interested at that moment in risking a confrontation with the U.S. and triggering a potential war on their frontier.

Beijing is now locked in a strategic competition with Washington. Will China now be ready to turn Pyongyang loose? “On one hand, they know the Americans have gotten their comeuppance in Afghanistan – they look inept and feckless and the Chinese can be heartened by that,” observes Brookings Institution scholar Jonathan Pollack, who has written extensively on the Sino-North Korea relationship.

But, he adds, “at these moments of definitive strategic change, the Chinese have a tendency to think very carefully about where they find themselves.”

China may see more advantage in being ready to insert itself as a mediator between the two Koreas, perhaps in the wake of an exchange of fire across the border, suggests a former senior State Department official who was involved in managing the 2010 crisis. The Afghan events “open up opportunities for China,” the former official told me. “I bet they are thinking about it.”

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Monday Asia Events, August 2, 2021

10:00-11:30am (PHDT), ZOOM WEBINAR. Sponsor: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) – Yusof Ishak Institute; Speakers: Datuk P. Kamalanathan, Chairman, Labuan Port Authority, Member, Central Working Committee, Malaysian Indian Congress; Mr. Gan Ping Sieu, Founder and Senior Partner, Gan and Zul Advocates & Solicitors. 

IMPLEMENTING A NEW MARITIME STRATEGY. Noon-1:00pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA), Vice Chair, House Armed Services Committee; Bryan Clark, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, Hudson Institute. 

A CONVERSATION WITH DR. ANTHONY FAUCI ON THE ANTIVIRAL PROGRAM FOR PANDEMICS. 3:00-4:00pm (EDT), LIVESTREAM. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; J. Stephen Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS. 

Japan Challenges Russia in Antarctic

Sparking Concern in Moscow About West’s Plans

First printed in the Eurasia Daily Monitor, July 27, 2021 -- Volume 18, Issue 119
The Japanese government’s National Institute for Polar Research (NIPR) released four reports so far this month (July 2021) outlining Tokyo’s view that Japan should be among the countries allowed to exploit the oil and natural gas resources lying below the surface in Antarctica and to make territorial claims there once the current treaty regime expires or is modified ( cited by Rambler, July 24). That has sparked outrage in Moscow. Russian commentaries have characterized the NIPR proposals as a threat to Russian rights in the Antarctic; as a challenge to the 1959 international accord that governs the activities of countries there; as a new move on the geopolitical chessboard intended to put pressure on Moscow to sign a peace treaty with Tokyo and return the Kurile Islands; and even as a trial balloon to test out analogous plans the United States may try to employ against Russia in the Arctic in the immediate future (, July 24;, July 25).
The NIPR reports, in fact, do not speak about any immediate Japanese actions but rather appear designed to set the stage for Tokyo’s participation in talks planned to revise the 1959 international accord, which limits the activities of the signatory countries to only scientific research in the Antarctic. That accord is set to expire in 2048; but already, Russia and other countries have been talking about its revision so as to permit exploitation of oil and gas reserves there (see EDM, June 9, 2020June 24, 2020January 19, 2021). Japan raised this issue before, in 2012, but its legal position is different; and so its announcement then was largely ignored in Moscow and the West. Tokyo made expansive claims regarding Antarctica in 1939, but the post-World War II settlement forced the Japanese government to give them up in 1951. That has had two consequences. First, it has meant that Japan’s claims to the southern polar region are invariably wrapped up in the issues of the revision of the outcome of that war, something Russian President Vladimir Putin is especially sensitive to (not least because of the Kurile Islands dispute—see EDM, November 27, 2018 and January 24, 2019). And second, it has meant that whenever Japan does make a claim, however far in the future it may be, Moscow-based experts tend to see it as a stalking horse, either to make demands for a return of the Kuriles or as an action taken on behalf of the US against Russia (Svobodnaya Pressa, July 25).
Most of the coverage in Moscow over the last few days about the Japanese reports has been dismissive, viewing them as, at most, Japan’s latest effort to pressure Russia to return the Kurile Islands. Moreover, these commentaries collectively suggest that the real competition in the Antarctic is in the seas around it rather than on land, at least for now. But some Russian analysts, like Igor Shatrov of the Strategic Development Council, see what Japan has done as having far broader implications. For Shatrov, it represents a sign that Tokyo increasingly wants to act without regard to the post–World War II settlement and is an indication that Japan is working hand-in-glove with the US to come up with a strategy in the Antarctic in the distant future that the two countries can apply against Russia in the Arctic now. He and others argue Russia must work more closely with China to counter this Japanese-US move (Svobodnaya Pressa, July 25).
One who makes this case is Andrei Koshkin of the Russian Economics University, who has argued in the past that anything Japan does is the implementation of US plans and that whatever Tokyo is saying about the Antarctic provides a glimpse into what Washington intends to do in the Arctic. Because that is so, he contends, any manifestation of Japanese interest in Antarctica must be of immediate concern to Moscow. This is not so much because Japan or the US can do anything in the world’s southernmost region now or that Russia could not block them (see EDM, January 19, 2021; Meduza, December 16, 2020; N+1, December 7, 2020; Kommersant, November 26, 2020; Znak, January 28, 2020) but rather because of its implications for what is likely to happen in the Arctic in the near future (Svobodnaya Pressa, October 26, 2020).
Of course, a critical difference exists between the Arctic and Antarctic as far as international politics is concerned. A global accord restricts development in the Antarctic until mid-century; and disputes there are primarily about fishing in the seas around the continent rather than over natural resources locked away underground. But the Japanese NITR reports suggest that the differences between policies regarding the areas around the poles are narrowing. As long as the issue in the Antarctic is about fishing, the US has real advantages because many countries, including Japan, want to restrict Russian fishermen there. If the dispute shifts to land, Russia may be able to use the 1959 treaty and exploit the fears of many countries that they will be left out in a scramble for resources beneath the Antarctic ice. That means Moscow must be concerned about any territorial claims there, ally itself with China, and use their common objections to block them, Koshkin says, all while recognizing that the US is developing policies around the South Pole that it intends to use in the North (Svobodnaya Pressa, October 26, 2020).
Thus, what might appear to many as a tempest in a Moscow media teapot is anything but. It is a sign of Russian concern about Japan’s new international activism not only in the Antarctic but more generally; and it is a reflection of a broader Russian judgment that whatever the West does in Antarctica is first and foremost not about that continent but about the polar region in the north—an area Vladimir Putin has made central to his plans to project Russian power in order to defend Russian national security.