Sunday, October 29, 2023

Monday Asia Events, October 30, 2023

DARK FLEET AND MARITIME DANGERS IN THE INDO-PACIFIC. 10/30, 6:00am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS). Speaker: Samir Madani, Co-Founder of 

PARTY OF ONE: THE RISE OF XI JINPING AND CHINA'S SUPERPOWER FUTURE. 10/30, 9:00-10:00am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: CSIS, Freeman Chair in China Studies. Speakers: Chun Han Wong, author of Party of One: The Rise of Xi Jinping and China's Superpower Future; Neil Thomas, Fellow for Chinese Politics at the Asia Society Policy Institute's Center for China Analysis; Sheena Greitens, Visiting Associate Professor of Research in Indo-Pacific Security at the U.S. Army War College.  PURCHASE BOOK:

IS GLOBALIZATION REALLY IN RETREAT? 10/30, 9:00-10:00am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Peterson Institute (PIIE). Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Speakers: Alan Blinder, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, PIIE; Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton University; Stephen Redding, Harold T. Shapiro 1964 Professor in Economics, Economics Department and Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; Arvind Subramanian, Senior Fellow, PIIE. 

AIR & SPACE WARFIGHTERS IN ACTION: MINOT WING COMMANDERS. 10/30, 10:00am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Air & Space Forces Association (AFA). Speakers: Col. S. Daniel Hoadley, commander of the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, N.D; Col. Kenneth C. McGhee, Commander of the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, ND. 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THAILAND? 10/30, 10:00-11:00am (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsor: Carnegie. Speakers: Elina Noor, Senior Fellow, Asia Program, Carnegie; Pita Limjaroenrat, Chief Adviser, Thailand’s Move Forward Party. 

DEFENDING DEMOCRACY IN AN AGE OF SHARP POWER. 10/30, 11:00am-Noon (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: National Endowment for Democracy. Speakers: Sarah Cook, Senior advisor for China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, Freedom House; Nadège Rolland, Distinguished fellow for China studies, National Bureau of Asian Research; Glenn Tiffert, Distinguished research fellow, Hoover Institution; editor William Dobson, Coeditor, Journal of Democracy.  PURCHASE BOOK:

UNDERGROUND EMPIRE: HOW AMERICA WEAPONIZED THE WORLD ECONOMY. 10/30, 11:00-11:45am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: authors Henry Farrell, SNF Agora Professor, Johns Hopkins SAIS and Abraham Newman, Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Emily Benson, Director, Project on Trade and Technology, CSIS; Federico Steinberg, Visiting Fellow, Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program, CSIS. PURCHASE BOOK: 

ENGAGING MEN AS ALLIES IN WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY. 10/30, 1:15-2:30pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsors: Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations; United States Mission to the United Nations; Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Speakers: H.E. Yoko Kamikawa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan; T.H. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations; H.E. Kimihiro Ishikane, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations; Dr. Robert Nagel, Research Fellow, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; Dr. Gary Barker, President and Founder, Equimundo; Ms. Samsidar, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Indonesian Justice and Peace Foundation; Ms. Maho Nakayama, Director and Senior Program Officer, Peacebuilding Program, Sasakawa Peace Foundation; Amb. Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. 

A FIRESIDE CHAT WITH DITTE JUUL JØRGENSEN, DIRECTOR-GENERAL FOR ENERGY AT THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION. 10/30, 3:30-4:15pm (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Ambassador Richard Morningstar, Founding Chairman of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, Juul-Jørgensen, Director-General for Energy at the European Commission; Landon Derentz, GEC’s Senior Director and Morningstar Chair for Global Energy Security. 

JAPANESE STRATEGY IN THE INDO-PACIFIC. 10/30, 4:00-6:00pm (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsor: Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University. Speakers: Satoru Mori, Professor, Keio University; Ayumi Teraoka, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute. 

THE CHANGING DYNAMICS OF OUTER SPACE COMPETITION. 10/30, 5:00-6:00pm (EDT), IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speaker: Dr. Matthew Jenkings, IWP Doctor of Statecraft of National Security. 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Japan Plays Catch-up

Japan: Caught Between Israel and Gaza

By Takuya Nishimura
, Former Editorial Writer for The Hokkaido Shimbun
The views expressed by the author are his own and are not associated with The Hokkaido Shimbun
You can find his blog, J Update here.
October 15, 2023. Special to Asia Policy Point

Japan proved itself a slow starter in the wake of the brutal military exchanges in the Middle East. During the first week, from Saturday October 7th, when militant group Hamas attacked Israel, to Friday 13th, Japan was hesitant to deliver a clear message to the world. Japanese leaders hope to raise Japan’s profile in international security issues.  Yet, because Japan is a pacifist nation, its opportunities to do so are limited. It is thus unlikely that Japan can play a large role in attaining peace in Middle East
The first comment of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was not through a press conference or a ministers’ meeting of the Cabinet, but through the social networking service, X (formerly Twitter). “Hamas and other Palestinian militants attacked Israel from Gaza yesterday. Japan strongly condemns the attacks which severely harmed innocent civilians. I express my condolences to the bereaved families and heartfelt sympathies to the injured,” Kishida posted on Sunday.
Kishida also deplored the kidnapping, demanded the release of the hostages, and urged all parties to exercise their utmost self-restraint in consideration with a number of victims in Gaza. Kishida first spoke to reporters on Friday the 13th. He said that the government would send aircraft to Djibouti to evacuate Japanese citizens in Gaza. 
The spokesman of Kishida Cabinet, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, repeated Japan’s stance in his daily press conferences. “We closely watch the situation there with serious concern. Attacks on the innocent ordinary people cannot be justified with any reason and we strongly condemn that,” Matsuno said on Monday.
It took six days for Matsuno to call the attack by Hamas terrorism. “After the attacks of Palestin armed power including Hamas against Israel, we recognize that a number of people were dead or injured. We firmly condemn the terrorist attacks this time,” Matsuno told on Thursday. His expression in Japanese, likely prepared by his chief foreign affairs aide, was too fuzzy to determine whether he condemned only Hamas or included the retaliatory attacks by Israel.
During her trip to visit four countries in Southeast Asia, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa spoke by telephone with the Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan on Sunday and with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates on Monday. “I conveyed that I am deeply saddened by the attacks by Hamas and other militants, which have claimed the lives of so many innocent civilians,” Kamikawa commented to the reporters in Vietnam on Tuesday. Kamikawa explained Japan’s view to her counterparts that Japan strongly condemns “such” attacks.
The leaders of five countries of G7, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and United States, issued a joint statement on Monday that expressed their steadfast support of the State of Israel, and condemned Hamas and its acts of terrorism. Japan did not join the statement. “In the international society, the opinions have been delivered from various frameworks. The statement (of five leaders) was issued as one of those,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno said in his press conference on Tuesday.
It is hard for Japan, taking a neutral position on the issue, to side now with Israel on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. Japan has, for instance, taken the initiative on “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” with Gaza, Israel, and Jordan, which promotes social and economic development in Jericho and Jordan Valley. Japan has contributed approximately $22 million in FY 2022 to the Gaza Strip for emergency and food aid through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). While former Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi announced in July that Japan would host a G7 foreign ministers meeting in Japan this November, it is unclear whether Japan can lead the discussion over the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Japan has maintained a friendly relationship with Israel. Kamikawa told Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen in a telephone call on Thursday that Japan would unequivocally condemn the recent terror attack by Hamas and that Israel had a right to defend itself and its people in accordance with international law.
Japan continues to favor the “two-state solution” to end conflicts in Israel and Gaza. However, Japan does not have a diplomatic channel with a non-state actor as Hamas. It will not be easy for Japan to mediate between the parties in the conflict.
The ambassadors of Israel and Palestine argued their respective cases on Friday, October 13 at press conferences at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. Israeli Ambassador to Japan Gilad Cohen denounced the attack and the kidnappings by Hamas as crimes against humanity. He insisted that Israel would uproot and demilitarize Hamas in Gaza, declaring war against them.
To a question about Japan’s decision not to join the G5 statement on Israel, Cohen understood the pressures that Japan faces. “Of course, I would be more satisfied, if Japan would join the statement. But now there is a statement of Japan, which goes alone, with basic fundamental principles. We hope Japan to stand by us in the future,” Cohen said.
Ambassador Waleed Siam, the Permanent General Mission of Palestine held his press conference three hours later. “Japan has been a real good friend for the Palestinian people through the years. Actually, before Japan was accepted at United Nations as a member, Japan started helping UNRWA, which is for Palestinian refugees, since 1953 until today. I do believe Japan is neutral and can continue to play neutral role between the Palestinians and Israelis,” said Siam.
Siam also expressed his deep skepticism about Israeli aims. “Only thing to stabilize Palestine is to end Israel’s military occupation,” he said. Asked whether Japan is an ally of Israel, he said “Read the news, you can know who the allies are. You can hear the voices that calls for destruction of Gaza. Those are allies. Japan has not called for destruction of Gaza. Japan has always called for human rights, for international laws and for respecting United Nations resolutions.”
Both sides of the conflict want Japan to be their friend. To maintain a traditional relationship with each, Japan has to keep its position neutral. But it is difficult for Japan to exercise its leadership in the Western countries, which tend to favor the Israeli side. For Kishida who has been selling himself as a diplomatic leader, this year’s G7 chairmanship will be fraught.

G7 chair Japan opts not to sign statement by 5 leaders supporting Israel, Arab News, 10/10/21.   Japan and Canada abstain from joint statement in support of Israel after deadly attacks by Hamas from Gaza; Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno: Japan’s absence from the statement may be attributed to its desire to maintain flexibility in its approach.

Monday Asia Events October 23, 2023

CHINA’S STANDING IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH – TAKEAWAYS FROM THE BELT AND ROAD FORUM. 10/23, 9:00am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Victoria Chonn-Ching, Nonresident Fellow, Atlantic Council; Michael Schuman, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Oscar Meywa Otele, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Nairobi; Sanusha Naidu, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Global Dialogue. 

US LAUNCH OF THE 2023 OECD GOING FOR GROWTH REPORT. 10/23, 9:00am-12:15pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Peterson Institute (PIIE). Speakers: Adam S. Posen, PIIE president; Luiz de Mello, director of the Policy Studies Branch at the Economics Department of the OECD. 

BEYOND CLIMATE: HOW NATURE LOSS UNDERMINES PEACE AND SECURITY. 10/23, 10:00am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsors: Center for American Progress (CAP); The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD); World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Speakers: Monica Medina, President and CEO, Wildlife Conservation Society; Andrew Zolli, Chief Impact Officer, Planet; Dr Winnie Kiiru, Executive Director, Mpala Research Centre; Dr Erin McFee, Professor of Practice, Climate Security, William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies.

 CYBERSECURITY & INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY’S (CISA) EVOLVING .GOV MISSION: REPORT ROLLOUT EVENT. 10/23, 10:00am-Noon (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsor: CSIS, International Security Program. Speakers: Emily Harding, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, International Security Program; Malcolm Harkins, Former Chief Security & Privacy Officer, Intel; Benjamin Jensen, Senior Fellow, Future War, Gaming, and Strategy, and International Security Program; Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, Northrop Grumman; David Simon, Global Co-Head of Cybersecurity & Data Privacy, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom; Suzanne Spaulding, Senior Adviser for Homeland Security, CSIS. 

HUMANITARIAN EXEMPTIONS TO SANCTIONS IN NORTH KOREA. 10/23, 12:30pm (EST), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: National Committee on North Korea. Speakers: Hazel Smith, Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Professor Emerita in International Security at Cranfield University, UK, Advisory fellow at the North Korea Economic Studies section of the Korea Development Institute (KDI) Seoul, Fellow, the Royal Society of Arts since 1996; Troy Stangarone, Senior Director, Fellow at the Korea Economic Institute (KEI). 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE FOR ENERGY: AI & ENERGY TECHNOLOGY DISCOVERY. 10/23, Noon-1:00pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Speaker: Rick L. Stevens, Associate Laboratory Director for Computing, Environment, and Life Sciences, Argonne National Laboratory. 

THE OUTLOOK FOR ISRAEL’S MILITARY CAMPAIGN AGAINST HAMAS. 10/23, 1:00-2:00pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Jon B. Alterman, senior vice president, Middle East Program Director, CSIS; Emily Harding, Deputy Director, International Security Program, CSIS; Norman T. Roule, Senior Adviser, Transnational Threats Project, CSIS. 

FUTURE OF THE U.S.-ISRAEL ALLIANCE AT 75. 10/23, 1:00-5:00pm (EDT), IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Heritage Foundation. Speakers: Victoria Coates, Ph.D., Vice President, Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation; Robert Greenway, Director, Center for National Defense, The Heritage Foundation; Eyal Hulata, Ph.D., Senior International Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Ellie Cohanim, Senior Fellow, Independent Women's Forum; Ludovic Hood, Senior Advisor, Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, U.S. Department of State; Kenneth L. Marcus, Founder and Chairman, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law; Charles Asher Small, DPhil., Founding Director and President, Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy; Amb. Ronald S. Lauder, President, World Jewish Congress. 

PUTIN’S “TURN TO THE EAST” IN THE XI JINPING ERA. 10/23, 2:00-3:00pm (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: co- editor Gilbert Rozman, Emeritus Musgrave Professor of Sociology, Princeton University; Editor-in-Chief, The Asan Forum; Gaye Christoffersen Co-Editor, Putin’s “Turn to the East” in the Xi Jinping Era. PURCHASE BOOK:

THE FIRST 25 YEARS: UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM (USCIRF) ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND NEXT STEPS. 10/23, 3:00-5:00pm (EDT), IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Speakers: Abraham Cooper, Chair, USCIRF; Frederick A. Davie, Vice Chair, USCIRF; Frank Wolf, Commissioner, USCIRF; Don Nickles, Former Senator; Joe Lieberman, Former Senator; Tom Lantos, Former Co-Chair, Human Rights Commission (TLHRC). 

CONGRESS AND BIDEN'S INITIAL SUCCESS IN COUNTERING CHINA'S CHALLENGES. 10/23, 3:30pm (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsor: GW Elliott School Research Program. Speaker: Robert Sutter, Professor of Practice of International Affairs, Elliott School, George Washington University, Author Congress and China Policy: Past Episodic, Recent Enduring Influence. PURCHASE BOOK:

DREAMS FOR A DECADE: INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR ABOLITIONISM AND THE END OF THE COLD WAR. 10/23, 4:00-5:30pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Wilson Center. Speakers: Author Stephanie L. Freeman, Historian, US Department of State, Susan Colbourn, Associate Director of the Program in American Grand Strategy, Duke University; Svetlana Savranskaya, Member, History and Public Policy Program Advisory Board; Luc-André Brunet, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary International History, The Open University. PURCHASE BOOK:

THE WAR OVER CHINESE TALENT IN THE U.S.' WITH DAVID ZWEIG. 10/23, 4:30pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: China and the World Program, Columbia-Harvard. Speaker: David Zweig (Ph.D., The University of Michigan, 1983), Professor Emeritus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Taipei School of Economics and Political Science, National Tsinghua University, Taiwan. 

VLADIMIR PUTIN’S RUSSIA: AND THE USES OF WAR. 10/23, 4:30-5:30pm (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: author Leon Aron, Senior Fellow, AEI; Kori Schake, Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, AEI. PURCHASE BOOK:

NATIONAL OIL COMPANIES AND THE ENERGY TRANSITION: LOOKING TO COP28 AND BEYOND. 10/23, 5:00-7:00pm (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsor: Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia SIPA. Speakers: Erica Downs, Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA; Tatiana Mitrova, Research Fellow, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA; Luisa Palacios, Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA; Karen E. Young, Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia SIPA. 

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Monday Asia Events, October 16, 2023

JAPAN’S MIDDLE POWER DIPLOMACY IN AN ERA OF U.S.-CHINA RIVALRY. 10/16, 8:00-9:00am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Quincy Institute. Speakers: Mike Mochizuki, Japan-US Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur, George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, Non-Resident Fellow, Quincy Institute; Yoshihide Soeya, Professor Emeritus, Keio University; Hitoshi Tanaka, Special Advisor, Institute for International Strategy at the Japan Research Institute, Ltd; Kuniko Ashizawa teaches international relations at the School of International Service, American University, and at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. 

PEACE IN THE PACIFIC: A CONVERSATION WITH FORMER INDO-PACIFIC COMMANDERS. 10/16, 11:00-11:50am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: Philip S. Davidson, Former Commander, US Indo-Pacific Command; Harry B. Harris Jr., Former Commander, US Indo-Pacific Command; Eric Sayers, Nonresident Fellow, AEI. 

A CONVERSATION WITH U.S. NAVY COMPTROLLER HON. RUSSELL RUMBAUGH. 10/16, 11:00am-Noon (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Stimson. Speakers: Hon. Russell Rumbaugh, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management & Comptroller); Christopher Preble, Senior Fellow and Director of the Reimagining US Grand Strategy Program; Rachel Stohl, Vice President of Research Programs. 

US-JAPAN DEFENSE UPDATE: A LOOK AHEAD. 10/16, 6:30-8:00pm (JST), IN PERSON ONLY. Sponsor: Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies. Speaker: Lieutenant Colonel John Wright, US Air Force Foreign Area Officer. 

WHY WILL INDONESIA BECOME MORE IMPORTANT AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR JAPAN AND THE US? 10/16, 8:00-9:30pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University. Speakers: Masafumi Ishii, Former Ambassador of Japan to Indonesia; Ann Marie Murphy, Adjunct Research Scholar, WEAI; Gerald L. Curtis, Burgess Professor Emeritus of Political Science. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Kishida Administration’s Second Anniversary:

Few Accomplishments Lots of Politics

By Takuya Nishimura, Senior Fellow, retired Editorial Writer for The Hokkaido Shimbun
The views expressed by the author are his own and are not associated with The Hokkaido Shimbun
You can find his blog, J Update here.
October 9, 2023. Special to Asia Policy Point

Two years have passed since Fumio Kishida became Prime Minister on October 4, 2021. During this time, no outstanding achievements can be seen except for adherence to the political agenda set by former administrations: namely, expanding the security budget and discharging radioactive Fukushima processed water into the sea. Unsurprisingly, public support for the Kishida Cabinet is low and declining. As seen in the recent reshuffling of his Cabinet and the appointment of new leaders of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Kishida is still struggling to maintain his administration.

Kishida faced two historical challenges last year: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe. Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, Kishida boldly and directly accused Russia of “aggression.” This response might have been milder and more diplomatic if Abe were still in office.

Kishida’s hardline policy toward Russia hurt future negotiations with Russia. But it may have been worth the price. Kishida’s leadership at the Group of Seven (G7) summit meeting in Hiroshima this past May, in which the world leaders stood together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy against Russia, increased his popularity in the polls.

Kishida was tested as a national leader when Abe was shot to death last summer. Kishida was unable to generate a broad discussion in the Diet about whether the administration would decide to have a national funeral for Abe. As a result, Kishida only considered the emotions of conservative groups in the LDP. Once it became clear that the shooter’s motivation was a grievance against the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, Kishida was slow in disclosing the relationship between the religious organization and LDP.

Polls show that the support for the Kishida administration, which rose gradually at the beginning, declined steeply after the assassination of Abe. This volatility has continued. Public support lifted again in the first half of this year when Kishida was the chairman of the G7, but it fell again with public frustration with the implementation of the My Number identification card and with money scandals of LDP lawmakers.

A litmus test for a political leader is how it handles controversial issues. Kishida renewed the three major documents for defense last December, enabling the Self-Defense Force to have a capability of attacking enemy bases. While it has a possibility of violating the principle of exclusively defense-oriented policy the constitution requires, Kishida avoided discussing the constitutionality of the capability in the Diet. Kishida administration decided to expand defense budget to ¥43 trillion in next five years. But he has not explained how to accumulate the budget to that level. Taxpayers are worried about additional tax increase, dubbing Kishida “the tax raiser wearing glasses.” Anyway, those defense policies are in the agenda that Kishida inherited from Abe administration.

The list of administration scandals has swollen. Some Ministers of Kishida Cabinet stepped down last year because of complex relationships with FFWPU, gaffes, or money scandals. The most recent revelation was of an inappropriate relationship between a LDP lawmaker and a businessman involved in wind power generation. Kishida did not exercise leadership to improve ethical aspect of political activities of his colleagues.

Because the Kishida administration lacks clear policy goals, public support has remained low. At the beginning of his administration, Kishida insisted on reviving his faction of the LDP, the Kochi-kai. His predecessor, Abe, led a different faction, the Seiwa-kai, which stood for strong leadership and invited controversy on its hawkish stance. By contrast, Kishida’s Kochi-kai faction focuses more on the economy than security. Kishida has proposed some policies, such as doubling people’s income or “the garden city concept,” which traced the projects of former Kochi-kai leaders such as Hayato Ikeda and Masayoshi Ohira. These policies have not, however, worked out well in Kishida administration.

Such modest policies were not the high-profile goals of the second Abe administration that began in December 2012. Soon after he took the office, Abe announced the “three arrows” of Abenomics: bold monetary policy, mobilization of fiscal policy and growth strategy. He appointed Haruhiko Kuroda as Governor of Bank of Japan, who continuously issued surprising monetary easing policies. Abe also did not hide his intention to amend the constitution, particularly to allow amendments on the basis of a simple majority rather than the two-thirds supermajority required in Article 96.

Kishida is more interested in the ordinary life of the people rather than in state management. Wage hikes or increases in the birth rate are less economic policy and more moderate conservative social policy. But those policies do not hold strong appeal because they take a long time to show results. For example, the government’s increased support for young couples will not raise the birth rate anytime soon.

In an administration with low popularity, political manipulations take center stage. Removing Yoshimasa Hayashi as Foreign Minister in the recent Cabinet reshuffle was a tactic by Kishida to help his reelection next year as LDP president. Hayashi’s main job now is to enhance solidarity within the Kochi-kai and establish firm support within the LDP for Kishida’s reelection.

The good news for Kishida is the unpopularity of the opposition parties. No party other than the LDP has more than ten percent support in the opinion polls. Even though Kishida is unpopular, the opposition parties will not be able to achieve victory in next general election. The upcoming by-elections on October 22 in the Tokushima-Kochi District for the House of Councillors and in the Nagasaki 4th for the House of Representatives will be a good gauge of the public’s approval of Kishida’s policies. The results promise to influence the prime minister’s decision on whether to hold a much-discussed snap election.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Monday October 9, 2023 Asia Events

Monday October 9 is a national holiday in the United States. It is Columbus Day/Indigenous People's Day. All businesses and government are closed. 

GLOBAL MULTIDIMENSIONAL POVERTY INDEX 2023. 10/9, 11:00am-12:15pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsors: Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report Office (HDRO), and George Washington University’s Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP). Speaker: Sabina Alkire, Professor of Poverty and Human Development and director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford. 

ANALYSIS OF THE ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR. 10/9, Noon–1:00pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Michael Doran, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East; Can Kasapoğlu, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; Jonathan Schachter, Senior Fellow, Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East. 

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Kishida's Political Calculations

Kishida’s Economic Measures Have Political Motivations

By Takuya Nishimura
, Former Editorial Writer for The Hokkaido Shimbun
The views expressed by the author are his own and are not associated with The Hokkaido Shimbun
You can find his blog, J Update here.
October 1, 2023. Special to Asia Policy Point

Suffering from consistently low public support for his administration, Prime Minister Kishida ordered September 25th the preparation of a package of economic measures to relieve inflation and wage growth. Kishida will submit a supplemental budget bill to an extraordinary session of the Diet later this month. He has even referred to a possibility of tax reduction. This announcement has invited speculation about a snap election by the end of this year.

The planned economic measures consist of five pillars: protection from inflation, sustainable wage growth, promotion of domestic investment, overcoming demographic decline, and infrastructure to enhance safety and security. Sustainable wage growth typically receives the most paid attention.

Kishida may also attempt to reform the pension and health insurance system. Embedded in the system is the so-called “wall of ¥1.3 million.” That is, a worker who earns ¥1.3 million or more annually is no longer included with another worker’s – i.e., the spouse’s -- “dependent family.” The worker who has breached the wall must pay for pension and health insurance of his/her own.

In a family, the wall affects the lower-earning spouse. If a woman--and women typically earn less than men in Japan--is part of the dependent family of her husband, her pension and health insurance is covered by her husband. If her yearly income is less than ¥1.3 million, the payment for her pension and health insurance is paid by the company she works for. Her husband also can accept ¥380 thousands of reduction from his income tax for supporting his dependent family. But once the wife’s income exceeds ¥1.3 million, she and her husband no longer enjoy these benefits. In some cases, then, the wife is better off being her husband’s dependent family without any job than being an independent worker who has to pay for her own pension and health insurance.

Kishida supports only a temporary fix, either ¥500 thousand subsidy for each worker or a two-year moratorium on enforcement of the ¥1.3 million wall. The current system was established in 1986, when women were only beginning to gain financial and independence, and the government sought to support women unable to take that step. In the thirty-seven years since then, job prospects for women have improved. Fundamental system reform is needed, rather than one-time stop-gap measures.

Temporary relief is also the plan for other pillars. To address inflation, the subsidy for gasoline, electricity or gas, set expire at the end of this year may continue into next year. To raise workers’ wage, the government plans a tax cut for employers who have increased wages. To increase business investment the government may provide some support for semi-conductor industries.

Where does the money come from? Article 29 of Public Finance Act allows supplemental appropriations only when an urgent need arises after the yearly budget has been wrapped up. Inflation relief and wage growth may be urgent, demographic decline and infrastructure safety are not.

Furthermore, there is a fundamental question about the necessity of economic measures now, when Japan’s economy is not in a serious slump. According to the estimate of Cabinet Office, GDP gap in the second quarter of this year marked +0.4%, which meant total demand surpassed total supply for the first time in these fifteen quarters. Bank of Japan sees that “Japan’s economy is likely to continue recovering moderately.”

Nevertheless, Kishida insists on delivering stimulus measures, including tax reduction. “Now, we have to properly return the increased tax revenue, which is our achievement of growth, to the people,” Kishida said in his press conference. This statement caused speculation about a snap election within this year, because tax cuts typically garner higher popularity for incumbents.

The supplementary budget will be submitted to the next Diet session starting on October 20th. “I’m focusing on economic issues that cannot be delayed,” said Kishida, when asked about the possibility of snap election. As long as a snap election is a possibility, the opposition parties are unlikely to debate the supplementary measures aggressively. For Kishida, economic measures are merely tools to control politics.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

What did the Okinawa Governor say in Geneva?

On September 18, 2023, Denny Tamaki, Governor of Okinawa, Japan under the auspices of Shimin Gaikou Centre (Citizens' Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) testified to the session for the Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order at the 54th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Tamaki was the first Okinawa governor in eight years to deliver a speech on the problem of military bases on the island at a UN Human Rights Council meeting. In 2015, then-Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga spoke out against the creation of the Henoko airfield as a replacement for the one at Futenma. Onaga stated "the Okinawan people are being deprived of their right to self-determination and their human rights." Tamaki declared the same.

In Geneva, the current governor held talks with officials with a number of officials with HRC. He was to speak again at the Council, at a meeting on toxic substances, but there was not enough time. Some speakers reportedly had gone over their time. Funny how that happens.

His plea to respect of the human rights of Okinawan people and to lessen the burden of military bases on the islands was countered and condemned by the Japanese government and the rightwing press.

FOR AN AUDIO RECORDING CLICK HERE, click the > at the right and click play
For context see: Commentary by Takya Nishmura.

ID with IE on international order
Oral Statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council by the governor of Okinawa Item 3: interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order - Interactive Dialogue
(193 words, 2:28:11 minutes)

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I am Denny Tamaki, Governor of Okinawa, Japan.

I am here today to ask the world to witness the situation in Okinawa, where the concentration of the American bases threatens the peace, and prevents equal participation in decision-making.

Okinawa covers only 0.6% of Japan’s total land area, but 70% of all the U.S. military bases in Japan are concentrated on our small island.

Furthermore, the Japanese government is imposing the construction of a new American base in Okinawa by reclaiming the precious sea areas, which I believe will further increase the burden on my people. The reclamation proceeds despite the fact that it was clearly opposed by Okinawan voters in a democratically-held referendum.

We are afraid that the build-up of military capabilities will increase tensions in the areas around Japan, and lead to unexpected situations. This is totally incompatible with Okinawan people’s aspiration for peace.

We call for the stronger diplomatic efforts by the relevant governments to embody in our region the “right to peace,” which was adopted at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak here today.

Monday October 3, 2023 Events on Asia

ALLIED PERSPECTIVES ON SEMICONDUCTOR EXPORT CONTROLS. 10/2, 10:00-11:30am (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Gregory C. Allen, Editor of the report and CSIS director; Emily Benson, Director, Project on Trade and Technology and Senior Fellow, CSIS; Chau-Chyun Chang, Senior Strategy Executive Director, Industry, Science and Technology International Strategy Center; Francesca Ghiretti, Analyst, Mercator Institute for China Studies; Jan-Peter Kleinhans, Director, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung; Rem Korteweg, Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael Institute; Wonho Yeon, Research Fellow, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy. 

NEW TOOLS FOR ACCELERATING PROGRESS IN ENDING TUBERCULOSIS: THE LANCET COMMISSION ON TUBERCULOSIS REPORT, 2023. 10/2, 2:00-3:30pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Katherine E. Bliss, Senior Fellow and Director, Immunizations and Health Systems Resilience, Global Health Policy Center; Nidhi Bouri, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development; Anthony Fauci, Distinguished University Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University; Eric Goosby, Professor of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. 

INTERNAL SECURITY IN INDIA: VIOLENCE, ORDER, AND THE STATE. 10/2, 2:00-3:00pm (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Carnegie. Speakers: Amit Ahuja, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center; Devesh Kapur, Starr Foundation Professor, South Asian Studies at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; Rachel Kleinfeld, Senior Fellow, Carnegie’s Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program; Ashley J. Tellis, Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

BREAKING THE DOLLAR'S MONOPOLY: HOW CHINA'S REGIONAL DE-DOLLARIZATION INITIATIVE IS RESHAPING INTERNATIONAL FINANCE WITH ZONGYUAN ZOE LIU. 10/2, 4:30-6:00pm (EDT), HYBRID. Sponsors: Harvard China and the World Program; Columbia Weatherhead East Asian Institute. Speaker: Zongyuan Zoe Liu, Maurice R. Greenberg fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

THE COST OF CLIMATE: HOW CAN COUNTRIES PAY FOR CLIMATE ACTION? 10/2, 11:00-12:00 (EDT), VIRTUAL. Sponsor: Center for Global Development. Speakers: Raphael Lam, Deputy Division Chief, Fiscal Affairs Department, International Monetary Fund (IMF); Christine Richmond, Deputy Division Chief, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF; Min Zhu, Vice Chairman of China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, and Envoy of Sino-UK Professional and Financial Service for the Belt and Road Initiative; Ruud de Mooij, Deputy Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF; Carolyn Fischer, Research Manager, Development Research Group, World Bank.