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Discussions, Diplomacy, No.24  Mar. 16, 2015

Predictions for 2015 Can the Nation (N) Fill the Gap between Global (G) and Local (L)?

Yoshizaki: It is my impression that 2014 was a dull year without any kind of theme. Even though it was an Olympic year and a World Cup year, there were no cool buzzwords. Compared to 2013 when we had a lot of snappy phrases like “je-je-je” (an expression of excitement) or “baigaeshi” (double revenge), 2014 was a lean year when it seemed that the only words on everyone’s lips were “Dame yo, dame dame” (No, you mustn’t, no, no). I wonder what 2015 will be like. Sakura: My impressions are similar. It was a year when the future seemed uncertain. So far, we have more or less had some idea of what will happen next, ]]> ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.24  Jan. 6, 2015

Abe No Historical Revisionist

Just as I was about to start writing this article, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo dissolved the House of Representatives. The Japanese diet is a bicameral legislature comprising the House of Representatives (Lower House) and House of Councilors (Upper House). While in principal both houses have equal power, greater actual political power rests with the Lower House. This is because the Lower House is granted an advantage over the Upper House in several ways. While the Constitution of Japan (enacted 1947) prescribes that “the prime minister shall be designated from among the members of the diet by a resolution of the diet,” all prime ministers under the Constitution have been chosen from among members of the Lower House. It is also accepted practice for most cabinet members to be appointed from among members of the Lower House. Therefore, an election of the members of the ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.23  Sept. 25, 2014

Abe’s Diplomacy Is Bearing Fruit

Nishihara Masashi, President, Research Institute for Peace and Security (RIPS)

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s high powered visits to forty-seven countries  Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is reported to have visited forty-seven countries as leader of the government over nineteen months. These were multifaceted, strategically important visits. Abe explained Japan’s expanding role in security and promoted Japan’s leading sales products such as nuclear power, high speed trains, and Japanese cuisine. He carried out diplomacy with a global perspective. The world’s way of looking at Japan is now changing.  Two months after the prime minister set out with his present cabinet he started with a visit to Washington. He made a strong presentation of Japan announcing that “Japan Is Back” (the title of his Washington speech). Following this he attended and made speeches at the Davos World Economic Forum, the NATO North Atlantic Council, and the Shangri-La Conference in Singapore. He also attended the opening of the ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.23  Sept. 25, 2014

A Non-Polarizing World – Continuous Battle with Dialogue and Deterrence

Funabashi Yoichi, journalist, President of the Rebuilt Japan Initiative Foundation

Putin’s Darkest Impulses A “counterattack of geopolitics” is taking place due to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. In November 2013, Viktor Yanukovych, then president of Ukraine, postponed accession to the European Union. Pro-EU citizens who rebelled against the decision rose up and staged armed demonstrations. Unable to control the uprisings, Yanukovych, whose Kiev palace had been occupied by pro-EU demonstrators, fled the capital of Ukraine across the border. The insurgence by pro-EU citizens succeeded, and Yanukovych was immediately dismissed as president.  On March 1, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of the Crimean Peninsula in Southern Ukraine in the name of protecting citizens of Russian descent there. Then on March 18, he declared the annexation of Crimea into Russia. U.S. President Barack Obama lashed out at this, saying, “man’s darkest impulses” had not vanished in Europe (speech on March 26).  As long as ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.22  Jul. 3, 2014

Promoting Japan-U.S. Cooperation by Making a Proactive Contribution to Peace — Japan’s Foreign and Security Policy after the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting —

The most important outcome of U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent Asia tour is that the United States and Japan overcame the strains which had been noticeable between them recently, and reaffirmed that they would strengthen their alliance. Not only that, they openly endorsed this through various concrete measures and commitments. While it is true that the president showed some consideration, not wanting to damage relations with China, the United States made clear its intention to keep China’s excessive self-assertion in check, alongside Japan and other countries in the region. It represents a highly significant development. Obama declared that the Senkaku Islands are subject to Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and it is enormously significant that a U.S. president made a statement like this for the first time while China is repeatedly engaging in acts of provocation near the islands. Prime Minister Abe ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.22  Jul. 3, 2014

Line Between Cooperative Good Neighbor and Uncompromising Foreign Policy: China’s Diplomacy Under the Xi Jinping Administration

Inconsistencies Found in China’s Diplomacy I think people in Japan share the impression that China’s foreign policies have grown more uncompromising under the Xi Jinping administration when compared with the same policies under the Hu Jintao administration. In all likelihood, people in countries neighboring China share this impression. This situation is closely connected to the fact that China is more aggressively engaging in what it calls peripheral diplomacy. China held a roundtable discussion on peripheral diplomatic maneuvering on 24–25 October 2013, and assembled guidelines aimed at making its relations with neighboring countries, particularly economic and business ties, closer. However, as everyone knows, China simultaneously adopts the policy of making absolutely no concessions with regard to sovereignty and security. This inconsistency between the good neighbor basis and sovereignty issues is the very characteristic of China’s diplomacy that is becoming increasingly conspicuous under the Xi administration. ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.22  May. 24, 2014

Toward an Asian-Pacific Community

Dr. Iriye Akira, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

As a recipient of The Japan Foundation Awards (2013)*, Dr. IRIYE Akira delivered a commemorative lecture at the International House of Japan in Tokyo on 28 October 2013. Dr. Iriye argued the possibilities of an Asian-Pacific Community as a body that can help to forge more intimate connections throughout the world. The possibilities of an Asia-Pacific Community Some of you in the audience may be wondering, “why an Asia-Pacific Community now?” The concept of the Asia-Pacific as a region or a community has been discussed for quite some time; “Is there anything new to be said?” you may ask. For people of my generation–I left Japan for the United States exactly 60 years ago, not long after the end of World War II–the term “Asia-Pacific” almost inevitably conjures up images of war and conflict. The tragedy of World War II was immediately followed by ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.21  May. 24, 2014

Tension Is Rising in the East China Sea. Will Japan be Able to Defend Its Territories? Dialogue on China’s Dangerous and Unnerving Dream – Japan Needs Strategies from a Geopolitical Viewpoint

Iokibe Makoto Chancellor, Prefectural University of Kumamoto

    Iokibe MakotoChancellor, Prefectural University of Kumamoto Funabashi YoichiChairman, Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation Senkaku Islands Represent the Beginning of a Long Struggle  Iokibe: China began insisting that the Senkaku Islands were its property after a survey found resources in the seabed around them in 1970. China then established its law on territorial waters and in 1992 declared islands in the South China and East China Seas, including the Senkaku Islands, as its own territories. However, China took an enduring position on real action over this issue, thinking it would be OK to stop short of actually taking action until it became possible. Deng Xiaoping used a famous phrase, tao guang yang hui. It was a teaching that asked people to sufficiently cultivate their abilities, rather than taking the attitude of intimidating others by showing their claws, while their actual ability is insufficient. China’s ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.20  Apr. 12, 2014

“More Proactive Contribution to Peace” Changes Japan’s Diplomacy Abe Administration’s Policy Toward Asia and the United States

YACHI Shotaro, National Security Advisor to the Cabinet (Secretary General of National Security Secretariat)

The Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (also known as the “two-plus-two”) meeting was held in Tokyo in October 2013 where the two countries signed an agreement to implement another update to the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation by the end of 2014. This agreement was concluded with the aim of strengthening the bilateral defense cooperation, probably in view of China’s increasing maritime assertiveness, although China was not named specifically in the agreement. It also coincides with the Obama administration’s “rebalancing” toward Asia. While the strained diplomatic relationships with China and Republic of Korea (ROK) do not seem to be getting any better at the moment, the Abe administration has embarked on a multilateral strategic diplomacy centered on the Japan-U.S. alliance which is expected to serve as a strategic move for the administration’s foreign policy. Abe Administration’s Agenda The Abe Administration was inaugurated in December 2012, ... ... [Read more]

Diplomacy, No.20  Mar. 26, 2014

China’s Official Views Adrift

One of the topics at a meeting of Sinologists held towards the end of 2013, at what could be called a year-end party, was the recent strangeness of the People’s Daily. The People’s Daily is normally a very straitlaced newspaper that publishes the Chinese Communist Party’s official views. Sinologists in Japan and overseas read it, take notes, and try to analyze changes in Chinese politics based on changes in expressions and in tone. How has the People’s Daily been odd? It has published views that obviously contradict each other. Editorials have been inconsistent with other articles. Views that cannot be considered official have been published. Some Sinologists have analyzed the factors behind this. Some say that the People’s Daily’s governance has weakened. Others say that the oddness simply reflects a diversification in government. Chinese politics has definitely changed significantly. Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao ... ... [Read more]