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Shinzo Abe

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Understandably, a lot of the coverage analyzing the impact of Trump on Japan has emphasized the negative: Trump is a trade-war guy, he wants Japan to pay more for bases, he’d be happy to stand aside as Japan slugged it out in some military encounter with North Korea, he’s pulled the plug on TPP… Quite... Read More
On October 6, 2015, the Wall Street Journal carried this headline: Japan Ready to Lead in Asia-Pacific, Abe Says I expect that a few Japan-loving pivot-poobahs inside the Washington beltway had to spit out their breakfast sushi at that one. “But…that wasn’t supposed to happen for decades! Ash Carter promised!” After all, Secretary of Defense... Read More
Both the United States and the PRC are displaying a disturbing predisposition toward militarizing their national security strategies. It is understandable. An external military threat is easier to sell and explain than a complex national challenge of economic, social, and political competitiveness, and there is a large and influential coterie of officers, natsec types, and... Read More
For the nuclear bureaucrat, lying seems to be as essential and continuous a human process as breathing. I am not averse to the argument that a greater reliance on nuclear energy, despite its massive risks, might provide an alternative future preferable to being cooked to death by greenhouse gases. But I must say that I... Read More
[This piece may be reposted if Asia Times Online is credited and a link provided.] In other words, it’s time for the United States to engage in a full-throated celebration of the pivot to Asia with what I think is going to be President Obama’s America F*ck Yeah tour of Asian democracies in April 2014.... Read More
I would recommend that readers who have not yet done so create a Twitter account and subscribe to my feed (@chinahand).  To my embarrassment and surprise, I’ve churned out over 800 tweets since I started up my feed last November. Some of it is meaningless ephemera, of course.  But sometimes the twitter stream carries in... Read More
...Will Not Stop America's Merry Dash Into the Collective Self Defense/Deterrence Cul-de-Sac...
John Kerry recently concluded a friendly visit to Beijing, with both sides chatting about matters of mutual concern in a way that implied these two great powers have areas of shared concern and interest. Some observers might fear that peace might break out. Don’t worry. My personal opinion is that a dwindling group of PRC... Read More
US Says OK to Japanese Collective Self Defense The United States government, be it the White House, the security strategists, the civilian leadership, or the military brass apparently has no qualms about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to affirm Japan’s right to practice “collective self defense” or CSD. In the face of public disapproval, resistance... Read More
[Update: In 2013, Japan Focus published two superb pieces by investigative reporter Roger Witherspoon on the US military's response to radioactive contamination during Operation Tomodachi: http://japanfocus.org/-Roger-Witherspoon/3918 & http://japanfocus.org/-Roger-Witherspoon/3919. His interviews with servicemen and women who served on the Reagan--and in many other locations and capacities during the relief operation, describe the harrowing circumstances of trying,... Read More
[In the original version of this post, I mis-stated the US position on coverage of the Senkakus by the US-Japan Security Treaty. President George W. Bush had affirmed it, President Obama was reportedly primed to retract it, but Secretary of State Clinton reaffirmed it during the US response to the 2010 rare earth crisis. The... Read More
And is Joe Biden the Designated Whipping Boy? There has always been an implicit contradiction between Shinzo Abe's declared desire to "bring Japan back" and the US wish to lead "Free Asia". The divergence of aims has been obscured by the eagerness of the US defense establishment to encourage Japan's increasing heft as a "security"... Read More
The week started well with Abe in full regional statesman fig delivering a “China must be contained” speech at Davos (Yes, I know, nobody openly uses the "C" word, "containment" but if anyone can come up with a better descriptor, let me know). Ian Bremmer and a significant contingent of think-tank poobahs seemed primed to... Read More
Or, US Pivot Hoisted on Japanese Petard Again
Via M. Taylor Fravel’s twitter feed I was introduced to this report from Yomiuri Shimbun Dec. 30, 2013. I will quote at length: (Parenthetically, I should point out that the notoriously vulnerable sea lanes of the South China Sea, which Japan is offering to protect, are pretty much vital to nobody but China. Japan ha
Lord Acton famously stated that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It would appear, however, that the United States has access to a secret Actonian codicil that states, “…but US hegemonic power? That’s frickin’ awesome!” Because the United States government seems to be wilfully blind to the costs, perils and abuses inherent in the... Read More
…Punch line is, this AFP article (including the headline used as the title of this post) is datelined April 22, 2007, during Abe’s brief, first prime ministership. In 2007 PRC "assertiveness" was not on the table. In fact, at that time the George W. Bush administration was looking forlornly for the PRC’s help on the... Read More
Recently, the Japanese cabinet, in announcing plans to purchase 28 additional U.S. F-35 fighters (in addition to 42 already contracted), affirmed a policy of maintaining Japanese air superiority over the PRC. The F-35 may indeed contribute to Japanese air superiority in unexpected and, to the United States, undesirable ways. I found it interesting that the... Read More
Myth: Shinzo Abe is a leading member of the team of world and Asian democracies standing up to China in the name of universal values like “freedom of navigation” and to help ensure the shared peace and prosperity of Asia. Reality:  Shinzo Abe is a revisionist nationalist using friction with China to pursue Japanese national... Read More
I am unwilling to join the rest of China pundits on the fainting couch, overcome with dismay and disapproval at the PRC’s unilateral declaration of an ADIZ. All the big kids have an ADIZ. The PRC has an ADIZ. I don’t think it’s going anywhere and we should get used to it. To me, the... Read More
Update: According to the Japanese Coast Guard via AFP, the PRC did its bit to escalate tensions by dispatching two Coast Guard vessels to loiter in the territorial waters of the Senkakus for two hours. AFP also added this tidbit concerning Abe's defense posture: Global Times weighed in with a ferocious editorial addressing Abe's remarks... Read More
After raking the Irish Times over the coals for screwing up the headline it tacked onto the Reuters story about the alleged intrusion of a Chinese military aircraft into Japanese airspace by calling a Y-8 turboprop a “fighter plane”, I was…interested? bemused? incensed? to see AP run its story with the fighter plane characterization in... Read More
You are! No, you are! Now that Shinzo Abe’s LDP has rolled to triumph in Japan’s upper house elections, we can return to the pressing matter of Chinese and Japanese fingerpointing over the Senkakus and which nation is the real source of instability in the region—while both sides nervously look over their shoulders to see... Read More
LDP’s Pro-China Wing Fires Back at Abe; More Yeast for the Nikkei; and More Confusion About the Ryukyus
It always seemed likely that, back in the Deng Xiaoping days, the PRC and Japan were eager to cut a deal for normalization of relations and, therefore, both sides would agree to put the Senkaku issue on the backburner. The “set aside the Senkakus” sentiment was certainly the governing spirit at a press conference during... Read More
[Correction: I incorrectly identified ex-Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi as Shinzo Abe's father-in-law; he was actually Abe's maternal grandfather. Thanks to a knowledgeable and sharp-eyed reader for catching the mistake. PL 6/21/2013] In a dismaying week for the PRC, India turned its back on China...and thereby drifted further away from the narrative of Japanese criminal aggression... Read More
[This piece appeared at Asia Times Online on May 21, 2013.  It can be reposted if ATOl is credited and a link provided.]   The big story in Asia affairs today is a little trip that was supposed to stay a secret: the dispatch of Isao Iijima, adviser to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to... Read More
“Irritating Japan” Well On Its Way to Replacing “Rising China” Meme There is a delicious—well, delicious to me, anyway—flavor of Western bewilderment about the neverending parade of Japanese nationalist shenanigans. The most recent entry was Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s endorsement of the World War II Japanese military brothel system a.k.a. “comfort women”: Hashimoto—who seems to... Read More
David Lazarus and Michael Hiltzik, business columnists for the LA Times, are two good reasons to read the paper. Their columns serve as oases of actual reporting, analysis, and informed opinion amid the ongoing desertification of newspapers’ straight news operations. Hiltzik’s February 27 column on the “generational theft” meme, Seniors vs. Kids Claim is a... Read More
Prime Minister Abe was compelled to get into China’s grill about the Senkakus dispute in a Washington Post interview setting the table for his meeting with President Obama, claiming the PRC had a “deeply ingrained” need to challenge neighbors over territory. The PRC's Ministry of Foreign Affairs laid into Abe: People’s Daily ran with the... Read More
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