1H2017 Review: Japan

1H2017 Review: JapanFor Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 2017 has been the year that his political credibility came into doubt. A poll conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper on June 17 and 18 showed that Abe’s approval rating fell 10 points to 36%, and the rate of disapproval reached 44% - his first net negative rating since…

Japan Fields a Powerful New Woman Politician

Japan Fields a Powerful New Woman PoliticianYuriko Koike has been called the most powerful woman in Japan and a potential successor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. For now she is concentrating on affirming her unquestioned position as the most powerful woman in Tokyo. People of the Japanese capital go to the polls July 2 to choose members of the 127-seat Tokyo…

The Izumo Deployment: Japan’s Hat In the Ring

The Izumo Deployment: Japan’s Hat In the RingThe maiden deployment of Japan’s largest post-WWII warship, the JS Izumo to a South China Sea cruise at a time when the US and China in particular are contesting for political and military primacy in the region has set tongues wagging in many parts of the world, particularly in Beijing.  It is Japan’s biggest foray…

Trump Aides Cool Their Jets on Asia

Trump Aides Cool Their Jets on AsiaJapan and South Korea breathed easier following the recent visits from the new US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, his first to East Asia in his new job.  They were pleased by what he had to say, namely that the Senkaku islands, disputed by China, fall under the protection of the 1960 Security Treaty that…

Japan’s Female Troika: Potential Prime Ministers

Japan’s Female Troika: Potential Prime MinistersIn fewer than two months over the summer, Japan’s famously male-dominated political system elevated three ambitious women into positions that could become stepping-stones to the prime minister’s office.  Although Japan is now flanked by neighbors such as Taiwan and South Korea, both with women presidents, no Japanese woman has ever served as prime minister, or…

Tension Grows Between Japan and China over Islets

Tension Grows Between Japan and China over IsletsTokyo has delivered a humiliating public protest to China’s ambassador for the intrusion of a vast “fishing fleet” escorted by a dozen coast guard and other law-enforcement vessels in or near waters of the disputed Senkaku islands, known as the Daioyus to the Chinese. Such protests are common in the ongoing cat and mouse game…

Japan Enters South China Sea Dispute

Japan Enters South China Sea DisputeIn the coming months, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague is set to issue its judgment on the case brought by the Philippines that challenges China’s claims in the South China Sea. Beijing appears to be anticipating an unfavorable ruling and is reaffirming its stance on the illegitimacy of the UN tribunal. Beijing…

Obama to go to Hiroshima

Obama to go to HiroshimaFor years, even as wartime animosities were transformed into friendship, no US President has ever visited Hiroshima, site of the first atomic bombing (Jimmy Carter visited after he left the presidency).  They were deterred by what might be called the “Truman Question.” It goes like this: “Mr. President, if you had been president in 1945,…

Japan PM Abe’s Influence Grows Across ASEAN

Japan PM Abe’s Influence Grows Across ASEANIn Southeast Asia, Japan can be said to enjoy unrivaled popularity. According to the 2015 Pew Global Attitudes survey, an average of about 80 percent of respondents surveyed across four Southeast Asian countries said they hold a favorable view of Japan. While China’s expanding military footprint in the disputed South China Sea has a headline-grabbing…

Shinzo Abe Gets Fresh Wind in his Sails

Shinzo Abe Gets Fresh Wind in his SailsThis has been a tough summer for Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. His public approval polling numbers took a dive as tens of thousands besieged parliament to protest passage of a pair of security bills allowing Japan to cooperate more fully with allies. His pet project, bringing the Olympics to Tokyo in 2020, took a…
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