Sino-Japan Ties Improving?

Sino-Japan Ties Improving?The recently-concluded APEC Summit in Beijing was a forum for many memorable images, most notably the uncomfortable handshake between China’s President Xi Jinping and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Opinion on the significance of the communiqué and the subsequent handshake is divided between optimists and pessimists. Pessimists assert that these are little more than symbolic,…

Japan’s Election Without a Cause

Japan’s Election Without a CauseThe Japanese economy has slipped into recession, so Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has dissolved parliament and called for a snap general election scheduled for Dec. 14. Say what? It is unusual to say the least for a government to voluntarily call for a general election in the wake of bad economic news. The premier said…

Shinzo Abe’s Women Troubles II

Shinzo Abe’s Women Troubles IIIn an effort to burnish his avowed policy of empowering women, sometimes known as “womenomics,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed five women to his cabinet in his September 3 re-shuffle. It is not the most women in a Japanese cabinet – former premier Junichiro Koizumi also had five women in one of his cabinets, but…

Okinawa’s New US Marine Base’s Underwater Nemesis

Okinawa’s New US Marine Base’s Underwater NemesisThe long-besieged proposed US Marine base at Henoko on the pristine eastern coast of Okinawa, opposed by at least 75 percent of the island’s residents, has run into another obstacle -- new court decisions protecting the lowly, endangered Okinawan dugong. The Marines have been trying to build an expanded base on Okinawa for decades. The…

Japan’s Leading Newspaper under Siege

Japan’s Leading Newspaper under SiegeEvery day scores of right-wing activists gather outside the editorial offices of the Asahi Shimbun to denounce one of Japan’s two leading national newspapers. Conservatives have long objected to the newspaper’s liberal bent, but only recently have the paper’s editors given them a cudgel to beat on them for being too “pro-Chinese” and “pro-Korean.” The…

Modi Embraces Abe

Modi Embraces AbeThe unprecedented warm hug between India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe when they met in Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto sent strong diplomatic signals across the region and beyond. This was Modi’s first stop in Japan on a five-day official visit beginning 30 August. In a rather unusual move, Abe…

Japan and China Compete for Latin American Clout

Japan and China Compete for Latin American CloutChinese President Xi Jinping’s fruitful visit to South America, which included a proposed US$20 billion fund to finance infrastructure projects in Latin America and the Caribbean and a cornucopia of other benefits, has thoroughly overshadowed a similar trip to Latin America by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe hailed his own five country visit as…

Japan, India Link Over Aggressive China Policies

Japan, India Link Over Aggressive China PoliciesAsia’s leading nations have been slowly coming together to face the challenge of an assertive China. To the chagrin of Beijing, US, Indian and Japanese naval vessels gathered for a joint exercise in the Pacific ostensibly against piracy and terrorism. The rise of nationalist leaders in Japan and India, combined with growing US concern about aggressive…

Report Card on Japan’s Shinzo Abe

Report Card on Japan’s Shinzo AbeIn the year and a half he has been in power, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited more than two dozen countries. He has become the most widely travelled Japanese prime minister in recent history. But there are two important countries and two important leaders conspicuously absent from this list: China and South Korea.…

Mr. Obama’s Asian Vacation

Mr. Obama’s Asian VacationUS President Barack Obama ended his four-nation tour of Asia last week, insisting, yet again, that the US is not out to confront China. “Our goal is not to contain China,” he said at a press conference in Manila, just before he left. “Our goal is to make sure international rules and norms are respected,…
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