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,…

Could a Bird Avert a China-Japan War?

Could a Bird Avert a China-Japan War?Short of buying a 15-megaton thermal nuclear bomb from Russia and blowing up the Senkaku/Daioyu islands (making sure that nothing remains above the water line at low tide), is there any other way to defuse this escalating territorial dispute that some observers worry could lead to war between China and Japan? There is, of course,…

Japan’s Troubling Denial of Comfort Women

Japan’s Troubling Denial of Comfort WomenFor the past year, Northeast Asia has been in the grip of a worsening spiral of tensions provoked by territorial disputes and nationalist statements by political leaders. Careful diplomacy to defuse the deepening crisis is urgently needed. So the announcement by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on February 28 that the Japanese government intends…
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