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…

Japan’s Abe Isn’t Placating the Right

Japan’s Abe Isn’t Placating the RightWhen people ask why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to worship at Yasukuni Shrine against the advice of most of his advisers, one of the most common answers is that he is placating his right-wing supporters. Abe, say his supporters, ‘is not nationalist; he’s a pragmatist’. But a better view is that Abe is…

Japan and Taiwan are ‘Stingy’ Balancers

Japan and Taiwan are ‘Stingy’ BalancersThere has been much commentary recently about the hikes in Japan’s defense budget. The rises, along with other measures and rhetorical stances taken by the Abe administration, are meant to show Japan’s resolve over disputed territories and to offset China’s growing military capabilities. This may seem on the surface like a classic case of balance-of-power…

The Real Shinzo Abe Stands Up

The Real Shinzo Abe Stands UpLast year in June Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave an important speech at Guildhall in the heart of London’s financial district during which he bragged several times about the “political capital” he had accrued through his party’s landslide election victory in December, 2012, and the popularity of his economic program dubbed “Abenomics.” The reference to…

Abe’s Yasukuni Visit Escalates Asian Tensions

Abe’s Yasukuni Visit Escalates Asian TensionsVisits by Japanese prime ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan’s war dead (including convicted Class-A war criminals), have repeatedly caused tensions in Asia over the years. Yasuhiro Nakasone created controversy when he visited the Shrine in 1985. Junichiro Koizumi did substantial damage to Japan’s relations with South Korea and China by visiting annually…

The Heat Rises in Japan

The Heat Rises in JapanChina’s recent declaration creating an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over a large portion of the East China Sea, including the disputed Senkaku/Daioyu islands, has been a feast day in Japan for arm-chair strategists, would-be thriller writers, retired generals and other assorted defense analysts and pundits. In the wake of China’s declaration, five of Japan’s…

The Threat of War in the Northern Pacific

The Threat of War in the Northern PacificThe present strategic situation in East Asia, and concerns over its potential trajectory, has been linked to the geopolitical dispositions and sentiments in Europe as that continent stumbled into war in August 1914. While historical analogies contain as many traps and ‘false positives’ as they do insights, there is a striking and worrying similarity between…

Japan’s Persistent Pacifism

Japan’s Persistent PacifismAs the generation that experienced the Second World War is replaced by a new cohort that is psychologically detached from the horrors of the war, the number of devotees to fervent pacifism has been shrinking as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attempts to make the case for renunciation of the pacifist constitution foisted on the country…
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