US-Japan Alliance Revitalized

US-Japan Alliance RevitalizedThe new Guidelines for the US-Japan Defense Cooperation represent the most sweeping changes in the US-Japan alliance in the 55 years since the mutual security treaty was signed in 1960. Indeed, it is possible now to write about the alliance without putting the word in quotation marks. The new guidelines, the first revision since 1997,…

Japan’s Abe Tries Painful Structural Reform

Japan’s Abe Tries Painful Structural ReformIn his 29 April speech to US Congress, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proudly referred to his administration’s “sweeping reforms to our agricultural cooperatives that have not changed in 60 long years.”  Those reforms ae a part of Abe’s crucial “third arrow” of structural reform, which has been stalled since he took office. But the draft bill presented to…

The Pains and Gains of a Strong Japan

The Pains and Gains of a Strong JapanSept 2, 2015 will mark 70 years since V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day) and, in effect, the end of the Second World War.  In 1960, the United States and Japanese governments would sign a security treaty building upon previous arrangements permitting the stationing of American troops on Japanese soil and the restriction of Japanese…

Why are Japanese Baseball Pitchers Breaking Down?

Why are Japanese Baseball Pitchers Breaking Down?Fans of the Texas Rangers, the Texas-based baseball team, were downcast after learning that their ace Japanese pitcher, Yu Darvish, will remain on the disabled list and not play a game during the entire 2015 season because an elbow injury required surgery. As baseball writers on both sides of the Pacific were struggling to absorb…

Japan’s Disguised Aircraft Carriers

Japan’s Disguised Aircraft CarriersJapan commissioned the 24,000-ton Izumo last month. the largest warship to join the navy since the end of World War II. To hear Beijing, it was the second coming of the Imperial Navy and ipso facto evidence that the country, under its conservative premier Shinzo Abe, is hell-bent on “remilitarization” By coincidence the commissioning came…

Tokyo Districts Give Boost to Same-Sex Marriage

Tokyo Districts Give Boost to Same-Sex MarriageTwo Tokyo wards are considering a plan to issue same-sex “partnership certificates,” putting the spotlight on the status of same-sex marriage in Japan. Trendy Shibuya Ward got the ball rolling in early February by announcing that it would declare same-sex unions to be the “equivalent of marriage.” Setagaya, Tokyo’s most populous ward [borough] quickly followed…

Grading Abenomics: It’s a C-

Grading Abenomics: It’s a C-Two years have passed since Shinzo Abe returned as prime minister of Japan and implemented a new economic policy that was quickly dubbed “Abenomics.” Enough time has passed to give a preliminary assessment of what Abenomics has accomplished. The answer? Not much. Abenomics consists of three parts, or “arrows:” a monetary policy of aggressive quantitative…

Arms Race Coming in Asia?

Arms Race Coming in Asia?The East and South China Seas face the possibility of a growing arms race between Japan, China and other countries, according to a new policy research paper released by the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. The paper, A Tale of Two Conflicts, written by Ian Forsyth, an analyst at the US Pacific…

Oil Prices not Delivering Asia Boom

Oil Prices not Delivering Asia BoomThe best efforts of central bankers in the West and Japan to re-ignite inflation have thus far failed. The rest of Asia, which once seemed partly immune to the problems of aging and indebted societies, is now looking far more vulnerable to deflationary forces. Low and still-falling interest rates should in principle benefit these countries…

In Japan, a Year for Poignant Memories

In Japan, a Year for Poignant MemoriesOne Monday morning in 1995, Kazumashita Takahashi , an assistant station master on the Chiyodu Subway line in central Tokyo, was on duty when the 8:10 train pulled in. Many of the passengers were civil servants, whose offices were in the nearby Kasumigaseki government district next to the Imperial palace. Before the doors slammed shut…