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Tokyo chief's visit to shrine 'ironic'
China Daily, December 30, 2016
Beijing has denounced as "greatly ironic" the Japanese defense chief's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which came shortly after she returned from accompanying Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his visit to Pearl Harbor.
"This not only reflects some Japanese people's obstinately wrong view of history, it is also greatly ironic given the Pearl Harbor reconciliation trip," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday at a regular news conference.
Hua was asked about Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada's visit on Thursday to the shrine, which honors Japan's 2.5 million dead during World War II as well as 14 Class-A war criminals convicted of plotting and carrying out the war. She said that Beijing would lodge a protest with Tokyo.
[Yasukuni] [Inada Tomomi]
Korea protests Japanese defense chief's Yasukuni visit
By Kang Seung-woo
The government strongly condemned the Japanese defense minister's visit to a controversial war shrine, Thursday, describing it as "deplorable."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned a ranking official from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to protest the visit that it believes is an attempt to justify its wartime aggression.
Earlier in the day, Tomomi Inada visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo to pay her respects to the Japanese war dead ? the first time that Japan's incumbent defense chief has ever visited the shrine.
[Yasukuni] [Inada Tomomi] [SK Japan]
The end of Japan’s very long postwar era
29 December 2016
Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU
On 3 November 2016 Japan celebrated the 70th anniversary of its postwar constitution, which has survived unchanged for longer than any other existing written constitution in the world. The occasion was one of mixed emotions. The Japanese media spent as much time debating the limitations of the current constitution as celebrating its achievements. In many parts of the country, commemorative events were overshadowed by protest gatherings of citizens voicing opposition to the prospect of possible constitutional change.
The timing of the anniversary was ironic. November was also the month when committees in both houses of the Japanese parliament re-opened debate on constitutional revision. So far, this debate has remained cautious and low-key, but has been given new meaning by the circumstances in which it is being conducted. The July 2016 elections for the first time gave the current administration and its political allies the majority in both houses of parliament needed to alter the constitution.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself has long dreamed of constitutional overhaul as part of his broader objective of erasing the traces of what he calls ‘the postwar regime’.
[Abe Shinzo] [Constitution] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Is N. Korea's atomic training college in Tokyo?
North Korea's Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles / Yonhap
Activist says ‘nuclear spies' are on the loose in Japan
Rights campaigner says scientists for Pyongyang's atomic weapon programme are openly being trained at a university in Japan
By Julian Ryall
A Japanese human rights activist has launched a campaign to stop classes on nuclear physics, advanced chemistry, robotics and electronics being taught at a North Korean-sponsored university in Tokyo, claiming the institution violates UN sanctions and benefits Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.
Ken Kato, director of a group called Human Rights in Asia and a member of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, has submitted a petition to the UN panel that monitors sanctions imposed on North Korea in the aftermath of its nuclear tests and missile launches.
In his petition, Kato called on the panel to "conduct a thorough investigation into violations of United Nations sanctions by the Korea University". He said the college in Kodaira, western Tokyo, requires students to be members of the Korean Youth League in Japan, which promises to "raise youths to become true Kim Il-sung-Kim Jong-il followers".
The university, along with some kindergartens, junior and senior high schools, are operated by Chongryun, an organisation that represents Korean residents of Japan who still swear allegiance to North Korea and who are said to number tens of thousands.
[Hysteria] [Zainichi] [Anti-Korean]
Navy conducts military exercise to defend Dokdo islets
South Korea's Navy on Wednesday conducted a maritime drill to defend the country's easternmost islets of Dokdo in the East Sea, officials said, as Japan has laid persistent claims to the sovereign territory.
The Navy kicked off a biannual military exercise to guard Dokdo from unlawful intrusion by mobilizing its warships and maritime patrol planes, it said.
If weather conditions permit, the Marine Corps is also expected to conduct a landing drill on the islets, it said.
Since 1986, the South Korean Navy and Coast Guard have carried out joint maneuvers twice a year in waters near the islets, which lie some 87 kilometers southeast of Ulleung Island and lie closer to Korea than Japan. Japan has lodged a protest against Seoul's move.
Japan has long claimed sovereignty over Dokdo, and it is one of the thorniest diplomatic issues between the neighbors. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.
The Navy had planned to conduct an exercise to defend the islets last month when it carried out maritime drills but decided on a delay. This raised speculation that the country delayed the drill so as not to overlap the date of Seoul and Tokyo's signing of a military intelligence-sharing pact.
On Nov. 23, South Korea and Japan inked the pact in a bid to better counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. (Yonhap)
[Dokdo] [SK Japan]
Japan: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s Agenda
December 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 24 | Number 1
The Abe World
As this 4th year of the second Abe (Shinzo) government draws to a close, how are we to understand the Abe agenda? 1 The Abe government describes itself as committed to the universal values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law. It lets fly policy “arrows” to revive and energize Japan’s “hundred million people” and have Japanese women “shine.” It calls attention to Japan the beautiful. It preaches the gospel of what it calls “resilience,” and declares to the world a commitment to “positive pacifism.” To Okinawa it insists that it is making every effort to “reduce the burden” of the US military presence.2 Abe’s government enjoys high levels of support (60.7 per cent as of November 2016)3 and Abe himself, having triumphed in four successive national elections, under party rules revised to clear the way for him to do so, now stands a strong chance of staying in office as Prime Minister for three terms (nine years), in addition to his earlier term between 2006 and 2007. By 2021 he might become both the longest serving of Japan’s modern Prime Ministers, and (if he manages to accomplish his agenda) its most consequential.
Yet many in Japan see things very differently.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japanese remilitarisation]
The Asahi Shimbun’s Foiled Foray into Watchdog Journalism
December 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 24 | Number 4
In Japan’s public disillusionment following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Asahi Shimbun, the nation’s second-largest daily and the “quality paper” favored by intellectuals, launched a bold experiment to regain readers’ trust.
On the sixth floor of its hulking headquarters overlooking Tokyo’s celebrated fish market, the newspaper gathered 30 hand-picked journalists to create a desk dedicated to investigative reporting, something relatively rare in a country whose big national media favor cozy ties with officials via the so-called press clubs. The choice to head the new section was also unusual: Yorimitsu Takaaki was a gruff, gravely voiced outsider who was not a career employee of the elitist Asahi but had been head-hunted from a smaller regional newspaper for his investigative prowess.
Okinawa: NGO Appeal to the United Nations and to US Military and Government over Base Matters, December 2015 and December 2016
Edited by Hideki Yoshikawa and Gavan McCormack
December 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 24 | Number 7
Okinawa: NGO Appeal to the United Nations and to US Military and Government over Base Matters, December 2015 and December 2016
1 Introduction, by Hideki Yoshikawa
2 Document 1. Okinawan Citizens’ Groups, “Joint Submission to United Nations,” December 2015
•Lawyers’ Group on Henoko, “Statement against wrongful detention in front of Camp Schwab gate,” July 2015
•Okinawa Bar Association, “Statement on Security Activities of Japan Coastguard” 11 March 2015
•Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Demand to Japanese Government to Respect Freedom of Expression, 15 December 2011
•Violence, Detention and Arrests in Henoko, 2014-15
3 Document 2. Letter from 40 Okinawan, Japanese, and International NGOs to US Military and US Government, 1 December 2016 (original Japanese text here)
Japan, Pearl Harbor, and the Poetry of December 8th
Jeremy Yellen and Andrew Campana
December 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 24 | Number 5
Article Summary: This article explores tanka poetry published shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack as a window into the initial public reaction in Japan to the outbreak of the Pacific War. We show that whereas tanka became a powerful tool of propaganda in the hands of professional poets, it also allowed amateur poets and political figures to express their private, diary-bound dissent.
On December 8, 1941—seventy-five years ago—people across Japan woke to the most surprising news. At 7 a.m., the press released the following bulletin from Imperial Headquarters: “Today, on December 8, before dawn, the Imperial Army and Navy entered into a state of war with U.S. and British forces in the western Pacific.”1 A few hours later, at 11 a.m., the Cabinet released the imperial rescript declaring war on the United States and Great Britain. People glued to their radios would soon learn that Japan had launched a daring and successful surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and had begun operations against British and American territories throughout Southeast Asia. This news electrified the populace, generating a widespread euphoria and jingoism that perhaps exceeded any other event in Japan’s modern history.2 From schoolchildren to professors, writers to critics, military men to civilians, people across Japan reacted with jubilation.
[Pearl Harbor] [Pacific War] [Public opinion]
Grassroots Struggle in the US and Okinawa: The Visible and the Invisible
Translated by Gavan McCormack
Introduced by Gavan McCormack with Norma Field
December 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 24 | Number 2
Who could fail to be deeply moved on watching the recent events at Standing Rock, North Dakota, when on December 4 the Army Corps of Engineers ordered a halt to the planned construction of an oil pipeline beneath the waters and soil of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe following months of confrontation and attempts by the American state, bolstered by private security firms, to evict the “water protectors” encampment by force and to crush the resistance?1
The security firms, also present in such spots as Iraq and Afghanistan thanks to government contracts, protect the Dakota Access pipeline for Energy Transfer Partners, which is supported by loans from, among others, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Bank.2 President-elect Trump, reported to have a stake in the company, has made clear his support for the project.3 The resistance, beginning with a tiny group of tribal youth,4 fired by determination to protect sacred soil and water and armed with social media skills, eventually joined by cascades of indigenous peoples and environmentalists from throughout the continent, received a dramatic reinforcement in the eleventh hour in the form of veterans from all branches of the U.S. military. Many came in fatigues, but unarmed, to honor the principle of nonviolence declared by the Standing Rock leadership and to help them protect “our water, our sacred places, and all living things.”
[Okinawa] [Bases] [Protest]
No progress made on long-standing territorial row during Abe-Putin summit
Xinhua, December 17, 2016
Japan and Russia on Friday wrapped up a two-day summit between their top leaders but failed again to make breakthrough in a long-held sovereignty dispute which has been a major stumbling block for bilateral relations.
Putin, the first Russian president who paid a visit to Japan for a bilateral meeting in the past 11 years, met Abe in the Japanese prime minister's home prefecture of Yamaguchi and then in Tokyo for talks on territorial dispute, peace treaty issues as well as economic cooperation.
Russia and Japan have not signed a peace treaty formalizing the end of World War II mainly due to a territory row over four small islands in the Pacific which are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia..
The two sides agreed to start consultations on joint economic activities on the four disputed islands held by Russia but claimed by Japan, saying that it would mark an important step towards reaching a postwar peace treaty between the two countries that will formally end WWII, according to a press statement released by the two governments after their leaders' meeting.
[Russia Japan] [Northern territories]
Trump and China force Japan to embrace new partners
12:00AM December 12, 2016
When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stands over the tomb of 1100 American sailors at the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor this month, he will be hoping Donald Trump is watching carefully.
Abe’s historic visit to Hawaii alongside US President Barack Obama — the first by a Japanese leader since World War II — is intended to showcase the power of this key Pacific alliance to ease differences and meet the challenges of the future.
The Abe government has been shaken, if not panicked, by Trump’s surprise victory and is reaching out to the victors to ensure its bedrock post-war alliance with the US is safe.
Canberra, meanwhile, is promoting a strategic partnership in the Pacific between Australia, the US and Japan in the face of a rising China. Tensions between China and Japan — and how Trump may influence these — are crucial to Australia. The two countries are our largest and second-largest export markets.
Japanese government officials and academics told The Australian they are trying to discern what Trump’s win means for the region as China bolsters its military presence in disputed islands of the South China Sea.
[Australia] [China confrontation] [Japan] [Threat]
Should Abe court Russia?
9 December 2016
Author: Georgy Toloraya, Russian Academy of Science and Dmitry Streltsov, MGIMO.
Tokyo has recently invested significant effort into improving its relationship with Moscow. The Abe government has ignored repeated warnings from Washington that ‘now is not the time for dealing with Russia because of Ukraine’. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s personal ambitions may be contributing to this renewed push for courting Putin. Diplomatic success of any kind with Russia will give Abe and the ruling LDP an additional credit with the domestic population — something the LDP desperately needs as hopes for renewed economic growth begin to collapse.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a Northern Territories Day rally to call on Russia to return a group of islands in Tokyo 7 February 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Yuya Shino)
But Japan also believes that a friendlier Russia might make a good strategic partner, even if progress on territorial issues fails to materialise. Japan is extremely worried by China’s military ambitions and by the inadequate security guarantees from the United States. Washington, they fear, would not dare start an armed conflict with China if Sino–Japanese territorial disputes over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands escalate. Japan must also consider a scenario where the US withdraws its nuclear ‘umbrella’ because of the ‘Trump factor’. Being ‘left alone’ against a hostile, Russian-supported China is a Japanese policymaker’s worst nightmare.
Can Abe and Putin negotiate a draw in their territorial disputes?
11 December 2016
Author: Sourabh Gupta, Institute for China-America Studies
The arc of Japan and Russia’s post-WWII ties can be traced to three foundational documents — the 1951 Treaty of Peace with Japan (San Francisco Treaty), the 1956 Japan–Soviet Union Joint Declaration, and the 1993 Tokyo Declaration. On 15 December 2016, Shinzo Abe will stand on the cusp of authoring a fourth document with Vladimir Putin that could deliver a bilateral peace treaty as well as substantially settle the long-festering territorial dispute between their two countries. Abe should not let the opportunity pass.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Photo: Reuters).
Japan and Russia disagree about the sovereignty of the islands of Etorofu (Iturup in Russian) and Kunashiri (Kunashir) and the sequencing of the repossession — by Tokyo — of Shikotan and Habomai islands.
For six decades and counting, Tokyo’s position on Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and Habomai has been steadfast.
These Northern Territories are Japanese but are illegally occupied by Russia. They were not acquired as a product of Russo–Japanese wars and so the 1943 Cairo Declaration’s injunction, which expelled Tokyo from territories acquired by ‘violence and greed’, does not apply to them.
The four islands were never part of Moscow’s territory until they were seized by Stalin during the dying days of the war — a seizure that violated the Japan–USSR Neutrality Treaty of 1941. Though the Soviet dictator would probably claim that the Agreement Regarding Japan at Yalta on 11 February 1945 was his license to seize the islands, Japan was not a party to this secret deal and is not bound by its provisions.
[Russia Japan] [Territorial disputes] [Northern territories] [Yalta]
Why the Abe–Putin summit is likely to disappoint
7 December 2016
Author: James D. J. Brown, Temple University Japan
President Vladimir Putin will finally visit Japan on 15 December. While Putin was originally expected to visit in 2014, the meeting was repeatedly delayed due to the Ukraine crisis and the resulting deterioration in East–West relations. The Russian leader will meet his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Nagato, Yamaguchi prefecture, before participating in an economic forum in Tokyo the following day.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd L) touches hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they walk with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, after a G8 summit group photograph was taken at the Lough Erne golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, 18 June 2013. (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Winning).
A visit by the Russian head of state is always a significant event. But on this occasion the sense of anticipation surrounding the meeting is especially high due to Prime Minister Abe’s announcement of a ‘new approach’ to relations with Russia. This policy was unveiled during Abe’s visit to Sochi in May and proposes increased economic cooperation in eight key areas. Abe’s underlying aim is to demonstrate the value of relations with Japan and thereby induce concessions from Russia on the countries’ territorial dispute.
[Russia Japan] [Territorial disputes] [Northern territories]
On the Japan-China “Rail Wars”
Author: Vladimir Terehov
here were several important outcomes of the previous three-day visit made by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan (from November 10 to November 12, 2016), but it is the Cooperation Agreement on the development of high-speed railway transport that attracts particular attention.
It, alongside other facts that have emerged over the past few years, has led to Bloomberg publishing a thesis by American Orientalist Jeffrey Kingston on the expansion of the “rail wars” between Japan and China, which is taking on an almost global nature. This time it has manifested itself in the territory of India. The participants of the so-called “war” are resorting to methods that include both political influence on the leadership of the country that announces a tender for the construction of transport infrastructure, as well as the financial and technology attractiveness of the proposed projects.
China and Japan, the two global leaders in the construction of high-speed railways, have used these tools in full in the course of the first such tender announced by Indonesia last summer. A year ago, we briefly described the dramatic development of the Japan-China struggle to win the order to develop and implement the construction project of the 140-km long Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway on the island of Java worth more than 5 billion dollars. The government of Indonesia found itself in a situation that can only be described as “dramatic” as it had to choose the winner out of the two leading Asian powers.
[Railways] [Japan China India] [India]
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On Shinzo Abe’s visit to America
Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe’s weeklong trip to the American continent consisted of three consequent steps.
The first was a 1.5-hour introductory meeting with the US president-elect, Donald Trump, which was held at the Trump Tower on November 18, 2016, in Washington. The second was a meeting with the heads of a number of states on the sidelines of the current APEC summit held in Lima, Peru, on November 19-20. The third consisted of talks with the President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and his final visit to Argentina, which is the second most important country in Latin America.
One of the two key topics under Japan’s current foreign policy, which has been exacerbated by further developments in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was the basis for discussions conducted during the meetings on the tour. A second and no less important topic centred around the relations between Tokyo-US, its main military and political ally, under its new president. According to reports, both topics were exhaustively discussed during Sh. Abe’s meeting with D. Trump.
[Abe Shinzo] [Trump]
[Reporter’s notebook] After GSOMIA, how far will military cooperation with Japan go?
Posted on : Nov.26,2016 14:57 KST
Military information sharing agreement is a sign of S. Korea being pulled into US-led efforts to check China
“What is ‘confidential information’? Say Kim Jong-un is wearing a Prada outfit - is that kind of thing confidential information?”
This question came up when I was talking to Kwon Eun-jung, the person in charge of the “Friendly Reporters” piece in the Hankyoreh’s Saturday edition, about South Korea and Japan’s General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). What do you think?
In my case, I answered, “Probably not.” According to the GSOMIA text, military secrets are defined as intelligence that “could result in a clear danger to national security if leaked.” It’s a Class I secret if the risk is “fatal,” Class II if it’s “conspicuous,” and Class III if it’s “substantial.” What Kim Jong-un is wearing wouldn’t seem to have anything to do with military secrecy.
Let’s consider another. Some of you may recall the story about Kim Jong-il brushing his teeth. After he was felled by a stroke in Aug. 2008, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) director reported to the National Assembly that Kim was “not capable of more than brushing his teeth.” So what about that? It’s about the health of North Korea’s supreme leader, so it would seem to be a bit different. And given claims that the North Korea human intelligence network suffered greatly as a result of the NIS’s conjecture based on leaked information, it does seem to constitute a secret.
I asked a senior military intelligence officer about it, and was told that the question of what and how numerous Class I, Class II, and Class III secrets are is itself a matter of security. To indulge me, he let me know that as of June 30, there were fewer than ten Class I secrets and about 47,000 Class II and III secrets together. Sources around the military have said Combined Forces Command operational plans like OPLAN 5027 or OPLAN 5015 and code books fall into Class II, while unit formations and organizations are managed as Class III secrets. Passwords aren’t even considered secrets; they are said to be “confidential,” which is a level below that. GSOMIA applies to Class II and III secrets, but not Class I. Since Class I secrets represent just 0.00002% of secrets at most, that basically means just about everything.
[GSOMIA] [SK Japan] [OPLAN 5027] [OPLAN 5015]
After signing GSOMIA, Japan eyeing bigger military cooperation with South Korea
Posted on : Nov.25,2016 16:41 KST
During the signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) on Nov. 23, barbed wire is placed in front of the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul to block protesters opposed to the signing. (by Kim Bong-kyu, staff photographer)
South Korean government saying that sensitive classified OPLAN 5027 won’t be shared with Japan under GSOMIA
South Korea and Japan’s signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) on Nov. 23 enables the two countries to share sensitive military information, implying that bilateral military cooperation has resumed after a 71-year freeze since normalization of relations. Japan took the first step, and experts believe that it will keep pushing for even closer military cooperation, with the ultimate aim of conducting military activities on the Korean Peninsula.
The reason given by Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during the regular press briefing on Nov. 24 for military cooperation between the two countries was “North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles,” but he also said that Japan “would continue working for cooperation with South Korea in the area of security.”
The Nov. 24 edition of Japanese newspaper the Mainichi Shimbun described the objective of the information-sharing allowed by this agreement as follows: “What the Ministry of Defense wants is access to information related to the US and South Korea’s operational plans in the event that war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea would need to work with the US and South Korea to deal with a large number of refugees, including Japanese [in South Korea], during the ensuing military chaos.” Landing troops from the Japanese Self-Defense Force in South Korea to rescue Japanese citizens is one of Japan’s main goals, and it is a request that Japan has repeatedly made to South Korea.
[GSOMIA] [OPLAN 5027] [Intervention] [Pretext] [Humanitarian intervention]
‘Poisoned gift’ imperils families of North Korea’s Zainichi returnees
BY Markus Bell
The gift of freedom given by Japanese civic groups to new arrivals from North Korea carries a heavy debt, writes Markus Bell. From 1959 to 1984, some 90,000 Koreans migrated from Japan to North Korea as part of the ‘repatriation movement’. In the last 15 years approximately 300 of these migrants—known as Zainichi—have returned to Japan. For these returnees, their resettlement in Japan and their relationship to members of Japanese society is often hampered by a sense of obligation to those who have facilitated their return. Forced migration takes numerous forms and, in tandem with the resettlement process, is often a traumatic experience that requires significant emotional and physical rehabilitation, and time to recover. In many cases, during the early stages of resettlement, government services shape new arrivals into specific kinds of citizens. But what happens when the government neither supports nor acknowledges the arrival and existence of a group of asylum seekers? Who organises visas and helps register for employment? Who shows the new arrival how to use basic services and navigate the bureaucratic spider web of the postindustrial society? Based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork in Osaka and Tokyo, my new article, published through Asian Anthropology, explores these questions through the theoretical lens of ‘gifting’ as they relate to immigrants from North Korea. - See more at: http://asaa.asn.au/poisoned-gift-imperils-families-of-north-koreas-zainichi-returnees/#sthash.1BwagNcA.dpuf
ROK-Japan intelligence sharing pact criticized
China Daily, November 24, 2016
The Republic of Korea and Japan signed a long-delayed agreement on sharing military intelligence on Wednesday, despite public opposition in Seoul, ensuring the free exchange of information among the two countries and their ally the United States.
South Korea and Japan on Wednesday formally sign a military intelligence pact in Seoul, Nov. 23, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
South Korea and Japan on Wednesday formally sign a military intelligence pact in Seoul, Nov. 23, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]
Experts said the move, together with other recent activities by Seoul, reflects a spreading Cold War mentality that could heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula and test Seoul's relationship with Beijing, since the sharing of intelligence could relate to China.
The General Security of Military Information Agreement, signed on Wednesday, allows the ROK and Japan to directly share information about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea without first going through US intelligence.
Seoul and Tokyo currently use Washington as an intermediary when sharing military intelligence on Pyongyang under a deal signed in 2014.
The signing came less than a month after discussions resumed on Oct 27, following a suspension of four years due to public opposition in the ROK.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang criticized the agreement at a daily news conference on Wednesday.
"Related countries' adherence to the Cold War mentality and strengthened military intelligence cooperation will aggravate antagonism and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula," Geng said, adding that this will bring more insecurity and uncertainty to Northeast Asia.
[GSOMIA] [China confrontation] [SK Japan]
Despite criticism, South Korea signs GSOMIA with Japan
Posted on : Nov.23,2016 16:11 KST
News photographers refuse to take photos of Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine as he enters the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul to sign the bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), on the morning of Nov. 23. On that morning, Defense Ministry public relations official Na Sung-yong said that the Ministry would not provide photos of the signing of the agreement, or allow the photographers inside to photograph the signing. In protest, the photographers responded by refusing to photographer Nagamine as he entered. (pool photo)
Opposition parties strongly oppose the agreement and are mulling efforts towards it rescission
Despite criticism from all sides, the South Korean cabinet voted in favor of the bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan, and President Park Geun-hye immediately gave her approval. This is sure to provoke a fierce backlash from opposition parties and civil society.
At 8 am on Nov. 22, a cabinet meeting presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Yoo Il-ho reviewed the information-sharing agreement (submitted as Bill No. 1712) and voted in favor of it. On the afternoon of the same day, the Blue House announced that Park had approved the agreement.
“Given the specific and serious threat that is posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles, we need to work with Japan, which has excellent intelligence assets. The Defense Ministry and other government agencies will continue their efforts to secure the consent and the support of the public,” the government said in a document that it gave reporters detailing the outcome of the cabinet meeting.
[GSOMIA] [SK Japan]
Before signing GSOMIA with Japan, S. Korea calls off regular Dokdo defensive drills
Posted on : Nov.23,2016 16:09 KST
Government apparently seeking to avoid irritating Japan with drills on Dokdo, which Japan claims as its territory
Just before signing the bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan, the South Korean military abruptly delayed defensive exercises at the island of Dokdo, prompting criticism that the agreement represents a disgraceful capitulation to Japan.
“The navy was planning to hold the Dokdo defensive exercises on Nov. 24. It was planning to brief Defense Minister Han Min-koo and others before proceeding with the exercises as planned, but they were abruptly postponed last week,” a source in the government said on Nov. 22.
“My understanding is that the navy’s abrupt postponement resulted from orders from above,” the source added. While the source did not specify what was meant by “above,” this is presumably a reference to the Defense Ministry and the Blue House.
[GSOMIA] [SK Japan] [Dokdo]
S. Korea and Japan set to sign controversial GSOMIA this week
Posted on : Nov.22,2016 16:01 KST
Opposition parties strongly opposing signing of agreement that they say could jeopardize security
The South Korean government is planning to officially sign the bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan on Nov. 23. The opposition parties, which are accusing President Park Geun-hye of using security-related issues to help her escape from her political crisis, are demanding that the government immediately stop the proceedings.
“We’re planning to sign the information-sharing agreement with Japan as soon as the cabinet meeting votes in favor of it tomorrow [Nov. 22] and Park gives her approval,” said a senior official with South Korea’s Defense Ministry on Nov. 21. “The signing is scheduled to take place on Nov. 23,” he added.
Park was originally supposed to preside over the cabinet meeting on the morning of Nov. 22, but after prosecutors identified Park as a suspect in its announcement of the interim findings in an ongoing investigation, the Blue House changed its plans to put the prime minister in charge of the cabinet meeting. But since Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will not be returning to South Korea from the APEC summit in Peru until the afternoon of Nov. 22, the plan is for the next ranking cabinet member - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance Yoo Il-ho - to head up the meeting.
[GSOMIA] [SK Japan] [Protest]
Seoul, Tokyo to sign military deal Wednesday
By Yi Whan-woo
The governments of South Korea and Japan will formally sign a disputed deal on sharing military intelligence tomorrow despite public opposition, according to the Ministry of Defense, Monday.
Defense Minister Han Min-koo and Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine will meet at the military headquarters in Yongsan-gu, central Seoul, to sign the deal, the ministry said.
The Cabinet is expected to endorse the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) at a meeting today, where President Park Geun-hye will be absent. Strategy and Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho, who doubles as deputy prime minister for economic affairs, will preside over the meeting on behalf of the President.
The formal agreement will come after the two sides held three rounds of working-level discussions starting Nov. 1 and tentatively signed the deal Nov. 14 in Tokyo.
[GSOMIA] [SK Japan]
The Ghost at the Abe-Trump Banquet: Nobusuke Kishi
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Understandably, a lot of the coverage analyzing the impact of Trump on Japan has emphasized the negative: Trump is a trade-war guy, he wants Japan to pay more for bases, he’d be happy to stand aside as Japan slugged it out in some military encounter with North Korea, he’s pulled the plug on TPP…
Quite a long list. And Prime Minister Abe hurried to New York to reaffirm the relationship and hopefully mitigate some of the awful things Donald Trump has promised to do to Japan.
Abe's takeaway from the November 17 meeting with Trump was "as an outcome of today’s discussion I am convinced Mr. Trump is a leader with whom I can have great confidence in."
In my most recent piece for Asia Times, And the Winner of the US Election is…Shinzo Abe? I take a contrarian view: that Trumpismo--and the virtual demise of the TPP (in its present form, maybe! but never say never! Read the piece!) is a long-expected and, in some fundamental way, welcome development for Japan when it comes to Japan edging aside the United States as the indispensable nation in Asian trade diplomacy.
Here I'll focus on the military dimension of the U.S.-Japan relationship, illustrated by the parallel experiences of Prime Minister Abe and his grandfather, Prime Minister Nobosuke Kishi.
[Abe Shinzo] [Trump] [Kishi]
Japanese American internment is ‘precedent’ for national Muslim registry, prominent Trump backer says
By Derek Hawkins
Questions over the idea of creating a database of Muslim immigrants are coming up as President-elect Donald Trump forms his new administration. A Trump surrogate defended the idea on Fox News, saying the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII was "precedent." (The Washington Post)
A former spokesman for a major super PAC backing Donald Trump said Wednesday that the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a “precedent” for the president-elect’s plans to create a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries.
During an appearance on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show, Carl Higbie said a registry proposal being discussed by Trump’s immigration advisers would be legal and would “hold constitutional muster.”
“We’ve done it with Iran back awhile ago. We did it during World War II with the Japanese,” said Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and until Nov. 9, the spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC.
Kelly seemed taken aback by the idea.
“Come on, you’re not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope,” she said.
“I’m not proposing that at all,” Higbie told her. “But I’m just saying there is precedent for it.”
[Internment] [Islamophobia] [Japanese] [Roosevelt]
Japan's early opportunity to shape Trump's emerging Asia policy
by Daniel Twining
Daniel Twining (email@example.com) is Director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a former official of the George W. Bush administration. A version of this article previously ran in Nikkei Asian Review.
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has transformed Japanese diplomacy. Under his leadership, Japan has ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement as a strategic instrument to bind like-minded nations, forged new alliances beyond Tokyo’s traditional US orbit in South and Southeast Asia, become a military supplier to Asian nations determined to resist Chinese hegemony, reinterpreted constitutional constraints to expand Japan’s role as a regional security provider, and reached out to Europe and Russia as extra-regional partners to help bring balance to Asia.
As he prepares to meet US President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Thursday, Abe faces perhaps his most important test: convincing a uniquely skeptical American leader that the US-Japan alliance is central to US interests in Asia -- and that rather than walking away from President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, the new Republican administration should double down on it.
Trump certainly gave Abe grounds to worry during the campaign, questioning the value of the US-Japan alliance, suggesting Japan should acquire nuclear weapons to defend itself, and threatening a new form of protectionism that would jettison not only TPP but the US commitment to the liberal trading order writ large.
Lest we forget, however, it was Obama who originally derided US allies as “free-riders,” slashed defense spending in ways that made the US “rebalance” look hollow, failed to reinforce a declared red-line in Syria that emboldened US adversaries farther afield, and allowed China to militarize the South China Sea with impunity.
[Trump] [US Japan alliance] [China confrontation]
[Correspondent’s column] Just what is South Korea to Japan?
Posted on : Nov.18,2016 14:15 KST
Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo closes his eyes during a ruling-opposition party debate over a bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan at the National Assembly in Seoul, Nov. 14. (by Kang Chang-kwang, staff photographer)
Signing of GSOMIA agreement would reduce South Korea to a junior partner of the US and Japan
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this column.
When I heard the news that officials from South Korea’s Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry had come to Tokyo and initialed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan on Nov. 14, it was as if part of my heart died. In all honesty, I already had my suspicions that those people were going to cause some trouble before the end of the year. Quietly, I had resigned myself to the likelihood that the military information-sharing agreement would be signed around the time of the trilateral summit among South Korea, China and Japan that will take place in Tokyo this December.
But then something unexpected occurred. The woman we had known as President Park Geun-hye was shown to be the puppet of Choi Sun-sil, and evidence is mounting that she is guilty of shredding the constitutional values that South Koreans have shed so much blood and sweat to establish, that she is to blame for all kinds of corruption and fraud.
[SK Japan] [GSOMIA] [Sidelined]
N. Korea strongly berates Seoul-Tokyo military pact
Updated : 2016-11-18 10:22
North Korea has harshly condemned the South Korean government for hastily pushing for the conclusion of a controversial military pact with Japan, calling it "a hideous act of treachery" and "a sinister intention to prolong its rule at stake" amid the worst-ever chaos brought on by the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye's confidante.
On Monday, Seoul tentatively signed the intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo despite strong objections at home. The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) is designed to better counter mounting North Korean missile threats. The opposition parties immediately submitted a resolution to scrap the pact.
Base Dependency and Okinawa’s Prospects: Behind the Myths
A Conversation with Maedomari Hiromori
Professor of Economics and Environmental Policy
Okinawa International University
Film Director, Okinawa: The Afterburn
November 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 22 | Number 2
John Junkerman (JJ): I want to hear your thoughts about the history and policies that lie behind the present situation of the US bases on Okinawa, but first, could you tell us what you thought of our film? You watched the Japanese version, Okinawa: Urizun no Ame, and we included an interview with you in the American version.
Maedomari Hiromori (MH): As a journalist, I was impressed by how the reality of the Battle of Okinawa and postwar history emerge from the patient accumulation of eyewitness accounts. The testimony of the American veterans of the Battle of Okinawa gave me a new awareness. When we talk of war, we usually see it in terms of “enemies and allies,” but in fact there are no enemies or allies. This film forcefully expresses how soldiers on both sides are the victims of war. The American soldiers were equally terrified of combat, suffered casualties, lost many lives, and were left with deep spiritual wounds. How do soldiers and civilians experience armed conflict? And after the war ends, people continue to suffer the consequences. Once your spirit has been damaged, it is difficult to recover. As former Okinawa governor Ota Masahide says in the film, “The Battle of Okinawa never ended. It continues today.” That left a strong impression.
Tokyo Tells Trump It Is Already Paying Enough in Tribute
by Marko Marjanovic at Checkpoint Asia
Early in the election campaign Donald Trump was saying how he is going to scale down the pricey global US empire of bases, which wouldn’t have been a bad idea at all. Unfortunately he soon toned it down saying the bases can stay because he was going to make the host nations pay for them.
The reaction from Japan which hosts 113 of America’s 800 bases abroad? We’re paying enough as it is, thank you very much:
Japan is now paying “enough” for the cost of stationing U.S. forces in the country, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said Friday, though she was silent on how the government would respond if the next U.S. administration led by Donald Trump demands an increase in Japan’s budget.
“I believe it is enough. We are bearing the costs of what we ought to pay at present,” Inada told a press conference, referring to the nearly 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) in so-called host-nation support paid every year.
US pretends its military installations are there for the sake of Japan, and Japanese politicians run with that because otherwise they would naturally have to resist foreign military presence.
In reality US military is in Japan for the same reason Japan was disarmed after WWII and given a pacifist constitution — to enhance the power of Washington.
[US Japan alliance] [Tribute]
[Editorial] The failing Park administration’s suspect efforts to push through GSOMIA
Posted on : Nov.15,2016 15:55 KST
Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo closes his eyes during a ruling-opposition party debate over a bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan at the National Assembly in Seoul, Nov. 14. (by Kang Chang-kwang, staff photographer)
The Park Geun-hye administration received what amounted to a political vote of no confidence from the Korean people on Nov. 12. It’s now a broken government without any legitimacy left, unable to even do its job. Now that same administration is rushing ahead with a bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan - a highly sensitive matter in terms of diplomacy and security. This is unacceptable. It’s no wonder some are now talking about the administration selling out its own country.
GSOMIA was originally requested by Japan. It was very nearly signed in June 2012 before the plan was dropped amid controversy over the secretive way it was being pursued. Little action was taken after that until Oct. 27, when the Ministry of National Defense suddenly announced negotiations were being resumed. Working-level meetings were held in Tokyo on Nov. 1 and in Seoul on Nov. 9; by the third meeting in Tokyo on Nov. 14, the agreement had been initialed. Nowhere in this process was there any attempt to “build public support,” as Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo had promised.
[SK Japan] [Intelligence] [GSOMIA]
Opposition parties moving to dismiss defense minister over 'defective' Seoul-Tokyo intelligence sharing deal
Opposition parties on Tuesday agreed to submit a motion later this month to recommend the dismissal of Defense Minister Han Min-koo to make good on their pledge to unseat him for the provisional signing of a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan.
The Democratic Party, the People's Party and the Justice Party made the agreement to submit the motion on Nov. 30 and put it to vote during the National Assembly's plenary session slated for Dec. 2.
The passage of the motion requires approval from more than half of the total 300 lawmakers. With the National Assembly controlled by the opposition bloc, the passage is highly likely, observers said.
On Monday, Seoul and Tokyo tentatively signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) to enhance cooperation in coping with Pyongyang's growing nuclear and missile threats. Opposition parties have criticized the defense minister for pushing for the signing without public consensus.
The parties' stance against the GSOMIA reflects citizens' opposition to any close military collaboration with their onetime colonizer, which they think failed to fully atone for its colonial-era misdeeds. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45. (Yonhap)
[SK Japan] [Intelligence] [GSOMIA] [Public opinion]
When Duterte Met Abe: Is Japan America’s Pit Bull or Lap Dog… …or Dog in the Manger?
Thursday, November 03, 2016
As I discuss in my most recent piece for Asia Times, Duterte v. United States: The Empire Slaps Back, I find the US tunnel vision concerning Asian attitudes toward engagement with China puzzling.
The big story in Asia IMO is the smaller powers trying to integrate with the PRC economically while keeping it at arms’ length militarily, but that doesn’t seem to drive the coverage I see. Perhaps as a function of that “salary depends on not understanding” Mark Twain crack, US diplos/generals/journos/wonks seem determined to ignore the centripetal forces at play in Asia with China at their heart.
There’s also a gigantic blind spot in US coverage of the Philippines. If you read the papes, everybody in the Philippines is staring anxiously out at the South China Sea for “Chizilla” to emerge and wreak havoc on a jewel of Pacific democracy.
Actually, if you read my piece, you’ll find that the forces ravaging the Philippines are poverty, inequality, social division, corruption, and the occasional megatyphoon and I have an idea the reason that Fidel Ramos championed Duterte is because he saw him as the one candidate who would focus on domestic issues and not pivot-friendly bullsh*t.
The US story is that the threat of “China rising” must be contained militarily, its economic reach reduced, and Asia should look for a “high standards” trade bloc, TPP, for its growth story instead of canoodling with the Chicoms.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japanese remilitarisation] [Duterte] [Philippines] [China confrontation] [Decline] [Hillary]
India And Japan Ink Nuclear Deal To Scare Pakistan And China
By Polina Tikhonova on November 12, 2016 10:52 am in Politics
India and Japan have just signed a controversial nuclear deal. The news comes amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan on one side, and Japan and China on the other side.
The nuclear deal signed between India and Japan on Friday is yet another indication that Asia is divided into two rivaling alliances. Although India-Japan vs. Pakistan-China alliances are informal, hostilities between the two camps pose a great threat for the region.
Image source: Narendra Modi – Flickr
It also makes things worse that Pakistan, India and China are all nuclear-powered nations. Japan, meanwhile, is considered to be a de facto nuclear state.
The controversial civil nuclear deal signed by India and Japan is said to allow Japanese firms to export atomic technology to India. The deal indicates that the two allies are deepening their security ties.
[Nuclear deal] [NPT] [Japan India]
Seoul and Tokyo agree on major terms of Military Information Agreement
Posted on : Nov.10,2016 15:55 KST
Pushing ahead of agreement drawing criticism as it comes amid Choi Sun-sil governance crisis
Japanese officials enter the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul’s Yongsan district for meetings toward a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), Nov. 9. (Yonhap News)
South Korea and Japan agreed on major terms in their discussions on Nov. 9 toward a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the Ministry of National Defense said.
The ministry held the second round of working-level talks at its headquarters that day between section chiefs in foreign affairs and national security from both sides. In a presentation afterwards, it said they had “closely examined the draft agreement and reached an agreement on the main content.”
While the ministry did not offer specifics on when the third round of discussions would be held, it did reiterate plans to go ahead with the agreement.
[SK Japan] [Intelligence]
Japan military deal still fragile
Japanese representatives for working-level talks with South Korea on the General Security of Military Information Agreement arrive at the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul, Wednesday. / Yonhap
Leadership crisis from scandal casts shadow over talks
By Kang Seung-woo
A deal between South Korea and Japan aimed at directly exchanging military intelligence about North Korea may fall through again due to uncertainties over the scandal-rocked President Park Geun-hye's grip on power, analysts said Wednesday.
The two sides have rushed to conclude the talks since they reopened working-level talks for the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) on Nov. 1 after a four-year hiatus, raising speculation that they may sign the deal by the end of the month. The second round of discussions took place in Seoul, Wednesday.
[SK Japan] [Intelligence]
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Korea pushes military deal with Japan
By Jun Ji-hye
The Ministry of National Defense said Thursday that it will resume negotiations with Japan to sign a bilateral agreement on sharing intelligence on North Korea.
Four years ago, the two countries were very close to signing the so-called General Security of Military Intelligence Agreement (GSOMIA) under the Lee Myung-bak administration. However, the signing fell through at the last minute due to fierce public criticism here of the government's secretive handling of a sensitive military deal with the former colonial ruler.
The timing of the announcement this time is also controversial. Some critics said that the ministry is deliberately pushing for the sensitive signing while public attention has been focused on news about President Park Geun-hye's scandal-ridden confidant, Choi Soon-sil.
[SK Japan] [Intelligence]
Tokyo Mulls Sanctioning Chinese Firms Dealing with N.Korea
By Kim Soo-hye
October 26, 2016 11:54
Tokyo is considering a secondary boycott of North Korea by sanctioning foreign companies trading with Pyongyang, Japanese media reported Monday.
The main target would be Chinese firms, which have largely managed to bypass global sanctions against the North.
"Japan is considering separate sanctions in tandem with UN Security Council sanctions," Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said. The Diet "has discussed ways to sanction foreign companies trading with the North. The Japanese government is also considering various options, including beefing up existing sanctions."
Authorized to use force, Japanese Forces get first overseas deployment since 1954
Posted on : Oct.25,2016 16:45 KST
Amendment of Japanese law means Japanese troops can use force even if not attacked, on deployment to wartorn South Sudan
The Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) are expected to have their first overseas deployment for duties that would allow them to use armed force even when not under attack themselves for the first time since their July 1954 establishment.
Attention is now turning to the attempts at a gradual qualitative change in the forces since the enactment and amendment of security legislation last March that enables them to exercise collective self-defense authority.
“Thanks to this [security] legislation [implemented in Mar. 2015], the forces are to be assigned new duties,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said while attending an Oct. 23 JSDF review at the Camp Asaka Ground Self-Defense Force training site in Saitama Prefecture.
Why Okinawa Matters: Japan, the United States and the Colonial Past
October 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 20 | Number 1
This article provides a critical discussion of Okinawa’s role in serving American and Japanese strategic interests. Since the end of World War II Okinawa has been a mostly unhappy host of American military bases, and the issue has been prominent at times on the agenda of the Japanese peace movement. The interplay of overseas bases and U.S. foreign policy is a crucial and often hidden dimension of the global projection of American power, which gives rise to friction with and opposition from the peoples living in the vicinity of the bases. This has certainly been the case in relation to Okinawa. This essay offers reflections on thisunderlying reality, as well as the linkage between the network of foreign military bases and the emergence of the first global state in history, a new political phenomenon that distinguishes it from ‘empires’ of the past.
False Dawn: The Decline of Watchdog Journalism in Japan
October 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 20 | Number 2
Shukan Bunshun is one answer to the charge that aggressive, confrontational journalism does not exist in Japan. For over a year, the nation’s biggest-selling weekly magazine (about 420,000 audited copies) has scored a string of scoops. In January 2016, it harpooned economy minister Amari Akira over bribery claims, forcing him to quit. The following month, it exposed an extramarital affair by Miyazaki Kensuke, a politician who had been campaigning for maternity leave during his wife’s pregnancy. The same month it revealed illegal betting by Kasahara Shoki, a former pitcher with the Yomiuri Giants baseball team.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief Shintani Manabu came to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in May 2016 to reveal his magic formula, which was disarmingly simple. “The reason why we get scoops is that we go after them,” he said. That drive, he implied, is rare among his contemporaries. “I proposed to a television colleague doing some research on (communications minister) Takaichi Sanae, he said. Takaichi had sparked a furor in February by “reminding” TV companies that flouting rules on political impartiality could result in the withdrawal of their broadcasting licenses. The TV companies declined, said Shintani: “So we did it ourselves and titled the piece: ‘Why we hate Minister Takaichi.’”
The role of journalism as guardian of the public interest against abuses of power has long been seen as perhaps its key function in liberal democracies.
Nationalism in the Abe Era
October 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 20 | Number 4
Nationalism in the Abe era
This group of papers emerged from a panel entitled “Japan’s Identity Crisis and Reactionary Nationalism” at the 2016 Association of Asian Studies Conference held in Seattle, Washington, US. With the exception of Akiko Hashimoto, all the contributors were panelists.
The authors explore different dimensions of nationalism in Abe’s Japan illuminating what the ongoing culture wars signify about Japanese democracy, war memory, pacifism, religion, education, and wartime responsibility. There is much common ground among the authors in terms of their analysis of the main factors driving contemporary Japanese nationalism, involving a rightward, neonationalist political shift at the top and the emergence of revisionism from the mid-1990s in response to the government’s more forthright reckoning regarding wartime misdeeds. These essays illuminate how identity politics are intensely contested in Japan’s ongoing culture wars as they are waged in the media, textbooks, museums, shrines, in the streets, and in school ceremonies.
[Nationalism] [Abe Shinzo]
Seoul Slaps Down U.S. Idea of Japanese Fighter Jets in Korean Skies
By Yu Yong-weon
October 19, 2016 11:23
Seoul batted away a proposal by the U.S. for fighter jets from Japan, the U.S. and South Korea to fly in formation over South Korea in response to North Korea's nuclear tests, the Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday.
The U.S. sounded out the idea immediately after the North's latest nuclear test, but Seoul demurred, citing fierce resistance here to any renewed Japanese military presence, a source told the daily.
Instead, a couple of the U.S.' B-1B bombers buzzed South Korean skies last month as a show of force. The U.S. had hoped to make the event a show of unity among its allies in the region, who are roughly pitted against an alliance between China and North Korea.
Japan in turn refused South Korean F-15Ks fighters permission to pass through Japanese airspace en route to a multinational aerial exercise in Alaska earlier this month.
Tokyo said it reserves permission to overfly for the U.S., which has a status of forces agreement with Japan, the newspaper added.
South Korea's Defense Ministry denied the report.
[SK Japan] [Alliance] [Friction]
US asked S. Korea and Japan to fly in formation after North Korean nuclear test
Posted on : Oct.19,2016 16:35 KST
South Korea declined show of “trilateral solidarity”, and the US’s push for more trilateral military cooperation
When the US flew B-1B strategic bombers over South Korea to demonstrate its commitment to “extended deterrence” shortly after North Korea’s fifth nuclear test in September, it made an unofficial proposal for military aircraft from South Korea, the US and Japan to fly in formation through South Korean airspace, Japanese media reported.
Since the American proposal was a request for South Korea to give the Japanese Self-Defense Forces access to the Korean Peninsula on the pretext of the North Korean nuclear threat, this is likely to spur debate about the intentions and timeframe of American plans to strengthen its trilateral alliance with South Korea and Japan.
Quoting sources in South Korea and the US, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Oct. 18 that when the US flew two B-1B bombers through South Korean airspace to send a message to North Korea on Sep. 13, it explored the idea of having aircrafts from the three countries fly in formation in order to show their “trilateral solidarity.” “The plan was not executed due to opposition from South Korea, which was concerned about popular sentiment,” the Japanese newspaper said.
[Alliance] [SK Japan] [US dominance]
Japan’s nuclear insurance against North Korea
12 October 2016
Author: Nidhi Prasad, JNU
George Shultz’s axiom that ‘proliferation begets proliferation’ appears to be contested in East Asia. North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on 9 September, leaving its non-nuclear Asian neighbours vexed. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe termed it ‘totally unacceptable’ and has called for strict sanctions. But the international fear of North Korea’s nuclear tests triggering a chain of nuclear tests in East Asia or the rise of a nuclear tsunami seems to have been dispelled with the United States’ Asian allies favouring ‘strategic assurance’.
Doves fly over Peace Memorial Park with Atomic Bomb Dome in the background, at a ceremony in Hiroshima, western Japan, 6 August, 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Toru Hanai).
Japan and South Korea are American treaty allies. Both have given up the nuclear option in exchange for protection under the US nuclear umbrella. Despite possessing the technical capacity to go nuclear, Japan hasn’t displayed intent yet. South Korea’s nuclear ambitions have been repeatedly thwarted by the CIA.
[Nuclearisation] [Pretext] [Academic]
Japanese government confirms withholding of funds from UNESCO
Posted on : Oct.15,2016 15:33 KST
Former comfort woman Lee Ok-seon (third from the right) looks at an exhibition during a reopening ceremony of the House of Sharing’s comfort women historical center, in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, Dec. 23, 2015. (by Lee Jeong-a, staff photographer)
Unusual withholding apparently related to efforts to add comfort women records to memory project
The Japanese government confirmed that it is withholding 3.85 billion yen (US$36.95 million) in funding for UNESCO. This is thought to be an attempt to block records related to the comfort women from being registered in UNESCO’s Memory of the World, as civic groups from eight countries, including South Korea, have requested.
“At the current time, we are not making the payments. Later, we will make a comprehensive decision about what to do,” said Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in a meeting with reporters on the morning of Oct. 14.
Assembly panel head claims comfort women deal invalid
By Kim Hyo-jin
A deal reached between Seoul and Tokyo late last year to resolve the wartime sex slavery issue is "invalid," claimed the head of the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.
"As one of the foreign affairs committee members, I sympathize with the victims of wartime sex slavery," Rep. Shim Jae-kwon of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea said in his opening remarks during an audit session.
"So, I demand that the government invalidate the Korea-Japan sex slavery deal, disintegrate the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation and renegotiate the matter from square one."
Why anti-Korean sentiment still festers in Japan
Posted on : Oct.8,2016 11:44 KST
Recent stories of discrimination show that Korean in Japan still face prejudice, despite their admiration for Japan
A bus ticket of a Korean tourist in Japan, referring to him as “Kim Chon”, a derogatory term for Koreans, who was traveling from Umeda, Osaka, to Arima Onsen in Hyogo Prefecture on Apr. 19. (from a YTN broadcast)
Shortly after taking an assignment in Japan three years ago, a friend introduced me to a Japanese reporter from a local paper. The reporter and I met up one evening for dinner and drinks.
When I moved to Japan in Sep. 2013, anti-Korean sentiment in the country was at its peak. Nearly every day, a group called Citizens against Special Privilege of Zainichi (ethnic Koreans) held anti-Korean rallies in Tokyo’s Korea Town of Shin-Okubu and shouted for “chon” (a derogatory Japanese term for Koreans) to leave Japan.
It was only natural that we ended up discussing anti-Korean sentiment in Japan and anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea over drinks. “The anti-Korean demonstrations are just the tip of the iceberg. Japanese have deep-rooted discriminatory attitudes toward Koreans, both North and South,“ my dining companion told me.
I had only been in Japan for a month, so I was hurt by the remark. After that, I did my best not to think too much about this while living in Japan.
Recently, though, I have run across a number of offensive stories through the Facebook pages of Koreans living Japan, who understandably enough are very sensitive to anti-Korean feelings in the country.
[Zainichi] [Anti-Korean] [Racism]
Before nuclear fifth test, North Korea and Japan may have had a secret meeting over abductions
Posted on : Oct.8,2016 11:59 KST
Japan officially denies meeting with North Korean officials in Dalian, despite apparent failure of 2014 Stockholm agreement
The Japanese government appears to have had a secret meeting with North Korea just before the latter’s fifth nuclear test, a Japanese newspaper reported.
Citing a source familiar with North Korea-Japan relations, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Oct. 7 that three officials, including a councillor from the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asia-Oceania bureau, met secretly with North Korea in the Chinese city of Dalian on Sep. 3 and 4. The reason for the meeting appeared to be connected to the issue of Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea, which the Shinzo Abe administration said is one of the chief issues in relations with Pyongyang, the newspaper reported.
In a May 2014 agreement reached with North Korea in Stockholm, Tokyo agreed to lift some of its independent sanctions against Pyongyang in exchange for the latter reopening its investigations in several areas involving Japanese nationals, including the abductee issue. That agreement is now seen as all but dead due to differences between the two sides over the investigation findings. Tokyo subsequently beefed up its previously relaxed independent sanctions, and even said it would “consider additional sanctions” following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test on Sep. 9.
Japan could go nuclear in 10 years to contain N. Korea provocations: study
Japan could arm itself with nuclear weapons in 10 years to cope with threats from China and North Korea, a study commissioned by the U.S. Defense Department showed, according to a news report.
The report produced for the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment (ONA) assesses that Japan can quickly build a strategic arsenal of land-based and submarine-launched missiles capable of killing up to 30 million Chinese in a nuclear war, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
"The report reveals Japan's government could arm itself with nuclear weapons within a 10-year period, based on Tokyo's advanced nuclear power infrastructure and its present day space launchers, cruise missiles, and submarines," the Washington Free Beacon said.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Nuclearisation] [Threat] [China confrontation]
Pentagon Studied Future Japan Nuclear Arsenal and War With China
Net Assessment think tank under scrutiny for obscure research
BY: Bill Gertz
October 7, 2016 4:59 am
Japan can quickly build a strategic arsenal of land-based and submarine-launched missiles capable of killing up to 30 million Chinese in a nuclear war, according to a Pentagon sponsored study.
A report produced for the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment reveals Japan’s government could arm itself with nuclear weapons within a 10-year period, based on Tokyo’s advanced nuclear power infrastructure and its present day space launchers, cruise missiles, and submarines.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Nuclearisation] [Threat] [China confrontation]
Japanese PM Won't Apologize for Sex Slavery
October 04, 2016 09:55
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he will not send a letter of apology to victims of wartime sex slavery for the Imperial Army.
According to Japan's Kyodo News, Abe said Seoul and Tokyo must fully implement a landmark deal struck last December and made clear that an apology letter was not included in the agreement.
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[Comfort women] [Abe Shinzo]
Japanese Prime Minister says he won’t write letter of apology to comfort women
Posted on : Oct.4,2016 16:35 KST
dwill gestures Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made clear that he does not intend to provide any “further good-will gestures” such as writing a letter of apology to the former comfort women, stating that he does “not have the slightest intention” of doing so.
During a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives on Oct. 3, Rep. Junya Ogawa, a lawmaker with the Democratic Party, observed that the South Korean government wanted Abe to write a letter of apology and asked what Abe’s opinion was. “Our two countries are supposed to faithfully implement the terms of the agreement [reached on Dec. 28, 2015]. What you mentioned is outside the terms of the agreement. We do not have the slightest intention of doing that,” Abe said in response.
[Comfort women] [Abe Shinzo]
North Korean missile advances expose Japan in two-decade arms race: sources
By Nobuhiro Kubo and Tim Kelly | TOKYO
Successful rocket tests have propelled North Korea ahead in a two-decade long arms race with Japan, leaving Tokyo unsure it could fend off a missile strike by the Pyongyang regime without U.S. help, military sources told Reuters.
Under young leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has test fired 21 ballistic missiles since the start of the year, an unprecedented burst of activity that has rattled its neighbors and the international community.
"Their progress has been faster than anticipated," a senior Japanese military commander said. "There is a limit to what our current ballistic missile defense system can achieve," he added, asking not to be identified because he isn't authorized to speak to the media.
Planned upgrades to Japan's ballistic missile defense (BMD) are not due to begin until April at the earliest, while the deployment of new systems designed to destroy incoming warheads could take years to complete.
Constrained by production schedules and tight budgets that limit its ability to accelerate those plans, Japan may instead have to lean more heavily on its U.S. ally to guard against attacks, the sources said.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Threat] [US Japan alliance]
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The new Godzilla film imagines a strong Japan pushing back against the U.S.
By Anna Fifield
September 23 at 2:13 PM ?
KAWASAKI, Japan — Even after 62 years and 31 ways of destroying cities, it seems Japanese people still can’t get enough of Godzilla and his catastrophic ways.
“This is my fifth time to see it,” Iori Yanagi, a 30-something woman, said before a special screening of the latest Godzilla movie, released here as “New” or “Real” Godzilla.
Japan-South Korea Relations in 2016: A Return to the Old Normal
by Brad Glosserman and Scott Snyder
The first nine months of 2016 have been very good for Japan-South Korea relations. In addition to the conclusion of the comfort women agreement at the end of December 2015, the two countries have reached several other bilateral economic and security agreements. This progress and the routinization of Cabinet-level exchanges since last year make clear that their relationship has bottomed out and that pragmatic considerations are prevailing over ideological or political concerns. Credit for that progress goes to constituencies in each country committed to rebuilding the bilateral relationship. Trends in the geopolitical environment have also underscored the advantages of cooperation—and the very real costs of a failure to do so.
Unfortunately, however, both domestic political factors and that same geopolitical context will constrain additional progress for now. It is therefore incumbent on both governments and supporters of closer Japan-Korea ties to safeguard the gains that have been made while working against possibly growing resistance to moving the relationship forward.
[Japan SK] [US global strategy]
Korea Needs Intelligence-Sharing Pact with Japan
The foreign ministers of Korea and Japan in talks on Sunday signaled the revival of plans for a military intelligence-sharing pact between their two countries. But Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se warned his counterpart Fumio Kishida that this will require public support.
The pact would ensure that the two sides do not divulge sensitive information to a third country. Korea has similar pacts with 32 countries, including Russia, and Japan with 60.
The last time the two countries tried to forge an intelligence-sharing pact, in 2012, it was shot down by a wave of public protests here since any military cooperation with the former occupying power was seen as an insult. At present, Seoul and Tokyo share limited military intelligence through Washington.
Tokyo is keener on the pact at the moment, but Seoul also needs intelligence from Japan, which has put four surveillance satellites into orbit since North Korea launched its space rocket in 1998 and plans to deploy four more to rival the U.S.
Japan also has more than 100 P-3C Orion patrol aircraft that can track North Korean submarines. These have become a vital resource for South Korea since North Korea's successful launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
It is natural that Koreans still harbor deep suspicions of Japan's military intentions, and they will not suddenly disappear. But South Korea faces an imminent threat from the North and must distinguish between history and present reality. It needs all the help it can get. The time for a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan has come.
[Intelligence] [Japanese remilitarisation] [Japanese collaborator]
Korea to Revive Intelligence-Sharing Pact with Japan
The foreign ministers of Korea and Japan met in New York on Sunday to revive the prospect of an intelligence-sharing pact.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has been pushing for the plan to be revived, according to a Foreign Ministry source here to forge a joint response to the North Korean nuclear threat.
Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se pointed out that the matter requires public support.
A previous attempt in 2012 to forge a military intelligence-sharing pact was shot down by massive public resistance here.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also raised the issue during a meeting with President Park Geun-hye in Laos earlier this month and during a trilateral summit in Washington in March.
[Intelligence] [Japan SK]
Japan deepens its engagement of Africa
BY Brittany Morreale and Purnendra Jain
Against the backdrop of China and India’s rise, Japan looks to Africa to help assert its position in a contested regional order Africa is becoming a new strategic playground for Asian nations, especially Japan, China and India. While China and India are relatively new to the contemporary African game, Japan’s engagement of postcolonial Africa has been multifaceted, deep and long. It has conducted trade with Africa, notably even with apartheid South Africa, mainly for resources. But Tokyo’s most distinctive diplomatic tool of engagement with the continent has been its Official Development Assistance (ODA), channelling money via bilateral relationships as well as multilateral organisations, such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Tokyo’s interest in providing economic aid to Africa, especially to the sub-Saharan nations began as far back as 1966, when India and China were heavily focused on domestic development and largely absent from Africa. Apart from an economic and humanitarian agenda, Tokyo’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in the 1990s also underpinned its rising interest in Africa, which commands sizeable votes in the UN. To effectively engage Africa as a continent, Tokyo skilfully crafted an institutional framework in 1993 by launching a multilateral forum, called the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). Since then, every five years until 2013, TICAD was held in Japan. It generated so much interest in Africa that at the TICAD V in Yokohama, members decided to hold it every three years. Realising TICAD’s value in cultivating economic and diplomatic influence, both China and India launched their own multilateral forums targeting Africa in 2000 and 2008, respectively. Japan’s decision to hold TICAD VI in Nairobi, Kenya, in August 2016 heralds a landmark in the Japanese–African relationship. In TICAD’s twenty-three-year history, this is the first time the conference has been held on African soil, symbolising a turning point in Japan’s relationship with Africa under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. - See more at: http://asaa.asn.au/japan-deepens-its-engagement-of-africa/#sthash.wPtNsnts.dpuf
Japan weighing more sanctions and military co-op in response to North’s fifth nuke test
Posted on : Sep.13,2016 15:09 KST
Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo (right) shakes hands with then-Japanese Defense Minister Gen Natakani, at the Asia Security Summit, or Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore, June 4. (Hankyoreh file photo)
With high degree of pressure already applied, there appears little Japan can do to affect North Korea’s policies
The Japanese government is reacting to the shock of North Korea’s fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9 with a variety of response measures, including confirmation of the US’s security pledge, calls for stronger military cooperation with South Korea, and consideration of additional independent sanctions.
But analysts predict that with few seriously effective tools at its disposal, Tokyo’s actions are likely to have only a limited impact on the political situation.
Meeting on Sept. 11 in Tokyo, Japanese Asia and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director-General Kenji Kanasugi and US State Department Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim agreed to work quickly on demanding the toughest possible additional sanctions against North Korea from the UN Security Council. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by telephone on Sept. 9 with US President Barack Obama, who stressed the solid condition of the US-Japan alliance and pledged the US’s unswerving commitment to Japan’s security, including its extended deterrence (nuclear umbrella). On Sept. 10, the emergency response posture of the US-Japan alliance was affirmed in a director-general-level conference call by the Alliance Coordination Mechanism, Japan’s version of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command.
Tokyo’s next move was to demand that South Korea move quickly to sign a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) -- a longstanding goal for Japan.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Threat]
Park, Abe agree on trilateral cooperation with US on North Korea provocations
President Park Geun-hye shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a summit at the National Convention Center in Vientiane, Laos, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Kang Seung-woo
VIENTIANE, Laos ? President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to enhance trilateral cooperation with the United States to deal with North Korea's growing provocations, Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.
In addition, the leaders voiced hopes for better bilateral ties that have got back on track since Seoul and Tokyo reached a deal over "comfort women" in December last year, it added.
The summit between Park and Abe took place in the Laotian capital on the sidelines of ASEAN-related talks, while the Kim Jong-un regime ratcheted up tension in the region with a series of ballistic missile tests. The latest provocation came Monday as it test-fired three ballistic missiles off its east coast, which drew condemnation from the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council earlier in the day.
Gov't pushes comfort women deal amid backlash
By Kim Bo-eun
The government has pledged to swiftly hand out cash to surviving Korean victims of sexual slavery before and during World War II, following Japan's transfer of 1 billion yen (10.7 billion won) to Korea for a foundation set up for the women last week.
The Reconciliation and Healing Foundation, founded by the government to manage the fund, said Monday it would collect opinions from the surviving victims until October and start providing them with cash afterward.
Japan transferred the money after Seoul and Tokyo reached a deal on Dec. 28 to put the disputed issue to rest, with Japan providing Korea with funds for victims. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last month that surviving victims will receive 100 million won each and families of the deceased, 20 million won, from the fund.
Comfort women survivors say cash payments of 100 million won “won’t change history”
Posted on : Sep.1,2016 16:17 KST
Former comfort women Kim Bok-dong (second from the right) and Gil Won-ok (far right) clasp hands with university students after a press conference in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, opposing the South Korean government’s Dec. 28 agreement with Japan and calling for a just resolution to the issue, Aug. 31. (by Shin So-young, staff photographer)
S. Korea civic groups buckle down to stop implementation of Dec. 28 comfort women agreement
As the South Korean and Japanese governments try to push ahead with implementing the Dec. 28 agreement about the comfort women, they are facing increasing resistance from South Korean civic groups who want to stop the agreement and find a just solution to the issue.
On Aug. 31, the Japanese government made a payment of 1 billion yen (US$9.68 million) to the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation, which was established by the South Korean government in accordance with the Dec. 28 agreement.
On the same day, the Justice and Memory Foundation for Resolving the Issue of Sex Slaves for the Japanese Army, which was established by former comfort woman Kim Bok-dong and by advocacy groups like the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Jeongdaehyeop), held a press conference at which they called for the dissolution of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation and promised to keep fighting to restore the rights and reputations of the former comfort women and to prevent wartime sexual violence from happening again.
This effectively marks the beginning of the second act in a battle over history that pits the South Korean and Japanese governments, which hope to declare that the comfort women issue has been “finally and irreversibly resolved” by implementing the Dec. 28 agreement, against South Korean civic society, which intends to stop them.
Defense Ministry requests ¥5.1 trillion for fiscal 2017 to address new threats
by Ayako Mie
Aug 31, 2016
The government is requesting a bigger budget for security as North Korea’s nuclear provocations and China’s military assertiveness continue to unsettle the region, and the Dhaka terror attack showed ordinary Japanese are also at risk.
The Defense Ministry on Wednesday submitted its fiscal 2017 budget request totaling more than ¥5.1 trillion, up 2.3 percent from the fiscal 2016 budget. The defense budget request has been increasing for the last five years, and this is the third year in a row the amount exceeded ¥5 trillion.
The ministry requested more than ¥100 billion to strengthen the intercept capability of the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles to better counter North Korea’s enhanced missile capability. The ministry also requested ¥14.7 billion to introduce the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA, which will intercept missiles in outer space.
To counter China’s increasing military assertiveness in the East China Sea, the ministry is requesting almost ¥75 billion to deploy Ground Self-Defense Force patrol units on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture and on Amami Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. Almost ¥9 billion will likely be earmarked for creating an amphibious unit to protect remote islands.
Some ¥94 billion is also sought to procure Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters to better secure Japan’s air supremacy in the event of a crisis. The stealth jet will be rolled out in mid-September at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth factory in Texas.
The defense budget boost comes amid the increasingly bellicose behavior of North Korea and China.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Threat]
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Pension fund invests heavily in WWII criminal firms
By Choi Sung-jin
The National Pension Service has invested 2.87 trillion won ($2.55 billion) into Mitsubishi and other Japanese companies that helped Imperial Japan's war efforts during World War II, a lawmaker said Monday.
Japan’s at Nuclear Crossroads
It seems fair that Japan has acquired the image of a “peaceful country,” achieved through the hard work of its citizens through implementing a successful post-war strategy aimed at the reconstruction of destroyed economic infrastructure. This image and process has been of great use for Tokyo, so much so that it is now returning to the international stage as a leading regional and global player.
However, some aspects of Japan’s “military normalization” have already cast a severe blow to this image. One such aspect,, for instance, can shift Tokyo’s position on one of the most complex and important aspects of international politics — nuclear non-proliferation.
For the time being, Japan’s position on nuclear weapons has been loud and clear: the only country that has actually suffered nuclear bombings will be categorical opposed to nuclear weapons and will be the leading player in all initiatives aimed at nuclear disarmament.
So far, all post-war Japanese governments have strictly adhered to the notion of the “three no’s”, that is, no to the possession of nuclear devices, no to the development of such devices, and a no to the possible deployment of nuclear warheads on Japanese soil. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Japan’s adherence to this notion this August during a mourning ceremony to commemorate the victims of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
But Tokyo has been depending on the US in military matters ever since the end of the war, and this alliance remains a pivotal factor in ensuring Japan’s national security through the use of the so-called “American nuclear umbrella.” But this umbrella would ever be effective without some form of violation of the last components of the “three no’s” principles.
For instance, Japanese media sources have repeatedly provided facts that American submarines and ships armed with nuclear weapons have docked in Japanese ports without even notifying the Japanese government to obtain logistical support, which constituted a clear breach of the third component of the “three no’s” principles.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Nuclearisation]
The story of the 2020 Olympics is already taking shape
by Brad Glosserman
Brad Glosserman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the executive director of Pacific Forum CSIS.
The 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games have concluded. While athletes and audiences bask in the glow of superlative performances, the historical retelling of these games, like virtually all other Olympics, will focus as much on what happened outside the competition as occurred inside the venues. The Olympics are equal parts sporting events and national and geopolitical landmarks. As the Olympic torch passes from Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo, some of the most important strands of the 2020 Olympic out of competition narrative are already clear.
When the history of the 2020 Games is written, perhaps the central figure in that telling will be Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Abe worked hard to secure Tokyo’s victory in the bidding for the Games (although the previous DPJ government did a lot of the heavy lifting at the beginning of the process). His surprise performance at the Rio closing ceremony, appearing as Super Mario, is one sign of his commitment to success in 2020. Abe isn’t the most relaxed politician, but any thoughts about hurting the dignity of his office and image by popping up as a video game character – a plumber, no less – were balanced by knowledge that Queen Elizabeth made a cameo in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Games.
A successful Tokyo Olympics will cap an extraordinary tenure for Abe as prime minister, a term that began just before Tokyo was awarded the games and should – in theory, at least – end in September 2018, two years before they take place. Indeed, there is talk of allowing him to stay in office because of his success, which would permit him to watch the games as national leader, rather than a “mere” spectator.
Whether he stays in office beyond the usual term – and if he were to serve as PM until the Olympics, Abe will be the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history – will greatly depend on the fate of Abenomics, the economic program that bears his name. An assessment of Abenomics will be the second key strand of the Olympic narrative.
[2020 Olympics] [Abe Shinzo]
More determined than ever, former comfort women say they won’t accept money official apology
Posted on : Aug.27,2016 16:29 KST
Former comfort women Kim Bok-dong (right) and Gil Won-ok criticize the South Korean government at a lounge in the office of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Jeongdaehyeop) in Seoul’s Mapo district, Aug. 26. (by Ko Han-sol, staff reporter)
South Korean and Japanese governments announced on Aug. 25 that they plan to pay survivors $89,100
“We can’t accept the money until the Japanese government apologizes before us. Give us 100 million [won], 10 billion, 100 billion - we can’t accept it.”
Comfort woman survivor Kim Bok-dong, 90, was indignant as she spoke on Aug. 26. The day before, the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation - launched in accordance with an agreement between the South Korean and Japanese governments on Dec. 28 - had announced plans to parcel out the billion-yen (US$9.9 million) pledged contribution from Tokyo in cash payments to the survivors. Now she and fellow survivor Gil Won-ok, 89, were holding a press conference at a lounge in the office of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Jeongdaehyeop) in Seoul’s Mapo district.
South Korea hints at discussions on comfort women statue at “the appropriate time”
Posted on : Aug.26,2016 15:10 KST
Japan’s one billion yen payment to former comfort women characterized as “contribution”, not compensation or reparations
The South Korean government hinted at holding discussions with related groups on the possible removal or relocation of a statue symbolizing the comfort women that currently stands opposite the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
The move, which Seoul indicated would happen at an “appropriate time” once the newly launched Reconciliation and Healing Foundation’s support efforts for former comfort women are under way, is expected to have serious repercussions if it comes to pass. The Japanese government has been vocal in its calls to have the statue removed or relocated.
In another development that is expected to trigger controversy, the Japanese government decided at an Aug. 24 Cabinet meeting that a billion-yen (US$9.9 million) contribution for implementation of the two sides’ Dec. 28 agreement on the comfort women issue would be officially referred to as a humanitarian “international organization contribution” rather than reparations or compensation.
Comfort women statue faces mounting pressure from Japan
By Yi Whan-woo
Japan is stepping up its demand to remove a girl statute symbolizing its wartime sexual slavery after approving a plan to offer 1 billion yen ($9.9 million) to assist Korean victims, sources said Friday.
The provision of the money is in line with an agreement reached between the two countries, Dec. 28, to settle disputes over Tokyo's wartime sexual slavery. Japanese officials say it is now Seoul's turn to show commitment to the deal by removing the statue across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, the sources said.
For Japan, the removal of the statue has been considered a key issue in implementing the deal because it has irked many conservatives there.
They also claimed Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se promised to consult with related parties to settle conflicts about the statue "in a relevant manner" during the Dec. 28 agreement made with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
Seoul has maintained that it cannot meddle in the issue over the statue because it was erected by civic activists and belongs to them.
"The ball is now in Korea's court and it will solely depend on Seoul's effort whether the agreement can be kept," a senior Japanese official was quoted as saying by Kyodo News.
Before foreign ministers meeting, S. Korea, China and Japan leave without exchanging a word
Posted on : Aug.24,2016 17:55 KST
Trilateral talks to be held Thursday, along with a series of bilateral foreign ministers meetings
The place was the Marunouchi Palace Hotel in Tokyo at 6:30 pm on Aug. 23. The foreign ministers of South Korea, China, and Japan were meeting for a scheduled dinner ahead of their trilateral talks the following day. The minister from chair country Japan, Fumio Kishida, stood in the middle; Chinese counterpart Wang Yi stood to his left and South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se to his right as they crossed arms for a handshake and smiled for reporters. But that was all: in a reflection of the mood at the hard-fought talks, all three left without exchanging a word.
The strained relations among the three countries were evident in various large and small difficulties, beginning with the coordination of the talks’ schedule. It wasn’t until the very eve of the meeting on the morning of Aug. 23 that Kishida confirmed the time at 10:45 am the next day. A press conference would be held at 12:25 pm, followed by bilateral China-Japan and South Korea-Japan talks in the afternoon. The time for the South Korea-China talks was finally belatedly set that afternoon at 9:30 am.
Korea and Japan unlikely to settle wartime sex slavery
Civic activists pass by a statue of a girl symbolizing Japan's wartime sex slavery during a rally across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Aug. 2. / Korea Times photo by Shin Sang-soon
By Yi Whan-woo
Korea and Japan are likely to drag on their disputes over "comfort women" even after Tokyo pays 1 billion yen ($9.9 million) to Seoul in line with last year's agreement over the thorny historical issue.
Claiming lack of historical evidence, Japan still denies its sexual enslavement of the Korean women for its army before and during World War II.
Tokyo also insists that it will offer the 1 billion yen on humanitarian grounds while refusing to accept demands from surviving victims that the payment must be made as legal compensation.
Concerning the "girl statue" that symbolizes former Korean sex slaves, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has repeatedly expressed hope that Korea will consider removing it.
More evidences of war crimes added to Unit 731 museum
Xinhua, August 22, 2016
Nearly 2,000 new evidences of war crimes by Japanese Army Unit 731 were collected by the Museum of Evidence of War Crimes by Japanese Army Unit 731 in Harbin.
The Museum is on the site of the former base of biological weapon research, experiment and production of the Japanese army unit 731 in the capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
Unit 731 was a biological and chemical warfare unit of the Japanese army. It began construction of the base in 1935 during the Japanese army's occupation of northeast China.
The total number of evidences at the museum has reached 5,665, including medical equipment and daily necessities used by the former Japanese army.
The 6,300-square-meter museum building is home to 13 exhibition rooms, a gallery and an exhibition hall.
At least 3,000 people died at the base between 1939 and 1945, mostly in experiments for the development of biological weapons. Biological weapons killed at least 300,000 people in China.
[cbw] [Japanese colonialism] [Unit 731]
Foreign ministers of China, Japan, ROK to meet this week
Xinhua, August 22, 2016
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is to join his counterparts from Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in a ministerial meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday,Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Monday.
According to Lu, the foreign ministers of China, Japan and the ROK will review the progress of trilateral cooperation, discuss the development direction of trilateral cooperation in the future and exchange views on regional and international issues of common concern.
Under a rotation system, Japan will chair and host the 8th trilateral foreign ministers meeting, Lu said.
Transnational and Japanese Activism on Behalf of Indonesian and Dutch Victims of Enforced Military Prostitution During World War II
August 15, 2016
This article considers the experiences of Dutch and Indonesian women in enforced prostitution for the Japanese military during World War Two and the activism of prominent survivors and their supporters from the 1990s. It highlights how and why Japanese activists have continued to support these women and why Dutch and Indonesian women have rarely engaged in joint activism. It analyses how Dutch and Indonesian women’s stories are presented together in a 2015-2016 exhibition at the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace in Tokyo and how women’s and soldiers’ testimonies are used to advocate further redress from the Japanese government and to challenge military sexual violence against women. The article assesses how a sustained focus in transnational activism on Japanese responsibility and the Japanese imperial context potentially leads to overlooking how localised forms of patriarchy and the specific context of this former Dutch colony affected women’s experiences and their post war treatment.
[Comfort women] [Netherlands]
Hitler's dismantling of the constitution and the current path of Japan's Abe administration: What lessons can we draw from history?
Translation and Introduction by Caroline Norma
August 15, 2016
Ikeda Hiroshi wrote an important opinion piece for the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper in February 2016. Ikeda is a Kyoto University emeritus professor of German literature who has devoted his career to researching fascism. His numerous books include The Weimar Constitution and Hitler. Ikeda published the Tokyo Shimbun article at a tumultuous time in Japanese society: the government had shortly before pushed through state secrets and national security laws, and overridden the constitution to allow overseas military deployment. In response, mass rallies were being staged outside the Diet building. In this climate, the publication of Ikeda’s article was surprising, and it continues to be an unusual example in the Japanese press of criticism of a reigning government through direct historical comparison with a fascist regime of another country. CN
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Abe Shinzo] [Constitution] [Nazism]
Perry’s Black Ships in Japan: The Whitewash of History
August 15, 2016
On July 11, 2016, the organization Veterans for Peace issued a statement (see document below) observing the 162nd anniversary of the Lew Chew Compact, popularly known as a “friendship” or “amity” treaty. In reality, officials of the Ryukyu Kingdom were forced to sign it by Commodore Matthew C. Perry who commanded a squadron of battleships invading the Ryukyus in 1853 and 1854. The Compact permitted unlimited visitation and residence to Americans in Ryukyu and mandated that American criminal suspects be turned over to U.S. authorities aboard American ships. Also in 1854, Perry forced Japanese officials under threat of bombardment to sign the “Convention of Kanagawa” compelling Japan’s ports to accept foreign trade and imposing a system of extraterritoriality which placed foreign residents under the jurisdiction of their respective nations’ consular courts, exempting them from Japanese law.
[US Japan] [Unequal Treaties] [Extraterritoriality]
Souring Ties in Northeast Asia Cast Shadow over Trilateral Summit
11 August, 2016
Zhen Liu – South China Morning Post
Preparations for a trilateral summit between China, Japan and South Korea face disarray as tensions rise between the northeast Asian neighbours.
Beijing reportedly cancelled a planned trip to Tokyo by assistant foreign minister Kong Xuanyou later this month as the Japanese side repeatedly protested against the activities of Chinese ships near disputed islands in the East China Sea, Japanese news outlet Asahi reported on Thursday.
Tensions between the two have risen sharply since last week as more than a dozen official Chinese ships accompanied hundreds of fishing boats in waters surrounding the disputed Japanese-controlled islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in China.
Pres. Park opts not to mention comfort women agreement in Liberation Day address
Posted on : Aug.16,2016 17:18 KST
Park has been touting improved relations with Japan, over objections from survivors and the opposition
“I intend to establish a new relationship between South Korea and Japan that is forward-looking while confronting history squarely.”
President Park Geun-hye delivered this message on relations with Tokyo in her address for Liberation Day holiday on Aug. 15. Her reference to South Korea-Japan ties amounted to one sentence in an address that went on for nearly seven pages and around 6,500 characters. The idea of “confronting history” while being “future-oriented” has been a core theme in messages to Japan from past administrations; in terms of just terminology, Park‘s statement offers nothing new.
[Comfort women] [Park Geun-hye]
Second “seal” on comfort women issue is S. Korea’s diplomatic defeat
Posted on : Aug.15,2016 14:35 KST
The issue of former sex slaves for imperial Japan is defining moment for the South Korean government’s diplomacy
“Did the South Korean and Japanese government confirm that [the one billion yen to be paid by Japan] was not ‘compensation’?” (a Japanese reporter)
“There has been no change whatsoever in [Tokyo’s] position that the issue of claim rights for comfort women has already been resolved.” (Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida)
The main focus of journalists’ questions at an Aug. 12 press conference by Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida was on the basic nature of a pledged payment of one billion yen (US$9.9 million) by the Japanese government, which Kishida said would be disbursed “as soon as possible” according to a Dec. 28 agreement reached last year with Seoul on the comfort women issue. The reporters asked whether Japan had confirmed with South Korea that the contribution was not intended as compensation for the women’s drafting as sexual slaves to the Japanese military during Korea’s colonization (1910-45).
“There has been no change in the Japanese government’s existing position,” Kishida replied.
It was a brief exchange, but it reaffirmed what kind of deal the Dec. 28 agreement actually was.
The South Korean government’s spineless posture on the comfort women issue
Posted on : Aug.15,2016 14:49 KST
This cartoon depicts President Park Geun-hye’s complicated situation on Liberation Day, seated next to Uncle Sam, while across from her Japan dangles a 1 billion yen grant for the comfort women foundation, and China threatens trade retaliation over South Korea’s decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system. (by Kwon Beom-cheol)
Was the comfort women issue – the biggest diplomatic disagreement between South Korea and Japan – permanently and irreversibly resolved through the agreement reached on Dec. 28, 2015?
This question is becoming even more important after the Japanese government’s announcement that it will soon pay a grant of 1 billion yen (US$9.88 million) – which is essentially the crux of the Dec. 28 agreement – to the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation, which was established on July 28.
While there is some consolation in the fact that the Japanese government agreed to pay the money without making it contingent on the relocation of the comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, this has further narrowed the South Korean government’s options in dealing with the comfort women issue.
The most important point is that the Dec. 28 agreement contradicts the South Korean government’s declaration in 2005 that the three major issues of the comfort women, the survivors of the atomic bombing and ethnic Koreans on Sakhalin Island had not been resolved by the treaty that South Korea and Japan signed in 1965.
Newly discovered letter indicates Japanese PM initiated renunciation of war, after WWII surrender
Posted on : Aug.14,2016 09:13 KST
Japanese people hold a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Tokyo, opposing Shinzo Abe’s efforts to revise Japan’s Peace Constitution, 2015. (Hankyoreh file photo)
In Japan, right-wingers have long claimed that Peace Constitution was imposed by US after World War II
The heart of the current Constitution of Japan - the so-called “Peace Constitution” enacted in 1946 - lies in Article 9, which declares the country’s renunciation of war.
But right-wing forces in Japan, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have repeatedly argued for the revision of Article 9, claiming it was imposed by the US as victors in World War II rather than chosen by Japan. The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported on Aug. 12 that new materials had been discovered suggesting that the article was first proposed to US military administration commander Douglas MacArthur by then-Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara. Describing the new materials as a valuable piece of evidence refuting the right’s claims that Article 9 had been “imposed” by the US, the newspaper predicted they may influence discussions on a possible amendment of the Constitution as they gain momentum this fall.
According to the Tokyo Shimbun, University of Tokyo emeritus professor Teruhisa Horio uncovered a letter at the Japanese National Diet Library sent by MacArthur - onetime Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (General Headquarters) - to then-Constitution Research Council chairman Kenzo Takayanagi. The letter clearly stated that the proposal to insert a provision banning war in the Constitution had been made by former Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara.
How the Japanese Emperor’s abdication could be linked to constitutional amendment
Posted on : Aug.10,2016 17:52 KST
Current government of PM Shinzo Abe is hoping to amend Japan’s peace constitution within Abe’s term
A statement by the Japanese Emperor suggesting that he plans to abdicate is bringing attention to the decision’s possible impact on the Shinzo Abe administration’s efforts to amend the country’s Peace Constitution.
Emperor Akihito released a video message on Aug. 8 in which he obliquely hinted at stepping down from the throne before his death. While he did not mention the Constitutional amendment issue directly, many analysts have noted the message‘s timing at a moment when the Abe administration - buoyed by victory in a House of Councillors election last month - is speeding up its efforts to amend the document.
Do Economic Ties Limit the Prospect of Conflict?
August 9, 2016 | Scott Harold
Associate Director, Center for Asia Pacific Policy, RAND Corporation
In the past decade, Sino-Japanese ties have progressively deteriorated over opposing claims to islands in the East China Sea to the point where some analysts have begun to worry about the possibility that China might initiate a conflict with Japan. Other experts have suggested that economic links between the two countries would prevent a war. While it is likely correct that economic ties provide strong disincentives for conflict, it is also true that such linkages are not the only, or even the most important factors, in policymakers’ minds.
Chinese policy-makers are likely to ask themselves three questions: Do we need to fight? If we fight, can we win? And third, what will the costs be? Disturbingly, none of the answers to these questions are currently trending in a positive direction.
Since the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 and the end of the Cold War discredited its communist ideology, China has cultivated a sense of wounded nationalism focused on the country’s suffering at the hands of Imperial Japan in WWII to serve as a legitimating ideology. Simultaneously, as China has grown stronger economically and militarily over the past 35 years, it has become markedly more assertive internationally, a trend that has deepened since Xi Jinping took power in 2012.
[China Japan] [Diaoyu] [China confrontation] [Nationalism]
Daegu releases five documents showing attempts to erase the Korean nation
Posted on : Aug.12,2016 13:41 KST
Five documents from the colonial policy of subjecting to Japan that Korean students were forced to memorize under the Japanese occupation, made public by Daegu Education Office on Aug. 11.
Japan’s 1910-45 occupation featured deliberate efforts to stamp out use of Korean language and instill loyalty to Japan
On Aug. 11, the Daegu Education Office made public five documents from the colonial policy of subjecting to Japan that Korean students were forced to memorize under the Japanese occupation. A look at the material reveals how elaborate and well-planned the attempts to erase the Korean nation was. The Daegu Education Office shared five education material documents, which were used at schools to enact the Japanese occupation policies of colonial subjection and the eradication of the Korean language.
“In the process of collecting materials for the establishment of the Daegu Education Museum, we discovered five documents that show how detailed and well-planned the eradication of our nation and the policy of colonial subjection were under the Japanese occupation,” the Daegu Education Office said on Aug. 11.
The five documents included in the materials are titled “Description of a Loyal Subject of the Japanese Empire,” “Our Oath,” “National Language Environment Survey,” “School Training” and “Regulation of the Use of the National Language.” From 1930 to 1943, the materials were used at schools of varying levels including Sukmyeong Girls’ High School and Dongduk Girls’ High School, with “national language” meaning Japanese in these cases.
The Description of a Loyal Subject of the Japanese Empire was an oath Koreans had to memorize and recite that was created in 1937 by the Japanese government-general of Korea board of education under the pretext of boosting learning and cultivating national spirit. It starts with the phrase, “We are citizens under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan,” and continues, “We will join our hearts and completely devote ourselves to the dear emperor.” The production of small notebooks increased so that students could write down the phrases and always carry them with them.
[Japanese colonialism] [Softpower] [Indoctrination]
S. Korea and Japan reportedly reach agreement one billion yen fund for comfort women
Posted on : Aug.13,2016 16:18 KST
The 1,243rd consecutive Wednesday demonstration for a resolution to the comfort women issue, which was also part of a world solidarity rally for a memorial day to commemorate the comfort women, in Jongno district, Seoul, in front of the comfort women statue, across from the former Japanese embassy, on Aug. 10. (by Lee Jeong-a, staff photographer)
Strengthening of ties with US may have been a factor in two sides quickly narrowing differences on payment
The Japanese government reached an agreement with South Korea to finish its pledged contribution of one billion yen (US$9.9 million) for the Reconciliation and Health Foundation for comfort women survivors within this month according to an agreement on the issue from Dec. 28 of last year, sources reported on Aug. 12.
The contribution is also reportedly to be described as a “healing fund” rather than compensation. The agreement was reported as finalized by Kyodo News and other Japanese outlets that day, citing Japanese government sources, but the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not disclose the agreement’s specific content.
“[South Korean Foreign Minister] Yun Byung-se had a telephone conversation on the afternoon of Aug. 12 with [Japanese counterpart] Fumio Kishida, where they exchanged opinions on follow-up measures to the Japanese military comfort women agreement reached between South Korea and Japan last December,” the ministry reported that evening.
Japan Eyes Deploying THAAD Battery
The Japanese Defense Ministry wants to buy a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery to step up its defense against North Korean missiles, NHK reported on Wednesday.
Until recently, there was speculation in Japan that Tokyo would deploy THAAD batteries only after 2018, when its five-year mid-term defense plan is complete.
But Tokyo decided to speed up efforts to bring in a THAAD battery because of the growing security threat in the wake of North Korea's recent frantic missile launches.
A North Korean Rodong missile fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone 250 km west of the Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture on Aug. 3.
The THAAD battery Japan is eyeing is the same interceptor type that Washington will deploy in South Korea.
This battery, which comes in with a radar and a missile launch pad, is aimed at intercepting incoming missiles during the terminal phase of their flight. But the Japanese military wants its own finger on the button rather than that of the U.S. forces as in South Korea.
The deployment could escalate a nascent arms race in East Asia. A diplomatic source said the deployment would deepen the trenches between the U.S., Japan and South Korea on one side and China, Russia and North Korea on the other, "even if the purpose is only defense against North Korean missiles."
Meanwhile, Vice Adm. James Syring, the chief of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, is visiting South Korea on Thursday to discuss the THAAD deployment with the U.S. Forces Korea.
[THAAD] [Diversion] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Can Koike change Japanese politics?
August 9, 2016
Koike Yuriko became the first female governor of Tokyo in a surprise landslide earlier this month. The election was held following a money scandal involving the former governor. While Koike’s victory is a step forward for women in Japan, it could also be the long awaited catalyst for real reform in Japan.
Tokyo’s governor is one of the most visible political roles in Japan. The governor is chosen by more than 10 million voters and is in charge of an economy the size of Mexico or Indonesia
Japan urges China not to escalate East China Sea tension
TOKYO | By Kaori Kaneko
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks during a joint Japan-U.S. media briefing about the process of U.S. forces consolidation in Okinawa, at Tokyo December 4, 2015.
Japan said on Monday it would respond firmly after Chinese government vessels intruded into what Japan considers its territorial waters near disputed islands in the East China Sea 14 times at the weekend.
Ties between China and Japan, the world's second and third largest economies, have for years been plagued by a dispute over the islands that Japan controls, and the waters around them.
[China confrontation] [Territorial disputes]
Japan’s new Defense Minister offers revisionist take on historical aggressions
Posted on : Aug.7,2016 12:12 KST
Tomomi Inada comes into the position with little expertise in defense, and close ties with Japanese PM Abe
On her first official day in office, Tomomi Inada, 57, Japan’s new Defense Minister, expressed a de facto denial of Japan’s history of military aggression, rekindling the flames of historical conflict in East Asia, which were on the verge of dying down.
Inada’s remarks are expected not only to trigger a backlash from China and other of Japan’s neighbors but also to have ramifications on pending diplomatic issues. One of the issues that could be affected is a military information sharing agreement between South Korea and Japan that Japan has long wanted South Korea to adopt.
During Inada’s first press conference with reporters covering Japan’s Defense Ministry on Aug. 4, Japanese reporters asked Inada whether Japan’s past wars were wars of aggression, as if to test her historical attitude.
Inada attempted to dodge the question by remarking that the press conference was not a place for voicing her personal views, but reporters kept piling on the pressure. She was being asked the question in her role as Defense Minister, which is the head of the military body called Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, they pointed out. They said that it was important for the Defense Minister to state whether Japan’s past wars had been wars of aggression and that the Defense Minister’s historical perspective and the way she runs the military had a bearing on practical issues. Finally, they observed that discussions of this sort could take place during meetings with the leaders of China, South Korea and western countries.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Inada]
Japan planning to order its Self-Defense Forces to shoot down North Korean missiles
Posted on : Aug.7,2016 12:20 KST
Decision was motivated by North Korea’s Aug. 3 missile launch, and could lead to increase in military spending
In order to counter the threat of North Korea’ launching a sneak attack using nuclear weapons or missiles, the Japanese government is planning to give the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) a standing order to shoot down North Korean missiles.
Final discussion is underway to issue a permanent “destructive measures” command, which would put the JSDF missile defense units on standby to intercept enemy ballistic missiles, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported on Aug. 5. The move is a response to North Korea’s use of mobile rocket launchers to fire missiles that cannot be detected in advance.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Threat]
China bashes Japanese defense minister's denial of Nanjing atrocities
Xinhua, August 6, 2016
China's Defense Ministry on Friday denounced new Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada's attempts to deny any "killing contest" in Nanjing during WWII.
Tomomi Inada's remarks are outrageous, said the Chinese Defense Ministry in a statement.
Inada said Thursday that she doubted that whether any killing contest took place during the Nanjing Massacre.
Japanese Defense Minister's public denial of the fact was aimed at whitewashing Japan's atrocities and disturbing the post-war order, said Chinese Defense Ministry.
There is no future if Japan denies history, said the Defense Ministry.
The Japanese army occupied Nanjing, then capital of China, in late 1937, and in over 40 days more than 300,000 Chinese were killed.
During that time two Japanese officers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda, had a contest to kill 100 Chinese people using a sword. Mukai beheaded 106 and Noda 105.
The two officers were convicted of atrocities and executed in January 1948.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Inada] [Nanjing Massacre]
Abe’s pick of nationalistic Inada as defense chief riles China
Aug 4, 2016
BEIJING – China’s state-run media has slammed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s choice of right-leaning nationalist Tomomi Inada as the country’s new defense minister.
China Central Television said on Wednesday the appointment showed “how Japan’s security policy is swinging all the more to the right,” urging heightened vigilance amid the trend.
The CCTV report called Inada a “typical right-wing politician,” noting her repeated visits to the contentious Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and her calls to amend Japan’s pacifist Constitution and boost the nation’s military strength.
Inada, who was policy chief in Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, replaced Gen Nakatani as defense minister. She is known for sharing views with Abe on security and foreign policy and has been outspoken on controversial historical issues involving Japan’s neighbors.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Abe Shinzo] [Inada Tomomi] [Yasukuni]
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The South China Sea Ruling: Reinforcing China's Negative Image in Japan
China’s refusal to abide by international rules and norms contributes to its negative image in Japan.
By Santosh Sharma Poudel
July 28, 2016
On July 12, 2016, an arbitral tribunal appointed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations Convention of the Sea (UNCLOS) issued a ruling that “concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’” in the South China Sea, among other points. The ruling is legally binding. Yet China insisted from the start that the tribunal does not have jurisdiction over the issue. Beijing and Manila had agreed to settle their relevant disputes through negotiations; thus, China argued, Manila’s decision to unilaterally initiate arbitration was against its obligations. China would neither participate in the tribunal nor accept the ruling. Unsurprisingly, China declared that the tribunal’s award was “null and void.” However, the tribunal’s decision and Chinese reaction have implications beyond the South China Sea.
While this arbitration was between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, it has significant implications for Japan. Japan’s interest in the South China Sea is multi-dimensional. About $5.3 trillion in trade is conducted through South China Sea per annum, globally. Japan being a trading and resource dependent country, freedom of navigation along the sea lanes is extremely crucial for Japanese economy and security. However, another direct implication of the ruling is over the rule of international law, which is an important feature of Japanese foreign policy. Immediately after the ruling by the tribunal, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida released a statement advocating “the importance of rule of law” and reminding that the ruling is “legally binding” and “hence the parties [read China] are required to comply.” Another important factor is the effect on Japan’s image of China as a result of Chinese (non)compliance.
To start with, the lack of mutual trust between China and Japan is vast, but not new. Japanese have increasingly come to view China as “assertive” at best and a “bully” at worst, which has a contemptuous disregard for international rules and norms when those rules or norms do not favor PRC. This, to Japan, shows Chinese willingness to use the rules in their favor, and discredit them otherwise. This ruling and subsequent Chinese non-compliance provides fodder, if it was lacking earlier. China has signed and ratified UNCLOS. However, as the tribunal’s decision went against Chinese interests, China conveniently decided to discredit and reject the ruling. In fairness, China was consistent from the beginning that the tribunal’s decision will be “null and void.” This shows, at best, China cherry picking which part of international rules they have ratified will apply to them — and at worst gross disregard for international rules. This only solidifies the Japanese view that China “uses” international rules only when those rules serve Chinese interests.
[China confrontation] [UNCLOS] [Japan China] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Amid opposition, government to launch comfort women foundation
Posted on : Jul.28,2016 19:07 KST
Around 10 university students disrupt a press conference by comfort women Reconciliation and Healing Foundation chair, and Sungshin Women’s University professor, Kim Tae-hyun at the Vabien Suite in central Seoul, July 28. The students caused a 30 minute delay and were removed by police. (by Kim Mee-hyang, staff reporter)
Advocacy groups accuse South Korean government of abandoning victims’ demands and human rights principles
The Reconciliation and Healing Foundation is being launched on July 28 following an agreement between the South Korean and Japanese governments on Dec. 28 on the issue of the comfort women.
But with Seoul going ahead with the foundation’s establishment over the objections of some comfort women survivors themselves, the launch is expected to bring a major outcry.
“The Reconciliation and Healing Foundation will be holding its first board meeting and sign-hanging ceremony at 10 am on July 28,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official announced on July 27. The foundation’s secretariat will be occupying the Vabien Suites in Seoul’s Seodaemun district, with most of its preparatory committee members taking on board positions. Despite objections from numerous comfort women survivors, the South Korean government established an advisory committee in January and a preparatory committee for the launch on May 31, with Sungshin Women‘s University professor Kim Tae-hyun serving as chairperson.
[Comfort women] [[SK Japan] [US dominance]
Can Abe revise Japan’s peace constitution?
24 July 2016
Author: Ben Ascione, ANU
Since the 10 July upper house election in Japan there has been widespread speculation that the government will move to formally revise the country’s constitution including the Article 9 ‘peace clause’. This now appears possible since the Abe-led Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), along with its junior coalition partner Komeito and sympathetic micro-sized right-leaning opposition parties, controls the two-thirds majorities in both houses needed to take constitutional amendments to a referendum.
Never in the years since Japan’s postwar constitution was enacted in 1947 has it been formally amended. Even though the government has the requisite number of seats, forging an agreement with Komeito and persuading the broader voting public that constitutional revision is desirable will be no easy task.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Abe Shinzo] [Constitution]
Cause for optimism in Russia–Japan relations?
19 July 2016
Authors: Tsuneo Akaha and Anna Vassilieva, MIIS
According to conventional wisdom regarding Russia–Japan relations there is no prospect for the resolution of the territorial dispute between these ‘distant neighbours’ over the Northern Territories/southern Kuril Islands. But the words and actions of both countries’ leaders in recent times may be cause for optimism.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin meets with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, 28 September 2015. (Photo: REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin).
Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated a willingness to ‘look to the future’, recently declaring that ‘not a single country or nation should live in the past and bask in its heroism forever. This is harmful and dangerous for a nation’s future’. On the same day the Russian deputy foreign minister, Igor Morgulov, and the Japanese ambassador in charge of relations with Russia, Chikahiro Harada, met in Tokyo to discuss the long overdue peace treaty between Russia and Japan as well as the islands dispute.
The two sides have kept quiet about the details of their talks only stating that they would meet next in Moscow, presumably to prepare for Putin’s visit to Tokyo later this year. Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are slated to meet on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in early September, which would provide yet another opportunity for the two leaders to confirm their commitment to continue political dialogue toward a peace treaty.
Japan has long insisted that, as stated in the 1956 Joint Declaration with the Soviet Union, a resolution of the territorial dispute is required to conclude a peace treaty. Putin acknowledged the validity of the Joint Declaration in the so-called Irkutsk Statement he signed with then prime minister Yoshiro Mori on 25 March 2001. And after meeting with Putin in Sochi on 6 May 2016 Abe said that the two leaders ‘agreed to resolve the peace treaty issue’ and that they were seeking ‘a new approach, free of any past ideas’.
[Japan Russia] [Northern Territories]
[Interview] ‘Government couldn’t do anything to lose the Americans’ trust’
Posted on : Jul.20,2016 17:56 KST
City councilor in Japanese city with THAAD radar explains the local harm caused by the deployment
Kunio Tanaka, a member of the city council of Kyotango, located in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture
Kunio Tanaka, 64, is a member of Kyotango city council, located in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture, which is the site of an American AN/TPY-2 X-band radar that began operating at the end of 2014.
As a local councilor who belongs to the Japanese Communist Party, Tanaka has opposed the radar. The Hankyoreh’s Tokyo correspondent sat down with Tanaka to ask about a number of changes that the radar, which was deployed in Dec. 2013, has brought to the local community.
Hankyoreh (Hani): How was the radar deployment decided in Japan?
Kunio Tanaka (Tanaka): The deployment plan was announced during the summit between the leaders of the US and Japan in Feb. 2013. There were no preliminary discussions whatsoever. Everyone in Kyotango was completely taken aback. We were all really anxious. In Mar. 2014, more than half of local residents - 6,854 of them - signed a petition and submitted it to the mayor.
Hani: But you couldn’t make the government change its plans.
Tanaka: The government kept repeating its claim that the radar was in the national interest and would contribute to security. We demanded to know about any risk, about what effect the radar would have on the human body, and on what we should do about any problems US soldiers or contractors might cause. The back-and-forth continued until September, when the local government decided to officially accept the radar deployment. The government seemed unable to stand up to the US.
We went to the Diet [Japan’s parliament] and deliberated with officials in charge of defense, but they told us they couldn’t do anything that would cause the Americans to lose their trust. This made me think that the radar was designed for the US and not for the defense of Japan. Behind the radar is Take Mountain, and on top of that is a FPS-3 radar operated by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. They had previously said that that radar was adequate, but then changed their position.
[THAAD] [US dominance]
The curious case of Okinotori: reef, rock, or island?
July 18, 2016
The July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in favor of the Philippines’ case against China’s claim to sovereignty over large portions of the South China Sea created ripple effects that went far beyond the area involved. In denying that many of the entities claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were islands, which would entitle them to exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of 200 nautical miles from their base lines, but rocks, which are entitled to only a 12-mile exclusion zone, the tribunal also undermined the Japanese government’s claim that Okinotori is an island.
These distinctions are not trivial. If Okinotori were recognized as an island, Japan would be entitled to an additional 116,474 sq. nautical miles, or about 400,000 sq. km, of EEZ. This is larger than the total land area of the rest of Japan.
The Japanese government, which had previously transferred coast guard vessels to the Philippines to assist Manila in patrolling areas claimed by China, immediately affirmed the PCA’s decision, but also reiterated Japan’s claim to Okinotori’s status as an island, Okinotorishima. Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio noted that the court’s verdict applied only to the issues between China and the Philippines, adding that Okinotori had been regarded as an island since 1931 – presumably because the Japanese government’s declaration of sovereignty over it as a shima, island, in that year was uncontested – and, further, that the court had not set the standards for what constitutes a rock. Earlier, Kuribayashi Tadao, a highly regarded Japanese expert on the law of the sea, had argued that there was no legal definition of a rock, and since rocks are not coral reefs, a country can claim an EEZ based on its possession of the latter. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide essentially repeated Kishida’s points the following day.
[UNCLOS] [Okinotori] [Territorial disputes] [Double standards]
Japan moves closer to ending military restraints
By Lee Han-soo
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's major victory in the upper house election on Monday has paved the way for him to change constraints on the Japanese military.
Winning a majority of the 121 seats up for grabs, the victory is seen as approval for his economic policies.
But the issue of removing constraints on the Japanese military has become a hot topic for neighboring countries.
Under Article 9, also known as "the pacifism clause," which the U.S. introduced after Japan lost World War II, bans Japan from fighting wars abroad.
Abe said it was too early to talk about the constitutional change but he has argued strongly for such a move.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Abe Shinzo]
On the verge of history? Japan’s 2016 election and prospects for Article 9 revision
Adam P. Liff
July 11, 2016
"The LDP has held the goal of revising the Constitution since its formation and it included that goal in its platform for governing. However, amending the Constitution will mean having a national referendum. As serious discussions are held in the two Constitution commissions and as public understanding deepens, I hope conclusions are reached about what articles to amend."
So spoke a triumphant Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo from Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters late in the night of July 10. The ruling LDP-Komeito coalition’s solid Upper House election victory – each party yielded a net gain of five seats – moves to the front burner the prospect of the first-ever revision of Japan’s 1946 “Peace Constitution.” With smaller opposition parties open to lending their support, by most counts the pro-revision camp now enjoys a two-thirds majority in the 242-seat Upper House through 2019. Coupled with the ruling coalition’s two-thirds majority in the 475-seat Lower House (through 2018), it appears to have the votes necessary to meet the first two of three conditions for Constitutional revision. (The third condition is majority support in a public referendum.)
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Article 9] [Abe Shinzo]
Retaking Japan: The Abe Administration’s Campaign to Overturn the Postwar Constitution
Translated by John Junkerman
July 1, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 13 | Number 3
Translator’s note: This is a translation of a keynote speech delivered by Muto Ichiyo at a peace conference held in Hiroshima Aug. 4-5, 2015, marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the war. The conference, attended by 300 local and national activists, sought to shed new light on the war responsibility of imperial Japan and US responsibility for the atomic bombings. The text has been revised and updated for the Asia-Pacific Journal.
The speech was made during a summer of intense public protests over security legislation then being debated in the Japanese Diet. Despite opinion polls that showed the legislation to be exceedingly unpopular, the laws were rammed through the Diet on September 19, 2015. These contentious issues have now entered a new stage, with the drive to revise Japan’s peace constitution at the center of the Upper House election scheduled for July 10. Muto’s speech analyzes the issues that lie behind the present contest in light of the complex dynamics of Japan’s postwar politics. JJ
The struggle over reshaping postwar Japan entered a new phase on March 2, 2016, when Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declared at an Upper House Budget Committee hearing that he was committed to revising the constitution within his term of office, that is, by September 2018. Changing the postwar regime by fundamentally revising the present pacifist constitution has been Abe’s goal since he returned to power in 2012, but for some time he had avoided clearly stating his plan, knowing that the majority of voters oppose constitutional revision.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Abe Shinzo] [Constitution]
S. Korean Defense Ministry director-general level officials to participate in Japanese Self-Defense Forces event
Posted on : Jul.8,2016 15:49 KST
Past two years event has been held in Japanese Embassy, but this year in a hotel, reflecting closer bilateral ties
The Ministry of National Defense has announced that it will send director general-level officials to attend an event commemorating the establishment of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).
At a regular press briefing held on July 7, spokesperson Moon Sang-gyun said, "The Japanese Embassy has invited us, and we intend to participate at the same level as we have in previous years." The JSDF was founded on July 1, 1954, and the event honoring its 62nd anniversary will be held on July 12 at a hotel in Seoul.
The Japanese Embassy in Seoul has celebrated the anniversary every year, normally at a hotel, but since 2014, the event has been held inside the Japanese Embassy because of public opposition to holding it right in the middle of the capital city. The return of the the celebration to a venue outside the embassy is seen to be the result of the South Korean government's policy of appeasement toward Japan and the strengthening of South Korea-Japan military exchanges and cooperation.
[Japan SK] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Clinging to his identity, Korean resident of Japan denied entry to S. Korea
Posted on : Jul.6,2016 16:47 KST
Jeong Yeong-hwan, an associate professor at Meiji Gakuin University in Japan
Jeong Yeong-hwan is a Chosen-seki, a group forced by history to choose between South and North Korea
On June 28, Jeong Yeong-hwan, 35, an associate professor at Meiji Gakuin University, was once again denied entry to South Korea. Jeong is a third-generation Chosen-seki Korean who is living in Japan.
“What makes things especially hard for me is the fact that I want to visit South Korea. No doubt, there are other Chosen-seki Koreans who choose not to go. But I want both. I want to visit South Korea, and I also want to preserve my identity,” Jeong said, with a pained expression on his face.
Chosen-seki Koreans are ethnic Koreans whose nationality is defined as “Chosen” by Japanese immigration law, which effectively means that they are stateless, having neither South Korean nor Japanese citizenship. Chosen-seki Koreans lost their Japanese citizenship when the Treaty of San Francisco took effect in Apr. 1952.
Since they don’t have passports, when they travel abroad, Chosen-seki Koreans must obtain a special travel permit for each trip. The question of whether they should be allowed to visit South Korea has long been a vexed one.
In 2005 and 2006, during the administration of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, Jeong was able to enter the country with no problem. But after Lee Myung-bak became president in 2009, Jeong was suddenly denied entry.
[Human rights] [Lee Myung-bak]
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Seoul, Tokyo to Resume Joint Naval Drills in July
Korea and Japan will resume naval cooperation for the first time in four years next month. Naval patrol aircraft from the two countries will practice searching for and tracking North Korean submarines and conduct their first friendship flight.
The drill will be held at Atsugi air base in Japan from July 4 to 7, a Navy spokesman here said Tuesday.
The two countries are boosting military cooperation amid mounting threats of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles.
The drills, which started in 2010, took place only three times before they were suspended as relations between the two allies soured.
But in May last year Seoul and Tokyo agreed to restore cooperation and seek ways to respond jointly to nuclear and missile threats from the North.
For the friendship flight, a P-3C airplane each country will fly together over the air base for two to three hours.
The P-3C aircraft play a key role in searching for and tracking North Korean submarines. The South Korean Navy has 16 and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force 69, the biggest fleet after the U.S.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Military exercises] [Japan SK]
Trip to Europe embodies comfort women’s dreams of peace and human rights
Posted on : Jun.22,2016 16:41 KST
Young people taking trip to 16 European cities to draw attention to unresolved comfort women issue
The former comfort women for the Japanese imperial army had two dreams. The first was returning home to their parents and friends, and the second was creating a peaceful world without war or human rights violations. The symbol of the first dream is the balloon flower, and the symbol of world peace is the butterfly.
If the balloon flower represented what comfort women longed for when they were being violated as sex slaves for the Japanese army, the butterfly is a hope for the future, representing what the former comfort women wish to achieve in South Korea while they are still alive.
NSA whistleblower Snowden says U.S. government carrying out mass surveillance in Japan
by Shusuke Murai
Jun 4, 2016
Edward Snowden, a fugitive and former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who leaked information from the agency in 2013, warned Saturday that all people in Japan are subjected to mass surveillance initiated by the U.S. government.
Snowden lived in Japan from 2009 to 2011. At the time, he was an employee with computer giant Dell Inc. contracted out to the NSA, where he worked on a surveillance program at the U.S.’s Yokota airbase in Fussa, Tokyo.
“They know your … religious faith. They know whom you love. They know whom you care about … This was our job to establish the pattern of life of any individuals,” he said.
Snowden made the comments via video conferencing from Russia, where he resides to avoid U.S. criminal prosecution, during a symposium Saturday in Tokyo on surveillance in contemporary society.
More than 200 people, including lawyers, journalists, and others, attended the discussion held in an auditorium on the University of Tokyo campus. Snowden, 32, said all the information that people input via cellphones or computers can be legally collected by the U.S. intelligence agency for analysis.
[Surveillance] [US Japan] [Snowden]
Serious Crimes by US Personnel Occur More Than Once A Month in Okinawa
Japan Press Weekly
May 26, 2016
Okinawans are raising outcries against the recent arrest of an ex-U.S. marine on suspicion of killing a Japanese woman. Such serious crimes involving U.S. military personnel have taken place in Okinawa more than once a month on average for the last 40 years, Akahata reported on May 26.
Since the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, Okinawa Police arrested 575 U.S. servicepersons and U.S. civilian personnel for major crimes: 394 robberies, 130 rapes, 26 murders, and 25 cases of arson. If more minor crimes are included, the total number of crimes committed by the U.S. soldiers and U.S. civilian employees reaches 5,907 as of April 2016.
Nearly half of U.S. crimes in Japan are committed in Okinawa. Between 1989 and 2015, 1,900 crimes occurred on the southern island, followed by 808 in Kanagawa which hosts seven U.S. bases. This situation reflects the concentration of U.S. troops in Okinawa. In addition, as of March 2015, 49,000 U.S. servicemen are stationed in Japan and 27,000 of them in Okinawa.
S. Korea-Japan hashing out plans for more military cooperation
Posted on : Jun.6,2016 17:15 KST
South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo (right) shakes hands with Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani at the 2016 Shangri-La Dialogue (Asia Security Summit) in Singapore on June 4. (provided by the Ministry of National Defense)
Following Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, two sides stepping up bilateral and trilateral cooperation with US
The specifics of South Korea and Japan’s defense cooperation plans are coming into sharper focus following the 2016 Shangri-La Dialogue (Asia Security Summit) in Singapore from June 3 to 5.
Talks between South Korean Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo and his Japanese counterpart Gen Nakatani on June 4 focused not only on an increase in direct phone lines between the two militaries but also other measures to promote mutual understanding and trust, including exchanges of high-level personnel, visits to units, mutual training observation visits, visits to aircraft and cruise training squadrons, and cooperation on anti-piracy operations. While some caution was still evident, the broader trend was clearly toward stronger bilateral cooperation.
[Japan SK] [US dominance]
US Navy bans alcohol for sailors in Japan
By Yuri Kageyama
Jun. 6, 2016 3:58 PM EDT
TOKYO (AP) — The U.S. Navy banned drinking and restricted off-base activity Monday for its personnel in Japan after a sailor was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving on the island of Okinawa in the latest incident where suspected criminal activity has sparked public anger.
Crimes by U.S. military personnel, especially on Okinawa where the public is fighting to get rid of U.S. bases, are often pointed to as reasons why the U.S. soldiers should go.
In the latest incident, Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia, 21, assigned to Kadena base in Okinawa, was arrested Sunday after driving the wrong way on a freeway and smashing head-on into two vehicles, said police spokesman Takashi Shirado. Mejia was not hurt, but two people in the other cars were slightly injured, he said.
U.S. Navy Bans Alcohol in Japan After Tragedies
U.S. authorities have been grappling with the rape and murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman.
By Curt Mills | Staff Writer June 6, 2016, at 11:49 a.m.
The United States Navy imposed a total ban on alcohol in Japan Monday, and ordered all servicemembers to their bases for non-essential activity.
"Effective immediately, sailors are prohibited from drinking alcohol, on and off base. Additionally, all off-base liberty will be curtailed," said a statement from the commander of the 7th Fleet on Monday.
In this Thursday, May 19, 2016 photo, U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy leaves after her meeting with Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at foreign ministry in Tokyo. Japanese police have arrested an American working on a U.S. military base in Okinawa on suspicion of abandoning the body of a woman who had been missing since last month. Kishida summoned Kennedy to convey his "regret" over the crime. Kennedy offered condolences for the death of the woman.
Japan Officials on Okinawa Express Heartbreak at Death, U.S. Man's Arrest
The drastic steps are a response to a recent wave of crimes allegedly committed by U.S. military personnel.
A sailor was arrested on Sunday on drunk-driving charges. The sailor allegedly drove the wrong way on a highway. The sailor was driving with a blood alcohol content six times higher than the legal limit. The crash sent a Japanese woman to the hospital and injured a Japanese man. The sailor herself was not injured.
All 18,600 US sailors in Japan slapped with full drinking ban, confined to base
Published time: 6 Jun, 2016 11:20
Three separate scandals involving American servicemen and contractors in a highly-controversial Navy base in Japan's Okinawa have finally resulted in an all-out alcohol ban on all the 18,600 sailors. The measure is the latest and comes after a Marine's drunk-driving stunt.
Adding to the two cases involving murder and rape of two young Japanese women, a third incident saw a US sailor with six times the legal alcohol limit go on a joyride, hitting two cars in the wrong lane. The officer, Aimee Mejia, who was assigned to Kadena Air base, is now being held by Japanese police.
This is all in the midst of now nationwide anger over the antics in Okinawa, not to mention earlier opposition to such a prominent American presence on the island.
The latest incident took place as US forces were observing a 30-day period of mourning for the earlier murder victim. Part of the gesture by the American military included imposing strict measures on its servicemen and women, such as curfews and a partial alcohol ban when off base.
Starting Monday, all American sailors in Japan are banned from consuming alcohol on and off the premises. More severe movement restrictions were also imposed – the soldiers can now only go to the store, the gym and the gas station, according to the Japan Times.
Was MacArthur a Japanese Agent?
For my generation, clickbait. For the younglings, it’s “Who’s MacArthur”?
Douglas MacArthur was, in the words of an admiring biographer, “the American Caesar”, the brilliant military commander who won the Pacific War (the Japanese end of World War II), ruled postwar Japan with a sure imperial hand from 1945 to 1951, and orchestrated the 1950 Inchon landing master-stroke that turned the tide in the Korean War.
MacArthur was also notoriously vain, vainglorious, manipulative, insubordinate, and ambitious. Truman relieved him of his command in Korea in 1951 for coloring outside the lines and wanting to take the war up to the PRC border and possibly beyond. Back home, MacArthur had ambitions of becoming president of the United States but found the road cut off by another triumphant general, Dwight Eisenhower and, in his own words, MacArthur “never died; he just faded away”.
So, that’s MacArthur.
My thoughts turned to MacArthur because of two books. While prepping for a clutch of pieces I wrote on Charles Pellegrino’s account of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, To Hell and Back, I spent some time slogging through the Japan atomic bombs denialist/revisionist fever swamp. At the same time, I was also rereading Sterling and Peggy Seagrave’s 2003 classic of Asian conspiracy theory, paranoia, and fact, Gold Warriors.
Chief of Staff document says Seoul and Tokyo “sharply at odds” over comfort women
Posted on : Jun.2,2016 15:37 KST
Written opinion was kept secret as it undermines claim that Dec. 28 agreement settled the comfort women issue
South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s chief of staff submitted a written opinion to the court stating that the issue of the comfort women for the Imperial Japanese Army is “a grave issue in which the positions and interests of the two countries [South Korea and Japan] are sharply at odds,” the Hankyoreh has learned.
The view expressed by President Park’s chief of staff conflicts with the official South Korean government position that the agreement reached by the two governments on Dec. 28 had “settled the comfort women issue as a diplomatic dispute.”
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Obama in Japan
Israel Shamir • May 30, 2016
I came to Japan for the preview of Obama’s visit, when the G7 foreign ministers assembled at Hiroshima, led by the US State Secretary John Kerry. He should apologise, people said. You do not think Kerry apologised for nuking the city, did you? Neither did Obama. The Americans never apologise, banish the thought. Love means never having to say you’re sorry, and they are in love with the rest of the world. Otherwise, why would they screw it so violently and wish to possess so intensely?
Mind you, I am not in favour of apologies. The Jews did not ask the Germans to apologise, they asked for cash. The Germans anyway were sorry for paying so much. The Armenians tried to trick the Turks into apologies hoping to add the demand for payment as a rider. The Turks preferred to be rather safe than sorry. The Americans famously did not apologise to the Vietnamese for invasion and ruination of their country.
Obama and the absence of apology in Hiroshima
24 May 2016
Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU
‘As President of the United States of America, I express my profound apologies for the sufferings inflicted on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atomic bombings’. These, of course, are the words that we are not going to hear Barack Obama speak in Hiroshima on 27 May, when he becomes the first sitting US president to visit the city since the atomic bombings in August 1945. It is sad that we will not hear at least a version of these words. A simple but sincere apology might bring some peace of mind to the survivors and their families, and could have a profound effect on Japanese society.
US President Barack Obama speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. (Photo: AAP).
The forces that shaped Japan’s postwar history created a situation where the United States has never apologised, and the Japanese government has been ambivalent about memorialising the atomic bombings. This uneasy relationship with the memory of the bombings is surely one reason why Japan has such difficulty in apologising sincerely for its own past aggression. The deep sense of unassuaged victimhood left by the bombings feeds a reluctance among many (though not all) Japanese to acknowledge their country’s own role as an aggressor. An apology from the US president might help to dissolve that feeling of victimhood. It could also provide a model for reconciliation between Japan and its neighbours.
Okinawa murder dominates talks between Obama and Abe
By Anna Fifield and David Nakamura
May 25 at 4:17 PM
TOKYO — The brutal murder of an Okinawa woman, allegedly by a U.S. military contractor, dominated a meeting between the American and Japanese leaders Wednesday night, with President Obama expressing his “deepest regrets” to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the “tragedy.”
The murder has reignited outrage in the southern island prefecture over the large American military presence there, with thousands of people protesting Wednesday outside the U.S. Air Force base where the contractor worked.
[Okinawa] [US crimes] [Obama]
Japan’s important sideshow to arbitration decision in the South China Sea
16 May 2016
Authors: Jerome A. Cohen, NYU, and Peter A. Dutton, USNWC
While tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea and the disputing governments nervously await a decision in the Philippines’ arbitration case against China, an important sideshow has arisen between Japan and Taiwan in the central Philippine Sea.
On 24 April Japan’s Coast Guard arrested a Taiwanese fishing vessel and its crew for fishing in waters that Japan claims are part of its 200-nautical mile ‘exclusive economic zone’ (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Japan’s EEZ claim is based on its control over two tiny rocks surrounded by a coral reef more than 1000 miles south of Tokyo. Although Japanese military patrols began chasing Taiwanese fishing boats away from the area two years ago, this was reportedly the first actual detention since 2012
[Territorial disputes] [Japan Taiwan] [Double standards]
Japan debating the legality of preemptive strikes on enemy bases
Posted on : May.17,2016 16:01 KST
An F2 fighter with Joint Direct Attack Munitions capabilities
Some Japanese rightwingers claiming that such strikes fall within the country’s legal basis for military action
A series of North Korean ballistic missile launch tests toward the East Sea has prompted renewed calls in Japan for preemptive strikes against enemy bases.
Proponents of the approach argue that it is a necessary countermeasure when an imminent North Korean missile attack on Japan is predicted.
The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported a number of comments within the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) stressing the need for preemptive strike capabilities amid North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launch and nuclear tests. In March, LDP security research commission chairman Hiroshi Imazu said Tokyo “must naturally consider striking before [the enemy] fires.”
The issue of preemptive enemy base strikes has been a topic of Japanese security policy debate for over six decades. As a preemptive measure, it would be in conflict with the overriding principle of exclusive use of armed force for defensive means, which has defined Japanese defense policy since World War II. Previously discussed merely in terms of jurisprudence, the argument emerged as a practical policy concern in 2003 when it was voiced by then-Japan Defence Agency director-general Shigeru Ishiba. Ishiba, 59, is currently regional revitalization minister and is considered a leading contender to become the country’s next prime minister.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Preemptive]
European Tour of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The European tour of Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, which took place from 2 to 6 May, consisted of two parts. The first part included visits to Italy and France, Germany and the UK, that is, four of the leading EU members, as well as a visit to the Union headquarters. The second was a visit to Russia where talks were held with President V.V. Putin in an informal setting in Sochi.
There is no point in engaging in speculation about which of these parts had a greater importance for Japan and its Prime Minister. In the course of conversations with European leaders and Russian President, Abe dealt for the most part with different (but equally important for the country) issues.
During the Western European part of the tour his interests lay with three main issues: the completion of talks with the EU on the subject of a bilateral free trade agreement that have been ongoing since April 2013, the likelihood of EU’s integrity on the eve of the referendum in the UK, and the final check that the four members of the upcoming summit of G-7 are on the same page.
[Japan EU] [Japan Russia]
S. Korea not using government budget to support comfort women foundation
Posted on : May.11,2016 16:23 KST
Former comfort women Kim Bok-dong thanks students for giving her a carnation at the 1,229th consecutive Wednesday demonstration calling for a resolution to the comfort women issue outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul’s Jongno district, four days before Parent’s Day, May 4. (by Kim Seong-gwang, staff photographer)
Foundation is part of Dec. 28 agreement with Japan, and is to be funded by one billion yen budget
The South Korean government has reportedly adopted an internal policy of not using its budget to fund the establishment of a foundation to support comfort women survivors.
The foundation is scheduled to be established during the first half of this year in accordance with an agreement reached by Seoul and Tokyo on the comfort women issue last Dec. 28.
“Given the spirit of the South Korea-Japan agreement, government budget support for the foundation is not being considered at the current stage,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs source said on May 10.
The Japan Lobby and Public Diplomacy
May 1, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 9 | Number 2
At the January 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo stumbled on the world stage when he warned of the dangers of complacency regarding the possibility of conflict between China and Japan, drawing a parallel between the UK and Germany on the eve of World War I when European diplomats were 'sleepwalking' into the abyss. The media suggested it was a warmongering speech, based apparently on a misleading translation. Abe's spin-doctors were fuming at the damaging misinterpretation, but given that Abe made a pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine only three weeks earlier on 26 December 2013, it is understandable that the press was primed to assume the worst. This is because Yasukuni is widely viewed as 'ground zero' for an unrepentant, glorifying narrative of Japan's wartime rampage in the years 1931-45. While Beijing and Seoul's criticism of Abe'sisit to the shrine was anticipated, Washington's swift and sharp rebuke was not.
Abe probably thought he would get a pass from Washington, despite extensive behind the scenes lobbying warning him not to go to the shrine, including a phone call from Vice President Joseph Biden. This is because he had just closed a deal with then governor of Okinawa Nakaima Hirokazu to proceed with plans to build a bitterly contested new Marine airbase in Oura Bay, Henoko in exchange for a little over $20 billion in aid spread out over eight years. The base is important to the Pentagon and Abe appeared to deliver on security what his predecessors could not. But he and his advisors misread Washington on history issues and paid the price.
[Lobby] [Japanese remilitarisation] [China confrontation] [Public diplomacy]
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Comfort women statue still a sticking point in S. Korea-Japan agreement
Posted on : Apr.28,2016 16:21 KST
Two sides have divergent views on how to deal with statue, as they move to implement agreement reached on Dec. 28
The governments of South Korea and Japan are at loggerheads about whether the agreement they reached on the comfort women on Dec. 28 of last year addresses the question of removing the statue symbolizing the comfort women from in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
On Apr. 27, Tokyo expressed the official position that the removal of the statue is implied in the agreement. Considering that this directly contradicts remarks President Park Geun-hye made during a luncheon the previous day with newspaper editors-in-chief and newsroom directors that “the removal of the statue was not really even mentioned in the agreement,” it is likely to have considerable ramifications in the future for implementing the agreement and for Japan-South Korea relations. An unexpected obstacle has appeared to block the path of the two governments, which had been planning to speed up implementation of the agreement by establishing a foundation to aid the former comfort women sometime during the first half of the year.
The issue was brought up by Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Haguida, a close associate of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in response to a question about Park’s comments during the regular press briefing on Wednesday.
“If you’re asking whether this [removing the statue] was a prerequisite for the agreement, we haven’t confirmed all of those details,” Haguida said. “Considering that the larger significance of this agreement is resolving this issue finally and irreversibly and building a new relationship with South Korea instead of kicking this issue on to the next generation, I think this [the removal] is one of those details and that it is included here.”
Taiwan's premier scolds Japan over detention of fishing boat
Premier Simon Chang (center).
Taipei, April 26 (CNA) Taiwan's Premier Simon Chang said Tuesday that Japanese coast guard had no right to detain a Taiwanese fishing boat in waters off Japan's Okinotori coral reefs the previous day.
"Okinotori is just two coral reefs measuring nine square meters, the size of three tatami mats, and does not have a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone under international law," Chang said.
The Pingtung-registered fishing vessel and its crew were detained early Monday by Japanese coast guard 150 nautical miles off Japan's Okinotori coral reefs.
He said there is a great deal of controversy over whether the Okinotori two reefs can be defined as an island under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and therefore are entitled to an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles.
[UNCLOS] [Territorial disputes] [Japan]
Kim Jong-il's former Japanese chef visits North Korea
By Lee Jin-a
Fujimoto Kenji, a former Japanese chef who served North Korea's former president Kim Jong-il, visited Pyongyang for a week recently, according to Japanese news media.
"Fujimoto arrived in Pyongyang on April 12 and took a flight to Beijing airport on Saturday afternoon," NHK said. "The chef did not disclose the reason for his visit to North Korea, but there is a possibility that he was invited for the Kim Il-sung's birthday event on April 15."
Fujimoto served the Kim family for 13 years until he fled for his life back to Japan in 2001. He visited North Korea again more than 10 years later, when Kim Jong-un took power.
The chef told CNN in 2012 that the young leader gave him a free pass to visit North Korea whenever he wanted.
Not this time, Mr. President
by Kim Jin-Hyun
Kim Jin-Hyun is chairman of the World Peace Forum, a member of the Pacific Forum CSIS Board of Governors, and a former Republic of Korea minister of science and technology. This article was originally published in the Korea JoongAng Daily. The Pacific Forum CSIS takes no position on the advisability of a presidential visit to Hiroshima and welcomes opposing views. An online version of this article is available here.
Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio and US Secretary of State John Kerry co-orchestrated the Group of Seven (G-7) foreign ministerial talks in Hiroshima, Kishida’s hometown. Kerry stressed the importance of the international cooperation pushed by the Obama administration in a press conference. “Everyone should visit Hiroshima, and ‘everyone’ means everyone,” he added. “So I hope one day, the president of the United States will be among the everyone who is able to come here.” It was overt encouragement to Obama, who will visit Ise Shima on May 26 for the G-7 summit.
“We emphasize the importance of our meeting in Hiroshima 71 years after World War II, which unleashed unprecedented horror upon the world. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced immense devastation and human suffering as a consequence of the atomic bombings and have rebuilt their cities so impressively,” the Hiroshima Declaration adopted at the G-7 Foreign Ministerial talks said.
[Hiroshima] [Sidelined] [Nuclearisation] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Chinese state media journalists barred from vessel during Australia-Japan navy event
By Danuta Kozaki
Posted Tue at 9:24pm
A disagreement appears to have caused confusion during a media briefing for a Japanese fleet's visit to Sydney's Garden Island naval base, with two Chinese journalists blocked from boarding a vessel.
Two Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force destroyers, JS Umigiri and JS Asayuki, were berthed in open view, with one Soryu class submarine, JS Hakuryu, nearby but out of sight to the gathered civilian media
[China confrontation] [Japanese remilitarisation] [Media] [Australia]
Note to Washington: enjoy Abe while you have him
by Grant Newsham
Grant Newsham (email@example.com) is a Senior Research Fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies. He is a retired US Marine Colonel and lived in Japan for 20 years, also serving as a diplomat assigned to the US Embassy, Tokyo and working in the private sector. This article first appeared in the Lowy Interpreter blog here.
Shinzo Abe will not be Japan’s prime minister forever, and once he leaves office he might just be missed.
Abe is the first Japanese prime minister in decades with a strategic vision of Japan’s role in the world. He recognized that Japan could no longer sit quietly, writing the occasional check, while events unfolded around it. Foremost, he saw that close ties with the US are indispensable for Japan – and that forging a strong Japan-US relationship required Tokyo to become a more ‘useful’ ally. And by playing an active regional and global role – including militarily – Japan could raise its stature.
To this end, Prime Minister Abe has gotten out and about, visiting all parts of the world. Being seen and heard makes a difference, and contrasts starkly with the low international profile of most previous Japanese prime ministers.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japanese remilitarisation] [US Japan alliance]
For first time, Japan will send Ise destroyer into the South China Sea
Posted on : Apr.7,2016 17:39 KST
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH 182)
The ostensible reason behind the move is training with Indonesian navy, but move likely to irritate China
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) officially announced plans on Apr. 5 to send its Ise destroyer into the South China Sea.
The large helicopter-destroyer - actually a light aircraft carrier - is equipped with powerful anti-submarine patrol capabilities. While the ostensible purpose is participation in humanitarian training exercises led by the Indonesian Navy, the move also stands to provoke China, which has been on edge recently over US-Japan alliance pressures concerning the South China Sea.
Japan’s Maritime Staff Office - the equivalent of South Korea’s Navy Chief of Staff office - announced on Apr. 5 that the Ise would be dispatched to the 2016 Komodo multinational training exercise spearheaded by the Indonesian Navy, as well as an Indonesian naval review.
The Komodo Exercise, which begins on Apr. 12, will be staged in the waters around Padang, Sumatra, and involve training for humanitarian aid and disaster rescue operations. The Ise is to call at the Port of Subic in the Philippines, which is currently in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and other Japanese news outlets reported.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [China confrontation] [Seapower] [Humanitarian] [Pretext]
After summit, S. Korea, US and Japan expected to step up military cooperation
Posted on : Apr.4,2016 16:12 KST
The topic of closer cooperation is likely to be taken up next in May at the Singapore Shangri-La Dialogue
Military cooperation among South Korea, the US, and Japan is expected to gain traction after their leaders agreed to strengthen trilateral collaboration on security at the Nuclear Security Summit on Mar. 31.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, US President Barack Obama, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe previously helped usher in stronger trilateral cooperation by tackling frictions between Seoul and Tokyo during a trilateral summit at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague two years ago.
Specific discussions on trilateral military cooperation appear set to take place at a meeting of Defense Ministers - likely at the Singapore Shangri-La Dialogue in May - and at Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) to be held during the first half of the year. The Defense Minister talks are a particular focus of attention as the first trilateral security discussions since recent security legislation went into effect in Japan allowing its Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to legally wage war. Specifically, the JSDF is allowed to exercise its collective self-defense authority by providing active rear support to protect US forces deployed to the Korean Peninsula in the event of an emergency.
Later trilateral talks are now expected to include serious discussions on the types and scope of JSDF military activities in such a situation. But many argue that the expansion of JDSF activities should be approached carefully due to possible infringements on South Korea’s sovereignty.
[US dominance] [China confrontation] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Pres. Park directing government to refrain from criticizing Japan
Posted on : Apr.4,2016 16:10 KST
Despite terms, high-ranking Japanese officials have made provocative comments on comfort women agreement
Reports in the Japanese media suggest that the South Korean government‘s decision not to criticize Japan since the two governments’ reached an agreement on the comfort women issue on Dec. 28, 2015 is the result of instructions given by President Park Geun-hye. Regardless of the veracity of these reports, it is true that the South Korean government has been holding back on criticism of Japanese behavior that violates the spirit of the agreement.
In an Apr. 2 roundup of the summit between South Korea and Japan that was held in Washington, D.C., on Mar. 31, Japanese newspaper the Yomiuri Shimbun quoted an unnamed source as saying that “President Park instructed related departments to avoid criticizing Japan on the comfort women issue after the Dec. 28 agreement with Japan.” The newspaper did not specify which government the source belonged to.
This story was also covered by the Mainichi Shimbun, another Japanese newspaper. Since the Dec. 28 agreement, the paper
said, “South Korea has been attempting to suppress criticism of Japan. Senior officials in Japan’s Foreign Ministry believe that President Park is making clear that she means to keep the agreement with Japan.”
[SK Japan] [Park Geun-hye]
PacNet #33 - Japan’s security policy under Abe: much ado about almost nothing
By Crystal Pryor
Mar 31, 2016
Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been able to reorient his country’s security policy. The defense budget has been increasing since 2013, for the first time in a decade. The ban on arms exports has been loosened, allowing Japan to export defense items and technologies for the first time in 40 years. And, Abe pushed a set of controversial bills through the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-controlled Diet to enact changes in Japan’s security posture in 2015, despite widespread public opposition. The legislation came into effect this week.
Despite this reorientation, there remain real domestic constraints on Abe’s vision of “proactive pacifism.” Nevertheless, Abe must be careful of overreach, both regarding constitutional revision and what he promises Japan’s allies. Rather than pursuing more changes, the prime minister should stop while he is ahead and focus on institutionalizing the changes he has already made.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Proactive pacifism]
“Ceasefire” on Oura Bay: The March 2016 Japan-Okinawa “Amicable Agreement” Introduction and Six Views from within the Okinawan Anti-Base Movement
April 1, 2016
Much has been written on the government of Japan's determination to provide a new base for the United States Marine Corps at Henoko on Oura Bay in northern Okinawa and to transfer the existing, obsolescent, dangerous and inconvenient Futenma Air Station to it.1 When the agreement to "return" the Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to Japan was first reached (April 12, 1996), it was to occur "within five to seven years." As the 20th anniversary of that agreement loomed early in 2016, the Marine Corps' "Marine Aviation Plan 2016" amended the already several times pushed back transfer/reversion date to "fiscal year 2025" (October 2024-September 2025).2 Admiral Harry Harris, Commander-of US Pacific forces presented that date in evidence to Congress early in 2016.3 But even as that 2025 date was being reluctantly accepted in Washington, at the beginning of March 2016, Japan despatched its top security official, Yachi Shotaro, to Washington to seek the Obama government's understanding (and presumably also its permission) for a further substantial delay.4 Once the US consented, the Abe government came to an "out-of-court" March 4 agreement (discussed in this paper and in the following opinion essays by Okinawans) with Okinawa Prefecture, that involved a complete and indefinite suspension of site works at Henoko. Lt. General Robert Neller, commander of the US Marine Corps, told a Senate military affairs committee meeting that that suspension could be expected to last a further 12-months.5 President Obama, advised of the impending delay, merely responded with "So there will be nothing happening for a while then."6
Henoko Has a Few Words for the Pentagon – an Okinawan ex-Marine Speaks Up
C. Douglas Lummis
April 1, 2016
At the protest rally at Henoko on 21 March (2,500 people in front of Camp Schwab protesting the Pentagon and the Japanese government's plans to build a new Marine Base in Oura Bay) there were four or five Marines up on the hill across from the gate with cameras and walkie-talkies and armbands, observing and recording the event. Clearly they were not there out of personal curiosity, but doing a job. Perhaps it was hoped that their presence would strike a Big-Brother-is-Watching-You fear into the hearts of the protesters, but if so, it was not working.
It occurred to me that, on the contrary, they could be thought as a useful medium of communication, by which the message of the rally would be conveyed directly to base headquarters, and from there to Pacific Command headquarters and on to the Pentagon. After all just a few weeks before, the Commander of US Forces in the Pacific, Admiral Harry Harris, had testified before the US Senate Armed Services Committee that Henoko base construction was two years behind schedule, and that the protest movement was part of the reason, whereupon the very next day Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide said, No, it's right on schedule. As it would be crazy for Suga to lie to the Pentagon when the Pentagon has the facts, it must mean that Suga really doesn't know what's going on at Henoko. From this we can learn that the Pentagon has better information about Henoko than the Japanese Government does. And the source – one source anyway – of that information will be these guys up on the hill.
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Thousands Protest as Japanese Government Ushers in New Age of Militarism
Turning its back on decades of pacifism, controversial 'war legislation' takes effect
Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Thousands of anti-war protesters rallied outside the parliament building in Tokyo on Tuesday, railing against the Japanese government's new so-called security law which marks a historic departure from the country's decades-long pacifism.
The controversial "war legislation," a package of bills that passed parliament in September and took effect on Tuesday, reinterprets Article 9 of the country's Constitution, which renounced war as a means to settle international disputes following World War II.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed for the revisions which "expand the activities of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) overseas, even in situations when Japan is not under direct attack," The Asahi Shimbun reports. "The laws call for the SDF to provide greater support to the militaries of the United States and other nations anywhere in the world."
Tens of thousands of people protested against the measure last fall and on Tuesday an estimated 37,000 demonstrated against Japan's expanded militarism. According to The Mainichi, demonstrations were held in 35 cities across Japan.
In Tokyo, protesters chanted and held signs reading 'oust the Abe administration' and 'we don't condone war,' RT reported. Over the weekend, hundreds of high school students took to the streets in Tokyo's Shibuya district calling for a "peaceful future."
The new aggressive posture comes amid heightened tensions with neighboring China and North Korea. In an online commentary published Tuesday, the state-run Xinhua news agency accused "warlord" Abe of threatening peace in the region in an effort to appease the United States.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Protest]
Textbook Says Okinawa Reliant on U.S. Bases, Uproar Ensues
March 23, 2016
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Okinawa prefectural officials expressed outrage over a government-approved high school social studies textbook that suggested the Okinawa economy is excessively dependent on U.S. military bases.
“The contents differ from the views held by the prefectural and central governments,” a high-ranking Okinawa government official said. “Rather than a misunderstanding of the facts, it approaches the level of a vicious rumor. We have to wonder if the education ministry conducted a thorough screening.”
Teikoku-Shoin Co., publisher of the textbook, is considering filing a request to revise the questionable contents. The textbook is scheduled to be used in courses about modern society taught at high school from the 2017 school year.
A boxed column titled “Okinawa and U.S. military bases,” which takes up about two-thirds of a page in the textbook, explains the current situation of Okinawa and the large concentration of U.S. military bases in the southernmost prefecture. It also touches upon the plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, now in Ginowan, in central Okinawa Prefecture, to Nago, also in the prefecture.
The column mentions payments of rent for use of base land and consumer spending by those with the U.S. military.
“The level of dependence of the prefectural economy on the bases is extremely high,” it says. “The Japanese government is also paying Okinawa Prefecture a huge amount in economic promotion funds as a virtual exchange for allowing the bases to continue to remain there.”
Can Korea outsmart big powers this time?
"Justification and Practical Interests of Korean Diplomacy toward Japan"
By Oh Young-jin
Sometimes history can feel as close to reality as the present.
Such is the case with Korea's 12-year effort to extract reparations from Japan for its 1910-45 colonial occupation.
In the lead-up to the signing of the treaty to reset their relations in 1965, Korea was forced to settle for less than what it wanted because it was neither strong enough to have its voice heard nor smart enough to persuade others in the world how the law of the jungle worked in this part of the world.
Ambassador Yoo Euy-sang retraces the process of the 12-year negotiations in his recent book, "Justification and Practical Interests of Korean Diplomacy toward Japan," forcing us to confront the question: Have we grown strong enough to decide our fate?
[SK Japan] [Sidelined]
Into the Valley of the Trolls
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Is growing online harassment just part of the job or should it be confronted? And when does it cross the line?
by David McNeill
or most correspondents, it has become an unpleasant morning ritual: opening the laptop and wading through abusive tweets and mail. One of my recent articles, on Japan’s plunging press-freedom rankings provoked this response: “You’re anti-Japanese scum. Japan grows weaker because left-wing traitors here mix with the likes of you. Get out, moron.”
That’s mild compared to the slurs that percolate on the Twitter feeds of star reporters. Hiroko Tabuchi, former Tokyo correspondent for the New York Times, recalls a stream of invective laced with sexual and ethnic smears (see sidebar).Justin McCurry, Tokyo correspondent for the Guardian has been branded an “ultra-leftist North Korean spy” and repeatedly invited to “Fack off.”
Japan, China to work closely on N Korea sanctions
Mar. 15, 2016 - 06:32AM JST ( 8 )
Japan and China finally confirmed on Monday to work closely in their implementation of a new set of tougher sanctions on North Korea recently approved by the U.N. Security Council, during the first direct exchange of words in more than four months between the two countries’ foreign ministers.
“We agreed to coordinate closely in strictly implementing a U.N. Security Council resolution” that made it possible to impose the sanctions, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in Tokyo following a 45-minute telephone conservation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
[Analysis] In int’l arena, Japan’s comfort women strategy sputtering
Posted on : Mar.9,2016 17:44 KST
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
UN body has criticized supposed “final and irreversible” resolution, and asked Japan for victim-centered approach
The concluding observations about the comfort women issue that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) released on Mar. 7 appear to show that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy of downplaying Japan’s legal responsibility is not working in the international community.
The committee’s opinion also contained criticism of the Dec. 28 agreement reached by South Korea and Japan, said to represent a “final and irreversible” resolution of the comfort women issue. This is an unwelcome development for the South Korean government, which has been touting the settlement as one of the chief achievements of the Park administration.
Speaking on behalf of CEDAW at a press conference, committee member Ismat Jahan said that the comfort women issue remains unresolved despite the settlement. Jahan also urged the two countries to reach a swift agreement that takes into account the perspective of the victims.
Nike under fire over 'Rising Sun' sneakers
Sports brand Nike is under fire for having sold sneakers carrying a logo that looks like the Japanese "Rising Sun" flag, a symbol of the colonial era, on March 1, the 97th anniversary of the 1919 March 1 Independence Movement.
Nike began selling the Air Jordan XII red-and-white sneakers in Korea on Feb. 27. Each pair costs 229,000 won.
The design closely resembles the "Rising Sun" flag, and the sneakers remained on sale at select stores on March 1 Independence Day.
The upper portion of the Air Jordan XII is said to have been inspired by Japan's "Rising Sun" flag. Nike was criticized in 2009 for releasing a "Rising Sun" edition of the Air Jordan XII.
Some Koreans boycotted the "Rising Sun" edition of the Air Jordan XII because of the "Rising Sun" flag on the insoles.
Ripe for Reinvigoration: The Japan-South Korea Security Relationship
Posted on Friday, February 26, 2016 by Admin
By Samuel J. Mun
North Korea’s recent provocations and saber-rattling highlight the importance of Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) security cooperation once again. Over the past two months, North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb, tested ballistic missile technology, and threatened South Korea and the United States with a preemptive military strike. These developments, combined with a Japan-ROK political resolution and China’s reluctance to censure North Korea, have created an opening for Japan and South Korea to strengthen their ties and stabilize the Northeast Asian security landscape.
Six months ago, there was speculation that South Korea was gravitating into China’s “orbit” and away from Japan. Many worried when President Park Geun-hye attended a military parade in Beijing as part of her effort to encourage China to exert leverage against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, relations between Japan and South Korea continued to suffer as politicized disputes over “comfort women” impeded any significant progress in improving their strained ties.[Japan SK]
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Abe’s 2016 Plan to Break the Deadlock in the Territorial Dispute with Russia
February 15, 2016
Volume 14 | Issue 4 | Number 1
The territorial dispute between Japan and Russia has its origins in the closing stages of the Second World War. Specifically, after declaring war on Japan on the evening of 8 August 1945 (two days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima), the Soviet Union launched large-scale offensives against Japanese positions in Manchuria, Korea, and Sakhalin. Even after the broadcast of Japan's surrender on 15 August, the Soviet advance continued. The Soviet forces recovered southern Sakhalin, which had been ceded to Japan in 1905 after Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. They also reclaimed the islands of the Kuril chain from Urup northwards, which Russia had voluntarily transferred to Japan in the 1875 Treaty of St. Petersburg. Finally, and most controversially, between 28 August and 4 September, the Soviet military occupied the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai islets, territory that had never previously been Soviet or Russian.1
[Japan Russia] [Territorial disputes]
The South Korean Controversy Over the Comfort Women, Justice and Academic Freedom: The Case of Park Yuha
Maeda Akira February 15, 2016 Volume 14 | Issue 4 | Number 2 Caroline Norma, translation and commentary Introduction Maeda Akira is a law professor at Tokyo Zokei University. He recently edited a volume of writing on theories of 'hate speech',1 and has been an active participant in the activist and scholarly 'justice for comfort women' movement since its inception in Japan in the early 1990s. In December 2015, Maeda published a series of blog posts criticising a public statement issued, initially, by 54 mostly Japanese and American academics in November 2015.2 This public statement was introduced at a press conference on the 26th, and published in the Asahi Shimbun on the 27th. Among its signatories were Oe Kenzaburo, Kono Yohei, Andrew Gordon, Peter Duus, and Ueno Chizuko.3 The group maintains a multilingual website as a show of ongoing protest.4 Maeda Akira Their protest was at the decision of South Korean prosecutors in November 2015 to criminally indict Sejong University's professor Park Yuha for libel. Park in 2013 published a Korean-language history of the so-called wartime military 'comfort women' that the court judged libelous of survivors. It was subject to a civil claim brought in 2014 by nine former victims with the support of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. A temporary injunction on the book's sale was lifted only after the Seoul Eastern District Court ordered the deletion of a number of its passages. The passages included the sentence: 'Korean comfort women were victims, but they were also collaborators as people from a colony'.5 Park's criminal indictment by Korean prosecutors in November 2015 followed this initial successful civil claim. [Comfort women]
Japan stays silent as South Korean conservatives call for nukes
Posted on : Feb.20,2016 15:30 KST
Despite rumblings about possible nuclear armament in the past, Abe administration has made no noise about nukes
South Korean conservatives have been making reckless calls for nuclear armament in the wake of North Korea’s fourth nuclear test last month. Meanwhile, Japan has remained quiet on the issue. What accounts for this lack of a response to the pro-nuke push in South Korea?
Shoichi Nakagawa, former Japanese Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker
The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper printed an interesting analysis on Feb. 19 of the two countries’ clearly divergent responses after the nuclear test. It began with a neutral account of the pro-nuclear arguments within South Korea, citing a National Assembly speech by Saenuri Party (NFP) lawmaker Won Yoo-chul - who declared that it was “time that South Korea also possessed peaceful nuclear capabilities” - and a related Chosun Ilbo editorial. It also reported experts as saying such armament would be “unrealistic” because it would mean pulling out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and triggering a breakdown in the South Korea-US alliance. In terms of reasons for the calls, the article read them as a reflection of anger toward North Korea and frustration that China is not doing more to help.
Missile defense cooperating is the core of US-Japan alliance
Posted on : Feb.20,2016 15:13 KST
Two countries say their “global alliance” moving along properly after being upgraded in April 2015
“In response to North Korea’s missile launch, the US-Japan alliance functioned smoothly under its peace and security legislation and new guidelines.”
The setting was the official residence of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Feb. 13. Speaking to visiting US Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Harry Harris, Abe offered a meaningful assessment on the relationship between the US-Japan alliance - upgraded into a “global alliance” through the two countries’ Apr. 2015 amendment of their defense cooperation guidelines - and missile defense. The message was one of gratitude for the smoother functioning of the joint response to North Korea’s recent rocket launch thanks to the stronger missile defense cooperation made possible by the amendment.
[US-Japan alliance] [Japanese remilitarisation] [Missile defense] [THAAD]
The anti-US military base struggle in Okinawa, Japan
Maki Kimura 13 February 2016
Many visitors stay for a prolonged period, become regular visitors or even completely relocate to Okinawa, as Aihara and Kamoshita did a few years ago.
Not many people outside Japan have even heard of the place called Okinawa, a semi-tropical archipelago of numerous islands with unique and invaluable biodiversity situated in the East China Sea – let alone have any knowledge of its modern history, dominated by the sequence of invasion, colonisation, war and militarisation.
Two peace activists from Okinawa, Aihara Sarasa and Kamoshita Yuichi, set out on a two-week European lecture tour in February 2016 to spread the word about the ongoing struggle by the Okinawan people against the construction of a new US military base adjacent to Camp Schwab in Henoko.
PacNet #14 “The Japan-Korea comfort women deal: this is only the beginning”
By Kazuhiko Togo
Feb 9, 2016
I concur with most of the points in “The Japan-Korea comfort women deal: this is only the beginning” by Scott Snyder and Brad Glosserman. Let me add several points to clarify this complex issue.
Looking back at how Prime Minister Abe Shinzo started his second term in 2012, he has shifted course from a narrowly oriented nationalistic position to one characterized by restraint and humility on this complex issue.
Japan statement to UN on comfort women raises tensions between Seoul, Tokyo
Posted on : Feb.2,2016 17:28 KST
The denial of direct responsibility for the recruitment of comfort women reveals the two countries’ divergent takes on their Dec. 28 settlement
UN‘s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
Conflict between Seoul and Tokyo over a statement recently submitted by the Japanese government to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) are highlighting additional problems with the agreement reached by the two governments on the comfort women issue last Dec. 28, observers are saying.
While Seoul maintains that the core of the agreement was Japan’s acknowledgement of responsibility and its Prime Minister’s apology and expression of remorse, Tokyo’s focus is squarely on its description as a “final and irreversible solution” on the issue. Intended as a way of ushering in a more “future-oriented” relationship between the administrations of Park Geun-hye and Shinzo Abe, the agreement has turned instead into fuel for further conflict.
Japan and US Have Secret Invasion Plan for Disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands
26 January, 2016
By Julian Ryall – South China Morning Post
Japan and the United States drew up in 2012 a secret four-phase plan to wrest the disputed Diaoyu Islands, which Japan calls the Senkaku Islands, away from an invader in the event that the archipelago was the target of a land-grab.
Sources within the Defence Ministry in Tokyo told the Asahi newspaper that the joint Japan-US operation would involve coordinated artillery and air attacks, with sources telling the South China Morning Post that drawing up such a plan was “a sensible precaution”.
The operation was initially drawn up shortly after the Japanese government purchased the majority of the islands from the Japanese family that owned them in September 2012. That transaction further raised tensions between Tokyo and Beijing after China declared that the uninhabited islands were its sovereign territory.
[Diaoyu] [China confrontation]
The Japan-Korea comfort women deal: this is only the beginning
by Scott Snyder and Brad Glosserman
Scott Snyder (firstname.lastname@example.org), senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Brad Glosserman (email@example.com), executive director of the Pacific Forum CSIS, are co-authors of The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States. This article is abridged from a longer analysis published in The Diplomat and can also be found on Asia Unbound. The online version of this PacNet is available here.
The cycle of negativity surrounding Japan-South Korea relations since the Abe-Park era began in early 2013 has at times eclipsed North Korea as a source of angst among observers of Northeast Asia. Even the modest improvements that accompanied commemorations of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic normalization in June 2015 were tinged by frustration over the two governments’ failure to move forward on the comfort woman issue. The chief problem was the acknowledgement of Japanese responsibility for the coercion of girls and women to provide sexual services to the military in imperial Japan, and this disagreement extended to other issues that hung over the relationship.
[Comfort women] [[Alliance] [US dominance]
Abe’s misplaced priorities
by Hugh Cortazzi
Jan 29, 2016
LONDON – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterates that he wants to make Japan once again a “normal” country. Most foreign observers do not see Japan as an abnormal country. Every country has its own history and traditions and cannot obliterate or alter what has happened in the past.
Many leaders have tried to rewrite history, but although they may convince some of their followers to adopt their interpretation of the historical facts, they are doomed to fail in the long run. Whatever their apologists say, the crimes of evil tyrants such as Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong cannot be expunged from the records. British participation in the slave trade is a blot on our history, which later British efforts to stop the trade soften but cannot erase.
To make Japan a “normal” country, Abe apparently thinks that it is necessary to revise the postwar Constitution. It is not yet clear whether he would be satisfied by a modification of Article 9 or will also try to push through other changes, such as changing the status of the Emperor. Any attempt to change the “peace” Constitution will be highly controversial. Anything that might suggest a return to outdated myths or undermine human rights would arouse vehement opposition.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japanese remilitarisation]
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Pyongyang blasts Japan's Dokdo claim
By Choi Sung-jin
Updated : 2016-01-26 15:54
North Korea harshly criticized Tokyo's claim on Dokdo, Tuesday, calling it the "height of brazenness."
In his parliamentary address last Friday, Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the Japanese government would make clear its claims on what Japan calls Takeshima and deal with the issue persistently.
In response, North Korea's website for overseas propaganda, "Uriminjokkiri" (Among Our People), lashed the Japanese foreign minister, describing his remark as extremely diffident and calling for "crushing Japan's ploys to take away Dokdo."
"That Dokdo is the sacred territory of our nation has been proved clearly and sufficiently by historical facts and materials as well as on geographical and legal grounds," the website said. "Japan's claim on it has no validity at all and is an absurd sophistry."
It emphasized that Korea found and realistically managed the volcanic outcrops 1,000 years before Japan did.
"No country in the world could be more brazen and bold-faced than Japan," it said. "The truth can never change however hard and frequently Japan claims it is their territory."
Battle Stations—Okinawa in 2016
The year 2016 might turn out to be a decisive one in the long-running contest between the Japanese state and Okinawa prefecture over the construction of a new base for the US Marine Corps at Henoko on Oura Bay, although it seems that this is far from being the first time on which I have written of a prospective year of crisis and change in what has become known as the "Okinawa problem," only to find as the year wore on that the crisis steadily deepened without resolution. It is clear anyway that this will be a year of elections and court proceedings, and that it will also almost certainly be one of deepening confrontation between the popular Okinawan resistance on one side and the forces of the Abe state with their monopoly of violence and growing readiness to use it on the other. 1 It was the November 2014 victory (by 100,000 votes) of Onaga Takeshi in election for Governor of Okinawa on an explicit "everything in my power to prevent construction of the Henoko base" platform that brought the crisis to its present pitch. Once in office, Onaga appointed a "Third Party" (experts) committee to advise him on the legality of his predecessor's sudden and unexpected decision (in December 2013) to allow the base. That Committee reported in July 2015 that it had found multiple legal flaws,2 and that, in particular, the landfill permit failed to meet the criteria for "appropriate and rational use of the national land" and so violated the Public Waters Reclamation. On October 13, 2015, Onaga therefore cancelled the reclamation license, and by doing so precipitated a series of court actions and a political contest that has continued ever since. - See more at: http://apjjf.org/2016/02/1-McCormack.html#sthash.KqeadYYf.dpuf
The Zen of Hitler Jugend
The Tripartite Pact linking Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan was signed in Berlin on September 27, 1940. Less than two months after the pact was signed, a six-member delegation of Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) arrived in Japan. This was actually the second Hitler Jugend delegation to visit Japan, a much larger delegation having first visited in the fall of 1938. In honor of the first delegation's visit, a song was composed entitled Banzai Hitora Jugento (Long Live Hitler Youth!). A recording of this song together with photographs highlighting the activities of both the first and second delegations in Japan is embedded below.
[Hitler] [Zen] [Germany Japan]
On the Comfort Women Issue
Author: Vladimir Terehov
Signing of the South Korean-Japanese intergovernmental agreement on “final and irreversible” solution of the so-called comfort women issue on December 28, 2015 in Seoul will occupy a prominent place in line of the events of the past year in East Asia.
In fact, it is the only certain fact that could be said about signing of the agreement by the Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Republic of Korea.
It is much more difficult to judge how it would affect the political situation in East Asia. The answer seems obvious only at first glance: the arising prospect of removing one of the issues in relationships between Japan and the ROK should contribute to at least deterrence of the degradation of the situation in the key Asia-Pacific subregion.
However, we should not overlook the fact that the “comfort women issue” being extremely important for the bilateral Japanese-ROK relations, downgrades its (immediate) importance within the list of factors affecting the development of the situation in Asia Pacific Region. The problem of assessing the vector of foreign policy preferences of the Republic of Korea, whose leadership has so far managed to balance on the “fields of gravity” created by the three leading players in the region, is much more important for the United States, China and Japan.
At the time of the current president of South Korea Park Geun-hye the South Korean Foreign Policy vector is to some extent directed towards China. Whether they plan to drift towards Japan (and if so, then to what extent), is in fact, the question that is now (after the Seoul agreement) is interesting for all three major regional players.
A complex attitude of Beijing to the signing of Japanese-South Korean political document, the first in recent years, was reflected in the title of the article in the Chinese Global Times “Comfort women deal will not aid Tokyo”. First and foremost, what deserves attention in this article, comes to the thesis on the “key role” of the United States in the success of Seoul talks.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2016/01/17/on-the-comfort-women-issue/
[Comfort women] [US dominance]
Park Yuha indictment risks hindering ROK–Japan reconciliation
14 January 2016
Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University
All eyes have been on North Korea since it made the announcement on 6 January that it possesses hydrogen bombs. The possibility of conflict with a nuclear North Korea means that it is more important than ever for Japan and South Korea to find a common position. World observers are therefore looking back with a sigh of relief at the recent agreement between South Korea and Japan on the issue of ‘comfort women’, which had divided the two countries for nearly three decades.
Protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on 13 January 2016 to oppose the Japan-South Korea agreement over the issue of ‘comfort women’. (Photo: AAP).
But both Japan and South Korea are facing opposition from hardline domestic groups which assert that concessions made by their respective governments are excessive, injure their national pride and derogate their national interests. When the North Korean hydrogen cloud is lifted and people’s attention is re-directed to the ‘comfort women’ issue, domestic strife will likely return to both nations. At that point, one issue that attracted considerable attention before the 28 December 2015 agreement is bound to come back: the issue of Professor Park Yuha.
Civic group launches campaign to scrap the SK-Japan comfort women settlement
Posted on : Jan.15,2016 17:39 KST
Participants call for a nationwide movement to nullify the recent South Korea-Japan comfort women settlement and for an appropriate resolution to the comfort women issue during a press conference at the Korea Press Center in Seoul’s Jongno District, Jan. 14. (by Kim Seong-gwang, staff photographer)
Campaign also aims to establish private foundation to support former comfort women, organize memorials, and set up more comfort women statues
On the morning of Jan. 14, a launching ceremony was held at the international meeting room in the Korea Press Center in Seoul for a national campaign that seeks to force the South Korean government to scrap its settlement with Japan on the comfort women and that hopes to achieve a just solution to the comfort women issue. The campaign includes 335 individuals and 383 organizations spanning the areas of women’s rights, the law, and history. During the meeting, plans also began to take shape for setting up a civic foundation to address this issue.
[Column] The comfort women settlement deviates from international law
Posted on : Jan.12,2016 17:51 KST
Based on my experience as a judicial researcher at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and as a university professor in international criminal law, the recent settlement reached by the South Korean and Japanese governments on the issue of the comfort women is seriously tainted by its disregard of the issue’s connection with international crime. However, not enough is being said about this point.
South Korea, Germany, and Japan are all state parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Since all three countries ascribe to the principle of “nulla poena sine lege” for their criminal code - that is, there can be no punishment without a corresponding law - they all had to pass domestic laws in order to implement the Rome Statute.
[Opinion] Another US diplomatic blunder pours salt on an open wound
Posted on : Jan.12,2016 17:54 KST
The proximate cause of the unraveling comfort women agreement between South Korea and Japan is the insistence last year by American sociologist-turned-diplomat Wendy Sherman that former enemies just “kiss and make up.” She, of all people, by virtue of her studies, ought to know better. The urgency, of course, was solely to help the United States in its efforts to contain China. But the full history behind this goes further back in time, all the way to the end of World War II, which will be briefly discussed below.
For the moment, however, Japanese conservatives complain that once more they have had to apologize for something that they see as having been settled by the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. On the other hand, many Koreans feel that they have been victimized yet again by Japan’s refusal to satisfactorily accept responsibility for its brutal behavior on the Korean peninsula during the first half of the twentieth century. In stark contrast, the United States is pleased that an agreement to settle the comfort women issue has been reached and that the three allies can now work in concert to deal with China - as well as North Korea. The three countries need to adjust their thinking at least to some degree.
[Comfort women] [US dominance]
Abe refuses to make personal apology over sex slaves
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused Tuesday to deliver an apology to former comfort women, Japanese media reports say.
In the Japanese Lower House, opposition legislator Rintaro Ogata of the Democratic Party asked Abe to say an apology and repentance for former sex slaves of the Japanese army during World War II.
Abe said the matter had been mentioned in a telephone conversation with Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Abe also said he belives the Korean government will move the statue symbolizing the former sex slaves from the front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
Abe's remarks come after South Korea and Japan came to what was hailed as a landmark agreement Dec. 28.
In the agreement, Abe recognized the Imperial Army's involvement in mobilizing Korean women as sex slaves and expressed remorse and apologized.
Japan will also put $8.1 million into a fund that Korea will administer.
[Comfort women] [Abe Shinzo]
The US the big winner in ‘comfort women’ agreement
7 January 2016
Author: Mikyoung Kim, Hiroshima Peace Institute
When ‘unthinkable’ events happen, they can change the course of history. The bilateral agreement reached by South Korea and Japan over ‘comfort women’ on 28 December 2015 was one such ‘unthinkable’ event.People protesting the recent landmark deal between Japan and South Korea over comfort women in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. (Photo: AAP) South Korea had few incentives to resolve an issue that allowed it to exercise the moral authority of victimhood. And Japan was not shy about expressing its frustration with its neighbour’s criticism of Tokyo’s handling of past wrongs.
So how was the agreement reached, and what does it mean?
The Japan–South Korea deal over ‘comfort women’ was the work of the trilateral relationship between Japan, the United States and South Korea, out of which the United States emerged as the biggest winner and South Korea the loser.
[Comfort women] [US dominance]
U.S. Pushed Korea-Japan Agreement Over Sex Slaves
The U.S. pressured Japan and South Korea to reach a settlement over the women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops during World War II, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
The daily quoted senior officials as saying Washington was impatient to get the matter out of the way since it has been a constant source of tensions between Seoul and Tokyo that hampered the U.S.’ chief interest of keeping China and North Korea in check.
Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken told the Washington Post, "This wasn't just a question of wanting our two friends to get along, it mattered strategically."
But the daily quoted officials from all three countries as saying Washington, while keeping up the pressure, made sure not to be seen as the author of any agreement in case it went belly-up.
Deputy U.S. National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the issue of the former sex slaves was "a long-standing source of tension between two key U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific." and U.S. President Barack Obama raised the issue in nearly every meeting with their leaders over the years.
[Comfort women] [US dominance]
[Interview] Japan’s leading researcher on comfort women on Dec. 28 settlement: “Tear it up”
Posted on : Jan.10,2016 11:33 KST
Yoshiaki Yoshimi argues the recent agreement between South Korea and Japan is a step back from 1993’s Kono Statement and should be scrapped
“Our only option with this agreement is to tear it up and start from scratch. When you run into difficulties, you have to go back to the basics.”
Yoshiaki Yoshimi, 69, a history professor at Chuo University who is considered Japan’s leading authority on the issue of the comfort women, said that the Dec. 28 agreement between the governments of South Korea and Japan – in which they announced the “final and irreversible settlement” of the comfort women issue – should be scrapped and that the negotiations should be reset.
“The settlement is something that the former comfort women will never accept,” Yoshimi said to explain why he holds this opinion. “Even if the settlement moves into the implementation phase, they won’t accept it. This means that the issue can’t be resolved through this agreement.”
Following public outcry, government returns to strict stance on comfort woman statue
Posted on : Jan.6,2016 16:20 KST
As the statue was set up by private citizens, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman states that “there is nothing that the government can do about it”
Cho June-hyuk, South Korean Foreign Ministry‘s Spokesperson
Amid an ongoing debate about relocating the statue of a young girl that symbolizes the comfort women - women forced to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army - from in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, there are indications that the South Korean government is shifting to a stricter legal stance on the issue.
This appears to be motivated by concerns about criticism from the South Korean public, which has been increasing since the governments of South Korea and Japan reached an agreement about the comfort women on Dec. 28, as well as by a string of remarks by Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida that treat the removal of the statue as an established fact. This is likely to provoke further conflict between the governments of South Korea and Japan.
“Let me make this clear: The statue of the young girl was set up by private citizens, and there is nothing that the government can do about it,” South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Cho June-hyuk told domestic reporters and foreign correspondents at the regular press briefing on the afternoon of Jan. 5.
MOFA urges Japan to hold talks on comfort women
Publication Date: January 7, 2016
Source: Taiwan Today
MOFA urges Japan to hold talks on comfort women
The ROC government is resolute on the need for Japan to engage in talks on officially apologizing to and compensating Taiwan comfort women. (CNA)
Tokyo must waste no time in entering into talks with Taipei on officially apologizing to and compensating Taiwan comfort women, ROC Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin said Jan. 6
The Japanese government is obligated to restore the dignity of Taiwan women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and provide for the welfare of the surviving victims, Lin added.
[Comfort women] [Taiwan]
70 American Intellectuals Publically Criticize Ambassador Kennedy’s Stand on Henoko Relocation Plan
December 24, Ryukyu Shimpo Sakae Toiyama reports from Washington, DC
Seventy American intellectuals, including film director Oliver Stone and linguist Noam Chomsky, issued a public statement on December 22 criticizing U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy for her comments on December 17 relating to MCAS Futenma at a press conference at Japan National Press Club. Part of the statement says that Kennedy’s comment regarding the Henoko relocation plan is “…at once a threat, an insult and a challenge for the vast majority of Okinawans who are vehemently opposed to the plan and [shows] brazen disregard for the law, the environment, and the outcome of elections.” Furthermore, the statement addressed ceasing construction of the replacement facility at Henoko with the words: “…as American citizens we insist that the government stop forcefully denying basic human rights … to the citizens of Okinawa.”
Korean-American Group Suspends Activities Related to ‘Comfort Women’
KYODO – japan times
DEC 30, 2015
NEW YORK – A New York-based Korean-American group said Tuesday it has decided to suspend political activities related to women who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels, following a recent agreement reached by Tokyo and Seoul aimed at settling the long-standing diplomatic row.
David Lee, president of the Korean American Public Affairs Committee, said by telephone that he was “glad” to hear of the agreement struck Monday, in which Japan admitted to its military’s involvement in the matter and offered to provide ¥1 billion for a new South Korean fund to be set up to support aging former comfort women.
It is time to start “hugging together and working together,” Lee said. The group will try to help South Korea and Japan “build a good friendship” through cultural exchange programs, he said.
Lee’s group was involved in various activities to commemorate the comfort women, including a monument erected in a park in Nassau County, New York, in 2012.
The Korean American Forum of California, which led a project to set up a comfort woman statue in Glendale, has criticized the latest agreement between Tokyo and Seoul.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman called on groups working on the issue in the United States to support the bilateral agreement and its full implementation.
“The support of civil society for this settlement will be crucial to its success in the end,” spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Tuesday.
The U.S. government has welcomed the move toward reconciliation between Japan and South Korea on the issue and urged the international community to support it.
[Comfort women] [US dominance]
Abe to Push for Constitutional Revision as Ruling Bloc Seeks Upper House Majority
Japan Times by Mizuho Aoki
Jan 4, 2016
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday his long-held goal of amending the pacifist Constitution will be one of the key issues in the Upper House election this summer.
In his first news conference of 2016, Abe pledged an all-out effort to maintain the ruling bloc’s majority in the Upper House.
“We will call for amending the Constitution during the election campaign as we’ve done before,” Abe said. “Through such calls, I’d like to deepen public debate” on the issue.
“I would like the LDP and Komeito to secure a majority in the Upper House,” he said, referring to the Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner. “I will do my utmost to achieve that victory.”
Abe, whose news conference came as the Diet opened a 150-day ordinary session, said his three years of leadership will be judged by the public at election time.
However, he denied recent speculation that he will hold a Lower House election simultaneously with the Upper House race this summer, saying he “is not at all considering” dissolving the lower chamber.
Winning the upcoming election is crucial for the LDP to finally take a step toward its long-standing goal of revising the U.S.-drafted Constitution, which has remained unaltered for nearly 70 years.
To hold a national referendum on revising the Constitution, the ruling camp must command a two-thirds majority in both Diet chambers.
Currently, the LDP-Komeito coalition holds a two-thirds majority in the 475-seat Lower House and a simple majority in the 242-seat Upper House.
If the ruling bloc gains 86 seats in the Upper House election, it will be able hold a national referendum.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Constitution]
‘Comfort Women’ Funds Won’t Be Paid until Sex Slave Statue outside Japanese Embassy Removed: Source
KYODO – japan times
DEC 31, 2015
The money Japan promised in the “comfort women” agreement Monday won’t be paid unless the symbolic comfort women statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul is removed, a Japanese government source said, casting a shadow over the historic deal.
The text agreed by Seoul and Tokyo does not make removal a precondition for provision of funds.
Japan’s ‘Comfort Women’ Deal Only Applies to South Korea, Suga Says as Official Rules Out Taiwan Talks
KYODO – japan times
JAN 5, 2016
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated Monday that Tokyo does not intend to take similar steps over the “comfort women” issue with countries and regions other than South Korea, with which Japan recently struck a landmark deal to resolve the dispute.
The remarks during a Japanese TV program came after Taiwan raised the prospect of talks with Japan over the issue of Taiwanese women forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.
“This time, (the Japanese and South Korean) governments only confirmed the resolution of a long-running issue between Japan and South Korea after making maximum efforts,” Suga said.
He suggested that Japan has dealt with the parties concerned over the issue of comfort women in a sincere manner.
A high-level Japanese official said separately that Tokyo has no intention of launching new talks with the Taiwanese government over the issue, even though Taipei is looking to find out concrete demands from former comfort women in Taiwan and enter talks with Tokyo.
[Comfort women] [Taiwan]
What’s behind Abe’s new position on ‘comfort women’?
3 January 2016
Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University
On 28 December, the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea announced that the issue of comfort woman was ‘resolved finally and irreversibly’. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed anew ‘his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences’. Japan also committed to contributing approximately one billion yen (roughly US$10 million) to a foundation that the South Korean government will establish to support former ‘comfort women’. For its part, the South Korean government ‘will strive to solve the issue’ of a commemorative statue built in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul ‘in an appropriate manner’.
Japan and South Korea: A New Beginning?
Japan and South Korea have reached an agreement on the "comfort women" issue that has made a lot of people uncomfortable.
By John Feffer, December 30, 2015. Originally published in Lobelog.
South Korean police stand guard beside a comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul in May. The Southern California city of Glendale will dedicate an identical statue on Tuesday.
South Korean police stand guard beside a comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
Japan and South Korea have very close alliances with the United States. They also have had diplomatic relations with each other for 50 years, not to mention considerable trade back and forth during that time. At a popular level, many Japanese are wild about Korean bulgogi and soap operas while many Koreans love Japanese sushi and anime. That doesn’t mean, however, that the two countries are particularly close. For decades, the legacy of Japanese colonialism and wartime conduct has remained a major stumbling block to improved relations.
South Korea and Japan spar over interpretations of that history, particularly as represented in textbooks. They also have a very concrete dispute over a particular island (Dokdo). But perhaps the most painful disagreement between the two countries has been over the “comfort women” issue.
An agreement this week on the “comfort women” issue—between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye—may finally put the matter to rest. But not everyone in the Korean community is happy with the deal.
[Comfort women] [Japan SK]
Citizens and foreign residents gather to express solidarity with comfort women
Posted on : Dec.31,2015 17:51 KST
On the heels of Monday’s settlement, 2015’s final protest in support of the comfort women calls for Japan to express “heartfelt regrets”
An umbrella keeps the rain off the statue of a young girl symbolizing the comfort women during a candlelight vigil across from the Japanese embassy in Seoul’s Jongno district, the evening of Dec. 30 (photo by Kim Tae-hyeong, staff photographer)
On Dec. 28, the first Wednesday demonstration was held since the governments of South Korea and Japan declared that they had reached an agreement on the issue of the comfort women, who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army. Given that there was a much bigger turnout than usual in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul’s Jongno District, the Hankyoreh decided to find out what had brought the participants onto the street.
Yun Han-tak, 77, who lived in Sancheong County in South Gyeongsang Province during his youth, vividly remembers when the Japanese army raided his village.
“One day, Japanese forces descended upon the village and went off with the older girls and conscripted the older boys. We were all so frightened that we ran away into Jiri Mountain and didn’t come back to the village until after liberation,” Yun said. When he thinks back to that experience, he feels “anger and humiliation.”
“The statue of the young girl was made so that neither Japan nor our descendants would forget those memories. Japan’s request for the statue’s removal implies that Japan refuses to acknowledge its faults,” he said.
[News Analysis] South Korea-Japan comfort women resolution faces blowback
Posted on : Dec.31,2015 17:55 KST
University students who are members of the Peace Butterfly Network and other organizations express opposition to the removal of the statue and call for renegotiation of the recent comfort women settlement and for the Japanese government to acknowledge its legal responsibility during a candlelight vigil, Dec. 30
Japanese media reports Korean government tacitly agreed to the removal of comfort women statue as a precondition for US$8.3 million in compensation
The agreement reached by South Korea and Japan’s foreign ministers over the comfort women issue on Dec. 28 has been facing heavy turbulence in the two days since.
Government officials and news outlets in Japan have been issuing statements that seem to contradict the spirit of the agreement, while in South Korea the comfort women survivors themselves and advocacy groups like the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Jeongdaehyeop) have been up in arms over the terms. Opposition parties in South Korea have made open calls for annulling the agreement and reopening negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Blue House and Ministry of Foreign Affairs have appeared baffled by the mounting criticism. Some observers are now saying there is a possibility of the heavy backlash resulting in the agreement going down in history as a major diplomatic failure for President Park Geun-hye.
A Dec. 30 report in Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper quoted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as telling associates that “everything is over as of yesterday [Dec. 28] and we can’t apologize anymore.”
Comfort women and supporters vow to “keep fighting” at year’s final protest
Posted on : Dec.31,2015 17:39 KST
“Raise up photos of the comfort women and retract the hasty settlement” Attendees hold up photographs of comfort women and point them in the direction of the Japanese embassy while chanting slogans expressing opposition to the Korean and Japanese governments’ settlement over the comfort women issue at the 1,211th weekly Wednesday demonstration in support of the comfort women, in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul’s Jongno district, Dec. 30. The rally also served as a memorial for the nine comfort women who passed away in 2015. (photo by Shin So-young, staff photographer)
Responding to Monday’s settlement, the women and civic groups express sadness and frustration but say they’ll continue “to walk down the path of peace and hope”
“I’m still only 88 years old. I have to bring peace to the souls of the comfort women who have already gone to heaven. I can do it.”
Lee Yong-soo, a former comfort woman herself, made this vow while standing on stage at the weekly Wednesday demonstration in front of the Japanese embassy. The names of the nine former comfort women who have passed away this year had just been recited - Hwang Seon-sun, Lee Hyo-sun, Kim Oe-han, Kim Dal-seon, Kim Yeon-hee, Choi Geum-seon, Park Yu-nyeon, Choi Gap-sun, and another woman only identified by the surname Park.
“Why is the government making us suffer over and over again by calling this the ‘final settlement’?” Lee said. For a moment, she was overtaken by sobs, but she managed to say, “I will keep fighting until the end, until the end.”
Japan and South Korea are getting closer
The complexity and intricacy of the situation in Northeast Asia (NEA) manifests itself, in particular, in the state of Japanese-South Korean relations. On the one hand, Japan and South Korea (Republic of Korea) are the closest regional allies of the United States. The largest group of US troops in Asia, performing the function of forward based forces under the strategy of China’s (the main US geopolitical opponent) deterrence, is located in the territories of both countries.
At the same time, the state of political relations between the two US allies, to put it mildly, “leaves much to be desired.” This is still a major obstacle for realization of a long-time Washington intention to create a full triple alliance “US-Japan-South Korea” with anti-China focus.
However, so far these intentions remain a mere fancy, because the political spheres of relations of Seoul and Tokyo with Beijing look completely different. Separate glimpses appear to be seen only in recent months in the dark dense clouds overhanging Japanese-Chinese relations.
At the same time, China-South Korean relations look relatively rosy (if, of course, you forget about certain “incidents” such, for example, as those provoked in spring 2015 by leaks to the press of information about plans of the US and South Korean military to deploy American THAAD system in the territory of South Korea).
Sometimes a talented artistic image is better than extremely wise political frills shows a state of some political problem. In this regard, the photo by AP agency, made during a meeting of the leaders of the US, Japan and South Korea during the Nuclear Security Summit held in March 2014 in the Hague became a prominent example. Picture with a forced smile of Barack Obama and callous expressions of leaders of the two major US allies sitting on both sides of him, needs just the explanation that the first managed to put at the same table the last two (on“neutral territory” of the US Embassy in the Netherlands) only a year after Shinzo Abe and Park Geun-hye came to power.
[Japan SK] [US dominance] [Comfort women]
Gov't Tries to Placate Sex Slavery Victims
The government is trying to seek understanding from the victims of Japan's wartime sex slavery over a statement signed between the two countries on the way to settling the long-smouldering issue.
Many people besides the victims have complained that the statement is deliberately mealy-mouthed and dodges important issues.
The victims are reportedly upset because they were not consulted ahead of the deal despite campaigning intrepidly for decades.
Vice Foreign Ministers Lim Sung-nam and Cho Tae-yul on Tuesday visited the shelters for the elderly victims in Seoul and Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, which are run by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.
Foreign Vice Minister Cho Tae-yul bows to victims of Japans wartime sexual enslavement at their shelter in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. Foreign Vice Minister Cho Tae-yul bows to victims of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement at their shelter in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday.
The officials told victims they quite understand that they may be disappointed by the deal, "but the government tried its best to restore your honor and dignity."
"What's important is that the Japanese government admitted responsibility, apologized and promised to take follow up on the deal," they said. These three points are definite signs of progress.
But some victims remained unconvinced, saying the government struck a backroom deal with Japan and deliberately kept them in the dark.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn will also go and visit the victims soon, a government source said.
The Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Gender Equality and Family will set up a foundation that will support the victims from the additional money Japan pledged under the deal.
South Korea’s Betrayal of the “Comfort Women”
by K.J. Noh
December 31, 2015
On December 28th, 2015, the foreign ministers of Japan and Korea, suddenly and hastily announced a “resolution” to the “comfort women” issue, women trafficked and exploited as sexual slaves by the Japanese Army during WWII. This involved an apology by the Japanese prime minister, and the creation of fund for reparations.
“The issue of ‘comfort women’ was a matter which, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, severely injured the honor and dignity of many women,” said the Japanese Foreign Minister. 1 billion yen ($8.3M) was also promised to the fund to assist the 46 surviving comfort women.
Former comfort women and activist groups, however, rejected the agreement, calling it “a betrayal”, “a travesty”, and “a sham”. Some of them wept openly. Opposition politicians demanded the resignation of the Korean Foreign Minister. Protests have broken out in Korea in front of the Japanese Embassy.
Park faces mounting criticism over hasty deal
By Kang Seung-woo
President Park Geun-hye's leadership and diplomatic prowess are being put to the test, as Korea's sex slavery agreement with Japan is drawing a fierce backlash from former "comfort women" and the public.
If she fails to control the aftermath, she could experience a serious leadership crisis ? and possibly become an early "lame duck" ? as she enters her fourth year in office in February, analysts said Wednesday. Her single, five-year term ends in early 2018.
The sex slavery deal is being likened on social networking sites to the deal Korea struck with the United States in 2008 to resume beef imports, which triggered protests that paralyzed the nation for months.
President Park herself faces growing public criticism that gave in to Japan by rushing to end the decades-long dispute over the "comfort women" without considering public sentiment.
Abe's sincerity questioned
Two Japanese daily newspapers published Wednesday carry front-page reports about Korea's landmark agreement with Japan over Tokyo's sexual enslavement of Korean women before and during World War II. On the right, the Sankei Shimbun reported that Korea allegedly reneged on its promise to give up its bid for UNESCO world documentary heritage of Tokyo's wartime sex slavery despite the deal. The Asahi Shimbun, on the left, reported that Korea agreed to remove a statue of a Korean girl across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul as a precondition to receive 1 billion yen in compensation to help the former Korean sex slaves. / Yonhap
By Yi Whan-woo
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters after South Korea and Japan reached an agreement on "comfort women" in Tokyo, Monday. / Yonhap
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it clear that he will no longer apologize to Korea over "comfort women," casting doubts on the sincerity of his related apology made at landmark agreement between the two nations, Monday.
Abe said all issues concerning Tokyo's sexual enslavement of Korean women before and during World War II are over under the deal struck between the foreign ministers of the two nations in Seoul, according to Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper, Wednesday.
He cited that he offered a "heartfelt apology" to elderly Korean victims as one of the key points of the "final and irreversible" resolution to settle the historical dispute, which was the biggest obstacle to break a diplomatic impasse.
Abe added any sex slavery-related issues should not now be brought up between Korea and Japan regardless of any diplomatic circumstances, including a summit.
"It will be the end of Korea as a member of the international community if it breaks its promise," Abe was quoted as saying by the Sankei Shimbun.
[Comfort women] [Abe Shinzo]
The Politics of the “Comfort Women” Deal
by Tom Clifford
December 30, 2015
The comfort women are in their 90s now but it is not their increasing frailty that led to the “agreement’’ between Seoul and Tokyo. The timing concerned an event held in Beijing on Sept 3. China’s “Victory over Fascism’’ military parade which marked the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII had one telling moment that made strategists in Washington sit up and take notice. The attendance of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, the only major US ally to turn up, prodded Washington to lean on Japan and Seoul to get an agreement. The pivot, a mild word for what is a major US military redeployment, depends on the pillar of Japan and South Korea cooperating. The plight of the former sex slaves, which Japan euphemistically calls the ianfu, or comfort women, is the main thorn in the side of relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
[Comfort women] [US dominance]
Park administration’s approach to comfort women agreement riddled with flaws
Posted on : Dec.30,2015 18:33 KST
Even as the government discusses the possibility of removing the peace statue of a young girl, symbolizing the comfort women, from its place in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, citizens have placed scarves and blankets on the numerous similar statues that have gone up in major cities throughout the country. (Yonhap News)
Former officials and experts point to a lack of strategy and of cooperation with survivors, among other problems
“President Park Geun-hye kept putting the pressure on to resolve the comfort women issue before year’s end, and she ended up being put on the defensive by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. I can’t fathom why she rushed things like this.”
This was the view shared with the Hankyoreh on Dec. 29 by a former senior official in response to the Park and Abe administrations’ announcement the day before of an agreement to “fully and irreversibly resolve” the issue of women forced into sexual slavery under imperial Japan.
Former officials and experts with experience in negotiations with Japan pinpointed a host of problems with the latest deal: a sudden policy pivot and lack of strategy that left Seoul sacrificing its initiative, a too-casual stance on a major historical issue that many see as requiring a particular emphasis on principle, and a lack of communication with the survivors themselves and their advocacy group, the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Jeongdaehyeop).
US, China show markedly different reactions to comfort women resolution
Posted on : Dec.30,2015 18:36 KST
The US praises a “final and irreversible” deal aligning with its strategic interests while China laments what it sees as a decision unduly influenced by American pressure
While the US government welcomed the settlement reached by South Korea and Japan over the comfort women issue, emphasizing the fact that it is “final and irreversible,” Chinese state-run media and experts complained that the settlement was influenced by the US drive to counter China.
“The United States congratulates the Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea on reaching an agreement, which they have made clear ‘finally and irreversibly’ addresses the tragic treatment of ”comfort women“ during World War II,” White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement released on Dec. 28.
“We look forward to deepening our work with both nations on a wide range of regional and global issues, on the basis of mutual interests and shared values, as well as to advancing trilateral security cooperation,” Rice also said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also released a statement emphasizing that South Korea and Japan “have made clear that by implementing this agreement they will ‘finally and irreversibly’ resolve this issue.” “We call on the international community to support it,” Kerry said.
There are two noteworthy points in the official statements released by the US government. First is their emphasis on the fact that the settlement is “final and irreversible.” Second is their emphasis on trilateral security cooperation between South Korea, the US, and Japan. These two points are related, and they also coincide exactly with American interests.
[Comfort women] [US dominance]
[Editorial] Humiliating diplomacy betrays historical justice for comfort women
Posted on : Dec.30,2015 18:21 KST
Former comfort woman Lee Yong-soo, right, asks First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam which country he’s working for, following the one-sided outcome of the Korean and Japanese governments’ settlement of the comfort women issue. The confrontation took place at the office of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan in Seoul’s Mapo district Dec. 29. (press pool photo)
The people who tried to achieve historical justice for the former comfort women are furious, while those who wanted to cover up the issue are smiling. This is the aftermath of the “final settlement” for the issue of the comfort women - women forced to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army - reached by the governments of South Korea and Japan on Dec. 28. Though this was a humiliating diplomatic move that is comparable with the Korea-Japan basic treaty that restored diplomatic relations with Japan in 1965, the South Korean government knows no shame.
From the time that the comfort women issue was first raised, the key to a solution has been for the Japanese government to acknowledge its legal responsibility. But the South Korean government dispensed with this altogether.
While the government boasts that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged “responsibility” for the first time, the Japanese immediately clarified that this was not “legal responsibility.” There is a world of difference between simple responsibility and legal responsibility.
For Japan to take legal responsibility would mean that it acknowledged that it had committed war crimes in the past and would have to take the necessary measures that this entails. This would include a thorough investigation, prosecution of the guilty parties, a clear apology based on the facts, compensation for the victims, disclosure of related documentation, discussion in textbooks, and memorial projects designed to prevent such crimes from reoccurring.
25 years of progress on comfort women issue “wiped out” by new agreement
Posted on : Dec.30,2015 18:24 KST
Support group’s co-representative says Monday’s settlement doesn’t reflect the will of the comfort women, vows to seek its invalidation
“Overnight, the South Korean government erased the progress that the former comfort women and civic groups had made over the past 25 years toward settling the issue of the comfort women,” said Yoon Mee-hyang, co-representative of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Jeongdaehyeop).
“We are going to tell people around the world that the settlement does not reflect the will of the former comfort women, and we will also review legal options for invalidating the settlement,” Yoon told the Hankyoreh on Dec. 29, when asked about the results of the recent meeting between the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan.
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