Pyongyang’s recent missile launch over Hokkaido and its underground nuclear test have laid bare Japan’s Achilles’ heel: Our country’s national security policy is still woefully ill equipped for this mounting danger. The new sanctions adopted by the United Nations Security Council on Monday will hardly limit Japan’s exposure.
North Korea’s latest provocations pose an unprecedented threat. Even during the Korean War in the early 1950s, Japan, as a rear support base for United States forces, was somewhat insulated; today, it is in the same theater as South Korea, also on the front lines. Any American military strike against North Korea would likely trigger retaliatory measures against Japan.… Seguir leyendo »
Call them populist or anti-establishment. Some, like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen or Narendra Modi, are from the right. Others — Bernie Sanders, Alexis Tsipras, Jeremy Corbyn, Pablo Iglesias — are from the left. But in established democracies throughout the world, politicians are rising to power by tapping into the people’s disenchantment with the elite.
Not in Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is as establishment as they come: His father served as foreign minister, and his grandfather and great uncle were prime ministers. Yet his approval rating has consistently exceeded 50 percent, which is extraordinary by Japanese standards, and he has no serious challengers.… Seguir leyendo »
As a result of the recent agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, over the next 15 years Iran will refrain from enriching or acquiring materials such as uranium or plutonium for use in nuclear weapons. In exchange, the United Nations Security Council, Europe and the United States will begin to lift the sanctions currently in place against Iran.
However, the accord still leaves room for Iran to emerge as a nuclear threshold power over the long term. Israel’s continued opposition to the agreement is thus not unfounded.
Another rival in the region, Saudi Arabia, is also privately less than sanguine about the new detente between the U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s a hot summer in Japan. The public is outraged by a set of security bills proposing to overhaul the country’s postwar defense policy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is sweating over a record dip in his approval ratings.
Despite several television and radio appearances, Mr. Abe has not managed to convince Japanese people that these reforms are necessary. Anti-militarist sentiment is stronger than ever, with protests not seen since the 1960s, when students demonstrated against the United States-Japan security treaty. The backlash is partly due to the government’s weak attempts to explain that Mr. Abe’s new defense policy is not the radical departure it appears to be, and to the bills’ having been rushed and rammed through the lower house of Parliament.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, 57 nations became founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the China-led regional development bank. Japan and the United States opted not to join, expressing doubts over governance and transparency at the new organization.
Even if the Obama administration were in favor of the United States becoming a member, Congress wouldn’t allow it; lately, it has even blocked a funding increase for the International Monetary Fund that was backed by the G-20. But the National Diet of Japan faces a different situation. The governing Liberal Democratic Party is split over the A.I.I.B.; its members are still debating the pros and cons.… Seguir leyendo »
A launch ceremony was recently held in Beijing for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which was established by China to meet the growing demand for infrastructure building across Asia. The finance ministers of 21 countries, including all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, attended the ceremony and have since signed a fundamental memorandum of understanding to establish the bank.
According to estimates by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asia will require infrastructure investment of over $8 trillion by 2020. The question, however, is whether the ADB will be able to lend $10 billion per year. The ADB’s parent bank is the World Bank, whose largest contributing member is the United States.… Seguir leyendo »
March 11, 2011, was a transformational moment for the Japanese people. It not only shattered the public myth of absolute safety that had been nurtured by the Japanese nuclear-power industry and its proponents. It also destroyed Japan’s self-image as a “safe and secure nation” that grew out of the country’s pacifism since World War II.
The moment the disaster struck signaled the end of Japan’s long, long postwar period. In the early hours of March 15, Prime Minister Naoto Kan stormed the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power with an impassioned order that the company not abandon operations at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.… Seguir leyendo »