Japón (Continuación)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a Cabinet meeting in Seoul on Tuesday. (Im Hun-jung/Yonhap/AP)

Politics offers few profiles in courage — which is why John F. Kennedy could write a whole book on some notable exceptions. On Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol moved to add a new chapter by taking a brave step toward resolving a long-festering, historical dispute with Japan.

During World War II, in the last phase of a brutal colonial regime that began in 1910, Japanese forces conscripted nearly 750,000 Korean men as forced laborers and 200,000 women as “comfort women” (i.e., sex slaves) to serve Japanese soldiers. Though Japan and South Korea resumed diplomatic ties in 1965, the relationship has been a tense one — a cold peace more akin to the Israeli-Egyptian relationship after Camp David than the close German-French cooperation since 1945.…  Seguir leyendo »

El pasado diciembre, el primer ministro japonés Fumio Kishida anunció la más ambiciosa expansión del poder militar de Japón desde la creación en 1954 de las fuerzas de autodefensa japonesas. El gasto japonés en defensa subirá al 2% del PIB (dos veces el nivel del 1% que ha prevalecido desde 1976); y se publicó una nueva estrategia de seguridad nacional que describe los instrumentos diplomáticos, económicos, tecnológicos y militares que Japón usará para protegerse en los años venideros.

Lo más notable es que Japón planea adquirir la clase de misiles de largo alcance a los que antes renunció, y trabajará con Estados Unidos para fortalecer las defensas del litoral en torno de la «primera cadena de islas» frente a China.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. vessels conduct a passing honors ceremony with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Pacific Ocean in 2021. (Haydn N. Smith/U.S. Navy/AP)

Most world leaders, including President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, agree that the defense of Taiwan is crucial for regional security. But most options for improving deterrence will take too long. Building Taiwan’s self-defense, developing more U.S. firepower in the region, creating the economic resilience to make severe sanctions feasible: None of these will come to fruition before 2030.

Japan could change the game now. Allied forces, responding immediately and en masse, have a chance of thwarting a Chinese invasion, according to a recent report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies. But, in meetings with high-level officials in Tokyo last month, I sensed a mismatch between talk and walk.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Cómo sería una política japonesa de disuasión?

La respuesta de Japón a la invasión rusa de Ucrania, y a la «alianza estratégica» anunciada por Rusia y China poco antes de eso, ha sido notablemente decidida. La propuesta del gobierno de duplicar el presupuesto de defensa del país en los próximos cinco años es una muestra de realismo político y de determinación práctica. La pregunta clave ahora es cómo usar ese dinero.

En los documentos que describen las nuevas estrategias de seguridad nacional y de defensa nacional, Japón reconoce el hecho de que para poder defenderse y ayudar a mantener la paz en la región, debe seguir trabajando con sus aliados (en particular Estados Unidos, con el que tiene un tratado de seguridad desde 1951).…  Seguir leyendo »

El legado de Abe: la nueva postura japonesa de seguridad

El entusiasmo con el que Japón comenzó a rearmarse sorprendió a sus aliados y socios internacionales. El mes pasado, el primer ministro japonés Fumio Kishida dio a conocer planes detallados para duplicar el gasto en defensa durante los próximos cinco años, lo que no deja dudas sobre la determinación del país para expandir sus capacidades militares y disuadir a China de su ambición expansionista.

La nueva visión estratégica japonesa representa la culminación de un cambio a largo plazo que comenzó con el predecesor de Kishida, Shinzō Abe, asesinado en julio del año pasado. Durante el gobierno de Abe —desde que regresó al poder en diciembre de 2012 hasta que renunció en septiembre de 2020— Japón modernizó su doctrina militar y aumentó significativamente el gasto para la defensa.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and soldiers of the British army take part in a joint field exercise on Nov. 26, 2022, in Shinto Village, Japan. (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

As fears of war grow in East Asia, the United States’ chief Pacific ally, Japan, is moving away from decades of self-imposed restraint and launching its largest military buildup since World War II. As regional tensions increase, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is urging the United States to grasp the urgency and gravity of this historic but dangerous moment.

“The global security environment is going through a major change”, Kishida told me in a long interview in his official residence just before departing for a five-country tour that will end with him meeting President Biden at the White House on Friday.…  Seguir leyendo »

A live-fire exercise conducted by Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force in a training area in May 2020. (Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images)

There are two ways to think about Japan’s announcement this month that it will surge defense spending by more than 50 percent in the next five years and acquire advanced missiles that can strike the Eurasian mainland. The first is that it’s a victory for the U.S.-led world order, because China’s military advantage in the Western Pacific will narrow. The darker version is that it’s a recognition of the failure of the U.S.-led order, which aimed to suppress military competition in East Asia after World War II.

Both the optimistic and pessimistic perspectives reflect important realities, and history will decide which was more apt.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Japanese submarine at Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo, Japan, November 2022. Issei Kato / Pool / Reuters

On December 16, Japan took a major step toward becoming a “normal” world power by approving dramatic changes to its decades-old policy of military restraint. Under its new national security strategy, Japan will not only double its military spending, adding some $315 billion to its defense budget over the next five years. It will also develop a new “counterstrike” capability enabling it to conduct retaliatory attacks on enemy territory—a remarkable departure from its previous policy.

These moves signal a profound transformation. For years, observers of international relations have noted that Japan certainly has the demographic, economic, and technological potential to be a great power: it plays a prominent role in global governance, development, and many other aspects of international politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force take part in a military review at the Ground Self-Defense Force's training ground in Asaka, Saitama, on Oct. 14, 2018. (Kazuhiro Nogi, AFP/Getty Images)

Japan announced on Friday that it plans to double its defense spending by 2027. That’s good. We will need it if the United States and its democratic allies are to contain China’s aggression.

Japan has long punched below its weight in global affairs. Despite its massive economy, still the world’s third largest, its tiny military has hobbled its ability to project power.

This was by design. Due to Japan’s humiliating defeat in World War II, combined with its neighbors’ resentment stemming from its aggressive war of conquest, the island nation adopted a pacifist sentiment that persists to this day. Even during the Cold War, Japan spent only about 1 percent of its gross domestic product on self-defense forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aides to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, April 2022. Kyodo / Reuters

For the last four years, Japan and South Korea have been locked in bitter a feud. Tensions between the two countries date back more than a hundred years, centering on Japan’s brutal occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. During World War II, Japan forced nearly 750,000 Korean men to serve as laborers and 200,000 women to serve as sex slaves; many of these captives died or were maimed as a result. Countless others were killed. In just one day in 1919, the Japanese colonial police executed some 7,500 Korean protesters.

Disputes over apologies and reparations—known in South Korea as “history issues”— have flared time and again between the two U.S.-allied…  Seguir leyendo »

The Lingering Tragedy of Japan’s Lost Generation

I met Hiroshi S. a few years ago at a support group in Tokyo for socially isolated Japanese.

A chain-smoking 43-year-old in a puffy down vest, he was one of an estimated one million or more Japanese known as hikikomori, which roughly translates as “extreme recluses”. Typically male, between the ages of 30 and 50, jobless or underemployed, they have largely withdrawn from society after Japan’s extended economic malaise since the 1990s prevented them from getting their working lives in order.

Hiroshi, who asked that his full name not be used, crashed out of Japan’s corporate job market roughly 20 years earlier and was living off his aging, unsympathetic parents in their home, where he racked up credit card debt on pop culture merchandise.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. and South Korean naval vessels taking part in joint exercises off the coast of South Korea, September 2022. Third Party / Reuters

For four years, as an increasingly belligerent China breathed down their necks, the United States’ allies in Asia quietly endured a torrent of abuse from President Donald Trump. Under President Joe Biden, they again have a winning hand in Washington. By the time he took office, Biden, a leading optimist about cooperation with China when he was vice president, had transformed into a hardened skeptic. He has promoted key alliance builders to the top Asia posts at the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Pentagon and ensured that his first in-person summit was with Yoshihide Suga, then Japan’s prime minister.…  Seguir leyendo »

How long can Japan’s central bank defy global market forces?

There’s a Chinese proverb that holds it is better to plan one’s means of retreat than 36 different ways to win the battle.

The axiom has cropped up on Tokyo trading floors this autumn, after Japan lavished a record $62bn to fight the yen’s collapse below a three-decade low, in as many as four separate interventions since September.

That is only one front in its war against global market forces. By the end of June, after months fighting to control the yield curve, the Bank of Japan had raised its holdings of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) to over half a quadrillion yen ($3.6tn).…  Seguir leyendo »

The Japanese vessel ‘Mogami’ in Yokosuka, Japan, September 2022 Kim Kyung-Hoon / Pool / Reuters

On July 13, nearly five months in to Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine, the Pentagon announced that the United States had successfully tested two hypersonic missiles. Following a string of highly publicized failures, the successful test was an important step toward catching up in an area of weapons development in which China and Russia have been pulling ahead. Just seven weeks later, amid rising tensions with China, Japan reported its largest-ever increase in defense spending, including funds explicitly earmarked for hypersonic weapons research. Tokyo’s announcement was a pointed reminder that Japan’s technological and security policies and ambitions are increasingly aligned with those of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the three long-standing allies that comprise the trilateral security pact known as AUKUS.…  Seguir leyendo »

Can Japan feed itself?

At the end of the month, in supermarkets across Japan, regular staff and a secret army of wholesalers will work the shelves through the night on a project that none of them — from national chains to local stores — are able to talk about openly.

When the food retail industry’s collective doors open on October 1, shoppers who have barely experienced inflation since the early 1990s will be hit by the most severe price shock in almost two generations.

The prices of more than 6,000 daily food items will have soared overnight; so too, say experts whose warnings have long gone unheeded, will the Japanese public’s realisation of what it means to depend upon the most vulnerable food supply system in the developed world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sunflowers in full bloom welcome holidaymakers for the summer festival in Nogi, Tochigi in Japan. Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images.

The Japanese economy stands out among G7 economies for its historically low inflation. Between 1992 and 2021, prices increased only six per cent in Japan compared to almost 80 per cent in the UK and more than 90 per cent in the US.

So far, this picture has not changed in the face of the latest global inflation surge. Many countries have recently recorded year-on-year inflation rates approaching 10 per cent, but Japanese inflation has risen by much less – from 0.1 per cent per annum in October 2021 to 2.6 per cent per annum in July 2022.

Japan has faced the same external inflationary pressures as other major economies – notably the food and energy crisis that has followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the impact of supply chain bottlenecks as the global economy recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

EL asesinato de Shinzo Abe, el pasado 8 de julio, aureola con la gloria del martirio a este ex primer ministro que, de hecho, aún ejercía el poder entre bambalinas. Abe, por supuesto, no es el primer líder político víctima de un asesinato; la lista es muy larga, desde la década de 1920. Pero estos atentados, en general, eran perpetrados por militantes de extrema derecha o de extrema izquierda. Esta vez, falta el mensaje; el asesino no tenía motivo, un signo de los tiempos: los videojuegos violentos han reemplazado a las ideologías. Sin embargo, no faltaban razones para estar resentido con Abe.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman watches a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile at a railway station in Seoul on Jan. 20. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

A February poll found that 71 percent of South Koreans wanted their country to have nuclear weapons. Another in May found 70.2 percent supported indigenous nuclearization, with 63.6 percent in support even if that violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The drivers, unsurprisingly, are North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and China’s growing belligerence. These factors impact the Japanese nuclearization debate too, though interest there is noticeably lower. The United States has long opposed South Korean/Japanese counter-nuclearization. But in the light of the Ukraine war, Washington should not hegemonically dictate the outcome of its allies’ WMD debates.

NATO anxiety over possible Russian WMDs in the Ukraine war illustrates potential limits on U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the past 50 years, three Japanese leaders have become global leaders in their own right: Nakasone Yasuhiro (in office from 1982-87); Koizumi Junichiro (from 2001-06) and Abe Shinzo (from 2006-07 and 2012-20). Of these, history will view Abe as the most consequential. He transformed Japan’s post-war political identity, foreign policy role and strategic mission. Nowhere has this been more evident than in Abe’s response to the rise of China, whose challenge arguably became the organising principle of his prime ministership.

Abe led the creation of the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, subsequently adopted as the mantra of both the Trump and Biden administrations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe with Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate Keiichiro Asao after delivering a campaign speech in Yokohama, Tokyo just two days before he was assassinated. Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images.

While direct attacks on politicians are not unknown in postwar Japan, they are comparatively rare – it has been decades since politicians with a national standing as prominent as Abe have been the subject of such assassination attempts.

Just two days on from the tragic shooting of Japan’s former prime minister, the country’s Upper House elections delivered a decisive victory for the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which, together with its coalition partner Komeito, now has 146 seats in the 245 seat House of Councillors.

Together with two smaller conservative parties – the Japan Innovation Party and Democratic Party for the People (DPF) – the government has more than two-thirds of the seats required for constitutional revision, a policy priority long-favoured by Abe, although it is too early to know whether this result represents a public endorsement of his approach.…  Seguir leyendo »