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J-Soft Power Weekly Brief 40

J-Soft Power Weekly Brief 40

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J-Soft Power Weekly Brief covers news or other articles related with Soft Power in the context of Japanese Foreign Policy. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of JFPO. Editor: Rui Faro Saraiva Assistant Editor: Seiko Sakuragi Assistant Editor: Eduardo Passos Japan Foreign Policy Observatory (JFPO)
J-Soft Power Weekly Brief covers news or other articles related with Soft Power in the context of Japanese Foreign Policy. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of JFPO. Editor: Rui Faro Saraiva Assistant Editor: Seiko Sakuragi Assistant Editor: Eduardo Passos Japan Foreign Policy Observatory (JFPO)

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Published by: Japan Foreign Policy Observatory on Nov 24, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Quote of the Week 
[About the LDP’s Foreign Policy Campaign] “
A world with brisk wordsand strong language is dangerous. We must keep a distance
Yoshihiko Noda
PM of Japanin Mainichi Daily News
Photo of theweek:PrimeMinister Yoshihiko Nodaproposed onNov. 20 thatJapan and theUnited Statesspeed updiscussions onJapan joiningthe Trans-PacificPartnership freetradearrangement,music to U.S.PresidentBarack Obama's ears..(AJW Asahi)
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Institutional Partners:
New Kawamura-led party joins electionfray“A new party to be led by NagoyaMayor Takashi Kawamura andMasahiko Yamada, a former farmminister, is looking to expand furtherthrough alliances with other partiesunder the banner of opposing Japan'sparticipation in talks over a major U.S.-led regional trade pact. Ichiro Ozawa'sPeople's Life First party is one of thesmall parties being targeted by thegroup formed by Kawamura, Yamadaand Shizuka Kamei, a former stateminister for financial services. The newparty hopes to be a rallying point formoderate liberals by opposing entryinto the ongoing talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership free tradeframework, the recently passedconsumption tax hike, and nuclearpower generation. (…) At a newsconference in a Tokyo hotel Thursdayevening, Yamada, Kamei andKawamura expressed theirdetermination to become a thirdpolitical force to compete with theDemocratic Party of Japan and theLiberal Democratic Party--a positionalso being sought by Nippon Ishin noKai (Japan Restoration Party) led byformer Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara,which supports joining the TPPnegotiations.”(Yomiuri)Minami-Torishima MSDF activityrevealed“The Defense Ministry has introducedto the media the activities of theMaritime Self-Defense Force on thenation's easternmost island of Minami
-Torishima in the Ogasawara Islands of  Tokyo. The island, measuring about sixkilometers in circumference, is locatedabout 1,860 kilometers southeast of central Tokyo. The island has beenattracting attention, as deposits of rareearths, which are used formanufacturing parts of liquid crystaldisplay TVs and other high-techproducts, were discovered in watersaround the island in June. Somegovernment officials are engaged invarious activities on the island, such asMeteorological Agency officialsobserving air pollution and Land,Infrastructure, Transport and TourismMinistry officials working on portmaintenance. About 10 MSDFpersonnel stationed on the islandsupport these activities by managingthe air station used by aircraft thatsupply the island. "The mental burdenresulting from working on such a lonelyisland is heavy. However, with territorialdisputes attracting attention, we find arewarding sense of satisfaction forbeing engaged in activities on the frontline," the leader of the MSDF unit said.”(Yomiuri) Abe's security policy goals reflected inLDP platform“The Self-Defense Forces may playmore active international roles if policiescontained in the Liberal DemocraticParty's newly released campaignplatform are enacted by the nextgovernment. To realize his long-standing defense targets, LDPPresident Shinzo Abe proposedenabling the nation to exercise the rightto collective self-defense in his party'scampaign platform for the Dec. 16House of Representatives election. Healso called for general legislationregarding the nation's participation ininternational peacekeeping efforts,which would result in a permanent lawoutlining the procedures fordispatching Self-Defense Forcesabroad, in the LDP's campaignplatform announced Wednesday. InMay 2007, when he was serving asprime minister, Abe set up a panel of experts to study scenarios for collectiveself-defense. The panel was taskedwith discussing four categories relatedto the SDF's response in terms of theright to collective self-defense, which isgenerally considered a constitutionalgray zone. The nation is currently notallowed to exercise the right tocollective self-defense, according tothe government's interpretation of theConstitution.”(Yomiuri)Parties must show voting publicconcrete vision for Japan's energyfuture“With the future of Japanese societyresting largely on whether or notnuclear power is abandoned, nuclearand energy policy is a major point of controversy in the upcoming generalelection. Even now, 20 months afterthe outbreak of the disaster at theFukushima No. 1 nuclear plantoperated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO), at least 160,000 people areliving as evacuees. Workers at the sitecontinue their efforts to bring the crisisunder control, with no end in sight.Decontamination of areas tainted byradiation is far from completion, andlow-level radiation exposure amongresidents is a constant concern.Building additional nuclear reactors isout of the question, now that thepotential for such massive disastershas become obvious. Even if weapprove the reactivation of existingreactors for the time being -- given thatthey clear strict risk evaluations -- theonly choice for Japan, now that it'sclear how much the dangers posed byseismic activity had beenunderestimated, is to start shuttingreactors down. It is our hope that eachparty will propose responsible energypolicies that take this reality intoconsideration.”(Mainichi Daily News) Abe urged to show caution in LDP'sdiplomatic policy“A manifesto that the largestopposition Liberal Democratic Party(LDP) has drawn up for the upcomingHouse of Representatives election is of a highly conservative nature, reflectingits leader Shinzo Abe's policy line. If theLDP takes over the reins of government, the new administrationwill adopt the pledges as its basicpolicy. (...) In particular, the LDP'sdiplomatic policy suggests that anLDP-led administration would take atough line toward China and SouthKorea over territorial issues and theinterpretation of wartime history in linewith Abe's goal of making a strongJapan. The LDP stopped short of clarifying its position on the pros andcons of Japan participating in the Trans-Pacic Partnership (TPP)agreement and ending the country'sreliance on atomic power -- issueswhich the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is trying to make the mainpoints of contention during thecampaign. Rather, the LDP isapparently attempting to placeparticular emphasis on diplomacy,security and education, policymeasures on which Abe placesimportance, in an attempt to appeal tovoters. Still, an LDP-led administrationwould be required to be prudent inaddressing such sensitive issues asterritory and the interpretation of wartime history, which could causewide repercussions to the internationalcommunity.”(Mainichi Daily News)Pole dancers
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Small parties with vague manifestoshope to entice fed-up Japanese voters“The old joke about Japan’s LiberalDemocratic Party (LDP) is that it wasneither liberal, democratic, nor even aproper party. Cobbled together from aragbag of anti-socialist factions in the1950s, the LDP nevertheless heldtogether for over half a century beforecoming unstitched in 2009. Now,history seems to be repeating itself, as14 different political parties havemobilised since Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, called a generalelection for December 16th. As MrNoda’s Democratic Party of Japan(DPJ) weakens, most of the newerparties are on the right, united in theirdesire to revitalise Japan, a strategyreflected in some of their names:Sunrise, Restoration, Renaissance. Thequestion for Japan’s voters is whetheranything else unites them? Just threeweeks before the lower-house election,the party leaders are struggling to formwhat Japan’s media call a “third-pole”alternative to the DPJ and the LDP.With many voters wanting to punishthe DPJ but not wanting to return tothe LDP, opinion polls suggest the twomain parties may win fewer than half the votes between them. So the resthave plenty of scope to becomeinfluential if they can ally with eachother, or with one of the mainstreamparties.”(The Economist)Japan's secret economic weapon:women“In next month's general election,politicians -- nearly all of them men --will make promises on what they willdo to fix Japan's economic morass. Very few of them will even mentionwomen. The country's problems arewell known: more older people areliving longer as the workforce thatsupports them gets smaller. The resultis rising welfare costs and a shrinkingtax base. An influx of immigrants wouldboost the number of workers, butJapan has little appetite for migrationon a European scale. Observers saythe answer lies within: get more of thenation's women to work. ChristineLagarde, head of the InternationalMonetary Fund, said last month thatwomen could rescue Japan'schronically underperforming economy if more of them had jobs. A GoldmanSachs report in 2010 estimated thatJapan's GDP could jump by astaggering 15 percent if femaleparticipation (currently 60 percent) inthe workforce was to match that of men (80 percent). The report saysseven out of 10 women leave theworkforce after their first child. Andonly 65 percent of women with acollege-level education work. Womenacross the board make only 60 percentof what men make, according tolabour ministry data, in part due to alarger number of part-time workers. Although for some women, staying athome is a positive choice they havemade, commentators say for others itis a lack of opportunities.”(NDTV)Step forward with North Korea“Japan and North Korea held talks atthe level of foreign ministry bureauchiefs in Ulan Bator on Nov. 15 and 16.Both sides agreed to continue talks onthe issue of the abduction of Japanesenationals carried out by North Koreanagents in the 1970s and 1980s. (…) Itis noteworthy that, in the Ulan Batortalks, both sides agreed to resume thetalks at the foreign ministry bureauchief level at an early date. They alsoagreed to cooperate in the collection of remains of Japanese who diedimmediately after World War II in areasof the Korean Peninsula that are nowpart of North Korea and to deependiscussions on North Korea'sprograms to develop nuclear weaponsand missiles. Japan must make utmostefforts to keep the talks going withNorth Korea among foreign ministrybureau chiefs.” The Japan Times)Japan's Dismal Election“As giant problems in need of urgentsolutions go, Japan is a thing of beauty. Its economy contracted by3.5% on an annual basis from July toSeptember, and slack exports anddeclining industrial production suggestanother recession is on the way. Tensions with Beijing are escalatingamid a territorial dispute over theSenkaku islands. Demographic declineis well underway and Tokyo's fiscalposition—with debt roughly twiceannual output—appears ever moreprecarious. So it's a shame, as theJapanese head to the polls nextmonth, that no candidate is offeringeven plausible solutions to thesechallenges. (…) No wonder voters areunlikely to hand a majority mandate toany one party in this "none of theabove" election. Japan needs wide-ranging reforms, from freer trade ingoods to fewer restrictions on foreignservice companies to an overhaul of utilities. Without an obvious championfor such policies, the best option maybe to wait. Further political instability in Tokyo after an inconclusive electionmight look like fiddling in a fire. Inreality, it's no worse than the policyalternatives offered by the majorcandidates.”(Wall Street Journal)Obama calls U.S.-Japan ties‘cornerstone’ of security in Asia“U.S. President Barack Obama calledthe U.S.-Japan relationship the"cornerstone" of security in the regionin a meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. U.S.-Japan relationsare important given the "increasingseverity" of the security environment inSoutheast Asia, said Noda, whocongratulated Obama on winning asecond term. The two leaders were setto discuss jobs, trade and theeconomy. Obama has added thesummit to his annual list of high-priorityinternational meetings as he seeks toexpand U.S. influence in the region”(The Salt Lake Tribune)

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