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J-Soft Power Weekly Brief #20

J-Soft Power Weekly Brief #20

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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)
http://www.japanfpo.org
Osaka, Japan - Editor's mailbox
ruifarosaraiva(at)gmail(dot)com
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)
http://www.japanfpo.org
Osaka, Japan - Editor's mailbox
ruifarosaraiva(at)gmail(dot)com

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Published by: Japan Foreign Policy Observatory on Jun 13, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/20/2012

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Editor’s Note
By Rui Faro Saraiva
PhD Candidate at Osaka School of International Public Policy
In a country that adopted pacifism as thebasis of its doctrine for Defense andSecurity, and after suffering theconsequences of its pre-WWII militaristregime, the image of the Japanese ArmedForces seems to be of extreme importance.Not only for Japanese citizens but forregional or global policymakers. Despite thetrends that supports the article 9 erosion orthe normalization of Japanese Security andDefense, it seems clear that nationalconsensus is still around the current statusquo, but with an increasing role of the SDFsin the context of the PKO’s. AfterFukushima, given the disaster-relief role of the SDFs, their image increasedconsiderably among Japanese citizens.What was seen before as a not so nobleactivity gained another dimension after the2011 triple catastrophe. This week, Armedmembers of the Ground Self-DefenseForce’s elite Ranger unit marched in fullbattle dress through central Tokyo, after acourt rejected an application to stop them. Thelawyer for the residents, said: “Thescene of exhausted (GSDF) memberswalking with alert expressions through anurban area is bizarre. This should be theirlast march (in central Tokyo). We have tomaintain the peaceful lives of residents.” ThenewDefense Minister Satoshi Morimotoreplied to the media: “I think that this marchis not peculiar. Training of this kind has beenconducted before. I allowed the GSDF toconduct the march on the condition thatthey made sufficient safety precautions.” The Soft Power Dimension of a Hard Powerasset like the SDFs, must be considered ina country where the collective memory of militarism is still present, and pacifism stillhas a strong role, along with the influence of the concept of legitimacy, and the issue of legality sealed on the article 9 of theJapanese constitution. No Japanese soldiermarched in Tokyo before 42 years...
J-SOFT POWER WEEKLY BRIEF Nº20
Photo of the week:Japanese eliteforces marchthrough central Tokyo. (AJW - Asahi)
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Lee: Onus on Japan to restart FTA talks“Japan must slash its trade surpluswith South Korea before negotiationson a bilateral free trade agreementcan resume, according to SouthKorean President Lee Myung Bak.Describing Seoul-Tokyo economicrelations as ‘closely tied,’ Lee saidcompanies in both countries feel theneed for a trade deal, but that it is‘necessary to resolve the problemsthat led to the suspension of thenegotiations.’ (…) The presidentcalled on Japan to take concretemeasures to reduce its trade surpluswith South Korea, such as throughtechnology transfers to help SouthKorea cut imports of parts andmaterials from Japan. Government-level talks on a bilateral FTA started in2003. However, the negotiationshave been suspended since the sixthround held in 2004 because theSouth Korean side was deeplyconcerned that a trade agreementmight negatively affect its vulnerableparts and material industries, andpush up South Korea's trade deficitwith Japan.”(Yomiuri)JICA official helps Thais in floodcontrol“As the only foreign adviser to the Thai government's StrategicFormulation Committee for WaterResources Management, Kimio Takeya has been working hard tosupport reconstruction from large-scale flooding last October, whichkilled more than 800 people anddamaged many Japanesecompanies operating in Thailand. After arriving in the country as avisiting specialist from the JapanInternational Cooperation Agency, Takeya warned senior Thaigovernment officials, ‘Flood controlmeasures should be taken seriously,otherwise the country will suffer agreater shock than during the Asianfinancial crisis [in 1997].’ His ability topenetrate an inner circle of the Thaigovernment certainly exceeds that of an ordinary technical expert. Aidentities from Japan, the UnitedStates and European nations fiercelycompete against one another to helpdeveloping countries recover fromnatural disasters. But Takeya isconfident in the superiority of Japanese resources.”(Yomiuri)Japan, U.S. agree on abductionefforts“Japan and the United Statesagreed on Friday to work together onthe issue of North Korea's pastabductions of foreign nationals. JinMatsubara, Japanese minister forPyongyang's past kidnappings of Japanese nationals, confirmed thecollaboration at a meeting withRobert King, U.S. special envoy forNorth Korean human rights issues. Itis extremely difficult for Tokyo toprovide any kind of humanitarian aidas long as the abduction issueremains unsolved, Matsubara said atthe meeting, according to Japaneseofficials. (…) Japan is a key partnerfor resolving difficult issues involvingNorth Korea, King responded,vowing that his nation will continueits cooperation with Tokyo. Speakingto reporters after the meeting,Matsubara revealed that their talksalso touched on David Sneddon, an American who disappeared in Chinain 2004 and is believed to have beenkidnapped by the secretive state.”(Yomiuri)Service to Japan and a skater'scitizenship“Debate over Article 9 has emergedonce again, with some lawmakerscalling for a revision. But this time,they're not talking about Article 9 of the Constitution, which prohibits thestate from engaging in any act of war, but about Article 9 of theNationality Act, which stipulates thatwith the approval of the Diet, the justice minister can permitnaturalization of a foreign nationalwho has provided a specialdistinguished service to Japan. It allbegan when Japanese pair skaterNarumi Takahashi and her Canadianpartner, Mervin Tran, won Japan'sfirst bronze medal at the WorldChampionships in March 2012. Thefollowing month, they helped Japanwin its first gold at the ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skatingcompetition, which further raisedexpectations that they would comeaway with medals from the 2014Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.(…) The Olympic Games, however,requires citizenship of the countrycompetitors represent. In otherwords, if Tran remains a Canadiancitizen, he would not be able tocompete with Takahashi for Japan. This is where Article 9 comes intoplay. (...) On May 21, 1898, at ameeting of a House of Peers specialcommittee for the nationality act bill,a legal scholar representing thegovernment pointed to GustaveEmile Boissonade de Fontarabie -- aFrench legal scholar who lived inJapan for over 20 years as a foreigngovernment adviser during the MeijiEra, and was largely responsible fordrafting the Meiji penal and civilcodes -- as someone whosecontributions could be regarded "aspecial distinguished service.’ (...) Itdoes Tran no favors to compare hiscontributions with that of a legalscholar who provided significantassistance in Japan's transformationto a modern constitutional state.However, if a new interpretation orrevision of the law is still deemednecessary so that Tran can be givenJapanese citizenship, we urge theDiet to undertake careful andcomprehensive deliberations as itwould with the Constitution.”(Yoroku - Mainichi Daily News)IMF: Japan Must Do More AboutDeflation“The International Monetary Fundsaid Japan's government and itscentral bank must do more tocombat deflation, but the lender alsoexpressed sympathy for Tokyo'scontroversial foreign-exchangeinterventions meant to limit thenegative effects of a strong yen onthe export-dependent economy. In a
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report following its annual policymeeting with Japanese officials, theIMF said Tuesday that the Bank of Japan is capable of furthermeasures, such as the purchase of longer-term government bonds aswell as private-sector debt andequity, to meet its recentlyannounced 1% inflation goal.(…)The central bank is alreadyengaged in what it calls "powerful"monetary easing, spearheaded by¥70 trillion ($875 billion) in assetpurchases, largely government debt.But the central bank is under strongpolitical pressure to do more toweaken the yen and reverseentrenched deflation. At more than200% of annual GDP, the nation'spublic debt makes moregovernment spending difficult.”(Wall Street Journal)Lawmakers push Japan to get toughon isle dispute“Japanese lawmakers pushing for atougher stance in a dispute withChina over several uninhabitedislands said Monday the countryshould allow a team of experts totravel there to study developmentpossibilities and environmentalissues. The proposal is the latestmove by some influential Japanese topush their country's claims to theislands, which are called Senkaku inJapanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. If carried out, it would likely heightentensions with Beijing. The idea wasdebated a day after an unofficial"fishing" trip to waters off the islandsby a half-dozen national lawmakers.China claims the islands are part of its sovereign territory. Taiwan alsoclaims the islands. China's ForeignMinistry protested the lawmakers'visit, calling it an "illegal andineffective" action. (…) No decisionwas made at Monday's parliamentaryhearing, but several speakersexpressed support for an onsitestudy. ‘We need to promote thedevelopment of the islands and thepossibility of having people livingthere,’ Taro Kimura, a conservativelawmaker, told the hearing. ‘I supportgovernment approval for thesemissions.’ Surrounded by rich fishinggrounds, the islands are a flash pointin diplomatic relations between Japanand China.”(ABC News)Japan PM: Restart nuke reactors for'survival of society'“Japan's prime minister said onFriday that two idled nuclear reactorsin western Japan must be restartedto protect jobs and ensure the"survival of society", risking a voterbacklash given safety fears morethan a year after the Fukushimacrisis. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Nodasought to soothe those worries at anews conference just hours after theformer president of Fukushima plantoperator Tokyo Electric Power Cotestified in front of a panel appointedby parliament to probe the disaster(…) Noda's decision to restart thetwo reactors, expected to beconfirmed at a meeting with keyministers, will ease worries aboutpower shortages among firms in theregion, including strugglingelectronics giants Panasonic Corpand Sharp Corp. But the move, seenby many as a first step to bringingmore reactors on line even before anew nuclear regulator is in place,could undermine Noda's alreadysagging support among voters stillworried about safety.”(MSNBC)Japan's Economy Grew Faster ThanEstimated“Japan's economy grew morestrongly than previously estimated inthe January-March quarter, but asmaller-than-expected rise in thecurrent account in April suggests thegood times may not continue.Revised government figures releasedFriday showed that annualized grossdomestic product in the first quarterwas up a price-adjusted 4.7%,compared with an initial reading of 4.1% released last month. (…)Thestrong yen has promptedmanufacturers to move productionoverseas, reducing overall exportsfrom Japan, while last year's nuclear-plant accident has forced an increasein energy imports as fossil fuel-powered electricity plants replaceidled reactors. (…) The main factorimproving the GDP figures wascapital spending—now said to havebeen down 2.1% from the previousquarter, rather than the previouslyestimated 3.9%. The estimate of growth from the previous quarter inprivate consumption, which accountsfor about 60% of GDP, was revised to1.2% from 1.1%.”(Wall Street Journal)Japan official pushes to buy disputedislands“Japanese national pride has

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