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J-SOFT POWER WEEKLY BRIEF Nº18
Photo of the week: Japan's prime minister during last year's nuclear crisis has told a parliamentary inquiry the country should discard nuclear power as too dangerous, saying the Fukushima accident had pushed Japan to the brink of ''national collapse.'' (The Sydney Morning Herald))
By Rui Faro Saraiva PhD Candidate at Osaka School of International Public Policy
This was another week that contributed for the deﬁnition of Japan and China as “Frenemies”. Both countries share an important economic relationship, the thirdlargest bilateral economic relationship in the world. Therefore some argue that this economic relationship is shaping their political relationship, underlining cooperation, more than conﬂict. In this sense, Japan and China have taken a symbolic step towards the internationalization of the Yuan by announcing direct trading of their two currencies. On the other hand, there seems to be a clear gap
regarding the political values of Tokyo and Beijing. This in a week of Japanese allegations against one of Chinese diplomats who left Japan this month after refusing a police request to appear for questioning. Japan is also helping Philippines in its maritime dispute with China. And decided not to invite to the Paciﬁc Islands Forum, the Fijian leader Voreqe Bainimarama amid c o n c e r n s h i s m oves t owa rd s restoring democracy have not gone far enough. In this forum Japan views are an important platform for its soft-power strategy in the Paciﬁc region. Prime Minister
Yoshihiko Noda said that Japan would be funding an insurance programme aimed at helping Paciﬁc island countries deal with natural disasters. The important relationship between Japan and China seems to balance between episodes of confrontation and others of cooperation sealing the undeﬁned character of their bilateral relations. It will be interesting to see how policymakers in Tokyo and Beijing will develop this relationship and which effects will have at a regional and global level.
J-SOFT POWER WEEKLY BRIEF 30th May 2012
Diplomat sought in 'spying' case / Chinese goes home to avoid questioning “A Chinese diplomat stationed in Tokyo is suspected of engaging in espionage activities in Japan, according to sources. The Metropolitan Police Department's Public Security Bureau suspects that the ﬁrst secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo was engaged in espionage activities as he was attached to an intelligence division of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). Investigative authorities are planning to build a case by questioning his contacts. According to the sources, the ﬁrst secretary was asked by police to appear for questioning on suspicion of violating the Vienna Convention for allegedly making personal proﬁts through commercial activities, which diplomats are prohibited from engaging in. The Public Security Bureau suspects the 45-year-old ﬁrst secretary used a fraudulently obtained alien registration certiﬁcate to open a bank account. The bureau asked the Foreign Ministry to approach the Chinese Embassy to have the diplomat appear for questioning, the sources said. However, the embassy refused the request and last week he left Japan for China, the sources said.” (Yomiuri) Diet ﬁnally discusses new nuclear regulator “Diet deliberations on bills to create a new nuclear regulatory agency started Tuesday, with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stressing the need to swiftly launch the body to address p u b l i c a n x i e t y s t i r re d b y t h e Fukushima nuclear disaster. (…) The opposition parties propose putting the new agency under the control of a "nuclear regulatory commission" with legally guaranteed independence. The commission, consisting of ﬁve members with nuclear safety expertise, would have the right to decide on the agency's personnel and budget matters.” (The Japan Times Online)
Japan, China Currency Deal Symbolic Step, Broader Beneﬁts Remain Unclear “While Japan and China have taken a symbolic step toward internationalization of the yuan by announcing direct trading of their two currencies, the concrete beneﬁts of the deal are considered minimal at this stage, foreign exchange traders said. Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said Tuesday that Tokyo and Beijing will start direct trading of the yuan and the yen on June 1 as part of a broad deal agreed last year to reinforce bilateral ﬁnancial ties. Azumi said the yen-yuan exchange rate will be updated in real time in both the Japanese and Chinese markets. By avoiding the need to arbitrage b e t w e e n t h e d o l l a r, ﬁ n a n c i a l institutions can lower transaction costs and reduce settlement risks.” (The Wall Street Journal) Is Japanese political reality adequate for handling North Korean threat? “Nineteen years ago, on May 29, 1993, North Korea launched a medium-range ballistic missile, Nodong-1, into the Sea of Japan. But it wasn't until 13 days later, on June 11, that the incident was made public by an anonymous government source. (...) The crisis surrounding North Korea remains unchanged, even after the regime entered its third generation. In Japan, meanwhile, a certain politician who has not only invited derisive remarks and even laughs for his misinformed statements in the Diet, but has also seen the House of Councillors approve a censure motion against him, is still at his post as defense minister, presiding over the nation's crisis management (... )Let us pause and once again reﬂect upon this reality, 19 years after the Nodong-1 launch.” (Yoroku - Mainichi Daily News) Japan’s Ratings Rise in U.S. “And… a little more good news for Japan this week: for the ﬁrst time in three years, more Americans pick Japan over China to be ‘the most important partner of the U.S. in
Asia.’ (…)n the latest version of a poll conducted by the Gallup Organization that the Japanese government has been commissioning regularly over the p a s t h a l f c e n t u r y, 5 0 % o f respondents chose Japan as “most important,” compared with 39% for China.” (JRT – Wall Street Journal Blog) Japan’s Paciﬁc Islands diplomacy at a crossroads “Japan’s decision not to invite Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, to the sixth Japan–Paciﬁc Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 6), to be held in Okinawa this 25–26 May, represents a deﬁning moment in its diplomatic relations with the Paciﬁc Islands. (…) Japan had compelling reasons for inviting the Fijian prime minister to Okinawa this year. First, it has been six years since Fiji was last represented at PALM at a prime ministerial level. It missed out on PALM 5 in 2009 due to the political upheaval Fiji was undergoing at the time, including the abrogation of the constitution and subsequent uncertainty over the country’s democratic future. The 2012 PALM summit is the last one before elections in Fiji, which are scheduled for 2014. (…) If, as reported, Japan’s decision not to invite Prime Minister Bainimarama to PALM 6 was the result of international pressure, from Australia in particular, it signals a reafﬁrmation by Japan of the ‘old regional order’ and a rejection of the ‘new regional order’ that is gradually taking shape. As Japan’s prime minister welcomes Paciﬁc leaders in Okinawa, including ministers from Australia and New Zealand, he may do well to reﬂect on the long-term signiﬁcance of Fiji’s empty seat.” (Sandra Tarte - East Asia Forum) Japan to expel Syrian ambassador in protest at massacre “Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on Wednesday that Syria's ambassador had been told to leave the country as soon as possible, in a protest against the massacre of more than 100 civilians
J-SOFT POWER WEEKLY BRIEF 30th May 2012
in the Syrian town of Houla. Japan's move comes after major western powers including the United States, France and Britain took similar actions.” (Reuters) How Europe is Turning into Japan “Martin Wolf in the FT has a very piece on how Europe is heading in the same direction as Japan did in the 1990’s. Here’s the crux of the argument: The best explanation of this lies in the work of Richard Koo, Chief Economist of the Nomura Research Institute in his book, The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics (John Wiley, 2009). (…) In essence, Mr Koo argues that the experience of the US and UK looks like that of Japan because it is: all these countries are experiencing balance-sheet recessions. During asset price bubbles and, in particular, property bubbles, credit and debt explode unsustainably. After these bubbles burst, businesses and households are left with what they now believe to be excessive debt. Moreover, the ﬁnancial system is also damaged by the same process of deleveraging. In this environment, businesses and households seek to run down their debts by trying to ensure that they spend less than their incomes. The result is the threat of a huge contraction in aggregate demand. (…) Japan experienced over a decade of economic stagnation and is clearly a country Europe doesn’t want to emulate when attempting to reverse what is happening now. What does that mean? Not using austerity measures as Japan did…” (Ben Cohen – The Daily Banter) Japan Seeks to Get in on Act Investing in Burma “Japan will start negotiations on an investment treaty with Burma on Wednesday, the trade ministry said, as corporations around the world scramble to do business in one of the last frontier markets in response to encouraging political reforms. (…) ‘Since many Japanese private companies are trying to do business with Burma, we want to reach the
agreement as soon as possible,’ a ministry ofﬁcial said. Japan, which occupied Burma, also known as Myanmar, from 1942-45, will seek most-favored-nation status, meaning Burma would have to grant Japan at least as favorable conditions it grants other nations, the ofﬁcial said.” (The Jakarta Globe) Japan pledges $500m for Paciﬁc islands “Japan pledged aid worth up to half a billion dollars to Paciﬁc island nations Saturday at a summit stressing the importance of maritime law in a region warily eyeing China's growing might at sea. At the close of a two-day meeting on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, leaders from 16 nations and one territory p ro d u c e d a j o i n t d e c l a r a t i o n emphasising the need for international rules to be obeyed on the oceans. (…) The pronouncement from the summit, which groups Paciﬁc island nations alongside Australia, New Zealand and Japan, comes as China grows ever more assertive of its claims on areas of sea far from its mainland coast. Beijing is currently involved in an increasingly bitter stand-off with Manila over a shoal off the Philippines' western seaboard, which has impacted trade ties and iced relations. Japan has also clashed with China over disputed outcrops, notably the strategically coveted Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls Diaoyu, known to harbour rich ﬁshing grounds and believed to sit atop valuable mineral beds.” (AFP) Japanese author of popular video game Mario Bros wins 2012 Spanish Asturias prize “ J a p a n ’s S h i g e r u M i y a m o t o , considered the father of the modern video game, has been awarded Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities. Miyamoto, 59, is the author of the Mario Bros. series that has become one of the most marketed video game sagas in history. (…) Asturias award organizers praised Miyamoto,
saying he converted “the video game into a social revolution and has managed to popularize it among a sector of the population that had not previously accessed this kind of entertainment, while also making it a medium capable of bringing people together regardless of sex, age or social or cultural status.”” (Washington Post) Japan's bond girls “Maybe Ben Bernanke can take a page from Japan’s central bank and book a reunion tour of Destiny’s Child to help sell some of Uncle Sam’s d e b t ? J a p a n ’s d e b t - l a d e n government has enlisted the popular music group AKB48 (pictured) to help it sell government bonds, as investors shun the low-yield paper that has plagued the country for more than a decade. The all-female pop group will perform on a concert tour this summer to promote “reconstruction bonds” to ﬁnance rebuilding projects needed after last year’s earthquake-tsunami disaster around Fukushima.’” (The NY Times)
AKB48 is one of Japan’s highest-grossing musical acts, with more than $200 million in global digital sales in 2011. This summer they will promote “reconstruction bonds” to ﬁnance rebuilding projects needed after last year’s earthquake-tsunami disaster around Fukushima. (The NY Times)
J-SOFT POWER WEEKLY BRIEF 30th May 2012
THINK TANK FOCUS
Russia's Eastward Pivot: Circumstances in Russia Following Putin's Comeback and Japan's Reaction “On May 7, 2012 Vladimir Putin was sworn in for a third term as president. In his article on foreign policy, Putin expressed his wish to leverage the growth potential of the Asia-Paciﬁc region, above all that of China, to invigorate Siberia and the Far East. In keeping with this idea, the Ministry of Economic Development has prepared a draft bill to establish a public corporation directly answerable to the President to undertake development of Siberia and the Far East; this bill is currently under consideration within the government. The draft bill would allow the public corporation to utilize the mineral, forestry and land resources in Siberia east of the Urals and in the Russian Far East (nearly 60% of the nation's territory by area!) free of federal restrictions and would grant it very signiﬁcant tax beneﬁts. Neither federal nor local agencies would be able to interfere in the activities of this public corporation, which would be subject to scrutiny only by the president and the Audit Chamber. Strong opposition to plans for such a development corporation has been voiced both inside and outside the government. (...)Putin himself is said to be positively inclined toward the creation of this public corporation, but it is unclear at the moment whether he will be able to overcome these criticisms and succeed in founding this public corporation. However, there is no doubt that the new administration will be dedicating its full efforts to developing Siberia and the Far East. (…) With the Russian government now 'pivoting' toward the Far East region, the time has come for Japan to boost its presence, increase its inﬂuence with Russia, and expand its economic cooperation with Russia through coordinated public- and private-sector efforts. In parallel with talks to resolve the Northern Territories issue, serious consideration should be given to ways in which Japan can participate in the development of Siberia and the Far East region. Needless to say, this will require that Japan bring to the fore the unique advantages from its Asian competitors China and South Korea. It must never be forgotten that Japan's strengths lie not only in its outstanding technology but also in such "software" facets as corporate networks, human resources development, and industrial ﬁnance systems constituting the infrastructure that gave rise to this technology.” (Hironori Fushita – AJISS-Commentary) Paying the Price for the “Lost Three Years” “Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a joint statement during their talks in Washington on April 30. (...) The Japan-U.S. Joint Statement was the ﬁrst one after the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)’s administration had been established in 2009. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama pledged to resolve the issues concerning the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa in his talks with President Obama in September 2009. However, his public promise (...) it caused Japan to lose U.S. conﬁdence, which worsened the bilateral relationship. (…) The bilateral summit meeting was also accompanied by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. It was signiﬁcant that the two heads of state had conﬁrmed the importance of strengthening the relationship between Japan and the United States prior to the third meeting of the ministerial-level U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which was held in Beijing from May 3 to 4. Meanwhile, Japan also held its sixth foreign affairs ministeriallevel strategic dialogue and its ﬁrst ministerial-level economic dialogue with Indian counterparts in New Delhi on April 30. At those meetings, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano and other senior ofﬁcials agreed to launch an inter-governmental dialogue to a d d r e s s m a r i t i m e s e c u r i t y a n d c y b e r- t e r r o r i s m countermeasures. This agreement was a signiﬁcant achievement for strengthening Japan’s Asian diplomacy.(…) For its central pillar, the Japan-U.S. Joint Statement declares that the two countries pledge to “fulﬁll their roles and responsibilities by utilizing the full range of capabilities” to advance Asia-Paciﬁc regional and global peace, prosperity and security. The ﬁrstpriority issue is security and national defense cooperation.(…) A particularly signiﬁcant point of the SCC Joint Statement is a new cooperative initiative between Japan and the United States in the Asia-Paciﬁc region. The Japanese government’s sea lane security measures, such as the provision of patrol boats for coastal states by strategically using ofﬁcial development assistance (ODA) programs, “can be expected to boost synergies with U.S. military and diplomatic strategy.” (…) It is apparent that the Japan-U.S. security cooperation measures will strengthen the deterrence capabilities of the bilateral alliance and those measures should be implemented without delay. That leads to fulﬁlling the “roles and responsibilities” promised by the two heads of state.” (Nabeshima Keizo – JFIR)
J-SOFT POWER WEEKLY BRIEF 30th May 2012
6th Paciﬁc Islands Leaders Meeting (Summit Meetings between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and the Leaders of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Vanuatu) [http://www.mofa.go.jp/u_news/2/20120529_212609.html] Courtesy Call on Mr. Koichiro Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, by Ms. Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)
Courtesy Calls on H.E. Mr. Christopher J. Loeak, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Hon. Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, Prime Minister of Vanuatu by Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba
Japan-Republic of Korea Summit Meeting (Overview)
Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan on the Massacre in Houla, Syria
Visit to Japan of H.E. Mr. Ivan Gašparovič, President of the Slovak Republic and Mrs. Silvia Gašparovičová [http://www.mofa.go.jp/
The ﬁrst round meeting of Japan-China High Level Consultation on Maritime Affairs (outline)
J-SOFT POWER WEEKLY BRIEF
Editor: Rui Faro Saraiva Assistant Editor: Eduardo Passos Assistant Editor: Seiko Sakuragi
Osaka, Japan • Editor’s mailbox: firstname.lastname@example.org J-SOFT POWER WEEKLY BRIEF covers news or other articles related with Soft Power in the context of the Japanese Foreign Policy. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reﬂect the views of JFPO. JAPAN FOREIGN POLICY OBSERVATORY (JFPO) HTTP://WWW.JAPANFPO.ORG/
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