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Showing posts for "Sheila A. Smith"

A Trilateral on the Mend

by Sheila A. Smith
U.S. President Barack Obama stands behind as South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the end of their trilateral meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington March 31, 2016 (KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS). U.S. President Barack Obama stands behind as South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the end of their trilateral meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington March 31, 2016 (KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS).

For the second time, President Barack Obama brought together President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a trilateral summit on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. The first time in 2014 the president was facilitating a meeting the two leaders could not have on their own, but last week the improving relations between Seoul and Tokyo were obvious. While the United States has facilitated some of these improvements, ultimately it is North Korea and its provocations that brought the two U.S. allies back to the table. Whether the future of this trilateral can be bolder and more resilient remains to be seen. Read more »

Abe Focuses on Japan’s “Lessons Learned”

by Sheila A. Smith
People watch Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a screen as he gives a statement in Tokyo August 14, 2015 (Thomas Peter/Reuters). People watch Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a screen as he gives a statement in Tokyo August 14, 2015 (Thomas Peter/Reuters).

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo today presented his statement on the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II (WWII). Much anticipated and debated, this Abe Statement included the language of statements made on the fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries by former prime ministers Murayama Tomiichi and Koizumi Junichiro. But Abe took a different tack from his predecessors, identifying the lessons of that war and defeat, and articulating their link to Japan’s current and future ambitions. Read more »

Why We Should Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

by Sheila A. Smith
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller attend a ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, August 6, 2015 (Toru Hanai/Reuters). U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller attend a ceremony at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, August 6, 2015 (Toru Hanai/Reuters).

Today marks the seventieth anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons. August 9 will mark the second. The United States, in the culminating days of World War II, dropped these new, devastating bombs on Japan, urging to conclusion Japanese decision making on surrender. Read more »

Japan’s Diet Uproar

by Sheila A. Smith
Yasukazu Hamada (2nd R), chairman of the Upper House Special Committee on Security, shouts as he is surrounded by opposition lawmakers during a vote on the security-related legislation at the parliament in Tokyo July 15, 2015 (Toru Hanai/REUTERS). Yasukazu Hamada (2nd R), chairman of the Upper House Special Committee on Security, shouts as he is surrounded by opposition lawmakers during a vote on the security-related legislation at the parliament in Tokyo July 15, 2015 (Toru Hanai/REUTERS).

Committee deliberations on the Abe cabinet’s new security legislation erupted into a spectacle of contention today as the ruling coalition used their majority to move their bill to the floor of the Diet’s Lower House. Opposition members rushed the dais of the special committee chairman, Yasukazu Hamada, calling for an end to “Abe politics” and accusing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-Komeito coalition of ramming through legislation that the Japanese people do not support. Read more »

Disdain in Beijing and Edginess in Tokyo

by Sheila A. Smith
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivers a speech at a session of the World Peace Forum at the Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, June 27, 2015 (China Daily Information Corp/Reuters). China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivers a speech at a session of the World Peace Forum at the Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, June 27, 2015 (China Daily Information Corp/Reuters).

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit late last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping began to restore their nations’ relations, attempting to overcome differences over islands in the East China Sea. Again this year, the leaders of Asia’s two largest powers met at the Bandung Conference, demonstrating a slightly more relaxed and encouraging demeanor, suggesting that the maritime talks between their two governments were bearing some fruit. But it is not the territorial dispute itself that threatens improvement in the Japan-China relationship; it is their deep skepticism of each other’s ambitions in the region. Read more »

Mr. Abe Comes to Washington

by Sheila A. Smith
U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington April 27, 2015. Abe is on a week-long visit to the U.S. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington April 27, 2015 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

With hundreds of well-wishers at his side, President Barack Obama welcomed Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House this morning. It was a beautiful, sunny spring day, and smiles were in abundance for this first of many meetings during Abe’s official visit. In private, the president and the prime minister had a full agenda of alliance priorities to discuss, and afterwards, issued a new Vision Statement for the alliance, suggesting that the U.S.-Japan partnership was turning an important corner. Read more »

Japan’s Adjustment to Geostrategic Change

by Sheila A. Smith
China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, in Beijing November 10, 2014. Xi and Abe held formal talks on Monday for the first time since the two leaders took office, a breakthrough in ending a two-year row between Asia's biggest economies over history and territory. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, in Beijing November 10, 2014 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy of Reuters).

In this post, I look at recent events in Japan-China relations, and explain how they relate to my argument in my book, Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China. This post originally appeared on the Columbia University Press blog and can be found here.

Adjusting to the rise of China is not simply a task for diplomats or strategists. Rather, the adjustment to new centers of global economic and political influence involves a broad array of social actors. Read more »

Honoring the Life of Kenji Goto

by Sheila A. Smith
People holding placards take part a vigil in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, January 30, 2015. Japan and Jordan were working closely on Friday to find out what had happened to two of their nationals being held by Islamic State, after a deadline passed for the release of a would-be suicide bomber being held on death row in Amman. Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST) People holding placards take part a vigil in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo on January 30, 2015 (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters).

Kenji Goto, the freelance journalist taken hostage by ISIS, was reportedly murdered this weekend, and a video released by the terrorist organization claimed that “Japan’s nightmare had begun.” Prime Minister Abe ordered his government to intensify security at home and do all it could to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens abroad. The Prime Minister also announced that, despite ISIS’ threat of retaliation, his country would increase the amount of medical and food aid dedicated to those fleeing from Syria and Iraq. Read more »

Another Four Years for Abe

by Sheila A. Smith
An election official stands among unopened ballot boxes at a counting center in Tokyo, December 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Peter) An election official stands among unopened ballot boxes at a counting center in Tokyo, December 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Yesterday’s snap election proved a victory for Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). His ruling coalition, composed of the LDP and Komeito, returned to govern Japan with a two-thirds majority in the Lower House of Parliament and a renewed sense of support for its policy priorities. But with voter turnout at a postwar low, and one-fourth of the seats still in opposition hands, Abe must persuade many Japanese that he can do what he has promised to revive their economy. Read more »

Electoral Landslide With an Ambiguous Mandate

by Sheila A. Smith
A staff member of an election campaign prepares for their stumping for Japan's upcoming Dec. 14 lower house election, at a election candidate's campaign office in Tokyo December 11, 2014. The words written on white paper read, "Pray for Victory". (Courtesy Reuters/Issei Kato) A staff member of an election campaign prepares for their stumping for Japan's upcoming Dec. 14 lower house election, at a election candidate's campaign office in Tokyo December 11, 2014. The words written on white paper read, "Pray for Victory". (Courtesy Reuters/Issei Kato)

This Sunday, parliamentary elections in Japan are widely expected to return Prime Minister Abe and his ruling coalition to power. Japanese media polling data point to a victory for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of over 300 of the 475 Lower House seats, and with an additional 30 or more seats expected for the Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, this would give the current government a comfortable basis from which to govern. It is even possible that Mr. Abe’s government will retain its two-thirds majority, allowing his next government broad legislative support for his policy agenda. Read more »