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Showing posts for "Sheila A. Smith"

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 »

Another Election in Tokyo

by Sheila A. Smith
Passers-by are reflected on an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei stock average and the Japanese yen's exchange rate against the U.S. dollar (top) at a brokerage in Tokyo, November 17, 2014. Japan's Nikkei share average tumbled 2.6 percent to a one-week low on Monday morning after Japan's economy unexpectedly slipped into recession. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that he will postpone a planned consumption tax increase in an effort to stimulate Japan's economy. (Courtesy Reuters) Passers-by are reflected on an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei stock average and the Japanese yen's exchange rate against the U.S. dollar (top) at a brokerage in Tokyo, November 17, 2014. Japan's Nikkei share average tumbled 2.6 percent to a one-week low on Monday morning after Japan's economy unexpectedly slipped into recession. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that he will postpone a planned consumption tax increase in an effort to stimulate Japan's economy. (Courtesy Reuters)

Snap elections are a staple of parliamentary democracy, and every now and then, ruling politicians decide that an election is needed to ensure that they continue to have a popular mandate if they change course. Prime Minister Abe has just announced he will dissolve the Diet on November 21, and hold a snap election in December to gain the Japanese public’s endorsement of his leadership of Japan’s economic recovery. Prompted by worse than expected economic results for the third quarter of this year, Abe has decided to postpone a second tax hike that would have raised the consumption tax to 10 percent, and instead focus on stimulating Japan’s economy. Read more »

Japan and China Get to Yes on an Abe-Xi Summit

by Sheila A. Smith
Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (L), chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia, meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 29, 2014. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kyodo News/Takaki Yajima/Pool) Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (L), chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia, meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 29, 2014. (Courtesy REUTERS/Kyodo News/Takaki Yajima/Pool)

On November 7, Japan and China revealed they had reached an understanding on their differences that would allow for a resumption of diplomacy. After several years of a virtual shutdown in bilateral talks, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are preparing to meet face-to-face at next week’s APEC meeting. Economic needs may be driving Xi, but strategic concerns are on the top of Abe’s agenda. Read more »

Japan’s Pivot to India

by Sheila A. Smith
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a signing ceremony at the state guest house in Tokyo September 1, 2014.  (Shizuo Kambayashi/Courtesy Reuters) India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a signing ceremony at the state guest house in Tokyo September 1, 2014. (Shizuo Kambayashi/Courtesy Reuters)

India’s newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, made his first geostrategic move in Asia’s complex new dynamics this week, and together with Prime Minister Abe, catapulted the Japan-India relationship into a “special strategic and global partnership.” Two goals focused their attention: bolstering their national economies and contending with China’s growing influence. Read more »