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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Sino-Japanese Relations"

Abe Reassures After Election Victory

by Sheila A. Smith
Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe (L), who is also the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), puts a rosette on a name of a candidate, next to the party secretary-general Shigeru Ishiba, at the party headquarters in Tokyo July 21, 2013. Abe's ruling bloc won a decisive victory in an upper house election on Sunday, cementing his grip on power and setting the stage for Japan's first stable government since the charismatic Junichiro Koizumi left office in 2006. (Issei Kato/courtesy Reuters) Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe (L), who is also the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), puts a rosette on a name of a candidate, next to the party secretary-general Shigeru Ishiba, at the party headquarters in Tokyo July 21, 2013. Abe's ruling bloc won a decisive victory in an upper house election on Sunday, cementing his grip on power and setting the stage for Japan's first stable government since the charismatic Junichiro Koizumi left office in 2006. (Issei Kato/courtesy Reuters)

As expected, Japan’s ruling coalition won a majority in Sunday’s Upper House election, earning majority control of both houses of parliament for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The standoff between Upper and Lower Houses that began in 2007—what became known as the “twisted Diet”—is over. The question now is what the Abe cabinet will do with this legislative majority, and what priorities he will bring to Japanese governance over the next three years. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 10, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks to China's Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 8, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks to China's Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 8, 2013. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. China offers to play peacemaker, but Bibi and Abbas don’t bite. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas both visited China this week. The Chinese media enthusiastically reported on the possibility that the country could serve as neutral territory for the two leaders to negotiate a peace settlement. However, the Chinese government made sure the leaders stayed far apart throughout the trip and were never in the same city at the same time. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of April 26, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A woman sits with her head down next to a damaged house after Saturday's earthquake hit Lushan county, Ya'an, Sichuan province, on April 22, 2013. A woman sits with her head down next to a damaged house after Saturday's earthquake hit Lushan county, Ya'an, Sichuan province, on April 22, 2013. (Darley Shen/Courtesy Reuters)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Earthquake kills scores, injures thousands in China. A massive earthquake in Ya’an, Sichuan, on Saturday left at least 193 dead, 25 missing, and 12,300 injured. Beijing poured one billion RMB into earthquake relief, but hundreds of victims still protested, claiming they had no shelter or food. Though devastating, the earthquake pales in comparison to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed 70,000. Read more »

Why Resurrect the Divisive Politics of Yasukuni?

by Sheila A. Smith
Japan's deputy prime minister Taro Aso (2nd R) bows as he visits the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo April 21, 2013 (Kyodo/Courtesy Reuters). Japan's deputy prime minister Taro Aso (2nd R) bows as he visits the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo April 21, 2013 (Kyodo/Courtesy Reuters).

Just as I thought I could put the finishing touches on my book manuscript, Japanese Domestic Politics and the Rise of China (Columbia University Press), which has a chapter on Yasukuni, the issue erupted again to confound Japan’s diplomatic relations.

The revival of Yasukuni Shrine visits presents a serious diplomatic setback for Tokyo. The costs have been high and the benefits hard to find. (Jennifer Lind wrote a great piece on this in March before this week’s headlines.)

More importantly, it reveals the reactive nationalisms afoot in Northeast Asia that are dangerous and unpredictable. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 29, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over an urgent operation meeting on the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force's performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang on March 29, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/KCNA) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over an urgent operation meeting on the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Force's performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang on March 29, 2013. (Courtesy Reuters/KCNA)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. North Korean belligerence: Kim Jong-un and his militaristic regime have ratcheted up tensions on the Korean peninsula (again), this time unilaterally severing the inter-Korean military hotline. The move comes along with increased rhetoric, as North Korea declared that its strategic rocket and long-range artillery units “are assigned to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops in the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zones in the Pacific as well as all the enemy targets in South Korea and its vicinity.” The United States responded by flying two nuclear-capable stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula. And so the tit-for-tat continues… Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of March 22, 2013

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (L) speaks with China's President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 19, 2013. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew (L) speaks with China's President Xi Jinping during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 19, 2013. (Feng Li/Courtesy Reuters)

Sharone Tobias and Will Piekos look at the top five stories in Asia this week.

1. Xi and Li begin their first week in office. Though the world has known who China’s chosen leaders are since November, the National People’s Congress (NPC) officially rubber-stamped Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang’s ascension to the roles of president and prime minister, respectively, last Thursday. In his first diplomatic meetings since taking office, Xi met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to discuss the most recent tensions in the U.S.-China relationship, before leaving for Moscow for his first diplomatic trip. Read more »

Who’s in Charge?

by Sheila A. Smith
A Chinese vessel pointed a type of radar normally used to help guide missiles at a Japanese navy ship near disputed East China Sea islets, prompting the Japanese government to lodge a protest with China On January 30, a Chinese naval frigate pointed a type of radar normally used to help guide missiles at Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Yudachi (pictured above) near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Stock photo February 5, 2013 (MSDF/Courtesy Reuters).

This week yet another ratcheting up of tensions between Japanese and Chinese forces in the East China Sea drew our attention. Alongside the incremental escalation of danger inherent in these interactions is the dueling narratives about what is actually happening on the ground—or, more accurately, on the water and in the air. The confusing stories coming out of Northeast Asian capitals only complicate an already worrisome  situation, one that could easily result in a local commander behaving badly or miscalculating. Read more »

Mixed Signals on Japan’s Defense

by Sheila A. Smith
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyer Kurama (R) leads destroyer Hyuga as a Japanese naval flag flutters during a naval fleet review at Sagami Bay, off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo October 14, 2012 Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyer Kurama (R) leads destroyer Hyuga as a Japanese naval flag flutters during a naval fleet review at Sagami Bay, off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo October 14, 2012 (Yuriko Nakao/Courtesy Reuters).

My phone has been ringing this week with journalists and others asking for clarification on what Japan is doing with its defense policy. The tone of the questions reveal the growing concern about the security dynamics in Northeast Asia, and specifically the growing worry that Japan and China could be headed for an even more serious clash over disputed islands.

So first let’s sort through the various announcements on defense policy emanating from Tokyo. Read more »

Beijing’s Test of Tokyo

by Sheila A. Smith
An airplane belonging China's state oceanic administration flies past south of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea An airplane belonging China's state oceanic administration flies past south of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea December 13, 2012 (11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, Japan Coast Guard/Courtesy Reuters).

Early this morning, East China Sea time, China sent a small reconnaissance plane into Japanese airspace over the Senkaku Islands. Too small to register on Japan’s air defense radar, but large enough to make a point, this propeller jet assigned to the Chinese Marine Surveillance Agency was perfectly timed to take advantage of the distraction of North Korea’s missile launch.

China and Japan have been drawing lines in the waters around the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands for the Chinese) almost daily since the Japanese government under Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda purchased these islands from a private owner on September 11. China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, has consistently argued that Japan escalated the bilateral dispute over these small uninhabited islands by “nationalizing” them. China’s foreign minister Yang Jiechi took his case to the United Nations, where he derided the Japanese government for challenging the post-WWII settlement in Asia. Read more »

Times are Changing in Northeast Asian Waters

by Sheila A. Smith
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda shakes hands with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Kyoto Japan's prime minister Yoshihiko Noda shakes hands with South Korean president Lee Myung-bak in Kyoto, Japan December 18, 2011 (Kyodo/Courtesy Reuters).

A few weeks ago, the blow up between Tokyo and Beijing over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands captured out attention. But a little less conspicuous is the new era of Japan-South Korean tensions in the seas of Northeast Asia. The eruption of tensions between Tokyo and Seoul resulted after South Korean president Lee Myung-bak visited islands at the center of a territorial dispute between the two U.S. allies.

News reports in Tokyo and Seoul last week revealed that on September 21 the South Korean air force sent F-15K fighter jets to respond to a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) helicopter that had entered the South Korean air defense zone without notification. Read more »