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Asia Unbound

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Showing posts for "U.S.-Japan Relations"

“Behind Japan, 100%”

by Sheila A. Smith
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is greeted by U.S. President Donald Trump (L) ahead of their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, United States, February 10, 2017 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters).

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could not have wished for a better outcome from his summit meeting with President Donald Trump. To be sure, there were some awkward moments—like the Lost in Translation-like nineteen-second handshake. But Japan’s prime minister came to Washington to ensure that the U.S.-Japan alliance was on steady ground with the new administration and to explore the economic pathway for Japan as the president develops his America First agenda. Read more »

SecDef Mattis’s Mission in Northeast Asia: Provide Reassurance from the Trump Administration

by Scott A. Snyder
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (L) shakes hands with South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn (R) prior their meeting at the Government Complex in Seoul, South Korea February 2, 2017. (Reuters/Song Kyung-Seok/Pool)

Northeast Asia is facing profound political uncertainty: South Korea is immobilized by a political scandal that has resulted in the impeachment of its president, Park Geun-hye, and ensnared top business elites; Japan has been left high and dry after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, arguably the country’s best chance at growth; and North Korea is getting closer and closer to becoming a nuclear power. Read more »

Putin’s Japan Visit

by Sheila A. Smith
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe review an honor guard before their working lunch at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, December 16, 2016 (REUTERS/Frank Robichon).

Late last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Japan, stopping first in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s home in Yamaguchi Prefecture and then moving up to Tokyo. It was a visit that had been long in the planning, but delayed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But Putin did not bring much with him, arguing instead that it was the United States that had derailed the Abe-Putin diplomatic momentum. Read more »

Podcast: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia

by Elizabeth C. Economy
U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visits at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria U.S. and Japan Self-Defence Force's soldiers listen a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, enroute to Hiroshima, Japan on May 27, 2016. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Harvard Professor Joseph Nye once said that “security is like oxygen: you do not tend to notice it until you begin to lose it.” Alliances also often function like oxygen, with the security and stability they provide going underappreciated argues Victor Cha, the director of Asian studies and D.S. Song-Korea Foundation professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University. Read more »

Looking Ahead in Asia, With Our Allies

by Sheila A. Smith
United States Navy Admiral Scott Swift greets Japan Maritime Defense Force Rear Admiral Koji Manabe before a press conference at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam about the multi-national military exercise RIMPAC in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 5, 2016 (Hugh Gentry/REUTERS).

The United States will face a variety of challenges ahead in the Asia-Pacific. It will need diplomatic supporters, economic partners, and military allies. Japan and our Asian allies are all of these, and more.

Today’s Asia is complex, but tomorrow’s Asia will be fraught if the United States fails to look ahead. It will be vital for the Trump administration to consider the longer game, aiming for a vision of Asia that in the end serves U.S. interests. Read more »

Abe’s Trump Test

by Sheila A. Smith
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) meets with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 17, 2016 (CABINET PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICE).

Like many around the globe, Japanese are stunned by the election outcome and worried about what this means for the United States’ role in the world. Of particular concern, of course, are the comments Candidate Donald J. Trump made on the campaign trail about Japan, about trade, and about U.S. alliances. But what matters now is what President-elect Trump will do to reassure Tokyo that he values the U.S.-Japan strategic partnership. Read more »

Japan-South Korea Relations in 2016: A Return to the Old Normal

by Scott A. Snyder
South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso (R) during the 7th Korea-Japan Finance Dialogue at the Government Complex in Seoul, South Korea August 27, 2016. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

This post was coauthored with Brad Glosserman, executive director at Pacific Forum CSIS.

The first nine months of 2016 have been very good for Japan-South Korea relations. In addition to the conclusion of the comfort women agreement at the end of December 2015, the two countries have reached several other bilateral economic and security agreements. This progress and the routinization of Cabinet-level exchanges since last year make clear that their relationship has bottomed out and that pragmatic considerations are prevailing over ideological or political concerns. Credit for that progress goes to constituencies in each country committed to rebuilding the bilateral relationship. Trends in the geopolitical environment have also underscored the advantages of cooperation—and the very real costs of a failure to do so. Read more »

A Personal Reflection on Today in Hiroshima

by Sheila A. Smith
President Barack Obama, flanked by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, talks with atomic bomb survivor Sunao Tsuboi (Toru Hanai/REUTERS).

I woke up early this morning, before 4 a.m. in fact, to head to NPR to be live when President Barack Obama spoke in Hiroshima. As I drove across a dark and quiet Washington, DC, the president was already beginning what has to be his most moving speech to date. As my city was waking up, the entire Japanese nation was listening to our president, the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the atomic bombings. If you have not heard it, you should take a moment to read it here. Read more »

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).

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 »

Remembering Tohoku

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Takayuki Ueno, who lost his parents, daughter, and son in the March 11, 2011 tsunami, searches for missing people inside the exclusion zone in Okuma, near Tokyo Electric Power Co's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, on February 14, 2016 (Toru Hanai/REUTERS).

Ayumi Teraoka is research associate for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Many people across Japan observed a moment of silence at 2:46 P.M. on March 11, 2016—five years after the fourth biggest earthquake in history struck Japan’s Northeast, bringing about the “triple disaster” that included an earthquake, a tsunami, and the nuclear plant meltdown in Fukushima. Read more »