Home » Archive

Posts tagged with: Japan

Japan, Miscellaneous »

Personal Reflections on a Visit
[20 August 2010, Comments Off on Legacies of War: Yasukuni Shrine, Tags: , , , , , , ]

A room of the Yasukuni Shrine museum featuring photographs of the enshrined (Tokyo, August 2010)

This past Sunday, August 15th, was the 65th anniversary of Japan’s surrender to end World War II, in which tens of millions perished, from Europe and North Africa through Russia to Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and the United States. In a departure from my usual blogging style, I want to share some more personal reflections on one of the historical legacies that continues to haunt Northeast Asia.

On a trip to the region earlier this month, I met with scholars from Japan, China, and Korea, in part to explore the ways the United States and those three countries can overcome the region’s painful history. And I also visited Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine for the first time.

Read More »

China, Miscellaneous, U.S. Policy »

Can the United States Keep China at Bay?

Southeast Asians want the United States active and engaged in the region, and the U.S. is clearly trying to deliver. But Southeast Asian countries cannot hope to receive full U.S. support in the South China Sea until they resolve ongoing disputes among themselves.

This burst of U.S. activity in Southeast Asia is, in part, a response to China’s recent assertiveness, particularly in the maritime space (more on that here). Southeast Asians hope drawing the United States more deeply into the region can help balance China’s heft in multilateral organizations and deter China from using force to resolve territorial disputes, even as Southeast Asians beef up their own defense capabilities.

Map of the South China Sea (1988). (Source: University of Texas Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Read More »

U.S. Policy »

The President Needs to Make a Public Case for Engagement With Asia

The world as seen from Washington, DC.*

The fact that President Obama canceled yet another trip to Asia (after having canceled his March trip and deciding to skip Indonesia in November) is disappointing. This makes sense from the narrow American political perspective; Obama is afraid the Gulf oil spill could become his “Hurricane Katrina” incident, exposing the U.S. government as aloof and unable to respond to crises.

But the message sent to the Asia-Pacific region is not a good one.

Read More »

Japan, U.S. Policy »


Ginowan City, with Futenma Air Base in the Center*

In negotiations between democracies, the atmosphere and public perceptions of the negotiations can matter even more than their paper outcome. In negotiations with Japan over relocating Futenma, the U.S. Marine Corps air station in the middle of Ginowan City, it’s time for the United States to recognize that. Maintaining an effective relationship with the Japanese public requires a policy change on Futenma relocation.

The U.S. bases much of its presence in Japan on Okinawa, an island strategically located near the Taiwan Strait. The tactical arguments for why the U.S. marines need to be in Okinawa province are compelling, even if the public relations effort at explaining it has been inept.

Marines operate as a combined air-land-sea force and these different elements would have to be brought to bear together, and quickly, in the event of a crisis–such as an attack on Taiwan from the Chinese mainland. The new V-22 Osprey transport aircraft the Marines plan to deploy there can take off and land vertically, but apparently requires a new long runway “just in case” due to reliability issues.

But the reason the U.S.-Japan relationship works is, more than anything else, strategic rather than tactical. Japan–and, for that matter, Taiwan (as I noted here)–are able to develop closer ties with mainland China because they understand the United States is committed to ensuring their security. The reason the United States is able to protect its allies and economic interests in the region is because commitments have been made in treaties and are consistently repeated at the highest levels. That is a strategic, not a tactical, matter.

Read More »

U.S. Policy »

Negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Are We Getting Serious?

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced this week that the United States will negotiate to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which currently includes New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, and Singapore. As more countries join–Australia, Peru, and Vietnam will negotiate to join with us–this could be the start of a more robust U.S. trade agenda in Asia. Kirk even said Japan, Malaysia, and South Korea should join an agreement, too.

But is the United States really ready for an agreement like this? And is the Obama administration really serious about moving forward on trade? Read More »

Japan, U.S. Policy »

[13 November 2009, Comments Off on Interviews on the U.S.-Japan relationship, Tags: , , , , , ]

I was interviewed twice today on President Obama’s visit to Japan.

The first was for Colombia National Radio’s morning “Coffee and News” show. We spoke about the Okinawa base relocation issue, creating a more equal U.S.-Japan relationship, and Prime Minister Hatoyama’s idea for an East Asian Community. See more here.

The second was for Correio Braziliense, one of Brazil’s main politics-oriented newspapers. I’ll post a link when I have one.

Japan, Press, U.S. Policy »

[13 November 2009, Comments Off on Issues in the U.S.-Japan Relationship (Radio Interview), Tags: , , , , , , ]

Media: Colombia National Radio – “Coffee and News” Morning Show (Live).

Subjects: President Obama’s trip to Japan, focusing on the Okinawa base relocation issue, creating a more equal U.S.-Japan relationship, and Prime Minister Hatoyama’s idea for an East Asian Community.

Length: 11:21.

Read More »