Why the US struggles against Japan in TPP negotiations

US Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks to reporters while Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari looks on during a press conference at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, 20 May 2014. Trade ministers from 12 nations completed a two-day Ministerial meeting in Singapore targeted at creating a 12-nation trade pact in the Asian-Pacific region. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Real progress in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations has stalled until Japan and the United States reach some kind of basic trade agreement — which is still elusive even after numerous rounds of talks. The United States has been pressuring Japan to make concessions in key areas such as agriculture.

It is well known that current TPP negotiations are running on two separate tracks: the plurilateral track in which all 12 countries are participating and the bilateral track which amounts to a series of bilateral deals being negotiated on the side. Read more…

Role reversal: how Japan became America’s ally and China fell from grace

President Barack Obama and Emperor Akihito during a banquet in honour of the visiting American leader at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Following WWII, Japan became a US ally, and Japan and China’s positions vis-à-vis the US were reversed (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jean-Pierre Lehmann, IMD

Ask ‘who were the allies in WWII?’ and the answer will likely be: ‘the US, the USSR and Britain’. The fourth ally, China, has been airbrushed from history.

Yet China fought valiantly and suffered hugely. Had the Chinese not kept up the war with Japan in the Pacific, the US would not have been able to concentrate its military efforts on the Atlantic. Read more…

Will there be a China–US deal on climate change?

Chinese workers install solar panels on the rooftop of a workshop at a textile factory of Guanxing Group in Liaocheng city, Shandong province, China, 30 October 2012. China has become the world’s largest producer of solar panels and wind turbines. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

For many years China and the United States have faced off over climate change. Now, climate change action is one of the few things the two powers can agree on. A new view on the benefits of climate action goes some way to explain this shift. Read more…

Collective self-defence: What Japan’s new defence policy means for international cooperation on cyber security

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Maj. Nishikawa Hajime analyses data transmissions on a computer at the Camp Naha gymnasium, Okinawa, 23 July 2014. (Photo: US Marin Corps/ Lance Cpl. Pete Sanders).

Author: Mihoko Matsubara, Pacific Forum CSIS

In July 2014, the Shinzo Abe cabinet took an epoch-making decision to change its interpretation of the Japanese constitution to recognise the right to collective self-defence. The Japanese government’s traditional interpretation of the constitution prohibited Japan from exercising the right to help the US, or Japan’s defence partners, in the case of an armed attack, even though Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations authorises this. Read more…

Japan and the Philippines unite against China

Students wave miniature national flags as a Philippine Navy high-endurance Hamilton-class cutter, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, that had been decomissioned by the US Coast Guard and acquired by Manila, arrives at the former US naval base in Subic Bay, northwest of Manila. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Julius Cesar I. Trajano, RSIS

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Manila has galvanised Japan’s strategic partnership with the Philippines. The two countries have come together in reaction to China’s assertiveness, and because of converging economic imperatives.

Standing together with Philippine President Benigno Aquino, Abe announced that Tokyo and Manila would expand the scope of their maritime and economic cooperation. Read more…

Five principles for a new security order in the Asia Pacific

US President Barack Obama is pictured with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (Photo: Toshifumi Kitomura)

Author: Jochen Prantl, NUS

The creation and fate of a new regional security order in the Asia Pacific need to be understood within the wider context of the shifting global balance of power.

Maintaining Asia’s peace and stability will be a challenge over the next few decades, as key adjustments are needed to manage the transition from an order based on US primacy to an order that accommodates the rise of Chinese power. Read more…

Japan, US and the TPP: the view from China

Japanese Prime Minister Shizo Abe shakes hands with US President Barack Obama after their summit meeting in the Oval Office at the White House, in Washington DC on 22 February 2013. The two leaders confirmed that Japan would participate in the talks of Trans-Pacfic Partnership (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe successfully stared down opposition from the domestic farm lobby and his own ruling party to take Japan into the TPP negotiations. The other half of the equation — gaining the consent of TPP negotiating countries to Japan’s entry — was sealed at the recent APEC ministerial meeting in Indonesia.

But what does Japan’s largest trading partner, China, think of these developments? Read more…

Challenging ASEAN: the American pivot in Southeast Asia

US President Barack Obama stands with ASEAN leaders and leaders of Southeast Asia during a photo session at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on 20 November 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Donald K. Emmerson, Stanford University

As much as China is front and centre for the United States and Asia, the American pivot is not all about the dragon. It is also very much about the 10 member states of ASEAN.

In its vaguest sense, the pivot is a turn toward Asia writ large. Read more…

Obama and Modi must cook up a solution on food subsidies and the WTO

Welfare Society members distribute free food to passers-by at a roadside in Amritsar, India. Modi will meet Obama on Tuesday, hopefully finding a solution to the public food provisioning impasse on the Bali timeline. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

The young Narendra Modi government has not covered itself in glory on the international trade policy front.

At the second ministerial meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations in late August, New Delhi proposed a jaw-droppingly low rate of trade liberalisation for industrial goods. Read more…