How Abe is losing the narrative on Japan’s new security laws

A demonstrator holds a sign against the new legislation that would allow the military to deploy overseas, in Tokyo outside of Japan's parliament against new legislation on September 23, 2015 (Photo: AAP)

Author: Stephen Nagy, ICU Tokyo

Japan’s new security laws, which were passed on 19 September and allow for limited forms of collective self-defence, have been described as a ‘move away from pacifism’, the opening of a ‘Pandora’s box’ and the ‘unsheathing of a new Japanese sword’. But considering the bill’s extreme limitations and significant domestic constraints — including a greying and shrinking population, mounting domestic debt and deeply embedded pacifist norms — one wonders how and why this narrative has taken root so deeply.

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How war memory continues to divide China and Japan

This huge calligraphy work, displayed at Changchun railway station in September 2015, shows confessions made by Japanese war criminals after World War II. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Michael Yahuda, LSE

One might think that the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II would lead to further deterioration in relations between China and Japan. But, to the contrary, the Chinese and Japanese leaders, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, are exploring the prospects for yet another meeting (they have already met four times in the last three years). It seems that the pragmatic calculations of regime survival, which include economic cooperation and the perils of military conflict, outweigh historical memories, however contrived this history may be. Read more…

Building on Japan’s National Security Council

Japan's Self-Defence Forces conduct a drill about 100 kilometres west of Tokyo. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Taylor M. Wettach, Georgetown University

Since his return to office in December 2012, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government have responded to an increasingly severe security environment through a number of national security reforms. While this agenda did not begin with the Abe government — rather, it builds on a history of solidifying central decision-making though administrative reforms — associated developments have seen Japan receive a new wave of international media attention. Read more…

Warming Sino–Russian ties leave Japan in the cold


Authors: Andrei I. Kozinets, Far Eastern Federal University, and James D.J. Brown, Temple University

Russia has recently raised the priority given to East Asia in its foreign policy. This trend has further accelerated following the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis in 2014. But how is the policy progressing and what is its impact on Russia’s relations with China and Japan? Read more…

The geo-economic potential of the China–Japan relationship

Political tensions and security rivalry dominate discussion about the relations between China and Japan. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

China and Japan already together account for more than a fifth of global output, bigger than the share held by the United States or that of Europe. Over three-quarters of that, of course, is generated in mainland China but, contrary to widely held perceptions, the China–Japan economic partnership is one of the biggest in the world. Read more…

Sino–Japanese economic embrace is warm enough to thaw the politics

A man shops for Japanese-brand Nikon digital cameras, 09 July 2003, at a tech-mall in Beijing. China's import volume is expected to jump between 12 and 15 percent this year, outgrowing exports, according the Ministry of Commerce. Digital cameras, steel and cars were among the commodities registering higher growth since early 2002. (Photo: AFP)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

China and Japan are locked into each other economically. The bilateral relationship is the third-largest in the world, with a US$340 billion trade relationship in 2014. China is Japan’s largest trading partner, accounting for one-fifth of its trade, and Japan is China’s second-largest. Japan is the largest investor in China, with a stock of direct investment at more than US$100 billion in 2014 or US$30 billion more than the next largest source, the United States. But even those massive trade and investment figures do not demonstrate just how intertwined the two Asian giants are. Read more…

A Chinese view on fixing the Japan relationship

‘Shooters’ on USS George Washington prepare to launch an E-2C Hawkeye during exercise Talisman Sabre in the Timor Sea in September 2015. Japan joined the US–Australian exercise for the first time. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Zha Daojiong, Peking University

Evidence of a strain in the diplomatic relationship between China and Japan over the past few years has been most apparent in the absence of summits between top government leaders, which has in turn affected routine meetings at the ministerial level. It seems that Beijing still has not overcome its diplomatic ‘Noda shock’. Read more…