Sino–Japanese relations 120 years after the war

APTOPIX Japan Military

Author: Liu Jiangyong, Tsinghua University

The year 2014 marks 120 years since the First Sino–Japanese War. While the two nations have enjoyed several decades of peace, there is an uneasy feeling in China that recent developments and revisions to the Japanese constitution draw parallels with the decade prior to 1894. Read more…

What to expect from the new US–Japan Defense Guidelines

Ships from the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, including the George Washington Strike Group, steam together after the conclusion of exercise Keen Sword, a biennial exercise between Japan and the US, 16 November 2012. (Photo: US Pacific Fleet/Flickr).

Author: Ken Jimbo, Keio University

When the current Guidelines for US–Japan Defense Cooperation were released in 1997, the core strategic impulse of Washington and Tokyo was to deal with potential armed contingencies in Northeast Asia, namely regarding the Korean peninsula and Taiwan. As the US Asia strategy emphasised deterrence of and response to these contingencies, Japan reconfigured its alliance strategy from predominantly territorial defence to proactive cooperation with the US in ‘situations in areas surrounding Japan’. Read more…

Is that as good as it gets for Abenomics?

An eclipse over Tokyo: has Abenomics done its dash already? (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tobias Harris, Teneo

As the second year of Abenomics progresses, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s program of coordinated monetary and fiscal stimulus and structural reform has lost some of its lustre. Not only have Abe’s approval ratings fallen below 50 per cent for the first time since he took office in December 2012, but a recent poll in the right-wing Sankei Shimbun found that, for the first time, disapproval of Abe’s economic policies had exceeded its approval ratings, with 47 per cent opposed and 39 per cent in favour. Read more…

Asian cooperation hanging on a handshake

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and other regional leaders look on as China’s President Xi Jinping shakes hands with former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at last year’s APEC meeting in Indonesia. This year there is intense focus on the APEC opportunity to begin to fix the political relationship between China and Japan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

The APEC summit is just over a week away and all stops are out in Beijing to make it an economic and diplomatic triumph, despite the huge underlying challenges in managing China’s relations with the region. The primary goals and foundations of APEC are economic — delivering on Asia’s economic development ambitions within the framework of the rules-based global economic system. Read more…

Looking for a plus-one, Japan turns to Vietnam

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to their talks at Abe's office in Tokyo on 10 October, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kensuke Yanagida, Japan Institute of International Affairs

As Japan seeks to diversify its investments beyond China, an opportunity arises for Vietnam to attract greater international investment.

Over the past few years, firms invested in China have started diversifying their investment destinations and reducing their overreliance on China, in what is called the ‘China Plus One Strategy’. Read more…

Why ‘womenomics’ is the way forward for Japan

Graduates ready to plunge into the world of work. Labour market reform is critical to letting young women fully use their abilities. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Naohiro Yashiro, International Christian University

‘Womenomics’ is a key pillar of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic growth strategy. In 2013, just 64 per cent of Japanese women aged 15–64 were participating in the labour force — a low rate by OECD standards. As Japan’s labour force is already in decline, it is wasteful that women, and particularly those who have a higher education, have been underutilised. To address this, Abe has set a target to increase the ratio of female managers to over 30 per cent by 2020. Read more…

Reconciling Japan’s security policy with Northeast Asian stability

Nationalist protesters with Japanese flags and Japan's naval ensign march through a Tokyo street to denounce privileges for Koreans residents in Japan as riot police line up along the street. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

On 1 July 2014, the Abe government made a cabinet decision to reinterpret the Article 9 peace clause of Japan’s constitution to recognise the exercise of collective self-defence under limited circumstances. While the scope of the proposed changes are an evolution rather than a revolution in Japanese security policy, especially due to the tough negotiations with Abe’s coalition partner New Komeito, furore and misconception have surrounded the move. Read more…

A Bank of Japan that can say ‘yes’

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda: his bold experiment to end deflation will be a valuable lesson for central bank governors whether it succeeds or fails. (Photo: EPA/AAP).

Author: Paul Sheard, Standard & Poor’s

Under the leadership of Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) in March-April 2013 did a 180-degree turnaround: it declared that it had the monetary policy wherewithal to end Japan’s chronic, mild deflation and secure a rate of inflation of around 2 per cent and announced bold monetary action to that end. For BOJ-watchers this was revolutionary stuff — and it was coming from establishment Japan. Read more…

Can South Korea and Japan resolve the ‘comfort women’ issue?

A former South Korean ‘comfort woman’, Lee Sun-duk, weeps during a press conference welcoming the passage of a resolution by the US House of Representatives calling on Japan to formally apologise to the victims and accept historical responsibility in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, 31 July 2007. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University

Japan’s relations with South Korea have reached a new low. Six issues continue to plague bilateral relations, exacerbating the divide on historical memory: a lack of trust between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and ROK president Park Geun-hye, the ‘comfort women’ issue, the Takeshima/Dokdo dispute, ROK judicial decisions on forced labour, Japanese politicians’ Yasukuni visits and Japan’s moves toward collective self-defence. The ‘comfort women’ issue may be the most serious bilateral friction point, but it also presents the greatest opportunity for a breakthrough. Read more…

Abenomics: The good, the bad and the unfinished

Japan's Minister of Finance Taro Aso speaks with Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda as finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations gather for a photo at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington, 10 October 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Shiro Armstrong, East Asia Forum

After two decades of stagnant growth and the Fukushima triple disaster, Japan appears more confident both domestically and internationally. The economy has been inflated, much-needed social change is being discussed with some progress being made, and international diplomacy is once again active. Read more…

What can we learn from Abenomics?

The sweet taste of success: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (second from right) and members of Japan’s delegation show their jubilation at the announcement that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic Games. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Adam S. Posen, Peterson Institute of International Economics

One of the striking things about the past few decades of Japan’s economic history has been the fact that textbook macroeconomics could have predicted most of it. Back in the late 1990s, this was a controversial point of view. Many people spoke about the ‘specialness’ of the Japanese economy, just as they have about the ‘specialness’ of recent monetary policy. Read more…

Nationalism, nuclear power and Japans fragile media opposition

Asahi Shimbun CEO and President Tadakazu Kimura bows in apology during a press conference at its head office in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, 11 September 2014. The newspaper admitted that its May article on the so-called Yoshida file concerning the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was incorrect and retracted the article. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Tobias Weiss, Zurich University

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, public support for the Democratic Party of Japan vanished. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party won a majority in both houses of the Diet. In the absence of an effective political opposition, the liberal media have sought to fulfil this function.

Japan’s big media companies were criticised after the Fukushima incident for underreporting the risks associated with nuclear power. This triggered a surge in investigative journalism. Read more…

Japan may not be such an easy pushover on nuclear deal with India

Author: David Brewster, ANU

In recent weeks we have seen the ‘bromance’ between India and Japan reach new heights. Earlier this month, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tokyo amid media hype of a special relationship, and even a de facto alliance, between the two countries. There is talk of a special ‘personal chemistry’ between Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and much was made of the claim that Modi was one of only three people that Abe follows on Twitter. Read more…