Kerry, Hagel visits set agenda for Obama-Modi meeting

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets with senior Indian army officers in New Delhi. (Photo: AAP).

Author: C Uday Bhaskar, Society for Policy Studies

The recent back-to-back visits to Delhi by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel mark the first high-level political contact between the Obama administration and the newly elected Modi government. Read more…

China’s response to Japan’s constitutional reinterpretation

Chinese president Xi Jinping delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the 77th anniversary of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Chinese response to Japan reinterpreting its constitution has been predictably negative. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Amy King, ANU

On 1 July 2014, Japan’s Abe government announced a major change to the country’s post-war security policy by effectively lifting the ban on collective self-defence. The Abe government introduced new legislation that reinterpreted Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, thereby permitting Japan to use military force to come to the aid of an ally or a country in a close relationship with Japan when it is under armed attack. Read more…

Forging a common regional approach to China

Cadet members of the PLA take part in a military training at the Armoured Forces Engineering Academy Base near Beijing on 22 July, 2014. Chinese government authorised foreign media to view the military exercise. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hitoshi Tanaka, JCIE

Despite China’s rapid and unprecedented economic growth, the world has yet to come to grips with the challenges and opportunities that the country presents. The story of China’s rise is as much about how the rest of the world responds to China as it is about the nation that China is growing to become. Read more…

Why Abe is pushing for the right to collective self-defence

Women hold antiwar banners during a rally opposing the government's move to change article 9 of the constitution in Tokyo, Japan, 17 June 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Toshiya Takahashi, ANU

Japanese domestic politics is sharply divided over the right to collective self-defence. The ban on collective self-defence has been a defining characteristic of Japan’s postwar national security. The government’s view on this ban was established in 1981 though it has in effect been used from the 1960s to justify the US–Japan Security Treaty under the pacifist constitution. Now the Abe government is seeking to lift the ban Read more…

Japan and China compete for African markets

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe goes to shake hands with South African President Jacob Zuma at the start of their meeting at the prime ministerial residence in Tokyo, Japan, 04 June 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Xie Zhihai, Maebashi Kyoai Gakuen College

Japan has pledged US$32 billion in aid for Africa over the next five years at the recent Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed that Africa will become the new global engine of growth over next few decades and that Japan must therefore seek to redirect its investment. Read more…

China’s rising maritime aspirations

A Hong Kong activist stands waving in front of a Chinese flag as a group sets sail from Cheung Chau Island near Hong Kong on 22 September 2010 for a disputed island chain, amid an escalating row between China and Japan over the territory. The islands, known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and Diaoyu in China and also claimed by Taiwan, lie in an area with rich fishing grounds that is also believed to contain oil and gas deposits. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Li Mingjiang, RSIS

The recent annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) — two of the most important political events in China — demonstrated the extent to which the country’s elite aspire to safeguard China’s interests in the East Asian seas.

But in his report to the NPC, Premier Wen Jiabao also vowed to prioritise efforts to improve relations with neighbouring countries. Read more…

Japan locks into China

hinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo (R) shakes hand with Japanese foreign minister Takeaki Matsumoto at the Zhongnanhai leaders compound in Beijing on July 4, 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Yoichi Funabashi, Japan

Japan’s triple disaster has illuminated the country’s vulnerabilities. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), the beleaguered operator of the Fukushima nuclear reactors, previously announced that it will take six to nine months to stabilise the still unstable reactors.

In the meantime, energy supply will continue to be disrupted. The bond market is starting to shake following the savage downgrading of Tepco corporate bonds, sparking fears for the collapse of the Japanese government bond. Read more…

A sea of trouble in Sino-Japanese relations

Chinese fishing boat captain Zhan Qixiong reacts as he leaves Japan early Saturday on a charter flight sent by China September 25, 2010. (Photo: Xinhua)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, ADFA@UNSW

The dispute over Japan’s temporary detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain accused of colliding with two Japanese coastguard vessels in the territorial waters of the Senkaku Islands reveals the very shallow level of goodwill between China and Japan.

China’s official response to Japan’s actions was initially confined to action in diplomatic, cultural and economic realms, but the Chinese also threatened additional retaliatory measures if the Chinese fishing boat captain was not released immediately and unconditionally. Now that the release has occurred, China’s next move is unclear. Read more…

Ambivalence in Japanese sentiment over China

People dressed in Japanese military uniforms pay their respects for the war dead as they march at Yasukuni Shrine on August 15, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo: Getty Images)

Author: Joel Rathus, Adelaide University and Meiji University

This month’s issue of Voice, conducted a public poll looking, among other things, at Japan’s China policy. Polling on three questions in particular are interesting for what they say about the bipolar character of Japanese feelings about dealings with China. The polls reveal that Japanese want a friendly relationship with China. They also accord a prominent place in the national psyche for the Yasukuni Shrine without a hint of contradiction.

In response to the question, ‘Do you agree with the new Administration’s China policy; East Asian community, and East Sea Joint Development etc.’, half of the respondents said they agreed while 35 per cent disagreed. Read more…

Improving Japan-China relations and the global trading system

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) shakes hands with members of a delegation led by Ichiro Ozawa, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), in Beijing, on Dec. 10, 2009. (Photo: Xinhua)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

The Democratic Party of Japan’s (DPJ) secretary general and power broker Ozawa Ichiro recently took 645 DPJ members and other leaders to China in an unprecedented move for both countries. This is a big step in following up on the DJP’s promise to mend relations with China. There is talk now of making progress on the difficult history issue and of moving beyond it. Other rumours have Prime Minister Hatoyama visiting Nanjing this year — the site of Japanese imperial war atrocities — in exchange for a visit by President Hu to Hiroshima.

The Sino-Japanese relationship has come a long way since a decade ago. Read more…