Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Upper House elections maybe not such a win for Abe

LDP Member Mihara Junko
The "Feeling a Little Bit Better" Election
An in-depth look at how things played out in the recent race for the upper house

by Michael Cucek, a Tokyo-based consultant to the financial and diplomatic communities and author of the Shisaku blog on Japanese politics and society and an APP member
Number 1 Shimbun, July 26, 2016

Most elections are characterized as having smiling winners and crying losers. Though descriptions like “landslide” and “massive victory” have been bandied about following the 2016 House of Councillors election, the results gave everyone reasons to smile and reasons to wince.

The predictions had been depressing. The opposition Democratic Party was going to be annihilated in the districts. The ruling coalition would romp to victory, seizing a two-thirds majority, and delaying indefinitely structural reforms in favor of a corrosive fight to revise the Constitution. More than half the electorate, demoralized, would fail to cast a ballot.

However, on the way to the bottom, the unexpected happened: the Democrats did not disintegrate and the two-thirds majority, though achieved, is unreliable. Most importantly, people showed up to vote. Not in droves, maybe, but in sufficient numbers to generate some surprises and reinvigorate the political process.

To be clear, the LDP won. Its share of seats in the House of Councillors rose from 115 to 120. Its coalition ally, the Komeito, also added five seats, returning the ruling coalition an unshakable majority of 145 of the 242 seats in the chamber. Paired with the more than two-thirds majority the ruling coalition parties hold in the House of Representatives, the government of Shinzo Abe retains the ability to pass any legislation it desires.
Most importantly, people showed up to vote. Not in droves, maybe, but in sufficient numbers to generate some surprises and reinvigorate the political process.
To be sure, the Democratic Party lost. It shed 11 seats from what was an already significantly depleted total. With the DP clinging to only 32 seats while the LDP snatched up 55, Japan lost the last political arena wherein a competitive two-party system still existed on the national stage.

The unique four-party alliance of the DP, the Communists, the Socialists and Livelihood failed to achieve its existential goal: preventing the government of Shinzo Abe from gaining any pathway to a two-thirds majority. The pathway opened up by the 2016 election is a convoluted one, no doubt. Starting with the ruling coalition’s 145 seats and the one independent elected with LDP/Komeito approval, Mr. Abe and his allies need to add the seats of the Initiatives from Osaka (Osaka Ishin no Kai), the seats of the tiny militant nationalist Party of Japan Kokoro (Nihon no kokoro o taisetsu ni suru to) and seats of independent fellow travelers to reach the 162 seats necessary to propose an amendment to the Constitution.

MEANWHILE, THE LESSER MEMBERS of the anti-revisionist alliance went into eclipse. The Socialists and Livelihood each lost one seat. The Socialists, in fact, lost the seat of its party leader, putting the party below the five-seat limit for public funding (it will continue to receive funds thanks to an alternate standard of having won more than 2 percent of the proportional vote). The Communists added three seats but visibly lost momentum, since their seat gains in the 2013 and 2014 elections were so much greater.

Despite all the pre-election attention, participation of 18- and 19-year-olds for the first time in a national election was largely a damp squib. Slightly more than 45 percent of these newly enfranchised teenagers cast ballots, a turnout rate nearly 10 points below the national average. Put another way, having teenagers vote reduced overall voting rates.

When these youngest voters did vote, their choices were conservative. Exit polling found that persons in the 18- to 29-years-of-age cohort voted for the ruling LDP-Komeito coalition at a rate higher than any other age bracket. Deference, not defiance, seems to have been the guide. Under the influence of Dad, Mom and high school, 18-year-olds showed up to the polls more than half the time (51.17 percent turnout). Under less direct pressure to perform civic duties, fewer than four out of ten 19-year-olds cast a ballot (39.66 percent turnout).
Exit polling found that persons in the 18- to 29-years-of-age cohort voted for the ruling LDP-Komeito coalition at a rate higher than any other age bracket.
So it was all good news for the ruling coalition. What about everyone else?

The surprise of the election was turnout. Opinion surveys conducted prior to election day found record low levels of interest, indicating turnout would be below 50 percent. However, when the polls closed, 54.7 percent of the electorate had shown up, a two-point gain in turnout from 2013 and above the turnout even of the 2014 edition of the normally higher House of Representatives elections. For the first time since Shinzo Abe had returned to the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party in 2012, more persons voted in national election than in the preceding contest.

ANOTHER SURPRISE WAS THE performance of the Democratic Party and the candidates it supported. The DP rolled into the election with largely the same low level of public support as it had in 2013 – about 9 percent of voters as measured by telephone opinion polls. But the outcome was significantly different. While the predecessor party, the DPJ, had suffered a crushing defeat in the 2013 House of Councillors contest, losing 27 seats while keeping only 17, the DP this time lost only 11 seats, retaining 32.

Part of the reason for the DP’s resurgence was the higher turnout. Exit polls in the last few elections have shown a consistent pattern: increases in turnout favor opposition candidates by a two-to-one margin. Put into unit terms, for every three additional voters that show up at the polls, the opposition gets two votes while the ruling coalition gets one. That advantage snowballs, quickly transforming toss-up districts into opposition wins.

In addition, while the four opposition party electoral alliance failed in its stated goal, it seems to have improved the chances of opposition candidates in the single-member districts (SMDs). Having the Communists give up their policy of running a candidate in every district seems to have produced the result political observers had always assumed true but never had had a chance to test. An alliance candidate won in 11 of the 32 SMD contests – a complete changeover from 2013, when the DPJ prevailed in only two of the SMDs. Sweetest for the opposition were the knockouts of two sitting Cabinet ministers: Aiko Shimojiri in Okinawa and Mitsuhide Iwaki in Fukushima.
It was the Happiness Realization Party – the fringe, hard-line nationalist party backed by the Happy Science cult – that replaced the Communists in their traditional role as electoral spoiler.
In fact, it was the Happiness Realization Party – the fringe, hard-line nationalist party backed by the Happy Science cult – that replaced the Communists in their traditional role as electoral spoiler. In the aforementioned Fukushima, Aomori, Niigata, Mie and Oita prefectures, the vote totals for the Happiness candidate was greater than the victory margin of the opposition candidate over his or her LDP rival.

The appeal of Japanese victimhood and anti-foreign attitudes decreased among the electorate. The Party of Japanese Kokoro, vehicle of notorious historical revisionists and DPRK-abductees-issue opportunists Kyoko Nakayama and her husband Nariaki, failed to win a single seat. Anti-Korean/anti-Chinese hatemonger Nobuyuki Suzuki saw his share of the vote in the Tokyo district election fall to half of what it was three years ago, even as the vote for the loopy Happiness candidate stayed the same.

SOME VERY PROMINENT REVISIONISTS did win on July 10. Comfort-women denier Hiroshi Yamada, removed from the Diet by the 2014 electoral reversals of the Japan Innovation Party, won a seat as a candidate on the LDP’s proportional list. Now a freshman LDP legislator with a crowd of competitors, he will probably not be given the opportunities to loft provocative, war responsibility-denying, global headline-generating questions at Prime Minister Abe as he did so often in between 2012 and 2014.

Also returning to the Diet for another six-year term is Junko Mihara, whose devotion to the myths of the Meiji state is disturbing. In 2015 she stunned Finance Minister Taro Aso and the House of Councillors budget committee by using a previously unspeakable pre-1945 slogan as a justification for a change in tax law. Mihara’s blithe toss out of hakko ichi’u (“all the world under one roof”), one of only two phrases banned by Allied Occupation authorities, did not hurt her at all in the polls. Indeed, the former actress, singer and race-car driver finished first by a huge margin in her Kanagawa constituency, with over a million votes. On election night, famed news commentator Akira Ikegami baited her, asking her if she believed that the mythical (at least according to historians and textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education) Emperor Jimmu was an actual historical person. Mihara answered that for her he was.
Also returning to the Diet for another six-year term is Junko Mihara, whose devotion to the myths of the Meiji state is disturbing.
Interesting in terms of potential policy stances was the outcome of the so-called “organized vote” of the two main parties. The DP has the image of being the party of the internationalized, primarily white-collar, urban and suburban voters, but in fact, the DP’s backbone is in the labor unions. The DP’s proportional list results reflect this dependency. The DP won 11 proportional seats in 2016, 7 of which will be filled by union executives. Indeed, the DP’s top three proportional vote winners were of leaders of Rengo, the autoworkers association and Panasonic’s company union.

BY CONTRAST, THE LDP saw saw a reduced role for the organized vote in its proportional seat totals. While Zentoku, the private postmasters principal association, did manage to win the top spot on the LDP’s proportional list with an astonishing 520,000 votes for its candidate (so much for former PM Koizumi’s 2005 Post Office reform election designed to destroy the power of the postmasters), the next organized vote group, the dreaded Nokyo agricultural association, slipped in at only eighth on the list (236,000 votes). Overall, the LDP’s jigsaw puzzle of primary interest groups – the industry lobbies, the professional associations, former SDF officers and representatives of the War Bereaved Association (the Izokai) claimed fewer than half of the LDP’s proportional seats. And almost all of those were in the bottom half of the proportional list. If votes and seats equal influence over policy, the LDP is quietly slipping the grip of its anti-reform support groups.

Finally, the election provided a bittersweet result for the author. I had bet what little professional reputation I have on the election’s not hinging upon the LDP and its allies gaining the 162 seats necessary for a two-thirds majority. Instead, I wagered the more significant number was 57 – the number of seats the LDP would need to win to form a tandoku seiken, a government of the LDP only, without any coalition partners. I went as far as to guarantee the LDP would achieve this result, with an immediate, obvious destabilizing effect on the party’s current coalition with the Komeito.
Instead, I wagered the more significant number was 57 – the number of seats the LDP would need to win to form a tandoku seiken, a government of the LDP only, without any coalition partners.
In the end, the LDP failed to win 57 seats, coming tantalizingly close with 55 outright victories and one win by the virtual LDP candidate in Kanagawa. Abashed and ashamed was I.

However, two days after election my prediction came true, in a fashion. The LDP received a membership application from Tatsuo Hirano, a member of the House of Councillors not up for election. Hirano’s political party, the New Renaissance Party, had been one casualty of the election. After losing two seats, including the seat of its leader, the party immediately disbanded, casting Hirano adrift. Hirano, an opportunist of the first rank, immediately applied to join the LDP, a party he ran against only three years ago.

I felt a little bit better – but only a little bit. At this writing, one week after the election, the LDP still has not decided on whether or not to accept Hirano’s application. ❶

Prime Minister of Japan’s Schedule July 20 - July 27, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015 


AM 

09:11 Depart private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo
09:23 Arrive and deliver address Grand Opening Ceremony for Special Events in Commemoration of the 20th Marine Day at the Capital Hotel [SPEECH]
09:59 Depart hotel
10:18 Arrive at Tokyo Coast Security Guard’s vessel base at Aomi, Tokyo.
10:24 Depart on a Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessel, ‘Matsunami’, accompanied with Commandant of Japan Coast Guard, Sato Yuji
10:41 Observes Japan Coast Guard Drills
11:44 End observation
11:46 Arrive at Yokohama Maritime Disaster Prevention Base
11:48 Encourage members of the Japan Coast Guard
11:52 Finish his words of encouragement
11:53 Lunch meeting with Mr. Sato and other generals on the patrol vessel Matsunami, visit

PM 
00:34 End lunch meeting with Mr. Sato and other generals
00:40 Observe rescue drill at the base
01:11 End observation
01:12 Observe Japan Coast Guard Museum, Yokohama
01:27 End observation
01:28 Depart location
01:30 Arrive at the patrol vessel ‘Akitsushima
01:38 Depart ‘Akitsukishima’ via helicopter
01:51 Arrive at official residence’s heliport
01:55 Depart office
02:09 Arrive at office
03:57 Depart office
04:14 Arrive at Fuji TV headquarters in Sendai, Tokyo
04:52 Appear on news program
06:23 Finish filming news program
05:36 Depart from Fuji TV
07:02 Arrive at private residence
07:03 Dinner meeting with Chairman of Ushio electronics company, Ushio Jiro and LDP Lower House member, Kishi Nobuo
09:41 End of dinner meeting with Mr. Ushio and Mr. Kishi

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 

AM 
08:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo (no morning visitors)
08:42 Depart from private residence
08:55 Arrive at office
09:02 Cabinet meeting starts
09:10 Cabinet meeting ends
09:13 Headquarters for Healthcare and Medical Strategy Promotion
09:25 Meeting ends
10:06 Depart office
10:16 Arrive at Nippon TV at Shinbashi, Tokyo
10:30 Start filming of BS Nippon News Program TV
11:17 Filming ends
11:21 Depart
11:31 Arrive at office 

PM 
01:00 Meet with Japan Community Broadcast Association, Director of Tominaga Youichi
01:10 End meeting with Mr. Tomigaya
01:43 Meet with LDP Upper House member, Ejima Kiyoshi
01:53 End meeting with Mr. Ejima Kiyoshi
02:15 Meet with Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, Takaichi Sanae
02:30 End meeting with Mr. Takaichi
02:31 Meet with MOFA’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Saiki Akitaka and Director-General of Intelligence and Analysis Service Oka Hiroshi
02:57 Mr. Oka leaves
03:01 Mr. Saiki leaves
03:42 Depart office
03:52 Arrive at hotel Grand Hyatt Tokyo in Roppongi, Tokyo. In Grand Ballroom, attend and deliver address at Sports and Culture World Forum Public-Private Collaboration Implementation Committee
04:10 Depart from hotel
04:20 Arrive at office
04:47 Ministerial Council for the Further Consideration of the New National Stadium Construction Plan
04:55 Meeting ends
05:06 Ministerial Council on the Monthly Economic Report and Other Relative Issues
05:20 Meeting ends
05:31 Meeting of Expert panel on the 70th Anniversary of the End of the World War II
05:58 Meeting ends
06:00 Meet with Director of National Security Council, (NSC) Yachi Shotaro and MOFA’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Saiki Akitaka
06:29 End meeting with Mr. Yachi and Mr. Saiki
06:38 Depart office
06:39 Arrive at official residence. Dinner with meeting with experts from panel hosted by Mr. Abe
08:26 To see off members
08:27 Finish seeing off members

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 

AM 
08:00 At official residence (no morning visitors)
09:25 Depart official residence
09:26 Arrive at office
09:36 Meet with LDP Lower House member, Kawamura Takeo
10:03 End meeting with Mr. Kawamura
10:04 Meet with Director of NSC, Yachi Shotaro, MOFA’s Director- General of Foreign Policy, Hiramatsu Kenji and Ministry of Defense, Director-General of Bureau of Defense Policy, Kuroe Tetsuro and Chief of Staff for Maritime Self-Defense, Kawano Katsutoshi
10:30 End meeting with Mr. Yachi, Mr. Hiramatsu, Mr. Kuroe and Mr. Katsutoshi
10:31 Meet with Director of NSC, Yachi Shotaro
10:52 End meeting with Mr. Yachi
11:13 Meet with MOFA’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Saiki Akitaka
11:58 End meeting with Mr. Saiki 

PM 
01:40 Meet with LDP House member, Kawai Katsuyuki
01:58 End meeting with Mr. Kawai
01:59 Meet with LDP House member, Imamura Masahiro and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, Kimura Taro
02:21 End meeting with Mr. Imamura and Mr. Kimura
02:23 Record video message for World Assembly for Women
02:34 End recording
02:38 Meet with Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy, Amari Akira, and Cabinet members: Vice-Minister, Matsuyama Kenji and Director-Generals for Policies on Cohesive Society, Maekawa Mamoru, Habuka Shigeki and Tawa Hiroshi
03:01 End meeting with Mr. Amari, Mr. Matsuyama, Mr. Maekawa, Mr. Habuka and Mr. Tawa
03:10 Meet with Ministry of Finance’s Vice-Minister, Tanaka Kazuho and Director-General of International Bureau, Asakawa Masatsugu
03:35 End meeting with Mr. Tanaka and Mr. Asakawa
03:36 Meet with Chairman of Science and Technology in Society Forum, Omi Koji
04:04 End meeting with Omi
04:20 Meet with the former President of Philippines Japanese descent association, Carlos Teraoka
04:36 End meeting with Mr. Teraoka
05:15 Meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy
05:51 Meeting ends
06:31 Reception and commemorative photo with President of Honduras, Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado. Japan-Honduras Summit Meeting and Other Events
06:32 Ceremony by the guard of honor
06:39 Ceremomy ends
06:41 Summit Conference with President of Honduras, Mr. Hernandez
07:16 Summit ends
07:19 Join declaration signing ceremony
07:21 Ceremony ends
07:22 Joint press release
07:38 Press release ends
07:39 Depart office
07:40 Arrive at official residence, dinner meeting hosted by Mr. Abe and his wife, Akie
08:44 See off President of Honduras, Mr. Hernandez
08:46 Finish seeing off Mr. Hernandez

Thursday, July 23, 2015

AM 
08:00 At official residence (no morning visitors)
08:27 Depart official residence
08:30 Arrive at The Capitol Hotel Tokyu. Breakfast meeting with JR Tokai Honorary President, Kasai Yoshiyuki
09:51 Depart hotel
09:53 Arrive at office
09:54 Interview open to all media: regarding ‘the successful launch of Soyuz spaceship that astronaut, Yui Kimiya took.’ Mr. Abe comments, ‘Yui san is a middle-age star. I hope that he flourishes in his pursuits and capitalizes on experiences.’
10:08 Meet with Minister in charge of Abduction Issue, Yamatani Eriko
10:44 End meeting with Ms. Yamatani
10:45 Meet with Cabinet Advisor, Fuji Satoshi
11:13 End meeting with Mr. Fuji
11:14 Meet with Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, Kimura Taro
11:24 End meeting with Mr. Kimura
11:30 Meet with Minister for Reconstruction, Takeshita Watara and Vice-Minister for Reconstruction, Okamoto Masakatsu
11:51 End meeting with Mr. Takeshita and Mr. Okamoto
11:52 Meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Aso Taro and Ministry of Finance’s Deputy Vice-Minister, Fukuda Junichi

PM 
12:00 End meeting with Mr. Aso and Mr. Fukuda
12:02 Meeting of the Government and Ruling Parties on the FY2016 Guidelines for Budget Requests
00.10 Meeting ends
01:26 Meet with Minister in charge of TPP, Amari Akira, Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Minagawa Yoshitsugu and Governmental Headquarters for TPP members: Chief Domestic Coordinator, Sasaki Toyonari, Deputy Chief Negotiator, Oe Hiroshi
02:06 End meeting with Mr. Sasaki and Mr. Oe
02:07 National Security Council meeting. Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Miyazawa Yoichi also attends
02:41 Meeting ends
02:42 Meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Aso Taro
02:52 End meeting with Mr. Aso
02.53 Meet with Minister in charge of Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics, Endo Yuko and Cabinet advisor, Okamoto Masakatsu
03:10 End meeting with Mr. Endo and Mr. Okamoto
03:11 Meet with the Chairman of the Caucus ‘Protect national interest against TPP negotiations’ that is organized by LDP’s Diet members, Etou Taku, and his collegues
03:28 End meeting with Mr. Etou
03:35 Depart office
03:42 Arrive at Nippon Broadcasting System in Yuraku-cho, Tokyo
04:00 Appear on radio programme
04:32 Finish radio programme
04:34 Depart
04:40 Arrive at office
05:23 Receives a courtesy call from Young Descendants of Former Inhabitants of the Northern Territories of Japan
05:32 Courtesy call ends
05:42 Meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy
06:09 Meeting ends
06:10 Meet with MOFA’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Saiki Akitaka and Director-General of Foreign Policy Bureau, Hiramatsu Kenji
06:30 Meeting ends
06:31 Depart office
06:32 Arrive at official residence

Friday, July 24, 2015 

AM 
08:00 At official residence (no morning visitors)
08:45 Depart official residence
08:46 Arrive at office
08:52 Headquarters for the Promotion of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
09:10 Meeting ends
09:16 Cabinet meeting
09:37 Cabinet meeting ends
09:38 Meet with former LDP Secretary-General, Takebe Tsutomu
10:01 End meeting with Mr. Takebe
10:02 Receive a proposal from the LDP on National Resilience and Related Matters
10:21 Finish receiving the proposal
10:27 Meet with Japan-China Economic Association members, Muneoka Shoji and Chairman, Cho Fujio
10:57 End meeting with Mr. Muneoka and Mr. Cho
10:58 Meet with MOFA’s Vice Minister, Saiki Akitaka and Director-General of Intelligence and Analysis Service, Oka Hiroshi
11:39 End meeting with Mr. Saiki and Mr. Oka
11:40 Meet with African Development Bank, President Kaberuka
11:51 End meeting with Mr. Kaberuka

PM 
12:03 Meet with LDP Secretary General Tanigaki Sadakazu
12:36 End meeting with Mr. Tanigaki
01:42 Meet with Director of Cabinet Intelligence, Kitamura Shigeru
02:17 End meeting with Mr. Kitamura
02:18 Meet with Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture, Nakamura Hodo
02:29 End meeting with Mr. Nakamura
02:32 Meeting amongst Main Ministers on the TPP
02:42 Meeting ends
02:47 Meet with Director of NSC, Yachi Shotaro, MOFA’s Director-General of Foreign Policy Bureau, Hiramatsu Kenji and Ministry of Defense members: Director-General of Bureau of Defense Policy, Kuroe Tetsuro, Director-General of Bureau of Operational Policy, Miyama Nobuaki, and Chief of Staff for Joint Staff Council, Kawano Katsutoshi
03:11 End meeting with Mr. Yachi, Mr. Hiramatsu, Mr. Kuroe, Mr. Miyama and Mr. Kawano
04:28 Depart office
04:56 Arrive at Zensho-an in Taito, Tokyo. Zazen with LDP Lower House member, Yamamoto Yuji
06:06 Depart temple
06:37 Arrive at Hotel New Otani in Kioichio, Tokyo. Dinner meeting with actor, Tsugawa Masahiko at a sushi restaurant ‘Kyubey’.
09:27 Depart hotel
09:48 Arrive at private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo

Saturday, July 25, 2015

AM

08:00 At private residence in Tomigaya, Tokyo (no morning visitors)
Stay at private residence throughout the morning 

PM
No visitors and stay at private residence in the afternoon
05:41 Depart private residence
05:56 Arrive at official residence
06:09 Meet with Chairperson of LDP Policy Research Council, Inada Tomomi
08:21 End meeting with Ms. Inada

Sunday, July 26, 2015

AM

09:52 Depart official residence
10:07 Arrive at Hotel Grand Pacific Le Daiba in Daiba, Tokyo. Attend, give lecture and take commemorative photo at The International Conference for Women in Business
10:31 Depart hotel
10:48 Arrive at Hanada airport. Lunch with ministerial secretary in private room at Excel Hotel Tokyo 

PM
00:17 Board Japan Airlines flight no. 3971
01:29 Arrive at Kitakyushu City airport
01:36 Depart airport
02:48 Arrive at ‘Michinoeki Ofuku’ in Mineshi City in Yamaguchi prefecture. Purchase soft serve ice cream
02:58 Depart
03:28 Arrive at「Rapportyuya」 cultural facilities. Attend ‘Agricultural Art Festival 2015.’
04:37 Depart
04:59 Arrive at ‘Nakatohonjin’ Izakaya. Dinner meeting with Mayor of Nagato City, Onishi Kurao and Ministeral Secretary
05:37 Depart
06:52 Arrive at Yamaguchi Ube airport
07:29 Board Japan Airlines flight no. 296
08:46 Arrive at Haneda airport
08:58 Depart from from airport
09:24 Arrive at private residence at Tomigaya, Tokyo

Provisional translation by Kelly Ing

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August 2016 Events & Books

people really need to be away
POWERING EVIDENCE-BASED INTERNATIONAL AID WITH MOBILE TECHNOLOGY, 8/3, 9:00-10:30 am. Sponsor: Center for Data Innovation (CDI). Speakers: Siobhan Green, Chief Executive Officer, Sonjara, Inc; Sean Martin McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Frontline SMS; Samia Melham, Lead Policy Officer, Transport and ICT Global Practice, World Bank; Vivian Ranson, Senior Program Manager, Development Informatics Team, U.S. Global Development Lab, U.S. Agency for International Development; Wayan Vota, Senior Mobile Advisor, Tech Lab, FHI 360; Moderator: Daniel Castro, Director, CDI.

PORNOGRAPHY: A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS. 8/3, Noon, Webcast. Sponsor: Family Research Council. Speaker: Haley Halverson, Director of Communications, National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

OUTCOMES FROM THE DURBAN INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE. 8/3, Noon-2:00pm. Sponsors: Global Health Policy Center, CSIS; Kaiser Family Foundation. Speakers: Deborah Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy; Chris Beyrer, President, International AIDS Society; Jennifer Kates, Vice President, Director, Global Health and HIV Policy, Kaiser Family Foundation; Moderator: J. Stephen Morrison, Senior Vice President, Director, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY: CONVERSATION & COCKTAILS. 8/3, 5:30-6:30pm, Reception. Sponsor: McCain Institute. Speakers: TBA, Directors, McCain Institute.

REQUIREMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF NUCLEAR DETERRENCE. 8/4, 8:00-9:00am. Sponsor: Huessy AFA-NDIA-ROA Congressional Breakfast Series. Speaker: Lt Gen Jack Weinstein, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, headquarters USAF.

click to order
FROM BLUE SKIES TO BLACK STARTS: ENERGY SECURITY AND THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. 8/4, 10:00am-Noon. Sponsor: New America Foundation. Speaker: The Honorable Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the United States Air Force; Moderator: Sharon Burke, Senior Advisor, New America, Advisor, Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate, Pew Charitable Trust.

MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP. 8/4, 6:30pm. Sponsor: National Press Club (NPC). Speaker: author David Cay Johnston, Journalist, Professor, Syracuse University College of Law. 

DEFENDING TAIWAN: WHAT SHOULD THE U.S. DO? 8/9, 9:00-10:30am. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speakers: Richard D. Fisher, Jr., Senior Fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center; Paul Giarra, President, Global Strategies & Transformation, Non-resident Senior Fellow, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security; Ian Easton, Research Fellow, Project 2049 Institute; Moderator: Seth Cropsey, Senior Fellow, Director, Center for American Seapower, Hudson.

MARITIME SECURITY DIALOGUE WITH THE COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS. 8/9, 10:00-11:00am. Sponsors: CSIS; U.S. Naval Institute (USNI). Speaker: General Robert B. Neller, 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps; Moderator: Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Senior Vice President, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, Director, International Security Program, CSIS.

click to order
WASHINGTON'S IMMORTALS: THE UNTOLD STORY OF AN ELITE REGIMENT WHO CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE REVOLUTION. 8/9, 4:30pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speaker: author Patrick K. O'Donnell, Combat historian.

ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF GENERAL MARK A. MILLEY. 8/11, 12:30-1:30pm, Lunch. Sponsors: Stimson Center; Peterson Foundation. Speakers: General Mark A. Milley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army; Amb. Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr., Chairman of the Board of Directors, Stimson.

On August 16, APP member Frank Ahrens will publish his memoir of working for three years (2010-13) running Hyundai Motor's global PR operation at company headquarters in Korea: SEOUL MAN: A Memoir of Cars,Culture, Crisis, and Unexpected Hilarity Inside a Korean Corporate Titan (HarperCollins). Pre-order below or by clicking the title.



THE FUTURE OF NAVAL AVIATION. 8/18, 10:00-11:00am. Sponsor: CSIS; U.S. Naval Institute (USNI). Speaker: Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker, USN, Commander, Naval Air Forces, Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; Moderator: Vice Admiral Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.), Chief Executive Officer, USNI.

click to order
AMERICAN UMPIRE. 8/23, 4:00-6:00pm. Sponsor: Cato. Speakers: Elizabeth Cobbs, Producer, Writer, American Umpire; Derek Chollet, Counselor, Senior Advisor, Security and Defense Policy, German Marshall Fund; Heather Hurlburt, Director, New Models of Policy Change, New America; Moderator: Christopher Preble, Vice President, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato.

INNOVATION IN THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT. 8/25, 10:00-11:00am. Sponsor: CSIS. Speaker: General Paul J. Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Moderator: Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Senior Voice President, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, Director, International Security Program, CSIS.

INTERNATIONAL SPACE EXPLORATION IN EAST AND WEST GERMANY8/25, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS). Speaker: Colleen Anderson, DAAD/AICGS Research Fellow, AICGS.

COUNTERTERRORISM CHALLENGES: IMPROVING INFORMATION EXCHANGE BETWEEN ALLIES. 8/29, 1:00-2:00pm. Sponsor: Transnational Threats Project, CSIS. Speakers: H. (Dick) W.M. Schoof, National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, Ministry of Security and Justice, The Netherlands; Brig. General Francis X. Taylor (Ret.), Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Moderator: Thomas M. Sanderson, Senior Fellow, Director, Transnational Threats Project, CSIS.

Can Abe revise Japan’s peace constitution? Unlikely

And it might not be on the agenda
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BY Ben Ascione is a PhD candidate at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. He is Japan and Korea editor at East Asia Forum and a research associate of the Japan Center for International Exchange in Tokyo and APP member

First appeared in the East Asia Forum, 24 July 2016

Since the 10 July upper house election in Japan there has been widespread speculation that the government will move to formally revise the country’s constitution including the Article 9 ‘peace clause’. This now appears possible since the Abe-led Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), along with its junior coalition partner Komeito and sympathetic micro-sized right-leaning opposition parties, controls the two-thirds majorities in both houses needed to take constitutional amendments to a referendum.

Never in the years since Japan’s postwar constitution was enacted in 1947 has it been formally amended. Even though the government has the requisite number of seats, forging an agreement with Komeito and persuading the broader voting public that constitutional revision is desirable will be no easy task.

While voters want the government to focus on revitalising the economy, there is absolutely no question that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe carries ambitions to revise Article 9. He was vocal about this during his first stint as prime minister in 2006–07. His book Towards a Beautiful Country characterises Japanese security policy as irresponsible pacifism. Research by Asia Policy Point shows that Abe and about half his cabinet members are affiliated with the Diet Members’ League to Promote Research on the Constitution, Sousei Nippon (Japan Rebirth) and Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), all of which give high priority to rescinding Article 9. Abe’s relationship with his grandfather — Nobusuke Kishi, a former prime minister, war criminal suspect and munitions minister under the wartime cabinet of Hideki Tojo — is also said to drive his convictions.

Komeito (meaning clean governance party) holds the balance of power and the LDP will have to reach an agreement with it to move forward on any constitutional amendment. Despite Komeito’s status as the junior partner, the LDP cannot afford to lose it. LDP leverage over Komeito is limited by an electoral cooperation arrangement, which sees Komeito voters supply between 5 and 20 per cent of the votes LDP candidates receives in single-seat districts in both houses in exchange for influence as a ruling party. Many LDP politicians’ seats would be under serious threat if this deal came unstuck.

Komeito was a political offshoot of the Nichiren Buddhist movement Soka Gakkai (literally value creation study association). Its founders, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, were arrested by the wartime military government for speaking out against the abuse of the educational process for militarist purposes. Makiguchi died in jail a martyr. This history imbues Komeito with pacifist values.

Soka Gakkai members, with their distinctive combination of Buddhism, modern humanism and electioneering savvy, have been willing to extend support to Komeito and qualify their absolute pacifist stance, as Levi McLaughlin has explained. Komeito supported the LDP in passing the 1992 Peacekeeping Operations Law after negotiating principles which limit the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ (SDF) activities on UN missions to ceasefire areas rather than active conflict zones and curtail SDF use of weapons to the minimum necessary to protect the lives of SDF personnel. Komeito also supported the LDP in order to permit the dispatch of the SDF to the Indian Ocean to refuel US ships on route to Afghanistan under the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law and to Iraq in 2003 to carry out humanitarian operations such as building schools and water purification.

Most recently Komeito supported the Abe cabinet’s reinterpretation of Article 9 to permit limited forms of collective self-defence in July 2014 and the security-related bills last year that enabled this cabinet decision. Komeito’s rhetoric stalled the LDP and squeezed it for concessions by emphasising the need for long and wide debates rooted in concrete proposals and the need to bring the people along with these changes.

This allowed it to shift the focus of the conditions under which collective self-defence — a concept which is primarily focused on threats against targets other than one’s own country — so it could only be exercised in response to attacks that threaten the survival of Japan and the Japanese people’s constitutional right to ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’. This focus on attacks threatening Japan contrasts sharply with the report in May 2014 by Abe’s hand-picked advisory group, which recommended a less restrained conception of the exercise of collective self-defence, before Komeito influence came to bear.

Komeito justified its stance to its support base by emphasising that it is a serious party and coalition partner willing to make compromises to exercise power and to continue to act as a brake on the LDP’s policy excesses. It maintained that the compromises made were better than the alternative of working from opposition. In a nutshell, Komeito brands itself as ‘the opposition within the government’.

Yet all of Komeito’s support for LDP security policies thus far has been justified within the framework of Article 9. A common rebuttal of critics who accuse Komeito of betraying its pacifist principles is that it has simply updated its pacifism to contemporary circumstances and in practical ways.

If Article 9 were to be amended, one option Komeito could possibly get behind would be to revise the second paragraph, which forbids the maintenance of ‘land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential’ in order to affirm explicitly the constitutionality of the SDF, while maintaining the first paragraph under which the Japanese people renounce ‘the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes’.

But a revision that seriously alters the spirit of Article 9 or outright rescinds it would surely be a no-go for Komeito that would seriously undermine its loyal support base.

Any LDP-Komeito agreement on constitutional revision will also need the support of the voting public to pass a national referendum, something that the LDP deliberately avoided talking about during the campaign period. Given strong public opposition, the government may focus on Abenomics economic policy for now and return to constitutional issues later in Abe’s remaining two years.

A Revival of the Mongolian-Russian Friendship?

By way of balancing China

By: Alicia J. Campi
Originally published in the Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume: 13 Issue: 135
July 26, 2016 of the The Jamestown Foundation

On the eve of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, for the 11th Annual Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit (July 15–16), an article appeared in the Russian media entitled, “ ‘An Old Friend is Worth Two New’: It’s time for Russia to turn towards… Mongolia” (Fort-russ.com, July 9). The piece examined the weakened state of Russian-Mongolian relations in the post-Communist era and called for Russia to return to its position of influence in a country once firmly tied to the Soviet sphere and often called the Soviet Union’s 16th republic.

In 2016, already there have been signs that the Russian government is moving in this direction: in February, Moscow decided to grant Mongolia $1.3 billion in new loans to import Russian fuel (The UB Post, February 5); in March, the Russian Federation wrote off Mongolia’s $174 million debt after a one-off payment of $3.8 million (The UB Post, March 2); on June 23, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj’s “Economic Corridor” initiative was finalized at the Russian-Mongolian-Chinese trilateral meeting on the sideline of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Tashkent (Mongol Messenger, June 24); and on June 28, Russian-owned shares in the Erdenet copper mine and mining firm Mongolrostsvetment were suddenly mysteriously sold off to a newly formed Mongolian company (Mongol Messenger, July 1). Such warming trends in Mongolian-Russian relations are likely to accelerate, particularly following the June 29 election of a new Mongolian government, which saw the return to power of the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP)—a political faction with socialist-era roots as the country’s Soviet-supported Communist party.

Earlier this year, Mongolia asked the Russian Federation for $1.3 billion in loans over a 36-month period to meet its domestic fuel demands, especially in the mining industry. This deal would finance the purchase of 1.3 million tons of fuel annually and decrease domestic price fluctuations for retail fuel, while stabilizing prices for staple goods and resolving pressure on Mongolia’s foreign currency reserves. In June, the Russian VTB Bank, supported by the Russian Agency for Export Credit and Investment Insurance (EXIAR), issued the first $65.4 million of a $300 million line of credit to the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM), under governmental guarantees of Mongolia’s Ministry of Finance (Mongol Messenger, July 1).

Mongolia’s outstanding $174 million debt to Russia—which has now been forgiven—had been an impediment to deeper investment cooperation in Mongolia’s construction and mineral production markets. A 2010 deal between Moscow and Ulaanbaatar took six years for the Russian legislature to approve (Sputnik News, January 31, 2016). Another looming problem since 2009 involved the terms of an intergovernmental agreement for rail transportation of Mongolian exports via Russia (Mongol Messenger, June 24, 2016). The draft was finalized by the outgoing Mongolian cabinet and signed by Russian and Mongolian officials at the Tashkent Summit as part of the trilateral Russian-Chinese-Mongolian “Economic Corridor” program.

The economic integration of the major infrastructure projects in Northeast Asia—Mongolia’s Steppe Road, China’s One Belt and One Road Initiative, and Russia’s trans-Eurasian transit corridor—is considered by Ulaanbaatar to be the first concrete outcome of the past three years of tripartite talks. After 17 working group meetings, a total of 32 selected projects were divided into 13 categories: railway infrastructure, the AN-3 Asian auto road network and eastern auto road, airlines, industry, energy, the renovation of border checkpoints, trade, specialized customs inspections and quarantine measures, environmental protection and ecology, scientific and technical partnerships, humanitarian cooperation, agriculture, and medicine. Although funding must still be clarified, the three sides agreed to establish a co-financed Investment and Projecting Center. Further studies will also be conducted regarding the construction of a Moscow–Beijing high-speed railway line through Mongolia; establishing an economic zone through Heilongjiang, Russia, Mongolia and Inner Mongolia; and renovating the Russo-Mongol electrical network. All these projects are designed to deepen trilateral economic cooperation and regional economic integration, increase trade flows, maintain trade competitiveness, as well as enhance trans-border transportation. This plan will also establish trans-border ecological corridors to enhance tourism, including a “Triangle of Great Lakes” involving Mongolia’s Khuvsgul Lake, Russia’s Baikal Lake and China’s Hulun Lake, and create a “Great Tea Road” tourism brand (Mongol Messenger, July 1).

The day before Mongolia’s election, then–prime minister Chimed Saikhanbileg announced that Russian Rostec had sold its 49 percent share in the Mongolrostsvetment and Erdenet joint ventures. The latter is a giant ore mining/processing site that produces 530,000 tons of copper concentrate and 4,500 tons of molybdenum concentrate per year. The sale, estimated at $500 million, was to Mongolian Copper (Mongoliin Zes), a new private company funded by Mongolia’s Trade and Development Bank (TDB). Because the details were not released, the sale was immediately decried by the MPP as evidence of governing party corruption and an issue of national security. Some independent Mongolian economic analysts, such as Dugar Jargalsaikhan (a.k.a. Jargal de Facto), opined that the non-transparent transaction was repudiated by the Mongolian people and may have provoked the MPP’s unexpected landslide victory. It was claimed that the address of record for the purchasing corporation was the same as for Bloomberg TV News Mongolia, which is a partnership between BloombergMedia Group and TDB (Mongolianbusinessdatabase.com, July 13). Purportedly, despite the strong opposition of some in the Russian foreign ministry, President Vladimir Putin himself was persuaded to allow the deal to go forward (Ocnus.net, July 14).

This sale could also have been part of a Russian maneuver to compensate Mongolia after Moscow (in June) successfully pressured China to withhold Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) funding for Mongolia to construct the Egiin Goliin Hydropower Plant. Russians believe this dam would threaten Lake Baikal, 580 kilometers downstream. At the Tashkent Summit, President Putin said the proposed hydroelectric plant would create “serious risks” to the water supply in the Irkutsk region, but he proposed “increasing the supply of energy” to Mongolia, which annually relies on $25 million worth of electricity imports from Russia (Bloomberg, July 11).

New Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat, a former finance minister and governor, met, on July 15, with Medvedev on the sidelines of the ASEM summit to discuss boosting the Mongolian-Russian strategic partnership in the medium term (Montsame.mn, July 16). The new government and parliament, solidly in MPP hands, will likely try to shift the ownership of Erdenet to a different entity, one not closely connected with the former ruling coalition, as well as seek other international funding options for the Egiin Goliin Hydropower Plant. However, the MPP, known for its pro-Russian leanings, will certainly welcome a more active Moscow as a partner in the Mongolian-Russian-Chinese trilateral format and in a revived bilateral relationship.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Monday in Washington, July 25, 2016


SCIENCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION MEETING: CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN RIGHTS7/25-26, 8:30am-5:00pm. Sponsor: American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS). Speakers include: Mary Robinson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate, President, Mary Robinson Foundation; Robert Bullard, Texas Southern University.

RESULTS OF POLISH STRATEGIC CHOICES GAME RELEASED. 7/25, Noon-1:30pm, Lunch. Sponsor: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). Speakers include: Mark Gunzinger, Senior Fellow, CSBA; Jacob Cohn, Senior Analyst, CSBA.

Washington goes on the campaign trail and vacation. There will be very few events in the coming month. If something of interest to the Asia policy community surfaces we will post it here on the blog.