Saturday, January 31, 2015

Monday in Washington, February 2, 2015

THE FUTURE OF OIL MARKETS. 2/2, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. Speaker: Claudio Descalzi, CEO, Eni.

NEW AGENDA SETTER SERIES DISCUSSION ON US POLICYMAKING ANDPOLITICS. 2/2, Noon-12:45pm. Sponsor: Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). Speakers: Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC; Interviewed by Jason Grument, President, BPC.

THE UKRAINE CRISIS: WITHSTAND AND DETER RUSSIAN AGGRESSION. 2/2, 2:00-4:00pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Ivo Daalder, President, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Michele Flournoy, CEO, Center for a New American Security; John Herbst, Director, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council; Jan Lodal, Fellow, Atlantic Council; Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow, Brookings; James Stavridis, Dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts university; Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings; Charles Wald, Board Director, Atlantic Council.

GLOBAL EFFECTS OF THE OIL PRICE CRASH. 2/2, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Brookings Institution. Speakers: Charles Ebinger, Senior Fellow, Energy Security and Climate Initiative, Brookings; Clifford Gaddy, Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings; Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings; Harold Trinkunas, Senior Fellow and Director, Latin American Initiative, Brookings; Tim Boersma, Fellow and Acting Director, Energy Security and Climate Initiative, Brookings.

70 Years of Liberation from Imperial Japan

click to order
On January 30, 1945, three days after Soviet troops liberated their first Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, American Rangers and Filipino guerrillas rescued American and Allied POWs from the first of many Japanese concentration camps on the Philippines.

The Great Raid—as the liberation of Cabanatuan was called-was urgent and heroic. General Douglas MacArthur approved the raid ahead of his advance on Manila and the full liberation of the Philippines after an intersected cable revealed a “kill all” order by Japan for all prisoners.

entrance to Palawan Massacre 
Proof that the Japanese were serious about this order was confirmed in early January by reports of the December 14th
Palawan Massacre. On Palawan Island in the Philippines, Japanese forces anticipating an American invasion pushed 150 American POWs into an air raid shelter, doused them with gasoline, set them afire, and then machine gunned, bayoneted and clubbed to the screaming men to death. Miraculously, eleven escaped to tell their story. Last Man Out: Glenn McDole, USMC, Survivor of the Palawan Massacre in World War II is one of these inspiring accounts of survival and perseverance.
One hundred and twenty-three are now buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.

Nearly 3,000 American POWs had died in Cabanatuan. Further thousands had been transported to Japan for slave labor from the camp. Remaining were the sick and dying.

DVD click to order
Immortalized in the movie, The Great Raid, a group of more than 100 Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerrillas traveled 30 miles behind Japanese lines to reach the camp on Bataan, Philippines. Along the route, other guerrillas in the villages muzzled dogs and put chickens in cages lest they alert the Japanese.

The nighttime raid, under the cover of darkness and a distraction by a P-61 Black Widow, surprised the Japanese forces in and around the camp. Hundreds of Japanese troops were killed in the 30-minute coordinated attack; the Americans suffered minimal casualties. The POWs were escorted back to American lines, often with Rangers carrying two emaciated men on their backs. In the end, the rescuers rounded up nearly 60 caribou carts to transport the survivors. The rescue allowed the prisoners to tell of the death march and prison camp atrocities, which sparked a new rush of resolve for the war against Japan when it was made public in March 1945.
click to order

The raid was considered successful—489 POWs were liberated, along with 33 civilians. The total included 492 Americans, 23 British , three Dutch, two Norwegians, one Canadian, and one Filipino. The rescue, along with the liberation of Camp O'Donnell the same day, allowed the prisoners to tell of the Bataan and Corregidor atrocities.

The Great Raid was soon followed by additional successful liberations, such as the raid by the 1st Cavalry Flying Column of Santo Tomas Civilian Internment Camp on February 3, raid of Bilibid Prison on February 4, and the 11th Airborne's raid at Los Baños on February 23. 

A poorly worded and inaccurate joint resolution by Congress directed then-President Ronald Reagan to issue a proclamation designating April 12, 1982 as "American Salute to Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Memorial Day".

Monday, January 26, 2015

Abe ignores his Emperor - at his peril

‘Emperor Akihito favors an honest and long-overdue reckoning with Japan’s wartime past’

Interview by APP member, Peter Ennis of Dispatch Japan published January 23, 2015

Emperor Akihito raised many an eyebrow in Japan and abroad recently when he used his New Year message to urge Japan’s citizens to learn from history in this, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. He specifically referred to the Manchurian Incident of 1931 as the start of the war, which many saw as a not-so-veiled swipe at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and other advocates of a ‘revisonist’ view of history, who have tried to diminish Japan's responsibility for the hostilities in the Pacific that ultimately led to Japan’s destruction and surrender in 1945. The key passage in the Emperor’s message was:“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which cost many people their lives. Those who died on the battlefields, those who died in the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those who died in the air raids on Tokyo and other cities-so many people lost their lives in this war. I think it is most important for us to take this opportunity to study and learn from the history of this war, starting with the Manchurian Incident of 1931, as we consider the future direction of our country.”The Emperor’s comment was initially overshadowed by the New Year’s festivities in Japan, but subsequently provoked a subdued but charged debate in intellectual and policy circles.

Below is the first of a two-part discussion about the controversy with Tokyo-based scholar and commentator Jeff Kingston. Professor Kingston is the director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, where he teaches courses on modern Japanese history, contemporary Japan, and Japan’s relations with Asia. He has been a regular contributor to The Japan Times since 1988. Kingston’s most recent book, Contemporary Japan, was published in 2012. He has a B.S. degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, and a PhD. in history from Columbia University.

DISPATCH JAPAN: Emperor Akihito referred to the Manchurian Incident of 1931 in several of his past birthday greetings, but never in a New Year’s message. Why do you think it is notable that he brought this up in his most recent New Year’s message?

KINGSTON: It is impossible to know what exactly Emperor Akihito intended with his 2015 New Year Thoughts. His comments were sufficiently vague to avoid giving the impression that he was infringing on constitutional limits that prevent him from weighing in on political issues.

The Imperial Household Agency carefully vets his remarks, so one can only speculate about the message he is trying to convey. In my opinion, the choice of topics is indicative, and must be considered in the context of Akihito’s track record on war responsibility. He has relentlessly crisscrossed the region over the past quarter of a century to express remorse to nations victimized by Japanese aggression.

Akihito has done more than all of Japan’s politicians combined to demonstrate that Japan is not in denial, and is contrite about the horrors it inflicted. Although revisionist politicians and the jingoistic press have worked hard to undermine the emperor’s reconciliation diplomacy, Akihito regards this as the unfinished business of the Showa Emperor (Akihito's father, Emperor Hirohito, who died in 1989), and persists in doing what he can in his circumscribed role.

His record suggests he favors an honest and long overdue reckoning. He has maintained his father’s post-1978 boycott of Yasukuni Shrine that was prompted by the enshrinement of 14 Class A war criminals at that time.

He also rebuked a Tokyo government official who explained to the monarch at an autumn 2004 garden party that he was in charge of enforcing a directive to teachers to stand and sing the national anthem (kimigayo) facing the national flag (Hinomaru). Akihito replied that this is not desirable, and should be left up to individual choice, comments he repeated in the Spring 2005 garden party. The Imperial Household Agency went into damage control mode, arguing that Akihito’s remarks held no political implications, even though they had clearly offered moral support to teachers who complained that their constitutional rights were being infringed on.

So when Akihito refers to the Manchurian Incident, he is weighing in on contemporary history controversies. Prime Minister Abe and like-minded revisionists seek to legitimize Japanese aggression, asserting that it was a war of Pan Asian liberation aimed at lifting the yoke of western subjugation. In addition, revisionists argue that it was a defensive war against escalating pressures from the western powers, the so-called ABCD (American, British, Chinese and Dutch) encirclement thesis.

But by pegging the war’s onset to 1931, Akihito inconveniently focused attention on the Kwantung Army’s plot in Mukden, which blamed ‘Chinese terrorists’ for a staged attack on Japan’s South Manchurian Railway, and used this as a pretext to launch a full-scale invasion and pacification of Manchuria.

This interpretation meshes with what scholars call the Fifteen Year War (1931-45), a reference to escalating Japanese aggression in China and a decision in 1940 to widen the war to Southeast Asia in order to secure the resources needed to subjugate China.

This narrative dismisses the Pan Asian liberation thesis as a fig-leaf for Japanese imperialism. Moreover, in 1931 Japan was not being encircled, but rather was carving off part of China to promote autarchy and prepare for the coming war with the US for hegemony in the Pacific. Ishiwara Kanji, the man who planned the Mukden Incident, was Japan’s foremost military strategist, and someone who had carefully studied the lessons of WWI. Total war meant a no-holds barred approach to winning, meaning that civilians were fair game and that economic sanctions were a weapon of war.

Ishiwara believed that Germany lost the war owing to economic sanctions that starved its war machine of what was required to wage war and thus became an advocate of economic autarchy. Manchuria had many of the resources Japan lacked that were crucial for its war machine, so taking it over was aimed at promoting autarchy and getting ready for the coming conflict. The Pan Asian thesis is more appealing to contemporary conservatives because it positions Japan as selfless and sacrificing for the benefit of others.

By contrast, the Manchurian thesis makes Japan look like a greedy predator, invading nations to secure resources and markets just like other imperial nations.

So Akihito’s apparently bland remarks actually resonate loudly in the arena of historiography. They position him in the camp critical of Japanese aggression, and critical of contemporary revisionists like Abe, who seek to rehabilitate Japan’s wartime past and assert a valorizing and vindicating narrative.

Akihito’s view represents the longstanding mainstream consensus in Japan (and elsewhere), but revisionists have bristled at this ‘masochistic’ history that singles Japan out for blame while overlooking Allied war crimes. They argue that the mainstream consensus is based on the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMFTE), a biased ‘victor’s justice’ narrative.

Judicial process at the IMFTE was indeed very flawed, and the guilty verdicts were preordained, but this doesn't mean that Japan’s military forces, or the architects of war called the Class A war criminals, were innocent. Revisionists often cite the dissenting opinion of Radhabinod Pal as exonerating Japan from the war crimes charges. A memorial to him is even located just outside the Yushukan Museum adjacent to Yasukuni Shrine, the talismanic ground zero for an unrepentant view of Japanese military aggression. In fact, Pal argued no such thing. He dismissed the IMFTE as lacking legal standing in international law, and for the baseless retroactive application of laws it allowed. But Pal readily acknowledged that Japan committed war crimes, and he lamented the fact that the Allies were not in the dock alongside the Japanese, sensibly pointing out that they should also be held accountable.

DISPATCH JAPAN: Why is this relevant to contemporary Japanese politics, and Japan’s national security policy?

KINGSTON: The judgments of the IMFTE, deeply flawed as they may be, are intrinsic to the Treaty of San Francisco that Japan signed to end the US occupation and make peace with the other signatories. In signing the treaty, Japan committed itself to accepting these judgments. Prime Minister Abe often talks about overthrowing the ‘postwar system’, one that most Japanese are rightly proud of. He is unhappy with the denunciatory view of wartime Japan and the US penned constitution, both essential elements of the postwar order that he believes humiliates Japan and keeps it subordinate.

In contrast, Akihito and most Japanese feel that Japan’s exemplary record in the second half of the 20th century brought redemption, and serves as the basis for the nation regaining its dignity. While Abe rails against the Peace Constitution, most Japanese see it as a reassuring touchstone of national identity. That is why his efforts to chip away at Article 9 are so unpopular. Hardly anyone in Japan supports Abe’s reinterpretation of Article. 9 to allow for collective self-defense, because they worry that Washington will drag them into war, and they understand that the new US-Japan Defense Guidelines will facilitate that scenario. Both governments keep postponing formal adoption of the guidelines precisely so they don’t become a liability to the LDP in elections.

DISPATCH JAPAN: So the political right finds itself in the interesting position of opposing the views of an Emperor in whose honor they claim to speak?

KINGSTON: The Emperor’s remarks highlight the horrors of war and send a strong anti-militarism, pro-peace message. He has enjoined Japanese citizens to reflect on the lessons of the past, perhaps because he has witnessed the culture wars since Abe came to power. Many Japanese and long-time Japan observers have expressed dismay about the recrudescence of self-righteous nationalism under Mr. Abe, who has emboldened right-wing extremists.

They have aggressively attacked liberal targets, such as the Asahi, and downplayed some of the more egregious examples of wartime Japan’s depredations, including the comfort women. Akihito is surely aware that Abe did nothing to repudiate colleagues in the Diet who worked to undermine the 1993 Kono Statement, in which Japan accepts responsibility and promises to atone for the sordid system of sexual slavery that involved tens of thousands of young women throughout Asia between 1932-1945. They were recruited through deception and/or coercion, both direct and indirect.

The Asahi’s admission that a handful of their reports on the comfort women over twenty years ago were based on the discredited testimony of Yoshida Seiji has been disingenuously used as a pretext to try to cast doubts on the nature and extent of this system and thereby promote a narrative of minimization and denial. Naturally, Team Abe is manipulating the Asahi affair for political advantage. This saga is, after all, more about politics than journalism, part of a larger culture war being waged by conservatives to redefine Japanese identity on their terms. The Asahi has long been the right’s main media adversary in this culture war and thus a prime target.

There is also the case of Net Uyoku (ultra-nationalists on the Internet) harassing former Asahi reporters and their university employers, threatening to harm students by deploying nail bombs if these former journalists’ contracts are not terminated. And the hate speech campaign promoted by the Zaitokukai (an organization devoted to denying rights to non-citizens – mostly Koreans – residing in Japan), harassing Japan’s zainichi (mostly Korean) community, again threatening death. Abe has tolerated this intolerance, and indeed has acted as cheerleader in chief for the anti-Asahi campaign. This is not the Japan that most Japanese feel comfortable with, and is not consistent with their national identity.

This is the context in which Akihito’s comments can be interpreted as a rebuke and warning.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Monday in Washington, January 26, 2015

EMERGING MODELS FOR ENERGY AND CLIMATE COOPERATION IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION. 1/26, 9:30-11:45am. Sponsor: Center for American Progress (CAP). Speakers: Carol Browner, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; Amb. David Carden, Partner, Jones Day; former Ambassador to ASEAN; Jesus “Gary” Domingo, Assistant Secretary, United Nations and International Organizations Office, Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs ; Satu Limaye, Director, East-West Center in Washington; Lt. Gen. Noboru Yamaguchi, (ret.), professor, National Defense Academy of Japan; S. Julio Friedmann, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Clean Coal and Carbon Management, U.S. Department of Energy; Shoichi Itoh, Manager and Senior Analyst, Strategy Research Unit, The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan; Jake Levine, Director for Strategy and Chief of Staff, Opower; Ryan Shaffer, Associate Director of Programs, Mansfield Foundation; Moderators: Pete Ogden, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; and Danielle Baussan, Managing Director of Energy Policy, Center for American Progress. 

FOURTH CENTRAL ASIA FELLOW'S SEMINAR. 1/26, 11:00am-2:00pm. Sponsor: Women In International Security (WIIS). Speakers: Rashid Gabdulhakov, Political Science Instructor, International University of Central Asia in the Kyrgyz Republic; Natalia Zakharchenko, Analyst, Norwegian Helsinki Committee; and Marina Kayumova, Research Fellow, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies.

EXPANDING COUNTERTERRORISM PARTNERSHIPS: U.S. EFFORTS TO TACKLE THE EVOLVING TERRORIST THREAT. 1/26, Noon-2:00pm. Sponsor: Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Speaker: Tina Kaidanow, ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department.

GOVERNMENTS AND INTERNET GOVERNANCE: A PANEL DISCUSSION. 1/26, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsors: Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP), Elliott School of International Affairs, GWU; and DC Chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC-DC). Speakers: Amr Aljowaily, Embassy of Egypt, NYC; Sally Wentworth, Vice President of Global Policy Development, The Internet Society; Veni Markowski, ICANN VP for UN Engagement, Bulgaria; Dr. Marc Daumas, Scientific Attache, Embassy of France; Carolina de Cresce El Debs, Embassy of Brazil; David Satola, The World Bank; and Moderator: Nancy Scola, Technology Journalist.

AMERICA’S NEW CYBER WAR. 1/26, 2:00pm. Sponsor: Newseum. Speaker: Shane Harris, senior intelligence and national security correspondent at The Daily Beast, author @War: Rise of the Military Internet Complex.

BOOKMEN AT WAR: LIBRARIES, INTELLIGENCE AND CULTURAL POLICY IN WORLD WAR II. 1/26, 4:00-5:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC). Speaker: Kathy Peiss, Professor of American History at University of Pennsylvania. 

AFTER SOUTH STREAM: TURKISH STREAM? 2/2, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: Energy and National Security at CSIS. Speakers: Najia Badykov, Non-Resident Senior Associate, CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program; Edward Chow, Senior Fellow, CSIS Energy and National Security Program; Bulent Aliriza, Director and Senior Associate, CSIS Turkey Project; and Moderator: Andrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow, CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program.

Mongolia: Proponent of Peace in Northeast Asia

Mongolia: Potential Mediator between the Koreas and Proponent of Peace in Northeast Asia
By: David L. CapraraKatharine H.S. Moon and Paul Park
Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Dr. Moon and Mr. Park are APP members.

Opinion | January 2015

2014 was a relatively friendless year for the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). It publicly lost its best friend and patron, China, to its erstwhile nemesis, the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea), when Presidents Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping celebrated their growing friendship at the July summit in Seoul. Recently, retired PLA General Wang Hongguang wrote in the Chinese language site of Global Times, which is closely linked to the Chinese Communist Party, that China tired of cleaning up North Korea’s “mess” and would not step in to “save” North Korea if it collapses or starts a war.[1] And there is a vigorous debate in Beijing on whether the DPRK should be treated on a “normal” basis with China’s interests as the sole guide and purpose or be treated as a special case needing China’s indulgence and protection.[2] Since the Sony hack of November, North Korea has been under tighter scrutiny, both real and virtual, by Seoul, Beijing and Washington, accompanied by tighter sanctions in the new year. Bludgeoned by global condemnation of its atrocious human rights record, Pyongyang’s pariah status has intensified. Only Russia has been warming up to North Korea out of its own economic and political self-interest.

Is there any sizable country with good intentions for the region that is not giving up or beating up on North Korea? Is there any country Pyongyang likes and possibly even trusts? Mongolia stands out as the sole candidate, and it is friendly with both the East and the West.

Since the 2000s, Mongolia has played an increasingly constructive and steady role in in its bilateral ties with the DPRK and in its promotion of peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia. President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, who visited Pyongyang in 2013, was the first head of state to reach out to the DPRK since Kim Jung Un assumed power and helped author the “Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asia Security,” which held its first meeting in June, 2014. It is a unique forum that combines official (track one) and unofficial academic/think tank/NGO (track two) participants, on a variety of important regional issues. The goals are to decrease distrust among nations and increase cooperation and peace. Both the DPRK and the ROK (Republic of Korea or South Korea) were represented at the inaugural meeting, as were the United States, China, Russia, Japan, and some European nations.

The UB Dialogue, as a consultative mechanism, has the potential to bring together policymakers, international organizations such as the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and civil society entities and facilitate a range of initiatives related to economic cooperation; military transparency; environmental issues; non-traditional security threats; regional stability, cultural and educational exchange among the participants, including the two Koreas. These are official agenda items and goals of the UB Dialogue. With the Six-Party Talks nearly defunct and inter-Korean relations unable to address regional issues that affect the peninsula, Mongolia may be able to serve as a “Geneva or Helsinki of the East” as some observers have suggested.

Mongolia’s expanding global presence
Mongolia is uniquely positioned as the only country in Northeast Asia that enjoys good relations not only with North Korea but also South Korea, the United States, China, Russia, and Japan.

Mongolia’ relations with the United States, Canada, and Western Europe have steadily improved and deepened since the late 1980s. In recent decades, both Democratic and Republication administrations in Washington have enjoyed mutually warm and collaborative relations with Mongolia. President George W. Bush was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country in 2005; he thanked the Mongolians for sending troops to join U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and for supporting anti-terrorism initiatives. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also visited in the same year. In 2007, President Nambaryn Enkhbayar visited Washington to co-sign the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact with President Bush. The next (and current) leader, President Elbegdorj, met U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in 2011, as did the first civilian Minister of Defense, L. Bold. Vice President Joe Biden included Mongolia on a three-country Asia visit in August, 2011; China and Japan were the other two. A year later, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton took her turn in Ulaanbaatar. The most recent visit by top-level U.S. officials to Mongolia was by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in April 2014.

Mongolia’s pursuit of the “third neighbor” policy allows the country to develop cooperative relations with the United States, Western Europe, ASEAN nations and others partly as “an air pocket” from its economic and security reliance on Beijing and Moscow. The softer side of this diplomatic push has been demonstrated by Ulaanbaatar’s membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and its previous chairmanship of the Community on Democracies.”[3]

Western experts on Mongolia applaud the way the country has developed a unique “peacekeeping niche” that facilitates participation in UN peacekeeping activities, international anti-terrorism measures, and humanitarian actions. For its small population of about three million, Mongolia takes on a heavy load of peacekeeping activities, ranking 26th on the UN’s list of contributing nations.[4]

Since 2003, Mongolia annually hosts the “Khaan Quest” peacekeeping exercises for the purpose of tactical advancement and capacity building for its Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF) and for the improvement of regional confidence building. Although the United States and NATO play prominent roles, the Quest has attracted more diverse participants over the years so that by 2012, the number of interested parties expanded to include representatives from China and India as well as an array of developing nations such as Vietnam and Cambodia. These exercises are acknowledged as gatherings devoted to strengthening international cooperation and interoperability on peacekeeping initiatives around the world.[5]

On the economic side, Mongolia has been diversifying its external relations, with the maintenance of sovereignty and the related desire to reduce its overwhelming dependence on China as important goals. Expansion of economic relations is driven in part by a desire to participate in and benefit from global standards investment funds, and market access is a national priority. In that context, Mongolia’s relations with the West have been constructive and collaborative. For example, in 2013, the United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Mongolia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luvsanvandan Bold, signed the Agreement on Transparency in Matters Related to International Trade and Investment between the United States of America and Mongolia. The Agreement commits the parties to provide opportunities for public comment on proposed laws and regulations and to publish final laws and regulations in Mongolian and English in order to facilitate access, openness, fairness, and procedural coherence in international trade and investment between Mongolia and other countries. “Additional commitments address the application of disciplines on bribery and corruption.” This type of administrative and legal modernization and the incorporation of measures to prevent and correct corruption are exemplary measures that could be helpful to the DPRK and other countries that are unfamiliar with or lagging in appropriate frameworks for doing business with diverse international actors.

Maintaining sovereignty between giants
China and Russia have vied for influence over Mongolia for many decades, from the time when Mongolia was in the Soviet sphere in influence to the present. Although 89 percent of foreign trade in 2013 was with China and Russia provides about 75 percent of Mongolia’s gasoline and diesel fuel and much of its electricity, Ulaanbaatar is assertively broadening and deepening its economic interests with the two big neighbors, especially greater transportation access and cheaper costs (vital to the landlocked nation), participation in the development of the New Silk Road corridor, and the construction of a Russian oil and gas pipeline through Mongolia that reaches China. All three countries have mutual interests and investments in developing Mongolia’s well-endowed mining industry.

But being sandwiched between two giants means Mongolia has to be prudent in preserving its sovereignty and independence, and Ulaanbaatar has done so in practical ways, balancing the two large powers’ interests with its own. The 2010 National Security Concept’s “One-Third Clause” sets a clear limit on the proportion of foreign direct investment from any one country: one-third. Legislation limits (foreign) state-owned companies from gaining control of strategic assets. And as numerous bilateral security and military cooperation agreements link Mongolia with China and Russia, UB has strategically and legally created elbow room for its autonomy. The government’s National Security and Foreign Policy Concepts outline a specific policy of not allowing foreign troops the use of its territory. Such preservationist measures to maintain sovereignty and independence in economic and security terms would be welcome examples to a North Korea which zealously prioritizes national sovereignty.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sourcing Misinformation from Japan's Rightwing

Denying cannibalism by Japanese troops is popular trope used by Japan's Rightwingers to discredit the book and film Unbroken. The net-uyoku have accused the author of Unbroken of spreading a lie about Japanese having a “custom” of cannibalism. They proudly declare that Japan has no "food culture" of cannibalism, thus it is simply untrue that Imperial Japanese soldiers and sailors consumed POWs out of hunger or triumph. This denial is at the heart of the online petition to ban the movie in Japan. However, neither the book nor the movie depict acts of cannibalism.

Unbroken is a biography of Olympian and former American POW of Japan Louis Zamperini. The author, Laura Hillenbrand, tries to capture in one paragraph (p 315), the litany of abuses heaped upon those captured by the Japanese. One clause in one sentence refers to "eaten alive in ritual acts of cannibalism." Nowhere else is this mentioned.

The book has not been translated into Japanese nor has the film been shown in Japan. Thus, what is the source of this misperception?

It seems that it can be traced to an one-word mistranslation in a book review of Unbroken in Wedge, a conservative magazine published by a subsidiary of JR Central [see below]. The honorary chairman of JR Central is Yoshiyuki Kasai and the then-adviser to the magazine was Tomohiko Taniguchi. Kasai is a confidante of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Taniguchi is in charge of the government's international public relations. 

Neither man has moved to clear up this misunderstanding. Both are deeply concerned with Japan's global public image. The result is that the campaign  against Unbroken is intensifying and in December a book was published embellishing the false notion that Unbroken is part of a campaign to dishonor Japan. This view is part of a greater ideology that the war crimes trials were based of falsified information and the product of victor's justice.

Unfortunately, reports of cannibalism are true. Officers were prosecuted in war crimes trials and hanged. Imperial Japan's excessive abuse of its military and civilian prisoners is also true.

The following, for scholarly understanding and analysis, is a provisional, annotated translation of the Wedge article that propagated the campaign against Unbroken.

Very Popular Book In U.S.A. Stirs-up Anti-Japan Feelings
-- Japanese Military's Abuse of POWs, Why Bring It Up Now?

Wedge Magazine, February 20, 2011
By Soichiro MORIKAWA -- Journalist who has experience of living in New York during the time of IT Bubble
Link: 反日感情をあおる本が米国で大人気

* * * * * * * * * *
COLUMN: What best-seller books are being read in America? Learn about trends/signs of the times. You think you know, but may not really know, the true state of affairs in America -- and this is essential for thinking about Japan.
* * * * * * * * * *

"UNBROKEN", by Laura Hillenbrand, published by Random House. $27.00

A non-fiction book which describes the true story, in great detail, how a Japanese soldier abused a U.S. POW during World War II. It is unmistakably a book which will certainly heighten anti-Japanese feelings in America, and is being widely-read in the U.S. It is a special category book listed in the New York Times weekly non-fiction bestseller list, and has ranked in the top-five for thirteen-straight weeks. Most recently it dropped to number two, but for six weeks before that it was at the top of the list.


Louis Zamperini, is currently a healthy 93-year-old American man of Italian ancestry. The book follows/describes the misfortunes he experienced during his lifetime -- in particular how he had to deal with inhumane treatment as a POW held by the Imperial Japanese military.

As a young 19-year-old middle-distance runner, he raced in the 1936 Berlin Olympics as part of the U.S.A.'s team. He did not win a medal, but his hard-running style drew the attention of Adolf Hitler, who was watching from the stands -- and there is an anecdote that later on,

Hitler shook Zamperini's hand.

Thereafter, Zamperini continued to train as a runner, hoping to compete in teh 1940 Olympics, which were schedule to be held in Tokyo -- but due to the Japan-China War, those games were postponed, and he joined the U.S. Army Air Force. However, bad luck later struck when his aircraft developed engine trouble and it crashed. He eventually drifted ashore on Kwajalein Island, located in the Marshall Islands, about 3,900 KM southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii.

That was when Zamperini became a POW of the Japanese military, in a place which was called "Execution Island." Zamperini was not executed, once the Japanese military realized he was an Olympic athlete, and he was sent bakc to the mainland Japan.

After that, we had to survive being a POW, who was moved from place-to-place in camps at Ofuna, Omori, and Naoetsu, and eventually returned alive to America in August 1945. The book describes, in a cool/factual style, the numerous cases/examples of maltreatment Zamperini received while in the POW camps -- and, conversely, this really causes the image of the cruel Japanese soldiers to vividly emerge.

In particular, the most involved/powerful descriptions of abuse and cruelty are those which cover the actions of Japanese Corporal Mutsuhiro Watanabe, who came to be called "The Bird." The book calls Watanabe a sadist, who seemed to derive sexual pleasure feelings from punishing/tormenting the POWs. For example, the following is one example of innumerable POW-abuse scenes which
are written in the book:


"The Bird swung the belt backward, with the buckle on the loose end, and then whipped it around himself and forward, as if he were performing a hammer throw. The buckle rammed into Louie’s left temple and ear. Louie felt as if he had been shot in the head. Though he had resolved never to let the Bird knock him down, the power of blow, and the explosive pain that followed, overawed everything in him. His legs seemed to liquefy, and he went down. The room spun." (page 251)

Corporal Watanabe, aka "The Bird", made Zamperini his personal enemy, and almost every day he would beat Zamperini, and would also prevent him from receiving adequate amounts of food. The book also states that Japanese soldiers would seize food from International Red Cross relief packages, and prevent distribution of such food to the POWs.

The book further describes, using statistical information, to show that Japan's treatment of POWs was clearly much worse and cruel than Nazi Germany.

"In its rampage over the east, Japan had brought atrocity and death on a scale that staggers the imagination. In the midst of it were the prisoners of war. Japan held some 132,000 POWs from America, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Holland, and Australia. Of those, nearly 36,000 died, more than one in every four. Americans fared particularly badly; of the 34,648 Americans held by Japan, 12,935? more than 37 percent?died. By comparison, only 1 percent of Americans held by the Nazis and Italians died." (pages 314-315)

POWs were subjected to especially cruel treatment, supposedly, as described in the following passage...

"Thousands of other POWs were beaten, burned, stabbed, or clubbed to death, shot, beheaded, killed during medical experiments, or eaten alive in ritual acts of cannibalism. And as a result of being fed grossly inadequate and befouled food and water, thousands more died of starvation and easily preventable diseases." (page 315)

** TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: Here Mr. Morikawa (mis)translated the phrase "ritual acts of cannibalism" as hito-kui fushu de-- he used the word fushu for :ritual", but, fushu's meaning is customary, or common practice -- which does not really match the nuance of ritual.**

The book then tries to explain why the Japanese military's abuse of POWs occurred so routinely/commonly. As is shown in the following quote, the cause can be seen from one aspect of the Japanese military's unique "culture": "In the Japanese military of that era, corporal punishment was routine practice. “Iron must be beaten while it’s hot; soldiers must be beaten while they’re fresh” was a saying among servicemen. “No strong soldiers,” went another, “are made without beatings.” For all Japanese soldiers, especially low-ranking ones, beating was inescapable, often a daily event." (page 194)

Since Japanese soldiers themselves routinely experienced being beaten, their resentment/anger was thereafter directed at the POWs.

This writer, Morikawa, at the time of reading this section of the book, recalled reading the war novel: "The Human Condition", by Junpei Gomikawa, which described the irrational/unreasonable aspects of the army, and I found myself nodding in agreement with what was written about the reality/true nature of the Japanese military in UNBROKEN.


However, I cannot accept the logic deployed by the book that: since POWs were abused/treated cruelly, therefore, the large-scale bombings of Tokyo and other cities, and the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unavoidable.

For example, the book tells of a newly-released POW, right after the end of the war, travelling by train through central Hiroshima after the dropping of the a-bomb, and looking at the scene he said:

“Nothing! It was beautiful.”

The American POW felt it was due to the A-bombings that he was able to meet/reach the end of the war, where he were released from captivity. So this is the deep emotion he had when he saw devastated nothingness of the central explosion area -- and to him it looked beautiful. The book records the ex-POW's comment using the following expression:

“I know it’s not right to say it was beautiful, because it really wasn’t. But I believed the end probably justified the means.” (p320)


The typical thinking/logic of America's conservative class can be seen in the assertion that the A-bombings were unavoidable actions, which were required to end the war. While UNBROKEN goes into great detail explaining the abuse of POWs by Japanese soldiers, it does not mention at all that hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed by the A-bombings. The following passage from the book is written as if to say that, from the start, the Japanese government was really responsible for the victims of the A-bombings:

"That same night, B-29s showered leaflets over thirty-five Japanese cities, warning civilians of coming bombings and urging them to evacuate. The Japanese government ordered civilians to turn the leaflets in to authorities, forbade them from sharing the warnings with others, and arrested anyone with leaflets in their possession. Among the cities listed on the leaflets were Hiroshima and Nagasaki." (page 297)

To be honest, this writer, Morikawa, had no previous knowledge about the issue of how Japan handled/treated POWs during the Second World War. So, I had numerous confused/bewildered thoughts as I read UNBROKEN. I also have no ability to judge/verify the statistical information which was cited in the book.

Furthermore, what I cannot understand is why this book was published at this time -- and, beyond that, that fact of how it has become a top best-seller.

Japanese should take notice/be aware that such a book is selling well in America. I think it would be wise for Japan's MOFA to read and analyze the contents of UNBROKEN, and then develop a countermeasures plan as part of a diplomatic strategy to improve the image of Japan.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Shape of Japan to Come

by Alexis Dudden, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut and APP member

First published in The New York Times

January 16, 2015

TOKYO- Bolstered by his party's victory in Diet elections last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has renewed his vow to free Japan from the fetters of the past, especially its defeat in World War II. Mr. Abe and his supporters view the prevailing accounts of that era as "masochistic" and a hindrance to taking pride in what he calls the "new Japan." They propose to modify the article in Japan's Constitution that sates the Japanese people "forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation."

These aspirations have been laid out in a map of Japan that the Japanese Foreign Ministry published on its website last April, with translations in 12 languages. The map extends beyond Japan's internationally recognized boundaries, incorporating in the name of ryodo - or the "inherent territory" of Japan - many islands claimed by neighboring countries. Those lands, the argument goes, are integral to Japan's very being.

In fact, the Abe government's expansionist view undermines Japan's interests, both economic and strategic.

Ryodo promotes a notion of Japan's territory that circumvents history, particularly the history of how Japan laid claim to these islands in the first place - through imperial wars with China and Russia, through wars of conquest against Koreans, through the extermination or assimilation of indigenous peoples.

Partly as a result, Japan is embroiled in many territorial disputes. China and Taiwan contest the Senkaku Islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyu and Taipei and Diaoyutai. South Korea claims Takeshima (calling it Dokdo) where it has stationed military police since 1954. Russia claims sovereignty over what Japanese know as the Northern Territories, four islands in the Kuril chain northeast of Hokkaido where Russians have lived since 1945, numbering about 20,000 today.

Under the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Japan already has access to vast fisheries and rides up to $3.6 trillion in seabed materials. The disputed islands would add much more.

'Inherent' Japan
Tokyo is more aggressively claiming island groups that have long been in territorial dispute. The government highlighted these 3 areas on a new map.

Sources: ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan:
According to some estimates, including by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the East China Sea holds 200 million barrels in proved and probable oil reserves (the world consumes around 90 million barrels of liquid fuels each day) and between 1 and 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (the United States consumed about 26 trillion cubic feet in 2013). Japan and China contest nearly 17 percent of the sea.

A volcano on one of the southern Kurils has rhenium, a rare-earth metal with a melting point that makes jet-engine designers dream. There are also vast quantities of untapped methane hydrate in the seabed between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. After gas was extracted from similar deposits elsewhere for the first time in 2013, a spokesman for the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation said, "Japan could finally have an energy source to call its own."

The lure of such riches might seem like reason enough for resource-poor Japan to claim these territories. The government spent $250 billion on imported fuel in 2012. And the cost of decommissioning the nuclear reactors at Fukushima after the meltdown following the March 2011 tsunami is expected to reach at least $90 billion. 

Yet Japan risks losing access to many of these resources because of its brinksmanship. UNCLOS does not determine sovereignty over land, and it allows for joint development agreements in waters around contested territory. When disputes heat up, however, they naturally tend to scuttle any joint schemes.

In 2008 China and Japan agreed to explore together four gas fields in the East China Sea. But the project was scuttled the following year, after China went at it alone. Mr. Abe's maximalist policy only undermines the prospects that his development project could be revived, or that new ones involving Japan might be struck.

The costs of Mr. Abe's territorial revisionism are also strategic. Ryodo implicitly dismisses as partial the terms of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, which formally ended World War II between Japan and the Allies. The agreement redrew Japan from the massive empire it had become during the war - stretching from northern China to Guadalcanal - more or less into the country familiar today. (Some islands, notably Okinawa, reverted to Japan in the intervening years.) Many Japanese at the time, including Mr. Abe's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi - who was accused of being a Class A war criminal -  were infuriated, claiming in particular that the Kurils were "essential" to the Japanese.

In a separate agreement that went into force at the same time, the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty of 1951, the United States would "maintain armed forces of its own in and about Japan" in order "to deter armed attack upon Japan." By the time the treaty was revised in 1960, Japan had acquired limited self-defense forces, and the two countries undertook various commitments in case of "an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan." These still stand today, hence the critical importance also for the U.S. government of properly defining what Japan is.

Officials in Washington and Tokyo are currently reviewing each side's responsibilities in the event of the threat of the peace and security of Japan. One fraught issue is the United States' dual obligation, under separate security arrangements, to defend both Japan and South Korea because one could attack the other over territory they both claim. In other words, the very notion of ryodo challenges the United States' postwar security commitments even as it risks triggering them.

Mr. Abe's revanchist view of the past is central to his vision of a future in which Japan "once again shines on the world's center stage." But it distorts history in a way that undermines the country's major interests and, arguably, its identity. The constitutional changes advocated by Mr. Abe's party include an "obligation" for citizens of Japan to "defend the nation's inherent territory, inherent seas and inherent skies," disputed islands and all. The proposed draft adds that, "All citizens must honor the Constitution," suggesting that failure to do so could endanger their rights, maybe their citizenship. In his bid to claim more for Japan, Mr. Abe may reap less.