Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mongolia & The Koreas

A Potential Breakthrough in Mongolia’s Relations With North and South Korea

By: Mendee Jargalsaikhany
First published by the Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 38
March 2, 2015

Mongolia takes a resolutely middle road when it comes to North and South Korea. It values its long-standing relations with the North while developing its newly-declared strategic partnership with the South. Due to its geographic location, wedged between Russia and China, Mongolia is often considered a “regionless” state. Therefore, engaging the two Koreas is particularly important for Mongolia as it attempts to integrate itself into Northeast Asia as well as expand its foreign economic and cultural interactions beyond China. Until now, the two Koreas have been hesitant about engaging in trilateral engagements with Mongolia, while the other major powers have, heretofore, paid little attention to Ulaanbaatar’s constructive engagements with Seoul and Pyongyang. However, the series of diplomatic initiatives that transpired over the past year suggest that the members to the Six Party Talks on de-nuclearizing North Korea—the United States, China, Russia, Japan, and North and South Korea—are changing their attitude toward Mongolia’s efforts. Meanwhile, both the Republic of Korea (ROK—South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK—North Korea) are evidently beginning to seek increasing economic opportunities in and with Mongolia.

In 2014, key international players began to publicly commend Mongolia’s sustained diplomacy, which does not isolate North Korea. Notably, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recognized Mongolia’s role in facilitating and hosting several meetings between Japan and the DPRK, especially for talks on the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese citizens (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 24, 2014). Mongolia hosted three rounds of meeting between Japan and North Korea in 2007–2012, and a secret meeting between the abductees and their Japanese relatives in March 2014 (Japan Times, March 26, 2014). Even though Mongolia’s diplomatic efforts seemed to attract little to no attention from the United States, they have been well received in the Japanese media.

It should also be noted that last year, Mongolia organized the so-called Ulaanbaatar Dialogue, involving all Northeast Asian states. The Ulaanbaatar Dialogue’s track II format includes a city mayors’ forum, women parliamentarian meetings, and a numerous sporting activities; and North Korea actively participated in all of these programs. Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly expressed his support for the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue initiative during his August 2014 visit to the Mongolian capital, as well as during a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Dushanbe, last September (Ikon, 22 August 2014; Dushanbe SCO Summit Press Release, September 12, 2014).

South Korean and Russian attitudes toward Mongolia’s regional role are also changing. In particular, Seoul seems to regard Ulaanbaatar as a valued partner for its Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Engagement Initiative (NAPCI) as well as its Eurasia Initiative (Yonhap News, August 26, 2014). Meanwhile, with the upsurge in political contacts between Russia and the DPRK in 2014, Moscow has supported Mongolia’s engagement with North Korea (38 North, November 6, 2014). Indeed, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Ulaanbaatar last September, both sides even agreed to collaborate on using the North Korean Rason port (Ikon, September 3, 2014). Both North Korea and Mongolia, as Russia’s traditional geopolitical pivots to Northeast Asia, welcome Russia’s engagement. Whereas, it is clearly in Russia’s interest to transform North Korea from a roadblock to an entryway for reaching non-Chinese markets across Northeast Asia.

Even Mongolia’s view in Washington has been undergoing a moderate shift. US policymakers are now weighing the options of using Mongolia as: 1) an example for political and economic transitions, 2) a venue for dialogue on economic cooperation, and/or 3) a staging area for humanitarian activities in the wider region (Brookings Op-Ed, No. 84, January 2015; CSIS, December 3, 2014).

With these increasingly positive attitudes among all the major players, Mongolia may be able to capitalize on its secure domestic and political situation, as well as its political neutrality toward both Koreas, in order to strengthen its ties with potential partners across Northeast Asia. At the same time, Ulaanbaatar hopes to be able to provide more opportunities for trilateral collaboration among Mongolia, the ROK and the DPRK, especially in areas of sustainable development.

In mid-January 2015, a North Korean aircraft picked up 104 heads of cattle from Mongolia, the first shipment of 10,000 promised animals to help the DPRK develop its animal husbandry sector as a part of Mongolia’s humanitarian assistance package to this country (News.mn, January 13). Although Mongolia provided livestock (goats) to North Korea in the past, this time both sides aim to implement a much larger project, which will help the DPRK build up its long-term food-production capacity. With its traditional experience in the animal husbandry industry, Mongolia raises 51.9 million grazing animals and is re-building its export capacity to Chinese, Russian and Japanese markets (National Statistics Office of Mongolia, January 2015).

Another area that both Koreas are interested in is the leasing of fertile Mongolian land—especially along the major river basins in the eastern and northern parts the landlocked Asian country. Under a four-year-old agreement between the ROK’s Korea-Mongolia Agricultural Development Initiatives (KMADI) and the local government of Mongolia’s Dornod province, South Korea leased 30,000 hectares of land in eastern Mongolia to develop eco-friendly agriculture and livestock breeding (Korea IT Times, March 11, 2011). In the long run, the project aims to bring South Korean capital and technology into Mongolia with a long-term objective of creating sustainable sources of agricultural and livestock production.

Finally, about 30–40 thousand Mongolians live in South Korea, and 3,000 South Koreans and 2,000 North Koreans reside (or work) in Mongolia. Moreover, South Korea is becoming a major gateway for Mongolians to reach the Asia-Pacific region and North America: 65,000 Mongolians travel to and through Seoul every year. Currently, there are 20 flights in the summer and 12 in the winter between Seoul and Ulaanbaatar. Thus, South Korea has grown into one of Mongolia’s largest trading partners and has increased its investment in the landlocked country’s mining, infrastructure and services sectors. Although on a smaller scale, Mongolian businesses are also eyeing investments in North Korea, if Pyongyang gradually opens up its economy.

If these trends continue, Mongolia may appeal for even more economic and cultural collaboration with the two Koreas. And there appears to be ever greater potential for collaboration on sustainable economic projects such as agriculture, tourism and infrastructure development.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Monday in Washington, March 2, 2015

AIPAC POLICY CONFERENCE 2015. 3/1-3/3. Sponsor: American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC).

BUILDING A CAREER OVERSEAS WITH USAID. 3/2, 9:00-10:30am. Sponsor: CSIS's Project on US Leadership in Development. Speakers: Herbie Smith, Director, Mission to Yemen, USAID; Tamra Halmrast-Sanchez, Deputy Director, Mission to Yemen, USAID. 

INNOVATION IN A RULES-BOUND WORLD: HOW REGULATORY IMPROVEMENT CAN SPUR GROWTH. 3/2, 9:30am-2:30pm. Sponsor: Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). Speakers: Sen. Angus King, (I-Maine); Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, (D-AZ); Will Marshall, President and Founder of Progressive Policy Institute; Michael Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist for Progressive Policy Institute; Jason Wiens, Policy Director in Research and Policy for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Adam Theirer, Senior Research Fellow with the Technology Policy Prigram at the Mercatus Center at George Mason; Cary Coglianese, Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania; Megan McArdle, View Columnist for Bloomberg; Joseph Gulfo, Former CEO of Mela Sciences; Robert Graboyes, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason; Toby Bloom, Deputy Scientific Director of the New York Genome Center.

THE FED IN THE 21ST CENTURY: INDEPENDENCE, GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY. 3/2, 10:00am-12:30pm. Sponsor: Brookings Institution. Speakers: Charles Plosser, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; Peter Conti-Brown, Fellow, Stanford Law School; Jeremy Stein, Professor of Economics, Harvard University; Viral Acharya, Professor of Economics, New York University; Former Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA; Ben Bernanke, Fellow in Economic Studies, Brookings; Ruth Porat, Executive Vice President and CFO, Margan Stanley; Sarah Binder, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings.

THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS AND A FUTURE PEACE PROCESS IN THE LIGHT OF PAST NEGOTIATIONS. 3/2, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center's Middle East Program. Speaker: Galia Golan, Chair, Program on Diplomacy and Conflict Studies, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. 

ASIA'S BRAVEST WOMEN: THE STORY BEHIND THE RISE OF YOUNG, FEMALE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IN ASIA. 3/2, 12:15-1:45pm. Sponsor: New America, Breadwinning and Caregiving Council. Speakers: Zin Mar Aung, Co-Founder of RAINFALL, Winner of the International Women of Courage Award in 2012, Co-Founder of Yangon School of Political Science; Catherine Antoine, Director and Managing Editor of Radio Free Asia; Binh T. Nguyen, Director of Human Rights for Vietnam Political Action Committee, Former Chair of the Virginia Asian Advisory Board, Director of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanity and Public Policies; Elizabeth Weingarten, Associate Director of Global Gender Parity Initiative.

MAKING VALUE FOR AMERICA: EMBRACING THE FUTURE OF MANUFACTURING, TECHNOLOGY, AND WORK. 3/2, 2:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: National Academy of Engineering. Speakers: Nick Donofrio, former Executive Vice President, Innovation and Technology, IBM; Steve Hoover, CEO, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC); Theresa Kotanchek, CEO, Evolved Analytics; Arun Majumdar, Professor, Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University; John Tracy, Chief Technology Officer, Boeing; Sharon Vosmek, CEO, Astia.

SHARI'A LAW IN ACEH. 3/2, 2:00-3:00pm. Sponsor: CSIS Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies. Speakers: Kira Kay, Director of the Bureau for International Reporting; Jason Maloney, Director of the Bureau for International Reporting; Andreas Harsono, Indonesia Researcher for Human Rights Watch.

RESILIENCE FOR PEACE: A NEW AGENDA. 3/2, 3:00-5:00pm. Sponsors: Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program; USAID's Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation. Speakers: Cynthia Brady, Senior Conflict Advisor, USAID; Sundaa Bridgett-Jones, Associate Director of International Development, Rockefeller Foundation; Melissa Brown, Director, Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation, USAID; Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of Population, Environmental Security and Resilience, Wilson Center; Jon Kurtz, Director of Research and Learning, Mercy Corps; Tom Staal, Acting Assistant Administrator, USAID.

THE MEANING OF NEVER AGAIN: GUARDING AGAINST A NUCLEAR IRAN. 3/2, 3:30pm. Sponsor: The World: The Values Network. Speakers: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX; Rep. Brad Sherman, D-CA; Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Laureate; Shmuley Boteach, Rabbi. 

INTERNET FREEDOM 2.1: LESSONS FROM ASIA’S DEVELOPING DEMOCRACIES. 3/2, 4:30-6:00pm. Sponsor: German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Speaker: Dhruva Jaishankar, Transatlantic Fellow of the Asia Program at GMF.

THE FUTURE OF THE FIGHT AGAINST ISIL. 3/2, 5:00-6:30pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Gen. John Allen, USMC (Ret.), Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, US Department of State; Frederick Kempe, President and CEO of Atlantic Council.

INSTITUTIONALIZING HEALTH AND EDUCATION FOR ALL: GLOBAL GOALS, INNOVATIONS, AND SCALING UP. 3/2, 5:30-7:00pm. Sponsor: GW International Education Program, International Development Studies. Speakers: author Colette Chabbott, Adjunct Professor, International Education, GW; Jennifer Brinkerhoff, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, GW.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

There is liberation in defeat: a lesson for Japan

From 1939 Weizsäcker served in the Potsdam Infantry Regiment 9,
which belonged to the 23rd Infantry Division. He took part in the
invasion of Poland and the struggle against the Soviet Union
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is expected in Washington the week of April 27th. He would like to speak to a joint session of Congress, something no Japanese has ever done. If he does, expectations are high. His speech will need to be transcendant and reflective. It cannot merely talk about the future. It would be wise, therefore, for the prime minister's staff to study German President Richard von Weizsäcker's seminal 1985 speech on the war's lessons and consequences.

Speech in the Bundestag on 8 May 1985 during the Ceremony Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the End of War in Europe and of National-Socialist Tyranny

Many nations are today commemorating the date on which World War II ended in Europe. Every nation is doing so with different feelings, depending on its fate. Be it victory or defeat, liberation from injustice and alien rule or transition to new dependence, division, new alliances, vast shifts of power - 8 May 1945 is a date of decisive historical importance for Europe.

We Germans are commemorating that date amongst ourselves, as is indeed necessary. We must find our own standards. We are not assisted in this task if we or others spare our feelings. We need and we have the strength to look truth straight in the eye – without embellishment and without distortion.

For us, the 8th of May is above all a date to remember what people had to suffer. It is also a date to reflect on the course taken by our history. The greater honesty we show in commemorating this day, the freer we are to face the consequences with due responsibility. For us Germans, 8 May is not a day of celebration. Those who actually witnessed that day in 1945 think back on highly personal and hence highly different experiences. Some returned home, others lost their homes. Some were liberated, whilst for others it was the start of captivity. Many were simply grateful that the bombing at night and fear had passed and that they had survived. Others felt first and foremost grief at the complete defeat suffered by their country. Some Germans felt bitterness about their shattered illusions, whilst others were grateful for the gift of a new start.

It was difficult to find one's bearings straight away. Uncertainty prevailed throughout the country. The military capitulation was unconditional, placing our destiny in the hands of our enemies. The past had been terrible, especially for many of those enemies, too. Would they not make us pay many times over for what we had done to them? Most Germans had believed that they were fighting and suffering for the good of their country. And now it turned out that their efforts were not only in vain and futile, but had served the inhuman goals of a criminal regime. The feelings of most people were those of exhaustion, despair and new anxiety. Had one's next of kin survived? Did a new start from those ruins make sense at all? Looking back, they saw the dark abyss of the past and, looking forward, they saw an uncertain, dark future.

Yet with every day something became clearer, and this must be stated on behalf of all of us today: the 8th of May was a day of liberation. It liberated all of us from the inhumanity and tyranny of the National-Socialist regime.

Nobody will, because of that liberation, forget the grave suffering that only started for many people on 8 May. But we must not regard the end of the war as the cause of flight, expulsion and deprivation of freedom. The cause goes back to the start of the tyranny that brought about war. We must not separate 8 May 1945 from 30 January 1933.

There is truly no reason for us today to participate in victory celebrations. But there is every reason for us to perceive 8 May 1945 as the end of an aberration in German history, an end bearing seeds of hope for a better future.


8 May is a day of remembrance. Remembering means recalling an occurrence honestly and undistortedly so that it becomes a part of our very beings. This places high demands on our truthfulness.

Today we mourn all the dead of the war and the tyranny. In particular we commemorate the six million Jews who were murdered in German concentration camps. We commemorate all nations who suffered in the war, especially the countless citizens of the Soviet Union and Poland who lost their lives. As Germans, we mourn our own compatriots who perished as soldiers, during air raids at home, in captivity or during expulsion. We commemorate the Sinti and Romany gypsies, the homosexuals and the mentally ill who were killed, as well as the people who had to die for their religious or political beliefs. We commemorate the hostages who were executed. We recall the victims of the resistance movements in all the countries occupied by us. As Germans, we pay homage to the victims of the German resistance – among the public, the military, the churches, the workers and trade unions, and the communists. We commemorate those who did not actively resist, but preferred to die instead of violating their consciences.

Alongside the endless army of the dead mountains of human suffering arise – grief at the dead, suffering from injury or crippling or barbarous compulsory sterilization, suffering during the air raids, during flight and expulsion, suffering because of rape and pillage, forced labour, injustice and torture, hunger and hardship, suffering because of fear of arrest and death, grief at the loss of everything which one had wrongly believed in and worked for. Today we sorrowfully recall all this human suffering.

Perhaps the greatest burden was borne by the women of all nations. Their suffering, renunciation and silent strength are all too easily forgotten by history. Filled with fear, they worked, bore human life and protected it. They mourned their fallen fathers and sons, husbands, brothers and friends. In the years of darkness, they ensured that the light of humanity was not extinguished. After the war, with no prospect of a secure future, women everywhere were the first to set about building homes again, the "rubble women" in Berlin and elsewhere. When the men who had survived returned, women had to take a back seat again. Because of the war, many women were left alone and spent their lives in solitude. Yet it is first and foremost thanks to the women that nations did not disintegrate spiritually on account of the destruction, devastation, atrocities and inhumanity and that they gradually regained their foothold after the war.


At the root of the tyranny was Hitler's immeasurable hatred against our Jewish compatriots. Hitler had never concealed this hatred from the public, but made the entire nation a tool of it. Only a day before his death, on 30 April 1945, he concluded his socalled will with the words: "Above all, I call upon the leaders of the nation and their followers to observe painstakingly the race laws and to oppose ruthlessly the poisoners of all nations: international Jewry." Hardly any country has in its history always remained free from blame for war or violence. The genocide of the Jews is, however, unparalleled in history.

The perpetration of this crime was in the hands of a few people. It was concealed from the eyes of the public, but every German was able to experience what his Jewish compatriots had to suffer, ranging from plain apathy and hidden intolerance to outright hatred. Who could remain unsuspecting after the burning of the synagogues, the plundering, the stigmatization with the Star of David, the deprivation of rights, the ceaseless violation of human dignity? Whoever opened his eyes and ears and sought information could not fail to notice that Jews were being deported. The nature and scope of the destruction may have exceeded human imagination, but in reality there was, apart from the crime itself, the attempt by too many people, including those of my generation, who were young and were not involved in planning the events and carrying them out, not to take note of what was happening. There were many ways of not burdening one's conscience, of shunning responsibility, looking away, keeping mum. When the unspeakable truth of the Holocaust then became known at the end of the war, all too many of us claimed that they had not known anything about it or even suspected anything.

There is no such thing as the guilt or innocence of an entire nation. Guilt is, like innocence, not collective, but personal. There is discovered or concealed individual guilt. There is guilt which people acknowledge or deny. Everyone who directly experienced that era should today quietly ask himself about his involvement then.

The vast majority of today's population were either children then or had not been born. They cannot profess a guilt of their own for crimes that they did not commit. No discerning person can expect them to wear a penitential robe simply because they are Germans. But their forefathers have left them a grave legacy. All of us, whether guilty or not, whether old or young, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it. The young and old generations must and can help each other to understand why it is vital to keep alive the memories. It is not a case of coming to terms with the past. That is not possible. It cannot be subsequently modified or made undone. However, anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present. Whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to new risks of infection.

The Jewish nation remembers and will always remember. We seek reconciliation. Precisely for this reason we must understand that there can be no reconciliation without remembrance. The experience of millionfold death is part of the very being of every Jew in the world, not only because people cannot forget such atrocities, but also because remembrance is part of the Jewish faith.

"Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance." This oft quoted Jewish adage surely expresses the idea that faith in God is faith in the work of God in history. Remembrance is experience of the work of God in history. It is the source of faith in redemption. This experience creates hope, creates faith in redemption, in reunification of the divided, in reconciliation. Whoever forgets this experience loses his faith.

If we for our part sought to forget what has occurred, instead of remembering it, this would not only be inhuman. We would also impinge upon the faith of the Jews who survived and destroy the basis of reconciliation. We must erect a memorial to thoughts and feelings in our own hearts.


The 8th of May marks a deep cut not only in ,German history but in the history of Europe as a whole. The European civil war had come to an end, the old world of Europe lay in ruins. "Europe had fought itself to a standstill" (M. Stürmer). The meeting of American and Soviet Russian soldiers on the Elbe became a symbol for the temporary end of a European era.

True, all this was deeply rooted in history. For a century Europe had suffered under the clash of extreme nationalistic aspirations. At the end of the First World War peace treaties were signed but they lacked the power to foster peace. Once more nationalistic passions flared up and were fanned by the distress of the people at that time. 

Along the road to disaster Hitler became the driving force. He wipped up and exploited mass hysteria. A weak democracy was incapable of stopping him. And even the powers of Western Europe – in Churchill's judgement unsuspecting but not without guilt – contributed through their weakness to this fateful trend. After the First World War America had withdrawn and in the thirties had no influence on Europe. 

Hitler wanted to dominate Europe and to do so through war. He looked for and found an excuse in Poland. On 23 May 1939 he told the German generals: "No further successes can be gained without bloodshed... Danzig is not the objective. Our aim is to extend our Lebensraum in the East and safeguard food supplies... So there is no question of sparing Poland; and there remains the decision to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity... The object is to deliver the enemy a blow, or the annihilating blow, at the start. In this, law, injustice or treaties do not matter." 

On 23 August 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact. The secret supplementary protocol made provision for the impending partition of Poland. That pact was made to give Hitler an opportunity to invade Poland. The Soviet leaders at the time were fully aware of this. And all who understood politics realized that the implications of the German-Soviet pact were Hitler's invasion of Poland and hence the Second World War. 

That does not mitigate Germany's responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War. The Soviet Union was prepared to allow other nations to fight one another so that it could have a share of the spoils. The initiative for the war, however, came from Germany, not from the Soviet Union. It was Hitler who resorted to the use of force. The outbreak of the Second World War remains linked with the name of Germany. 

In the course of that war the Nazi regime tormented and defiled many nations. At the end of it all only one nation remained to be tormented, enslaved and defiled: the German nation. Time and again Hitler had declared that if the German nation was not capable of winning the war it should be left to perish. The other nations first became victims of a war started by Germany before we became the victims of our own war. 

The division of Germany into zones began on the 8th of May. In the meantime the Soviet Union had taken control in all countries of Eastern and South-eastern Europe that had been occupied by Germany during the war. All of them, with the exception of Greece, became socialist states. The division of Europe into two different political systems took its course. True, it was the post-war developments which cemented that division, but without the war started by Hitler it would not have happened at all. That is what first comes to the minds of the nations concerned when they recall the war unleashed by the German leaders. And we think of that too when we ponder the division of our own country and the loss of huge sections of German territory. In a sermon in East Berlin commemorating the 8th of May, Cardinal Meißner said: "The pathetic result of sin is always division."

Get your petition on for a message to the Abe Government

The Abe government believes that only the Koreans and the Chinese are annoyed with his administrations perceptions of history and responsibility. This is not true. Below are a number of petitions initiated in the West and signed by more than citizens of Asian ancestry.

PEARL HARBOR, WHO IS RESPONSIBLE? Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should make it clear if he wants to address a Joint Session of Congress.
Tell Speaker John Boehner that we should not allow Prime Minister Abe to address a joint session of Congress unless that
(1) he acknowledges the war criminals convicted in the Tokyo Tribunal as war criminals under all laws;
(2) he promises not to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine; and
(3) he publicly refutes all anti-American distortions of the history.
Coordinator: KACE (Korean American Civic Empowerment)

SAY NO TO ‘REVISIONIST HISTORY’ that glorifies Japan’s WWII aggression and war crimes! STOP Prime Minister Abe from miseducating Japan’s children #TruthTodayPeaceTomorrow
Coordinator: Eclipse Rising [Korean-Japanese-American, Zainichi, group]

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WAR CRIMES  of Sexual Slavery and Human Trafficking: Remember the "Comfort Women"
Coordinator: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW)

STOP THE BAN ON ANGELINA JOLIE'S MOVIE UNBROKEN, in Japan, petition to the Japan’s Ambassador to the United States.
Coordinator: The Indo Project

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just what is Japan's postwar?

EDITORIAL: Opposition must push Diet debate in postwar landmark year

The Asahi Shimbun, February 18, 2015

The ongoing debate in the Diet inevitably turns our attention to the significance of Japan’s 70 post-World War II years.

In his policy speech on Feb. 12, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for efforts to revitalize the economy, fix the social security system and rebuild education. He told the nation, “Let us together embark on the most drastic reforms since the end of World War II.”

What does the prime minister’s use of the qualifier “since the end of World War II” here signify? Given Abe’s track record of repeatedly calling for a “departure from the postwar regime” and his unmistakable interest in rewriting the Constitution, we believe his reforms are not so much about reviving the economy and fixing other urgent problems. Rather, it is only natural to assume that the ultimate goal of Abe’s reforms is to transform the very nature of our country that has been shaped over the last 70 years.

But is such a transformation right for Japan? At budget committee meetings and other sessions in the coming days, opposition parties must keep questioning the prime minister to find out what he really wants to do, and engage him in further debate.

Abe is already trying to fundamentally change Japan’s diplomatic and security policies in the name of “proactive pacifism.” His Cabinet has approved Japan’s right to participate in collective self-defense, adopted a new development cooperation charter to extend economic assistance to foreign militaries and eased the nation’s traditional arms exports ban. These are the “three arrows” with which the Abe administration has armed itself to pursue its new policies.

During a recent Diet debate, Katsuya Okada, president of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, objected to expanding the overseas activities of the Self-Defense Forces. He told Abe, “The danger of proactive pacifism lies in the fact that it pursues two separate goals simultaneously--Japan’s self-defense and world peace--as if they were one and the same.”

But Abe dismissed Okada’s argument out of hand. “You are mistaken,” he shot back. “Proactive peace diplomacy is what proactive pacifism is all about.”

As one example of a situation where Japan’s exercise of its right to collective self-defense may be anticipated, Abe cited SDF minesweeping operations in the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East. This is an issue on which Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party does not see eye to eye with its junior coalition partner, Komeito.

Minesweeping constitutes an exercise of armed force if conducted before a truce accord is in place. Is the legislature going to allow this? Komeito has been in discussions with the LDP, but Komeito must make its position clear in the Diet.

Where domestic issues are concerned, the rapidly growing income disparity is starting to change the fabric of society.

Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party, blamed Abe’s economic policy for “only causing the growing income disparity, nothing more.”

Abe retorted, “You cannot tell whether the disparity is really growing.” But who can truly believe and say that there is no inequality under Japan’s current taxation and employment systems?

Under Japan’s parliamentary Cabinet system, the Cabinet is formed by the majority camp in the Diet, which renders it difficult for opposition parties to make the government change its bills and policies.

Still, it is an important role of opposition parties to expose problems and flaws in government bills through debate to enable the public to form informed opinions. And it is definitely not what the prime minister disdainfully refers to as “argumentative nitpicking.”

In this landmark year when “postwar” as a concept could start changing, both the ruling and opposition camps bear a heavy responsibility in the Diet.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Monday in Washington, February 23, 2015

2015 CLIMATE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE. 2/23-2/25. Sponsors: The World Resources Institute; The Climate Registry; Association of Climate Change Officers; Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Speakers: Ray Mabus, Navy Secretary; Ralph Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences; Carol Browner, Former EPA Administrator; Mike Boots, Acting Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality.

ALGAE FOR BIOFUELS. 2/23, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: U.S.-Japan Research Institute (USJI). Speakers: Tony Haymet, Professor and Emeritus Vice-Chancellor at Scripps Oceanography UCSD; Peter Wilson, Professor at University of Tasmania and University of California San Diego; Yoshihiro Shiraiwa, Professor & Provost at Faculty of Life & Environmental Science and the University of Tsukuba.

EBOLA RAPID DIAGNOSTIC TESTS: WHAT LIES AHEAD? 2/23, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Global Health Policy Center, CSIS. Speakers: Michael Kurilla, Director, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases; Rosemary Humes, Diagnostic Science Advisor, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority; Gene Walther, Independent Consultant to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation on Ebola Diagnostics, Live Webcast.

MONETARY POLICY BASED ON THE TAYLOR RULE. 2/23, Noon-1:00pm. Sponsor: Heritage Foundation. Speakers: John Taylor, Professor of Economics, Stanford University; Norbert Michel, Research Fellow in Financial Regulations, Heritage.

STANDING UNDER ISIS NARRATIVES: IMPLICATIONS OF A NARRATIVE LENS FOR COUNTERING TERRORISM. 2/23, Noon-2:00pm. Sponsor: Women's Foreign Policy Group. Speaker: Sara Cobb, Director, Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University.

WHY IS ENDING HUNGER SO HARD? 2/23, 12:15-1:45pm. Sponsor: The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Speakers: Peter Timmer, Non-Resident Fellow, Center for Global Development; Rajul Pandya-Lorch, Head of the 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture and Environment Initiative, IFPRI.

THE GEOECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE OIL PRICE PLUNGE. 2/23, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsor: Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Speaker: Howard Gruenspecht, Deputy Administrator, Energy Information Administration, Live Webcast. 

CHALLENGES AGAINST POVERTY, MALNUTRITION AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES. 2/23, 2:00-3:00pm. Sponsor: U.S.-Japan Research Institute (USJI). Speakers: David Sack, Professor affiliated with the Department of International Health and at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Harunor Rashid, PhD candidate of the Clinical Science Program at the Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Science at the University of Tsukuba; Yukiko Wagatsuma, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine at University of Tsukuba.

AUTHORIZING MILITARY ACTION AGAINST ISIL: GEOGRAPHY, STRATEGY AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. 2/23, 2:00-3:00pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center (WWC). Speakers: Jane Harman, Director, President and CEO, WWC; David Barno, Former First Commander for Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan; Jeffrey Smith, Former General Counsel, CIA; Jim Scutto, Chief National Security Correspondent, CNN. 

THE STRUGGLE FOR ORDER: HEGEMONY, HIERARCHY AND TRANSITION IN POST-COLD WAR EAST ASIA. 2/23, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Wilson Center, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. Speakers: author Evelyn Goh, Public Policy Scholar and University Lecturer in International Relations for the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) at University of Oxford, Fellow at St. Anne's College in Oxford; Marvin Ott, Senior Scholar and Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins University, Former Professor of National Security Policy at the National War College, Former Faculty Fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute for National and Strategic Studies.

RED CHINA'S "CAPITALIST BOMB": INSIDE THE CHINESE NEUTRON BOMB PROGRAM. 2/23, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Speakers: Philip Saunders, Director, Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs, National Defense University; Jonathan Ray, Research Associate, Defense Group Inc.

COLLATERAL AND FINANCIAL PLUMBING. 2/23, 3:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Brookings Institution. Speakers: Author Manmohan Singh, Senior Financial Economist, IMF; Sandra O'Connor, Chief Regulatory Affairs Officer, JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Darrell Duffie, Professor of Finance, Stanford University; Sayee Srinivasan, Chief Economist, US Commodity Future Trading Commission.

RUSSIA'S SECURITY UNDER PUTIN: A BLURRING OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL SECURITIES. 2/23, 4:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Elliott School, George Washington University. Speaker: Aglaya Snetkov, Senior Research, Center for Security Studies.

THE STRATEGIST: BRENT SCOWCROFT AND THE CALL OF NATIONAL SECURITY. 2/23, 4:00-5:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. Speaker: Author Bartholomew Sparrow, Professor of Government, University of Texas.

JAPAN'S SECURITY POLICY AND THE JAPAN-U.S. ALLIANCE. 2/23, 6:00-7:00pm. Sponsor: U.S.-Japan Research Institute (USJI). Speaker: Isao Miyaoka, Professor at the Faculty of Law at Keio University.

OVERHEAD AND ONLINE: TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AND GAPS IN GLOBAL GOVERNANCE. 2/23, 6:00-7:30pm, Reception. Sponsor: GWU Elliot School. Speakers: Esther Brimmer, J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of International Affairs at GWU, Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs; Michael Barnett, University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at GWU.

TIME TO LISTEN: HEARING PEOPLE ON THE RECEIVING END OF INTERNATIONAL AID. 2/23, 6:30-8:00pm. Sponsor: Elliott School, George Washington University. Speaker: Co-Author Dayna Brown, CDA Collaborative Learning Projects. 

IS SHAME NECESSARY? NEW USES FOR AN OLD TOOL. 2/23, 7:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Politics & Prose. Speaker: author Professor Jennifer Jacquet, New York University.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015