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  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Legislation to reform Japan Post is again gathering steam in Tokyo. The real question is whether the latest act in this long- running drama will represent true reform or in fact will camouflage an entrenchment of Japan Post's formidable monopoly powers. Antireform proposals being lined up for consideration in the Diet would indefinitely extend effective government control of Japan Post's financial arms (thereby reversing the Koizumi era reforms). On the other hand, reform forces in the Japanese government want new legislation to guarantee a level playing field in banking and insurance between Japan Post and private firms, whether domestic or foreign.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Natural Disasters
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: With the outlook for exports subdued and investment weak, we expect industrial output growth to slow further in 2012H1. But consumption is taking up the slack and fiscal policy is set to be supportive. As a result, we only expect a relatively modest slowing in growth in 2012 to 8.4% from 9.2% in 2011. But with house prices still falling in December, we remain concerned about the risk of a sharp slowing in the property market leading to strains on local government finances and a hard landing for growth, particularly with the external environment weak. However, central government finances are strong and fiscal transfers could provide a significant cushion in the event of a property bust.
  • Topic: Communism, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Global Recession
  • Political Geography: China, Israel
  • Author: Kiyoaki Aburaki
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: “Decide when it is time to decide, draw a conclusion, don't postpone; this is the type of politics I want to create.” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made this declaration in a press conference on June 26 immediately after the passage of the consumption tax-hike bill in the Lower House of the Diet. Noda's conviction to pass a tax increase had a political cost: 57 lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) voted against the bill, while 15 DPJ members abstained. Former DPJ president Ichiro Ozawa, who leads the anti-tax-hike movement, and his followers created a deep rift within the ruling party over the tax legislation and subsequently damaged Noda's political power base by defecting from the party on July 2.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department's recently released Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 (CRT 2009) reveals several important trends in the evolution of global terrorism. The good news is that al-Qaeda is facing significant pressure, even as the organization and its affiliates and followers retain the intent and capability to carry out attacks. What remains to be seen is if the dispersion of the global jihadist threat from the heart of the Middle East to South Asia and Africa foreshadows organizational decline or revival for al-Qaeda itself and the radical jihadist ideology it espouses. How governments and civil society alike organize to contend with the changing threat will be central to this determination. The bad news is that governments and civil society remain woefully ineffective at reducing the spread and appeal of radical Islamist extremism.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Alexandru Luta
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The recent elections for the lower house of Japan's Diet herald the end of the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) domination of Japanese politics. The winner, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), aims to thoroughly reform the way the country is governed. The strategic goals of the DPJ's reform agenda are to shift the locus of policy-drafting away from civil servants to the legislature, and to bring the latter firmly under the control of the Prime Minister's Cabinet. In order to be able to work towards its strategic goal, the DPJ needs tactical victories to maintain its popularity with the electorate. The climate negotiations' high profile makes domestic climate policy a natural area for the DPJ to differentiate its political brand from that of the LDP. Just as with governance reform, the DPJ has time and again asserted its commitment to pro-active climate goals both in pre-and post-electoral speeches, at home and abroad. Therefore it is very likely to continue pouring political capital into this policy area. The division between major ministries about how to formulate Japanese climate policy presents a willing Cabinet with structural advantages to assert its leadership successfully. The wider reforms currently being implemented further strengthen the new government's position. There are some factors that might limit the ability of Japan's new leadership to fight climate change. These include how their relationship with domestic media outlets shapes their approval ratings, how the positions of other stakeholders develop, how other electoral promises conflict with the new climate platform, and how the climate negotiations progress on the international level.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, Asia
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 4, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas marked the anniversary of the 1967 War by making a surprise call for dialogue with Hamas. In response to multiple challenges to his authority -- impasse on the peace process, ongoing dissent within Fatah, and regional pressure to resolve the internal Palestinian conflict -- Abbas has abandoned his demands for Hamas to return Gaza to its pre-June 2007 condition and apologize for its violent coup. However, a gulf remains between Hamas and Fatah, and it is unlikely that renewed dialogue can bridge the gap. Abbas's move may be an effort to pressure the United States to become more involved, and to maintain a fallback position if peace is not achieved. Accordingly, his call to Hamas should be seen as tactical, rather than a strategic, turning point toward Palestinian reconciliation.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, the democratically elected, pro-Western Lebanese government took the bold and unprecedented decision to confront Hizballah. Since its election in 2005, the government had avoided direct conflict with the well-armed Shiite militant political party, but several of the organization's activities -- including apparent preparations for yet another war with Israel -- led the government to provoke a showdown. In response to a May 8 cabinet statement that focused on Hizballah's "attack on the sovereignty of the state," the Shiite organization took to the streets. In the ensuing violence -- the most intense since Lebanon's civil war -- Hizballah began occupying parts of Beirut, leaving the future of Lebanon in doubt.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon, Beirut
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A month after visiting Washington, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayad continues to face significant political, economic, and security challenges to his reform plan. Fatah, the ruling political party in the West Bank, has resisted many aspects of his agenda and is critical of his cabinet's composition and performance. And although Fayad has spearheaded several important initiatives, his plan is in jeopardy, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is still far from representing a compelling alternative to Hamas. To make matters worse, the PA has received just $260 million out of the $7.7 billion pledged during the December international donors conference in Paris, leaving the prime minister with month-to-month uncertainty about fulfilling the PA's salary commitments.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In April 2006, key donors including the US A, EU, and Canada suspended international aid to the Palestinian Authority government (PA), following the overwhelming victory of Hamas in parliamentary elections. The Government of Israel had previously suspended the transfer of the tax and customs revenues it collects on behalf of the PA.
  • Topic: Government, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: By electing a parliament dominated by Hamas, Palestinians have sharply challenged U.S. policy. The initial American reaction—undermining the new government—will leave the population in chaos, with various Palestinian groups vying for influence. Political constraints preclude anything but a Hamas government in the short term. But the Hamas victory should not be viewed as a defeat for the American vision of reform—which, indeed, may offer a path out of the current deadlock. The United States should develop a policy for the longer term to continue calming the Israeli- Palestinian conflict; maintain the Palestinian Authority; and work for political reform by focusing on the judiciary, media, and other institutions that are independent of the current regime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: After Hamas kidnapped nineteen-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25, Israeli forces launched an assault on Gaza to win his release. Arab condemnation was swift. Saudi Arabia's pro- government al-Jazira daily called Israel “a society of terrorists.” Egypt's state-controlled al-Gumhuriyah condemned Israel's “heinous crimes” in Gaza. Following a July 8 meeting in Tehran, foreign ministers from countries neighboring Iraq denounced the “brutal Israeli attacks.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Tehran, Gaza, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The governments on both of our “hot” fronts, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, are on the verge of change, with practical, immediate implications for Israel—and unfortunately, not positive ones. Rather, the storm clouds continue to gather on the strategic horizon.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 25, 2006, Jeffrey White, David Makovsky, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Jeffrey White is the Berrie Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and the coauthor, with Michael Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency. David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. He, like Jeffrey White, recently returned from a trip to Israel. Dennis Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 10, 2006, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, David Makovsky and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Institute, is the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. Mr. Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Rana Shaab, Nicholas Ravella, Nathan Hodson, Daniel Fink
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The outbreak of hostilities after Hizballah's July 12 raid into Israel, in which it captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others, has elicited a variety of responses from government officials and other prominent figures throughout the Middle East. Though it is not surprising to see harsh statements about Israel, it is unusual to see Arab leaders criticizing Hizballah for its role in precipitating the conflict. The usually cautious Saudi authorities implicitly criticized Hizballah for adventurism; is seems that Riyadh may be wary of Iranian influence. The following is a sampling of Middle Eastern reactions, compiled from various regional and international media sources.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: Samer Abu Libdeh
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even while Israelis and Palestinians are locked in deepening conflict over the kidnapping of a young Israeli soldier and the future of the Hamas government, political life on the East Bank of the Jordan River is increasingly focused on internal Jordanian concerns.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's pursuit of a referendum on the Palestinian National Accord has been widely interpreted by commentators and reporters as a power play designed to circumvent the Hamas-led government and force it to implicitly accept Israel's existence. But while the process of conducting a referendum -- the legality of which remains questionable -- would shift power away from the government and the legislature, the actual text of the document, which a group of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails negotiated, more closely resembles the political program of Hamas than that of Abbas. Moreover, Hamas has recovered from its initial surprise at the referendum initiative and has mounted an effective response, first by challenging the legality of a referendum, then by dragging Abbas into negotiations over the substance of the Accord. Despite a possible compromise that may emerge in coming days and shift the composition of the government or modify the language of the Accord, Hamas has used the internal Palestinian debate over a referendum to secure its internal legitimacy and advance many of its governing priorities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Elizabeth Young
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the international donor community struggles to determine its stance on aid to the Palestinians under the Hamas government, it is important to remember the extent to which the Palestinian economy is dependent upon Israeli decisions. Last year the international community gave the Palestinians $1.4 billion in aid; Israel has the potential to affect at least that sum through its policies on trade, Palestinian workers in Israel, and the tax revenue it collects.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In a surprise move prior to Israel's March 28 election, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unveiled a proposal that Israeli settlers be consolidated into West Bank settlement blocs largely adjacent to the Green Line. A week after the announcement, Israeli public reaction suggests his gamble seems to have paid off. According to a Yediot Ahronot poll released on March 17, Israelis favor Olmert's unilateralist proposal by a margin of 52 percent to 45 percent. Moreover, Olmert's poll standing was not negatively impacted by the proposal, despite the fact that it could mean the removal of an estimated 60,000 settlers from dozens of settlements scattered across the larger part of the West Bank outside Israel's security barrier. (Inside the Israeli security barrier, there are approximately 193,000 settlers, mostly in blocs, in the 8 percent of the West Bank largely adjacent to the pre-1967 boundaries. By comparison, President Clinton's final proposal in 2000 involved Israel keeping 5 percent of the land.) An Olmert security advisor and former Shin Bet head, Avi Dichter, says the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will not be withdrawn from the West Bank. Olmert was able to use his commanding lead to answer critics who say that the new party leader lacks Ariel Sharon's track record and therefore the authority to ask the public to trust his decisions. In the March 17 poll, Olmert's Kadima stood to win 39 seats in the 120-seat Knesset; Labor was polling at 19 seats and Likud, 15 seats. Olmert's standing was undoubtedly assisted by Israel's March 15 operation to seize from a Jericho prison the assassins of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi. Olmert hopes the operation will burnish his security credentials and undercut Netanyahu's argument that he is uniquely tough enough to challenge Hamas. (Olmert needs to be concerned about the 22 percent of Israelis who are undecided—the equivalent of twenty-five Knesset seats.)
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Emily Hunt
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Israelis assess the implications of Hamas's victory in January elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, a new threat may be developing in Lebanon. Al-Qaeda–linked terrorists have been present in Lebanon for a decade, but recent statements by Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi suggest that the dual objectives of destabilizing Arab regimes and targeting Israel proper are becoming top al-Qaeda priorities. Al-Zarqawi–linked terrorists in Lebanon have already engaged in low-level targeting of Israeli and Lebanese interests, yet several obstacles may hinder their ability to launch significant attacks in or from Lebanon. The Lebanese government, although weak, has a clear interest in preventing both internally and externally directed al-Qaeda activity. The dynamic among Hizballah, the Palestinians, and al-Qaeda remains more ambiguous, but early signs suggest potential antagonism among the groups. Together, Israel and the United States may be able to help Lebanon contain this emerging threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Lebanon