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  • Author: Nicholas Szechenyi, Michael J. Green
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Prime Minister Abe focused intently on economic policy and led his Liberal Democratic Party to a resounding victory in the July Upper House election, securing full control of the Diet and a period of political stability that bodes well for his policy agenda. Multilateral gatherings in Asia yielded several opportunities for bilateral and trilateral consultations on security issues, and the economic pillar of the alliance also took shape with Japan's entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and discussions on energy cooperation. Comments on sensitive history issues sparked controversy but did not derail bilateral diplomacy. The nomination of Caroline Kennedy as US ambassador to Japan marks a new chapter in the relationship.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: James J. Przystup
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Repeated efforts by the Abe government to engage China in high-level dialogue failed to produce a summit meeting. While Tokyo remained firm in its position on the Senkakus, namely that there is no territorial issue that needs to be resolved, Beijing remained equally firm in its position that Japan acknowledge the existence of a dispute as a precondition for talks. In the meantime, Chinese and Japanese patrol ships were in almost daily contact in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands region, while issues related to history, Japan's evolving security policy, Okinawa, and the East China Sea continued to roil the relationship. By mid-summer over 90 percent of Japanese and Chinese respondents to a joint public opinion poll held negative views of each other.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China
  • Author: Jiun Bang, David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: South Korea-Japan relations have been frozen for some time and despite the summer heat, no thaw appears likely anytime soon. Although economic interactions continue to deepen between the two countries, and although there is a clear desire – and even a need – to coordinate policies toward North Korea and China, the two countries appear more focused on other issues as their main foreign policy priorities in the short-term. The two recently elected leaders have yet to meet for a summit, a sign that even a symbolic attempt to repair relations is proving difficult. Japanese Prime Minister Abe has grown stronger with a rousing Liberal Democratic Party victory in Upper House elections, yet a number of rhetorical controversies kept attention focused on Abe's foreign policy, particularly toward Korea and China. To date not much has changed and there is little evidence that either Seoul or Tokyo desires improved relations.
  • Topic: Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: Japan, America, South Korea
  • Author: Ralph A. Cossa, Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There was a brief period during the past four months –16 days to be precise – when it looked like a breakthrough was possible in the longstanding nuclear stalemate with North Korea; then Pyongyang reverted to form. Shortly after pledging to freeze all nuclear and missile tests, Pyongyang announced a satellite launch, pulling the rug out from under Washington (and itself) and business as usual (or unusual) returned to the Peninsula. The announcement also cast a shadow over the second Nuclear Security Summit hosted by Seoul while providing additional rationale for Washington's “pivot” toward Asia.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Washington, Taiwan, Beijing, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Michael J. Green, Nicholas Szechenyi
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There is an old Japanese saying that no one should be prepared “to wait even three years sitting on the rock” (“ishi no ue ni mo sannen”). After three tumultuous and frustrating years as the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) tried to find its sea legs, Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko finally made the first official visit to Washington of a Japanese prime minister since the spring 2009. Noda had his hands full this quarter: pursuing an increase in the consumption tax, trying to convince a wary public to support some continuation of nuclear power, cobbling together domestic support to move ahead with Japanese participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and facing the perennial struggle to make progress on relocating Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa. By the time of his Washington visit, Noda had started to line up support for the consumption tax backed off temporarily on TPP, and waited on restarting nuclear plants. However, he did manage to complete an agreement to move ahead with de-linking the move of about 9,000 US Marines to Guam and other locations in the Pacific and setting aside (but not give up on) the Futenma Relocation Facility (FRF). That announcement was a rare victory and set a positive tone for the summit and the joint statement Noda and President Obama made pledging to revitalize the US-Japan alliance. The prime minister returned home on May 1 facing the same stack of difficult domestic political challenges, but with an important if limited accomplishment in foreign policy.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Washington
  • Author: Bonnie Glaser, Brittany Billingsley
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China's next leader, Xi Jinping, traveled to the US for a visit that went smoothly and laid a foundation for a strong bilateral relationship after the 18th Party Congress this fall. Senior US and Chinese officials delivered speeches to mark the 40th anniversary of Nixon's 1972 visit to China, highlighting the progress made and the importance of the bilateral relationship while recognizing the deep mutual strategic mistrust. The third Asia-Pacific Consultation was held to manage suspicious and enhancement cooperation. President Obama met Hu Jintao on the sidelines of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit and coordinated planned responses to North Korea's satellite launch. Friction increased with the filing of a complaint with the WTO that charged China with manipulating prices of rare earth elements. Beijing angered the Obama administration at the UN Security Council by vetoing a resolution that called for Syria's president to step down. But as the violence worsened, the Council passed a resolution that authorized observers to monitor the ceasefire. China rebuffed US entreaties to reduce tis oil imports from Iran and the US imposed sanctions on a Chinese company for selling refined oil to Iran. A Chinese dissident sought assistance by entering the US Embassy, creating potential new challenges for the relationship.
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Scott Snyder, See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: China and South Korea have designated 2012 as a year of friendship to mark 20 years of diplomatic relations. The anniversary may provide a pretext for more active diplomacy to meet a growing list of potential disputes in the relationship, including China's handling of North Korean refugees, illegal fishing in Korean territorial waters, territorial claims, and mutual suspicions regarding approaches toward North Korea. All of this is occurring in a period of political transition in both countries, as South Korea prepares for December elections while China works out a complex leadership transition later this year. Presidents Hu Jintao and Lee Myung-bak have held two summits this year, in Beijing in January and in Seoul on March 26 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. On his state visit to China from Jan. 9-11, Lee also met Premier Wen Jiabao and top legislator Wu Bangguo. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met President Lee and ROK counterpart Kim Sung-hwan on March 2 during his visit to Seoul for annual inter¬ministerial consultations. The two foreign ministers also met in Ningbo, China, on April 8 for the sixth China-ROK-Japan Foreign Ministers Meeting. Sino-South Korean diplomatic exchanges have sharpened attention on the prospects for the bilateral partnership in the aftermath of Kim Jong Il's death
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Michael J. Green, Nicholas Szechenyi
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Prime Minister Noda advanced a legislative package on tax and social security reform but faced stiff political headwinds in the form of a frustrated public and a jaded opposition steeling for an election. Japanese concerns over the safety of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft scheduled for deployment in Okinawa dominated the bilateral agenda – at least in the media – and tested the mettle of Japan's widely-respected new defense minister. The two governments agreed to continue consultations on Japan's interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but political paralysis in Japan and presidential politics in the United States could complicate efforts to make progress in the near term. Two reports issued over the summer addressing US force posture strategy in the Asia-Pacific and the agenda for US-Japan alliance, respectively, focused on the future trajectory for the bilateral relationship.
  • Topic: Security, Bilateral Relations, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: Victor D. Cha, Ellen Kim
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In May, US-Korea relations were marked by nervousness about a potential crisis with North Korea as telltale signs of activity at Punggye suggested preparations for a third nuclear test. Though a test did not occur, no one is confident that a crisis has been averted. In US-South Korea relations, differences over imports of Iran oil and US beef calmed down without causing a major hiccup. Meanwhile, a number of difficult bilateral negotiations remain unresolved. While there are signs of progress on the New Missile Guidelines (NMG), the civil nuclear talks remain deadlocked. Territorial and historical disputes between Japan and Korea have complicated and frustrated US desires to strengthen trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan.
  • Political Geography: Japan, South Korea
  • Author: James J. Przystup
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Comparative Connections
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The summer was not all about the Senkakus, but the islands did dominate developments in the relationship. The Ishihara Senkaku purchase plan went full speed ahead. Meanwhile, Hong Kong activists landed on the islands, sparking diplomatic protests from Tokyo; Japanese activists followed with their own landing on the islands, sparking diplomatic protests from Beijing and anti-Japanese riots across China. Relations suffered further as Tokyo hosted the convention of the World Uighur Congress and President Hu Jintao found a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Noda inconvenient. Japan's 2012 defense white paper reiterated, longstanding, but growing concerns with China's lack of transparency and the increasing activities of its navy in waters off Japan. Meanwhile public opinion on mutual perceptions continued a downward trend in both countries.
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Tokyo