Saturday, November 06, 2004

Korea Japan Kagoshima's summit, when history and pride collide

A dispute over the venue for a two day-long
Korean-Japanese summit, which is scheduled to be held in
Japan from Dec. 17, is sparking off a rare diplomatic
conflict. At the Asia-Europe Meeting held in Vietnam
last month, Korea and Japan jointly announced the
southern Japanese city of Kagoshima on the island of
Kyushu as the venue for the summit.

Later, however, the Korean government asked Japan to
change the venue. No one expected the venue would be
considered inappropriate because a Korean-Japanese
ministerial meeting had been held in Kagoshima in late
November 1998 in which then Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil
participated. A Korean-Japanese foreign ministerial
meeting was also convened in the city. Cheong Wa Dae and
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have made an
issue of the venue because the city was the home of
Takamori Saigo, who advocated the invasion of the Korean
Peninsula in the late 19th century, and was also the
headquarters of Japan's "kamikaze" suicide squadrons
during World War II.

The government sent some Cheong Wa Dae and Foreign
Ministry officials to the city to make an on-the-spot
investigation. An official said the government was
reacting sensitively to the venue partly in
consideration of public criticism of President Roh
Moo-hyun’s visit to Japan on Memorial Day last year.
Government officials dispatched to Kagoshima reported
the island housed a memorial monument for kamikaze
squadrons, which reads that kamikaze squadrons must
never come to exist again. The report pointed out that
Takamori Saigo had mobilized rebel forces and committed
suicide after his attempt had been frustrated. Foreign
Minister Ban Ki-moon officially raised the issue about
the inappropriateness of the venue Wednesday, however,
by saying that the government might consider changing
the venue.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Sakhalin gas project: geopolitical issues

Professor Robyn Lim has this to say about Sakhalin gas

[ Our informations are that the Russian oil will both
serve Japan and Korea, and options are for China. JjL ]

Jim Brooke of the New York Times bureau in Tokyo has an
article in today's International Herald Tribune. (4
November). He says that "a gas pipeline to China may
provide a way for Russia to soften the blow of building
an oil pipeline that would roughly follow the
Trans-Siberian Railway, bypassing China."

Russia is apparently going to make a decision in favour
of the Nakhodka pipeline route by mid December. That
will supply oil from Siberia to Japan, South Korea and
possibly markets on the US west coast.

The wider geopolitical context of course is Russia's
growing fear of China. Putin has refused to allow China
access to ports near the mouth of the Tumen river, where
Manchuria is cut off from the Sea of Japan by fifteen
miles or so of Russian territory. This would have
surprised neither Mahan nor Mackinder.

The Russians have also just had a major naval exercise
in the Atlantic, in which the aircraft carrier Admiral
Kuznetsov took part. The Kuznetsov is the near sister
ship of the Admiral Gorshkov, which Russia is selling to
India for the cost of its refit.

In the summer of 2003, the Russians had a major exercise
in the Far East involving the Pacific and Northern
fleets, observed by Putin himself. This exercise was
unprecedented in the history of the Russian Navy in
terms of scale, range of participants and area. It
involved 75 naval ships and support vessels of the
Pacific Fleet, 20 aircraft of the Northern and Pacific
fleets and 30,000 military servicemen and civilian
specialists. It was held in three stages in the Sea of
Okhotsk, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Japan.

Since Putin has made no secret of his happiness at
seeing President Bush re-elected, I don't think somehow
that this exercise (which he observed personally) was
directed at the US. Nor at Japan.

The implications of the major US naval exercise Summer
Pulse 04 would not have escaped attention in Moscow
either. It certainly did not escape attention in
Beijing. Even if the US was thinking more in global
terms re the "transformation" of its military, China has
to worry that in a future Taiwan Strait crisis, six US
carrier battle groups might show up, compared with two
in 1996.

And many in Russia make no secret of the fact that they
worry that Russia, by means of its arms sales to China
(which China points at Taiwan) are feeding a hand that
will someday bite Russia.

In the Far East, Russia is in control of vast swathes of
territory that China believes were stolen in the days of
Russian imperial expansion. Few in Moscow have forgotten
Mao's threat that someday China would present Russia
with the bill.

And I have already posed the question whether Russia and
Japan can now reach some kind of rapprochement. Rising
Sino-Japanese tension in the East China Sea may give
added impetus to any possible rapprochement.

The global geopolitical question is that China's rising
demand for energy may prove an Achilles' heel. It will
be very difficult for China to reduce its dependence on
the Middle East, however hard it tries. The gas and oil
pipelines from Central Asia have to cross the Islamic
"shatter belt". The routes from Russia we have

Thus in a crisis - think Taiwan Strait- China's oil
lifeline from the Gulf could be subject to interdiction
not just by the US Navy, but by the Indian, Australian
and Japanese navies. The recent PSI (Proliferation
Security Initiative) exercise in Tokyo Bay, while aimed
at North Korea, will also give Beijing something to
think about. Not least because Russia recently joined
the PSI.

Professor Robyn Lim (NBR)
[Click the title to access the URL of NBR site]

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Dreams of Empire

The New York Review of Books
By Tony Judt

"Talk of "empire" makes Americans distinctly uneasy. This
is odd. In its westward course the young republic was
not embarrassed to suck virgin land and indigenous
peoples into the embrace of Thomas Jefferson's "empire
for liberty." Millions of American immigrants made and
still make their first acquaintance with the US through
New York, "the Empire State." From Monroe to Bush,
American presidents have not hesitated to pronounce
doctrines whose extraterritorial implications define
imperial authority and presume it: there is nothing
self-effacing about that decidedly imperious bird on the
Presidential Seal."

[Click the tittle to get the New York Review of Books article ]

America's Inadvertent Empire.
by William E. Odom and Robert Dujarric
Yale University Press, 285 pp., $30.00

The Imperial Tense: Prospects and Problems of American
edited by Andrew J. Bacevich
Ivan R. Dee, 271 pp., $28.95;$16.95 (paper)

Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's
Perilous Path in the Middle East.
by Rashid Khalidi
Beacon, 192 pp., $23.00

The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America.
by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
Penguin, 400 pp., $25.95

by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
Harvard University Press, 478 pp., $45.00; $19.95

by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
Penguin, 427 pp., $27.95

The New Imperialism.
by David Harvey
Oxford University Press, 253 pp., $22.00

Fear: The History of a Political Idea.
by Corey Robin
Oxford University Press, 316 pp., $28.00

A New World Order.
by Anne-Marie Slaughter
Princeton University Press, 341 pp., $29.95

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Hideyo Noguchi, a Japanese born American on Japan 1.000 yen banknote

The new Japan 1,000 yen bills feature microbiologist
Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928), who dedicated his life to
researching infectious diseases. The Japanese-born
American bacteriologist discovered the cause and worked
toward a treatment of syphilis and yellow fever.

The newly designed bank notes went into circulation
Monday for the first time in 20 years, featuring
cutting-edge technology aimed at combating a rising tide
of counterfeits.

Bank of Japan officials said the BOJ distributed 2.3
trillion yen worth of new 10,000 yen, 5,000 yen and
1,000 yen bills to financial institutions Monday.

The new 5,000 yen bills carry a portrait of Ichiyo
Higuchi (1872-1896), a female novelist and poet. The new
10,000 yen bills continue to bear the portrait of
Fukuzawa Yukichi.

The new bills feature anticounterfeit technology,
including holograms and advanced bar-code patterns. They
also make use of some technologies originally introduced
in the 2,000 yen bill.

BOJ officials said they expect the number of forged
notes to approach 300 million this year, up from 76.13
million in 2001.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Should Japan SDF troops stay in Iraq?

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi appeared to have won
public backing for his refusal to pull Japanese troops
out of Iraq despite the weekend beheading of a Japanese

But the killing of 24-year-old backpacker Shosei Koda
has re-ignited debate over whether Tokyo should extend
the troops' mission when their mandate expires in

Japanese officials confirmed on Sunday that the body and
severed head of a man found in Baghdad was that of Koda.

He had been captured by a militant group led by Al Qaeda
ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which had said it would
behead him if Japan did not withdraw its troops.

Koda, a civilian who apparently took a bus to Iraq from
Jordan despite being warned of the dangers, was the
fifth Japanese to be killed in Iraq since the start of
the U.S.-led war in March 2003.

Koizumi condemned the killing as a despicable act of
terrorism and vowed to keep Japan's troops in the

Mainstream media backed his refusal to meet the captors'
demands. "

"We cannot cave in to threats," said the liberal Asahi
newspaper in an editorial. "A life was at stake, but
this decision was inevitable."

Political analysts said the immediate fallout from the
hostage killing was likely to be limited since many
ordinary Japanese had blamed Koda for putting himself at

"Koda went, not as a journalist, not as a member of a
non-governmental organisation, but as a tourist," said
political commentator Atsuo Ito. "I don't think there's
a lot of sympathy." Japan has about 550 troops at
Samawa, some 270 km (170 miles) south of Baghdad, for
humanitarian and reconstruction work, but their
activities have been restricted by the deteriorating

Koizumi, a close ally of U.S. President George W. Bush,
sent the troops to Iraq on the mission -- their riskiest
since World War Two -- despite opposition from most
voters. Some critics say the mission violates Japan's
pacifist constitution.

Japan's biggest opposition Democratic Party, which was
against the dispatch from the start, called on Sunday
for the soldiers to be brought home when their mandate

The Asahi agreed that it was time to reconsider.

"Now, when the U.S. Iraq policy is stalemated, it is
time to consider the withdrawal of the SDF," said the
newspaper, noting that its own opinion poll conducted
before the hostage crisis showed 63 percent of voters
opposed extending the troops' stay.

But the conservative Yomiuri newspaper said the soldiers
should stay on. "If Iraq fails to be democratised and
reconstructed and becomes a bankrupt nation, it would
become a stronghold of terrorists," the newspaper said.

"It is essential for the SDF (Self-Defence Forces) to be
extended beyond the Dec. 14 deadline set by a special

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Japan as the "New South Korea"?

By Robyn Lim, Professor of International Relations
Nanzan University, Nagoya

The US-South Korea alliance is defunct. Can America now
count on Japan to become the ‘new South Korea’, thus
filling the role that the ROK has played since 1950 as
America’s main point of influence on China? If the
answer is yes, America has much to offer Japan,
including providing for its nuclear security and defense
against ballistic missiles. If the answer is no,
America’s position will become much more difficult. But
so will Japan’s.

[Click the title to read the article]

Japan, Heisei Militarization and the Bush Doctrine

"Japan, Heisei Militarization and the Bush Doctrine"

By Richard Tanter, Nautilus, former Kyoto Seika

Japan is proceeding towards full security normalization,
moving closer to throwing off all the externally and
self-imposed restraints which for half a century
produced a disjuncture between its economic status as
the world's second largest national economy and its
restricted status in providing global security.

In the existing world system, normalization of this kind
necessarily means militarization, and that is precisely
what Japan has undertaken, a process that can be titled
"Heisei militarization. The Bush Doctrine has
accelerated but did not cause this process.

[Click the title to reach the article of Richard Tanter]

Strategic Asia 2004–05: Confronting Terrorism in the Pursuit of Power

Strategic Asia 2004–05: Confronting Terrorism in the
Pursuit of Power includes broad trend analyses of the
major Asian sub-regions, as well as an array of
transnational topical studies.

The report contains studies of five major powers in the
region—the United States, China, Japan, Korea, and
Russia—and regional studies on Central, South, and
Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

It includes special studies on trends in energy
security, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,
and science and technology in Asia, as well as
alternative outcomes to the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Introduced by the NBR, the National Bureau of Asian

[Click the title to reach the NBR page]