GEORGE R. PACKARD: Welcome to today's Council on Foreign Relations meeting. My name is George Packard. I am president of the U.S.-Japan Foundation and a former dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, called SAIS -- no, not the one you're thinking of, the other one.
And I'm happy to introduce a very distinguished panel to update Japan today. And before that, let me remind you, please, to turn off your cellphones and to tell you that this meeting is on the record, on the record today.
The format that has been suggested is that we will ask our speakers to respond to some questions from me or from each of the other -- for about 25 minutes and then allow the rest of the time -- allot the rest of the time to you for your questions. And we hope your questions will be short, to the point and aimed at somebody, if you want, or to the panel as a whole, if you like.
Let me just introduce the topic by reminding you that in my view, at least, no country in the world has ever moved so kaleidoscopically and with such speed, in America's perception, as Japan. The consciousness of Japan has gone up and down with incredible speed, remembering that in 1945 it was a country devastated by two atomic bombs and defeat in war.
Nineteen-fifty-four, you will remember, perhaps, when Secretary of State John Foster Dulles told a Senate committee that Japan could not produce anything that Americans would want to buy.
In 1960, a bunch of students and labor unionists demonstrated, prevented President Eisenhower from arriving in Tokyo, overthrew Prime Minister Kishi, and the American media started thinking: Well, Japan may be going communist. It looks like the left wing is very strong there.
Nineteen-seventy, Herman Kahn declares that Japan is the next great superpower.
Nineteen-seventy-one, President Nixon invokes the Trading with the Enemy Act to forcibly change the interest rate, the exchange rate, and to deal with our trade deficit with Japan.
Nineteen-seventy-nine, Ezra Vogel of Harvard says Japan is number one. And so Americans began thinking: How can we emulate this great success story out there?
By 1987, Congressman Bentley was smashing a Toshiba transistor radio on Capitol Hill on the evening news, in anger at the Japanese allegedly trading sensitive equipment to the Soviet Union.
Nineteen-eighty-nine, the Japanese have Ishihara Shintaro, the governor of Tokyo, who was here last week, saying that Japan that can say no and that -- creating an image of a threatening, rather sinister but a great power.
Nineteen-ninety-one, two authors who had never been to Japan wrote a book called "The Coming War with Japan."
So -- and the next decade, of course, was called the lost decade. Japan was stagnating. It had nothing to teach anyone in the world. Avoid the Japanese disease, if you will.
So we get down to the present, and all of our speakers today, I think, will be able to characterize it.
But I'd like to call first on a very distinguished scholar whose book on the Meiji period has never been surpassed, Dr. Kenneth Pyle. And he is the author of "Japan Rising," which is available to you today -- "Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose." He is the Henry M. Jackson Professor of History and Asian Studies at the University of Washington. And we'll ask him to speak first.
He will be followed then by Professor G. John Ikenberry, the Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton, and is a prolific writer on international history and politics.
And third, I will call on Dr. Michael J. Green, the Japan chair and senior adviser, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS, and associate professor of international relations at Georgetown University and, I must add, a distinguished graduate, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
So, Ken, I wonder if I could ask you -- we've had Japan rising and falling. We've had the sun rising and setting. Your title is "Japan Rising." I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about when you -- at what point and what triggered your interest in that subject and how you developed it.
KENNETH B. PYLE: Well, the theme of the book really is the ways in which Japan has related to the world over the last 150 years. And I've seen a pattern at work there, as an historian, which seems to be recurring. And that is that major changes in the international system have led the Japanese to respond in a very far-reaching way, both in their foreign policy strategy and in their supporting domestic political institutions. They did that most dramatically in the Meiji period, when the West first arrived. But I see that same pattern repeating three or four times in the modern period. And the focus of this book, the last half of the book, particularly, is on the post-Cold War period, in which once again you have a major change in the international system leading to dramatic changes, I think, in Japanese foreign policy strategy today and in supporting domestic institutions.
So in a nutshell -- if I'm going on too long, you'll cut me off, George -- but just in a nutshell, what changed from Japan's Cold War strategy to the present emerging strategy is, I think, very dramatic. And I put that in a way by thinking of eight self-binding resolutions that the Japanese policymakers made during the Cold War period to keep Japan out of international political and military strategic affairs and to simply concentrate on -- all their energies on economics.
So in a nutshell, those eight self-binding restrictions that the Japanese put on themselves to stay out of politics, international politics, were, first of all, no dispatching of Self-Defense Forces abroad; secondly, no involvement in collective defense arrangements; third, Japan would have no power projection ability; fourth, Japan would be a non-nuclear power, no nuclear weapons; fifth, Japan would not spend more than 1 percent of GNP on defense; sixth, Japan would not export weapons; seventh, Japan would not share military technology with any country; and eighth, Japan would not allow -- Japan would not participate in any way in the militarization of space.
And all of those are -- all eight of those, with the possible exception of the nuclear one, which we can discuss -- but all of the others are being rolled back under Abe.
And so I see Japan going through a very similar pattern that has occurred many times in modern Japanese history -- three or four times -- of a major change being brought on by a change in the international system.
PACKARD: Well, let me follow up and ask you how -- where you see this going, how long it will take to, say, make a change in Article 9 of the constitution (or collective self-binding ?) --
PYLE: That would be, I think, very much determined by events in the region. As you know, the Japanese just a week or so ago have passed a bill in the Diet that sets out the procedures for revision of the constitution. It's going to take time. How long that will be will depend very much on events in the region -- the North Korean issue, the nature of China's challenge and other developments.
PACKARD: Could you see anything on the horizon that might reverse that trend and send Japan back into its isolationist shell?
Let me give you a hypothetical. Supposing the 600 troops that were in Iraq -- (it's not a lot of people but it's a vital ?) -- (off mike) -- troops -- had had a nightmare scenario; 10 them were captured and publicly killed on Al-Jazeera. Do you think the Japanese public would still be pushing for or permitting sending troops abroad, for example?
PYLE: I think that would have certainly made the Japanese leadership -- certainly would have made the Japanese people recoil somewhat. So that is something, I think, that will affect the pace.
But my own feeling is, given the rise of China and the uncertainty of the future of Chinese power and purpose in the region, that this new direction of Japanese foreign policy is going to take hold over time.
PACKARD: Thank you very much.
I wonder if I could turn to Professor Ikenberry and ask you about this shifting balance of power in Asia. And do you see a way that China can be incorporated into the international system on which you've written so well without violence?
G. JOHN IKENBERRY: Well, I do, but I want to get there by just making one argument about kind of our master narrative of Japan and where it's come from. I -- Ken Pyle's book is terrific and his work has meant a lot to those of us who are political scientists who dabble in U.S. policy towards East Asia and U.S.-Japan relations, the kind of work that gives us inspiration and guidance.
Where I began is with the post-war settlement with Japan, and the U.S. and Japan engineered a brilliant regional order where, in effect, the United States played the role for Japan that France played for Germany, a country that it could bind to, it could create mechanisms that would allow it to reassure its neighbors and integrate into the larger system without re-militarizing becoming a traditional great power. And that, then, leads to a second general observation -- and I wouldn't want to lose that. I think that is an order that still there's no better substitute to for that kind of American and Japanese-centered system where Japan has restraints and limits and works in different ways.
The other observation I think I want to make -- and I think I'm a -- (word inaudible) -- internationalist on this panel between scholars who are slightly more realist than I am, I suspect, but -- and that is that Japan did not simply play a role of shirking and isolationism and a kind of free-riding role during this long period, but actually has played the role America wanted it to -- an engine of the world economy, articulating -- and this is important -- a civilian great power vision of its role in the world, supporting the United Nations, foreign aid, human security. (Obuchi ?) report is the best place to see this kind of image of Japan not as isolationist, but as active in a way that does not traditionally adhere to the military. And again, my point there would be, we don't want to lose that.
But now, as Japan -- and this is more responsive to your question -- becomes a more traditional power which makes changes in its constitution or adopts a basic law in lieu of those changes, which brings into legal form its role in collecting security and other sorts of changes, that drama is playing out as China begins its great assent; and that dual rising, if you will -- to use Ken's title -- a two-stage rising in very different ways, of course, but rising nonetheless, is a formula for great power rivalry, security dilemmas and arms races and problems of anarchy that have been tamped down over half a century because of the reasons I've suggested.
My argument would be, to kind of conclude here, is that the U.S. should try to encourage Japan and enlightened Japanese interests should try to tie its reforms at home on the constitution, on its security policy, on its return to statehood, if you will, to creating regional diplomacy that ultimately ends up creating a multilateral mechanism that ties China and Japan and Korea and the U.S. and perhaps Russia together; that the time has come for these countries to invest in a regional mechanism that will allow them to do what Germany was able to do much more easily in Europe, which is tie its changing power position to a security framework that reduces the chance of security dilemmas will make all of us worse off at the end of this cycle of history.
PACKARD: You mentioned the German example. Do you see anything in the reunification of the two Germanys that could apply to the reunification of the two Koreas?
IKENBERRY: Well, that's an interesting question. I think that there are so many differences, but one of the lessons really of the unification of Germany was that Germany -- and apropos my basic policy position tonight -- is that the unification of Germany led Helmut Kohl to tie unification to redoubling the German effort to go forward with Maastricht and single currency, and that was precisely that gamut that I've suggested Japan and China should pursue, which is, yes, we are going to be more powerful in the wake of unification, but that power is going to make Germany a -- would be tied to Germany becoming a more embedded European state. And so that logic is one that I think Korea should both apply to itself and to urge on its larger neighbors.
PACKARD: Thank you very much.
Michael Green, I'd like to ask you to say a word a little bit more contemporary and then go back to these other questions if you'd like.
But we've had a visit from Prime Minister Abe, his first as president. What's your evaluation of how that went and how it compared to say the other visitor that you know so well, Prime Minister Koizumi?
MICHAEL J. GREEN: Well, the most obvious difference is that Koizumi put on shades and sung Elvis Presley. Abe is not Koizumi; that is in fact his greatest political weakness because the Japanese public, I think, became -- and the American public became so accustomed to seeing this rock star, that Abe, who's fairly plain by comparison, although, quite dynamic as a political figure, but plain by comparison -- didn't capture the imagination.
The sentiment was generally good. I think it's that it happened -- Abe was here at the end of April. If he had come a month or two earlier, it would not have been as good. Now I say that because in early March he had some -- some of it interpreted, but nevertheless, very careless and unfortunate statements about comfort women, this historical issue of these women who were coerced into brothels during the war. It took him a while to recover from that. I think he generally did, not to everyone's satisfaction, but he put it in context when he came here and apologized on national television a few weeks before he came.
A few weeks -- a few months before the U.S. had shifted policy on North Korea. It was engaged in a new process which had some promise, but also had a deadline, and I think the Japanese side -- or at least the Abe administration -- was uncomfortable with a more accommodating stance to the North. He came April 29th, which was after -- two weeks after the deadline by which time North Korea was supposed to begin freezing its facilities, and the North hadn't done anything.
So those two issues, which in March, for example, would have shown a real divide between the U.S. and Japan, were better in late April, they ripened, so that Abe was able to say to the president, we need North Korea to perform. Our patience is running thin and set a tougher tone. And he was able to recover somewhat on this comfort women issue. And so he had a pretty good visit.
I think the structure of the alliance is pretty strong. I know from personal experience the president's very committed to the relationship with Japan and likes Abe, but there's a little bit of turbulence, and I think Abe's visit helps to stabilize things. The big question now, which we might want to get into, is: What happens in the upper house election in Japan? Does it give Abe a mandate to move forward or do we have a sort of Italian scenario with rotating prime ministers that really would start to suck the energy out of the U.S.-Japan relationship?
PACKARD: When you say moving forward, what does that mean to Abe? Does it mean Yasukuni Shrine? Does it mean changing the history textbooks, which his administration seems to be doing? Is it a move to the right, which is unhealthy? Or do you see it as --
GREEN: I think the general trend of Japanese politics has moved towards the right. Now that's moving the entire sort of national center of gravity from center-left to right or center-right. There are right-wing elements, but I think that the center of gravity of Japan is center, maybe center-right, and that's going to continue. And part of that agenda will involve the things that Ken Pyle talked about -- revival of some of these traditional constraints on defense policy, a more patriotic attitude towards history. Abe and his generation have been waiting for their time to stand up and be tall. They are learning that governing is much more complicated than simply demonstrating pride or arguing for a beautiful country; the comfort women episode was one example, Yasukuni is another. I don't think he will go to Yasukuni. I think that his generation, which is more patriotic, more nationalist, is learning on the job very quickly. He, I think, would like to have a strong U.S.-Japan alliance. He's committed to that, but he'd like to balance it with stronger strategic relations with India, with Australia. He would like to undo some of these post-war taboos, including the constitution, and make that his legacy. But whether or not he gets to will depend on domestic politics in a couple of months.
PACKARD: Thank you.
Do you any of the panelists want to question each other about a point that's been made so far?
MR. : Well, I'd like to talk a little bit about what John Ikenberry brought up which I thought was a very good and interesting point, and that is the need to -- for American policy makers to work toward multilateral institution building in the region, where multilateral institutions have thus far been quite weak. And it seems -- it's always seemed to me for some time that we had a window of opportunity, that the Americans do, because we provide the security for this region right now. The 7th Fleet protects the oil lifeline of these East Asian economies.
And during -- while we have this window of opportunity of American -- dependence on American power and, I might add, a dependence also on American economy -- American market, rather, that we ought to be using this leverage to being building multilateral institutions that would maintain peace and stability far beyond our own ability, in terms of time, once China arises as a great power.
Where I might differ slightly from John Ikenberry is that I think that this is best done from building a strong U.S.-Japan alliance. And I don't feel that Japan, particularly this new -- what I call the Hey Say Generation of Abe, is going to be content to be simply a civilian power. I think that might be something we could perhaps disagree on. I think Japan will not be content to be contained politically in that kind of stance.
PACKARD: John, would you like --
IKENBERRY: Well, I -- as a student of kind of the rise and decline of great powers, you can see Japan's pathway. And I don't disagree with the pressures particularly at the security events -- I mean, the security environment in the region creates interactive effects with Japanese domestic politics for Japan to want to remake some of its old positions and constraints. I would say that it would be a mistake for the U.S. to encourage them to, in order to save the alliance, to do things that they themselves do not think they should be doing. And so I think the U.S. should stand back and let the internal debate in Japan go forward.
I also think that Japan may well find that restraints are actually a source of power, and that as you provide signals of reassurance to your neighbors, which by the way China is doing -- China is very clever at this. They are using institutions; they are making friends; they are allaying worries that are clearly there. And I think Japan missed -- the 1990s were a missed opportunity, not just economically but in Asia it was a missed opportunity for Japan while before China was the big issue to plant some seeds for this kind of structure.
And so I think that -- so just to wrap up, I think that I'm enough of a realist that I think that Japan will attempt to recover some of its ability to act in security affairs and to -- if for no other reason to simply reclaim kind of rights to statehood, which include the right of self-defense, the use of force for self-defense. That's not the dispute. That's the kind of third way, a kind of middle path to kind of return to a more traditional role. But it doesn't necessarily mean building a larger military, and it certainly doesn't preclude making deals with neighbors in the context of a regional security arrangement.
Final point: None of what I've suggested about a regional security pact has to be inimical to the continuation of the bilateral security alliance, which is a brilliant accident, in many ways, and should stay there. If in 20 years we still have a U.S.-Japan alliance, I will be reassured by that. That has to be part of the architecture, that it's not inconsistent with a forum or a mechanism.
GREEN: This architecture question is an important and fascinating one, and we're all writing on it. I was told, if I have a book coming out, I was told, don't use the word "architecture," though, because it will be filed in the engineering section. So I have to think of a new name, but basically institution-building in Asia.
And I think there's no shortage of enthusiasm in Washington, Tokyo and elsewhere to do this. I was in the NSC for five years. We expanded the role of APEC with the U.S., but initiated the six-party talks from the beginning with the idea that it would become a lasting institution.
The problem in Asia in contrast to Europe is that you have very different norms across the region. And it was possible to have an EU, a Europe whole and free. But in Asia it's much harder to define what the core is. There's clearly an inter-regional trade dimension, and that's important. There's an interest in stability, and that's important.
But there's a very intense debate right now in the region about whether regional institution-building and integration should be based on the principal of non-interference in internal affairs, so a sort of Westphalian protection of the nation-state, which China is championing, or whether integration should look more like Europe and narrow the normative differences between states, start creating some common values. Japan has come front and center in that debate. India is in it; to some extent, Australia and Singapore. I don't think it's unhealthy, but there's a very intense debate about what kind of regionalism.
I think it's good for the U.S. We ought to try to play in it as much as possible. I don't think there's any hesitation in Washington to do that. In the end, one thing it shows is that the key players in the region, including Japan but also India, Singapore, are not revisionist powers. They're trying to structure this in a way that the U.S. is in. So when somebody starts to lose, we just have to set the focus a little bit on it, and then be a little bit thoughtful.
PACKARD: Okay, I think it's time for your questions. So I'd ask you to identify yourself, your name and your affiliation, talk into the microphone, as I am not. And you have the first question.
QUESTIONER: I'm Dave Denoon from NYU. I guess my questions are for Ken and John.
If you look at the individual institutions that you could build from, each of them has really fundamental problems. ASEAN Plus Three is essentially dominated by China because of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. The East Asian Summit doesn't seem to have any clear direction. The Asian Monetary effort, the Chiang Mai Initiative, really hasn't gone anywhere. APEC has really been eclipsed by the WTO. The six-party talks, I think, are important. But it's not clear that they do have a carry-on value. They might, but it's not clear where it's going.
So I guess my question is, are you talking about these institutions? Or are you talking about other institutions that are yet to be built?
MR. : Well, I'm talking about a new institution that might be a follow-on to the six-party talks. There isn't one of the five or six working groups at the six-party talks that's precisely devoted to this issue, and there are lots of proposals. I'm going to run a workshop in Tokyo in October for the people who, you know, have their little proposals, to sort of get a sense of where things are from an academic perspective.
But I think that none of the institutions that are on the ground now is quite right. It's not quite the right people in it. And it really would be a Northeast Asia mechanism. It would not be ASEAN Plus Three or a regional forum. It would really be devoted to Northeast Asia. And in particular we're really talking about China and Japan and the U.S. establishing mechanisms that create transparency and dialogue and all those good things that these cooperative security mechanisms can produce under the right circumstances.
MR. : Yes, I would agree with that, with the focus on Northeast Asia. I think it's very important that we understand the sensitivities of the Sino-Japanese-American triangle. And the six-party talks show some signs of helping that kind of sensitivity, but it's not going to be easy.
On the other hand, you have quite a different arrangement, which -- Mike could comment on this -- which seems to be taking shape. And that is on the basis of this recent security agreement between Japan and Australia of linking the U.S.-Japan alliance to our relationship to Australia and possibly beyond that to our relationship to India. And Abe and his foreign minister also, Aso, went to Europe and met with NATO.
So there is that, but the problem there is that leaves out -- that seems -- that gives the appearance of leaving out China and gives the appearance of containing China. And that of course does not bode well for the kind of multilateralism that we would hope for.
QUESTIONER: But what -- if it isn't to contain China, what would be the strategic purpose?
MR. : It wouldn't be to contain China; it would be to embed China. And it would be to create opportunities for mutual restraint, institutionalized in various ways so that you could ratify the fact that these are not revisionist states and you can work on issues of defense planning. It's more of a kind of forum, if you will, and wouldn't have alliance characteristics. It wouldn't really be -- if China would be in it, it would not be really to retain it. It would be to provide a mechanism that would -- in the end, it would help cage China by putting China in an institution that puts them directly in the face of their neighbors on security, on (great ?) power security issues.
MR. : What we're really talking about, I think, is engaging China, which both the U.S. and Japan are trying to do now in the hopes that, as Bob Zoellick put it, that we can convince China could become a stakeholder in the existing international system. That's going to be a challenge, because I think if you read history and you think about the euphoria for the present Chinese economic ascent now, you have to remember that we're not that far away from considerable political turmoil, that -- (pro-revolution ?) and all the rest of it in China. Anyone who thinks that the Chinese economic growth is just going to continue like this indefinitely I think hasn't read history and is looking at China in the very short run.
GREEN: All right. I would just add that, you know, China for the past five or six years has made a very deliberate attempt to play in multilateral organizations, and it's a two-edged theme for the rest of us. On the one hand, it socializes the Chinese government to, you know, abide by these norms; they pay a penalty when they don't. There are some specific examples even within (AIM ?), where China has backed away from more aggressive policies because of the socialization process. But it also allows China to start driving a certain agenda that slows down change in China. We've all paid the debt that by bringing China into the WTO, we'll start changing China before China changes the world, and if China is able to shape the agenda for these multilateral organizations, again also use it to prevent change. So it cuts both ways, which is why in Japan there's a real attraction to this idea that Ken mentioned of a U.S.-Japan-Australia, maybe a U.S.-Japan-Australia-India forum, where we have common norms generally agreed on what the rules should be. But you have those defense -- (inaudible) -- China's not in it, and then they start doing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
You have competing -- so my prediction is -- I feel pretty comfortable saying this -- (you will ?) have a proliferation of these multilateral forums. No country will agree on one set institutional structure, because no country in the region knows exactly what the U.S. or China or Japan will be doing in 20 years, and they'll want a full playbook. And it's further compounded by the fact that every bureaucracy in every country wants its own multilateral forum. So a lot of these -- and the real challenge may be do we have enough, you know, airfare in our government to go to all these forums? And how do we make them really work, which is why it's so deliberate in thinking about it, like John is suggesting, is I think worthwhile.
PACKARD: Question here.
QUESTIONER: I'm Lee Siegel. I'm a social science research counsel. The question's for all three of you. Mike, you said the Chinese have started playing in a serious way multilaterally. The question is, why hasn't Japan? Why haven't they played multilaterally? What happened -- how do you explain it?
MR. : Well, let me -- let my Japanese expert colleagues start out, then I'll make more general social science arguments.
Well, Japan has -- this idea of an East Asian community is something that has had a lot of appeal to the Japanese, and they've talked about it for a long time. And they were really one of the originators of the idea of (AMAC ?), along with Australia. And so this idea goes -- this idea has a lot of appeal in Japan and still does. Mike and I were discussing this earlier.
But what has happened in more recent years is the jarring -- the absolutely jarring effect of the rise of China and the impact that that has had on Japanese self-confidence and concern about the future, and it's really hard to overestimate.
PYLE: Well, I was going to say, one can remember Japanese initiatives post-Asian financial crisis and got burnt on that. And of course ASEAN put through the vision statement, you can have Japanese participation in that enterprise which doesn't -- (inaudible) -- greater (regionalism ?) or financial stability and provisions for crises management.
There are some arguments of -- Professor Takashi Noguchi (ph) argued that Japan has historically always allied itself with a senior partner and sort of the bilateral approach and goes on to make arguments that's rooted in a kind of a image or model of society. It's very hierarchical, and layers on other arguments about the nature of the Japanese state and are less inclined to sort of operate and interface with both multilateral mechanisms.
But I do think that's a good question, because it's been, as I said before, a Japanese opportunity that the '90s really gave them, to take the lead. And it would have had the kind of spillover effect of putting them out ahead of the issues that -- as a kind of progressive leader, enlightened force in the region. I still think, again, that Japan is given a bum rap on their overall kind of foreign policy. I think they've played -- well, they've been a more force for good and there's more a positive philosophy of Japan's role in the world than the common Washington narrative gives us. But I do think they lost an opportunity to really seize this issue.
PACKARD (?): (Inaudible.)
MR. : We found this -- it's a good question. And first of all, Japan has been active. It won't get much credit for it here. They have a very active multilateral forum in Central Asia, which is -- when you talk to Central Asians, very well-received. They were in the Tsunami Core Group. They have been very active in the six-party talks and so on and so forth, but it's less than you'd expect. And I think part of the reason is that we need to give more credit to the smaller powers in Southeast Asia which use these multilateral forums to enmesh. They all reach out -- (inaudible). They use these multilateral forums to enmesh the rise in power, which in the '80s was Japan and today is China. So part of it is, who's the actor? And it's not just Japan; it's ASEAN, and they're enmeshing China. That's why there's so much to it.
Part of it I think is that Japan's strategic culture is changing. I've written that Japan for the past 10 years has shifted towards a reluctant realism. I would now take out the word "reluctant." (Inaudible) -- something different their role about their toolkit.
And Koizumi, in his opening speech to the Diet, was the first prime minister in about 40 years to not mention Asia in an explicit way. He talked about the international society and the U.S.-Japan Alliance. So there's -- I think they're in transition, and that's part of it.
And part of it is agriculture. China signs FTAs, and they're very user-friendly FTAs. Japan's agriculture lobby still constrains them from doing the kind of multilateral trade diplomacy that China's become quite adept at.
I think this is a transitional period. I think Japan is going to be much more active. And there are areas, like The China Initiative, where they are in the lead, where I think you'll see more of this as time goes on.
QUESTIONER: We hear a lot about Japan and China, East Asia and America. I don't hear much about Japan-Southeast Asia (PCs ?). There was a (file ?) when the idea that a new version of greater -- (inaudible) -- was being discussed. At the present time, is Japan -- (inaudible) -- Southeast Asia than China? Is it interested in Southeast Asia or does it still have high ambitions in Southeast Asia and its relationships there?
MR. : Well, I think, just taking off on the last comments, I think Japan has been overtaken in recent years by China's skill in appealing to the ASEAN countries and talking about long-range free trade vision with -- free trade arrangements with China for -- to develop over a long period of time. And the Japanese kind of have been left behind. The advantages that they once had of aid and technology and a full economic toolkit were greatly weakened by the economic hard times in the 1990s. But I think you're going to see Japan now trying to reassert itself. Certainly countries like Singapore are encouraging Japan to stay involved and to return to the region and become much more active.
MR. : Just briefly on this one, the polls done by Gallup and Yomiuri and others in the region show, not surprisingly, that Japan has high negatives in South Korea and China, but in South Asia and Southeast Asia, when asked if Japan are good partners, if Japan is playing a positive role, the response is in the high 80s and 90s, higher than China and, alas, much higher than us. There's still an enormous reservoir of goodwill towards Japan in Southeast Asia and in South Asia after decades of economic aid.
And as Ken said, Singapore and others are trying to pull Japan back in. If you look at Indonesia with direct presidential elections, if you look at Singapore's concerns, they want a balance in the region. And the sense in Southeast Asia is that China has gotten a little too much momentum and they'd like to balance that with Japan, they'd like to balance it with us. Japan's been, you know -- lost the bubble a little bit the past five or six years on Southeast Asia, but I think there's still a benign environment for Japan to do more.
PACKARD: Ambassador Luers?
QUESTIONER: There's been some comment about the relationship between Asia and Europe. And one of the underlying driving forces of the European Union was Germany's never-again decision that was driven by Kohl. And any time you talked to Kohl, his position during the whole time when they really struck the deal with the European Union was that issue. And most Europeans decided that after 400 years of wars with each other, it was a good idea to find a different solution. But Germany was the key player in that.
In the case of Asia -- and of course, Russia was always out there looming, the Soviet Union, then Russia. But in the case of Asia, Japan, which had long been the driving force of European (sic) economy, political and military activity, has not taken that position. And, you know, I guess it's self-evident -- and people who know Japan, I guess, know it much better than I do, maybe are less concerned than it seems to me I am -- but the multilateral issue for Japan in the region is undermined by their failure to some degree to live up -- to identify with their past and understand it, and indeed ignore it many times. And this is particularly true in northern Asia -- Northeast Asia, and certainly the Koreans and Chinese harbor this, and probably the Filipinos do.
But talk about that. Is their role a lot different in Asia because they have not faced up to their past?
PYLE: This is something that I spent some time on in my book. And it really goes back, I think, to the immediate post-World War II period, when -- and the contract there is between Japan's post-war prime minister for 10 years, Yoshida Shigeru, and Chancellor Adenauer. Whereas Chancellor Adenauer, it seems to me, faced head-on, as you said, the German question, "Never again," and sought to embed Germany rearmament in NATO and to deal with reparations to Israel and the whole Holocaust issue in an open, confrontational way -- in an open way to deal with the issue of German history, his counterpart in Japan, Yoshida, basically swept those issues under the rug.
And his feeling was that the Second World War in the Pacific came about not because of the Japanese system so much as it was an historic stumble, as he put it, and therefore he was not really willing to reach out but preferred really to sweep those issues under the rug. And actually, John Foster Dulles came to Yoshida in 1950, at the time of the Korean War, and tried to create a kind of Pacific NATO that would have done what you're talking about, but Yoshida would have none of it.
QUESTIONER: It goes up to today.
PYLE: Yes. And so that --
QUESTIONER: On the 50th anniversary, they had an opportunity.
PYLE: Yes. And so that issue, then, carries up through the Cold War, in which Japan basically withdrew from international politics and simply turned in on itself and concentrated on economic growth. And those issues are now coming around and are still festering because they weren't dealt with in a really open way to resolve them at that time, so they're left there to fester. And so here we are 60, 70 years afterwards and still dealing with the issues of the war crimes trials, the comfort women, the Yasukuni Shrine and several others.
PACKARD: I have a question from one of our national members which I'd like to read. It came in earlier today from Mr. Cedric Suzman of the Southern Center for International Studies in Atlanta, Georgia. His question: We are used to hearing that the Japanese youth of today are different than past generations. Given the structural changes that have taken place in the economy and business practices, how have these changes impacted people in their 20s with respect to their work ethic, job choices, lifestyle, et cetera? And how would you expect it to impact current teenagers as they mature? What are the implications for the workforce and the employment policies?
Michael, I think you're the youngest person on the -- (laughter).
GREEN: Just barely. (Laughter.) Well, there's much lamentation in the halls of Keidanren and business leadership in Japan about the wayward youth who spend hours at home playing video games. It all sounds very familiar. And there is some listlessness and loss of direction for the Japanese coming up in their teens and 20s in some ways. Polls show a steady decline in emphasis on company and an increased emphasis on self. That's been a steady trend for about 15 years, in some ways not surprising.
I teach at Georgetown. I have a number of Japanese students. And I went to Tokyo University 20 years ago; I'm not that young. When I was in Tokyo University, there was a poll done. Tokyo University is the elite university. And they asked men there, "What education level would you want for your wife?" And the answer was one or two years of college at most. I asked my students at Georgetown, just sort of informally once -- many of them were from Todai, from Tokyo University -- how they would answer that question, and they were shocked that 20 years ago people would say that. They said, "Well, of course I'd want an equal relationship with my wife."
So some of this may make a less pliable workforce than you had 30 years ago, but it also creates a workforce that can be innovative and creative. The Japanese Diet just passed a new education law. Much of the press attention was on the teaching of patriotism, but the real guts of the law was how to arm this generation with the skills they need to be innovative in the workforce, because the old way of competing through incremental increases in manufacturing process technology won't do it for Japan anymore, they're going to need a more innovative and creative society. I think they've got the youth to do it. The policies haven't caught up.
PACKARD: Herb Levin?
QUESTIONER: (Off mike.)
PACKARD: Oh, I looked at this Herb and then this Herb. (Inaudible.)
QUESTIONER: Americans looking at the European regional institutions and their success have been tempted ever since NATO there should be a NEATO in Northeast Asia. And you'd think after a while we would analyze why this hasn't taken place. The Europeans basically keep the Americans in and keep the Russians out. They had a rationale for this. There isn't any such rationale in Asia. I've attended many of these regional meetings, and it's fine, go right ahead. But unless they see some problems are going to be solved by getting some meatier organizations, I don't think it's going to happen.
So I don't object to reading about it and learning about it, but I don't have any enormous expectations because I don't see what problems are going to be solved. Latin Americans always worry about handling the colossus to the north, and they've got a lot in common, but they haven't decided to have any significant regional organization. I don't see any inevitability.
PACKARD: So what's your question, Herb?
QUESTIONER: So my question is, the reason that the -- another reason that the Asians have been increasingly reluctant, I think, in recent years is because American policy has been hard-line contain China, with Bob Blackwill going around signing up the Indians, giving them more nukes, et cetera, et cetera. It's been very hard-line stuff. And the Japanese are not intrigued with this, and most of the rest of Asia is not intrigued with this.
PACKARD: So what's your question?
Q So if our policy is a "contain China" policy, which is what it has been for the last six years, very hard-line, move the nukes up to -- (inaudible word), the rest of Asia is going to pull back, the Asians are going to pull back from getting involved with us in it.
PACKARD: Okay. That's a comment, and I thank you for it. And I'm going to turn to Herb now, this Herb.
QUESTIONER: Herb London, Hudson Institute. Two very brief questions. The first is, I'd like you to comment on the Japanese demographic condition and its relationship to the kind of assertiveness that you made reference to during the course of your remarks.
And the second, what are the implications in the joint military maneuvers between Japan and India and whether this would serve as a counterweight to Chinese ambitions in the area?
GREEN: In 2025, there will be 13 million fewer Japanese in the workforce than today, and 10 million more retirees. So they have a problem.
That said -- we have an expert -- CSIS -- (inaudible) -- on demographics, and he gives Japan pretty high points for getting ready for that compared to Korea or China, which are not preparing for this demographic tsunami effectively. It's a problem, but the policies are beginning to come into effect to deal with it.
Japan, India, the U.S. had joint naval maneuvers. The Japanese are enthusiastic about India. It gives them balance with China, but also it gives them an outlet other than the U.S. for a more assertive role in the world. The Indians are concerned about China, but they're not stupid, they had these trilateral maneuvers, then they went off and had bilateral maneuvers with the Chinese just to reassure them. So there's great potential in the Japan-India partnership, but probably not as much as Tokyo thinks.
PACKARD: Yeah, (Jason ?).
QUESTIONER: I wonder if I could follow up, actually, on -- (inaudible) -- demographic question. Mike talked about the 15-year trend towards -- (inaudible) -- the declining demographics just in terms of population numbers. At some point is that going to cap any nationalism that may be rising? I mean, you've got three out of the last four largest standing armies in North Korea, South Korea and China. Japan isn't going to be able to manage a 600,000-person army, or at least not very easily. So does that serve as a sort of glass ceiling on nationalism? Or is this going to be overcome somehow, or is it not an issue? It can buy all the F-2s it wants, but it can't manage a 600,000-person army.
PYLE (?): Well, I think that's where the U.S.-Japan alliance becomes so important to the Japanese. And the Japanese are really, in contrast to the Cold War period when they barely used the term "alliance," the Japanese are now embracing the alliance, partly for the reasons that you mention, but also because of the problems they see in the region.
As far as the aging issue goes, we shouldn't underestimate the Japanese ability to rise to this challenge. There are a number of things that the Japanese could do in terms of out-sourcing, in terms of taking a much later retirement age, in terms of using women for employment, and more pro-family policies, guest-worker policies -- there are a number of things that the Japanese are debating now. And so yes, the Japanese population began declining this past fall, but they're confronting the problem.
PACKARD: I was told that there might be some members of the Japanese press here today. If there are, would any of them like to ask a question?
Yes, back there.
QUESTIONER: (Off mike.)
MR. : You're the youth expert.
GREEN: Well, it is true that this generation in their 20s is not being socialized the way previous generations were socialized by schools, by company, and so they're more susceptible to, you know, "manga" -- Yoshinori Kobayashi, you know, in his famous book on Gomanism. I'm told in the current issue that some of us are in it; it's on American Japan scholars. But -- so yeah, they're more susceptible to that.
I think Abe's nationalism is sometimes misunderstood. I don't think Abe's talking about the kind of Yamato ethnocentric nationalism of the past, he's talking about a civic nationalism, about a patriotism that is potentially quite healthy. But it does have that edge that isn't, and that will be worth watching, because I'm generally optimistic about this sort of vision of the -- (inaudible) -- generation. But there is this unfinished business and there is this sort of (petty ?) nationalist edge to it that bears watching.
PACKARD: I'm going to ask John Ikenberry if you have any comments on that or any other point that's been raised, and then I'll close with Ken Pyle. We're almost out of time.
IKENBERRY: Well, I think that this has been a great discussion. And I, too, would want to end on an optimistic note that I don't think the kind of nationalism that we see rising in Japan is of the old style. I think it's more about identity and more of a civic nationalism. And I think that we shouldn't underestimate the continuing feeling inside of Japan for the uniqueness of Japan and the kind of gains and prestige it's had by taking this very distinct path from 1945 to the present; that there isn't a lot of appetite to become a military great power and to confront China. It's partly about demographics, it's partly culture, it's partly about meaning of the past.
So I think that we should expect Japan looking for a kind of middle way that connects a continuation of a strong alliance with some kind of umbrella that will allow it to be more activist in a kind of multilateral, U.N.-based human security kind of way, and that is -- in a world where the next agenda item will be trying to pursue non-proliferation, arms control, demilitarization of foreign policy, that's where Japan can come into sync with the rest of the world and can play a leadership role. It's soft power, but it's more than soft power; it's also leadership in terms of critical issues of security of the current day. So I think there's room for Japan to really have a seat at the table in this way.
PACKARD: Ken, last word.
PYLE: The last word, word of wisdom. Coming from a historian, it would be that here we have two countries in a long-term alliance, but two countries that culturally and socially could hardly be more different. And I guess I would -- as a final word, I would just make a plea for a deeper understanding of our public media of the forces that motivate Japan. The recent dustup, first over Yasukuni, and most recently the "comfort women" issue, which has been so focused on in the American media, has been at, I think, the cost of getting a deeper understanding of Japanese culture. The Japanese people in large numbers are unhappy with the Yasukuni Shrine; the polls show that. On the issue of comfort women, large numbers of Japanese people are deeply perplexed by this issue.
And so I'd like to see our public discourse on Japan be much more -- much better informed. And on issues like the comfort women, I was sorry that Prime Minister Abe didn't turn this issue over to the historians, appoint a blue ribbon commission and say, okay, the historians ought to look at this, keep the politicians out of it. And I would say the same thing about the United States Congress, the congressional resolution. Why bring the politicians into this issue? Let's turn it over to the historians.
So, as an historian, my final word of wisdom. (Laughter.)
PACKARD: And after that commercial message, I would like to say that the door -- the front door is locked and no one gets out of here till you buy Ken Pyle's book -- (laughter) -- two, if possible!
But let me just say that Chapter 2 alone is worth the price of the book, giving the constants that reemerge in Japanese foreign policy since Commodore Perry.
So I want to thank you, Ken, and thank you, John, thank you, Michael, for a most enlightening discussion.
We are adjourned. (Applause.)