Winter/Spring 2017

Spotlight on Japan

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TRUMP TRANSITION AND JAPAN

Trump's America Stands "Behind Japan, 100 Percent"
Sheila A. Smith
(JOSHUA ROEBRTS/REUTERS)  

(JOSHUA ROEBRTS/REUTERS)

 

President Donald J. Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held their first summit meeting on February 10 in Washington, DC, three months after their first meeting in Trump Tower in November. CFR Senior Fellow for Japan Studies Sheila A. Smith argues that both leaders checked off all the core talking points for the U.S.-Japan alliance during their joint press conference. However, while Trump and Abe were enjoying this initial diplomatic win, another provocation by North Korea reminded them that Asia will not stand still. Smith also joined the President's Inbox podcast series with CFR Director of Studies James M. Lindsay and CFR.org's Managing Editor Robert McMahon to preview the summit. Read more »

 
How Asia Fits Into the America First Agenda
 
(KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)  

(KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

 

Smith examines the impact of Trump's America First agenda on the Asia-Pacific region in the East Asia Forum. She points out that the United States’ presence in multilateral settings could be diminished by Trump’s penchant for bilateralism, alliances could be subjected to greater popular scrutiny with little strategic assessment of their value to the region, and U.S.-China policy might dominate the conversation over the U.S. role in Asia. Other publications by Smith on this topic include a roundtable discussion in Asia Policy [PDF] with eight other experts, the winter edition of Comparative Connections with Charles McClean, and a blog post on Asia Unbound in collaboration with other CFR Asia program senior fellows. Read more »

 
Will the United States Have an Asia Policy?
 
(CHICAGO COUNCIL ON GLOBAL AFFAIRS)  

(CHICAGO COUNCIL ON GLOBAL AFFAIRS)

 

Smith took part in the New Asian Security Landscape symposium, organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA), on February 23 to discuss the current and future status of regional security in Asia. She also appeared on the CCGA’s Deep Dish podcast with Richard McGregor, former Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times, and host Brian Hanson, CCGA vice president of studies. Watch the symposium video »

 
Maritime Security Remains Critical for U.S.-Asia Policy
 
(BROOKINGS INSTITUTION)  

(BROOKINGS INSTITUTION)

 

Smith joined leading experts for a discussion on maritime security on March 23, as part of a symposium hosted by the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies and John L. Thornton China Center, in conjunction with the Japan Center for Economic Research, the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and the East Asia Institute.  Watch the video »

 
A Summit to Help Stabilize Ties With Japan
 
(BLOOMBERG)  

(BLOOMBERG)

 

Ahead of the Trump-Abe summit, Smith argued in a Bloomberg interview that the meeting would help to stabilize U.S.-Japan relations, which were shaken by Trump's statements on the campaign trail about the possibility of a nuclear Japan and the need for Japan to pay 100 percent of U.S. basing costs. During Abe's visit in Washington, Smith joined an NPR interview to discuss the long-awaited relocation of the U.S. base in Futenma, Okinawa—an issue that remains contentious for the alliance.  Watch the Bloomberg interview »

 

NORTHEAST ASIAN NATIONALISMS AND ALLIANCE MANAGEMENT PROJECT

Seeing Japan's Political Change Through a New Lens
 
(KAVEH SARDARI)  

(KAVEH SARDARI)

 

Kazuhiro Soda, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and currently a Toyota professor in residence at the University of Michigan, spoke at CFR on October 17 to discuss Japan’s political and social changes as captured by his two innovative films about Japanese elections: Senkyo and Senkyo 2 (Campaign and Campaign 2). Read more »

 
The Future of Japan's Imperial House
 
(ITSUO INOUYE/REUTERS)  

(ITSUO INOUYE/REUTERS)

 

The emperor and his role in Japanese society have been contentious issues in Japan’s postwar politics. Emperor Akihito’s announcement of his desire to abdicate the throne has raised some thorny issues about changing the Imperial Household Law that sets forth the procedures for succession. Ken Ruoff, author of The People's Emperor and the director of Portland State University’s Center for Japanese Studies, spoke at CFR on November 1.  Read more »

 
Revisionism, Populism, or Nationalism?
 
(ATSUKO TAKAGI)  

(ATSUKO TAKAGI)

 

Smith joined the twenty-fifth anniversary symposium of the Abe Fellowship, run by the Social Science Research Council and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, under which she conducted her research on Japan’s foreign policy towards China from 2007 to 2008. She joined Akihiko Tanaka, professor at the University of Tokyo, and Yoshihide Soeya, professor at Keio University, to discuss the challenges posed to U.S.-Japan relations by the global rise of nationalism and populism.

In Tokyo, Smith also gave a series of talks on the results of the U.S. presidential election and issues at stake during the leadership transition. The venues included the University of TokyoCanon Institute of Global Studies, Keizai Koho Center, and American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

 

ABE'S VISIT TO PEARL HARBOR

Abe and Obama: Reconciliation and the Rebalance
Sheila A. Smith
(HUGH GENTRY/REUTERS)  

(HUGH GENTRY/REUTERS)

 

In CFR Expert BriefSmith describes the final meeting between Abe and Obama as "a fitting end to the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia." Facing a dramatically changing Asia, both leaders sought to navigate the sensitive task of bringing U.S. and Japanese citizens together to embrace postwar reconciliation and remembrance. She adds, "Now it is Abe’s turn to use his political support at home to the advantage of the alliance." Read more »

 
Abe Meets Pearl Harbor Survivors
 
(CNN)  

(CNN)

 

On CNN's Wolf, hosted by Jake TapperSmith spoke on the significance of Abe's visit to Pearl Harbor, seven months after Obama's visit to Hiroshima. It was an important step for the prime minister and the president to meet with survivors of both sites. Smith was joined by Shihoko Goto, senior associate at the Wilson Center. Watch the clip »

 
Facebook Live: A Conversation With James Lindsay
 
(COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS)  

(COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS)

 

In her first Facebook Live appearance, Smith and Lindsay explored what Obama and Abe’s a historic visit to Pearl Harbor would mean for U.S.-Japan relations.  Watch the video »

 

JAPAN PROGAM IN ACTION

Smith Podcast Makes Carnegie Council's Top 10
 
(ANDREW KELLEY/REUTERS)  

(ANDREW KELLEY/REUTERS)

 

The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs chose the July 13 episode of the Carnegie Council podcast, "Japan's Politics: A Move toward Nationalism or more of the Status Quo?" as one of their top resources of the year. In the episodeSmith and Devin Stewart, senior program director at the Carnegie Council, discussed the results of Japan's Upper House election and what to expect looking forward. Listen to the podcast »

 
Briefing With Seoul National University Students
 
(AYUMI TERAOKA)  

(AYUMI TERAOKA)

 

Smith and CFR Senior Fellow for Korea Studies Scott Snyder met with a group of undergraduate students from Seoul National University, led by Professor Seong-Ho Sheen. They addressed questions about the introduction of Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense in South Korea, the repercussions of U.S. leadership change on the region, and the impact of Japan's defense policy on the Korean Peninsula.

 
How Japan Navigates a Tumultuous Asia
 
(KAVEH SARDARI)  

(KAVEH SARDARI)

 

Hitoshi Tanaka, Japan's leading regional strategist and chairman of the Institute for International Strategy at the Japan Research Institute, spoke at CFR about how Japan should approach the Trump administration and navigate regional tensions. Read more »

 

RECENT WRITING ON JAPAN

Japan: Women of Influence
Sheila A. Smith
(MOLLEY RILEY/REUTERS)  

(MOLLEY RILEY/REUTERS)

 

To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, the CFR Japan program featured seven women who have made contributions to the field of Japan studies. See the list on Smith's Facebook page and on Asia Unbound. Read more »

 
The Sea Where the Sun Rises
Sheila A. Smith
(OUTLOOK INDIA)  

(OUTLOOK INDIA)

 

As an island nation, the sea defines Japanese identity, and maritime security continues to be the focal point of concern for Japan. In a piece in Outlook India, Smith argues that Tokyo has little interest in going it alone or—as suggested by Trump—developing nuclear weapons. However, it is likely that Abe will increase Japanese defense spending and relax the restraints on the use of force.  Read more »

 
Putin's Japan Visit
Sheila A. Smith
(FRANK ROBICHON/REUTERS)  

(FRANK ROBICHON/REUTERS)

 

From December 15 to 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a long-awaited state visit to Japan, which was delayed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Smith points out that Putin did not bring much with him, but instead argued that it was the United States that had derailed the diplomatic momentum between Russia and Japan. Read more »

 

JAPAN PROGRAM IN THE NEWS

 

CNBC: Japan Scandal, Prime Minister Abe Appears in the Clear, but Image at Risk (March 24, 2017)

World Policy JournalTalking Policy (March 17, 2017)

U.S. News and World Report: Japan's Stability Is Both Strength and Liability (Mar 16, 2017)

Minnesota Public Radio News: Tensions Rising Between the United States and North Korea (Mar 15, 2017)

Chicago Council on Global Affairs: War and Peace in Asia (Mar 02, 2017)

Japan TimesNorth Korea Missile Test Delivers Early Challenge to Trump and Abe (Feb 13, 2017)

Asahi Shimbun日米首脳会談、識者はどうみた (Japanese, Feb 12, 2017)

Bloomberg: CFR Sees Need for Trump to Stabilize Japan Relations (Feb 10, 2017)

PoliticoTrump Gets Ready for Some Golf Course Diplomacy With Japan's Abe (Feb 10, 2017)

NPR: U.S. Bases on Japanese Island of Okinawa Have Long Been Contentious (Feb 10, 2017)

Star TribuneTrump Must Reassure Abe, Japan (Feb 09, 2017)

Stars and StripesTrans-Pacific Partnership Withdrawal Muddles Asia-Pacific Security Picture (Jan 24, 2017)

New York TimesJapanese Panel Signals Support for One-Time Law to Let Emperor Abdicate (Jan 23, 2017)

ABC News: Japanese Prime Minister Becomes First National Leader to Visit Brash-Talking Philippine President (Jan 12, 2017)

Washington PostPearl Harbor Ceremony Punctuates Obama Effort to Ease Tensions Trump Could Inflame (Dec 27, 2016)

New York TimesWithout Obama, Shinzo Abe’s Approach to U.S.-Japan Ties May Be Tested (Dec 27, 2016)

Financial TimesJapan Braces for Changed Landscape Under Trump Presidency (Dec 27, 2016)

El EspanolEl primer ministro japonés en Pearl Harbor: "Mi más sentido pésame a los que murieron aquí" (Spanish, Dec 27, 2016)

CNN: Wolf on Prime Minister Abe's Visit to Pearl Harbor (Dec 27, 2016)

Washington PostIs Abe the First Sitting Japanese Leader to Visit Pearl Harbor? Well, Actually, He May Be the Fourth (Dec 26, 2016)

Japan TimesAbe Prepares to Reciprocate for Obama’s Hiroshima Visit (Dec 26, 2016)

NewsweekVladimir Putin and Shinzo Abe Meet to Untangle Seventy-Year-Old Island Dispute (Dec 15, 2016)

Japan TimesAbe’s Pearl Harbor Visit Rooted in Pragmatism Amid Uncertainties Surrounding Trump (Dec 07, 2016)

Associated PressJapanese Peacekeepers Arrive in South Sudan With New Mandate (Nov 21, 2016)

CNBC: Japan Prime Minister Abe on Trump Meeting: I Am Confident We'll Have a Trusting Relationship (Nov 18, 2016)

Los Angeles TimesJapan's Shinzo Abe Expresses 'Great Confidence' in Trump as a Leader After Meeting (Nov 17, 2016)

Globe and MailTrump Reaches Out to Former Foes as He Builds His Administration (Nov 17, 2016)

Nikkei Asian ReviewTrump Shows Inner Conflict on U.S. Role in Asia: Council on Foreign Relations Expert (Nov 16, 2016)

Harvard Political ReviewHolding It Together: The TPP’s Reception Abroad (Nov 15, 2016)

Washington PostJapan’s Prime Minister Hopes to Start Building “Trusting Relationship” With Trump (Nov 15, 2016)

TBS News: トランプ大統領」誕生なら核兵器使用は? (Nov 03, 2016)

Bloomberg TV Philippines: Starting Gate (Oct 26, 2016)

Mainichi Shimbun16年米大統領選/1 対日政策 「米国の負担軽減」共通 (Japanese, Oct 14, 2016)

Jiji Press: アジア重視政策を発展=日本の負担増期待-クリントン陣営知日派 (Japanese, Oct 12, 2016)

Los Angeles TimesHere's How the United States Is Dealing With Philippines Leader Rodrigo Duterte's Blitz of Rants, Insults, and Ultimatum (Oct 06, 2016)

 

ABOUT THE JAPAN STUDIES PROGRAM

The Japan studies program at CFR aims to meet the demand for greater policy analysis and dialogue between the United States and Japan at a time of considerable global transformations. At both the regional and global levels, the United States and Japan have a common stake in managing successfully new economic and security challenges. Moreover, at a time of significant domestic transitions in our societies, the ability for the two countries to work together to find opportunities for effective and timely policy coordination is more important than ever. Under the direction of Sheila A. Smith, the Japan studies program regularly organizes small and large high-level meetings with leading experts on Japan’s foreign policy and domestic issues.

CFR's Japan programming is made possible in part by the generosity of the following corporate sponsors: Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc., Mitsubishi International Corporation, Toyota Motor North America, and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.