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Posted in: Japan, U.S. aim for TPP progress before summit See in context

So who needs TPP? Obama does because he needs to prove the pivot to Asia is something more than military enhancements and taps wealth to enrich America. Abe does to get American adherence to his anti-China stance.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Nuclear regulator says it is very close to ending review of 2 reactors See in context

Monju reached criticality, that is became operational in test mode, in 1994. In 1995 it had a sodium fire, and came off line. In 2010, it achieved criticality again but only for a few months before a piece of dropped machinery closed it until today. One hour of generated electricity. That cost about 10 billion dollars. This is Japan high nuclear technology.

In short, when nukes go off line reactor workers lose their edge in operating them. Do Japanese really want the equivalent of Homer Simpson to restart and operate their nukes?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Aso to repeat demand for AIIB transparency at G20 meeting See in context

As Earl Butz, Nixon's Interior Secretary famously said, "He no playa the game, he no maka the rules" -- said of the Pope in fake Italian accent.

Same is true for Aso here. No play, no rule making.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Toyota to build plant in China in investment splurge See in context

Unlike Japanese and American economic prognosticators whose analyses are driven by policy and political considerations as well as economic ones, Toyota has to put its money where it believes it can get the best return. For it China and Mexico make a lot of sense. China is a huge market as well as a good production base, and Mexican-made products can enter the lucrative North American market through NAFTA.

What good is TPP to Toyota? TPP creates an anti-China bloc, and most Asian multinationals have figured out the warts of NAFTA.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: TEPCO considers evaporation, storage of tritium-laced Fukushima water See in context

Tritium really is a relatively -- emphasis relatively -- harmless isotope. The problem is that TEPCO is an absolutely -- emphasis not relatively -- incompetent steward of the Fukushima Daiichi site. Consequently, the fishermen have no confidence, and hence fish consumers have no confidence that any manner of tritium management is sound so long as it is in the hands of TEPCO.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: Kennedy upbeat about economic growth across Asia See in context

I am so pleased to have such a rosy forecast made by such a renowned economic prognosticator. Thank you so much, Ambassador Kennedy!!

Seriously, does the Obama administration have no one more qualified?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: LDP urges government to push for nuclear return See in context

The fact that the LDP is making this instruction means that the decision is political, and in a Japanese context, that means the decision is opaque.

The economics of nuclear energy are hidden away. Each NPP has massive construction investments and there is no scalability. These things are at least foreseeable and the power company has nominal responsibility and charges for it. But the decommissioning responsibility is another matter. It is murky who is responsible and murky as to where the waste is supposed to go. Maybe it can all be dumped into Fukushima since that is a dead zone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Emperor, empress arrive in Palau for 2-day visit See in context

Emperor Akihito and the Crown Prince represent the decent side of the history discussion encouraging the Japanese to remember vividly the enormous human cost of waging wars of aggression in extraordinarily cruel and vicious ways and to use those remembrances to shape the culture of Japan with its stellar record of peace, prosperity, respect for human rights since August 1945. Peleliu was a bitterly fought battle, with horrific casualties on both sides.

In complete contrast, Shindo, and Abe, and Shimomura, and Takaichi, and other right wing revisionists want to erase what they call a masochistic history and "restore the honor" of militarists, impetialists, aggressors, mass murderers, gang rapists, and plunderers who are guilty of nothing more than losing the war.

Revere the Emperor, expel the right wing nutsoes in the Kantei!!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Former abductee urges gov't to put more pressure on N Korea See in context

Japan has some leverage over North Korea, but getting Pyongyang to actually do something about abductees is unrealistic. Kim Jong Il did all that Pyongyang is going to do, and if Abe Shinzo believes otherwise he is just doing Japanese politics which the North Koreans do not care about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe to craft war history statement with eye on U.S. See in context

Abe Shinzo and his kind believe that the only thing that Japan did wrong was to lose the war. They claim that Japanese were only trying to lead an anti-western imperialist Asia, but rather than ally with Asian leaders, they annexed, invaded, killed, raped, and looted, creating puppet governments in Manchuria, the Philippines, China, and the Dutch East Indies.

But Japan did lose the war. So the Japanese rightists chose the least bad victor, the United States, and ignore all the others. The Americans were happy to oblige because they feared the Soviet Union and the Chinese communists and needed their erstwhile enemy to buttress them.

Now Abe Shinzo will go to America and acknowledge the Americans and the Americans mainly as victors. He will hide the fact that he despises aspects of the MacArthur Constitution, ironically for the very clause that has been the basis for the magnificent championing of peace, nuclear-disarmament, human rights, prosperity, and human dignity ever since the end of World War II.

Japan has no parallel since World War II for these accomplishments. Abe Shinzo chooses to tarnish those achievements by "restoring the honor" of those Japanese fanatics who assassinated their own prime ministers, imposed Emperor worship to justify war, executed the war with brutality and cruelty, and sacrificed their own people in hopeless causes.

Craft away at your talk, Abe Shinzo. But try being a truly great leader rather than a manipulator of terms for their opportunist value rather than their sincerity and clarity.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Posted in: Suga urges Okinawan governor to back down in U.S. base dispute See in context

Onaga will ultimately lose this dispute. That is not because he is not morally right but because Japanese law gives the cabinet the power, with the local government having very little authority.

I reiterate a basic truth. Okinawans have long been sacrificed on the altar of the U.S.-Japan alliance, and this instance is just the latest. There are 52 airports for 47 prefectures in Japan, almost all in good enough shape to be transferred to U.S. Military use after some refurbishment at much less expense than in Henoko.

The view among many Ametican military commanders that Okinawa somehow naturally is suited to be the main bases for USFJ combines with cynical NIMBYism of main island Japanese, buttressed by a long line of LDP governments which wanted to limit the Americans to as far away as possible.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Posted in: LDP wants 20% nuclear power in energy mix See in context

"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.""

So said Robert Oppenheimer.

Japan needs to be wary of tempting "Death" having suffered exclusively its reach.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. hopes Japan's navy will be more active in Pacific See in context

The Chinese Navy, PLAN, is an OK force on paper as is the JMSDF. Only the USN has real experience, but the operational tempo of the 7th Fleet has led to a degree of wear.

In this context, the PLAN knows it does not match up to the 7th Fleet, especially if the latter is buttressed by JMSDF assets. So the best posture for the PLAN is A2/AD -- anti-access, area denial. This is primarily asymmetry, knowing that the USN -- and the JMSDF -- does not tolerate losses, and hence is to a large degree risk averse. So, what should China do?

Exactly what it is doing. Do small scale construction on islands and force an uptick in the operational tempo of reactive forces. Conduct exercises further into the Pacific to assert its rights of passage and use. If the USN and JMSDF assets bite, so much the better. In the meantime, China works on anti-ship missiles that can potentially sink a capital ship, which then could force the USN to operate further away.

So the question is how much risk is Japan prepared to stomach. We are not talking Jutland or Midway or even the Java Sea. We are talking about minor interactions, with some danger of risk of escalation, in the context of poor communications.

It is a real problem, and I hope Japan is prepared for the consequences of a more robust role.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Women's group gets North Korean support to walk across DMZ See in context

If the North Koreans allow this, the South Koreans will welcome the, and the American forces will support. President Park wants a Peace Park in the DMZ, and such a walk would facilitate that initiative incrementally.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Hard money, soft standards? Tough questions for China's new bank See in context

The participants in the AIIB need to be clear headed about China. It is true that there are huge environmental problems and a huge amount of non-transparency and corruption in government at all levels.

That being said, there are actually massive and mostly positively developed transportation infrastructure projects within China and stretching out to and through its neighbors. The effect of this infrastructure is to not only speed up the movement of goods and people within China but also further integrate the supply chain network that undergirds the intense economic activity in the region. Xi Jinping's "belt and road" ideas are not pipe dreams but actually real and potential. That is why the neighbors want in on Chinese-led infrastructure development and also why the further destinations in Europe want in to.

This is not to say that there will not be governance issues for China and the AIIB, but we should also appreciate that China has probably the most outstanding infrastructure performance in recent years. Unlike in Japan, China's road and rail lines actually lead somewhere useful, and unlike in America, the Chinese understand the importance of transportation and other infrastructure to buttress prosperity.

There are choices before us. We can wish ill of the AIIB because China is in charge. I think it better to help AIIB be managed well under China, and in that manner help make China better at governance.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan, U.S. look to extend naval missions See in context

The Chinese Navy, PLAN, is an OK force on paper as is the JMSDF. Only the USN has real experience, but the operational tempo of the 7th Fleet has led to a degree of wear.

In this context, the PLAN knows it does not match up to the 7th Fleet, especially if the latter is buttressed by JMSDF assets. So the best posture for the PLAN is A2/AD -- anti-access, area denial. This is primarily asymmetry, knowing that the USN -- and the JMSDF -- does not tolerate losses, and hence is to a large degree risk averse. So, what should China do?

Exactly what it is doing. Do small scale construction on islands and force an uptick in the operational tempo of reactive forces. If the USN and JMSDF assets bite, so much the better. In the meantime, China works on anti-ship missiles that can potentially sink a capital ship, which then could force the USN to operate further away.

So the question is how much risk is Japan prepared to stomach. We are not talking Jutland or Midway or even the Java Sea. We are talking about minor interactions, with some danger of risk of escalation, in the context of poor communications.

It is a real problem, and I hope Japan is prepared for the consequences of a more robust role.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to extend N Korea sanctions for 2 more years See in context

Back to square zero.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S., Japan have significant gaps on auto market access See in context

The American auto companies were among the last resisters to the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement, but were finally won over. The auto companies have seen "dramatic" increases in sales in percentage terms, but in actual numerical terms they are miniscule also-rans in Korea.

With the bad taste of the KORUS FTA still fresh, the auto companies do not want to go down this road again. Then democrats need to win Michigan in the presidential election. The labor unions hate the TPP, and so Obama needs help from the Republicans who hate him.

Wendy Cutler has to go through this kabuki to show how the democrats really care about industry. I am convinced, are you?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan eyes informal six-way talks on N Korea See in context

The tone of the article makes it sound like Japan is taking a lead role in trying to get six party talks re-started. This is far from the case. Five of the six parties -- America, Korea, Japan, China, and Russia -- agree that they want North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs. They have not, so far, been able to get the North to the negotiation table. So, the five are using the NEACD meeting to be held in Japan as a vehicle to lure the North Koreans to at least discuss the possibility of restarting formal talks. The NEACD is a so-called track 1.5 in which government officials can participate in their personal capacity, and so this gives some cover for speaking frankly.

There are no indications at all that the North will even want to come to Japan for the NEACD meeting. Still, because Japan is the venue, perhaps the Japanese government is floating some ideas that might appeal to the North so that Japan can gain some credit for reviving a moribund process. Good luck!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan denies plan to join China-led development bank See in context

Playing a game of catch up, American Treasury Secretary Lew said in Beijing that America was willing to work with the AIIB. This is interpreted to mean that America will not/cannot join, but is resigned that AIIB is a reality and needs to sound somewhat positive. So, America is trying to get out of its hole somewhat. Perhaps Japan should also, but the Abe administration leadership is too much led by its pride and prejudice against China.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: TEPCO to make all data on radiation at Fukushima plant public See in context

Releasing all data is not necessarily a good thing if it is simply raw date. What is also necessary is TEPCO's own analyses, whether complete or not, on what mitigation and management measures the company or its advisors and contractors have taken, including if they failed,especially if they failed, so that future steps make use of that failure to find solutions to this problem.

I am afraid that TEPCO may not be responsible enough to do this sort of transparency. Its track record to date does not portend well.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: China to invite foreign militaries to take part in parade marking victory over Japan See in context

The Chinese Communist forces, mostly centered around the New Fourth Amy and the Eighth Route Army, put up a formidable fight against the Japanese invaders, although the Communist forces eventually began to fight guerrilla campaigns, with the Imperial Japanese Army stuck in the large cities and transportation junctions and along the coast.

That the Communist forces were formidable is indicated by three things. One is the Japanese 三光政策 -- the three "all's" policy of burn all, kill all, loot all -- designed to but ultimately failing to eradicate the Communist forces but which left behind mass atrocities. The second is the widespread perception by the peasantry in Northern China that it was the communist fighting the Japanese. Third is the relative ease with which communist forces won the civil war against the nationalists.

The Nationalist forces did fight the majority of the conflict against the Imperial Japanese Army and by trading space for time brought the IJA to near exhaustion. It was at this stage in 1944 that the IJA launched the 一号作戦 Ichigo Offensive designed to knock the KMT out of the war so that Japan could focus on the American offensive from the Pacific. The Japanese offensive eventually failed but did inflict substantial damage on KMT forces. Mao Zedong would later facetiously but accurately thank Japan for helping the communist win the civil war.

So, China, even as represented by the PRC, is indeed a victor over Japan. And it is also proper from the Chinese point of view to call this a victory in the "War Against Japanese Aggression" since it was the Japanese who committed the aggression and killing tens of millions of Chinese in the process.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan uses climate cash for coal plants in India, Bangladesh See in context

Coal is a terrible fuel. Unfortunately, too many countries, including America and China, have ample reserves of it with strong interest groups that buttress the myth that somehow coal can be burned cleanly. It can be burned cleanly but not economically if it is changed to a cleaner burning fuel.

This is why Obama is trying to rally friends and allies into reducing new coal facilities and financing for coal facilities. Japan signed onto that idea. Now Japan is reneging. What will you do about that, Obama?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's long wait to address U.S. Congress See in context

I am not a fan of Abe Shinzo, but I think it right for the PM of a major American ally to speak before Congress, especially this year, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. This is also seventy years of a stellar record of Japan in advancing peace, prosperity, and human rights. I believe Abe to be a tremendously flawed leader, but he should be given this opportunity that he is better than what he has shown so far. Some 54% of the Japanese people, according to a Kyodo poll, believe that Japan should use the occasion this year to reiterate apologies to those wronged by imperial Japan up to August 1945. That shows that the Japanese people are wise and mature. Let us hope their PM is also when he commands a stage in Washington.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: ANA orders three Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners See in context

That the 787 is a plane that should attract buyers is indicated by the fact that the Europeans are building the A350 Airbus, which also uses composite materials and is more energy efficient with more comfortable internal pressure than predecessors.

As with the 787, the A350 will likely also have components manufactured internationally. Incidentally, a big chunk of the 787 fuselage is built in Aichi Prefecture, and with Toyota also present there, the prefecture is quite a manufacturing hub. I believe Toray is also involved in a major way.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Abe to attend Lee's funeral in Singapore See in context

Lest people like heynong live in the world where "Mr. Lee admired Japanese justice system during wartime" Abe Shinzo was asked by a reporter about Lee Kwan Yew's views. This is from Mainichi:

Noting Lee's criticism of Japan over its responsibility for the war, Abe said, "Based on its deep remorse over World War II, Japan has followed the path of peace and become a democratic and free nation."

A good answer, but the questions are there and history is still not forgotten because certain Japanese want to alter others' views of history towards a revisionist one.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Australia signs up for negotiations on Chinese-led bank See in context

Could the Aussies have done otherwise now that everybody relevant, except for America and Japan, have signed on?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Sendai official sacked over fake bereavement days off See in context

Is the real face of local government? It can be because of the incentives built in for this type of misbehavior in uncertain and unsettled times.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Innovation helps Japan's tsunami-hit farmers bounce back See in context

Still not making a profit. Consolidation of land, moving into vegetables, developing value-added products.... This is all fine, but "still not making a profit" ..... These are the words that say that these folks are not back. I, too, wish them well, but until they begin making even a smidgen of profit, this is not a real going concern.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan makes a start on sharing lessons from nuclear crisis See in context

One sad aspect of the Japanese government's sorry role in the UN conference is that Japan has a solid record of contribution to disaster relief. Just look at the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution in Kobe, which was established in the aftermath of the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake in 1995. I visited occasionally when I lived in the Kansai, and I greatly admire the dedicated people associated with the institution.

The organization has helped organized relief and recovery operations in lots of instances and sent a team to the Tohoku.

The resources, the expertise, and the willingness is there, but it is up to the Japanese government to tap such organizations instead of going through the motions as the PM did during this conference.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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