Sunday, December 10, 2017

Monday in Washington, December 11, 2017


RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FUNDING IN THE 2018 US FARM BILL. 12/11, 8:30-9:15am. Sponsor: AEI. Speakers: Vincent H. Smith, AEI; Philip Pardey, University of Minnesota.

U.S.-KOREA DEFENSE ACQUISITION AND SECURITY COOPERATION. 12/11, 9:00am-12:30pm. Sponsors: CSIS; Defense Acquisition Program Administration; Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade; Korea Aerospace Industries. Speakers: Dr. Jeon, Jei Guk, Minister, Defense Acquisition Program Administration; Yu, Byoung-Gyu, President, Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade.

BEYOND TRADE: THE COSTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF EXITING NAFTA. 12/ 11, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Richard Miles. Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Americas Program, CSIS; Scott Miller, Senior Adviser and Scholl Chair in International Business, CSIS; Ambassador Carla Hills, CSIS Counselor and Trustee; ​Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne, Senior Adviser with the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS and former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Argentina; Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, former Mexican Ambassador to the United States; Ambassador Michael Wilson, former Ambassador to the United States and Former Minister of Finance for Canada; moderator: Romina Bandura, Senior Fellow with the Project on Prosperity and Development and the Project on U.S. Leadership in Development at CSIS.

THE MADCOM FUTURE: HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL ENHANCE COMPUTATIONAL PROPAGANDA, REPROGRAM HUMAN CULTURE, AND THREATEN DEMOCRACY...AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT.
12/11, Noon–2:00pm. Sponsor: Elliott School, GW Speakers: Matt Chessen, Foreign Service Officer, State Department; Robert Ogburn, Visiting State Department Fellow, The Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, School of Media and Public Affairs and the Elliott School of International Affairs.

CLASHING OVER COMMERCE. 12/11, 12:15-1:30pm. Sponsor: Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) Speaker: author Douglas Irwin, Professor, Economics, Dartmouth College. Webcast.

WHITHER AMERICA? A STRATEGY FOR REPAIRING AMERICA'S POLITICAL CULTURE. 12/11, 2:00pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speaker: John Raidt, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Middle East Security Initiative, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

JAPAN AND THE UNITED STATES AS GLOBAL LEADERS IN ENERGY AND INNOVATION. 12/11, Noon-1:30pm, Lunch. Sponsor: Sasakawa USA. Speakers: Robbie Diamond, Founder, President and CEO, Securing America's Energy (SAFE); Phyllis Yoshida, Fellow for Energy and Technology, Sasakawa USA; Moderator: Daniel Bob, Director of Programs and Senior Fellow, Sasakawa USA.

ANATOMY OF FAILURE: WHY AMERICA LOSES EVERY WAR IT STARTS.
12/11, 5:30-7:30pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Harlan Ullman, Distinguished Senior Fellow, U.S. Naval War College, Senior Adviser, Atlantic Council; Susan Eisenhower, President of The Eisenhower Group and Chairman Emeritus at the Eisenhower Institute; Edward Luce, Washington Columnist for the Financial Times; Frederick Kempe, President and CEO of the Atlantic Council. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Spirits Homecoming in DC


Two Screenings in Washington, DC

5:00-7:30pm, Reception, Washington, DC
Sponsors 
Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues (WCCW); Institute for Korean Studies, GWU Speaker: Junglae Cho, Director and Screenplay
Location 
George Washington University
1957 E St., NW, Marvin Center, Amphitheater, Room 213

3:00-4:30pm, Reception, Rockville, MD 
Sponsor 
Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues (WCCW)
Speaker: Junglae Cho, Director and Screenplay 
Location
Universities at Shady Groves (USG)
9630 Gudelsky Drive, Building II, Auditorium

View the Trailer


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

War and Memory in Japan


Something Dreadful Happened in the Past: 
Generational Memory of War and Peace in Japan

Akiko Hashimoto (Visiting Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies at Portland State University, and Faculty Fellow of Yale University’s Center for Cultural Sociology) speaks to Temple University's Japan Campus,
Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS) on November 9, 2017.

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She is author and editor of volumes on cultural sociology and comparative sociology, focused on social constructions of reality in varied cultural settings. Her special interests are cultural trauma, war memory, national identity, culture and power, popular culture and media, family and aging.

Japanese children are raised in an environment encoded with generational memory that encourages them to develop negative moral sentiments about the Asia-Pacific War. The “encouragement” comes in subtle and unsubtle ways, as young children develop gut instincts that “something dreadful happened in the past,” even if they don’t fully understand what or why. A growing number of cultural institutions and communities play a pivotal role in producing this generational memory as the wartime generation passes on. Drawing on the emotions of cultural trauma to forge a pacifist moral consciousness is a common technique of transmitting memory at such sites. Hashimoto’s talk will explore the broader cultural premise of the pacifist nation underlying the plural narratives of dark history that continue to cast a shadow on postwar Japan. The talk is based on Hashimoto’s The Long Defeat: Cultural Trauma, Memory and Identity in Japan which has recently been published in a Japanese translation.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Monday in Washington, December 4, 2017

RAISING GLOBAL THREATS: WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN. 12/4, 8:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Defense Forum Washington 2017, U.S. Naval Institute. Speakers Include: Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy, CAPT John Cordle, USN (Ret.), Director, Maintenance University, Huntington Ingalls Industries.

8th ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON TURKEY. 12/4, 9:00-3:00pm. Sponsors: Middle East Institute (MEI); Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Speakers: Michael Meier, Representative to the U.S. and Canada, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung; Gönül Tol, Director, Turkish Studies, MEI; Aykan Erdemir, Senior fellow, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; Ahmet Kuru, Professor, Political Science, San Diego State University; Giran Ozcan, Washington representative, People's Democratic Party; Günes Murat Tezcür, Jalal Talabani Chair, Kurdish Political Studies, University of Central Florida; Arne Lietz, Member of the European Parliament; Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Neil Moskowitz Professor, Economics, University of Maryland; Omer Taspinar, Professor, National Defense University; Dimitar Bechev, senior fellow, Atlantic Council; Jonathan Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Turkey, Greece, & Cyprus, U.S. Department of State; Kati Piri, Member of the European Parliament; Ozturk Yilmaz, Member of Parliament, Republican People's Party, Republic of Turkey; Moderators: Lisel Hintz, Assistant professor , SAIS, Johns Hopkins; Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor.

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THE NATURE OF CHANGE: THE SCIENCE OF INFLUENCING BEHAVIOR. 12/4, 9:00am-6:00pm. Sponsor: World Wildlife Fund. Speakers: Dr. Dan Ariely, Professor, Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University; Sarilani Wirawan, Director, Rare-Indonesia; Gayle Burgess, Consumer Behavior Change Coordinator, TRAFFIC; Ronan Donovan, Wildlife Photographer and Filmmaker, National Geographic Explorer; Dr. Beth Karlin, Research Director, Norman Lear Center, University of Southern California.

DOING BUSINESS WITH THE EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION: IMPROVING EAST-WEST RELATIONS. 12/4, 9:00am-7:00pm. Sponsor: Eurasia Center. Speakers: TBA.

WINNING THE THIRD WORLD: THE SINO-AMERICAN RIVALRY. 12/4, 11:00am-Noon. Sponsor: CSIS. Speaker: Gregg Brazinsky, Author, Associate Professor, GWU.

KASHMIR: SARDAR MASOOD KHAN'S PERSPECTIVE. 12/4
, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Amb. Masood Khan, President, Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK); Moderated by: Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council.

70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MARSHALL PLAN. 12/4, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, University of Southern California. Speaker: Karen Donfried, President, German Marshall Plan of the United States. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Japanese state history dissemination

Autobiography of Massachusetts
native who survived
the Bataan Death March
On November 30, the Abe Administration through its Foreign Ministry's think tank, the Japan International Institute for International Studies (JIIA), will sponsor a conference in Washington, DC at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), entitled, POST-WAR U.S.-JAPAN RECONCILIATION: STRATEGIC BENEFITS OF HEALING.

Its purpose, as the Sankei Shimbun article below explains, is to present the current Japanese government's views of history.

This means it is an effort to sanitize the Japanese Administration's denier history narrative and to discredit Korea and China's historical views of WWII.  The United States will be presented as the "good" reconcilier. However, people who actually fought for historical justice for the American POWs, civilian internees, and comfort women are not included in the conference. These scholars and activists are likely to observe that the U.S. was a reconciler through neglect and its absence in reconciliation programs.

Speakers complicit in this effort are: Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA); Michael H. Armacost, Shorenstein APARC fellow, Stanford University; Gerald L. Curtis, Burgess professor emeritus of political science at Columbia University; Thomas Berger, professor of international relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University; Rohan Mukherjee, assistant professor of political science at Yale-NUS College in Singapore; Keiko Iizuka, editorialist and senior political writer for the Yomiuri Shimbun; Koichi Ai, acting director general at the Japan Institute of International Affairs; Michael R. Auslin, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Jennifer Lind, Associate Professor, Department of Government, Dartmouth College; Toshihiro Nakayama, Professor, Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University; Douglas H. Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; James L. Schoff, senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program.

Japan International Institute for International Studies Begins to Spread Japan's Viewpoints on History by Initiating its First International Symposium on History and Reconciliation

Sankei Shimbun, November 19, 2017 [Provisional Translation by APP Interns]

The Japan International Institute for International Studies (President and Director General Yoshiji Nogami, Former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs) will hold a number of symposia overseas on the theme of "history and reconciliation.” It is the first time for JIIA, established in 1959, to hold a symposium overseas on this theme. This is an effort to disseminate overseas the arguments of the Japan side based on objective historical research on such issues as territory and comfort women that Japan has [differences] with neighboring countries.

The symposia will be held in Washington DC on November 30th; in Paris next January; and in New Delhi in February. Researchers from Japan and overseas will participate and it is expected that the latest research in Japan and the opinions of researchers from third-party countries will be presented.

In addition to underscoring the differences between regions that experienced the last world war [大戰] and other events where reconciliation has progressed and those regions where it has not, the symposia are expected also to focus discussion on nationalism in each country.

[Note: The Sankei’s text is ambiguous and written badly. The Sankei writer is hinting above that one should “look at Taiwan and the Philippines, etc., who are very cooperative with Japan despite their war experience, and compare them with the Koreans and Chinese who continue to condemn Japan.”]

The Institute held a symposium in Tokyo this October [the 12th, (Japanese only)] that invited history researchers and others from South Korea, India and the U.S. entitled “History and Reconciliation - Thinking from International Comparison.” One participant, Professor Park Yu-ha of Sejong University [not a historian], the author of the book The Empire's Comfort Women, who was charged [and convicted] of defamation against the several former Comfort Women, said, “The background of the comfort women issue as a major problem between Japan and South Korea can be traced to the fact that the ideological conflict between the left and right in South Korea is closely linked to their views of Korean history as related to Japan.” [i.e., Park is saying that the Korean Left is anti-Japanese and the Right is pro-Japanese]

With an unfair “history war” developing abroad, a JIIA official noted, “We hope that these symposia can spread the data [correct historical evidence] that Japan has accumulated so far in order to appeal to the hearts of people in the West and elsewhere.
###

Background

>Japan Institute of International Affairs caves to right-wing pressure. 2006/2007

The Struggle for the Japanese Soul: Komori Yoshihisa, Sankei Shimbun, and the JIIA controversy By David McNeill, Japan Focus, September 4, 2006.

Softly, Softly: Did the Japan Institute of International Affairs buckle under right-wing pressure? No, says Ambassador Satoh Yukio. Yes, say his critics by David McNeill; Fred Varcoe interviews Amb. Satoh Yukio, Japan Focus, July 3, 2007.

>SYMPOSIUM "HISTORY AND RECONCILIATION-AN INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE STUDY"-October 12, 2017 JIIA Symposium in Tokyo

Part I: "Case Studies on Reconciliation" [Video]

Mr. Brahma Chellaney, Professor, Strategic Studies, Center for Policy Research in New Delhi

Ms. Lily Gardner Feldman, Senior Fellow, American Institute for Contemporary German Studies(AICGS), Johns Hopkins

Mr. Fumiaki Kubo, Senior Fellow, American Government and History, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, University of Tokyo

Mr. Nobukatsu Kanehara, Deputy Secretary General of National Security Secretariat and Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office of Japan

Part II: "What Promotes and Prevents Reconciliation?"

Ms. Yinan He, Associate professor, Department of International Relations, Lehigh University

Ms. Ji Young Kim, Associate Professor, Department of Area Studies, University of Tokyo

Mr. Kazuya Sakamoto, Professor, Department of Law and Political Science, Graduate School of Law and Politics, Osaka University

Mr. Thongchai Winichakul, Emeritus Professor of Southeast Asian History, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Part III: "Reconciliation and Nationalism"

Mr. Yūichi Hosoya, Senior Fellow, Tokyo Foundation, Professor, Faculty of Law, Keio University.

Mr. Lung-chih Chang, Associate Research Fellow and Deputy Director, Institute of Taiwan History

Mr. Daqing Yang, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, GWU

Ms. Yu-ha Park, Professor, College of Liberal Arts, Sejong University

Mr. Shin Kawashima, Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo

Abe's success of Trump's Japan visit



Japan’s Pyrrhic Victory Over ‘Comfort Women’ Commemoration

Blocking comfort women documents from UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register could do Japan more harm than good.

By Edward Vickers, Professor of Comparative Education at Kyushu University, Japan. He is a member of the War Memoryscapes in Asia Partnership (WARMAP), funded by the Leverhulme Trust and coordinated by Mark Frost of Essex University. His latest book, Education and Society in Post-Mao China, was published by Routledge in 2017.

The Diplomat, November 25, 2017

October was a good month for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Following his crushing electoral victory came a further triumph highly prized by Japanese rightists: the stymieing of attempts to inscribe documents relating to “comfort women” — wartime sex slaves of the Japanese military — on UNESCO’s “Memory of the World Register.”

An international alliance had submitted an application, “Voices of the Comfort Women,” in May 2016. But on October 27, inscription was declared “postponed” pending “dialogue” between the applicants and the Japanese government.

This decision is portrayed by Abe’s supporters as endorsing his efforts to close the book on the wartime past, and restore Japan to a “normal” role in world affairs. But does Japan’s UNESCO diplomacy really serve this end? Or does it rather ensure that controversy over wartime atrocities continues to fester, imperiling Japan’s security by lending ammunition to anti-Japan nationalists?

Over many decades, Japan has invested heavily in UNESCO, which it joined in 1951, five years before becoming a full member of the UN itself. From 2011, following withdrawal of U.S. funding, it became the biggest contributor to the organisation’s budget. UNESCO has served as a rare arena for Japanese diplomatic leadership; it was largely at Japanese instigation, for example, that UNESCO declared 2004-2014 the “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.” Through such initiatives, Japan built up a reputation for responsible global citizenship.

But the Abe administration claims that in recent years other states — specifically China and South Korea — have sought to “politicize” the organisation, in particular its heritage listing process. In 2015, China secured “Memory of the World” inscription for documents relating to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. Shortly thereafter, Japan suspended its financial contribution to UNESCO in protest.

Japan also sought to buy South Korea’s silence over the “comfort women” issue. A bilateral agreement in December 2015 offered compensation to surviving victims, in return for the South Korean government’s defunding campaigns for further recognition — specifically the application to UNESCO. But far from resolving tensions, the agreement exacerbated them. This was due not least to the blatantly disingenuous nature of the Japanese stance: half-hearted contrition for foreign consumption, alongside intensifying revisionism within Japan itself. Under Abe, discussion of “comfort women” has all but disappeared from school textbooks.

This does not mean that the history of wartime sex slavery simply pits Japanese villainy against Korean or Chinese victimhood. As the South Korean scholar Park Yu-ha has controversially pointed out, Chinese and Korean gangs trafficked women for the Japanese military; some girls were sold into prostitution by their impoverished families; and while most were tricked or coerced, there were exceptions. Trafficking in women for sex is nothing new, and continues across Asia and beyond. For example, China’s skewed sex ratio — a by-product of the One Child Policy — is today fueling an upsurge in trafficking along its southern borders.

Nor were Japan’s imperial forces unique in deploying sexual violence. The Soviet advance into Germany at the end of World War II witnessed an orgy of rape and assault on women, as troops took revenge for suffering inflicted by the Germans on their compatriots. And as Japanese revisionists like to point out, American military bases in South Korea and Japan today are liberally serviced by local sex workers.

However, the “comfort women” system was a particularly coordinated, institutionalized, and brutal form of sexual exploitation. Moreover, for many campaigners, the continuing abuse of women today is precisely the point. The activists at the Women’s Active Museum of War and Peace in Tokyo, for example, see a failure to acknowledge the iniquity of the “comfort women” system as symptomatic of the entrenched chauvinism of Japanese society. For many, securing recognition for wartime sex slaves is partly about drawing attention to the widespread persistence of the kinds of attitudes toward women that underpinned that system. This aim would seem eminently consistent with UNESCO’s humanitarian mission.

But UNESCO is an organization in crisis. In parts of its decrepit Paris headquarters, rusty reinforcing rods can be seen poking through the crumbling concrete. A lack of UNESCO funding left the German government to cover my group’s travel costs when recently visiting to launch a UNESCO-commissioned report on education in Asia. One official whispered fears that Japan might follow the United States in withdrawing completely. Meanwhile, Chinese influence is rapidly filling the void, leaving many UNESCO insiders desperate somehow to restore political balance.

This is the context for the recent “Memory of the World” decision. In 2015, a related Chinese application was turned down, despite the fact that the International Advisory Committee adjudged the submitted documents to have “met the criteria” for registration. In light of the transnational nature of the issue, the committee recommended that groups in various affected countries (not just China) jointly submit a more comprehensive collection of documents. Hence the subsequent South Korean-led 14-country application, the documents submitted by which were described earlier this year by UNESCO’s Register Sub-Committee as “irreplaceable and unique.”

Japan was meanwhile fiercely pressing for revision of the criteria for inscription. It finally secured a commitment to pursue “dialogue” in cases where an application is contested — the principle cited in the recent “postponement” decision. However, as the alliance supporting registration noted in an October 31 press release, this potentially amounts to a perpetrator’s veto: “It means that documents related to colonial regimes should be negotiated with the colonizers, and the damage suffered by victims of war should be discussed with the perpetrators.”

UNESCO’s eagerness to placate Japan is apparent elsewhere, too. This July, the island of Okinoshima off the coast of Kyushu was declared a “World Heritage Site,” along with related shrines on the mainland. The island is a repository of thousands of ancient artifacts from South Korea, China and beyond, mysteriously deposited over the centuries. Intensive Japanese lobbying persuaded the UNESCO committee to override an expert recommendation to register only the island itself, and agree instead to inscribe the mainland sites as well. Moreover, the official description of the site notes neither a “traditional” ban on women landing on Okinoshima, nor the island’s association with nationalistic annual commemorations of a nearby 1905 naval battle.

Not all recent decisions have gone Japan’s way. An application to inscribe as “Memory of the World” documents relating to Sugihara Chiune, the wartime Japanese consul in Latvia who helped save several thousand Jews, was rejected. The reasons were not divulged, but celebrating an instance of wartime Japanese humanitarianism while denying inscription to “comfort women” documents was probably seen as politically unwise.

Given threats from a nuclearizing North Korea and an increasingly assertive China, the project of pursuing a more “normal” constitutional position for Japan’s armed forces has much to recommend it. However, to seek constitutional reform alongside historical revisionism is both ethically indefensible and strategically insane. It needlessly sullies Japan’s international reputation and awards easy propaganda points to nationalists elsewhere intent on portraying Japanese as unrepentant militarists.

And Japan’s actions threaten UNESCO’s reputation, too. In squandering much of the goodwill acquired over decades of involvement in UNESCO, it has exacerbated the very process of “politicization” it claims to lament. Denying inscription to records of wartime atrocities brings discredit both to Japan, for its bullying and mendacity, and to UNESCO, for buckling under pressure and subverting its own processes.

The international alliance has pledged to continue its campaign to inscribe “comfort women” documents, declaring its readiness to enter whatever form of dialogue UNESCO mandates. It remains to be seen whether Japan will approach such an exercise as more than a means of blocking and obfuscation. But for truly meaningful dialogue with its neighbors over this and other aspects of the wartime past, what Japan needs first of all is a long-overdue dialogue with itself.

Monday in Washington, November 27, 2017

PRIVATE SECTOR ENGAGEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN. 11/27, 1:00- 3:00pm. Sponsor: Project on Prosperity and Development, CSIS. Speaker: Gregory Huger, Assistant to the Administrator, Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, USAID; Tony Wayne, Deputy Ambassador in Kabul; Jeffrey Grieco, President and CEO, Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC). 

SHOULD WASHINGTON BREAK UP BIG TECH? 11/27, 1:30-3:00pm. Sponsor: Economic Policy, AEI. Speakers: Ryan Hagemann, Director, Technology Policy Niskanen Center; Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist, MIT; Moderator: James Pethokoukis, Editor and Fellow, AEI.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Monday in Washington, November 20, 2017

READINESS ON THE LINE: PREPARING TODAY'S FORCE FOR FUTURE FIGHTS. 11/20, 9:30-10:30am. Sponsor: Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Air Force Association. Speaker: Gen. Mike Holmes, Commander, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Force.

IRANIAN AND RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT IN SYRIA: PURPOSES AND PROSPECTS.
11/20, 10:00-11:00am. Sponsor: Manama Dialogue 2017 Discussion Series, IISS-Americas. Speakers: Mark Katz. Professor, Government and Politics, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University; Neda Bolourchi. Research Associate, Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE).

LUNCHEON WITH WORLD BANK PRESIDENT DR. JIM YONG KIM.
11/20, 12:30pm. Sponsor: National Press Club (NPC). Speaker: Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank.

COSTING U.S. NUCLEAR FORCES. 11/20, 1:00-2:30pm. Sponsor: Carnegie. Speakers: Michael Bennett, Analyst, National Security, Congressional Budget Office; Kingston Reif, Director, Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, Arms Control Association; Moderator: James Acton Co-Director Nuclear Policy Program, Senior Fellow, Carnegie.

NUCLEAR DETERRENCE IN THE 21ST CENTURY
. 11/20, 4:30-5:30pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speaker: Rebeccah L. Heinrichs, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Monday in Washington, November 13, 2017

MORAL INJURY: TOWARD AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE. 11/13, 8:15-11:15am, Coffee. Sponsor: New America. Speakers: Brad Allenby, President’s Professor, Affiliated Faculty, Center on the Future of War, Arizona State University; Andrea Ellner, Lecturer, Defence Studies, King’s College London; David Wood, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist, Author, What Have We Done, The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars; Moderator: Rosa Brooks, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center.

WINNING THE SECOND WORLD WARS: HOW THE FIRST GLOBAL CONFLICT WAS FOUGHT AND WON. 11/13, 9:00-10:00am. Sponsor: Project on Military and Diplomatic History, CSIS. Speaker: Victor Davis Hanson, Author, Senior Fellow, Hoover.

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AT THE TURNING POINT: ECONOMICS, SECURITY, AND AMERICAN POLITICS. 11/13, 12:30-5:00pm. Sponsors: Economists for Peace and Security and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Keynote speakers: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA); Heather Hurlburt, New America; William Hartung, Center for International Policy; Matthew Duss, Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Sanders.

PREPARING MILITARY LEADERSHIP FOR THE FUTURE. 11/13, 1:00-5:00pm, Coffee. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Rudy de Leon, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, Former Deputy Secretary of Defense; General (Ret.) James Cartwright, USMC, Chair, Defense Policy Studies, CSIS; Moderator: Ray DuBois, Senior Adviser, CSIS.

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RELIGION AND FOREIGN POLICY: EXPLORING THE LEGACY OF "MIXED BLESSINGS". 11/13, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsors: Human Rights Initiative, CSIS; Georgetown University. Speakers: Shaun Casey, Director, Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University; Liora Danan, Former Chief of Staff, Office of Religion and Global Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Rebecca Linder Blachly, Director, Office of Government Relations, Episcopal Church; Eric Patterson, Research Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University; Moderator: Shannon N. Green, Director and Senior Fellow, Human Rights Initiative, CSIS.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AS SEEN BY BARBIE AND MICKEY. 11/13, 6:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Intellectual Property Law Program, George Washington University Law School. Speaker: Jane Ginsburg, Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law, Columbia Law School, Columbia University.

UNRAVELLING THE KASHMIR KNOT. 11/13, 6:00-8:00pm. Sponsor: World Affairs Council. Speaker: Aman Hingorani, Author, Lawyer and Mediator, Supreme Court of India.  Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Horizon Ballroom. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Monday in Washington, November 6, 2017

CLINTON 25: GEORGETOWN REFLECTS ON THE VISION OF BILL CLINTON. 11/6, 9:00am-6:00pm. Sponsor: Georgetown University, Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics) at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Speakers: President Bill Clinton; Bruce Reed, former Chief Domestic Policy Advisor; Rahm Emanuel, former Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy; Minyon Moore, former Director of White House Political Affairs; Maria Echaveste, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff; Mike Bailey, Interim Dean, McCourt School of Public Policy (Moderator); Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State; President Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico; Strobe Talbott, former Deputy Secretary of State; Joel Hellman, Dean, Walsh School of Foreign Service (Moderator); Mack McLarty, former White House Chief of Staff, Clinton Administration; Erskine Bowles, former White House Chief of Staff, Clinton Administration; John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff, Clinton Administration; Judy Feder, Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy; Faculty Liaison, Baker Center on Leadership and Governance (Moderator). 

THE NEW EURASIA ENERGY LANDSCAPE. 11/6, 9:00am-2:00pm. Sponsor: German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Speakers: Jonathan Katz, Resident Fellow, GMF; Steven Burns, USAID E&E Bureau Director of Energy and Infrastructure office; Will Polen, Senior Director, United States Energy Association; Robert Scher, Head of International Affairs, BP America; Jonathan Elkind, Former Assistant Secretary for the Office of International Affairs, Department of Energy; John McCarrick, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, U.S. State Department.

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE NORTH KOREA? 11/6, 9:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Cato. Speakers: Bill Richardson, Former Governor of New Mexico and North Korea Negotiator; Joe Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund; Suzanne DiMaggio, Senior Fellow, New America. 

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ALLIES UNDER THE SHADOW: THAILAND, THE PHILIPPINES, AND THE STATE OF U.S. ALLIANCES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA. 11/6, 11:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Southeast Asia Program, CSIS. Speakers: Dr. John Blaxland, Director, Southeast Asia Institute; Richard Heydarian, Resident Political Analyst, GMA Network; Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery (Ret.), Policy Director, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee; Moderator: Dr. Amy E. Searight, Senior Adviser and Director, Southeast Asia Program, CSIS.

BRAZIL AND CHINA: A DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIP? 11/6, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Elliott School of International Affairs, GW. Speakers: André Soares, Counselor, Inter-American Development Bank's Board of Directors; David Shambaugh, Director, China Policy Program, Elliott School of International Affairs. 

INDIA'S RESPONSES TO THE COMPLEX ROHINGYA CRISIS IN MYANMAR. 11/6, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: East-West Center. Speaker: Baladas Ghoshal, Secretary General, Society for Indian Ocean Studies.

NORTH KOREA PUBLIC DIPLOMACY. 11/6, Noon.. Sponsors: Monday Forums, joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and Public Diplomacy Council. Speaker: Robert Ogburn, visiting State Department public diplomacy fellow, School of Media and Public Affairs, GWU. Location: American Foreign Service Association, 2101 E St., NW. Contact:

ISLAM AND THE STATE IN CENTRAL ASIA - A FRIEDRICH EBERT FOUNDATION REPORT. 11/6, 2017, 12:30–2:00pm. Sponsor: Central Asia Program, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, GW. Speakers: Dr. Sanat Kushkumbayev, Deputy Director, Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

13TH ANNUAL ALVIN H. BERNSTEIN LECTURE WITH ROBERT O. WORK, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE. 11/6, 4:45-7:00pm. Sponsor: SAIS, Johns Hopkins. Speaker: Secretary Work is the Distinguished Senior Fellow for Defense and National Security at the Center for a New American Security and the owner of TeamWork, LLC, which specializes in national security affairs and the future of warfare.

REALISM AND DEMOCRACY: AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY AFTER THE ARAB SPRING. 11/6,
5:00-7:00pm, Sponsor: Hoover Institution. Speakers: Elliott Abrams, Author, Senior Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); Samuel Tadros, Visiting Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies, Hoover Institution. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

October Election No Mandate for Abe

By William Brooks, SAIS, Johns Hopkins Fellow and APP Senior Fellow

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) walked away with an easy win in the October 22 general election. The LDP, with its coalition partner the Komeito, attained a two-thirds majority (313) in the House of Representatives (Lower House). This “landslide victory,” however, should not be interpreted as a mandate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – who is now likely to stay in power until 2021. He is unlikely to implement the most controversial part of his policy agenda, that of amending Article 9 of Japan’s peace Constitution. Public and media opinion are not necessarily on his side, and the LDP arguably won because the opposition was poorly organized and unprepared.

Abe’s Calling Snap Election Had Little to Do with Policy

Prime Minister Abe cited the North Korean threat, which he deemed a “national crisis,” and demographic issues as his reasons for dissolving the Lower House and calling a snap election. In reality, his motive was purely political. Policy debates played a minor role in the election campaign. Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso even joked after the election that the LDP won “thanks to North Korea,” no doubt knowing that such was not the case.

Abe used the election to shore up his base within the LDP. It had eroded due to plummeting approval rates brought on by two personal money scandals and his party’s ignominious loss in the July Tokyo assembly election. The Kochikai faction in the LDP was getting set to run former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in the party head election next year to prevent Abe from winning another three years as president and thus prime minister.

Abe also worried about the new opposition party led by Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike and her Party of Hope [PH] (the “Koike boom”). He was keenly aware that if the general election came a year later as scheduled, opposition parties could by then form a possibly undefeatable united front. An election took advantage of a still weak, fragmented, and ill-prepared opposition.

“Balkanization” of Opposition Forces
Democratic Party (DP) head Seiji Maehara’s sudden dissolution of his party, ostensibly to create a larger opposition party by joining the Party of Hope, failed. Koike, in a major tactical mistake, refused to accept the DP’s liberal wing. As a result, the progressives quickly organized the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) to run candidates in the election. Other DP members unwilling to join either side formed an unaffiliated group led by former Foreign Minister and DPJ president Katsuya Okada.

The collapsing DP in short split the opposition camp into conservative and liberal groups that ended up fighting each other in the election. Such confusion may have convinced voters to stay home, since the turnout rate in the election was only 55.6%, the second lowest in postwar history (the lowest being in the last Lower House election in 2014).

The LDP’s win still seems odd because the pre-election polls showed Abe’s lack of popularity, and a majority of the public not favoring him staying on as prime minister after the election. Reports of the LDP candidates campaigning across the country found no outpouring of support for Abe, as well. And yet, the LDP won handily. Why? The poor turnout as potentially anti-LDP voters stayed home must be linked also to the opposition camp’s disarray.

The conservative Party of Hope led by Koike, who did not run for a Diet seat, fizzled. It backed 235 candidates (trying to achieve a majority or 233 seats) but won only 50 seats. It turned out also that the popularity of Koike was primarily a Tokyo phenomenon. But even Koike’s choice to head PH, Masaru Wakasa, lost his seat in Tokyo’s District 10.

The liberal CDPJ, backed by Rengo, the labor union federation, outpaced PH to take 55 seats, emerging as the largest opposition party in the Lower House. The CDPJ, which campaigned on a platform of protecting the Constitution from revision and scrapping all nuclear power, not only captured the liberal vote (perhaps the last gasp of that dying movement), it also drained centrist votes from the Komeito, which lost in Kanagawa, ending up with 34 seats. The biggest loser in the election, though, was the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), which lost half its seats. Apparently, the protest votes that used to go to the JCP went to the CDPJ this time.

LDP Wins by Standing Still

The LDP won 284 seats in the election, but this is the same number it had before the election. In fact, the LDP has not attracted more votes in any election since 2005. The party’s absolute ratio of votes (ratio of votes to the total number of voters; not the turnout rate) in the latest election was 25.2%, about the same level as in 2009, when it lost to the DPJ. The party’s strength has been in the 22-25% range since 2005, when then Prime Minister Koizumi successfully attracted millions of unaffiliated voters to bring the ratio to 32% (and win 296 seats for the LDP).

Polls regularly show that between 40-50% of voters are unaffiliated (mutohasou) and able to swing elections, as in 2005 and 2009, when they did decide to vote. Strong issues in the campaign can mobilize them, but the low turnout in this election showed that a large number of unaffiliated voters were disinterested and stayed home.

Another way of looking at the election is the tally of votes in the proportional representation blocs, in which people vote for a party not a candidate. The CDPJ won about 11.07 million votes, and the PH won 9.66 million votes – a combined total of 20.73 million votes. The total of votes won by the LDP in the proportional representation blocs was 18.52 million votes, or about 2 million votes less than that of the two opposition parties combined. The conclusion reached is that the LDP owes much of its victory to the split in the opposition camp.

The results also show that the three way battles in most districts among the LDP, CDPJ, and PH favored the LDP. In 226 of the 289 single-seat districts, a single ruling coalition candidate took on multiple candidates from the opposition camp. The ruling coalition candidates won 183 of the 226 districts or more than 80%. A united front candidate from the opposition camp would likely have changed the results significantly.

Abe Has No Mandate for Constitutional Reform
Assuming that he will serve as Prime Minister until 2021, Abe now plans to move decidedly toward amending the Constitution, based on his own ideas and on proposals that the LDP is now preparing. For example, Abe would like a clause added to Article 9 to specify the legitimacy of the Self-Defense Forces.

He is counting on his popularity to recover, and indeed a Yomiuri poll released on October 25 showed the Abe Cabinet’s support rate is up 11 points to 52% from only two weeks earlier. But an Asahi poll on the same day has the support rate only up four points from a week earlier to 42%, with the non-support rate down a point to 39%. Moreover, asked about Abe’s desire to amend Article 9, 45% were negative and only 36 were positive. At best, the nation is split on amending the Constitution in the way that the LDP may want, and if that wariness continues, a future referendum to approve the Diet’s changes could fail.

In the Diet, although most LDP members are eager to amend the Constitution, the Komeito, which gives the ruling coalition the two-thirds majority needed to pass Constitutional changes, remains reluctant to tamper with Article 9. Komeito has the capability to put the brakes to Abe’s drive to reshape the Constitution.

The media is also skeptical. Editorials after the election, liberal and conservative alike, rejected that Abe had a mandate. The editorials were wary of Abe and the LDP having too much power in the Diet now and admonished the Prime Minister to “implement politics humbly” and take a cautious approach. They encouraged the administration and the LDP to “listen to the people’s voice” and to build a consensus with the opposition on contentious issues.

The LDP win is attributed to the “missteps of the opposition.” The voters and the press are concerned that he will be “high-handed” on constitutional revision or other issues with his Diet super majority. Yet, the election made Abe appear the more the canny politician than the reckless crusader. He knows will have to proceed cautiously with as monumental a task as changing Japan’s revered Constitution. After all Abe is a conservative in a country that does not like change.


Bill Brooks and Kent Calder, SAIS, Johns Hopkins, Washington, DC, October 25, 2017
Election Discussion

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Monday in Washington, October 30, 2017

INDIA’S POST-DEMONETIZATION POLICY AGENDA. 10/30, 10:00-11:15am. Sponsor: Carnegie. Speakers: Milan Vaishnav, Director and Senior Fellow, South Asia Program, Carnegie; V. Anantha Nageswaran, Professor, Singapore Management University.

ASIA’S RECKONING: CHINA, JAPAN, AND THE FATE OF U.S. POWER IN THE PACIFIC CENTURY. 10/30, 12:45-2:00pm. Sponsor: Sigur Center for Asian Studies, The Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. Speaker: Richard McGregor, Author, Asia's Reckoning.

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RUSSIA’S DEMOGRAPHY: THE BASIS FOR A PROSPEROUS FUTURE? 10/30, 2:00pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: John Herbst, Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council; Gaiane Safarova, Acting Director, St. Petersburg Institute for Economics and Mathematics; Ilan Berman, Senior Vice President, American Foreign Policy Council; Judyth Twigg, Professor, Political Science, Virginia Commonwealth University; Moderator: Alina Polyakova, Fellow, Foreign Policy, Brookings. 

TRANSOCEANIC EMOTION: FEELING GLOBAL IN A LIMITED WORLD. 10/30, 2:00-6:00m, Washington, DC. Sponsor: India Initiative and Program on Justice and Peace, Georgetown University.

GLOBAL TRENDS IN HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE. 10/30, 3:30-5:00pm. Sponsor: Humanitarian Agenda, CSIS. Speakers: Sam Worthington, CEO, InterAction; Jérôme Obbereit, Secretary General, Médecins Sans Frontières; Moderator: Kimberly Flowers, Director, Humanitarian Agenda and Global Food Security Project, CSIS.

DEBATES ON U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY: IS PAKISTAN A PROBLEM OR OPPORTUNITY FOR THE UNITED STATES? 10/30, 4:45-6:00pm. Sponsor: Foreign Policy Institute, SAIS. Speakers: Ambassador Douglas E. Lute, Former White House Coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan; Moderator: Shamila N. Chaudhary, Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute, SAIS.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF COLLECTIONS IN CYBERSPACE OPERATIONS WITH PAUL DE SOUZA. 10/30, 5:00pm. Sponsor: Cyber Intelligence Initiative, Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speaker: Paul de Souza, Founder, Cyber Security Forum Initiative. 

SAFEGUARDING DEMOCRATIC CAPITALISM. 10/30, 5:30-7:00pm, Washington, DC. Sponsors: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA); Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, SAIS, Johns Hopkins. Speakers: Thomas G. Mahnken, President and CEO, CSBA; Eric Edelman, Counselor, CSBA; Hal Brands, Senior Fellow, CSBA Professor, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, SAIS, Johns Hopkins; Melvyn Leffler, Author, Professor, University of Virginia. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Abe After The Election

What To Do With Power?
By Daniel Sneider, Lecturer in East Asian Studies at Stanford University and APP member

Tokyo Business Today, October 24, 2017

Shinzo Abe has once again defied his critics and proven himself to be one of the most skillful Japanese politicians of the post-war era. Facing scandals eroding his popular support, and a challenge from within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to his continued leadership, Abe opted for a frontal attack.

Calling early elections before his opponents were ready to seriously confront him, and taking advantage of the vague sense of impending crisis surrounding North Korea, Abe successfully re-established his power, in the country and in the ruling party.

Now the question is what Abe intends to do with that newly refreshed authority. Will he spend it on a possibly chimerical pursuit of his life-long goal of constitutional revision, or will he finish another part of his wartime time history agenda and make a peace treaty deal with Russia? How will he continue to manage the constant chaos created by U.S. President Donald Trump, who arrives shortly on his doorstep? And what indeed will happen with North Korea? Perhaps most important of all, can he ever fulfill his promises of economic revitalization of Japan?

“In policy terms, the impact of the general election will be limited,” predicts Tobias Harris, a leading American analyst for Teneo Intelligence. “The ruling coalition’s victory was a victory for stability and continuity,” he wrote just after the vote was counted. That means moving first on domestic policy issues such as passage of a supplemental and then general budget and a crucial decision on the Bank of Japan’s governorship. Constitutional revision will likely take a back seat to those priorities, Harris believes.

But Abe is a Prime Minster who sees foreign and security policy as his main legacy and those questions will be at the forefront of his concerns. Before tackling those other questions, however, it is important to understand what happened in this election. As exit polls make clear, once again, the Japanese voters present a paradox.

They supported the continuation of the LDP-Komei government but not its policies, nor even Mr. Abe personally. When it comes to constitutional revision, or tax policy, or even the purported threat of North Korea, the majority of Japanese voters either oppose Abe’s policies or do not fully share his views.

Rather, Abe has brilliantly exploited the electoral system that was created more than 25 years ago to drive the LDP out of power. The single member districts were intended to encourage the creation of a two-party system, to give voters a choice between two centrist parties in the style of American politics.

That worked well in 2009 when the Democratic Party of Japan offered a credible left of center alternative – and swept the vote. But the collapse of the DPJ administration splintered the opposition and now the system works instead to the advantage of an LDP that easily wins most of the SMDs despite the fact that it does not command a majority of votes.

Abe had a brief scare when Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike moved to try to fill the void created by the DPJ and set up a serious centrist alternative to the LDP. By calling the early election, Abe caught her off guard – and the campaign exposed her own arrogance and unpreparedness to lead a national party.

Ironically, it also destroyed the unwieldy DPJ and replaced it with a more cohesive leftwing party – one that may be very effective at mobilizing opposition to constitutional revision but, like the old Socialist Party, is unable to come to power by itself.

That leaves Abe in a somewhat odd situation. He has great power but he lacks the popular support to really wield it effectively.
When it comes to foreign and security policy, particularly relations with Japan’s only ally, the United States, a somewhat similar dilemma exists. Abe enjoys an almost unique position among American allies in having created a close relationship with President Trump. His senior advisors claim to wield an influence over Trump that is the envy of other U.S. allies. But that relationship depends on Abe consciously avoiding any challenge to Trump’s policies. Does his influence disappear the moment he crosses Trump?

The view of Trump inside the senior levels of Japanese officialdom, as conveyed to this writer in numerous conversations since coming to Tokyo last month, is typically pragmatic. There is no moral posturing about the threat to democracy posed by the Trump presidency.

Rather, as one Abe advisor put it to me, there are two basic conclusions held in Tokyo. The first is that Trump’s foreign and security policies are a mess, both in their content and in the lack of professional knowledge within the administration. Trump, in this framework, has no respect for the sovereignty of other countries, including Japan. However, the advisor goes on, after all we have to deal with this President -- we have no other choice.

That relationship will be put on full display on November 5 when Trump arrives for his brief visit to Japan. From a golf outing to private dinners, an audience with the Emperor, and a visit to Japanese and American military forces, the visit is designed to not only offer visual evidence of the close partnership but also to avoid any uncomfortable issues, such as trade. Officials on both sides are working overtime to ensure the success of the visit and there is no reason to think it won’t go well.

Under the calm surface, lies the iceberg of North Korea. Despite the talk of war that one hears increasingly in Washington – whether it is a preventive strike on North Korean missiles or other scenarios for conflict – Japanese senior officials continue to express confidence that the military option is not really on the table.

They see the threat of the use of force mainly as a tool to both press the Chinese into action and to deter the North Koreans from doing anything too provocative, such as testing a missile in the direction of the U.S. bases on Guam.

Indeed Japanese officials say they are more worried that Trump will make a deal with North Korea at Japan’s expense. They envision some kind of bargain in which North Korea agrees to halt the testing and development of long-range missiles that can reach the continental U.S. in exchange for a lifting of sanctions and perhaps a cutback in U.S. military exercises.

It is a deal that Trump could proclaim protects the U.S. and is the product of his policy of pressure, but one that would leave Japan and South Korea even more exposed to the nuclear blackmail and threat from North Korea.

Still, even those officials admit they worry about the possibility that Trump may opt for a military strike, one that would expose Japan to a possible North Korean response. Even in that situation, it is far from evident that Abe would defy Trump, a likelihood that concerns some Japanese policy makers. “Japan’s responsibility is to do something,” says a former Japanese senior foreign ministry official. “Japan should be more active and let Trump understand that you cannot destroy Japan.”

Anchored within the alliance system, there are some signs of Japan’s search for greater autonomy. Japan has asserted leadership in convening the talks among the signees of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the so-called TPP11 negotiations. Japanese negotiators are hoping to reach a deal among the TPP11 that can be announced at the Asia Pacific summit in Vietnam next month. Though Japan is hopeful that the U.S. will eventually return to join the TPP, they are also increasingly comfortable with playing this leadership role.

Abe also hopes to convene the long-delayed trilateral summit of Japan, China and South Korea in December. And he still is searching for a way to reach the long-sought agreement with Russia on a peace treaty, settling the territorial dispute over the Kurile Islands. But that will require Abe to finally back down and agree to a territorial compromise along the lines of the 1956 talks – which he now has the power to do, if he wants.

These tentative steps toward Japanese leadership could fall apart, however, if Abe decides to use his newly restored power for the purpose of settling, at least symbolically, what he, echoing his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, sees as the fundamental loss of Japanese sovereignty in the American-imposed constitution and its famous peace clause.

Mr. Abe has been compelled to offer a much watered down version of what he seeks to change in Article 9 – but he may chose to go back to the LDP’s original more ambitious goal of rewriting the entire clause.

It is evident, however, that a serious push for constitutional revision would trigger renewed tensions with China and South Korea, all amidst the North Korea problem. Nor is it clear that the Japanese public, not to mention the political system, is truly prepared to take on a long-stalled and potentially highly divisive debate about the postwar role of Japan in global security.

This election has once again put Abe in a position of almost unchallenged power, for now. But, as Spiderman put it, with great power comes great responsibility.