Japanese Emperor Akihito To Abdicate Throne

For the first time in history, the reigning Emperor of Japan will abdicate the throne in favor his eldest son rather than serving out the rest of his reign: HONG KONG — The emperor of Japan will step down on April 30, 2019, the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in two centuries, Prime Minister […]

Trump’s Asian Trip Leaves Allies Wondering And Doubting

President Trump returns home from an Asian trip that wasn’t exactly impressive.

There Are Two Options When It Comes To North Korea, And Only One Of Them Makes Sense

On North Korea, there are two options, deterrence and war. And only one of those options makes sense.

Japanese Voters Give Shinzo Abe A Big Win In Snap Elections

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to call a snap election pays off big time.

North Korea Launches Another Missile Test

Another provocative move by North Korea.

Tensions Rise On Korean Peninsula As North Korea Threatens Another Nuclear Test

North Korea is threatening another nuclear test, the United States is threatening retaliation, and China is warning of a ‘gathering storm’ on the Korean Peninsula.

Obama’s Visit To Hiroshima Brings Reflection, But No Apologies

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima left just the impression it should have.

Kim Jong Un Claims North Korea Has Thermonuclear Weapons, But It Probably Doesn’t

North Korea’s mercurial leader now claims to have thermonuclear weapons, but analysts are saying this is likely braggadocios nonsense.

Compact Discs Still Rule The Japanese Music Business

A nation known for adopting new technology is behind the rest of the world in one interesting way.

Japan Relaxes Constitutional Bar Limiting Military To Self-Defense

Nearly seventy years after the end of World War Two, Japan has approved a change to its Constitution that was imposed in the post-war era largely to prevent the rise of a militaristic Japan: Japan’s cabinet has agreed on a proposal to end a ban on its military fighting abroad, a major shift away from […]

South Koreans Expand Air Defense Zone In Challenge To China

The ongoing client in the seas and skies in the Western Pacific took a new turn when South Korea announced an expansion of its own air defense zone: SEOUL, South Korea — Defying both China and Japan, South Korea announced on Sunday that it was expanding its air patrol zone for the first time in […]

U.S. Challenges China’s Claim Of Expanded Air Defense Zone With B-52 Patrol

China sends a message, and the U.S. responds. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

No Sex Please, We’re Japanese

The good folks at The Guardian wonder, “Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?”

Japan’s National Debt Hits A Quadrillion Yen

Japan’s National Debt has reached a level that’s somewhat incomprehensible.

Japan Reassessing Its Military Policy

In response to North Korean saber rattling and the rise of China, Japan is reassessing it’s military posture

Chinese To Press Claim For Okinawa?

With China’s growing economic power, we’ve also seen a growth in Chinese interest in controlling the sea lanes around it while also pressing claims for lands that may or may not have been under Chinese control. For more than a year, for example, there’s been a standoff between China and Japan over a bunch of […]

Japan And South Korea Also Arguing Over A Bunch Of Rocks

In addition to the conflict between China and Japan over a series of islands in the South China Sea, there’s a also a brewing conflict over another set of what mostly amount to a bunch of rocks between Japan and South Korea: DOKDO/TAKESHIMA — As they do on any fine-weather day, ferries on Thursday disgorged […]

China-Japan Dispute Over Islands Continues To Simmer

The Japanese Prime Minister is vowing to never compromise in his nation’s ongoing dispute with China over who controls a bunch of rocky islands in the South China Sea: Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has insisted that there could be no compromise with China on the ownership of a disputed island chain and denounced attacks on Japanese […]

Anti-Japanese Protests Continue In China

While China and Japan their rather open dispute about conflicting claims to a few islands in the East China Sea, China is witnessing its second day of supposedly spontaneous protests against the Japanese claims to the islands: BEIJING — Anti-Japan demonstrators took to the streets again Sunday in cities across China, with the government offering mixed signals […]

Revisiting Fukushima: Worse Than You Think

The nuclear disaster that occurred at the Fukushima nuclear power plan in Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in April has largely disappeared from the American media, where stories about a murder trial in Florida, the wine cooler induced antics of an Alaska teenager, and a Congressman’s body parts have […]

Japan Still Struggling To Cool Nuclear Reactors At Fukushima

It’s been some time since the nuclear disaster that occurred in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami has been in the news, but it appears that things still aren’t going well: An adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan indicated Sunday that a plan to flood and cool the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel at […]

Japan Nuclear Crisis Reaches Chernobyl Level

The Japan nuclear meltdown has now topped the scale used to measure such things, reaching the same level as the Chernobyl disaster. It’s a stupid scale.

Radioactive Plume From Japan Expected To Hit Mainland U.S. Friday

The Japanese nuclear crisis is becoming an international issue: A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across the Pacific, and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting Southern California late Friday. Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume […]

The Political Consequences Of Japan’s Triple Disasters

Will one of the worst natural disasters to hit Japan in centuries change the relationship between the Japanese government and the people?

Death Toll From Japan Earthquake Could Reach 25,000

The latest casualty estimates out of Japan are quite disheartening: The terrible toll of Japan’s double disaster became clearer today as it emerged as many as 25,000 people could be dead. As rescue crews trawled through mile after mile of tsunami-stricken wasteland, officials from the coastal town of Ishinomaki confirmed that 10,000 of their citizens […]

Obama Fills Out His Bracket While World Collapses

President Obama is once again catching flak for his leisure activities.

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Damage

Status report on the damage in Japan.

Japan Accused Of Bribing Nations To Lift Ban On Whaling

Following up on Alex’s piece last night about the Obama Administration’s decision to back an effort by Japan and other nations to lift the international ban on whaling, the Sunday Times of London reveals this morning that Japan has engaged in questionable conduct as part of it’s effort to get the ban lifted: A SUNDAY […]

Governing is Hard

Via the AP:  Japan’s prime minister steps down over base row.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: Korea’s Cycle of Escalating Tensions

David Sanger, writing in the New York Times, notes the familiar and deadly cycle of North Korean provocation: USUALLY, there is a familiar cycle to Korea crises. Like a street gang showing off its power to run amok in a well-heeled neighborhood, the North Koreans launch a missile over Japan or set off a nuclear […]

Opinion on North Korea

Tensions continue to rise on the Korean Peninsula in the wake of the sinking of the South Korean naval vessel ROKS Cheonan by a North Korean torpedo on March 26, 2010 with the loss of the lives of 46 South Korean sailors. When the attack, presumably by a North Korean miniature submarine, occurred, the South […]

Europe’s Nadir?

“It is more than a little ironic that NATO has committed itself to defining a new strategic concept at precisely the moment the transatlantic relationship counts for less than at any time since the 1930s.”  So begins an FT op-ed by CFR president Richard Haass. I assess this argument in “Goodbye to Europe?,” a lengthy […]

Taxes Per Person

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw argues that taxation as a percentage of GDP is a misleading way to compare national tax burdens and instead argues that we should consider taxes per person, which he calculates as Taxes/GDP x GDP/Person.   Using this metric, the United States is in the middle of the pack of major economies: France […]

Protocol

The picture at the right has created something of a kerfuffle in the blogosphere. It captures President Barack Obama being introducted to Japanese Emperor Akihito and bowing profoundly. Scott Johnson is overly exercised: Obama’s breach of protocol is of a piece with the substance of his foreign policy. He means to teach Americans to bow […]

What Are Our Strategic Objectives in Afghanistan?

Since reading the interview with Anthony Cordesman in the Times of London this morning I’ve been doing the mental equivalent of sputtering. I honestly don’t know how to respond. I’m generally favorably disposed to Mr. Cordesman but I’m having some difficulty in relating the numbers that are being tossed out, the political realities in the […]

Quote of the Day – One World Edition

“I just purchased a Routan. I really like it. My friends tell me it’s a Chrysler. I firmly say ‘No!’ to them. I proudly point to my Routan and announce that it’s an American engineered German branded Fiat, manufactured in Canada, using some Japanese parts, by a company that is majority owned by American taxpayers. […]

Slightly Chubby People Live Slightly Longer

Glenn Reynolds passes along news of a Japanese study that finds “People who are a little overweight at age 40 live six to seven years longer than very thin people, whose average life expectancy was shorter by some five years than that of obese people, the study found.” Sweet!  I’ve apparently gotten out of shape […]

The “Obama Era of American Retrenchment”?

A president’s public statements on foreign policy have a number of audiences and can serve a variety of different functions. He may be speaking to the government of a prospective adversary or that country’s people, he may be be speaking to the governments or people of our allies, and, most importantly, he will be speaking […]

North Korea Conducts Nuclear Test

South Korean and Russian scientists have confirmed that North Korea has conducted an underground test of a nuclear weapon: SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test on Monday, heightening tension in the economic powerhouse of East Asia and prompting U.N. Security Council members to call an emergency meeting. Russia said the nuclear […]

North Korea: Choosing the Lesser Evil

In an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor Ted Galen Carpenter proposes a solution to our problems in dealing with North Korea that not only shocks me but puzzles me as well: There is a final option that deserves consideration. It would amount to inducing (bribing) China to remove Kim Jong Il’s regime and install […]

Tensions Mounting Over North Korean Launch

For the last several months tensions have been mounting over what the North Koreans have said is a satellite launch and South Korea, Japan, and the United States believe is the test of a long range missile. First, word appeared in the South Korean press that the launch was being prepared. Then the North Koreans […]

Responding to North Korea

North Korea has moved what they have called a satellite launch vehicle and Japan, South Korea, and the United States believe is a long-range missile into position for launching as early as next week. Japan has announced its intention of shooting the missile down should it near Japanese territory. Japan, South Korea, and the United […]

Don’t Count On U. S. Consumption

This morning a Christian Science Monitor editorial sounds precisely the right note on turning the current global economic downturn around: Unless export-heavy countries such as China, Japan, and Germany shift their policies away from favoring such producers and limiting consumption, the danger remains of perpetuating the root cause of the sharpest decline in the global […]

Broadband Gap: Why America Lags Behind

Saul Hansell details the fact that broadband Internet access is faster, cheaper, and more universal in most of the developed world, if not as much so as many think.  The explanation as to why is rather obvious but continually overlooked in just about any comparison ever made between the United States and other countries: Urban […]

The Limits of Forecasting the Impact of Policy

This one’s for you, Steve. I was searching for some information on Japan’s economic problems when I stumbled upon this snippet in an article on the global outlook at the Wharton School: In a way, Japan is especially relevant in today’s global economic crisis because of its experience with a sharp economic decline and struggle […]

The Asian Economic Slump

Japan’s economy is in its greatest downturn in 50 years: Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s economy is deteriorating at a pace unseen in the past half century, the central bank’s chief economist said. “Japan’s recent economic decline is faster than that of the U.S., which has been experiencing the worst financial crisis in a century,” […]

Auto Bailout Dead, Politics Alive and Well

Senate Republicans killed the bailout deal worked out between President Bush and congressional leaders that had previously passed the House.  NYT: The failure to reach agreement on Capitol Hill raised a specter of financial collapse for General Motors and Chrysler, which say they may not be able to survive through this month. After Senate Republicans […]

The Devil Made Them Do It

A top general in the Japan Self-Defense Force is reportedly facing discharge for remarks he made on, of all places, the web site of a Japanese hotel and apartment developer, blaming Japan’s invasions of China, Korea, and other neighboring Asian countries on the United States: TOKYO (Reuters) — Japan was ensnared into World War Two […]