The CSS Blog Network

The Trouble with Japan’s New Security Bills

Flag Emblem on a Japanese Military Uniform. Image: Koalorka/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the East Asia Forum on 3 August, 2015.

The debate over Japan’s new security bills, which seek to overhaul post-war defence policies, has shifted to the upper house and the streets, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presses on to secure their passage into legislation. On 16 July the lower house passed the package of bills in a vote that was boycotted by opposition parties as tens of thousands protested outside the Diet.

Abe has extended the parliamentary sitting by three months to secure the outcome before he faces re-election to the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and therefore the prime ministership. He rammed the bills through the lower house in the knowledge that, even should the House of Councillors reject them, ultimate passage of the bills would be secured after a 60 day reconsideration and re-passage with a two-thirds majority through the House of Representatives. So, with enactment of the unpopular proposals almost guaranteed even if all of the opposition parties band together to block them in the upper house, why is the Abe government in trouble over the issue? » More

Why Japan Should Put Boots on the Ground on the Senkaku Islands

Japanese navy sailors at a ship railing. Image: tpsdave/pixabay

This article was originally published by Strife on 25 May 2015.

Halfway between Japan and Taiwan are the the Senkaku Islands. They are claimed by Beijing under the name Diaoyu and by Taipei with the label Diaoyutai. The islands are prime real estate from a strategic perspective. Despite rumblings to the contrary, Tokyo seems to be sticking to her policy not to deploy ground troops on these islands. This is usually portrayed as a goodwill gesture, an olive branch extended to China, showing how Japan is ready to negotiate in good faith and how she does not see a military solution as the only possible outcome of the territorial dispute over the islands between China and Taiwan. This is a view supported by the mainstream media and many observers.

But China is keeping the pressure on the islands, with constant incidents featuring coastguard (and other state) vessels and trawlers entering Japanese territorial waters around them. And there is not much evidence of any attempt by Beijing to negotiate in good faith. This is in contrast to the approach taken by Taipei, which has reached a fisheries agreement with Tokyo, a practical implementation of President Ma’s East China Sea Peace Initiative. » More

Where Have All Japan’s Young People Gone?

Japanese student in a classroom. Image: ken19991210/Pixabay

This article was originally published by the East Asia Forum on 4 May, 2015.

The remarkable ageing of the populations in most advanced economies is no more evident or precipitate than in Japan. Earlier, Japan’s and other countries’ anti-natal policies encouraged a lowering of birth rates in an attempt to boost the chances of economic advancement.

In a decade or two, the impact of China’s one-child policy, and the subsequent low Chinese fertility rate, will also lead to a rapid decline in its population and acceleration of the ageing of its population. China may get old before it’s rich, as the popular aphorism now suggests, but most agree that while a reversal of the one-child policy may alleviate the decline in its fertility rate witnessed over the past several decades, that is hardly likely to entirely take the pressure off China’s coming demographic crunch. » More

Economic and Security Reform in Japan: Harder Than It Looks

Image: Héctor Romero/Flickr

This article was originally published by the East-West Center in the 277th edition of the Asia Pacific Bulletin on 19 August, 2014.

The major ally of the United States in the Asia Pacific, Japan, has undertaken repeated reforms since the end of the Cold War and especially since the collapse of its economic “bubble’ in the early 1990s. These have spanned the country’s electoral, administrative, educational, and security sectors. Although some of these changes have been potentially transformational, many have been largely transitional. Cautious incrementalism has largely won out over bold renewal. » More

Friends Forever? The U.S. and the Future of Japanese Military Power

Photo: Flickr

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 5 June 2014

Ever since the conclusion of World War II and the drafting of the new Japanese constitution, Article IX has prohibited Japan from becoming a party to any conflict building a traditional military force. This has become the foundation for Japan’s outlook on regional engagement and its role in the international community.

However, ever since U.S. President George H.W. Bush requested Japanese foreign aid during Operation Desert Shield / Storm, the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JDSF) has cautiously expanded its expeditionary capabilities.

» More

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