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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mr. Pence Comes to Japan

     Mike Pence, the US Vice-President, came to Japan yesterday on his way to South Korea, where he is leading the US delegation to the Winter Olympics to be held from tomorrow.  This is the first Winter Olympics to be held in the Korean Peninsula.  A Summer Olympics, by the way, was also held in South Korea as far back as in 1988.

     This time, the North(DPRK) is also sending a delegation.  It is to be seen how often and on what occasions the two Koreas will use the flag showing them together as one united Korea, and what impact it is going to have on the peoples of the two.  It has just been announced that Chairman Kim's younger sister is also visiting the South at this time.  Strictly speaking it is apart from the Olympics.  But she is expected to attend the Opening Ceremony.

     Now Mr. Pence, at a joint press conference with PM Abe, after the two met for more than two hours yesterday, said several things concerning the Asian situation.  In particular he stressed that the DPRK is not trustworthy, making one promise after another but breaking them later.  Therefore for the US the 'strategic patience' is now over.  What he said here is closely backed by the new US nuclear policy announced at Washington on 2 February.

     But where is that path likely to lead us?  Who can deny that the North, under the US military pressure, may shoot first?  The US may be probably safe.  But both the Koreas may be instantly ruined, and the time in the Peninsula will go back to 1950 when the Korean War broke out.

     Mr. Pence should have come as a messenger of peace, a negotiator, even an honest broker.           

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Beatrice Fihn's Japan Visit, January 2018

     Ms. Beatrice Fihn, the Swedish-born Executive Director of the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons(ICAN), visited Japan in mid-January of this year.  She was the one who received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of her organization at Oslo, Norway, last year.  ICAN was awarded the Prize as it was instrumental in having the Non-Nuclear Weapons Treaty approved by the UN in July of the same year. 

     She first visited Nagasaki as she came at the invitation of Nagasaki University.  After that she also visited  Hiroshima and Tokyo.  I was happy to see that she was meeting the hibakusha(radioactivity-affected persons, those who had survived the bombs), experts on the different aspects of the subject, the Press, and the people of the civil society wherever she went.  But the discussion that she had with the Members of the Parliament on 16 of the month was also as important.  As many as ten political parties sent their representatives both from the government and the opposition sides.  I must add, to my regret, that the Prime Minister has apparently avoided meeting her.

     The most important points that she made at the above meeting with the MPs were probably two.  She strongly suggested that Japan should join the Treaty as the theory of nuclear deterrence that the Japanese government believed in was powerless.  It was only a myth.  She also said that even in the presence of the DPRK's nuclear threat, it would be much more realistic to adhere to the Treaty to arrive at a peaceful solution.

     One more point she made and which strongly impressed me was what she said in reply to a question at the Press Conference at Tokyo.  When asked if she could be optimistic on the ratification of the Treaty when only three countries had ratified it so far, she said, in essence, that the very fact showed that the US is putting pressure on even the small countries in Africa and elsewhere not to ratify it, which itself shows that the Treaty is going to be a serious threat to the nuclear powers.
After this Mexico has ratified as the 4th country.

     At the moment there are 9 nuclear powers and about 30 militarily allied countries.  They are not easily expected to support the Treaty.  Japan belongs to the latter category.  But even in some NATO countries in the latter group, like Norway and Italy, some movement may get started to support it.  Japan may well  join such a movement.   The number of the countries that voted for the Treaty was 122, which is by far the big majority and shows the new winds of change.  A Happy New Year to you all.

      

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Japan blindly following the US

     This is what follows yesterday's. 

     The fact that Japan voted in favour of the above-mentioned resolution on both the occasions does not mean at all that Japan is beginning to be critical of the US.  Japan is following the US almost blindly, without thinking with her own brains and without standing on her own.

     The US world policy has been shown in her Statement on the US Security Policy document published on 18 of this month.  Three pillars are to be noticed.  First, the US is trying to keep distance from China and Russia.  This has made her approach Japan, Australia and India more intensely.  Then the US look at the DPRK and Iran as enemies.  Mr.Trump has recently said that the US will 'totally destroy' the DPRK.  Negotiations aimed at peace seem to be out of the agenda with them.  Then thirdly the international terrorist organizations are also the enemies.  These three are the major threats facing the US.

     Unfortunately Japan has accepted practically each and every item of these as her own.  It means Japan's foreign policy is becoming more and more of a military character.  It also means that Japan is importing more and more of the latest weapons, mainly from the US.  When Mr.Trump visited Japan early in November, he came as if he was a salesman of the weapons.

     Our Asian neighbours are watching these processes with apprehension.  For us the Japanese, on top of all those there is one critical issue.  It is that PM Abe is keen on revising the Constitution, so that the present Self-Defence Forces will be constitutionally legalized and authorized as the ordinary military services.  It is as if the DPRK, and sometimes China also, are giving Abe a big helping hand by augmenting and modernizing their weapons, thereby threatening the mind of the average Japanese.  2018 is going to be the first year of the crucial political battle in Japan.  May it be a Very Happy Year.   

       

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Japan's Position as against the US

     On 18 December, 2017, there was a voting in the UN Security Council on the resolution sponsored by Egypt to virtually annul Mr. Trump's decision to change the status of Jerusalem.  The result was 14 to one.  The US was the only opposing country.  Still it was a veto.  But it showed the tendency in the world opinion on the issue.

     Then a practically the same resolution, this time sponsored by Turkey and Yemen, was put before the General Assembly on 21.  It should be remembered that prior to the voting the US Ambassador to the UN sent a letter to each delegation warning against voting for the resolution.  It amounted to an intimidation, reminding us of the gunboat diplomacy of the olden days.

     So we are not in a position to know what the voting pattern would have been in the absence of such an intimidation.  As the matter stood, it was passed by 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions and 21 absences. 

     We may presume that the latter two would have been smaller in number in the case of no such intimidation.  What is clear, however, is that the US is not going to listen to the world opinion as was represented by the voting.  She is going to cut her contribution to the UN by a quarter or so, a very mean policy.

     How did Japan vote on those two occasions.  On both occasions Japan voted for the resolution.  Does it mean Japan is keeping distance from the US in her foreign policy?  That is, unfortunately, not the case.  We will look at it from a different angle.    

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Six US Experts to President Trump

     Today I have had an access to the full text of a joint letter sent by six American experts on the US-North Korean relations addressed to Donald Trump dated on 28 June 2017.  The six include George Shultz, a former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, or William Perry, a former Secretary of Defence under Bill Clinton. Therefore it is a by-partisan team.

     The letter strongly requests Trump soon to start negotiating with North Korea. It says that the the leadership on the other side has not yet lost reason.  It also says that China will give a helping hand on such an occasion.

     The experts have admitted that even in isolation the North has shown it possible to advance missile and nuclear technology.  They are sure that, unless diplomatic effort is made to stop such advance, there is little doubt that they will succeed in developing long-range missiles to deliver nuclear warheads to America.

     I believe that these six experts are speaking with a wide background and from a large viewpoint.  I therefore heartily support and welcome the letter.  I strongly hope that Japan's government would also support it.