International Humanity

A Blog Started to Record my thoughts on International News events

Think before Speaking: Japanese Defense Minister Resigns

Posted by alexfrancis on July 2, 2007



Japan’s defense minister resigned Tuesday over his comments suggesting that the 1945 atomic bombings Hiroshima and Nagasaki were inevitable.

The statement contradicted the Japanese stance, fiercely guarded by survivors and their supporters, that the use of nuclear weapons is never justified. A ban on possession of such weapons is a pillar Japan’s postwar pacifist regime.

It is understandable that many Japanese people would take offense to the defence minister’s statement. Inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, there are copies of countless letters that were written to various countries asking them to eliminate the use of nuclear weapons. Because the Japanese people have suffered the effects of a nuclear bombing, they know first hand the destruction and pain nuclear weapons cause. As a result, they have the historical conscious of a victimized people. With this suffering in mind, the mayor of Hiroshima wrote these letters to various countries asking them not to create another Hiroshima. In fact, the memorial even sells key chains that say “No More Hiroshima’s”.

In this way, the current Japanese people are very touchy when it comes to nuclear weapons, as all people should be, considering their indiscriminate destructive powers. Statements like those of the Japanese Defense Minister simply weaken the image and soft power of Japan. Also, the anti-nuclear movement is weakened by this statement that the use of nuclear weapons was inevitable. Realizing the thoughtless statement he made, it is understandable that the defense minister resigned to take responsibility for his words. At least this course of action is better than asserting his statement or drawing it out, or perhaps trying to cover up or deny the statement.

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Japan & China Argue about Oceanic Property Rights

Posted by alexfrancis on June 25, 2007


Japan is claiming a few coral reefs 1,060 miles south of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean. Japan desires control over the reefs in order to perform scientific studies on the reefs. For example, Japanese scientists are planning to graft millions of synthetic coral fragments to the reefs. However, Japan also desires the area for the fishing, mineral, oil, and gas resources in the area.

China draws upon the “Law of the Sea” to contest the Japanese claim to the reefs. The Law of the Sea states that an island is “a naturally formed area of land surrounded by water.” Following this interpretation, the coral reefs, even after being modified to rise above sea level by Japanese scientists, do not constitute for islands that can be laid claim to. Thus China argues that Japan can not claim the reefs as an economic zone nor limit Chinese exploration in the area. However, some political analysts view China’s interest to be not one of exploration but one of war. It may be the case that China simply wants greater maritime freedom in the case of war, especially with a conceivable war with Taiwan.

States are generally defined in terms of the territory they claim hold to – that is, the dry land, lakes, rivers, mountains, ports, etc. However, the claim to the ocean itself or coral reefs such as this are difficult to divide up among nations. As a result, territorial conflicts such as this are readily conceivable issues of international politics.

Posted in Chinese Politics, Japanese Politics | 1 Comment »

U.S. Opposing Japan Environment Proposal

Posted by alexfrancis on June 7, 2007

L-R: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso address a press conference after EU-Japan talks at the Chancellery in Berlin. The European Union and Japan agreed on Tuesday to take the lead in forging a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, jointly proposing to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.(AFP/DDP/Clemens Bilan) 

Photo Caption:Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso address a press conference after EU-Japan talks at the Chancellery in Berlin.

Japan feels that it has the responsibility to advocate for environmental protection treaties, as it did with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. At the recent G-8 Summit, Abe proposed that all nations agree in principal to reduce Greenhouse emissions by half by 2050.

The EU is more eager to cooperate with Japan’s proposal to half greenhouse emissions by 2050 than the United States. The United States argues that the proposal is unfair because it places a greater burden on developed countries than those that are in the midst of development, like its up and coming rival: China.

In this case the United States is afraid that China will simply free-ride, while the U.S. will lose economic ground by paying for cutbacks. It seems the United States is less concerned with the greater global good as it is with securing its position as number one.


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Abe Leveraging Seat in next G-8 Summit to gain Votes in Japan

Posted by alexfrancis on June 5, 2007

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left for Europe on Tuesday, June 5th to meet with a number of European leaders and attend the next G-8 Summit to be held on Wednesday in Heiligendamm, Germany on the eastern Baltic coast.

The Group of Eight, or G-8, is a group of advanced industrialized democracies composed of the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Russia.

The most pressing issues at the summit in Heiligendamm are expected to be Global Warming and Africa.

 However, Abe is bringing his own agenda to the meeting that has the bias of his desire to gain popularity in Japan and thus votes in the coming House of Councillors election next month.

“The G-8 is a good opportunity, so we hope to send out a strong message toward resolving the abduction issue to North Korea and to the international community,” he said.

In reality, Abe’s popularity has fallen recently due to the recent suicide of a cabinet minister. For this reason, Abe needs to bring results back to Japan that will revive their support. Abe plans to bring up North Korean nuclear, missile and abduction issues at the G-8 Summit in Germany, seeking reconfirmation of support from his G-8 counterparts. Also, Abe will have to demonstrate his democratic leadership skills in advocating for a new international framework to fight global warming beyond the 2012 time frame set by the Kyoto Protocol. By successfully gaining support for domestic Japanese interests, Abe can have confidence in the coming Japanese elections.

Yet in reality, it is not just Abe who will arrive at the G-8 Summit with his own agenda; leaders from every country will have their own domestic ambitions that will influence the direction of collaborative projects forged by the Group Eight countries. Nevertheless, the democratic nature of the G-8 countries is what allows for each leader to voice their opinion and domestic needs. Global efforts are thus shaped from the bottom up by numerous leaders collaborating together, rather than just a single hegemonic state.


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My Four Best Posts and Favorite Comment for Grading

Posted by alexfrancis on May 7, 2007


2. comment #4 on the above link




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U.S. Commitment to Extended Deterrence for Japan

Posted by alexfrancis on May 2, 2007

Currently, the United States is the most powerful state in the international system. However, there is a continual struggle in international politics for a balance of relative power among states. Security is a major concern of states, especially from a realist perspective that would argue a self-help system. One such attempt to balance relative differences in military strength is to form bilateral or multilateral alliances among states.

Japan and the United States agreed on May 1st to conclude a treaty that will allow the two states to share information concerning ballistic missile defense and other military data. This agreement was the result of a series of information leaks involving Japanese Self-Defense Forces members.

The U.S. and Japan agreed that this new alliance will be consistent and complimentary to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in contributing to world peace and stability. Furthermore, Japan agreed to achieve broader cooperation with NATO in the future.

The underlying motivation behind this decision is the desire to be able to respond more effectively to emerging security challenges and to further protect classified materials. This can be seen in the ministers’ agreement to establish a task force on chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear defense so that Japanese and U.S. forces can swiftly respond to such attacks.

In this way, Japan is being a very intelligent state in international politics. Not only is the Japanese economy heavily integrated with other economies throughout the world, Japan is also allying itself with the strongest military power in the world in order to advance the nation of Japan. From the perspective of the United States as well, having strong ties with a state such as Japan in East Asia has a number of benefits. Japan is a highly industrialized, technologically advanced, democratic, cooperative state that shares many of the same values as the Western United States such as human rights, peace, and liberal trade. It is only natural that these two states would want to cooperate in every way possible, to the extent that they can trust and rely on one another. Thus, international institutions such as NATO and the United Nations are essential in maintaining a political regime of principles, norms, and rules that the two states can agree upon.


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Shinzo Abe visits United Arab Emirates to Advance Liberal Trade

Posted by alexfrancis on April 29, 2007


Photo Caption: Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan (Right) meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) in Abu Dhabi.

Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United Arab Emirates was the first by a Japanese premier in almost three decades. The main focus of this meeting was to boost economic ties and speed up talks on a free trade pact.

In order to pursue the goal of strengthening economic ties, the two leaders agreed to establish a joint economic committee consisting of the Japanese Foreign and Trade Ministers and the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister. Abe and Sheikh Khalifa agreed that the committee should meet together as soon as possible.

This committee will make an effort to reach a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council. Japan is clearly expecting a business opportunity with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Japan is especially interested in the UAE because of its vast oil supplies. Japan is increasingly concerned by potential threats to its energy supply. Virtually no oil or gas reserves can be found in Japan, and Japan relies for more than 70% of its oil supply from the Persian Gulf. Abe is expected to visit four of these states in the near future to discuss economic ties with them as well.


Posted in Japanese Politics | 1 Comment »

Japanese Prime Minister Visits the United States

Posted by alexfrancis on April 27, 2007

Photo Photo

Photo Caption (Left): Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe smile with U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush before a social dinner in Washington D.C., April 26, 2007.

Photo Caption (Right): US first lady Laura Bush, left, talks to the media as Akie Abe, right, the wife of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks on during a tour at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Va.,Thursday, April 26, 2007.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to visit President Bush in order to discuss a number of topics centered around the strength of U.S.-Japan relations.

One issue was Japan’s relationship with North Korea. Japan continues to demand that North Korea provide proof of what happened to the people that North Korea abducted in the 1970’s and 1980’s. If not, Japan will continue refusing to provide energy and economic aid to North Korea. Bush expressed his support for Japan on the issue.

Besides the abductions, Japan is also dissatisfied with North Korea’s nuclear program, noting that North Korea has yet to fulfill its prmose of shutting down its nuclear reactor on April 14. Bush agreed and said that the patience of the United States is not unlimited. Abe showed some concern that Bush unfroze $25 million in funds in a Macau bank to return to North Korea. However, Secretary of State Rice says this was a wise move not a soft one.

During this time Abe also made yet another apology for his comment concerning the circumstances surrounding Chinese and Southeast Asian comfort women during WWII.

From Bush’s end, he wanted to thank Japan for its support in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush and Abe also agreed to denounce Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Finally, Bush served Abe an American cheeseburger and said that Japan should import more American beef because Bush was convinced that the Japanese would be better off by doing so.


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Japanese Brazil Coin and its Hidden Message

Posted by alexfrancis on April 19, 2007


This 500 yen commemorative coin will be issued next year to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of Japanese emigration to Brazil.

The coin will be made out of the same materials as a normal 500 yen coin, but it will depict a Japanese family of three emigrants on one side and a design of cherry blossoms and coffee beans on the reverse. These images were most likely chosen for their representative meanings. Cherry blossoms are a symbol of Japanese culture because they represent a life that is very beautiful yet ephemeral. On the other hand, coffee beans represent the Brazilian economy, rather than Brazilian people themselves.

I propose that Japan is minting this new coin in order to strengthen its image as a friendly, democratic, liberal trading country that is looking to expand its trade industry. In reality, Japan’s population is decreasing, and Japan is quickly becoming an aging society. For this reason, in the future Japan will have an insufficient work force to support an economy that is strained by retirement funds and benefits of the elderly such as medical care.

This means that Japan will have to draw upon immigrants to support its economy. A lot of these immigrants are expected to come from Latin and South American countries. After all, while the Global North is decreasing in population, the Global South is continuing to put out large amounts of babies. This demographic transition will result in the movement of people to where the best jobs are. In effect, this will be a brain drain from Latin and South American countries to Japan where there are more jobs available for people. I think Japan will print this Brazil coin in order to give a good image of friendly relations to ensure its own economic security in the future.


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Posted in Japanese Politics | 5 Comments »

Japan seeking Liberalized Trade through ASEAN

Posted by alexfrancis on April 18, 2007

Japan is seeking to liberalize 92% of trade value through making agreements with 10 other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari is scheduled to meet with counterparts from 10 ASEAN members in Brunei on May 4, 2007.

In order to realize this goal of further liberalizing trade, Japan and other states committed to ASEAN have made progress in narrowing differences over terms for a free trade agreement. This is an example of states working through international institutions, in this case an international trade regime, in order to reach agreements so that all members involved will benefit.

There are many benefits of free trade. According to Kegley and Raymond’s The Global Future(2005), those countries that do not interfere with trade at home tend to have the highest average economic growth rates, the safest economic environments, are less prone to civil wars, and are capable of solving conflict democratically.

As in the case of ASEAN with Japan, trade is capable of growing rapidly when countries attempt to remove barriers to trade by reaching agreements with one another.


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