A lame duck President Obama, released next year from any lingering political constraints, will make a likely final official visit to Asia to attend the 42nd G-7 summit of leaders of the world’s leading economies. The summit is scheduled to be held in May 2016 in central Japan, not far from Hiroshima.Read more
Advertisements in Japanese for handbags, backpacks, running shoes, and more began showing up on the website of the U.S. National Archives this week. Hackers managed to compromise a subdomain of the site, eisenhower.archives.gov. Below are screen captures of just two of the unauthorized pages:Read more
Unlike Scandinavia, where the police procedural form has been wedded to socio-political activism and pessimism since at least the 1960s, and unlike the United States, where different variations of the native hardboiled school continues to sell, the traditional mystery story is still alive and well in Japan.Read more
The statement of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second World War was the focus of profound anticipation throughout Asia. The prime minister was in an extremely delicate position, seeking to balance the need to express contrition to Imperial Japan’s aggrieved neighbors against the robust demands to yield no ground from his nationalist domestic political base.Read more
John Kerry’s visit to Asia this week – like Ashton Carter’s last month – is designed to offer reassurance that America’s commitment to the region remains unwavering in the face of increased Chinese aggression. Yet despite these visits, leaders in the region have profound doubts whether the United States is serious about standing up to China.Read more
Americans have long been skeptical of the liberal arts. Frequently this takes the form of a discussion of whether a degree in history or literature is “worth it” in a purely economic sense. Annual reports highlight the top-earning college majors, subtly encouraging students to forgo a class in literature or history in favor of something useful, like nursing or engineering.
Perhaps it’s a reflection of our innate American pragmatism.Read more
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe did not go into his line of work to make friends. Since regaining the premiership in 2012, Abe has made a habit of insulting Japan’s neighbors and allies.Read more
Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Japan's Air Self-Defense Force base on Okinawa shares a runway with the civilian planes on this island about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo. When the American-made Japanese F-15s scramble, as they often do these days, the civilian traffic awaiting takeoff pulls over to a side taxiway. It must be a pretty decent air show for those with a window seat.
The Japanese, seemingly stuck in political doldrums, sluggish economic growth, and waning international influence, are pushing past those frustrations with a new government-led campaign to sell the world—and their own children—on their country’s distinctive traditional cuisine.Read more
Sherman marched right into it. At an event in Washington on Friday, the U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, Wendy Sherman, held forth on the subject of the prickly relations between South Korea and Japan -- and did so in a way that seemed to blame the victims in the situation.Read more
President Obama confirmed and condemned the death of a Japanese man at the hands of the Islamic State in this statement:Read more
America’s “pivot” to Asia is rapidly going nowhere, but diplomatic challenges in the most economically vibrant region of the world still cry out for attention. These include the brash assertiveness of a rising China, the emergence of an erratic, nuclear-armed young North Korean leader, and the embrace of neo-nationalism in an aging and insecure Japan. One nation stands out as a source of balance—South Korea, personified by its astute and pragmatic president, the first woman to hold the job.Read more
A foolish optimism about human nature can’t withstand even a nodding acquaintance with history. If you’re of a certain age you may well remember seeing this photo. It was published years ago in Life magazine, among other places. And once seen, it is not easily forgotten. The Scrapbook retrieved the copy reproduced here from the endlessly fascinating World War II Today website, maintained and curated since 2008 by Martin Cherrett (ww2today.com). Here is Mr. Cherrett’s description:Read more
In 2007, during his first term as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe penned a work titled Toward a Beautiful Country, My Vision for Japan. The recent re-examination of the 1993 Kono Statement on the Imperial Japanese military’s use of “comfort women” during World War II (a euphemism for sex slaves), which was presented to the Japanese Diet on June 20, is the antithesis of the actions of “a beautiful country.” It represents a backward step, reopening a dark chapter in 20th-century history, which most of the world woulRead more
In a March 28 speech at the Körber Foundation in Berlin, China’s president, Xi Jinping, called for historical truth-telling. He had in mind the Rape of Nanking, the massacre carried out by Imperial Japan’s forces in 1937-38 during their occupation of the then-capital of the Chinese Nationalists (the city is now called Nanjing).Read more
President Obama spent only one night in Japan last week on his current swing through Asia, but the State Department estimated total "lodging nights" required by the president and his entourage could run around 2,172, and the use of "functional rooms" (presumably conference rooms and the like) could last up to 29 days.Read more
President Obama met some Japanese robots and didn't like it. "I have to say that the robots were a little scary, they were too lifelike.Read more
President Obama is in Japan meeting with the emperor -- and talking about his gray hair.
"I hope you and your family are well," Obama told the emperor, according to the pool report. "I have very fond memories of our last meeting four years ago."
The emperor responded, "We are pleased to welcome you."
According to the White House pool report, "The president told the Emperor that the last time they met, he did not have any gray hairs."
To which the emperor reportedly responded, "You have a very hard job."
Here's the entire pool report:Read more
In 1916 London faced a dilemma. The British were hoping to bring American reinforcements to assist them and their beleaguered French allies in the trenches of the First World War. Woodrow Wilson, however, seeking to become the first Democratic president to win reelection since before the Civil War, was campaigning under the slogan “He kept us out of war.”Read more
Much good news is emanating from Japan, one of America's most important allies, though some of it comes with an unnecessary taint. After decades of economic stagnation and foreign policy reticence stemming from its postwar legacy of pacifism, Japan is back as a strong and confident alliance partner.Read more
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