The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 17. 2014    

April 28, 2014    
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In This Issue

Mel Gurtov 
Obama's Japan Visit and US-Japan-China Relations:
A Missed Opportunity for Conflict Prevention 

This special issue on the Obama visit to Japan ranges widely over the Abe administration's policies and contemporary Japan-U.S.-China relations and their implications for Japanese territorial and historical memory conflicts across the region. Herbert Bix ranges widely over the history of the US-Japan relationship from the Pacific War to the present to locate the origins and assess the potential consequences of the Abe administration's policies for Constitutional revision and escalation of territorial conflict with China. Mel Gurtov sees a missed opportunity for the U.S. to reverse the course of conflict centered on the Senkaku/Diaoyutai territorial dispute between China and Japan. Douglas Lummis introduces Okinawan perspectives on a central issue that went largely unreported during the Obama visit: the continued attempts by the U.S. and Japan to construct a new helicopter base at Henoko.

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Mel Gurtov
Obama's Japan Visit and US-Japan-China Relations: A Missed Opportunity for Conflict Prevention

The China-Japan imbroglio over tiny islands claimed by both in the East China Sea has reached a dangerous point.
President Obama forfeited an opportunity to influence the course of the China-Japan dispute when, during his recent trip, he reiterated the US position that "administrative rights" over the islands belong to Japan even though sovereignty remains undetermined. This article contends that, for the sake of maintaining the relationships between all three countries, instead Obama should have reined in Japan's Prime Minister Abe, who seems bent on making Japan into a "normal nation" - one with a stronger military less bound by constitutional restrictions.

Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective. His most recent book is Will This Be China's Century? A Skeptic's View (Lynne Rienner, 2013).


Herbert P. Bix
Abe Shinzo and the U.S.-Japan Relationship
in a Global Context

Victory for Abe Shinzo and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in two consecutive general elections opened the way for Japan to move closer to the policies of the United States and, at the same time, throw off some of the restraints imposed by the postwar peace constitution and the San Francisco Treaty system.  A new era in the political history of postwar Japan has begun, with changes in the Japan-U.S. relationship likely to follow in the years ahead.

This article considers Abe's political background, and his project to reshape public consciousness on almost everything that for over sixty years have fixed Japan's place in the post-World War II peace settlement--including state secrecy and constitutional revision. The issues are explored in relationship to the history of war and war memory in China, Japan and Korea.

Herbert Bix is emeritus professor of history and sociology at Binghamton University, and the author of Peasant Protest in Japan, 1590-1886 and Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan.

C. Douglas Lummis 
Three Messages from Okinawa
On April 19, 2014, a ceremony was held at the fishing village of Henoko, in Nago City, Okinawa, marking the tenth anniversary of the continuous sit-in by residents and supporters opposing the construction of a new U.S. Marine Corps Airbase there. In fact, seventeen years have passed since the U.S. and Japanese governments announced that the USMC Airbase at Futenma would be packed up and moved to this new base at Henoko. This article presents three public messages by Okinawan groups that convey the popular response to the proposal to construct a new  military base at Henoko in light of President Obama's recent visit to Japan. The issues are at the center of the U.S.-Japan-Okinawa relationship.

C. Douglas Lummis is a Lecturer at Okinawa International University.