January 26th, 2014
12:30 AM ET

Shinzo Abe on the third arrow of "Abenomics"

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explains what is behind “Abenomics” and what the so-called third arrow of these reforms mean. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

What is important about the third arrow, structural reform, is to convince those who resist the steps I am taking and to make them realize that what I have been doing is correct, and by so doing, to engage in structural reform.

Last autumn, the Diet (Parliament) decided many things. In terms of agriculture, I made the decision to end the "rice production adjustment," which had continued for 40 years.

I also passed a law to make it easy to dramatically consolidate farmland, to make it easy to do that.  And on the medical front, I decided that selling medicines over the Internet would be made possible. And I amended the pharmaceutical laws, to make it possible for companies to continue to develop regenerative medicine, creating opportunities in that area.

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Topics: Economy • GPS Show • Japan
January 23rd, 2014
07:42 PM ET

Abe responds to dolphin controversy

Fareed speaks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the recent controversy over the killing of dolphins in Taiji. Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

Mr. Prime Minister, you know that there is around the world now a controversy.  I was wondering what your reaction was to the idea of suggested by the U.S. ambassador that it is inhumane.

The dolphin fishing that takes place in Taiji town is an ancient fishing practice deeply rooted in their culture and their practices and supports their livelihoods.  We hope you will understand this.

In every country and region, there are practices and ways of living and culture that have been handed down from ancestors. Naturally, I feel that these should be respected.

At the same time, I am aware that there are various criticisms. I have also heard they are making major improvement in their fishing methods. Both the fishing and fishing methods are strictly regulated.

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Topics: Japan
January 20th, 2014
04:10 PM ET

Is Japan's aging population a good thing?

For more What in the World watch Sundays at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Global Public Square staff

We were struck by some startling data this past week. Last year saw Japan's population fall by 244,000 people – the largest natural decline in that country's history. It's a trend that's getting worse. By 2060, Japan projects that its population will have fallen by a third; 40 percent of Japanese will be retirees. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. Imagine a United States where half the population is over the age of 65: Social Security would collapse, health care costs will explode.

So, we were surprised to see a headline in the latest edition of The New Scientist claiming "Japan's aging population could actually be good news."

How on earth is that possible? After all, China relaxed its "one-child" policy last month precisely so it could avoid the fate of Japan. And that fate, if you go by conventional wisdom, seems to be slowing growth, and leading to unsustainable debt. Why? Because our entire system is based on having enough young workers to pay for pensions and government services.

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Topics: Japan • What in the World?
U.S. should speak truth to Japan
January 16th, 2014
09:17 AM ET

U.S. should speak truth to Japan

By Gregg Andrew Brazinsky, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Gregg Andrew Brazinsky is an associate professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University and advisor to the North Korea International Documentation Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The views expressed are his own.

Japan can sometimes be wrong, a basic fact that Washington sometimes seems to have a problem understanding. American officials have long seen Japan as a staunch U.S. ally, one that former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone once suggested could become an unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Pacific. But while this may be true, since securing power in December 2012, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has done far more to undermine American strategic interests in Asia than to support them.

Regrettably, the Obama administration’s response to this unfortunate shift in Tokyo’s foreign policy has been weak and confused. It’s time for the U.S. to get serious about reining in Japan.

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Topics: Asia • China • Japan
Japan in 2014: Can Abe manage China tensions?
January 7th, 2014
11:33 AM ET

Japan in 2014: Can Abe manage China tensions?

By Shihoko Goto, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Shihoko Goto is the Northeast Asia associate for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Asia Program based in Washington DC. The views expressed are the writer’s own. This is the last in the '14 in 2014' series, looking at what the year ahead holds for key countries

Will Japan assert its own vision for East Asia, or will it continue simply to react to China? That will be the biggest question in 2014 for Tokyo as tensions with Beijing continue to mount.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to beef up military spending and enhance its longer-term security is a game-changer for the region, and while there is a chance the move will strengthen bilateral relations between Japan and the United States, it is unclear how this will impact Tokyo’s relations with Beijing. Whatever happens, though, there can be little doubt that tensions over the disputed islands in the East China Sea will remain in the headlines this year – and the reality is that there is no easy solution to the dispute over who owns what Japan calls the Senkakus and China the Diaoyu Islands.

Tokyo’s decision last month to increase military expenditure to $239 billion over the next five years, coupled with a new 10-year national security strategy, was the clearest sign yet that Japan is serious about strengthening its defense capabilities against a backdrop of China’s surging economic and military power.

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Topics: 14 in 2014 • China • Japan
China's air defense zone: What you need to know
December 3rd, 2013
11:19 AM ET

China's air defense zone: What you need to know

GPS speaks with International Crisis Group analyst Yanmei Xie about recent tensions in East Asia, China’s air defense identification zone, and what it means for U.S. ties with Beijing.

What exactly is the air defense identification zone that China has announced?

The air defense identification zone, announced last month, covers a set of islands – called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan – whose sovereignty is hotly disputed by the two countries. Beijing has demanded that from now on, aircraft entering the zone have to report their flight plans, maintain communication and show identification, or “China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond.”

What’s behind the move?

Challenged at sea, Beijing could be hoping to assert greater control over the contested islands by unilaterally establishing administrative rights over the airspace above them. It has already been eroding Japan’s administration of the disputed waters by regularly dispatching patrol vessels to the area since the Japanese government purchased three of the islands from a private owner in September 2012.

The move may also have been driven by the People’s Liberation Army’s desire to expand its power projection. The PLA for years has been arguing that Japan’s air defense identification zone unfairly restricted Chinese military aircraft’s movement and advocated for the establishment of one of its own.

China’s sudden declaration, however, is puzzling in light of its foreign policy goals. Just a month ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping in a high-profile speech, stated that “safeguarding peace and stability in the neighboring region is a major goal” of the country’s diplomacy.

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Topics: Asia • China • Japan • United States
Asia territorial tensions set to get worse before they get better
November 28th, 2013
07:18 PM ET

Asia territorial tensions set to get worse before they get better

By Jeffrey W. Hornung, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jeffrey W. Hornung is an associate professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, and an adjunct fellow with the Office of the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this article are his alone.

China’s more assertive posture in regional territorial disputes took a new turn at the weekend with its decision to implement an Air Defense Identification Zone. At a time when tensions in the region are already high due to a lingering territorial dispute between China and Japan, China’s action has escalated tensions in the East China Sea. Now, with Beijing apparently demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of diplomacy with its neighbors, the region is forced to confront provocative and potentially destabilizing behavior.

On November 23, China’s defense ministry unilaterally announced the establishment of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. According to the new rules for conduct in this ADIZ, any aircraft flying into China’s ADIZ is required to submit flight plans to Chinese authorities, maintain two-way radio communication, and keep radar transponders turned on. Should a plane refuse to follow these instructions, China’s military will “adopt defensive measures.”

ADIZs are, by themselves, not controversial, acting as early-warning perimeters for self-defense. But while there are no international rules concerning their size or establishment, China’s action is provocative for two reasons. First, it may be attempting to set new rules for aircraft flying above waters considered a state’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Second, it chose to establish an ADIZ that overlaps considerably with those of both Japan and Taiwan as well as a sliver of South Korea’s. Provocatively, included in China’s ADIZ are territorial disputes it maintains with Japan over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese) and with South Korea over Ieodo (Suyan Rock in Chinese).

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Topics: Asia • China • Japan • Military • United States
Did China make strategic error with air zone?
November 26th, 2013
11:52 AM ET

Did China make strategic error with air zone?

By Michael Mazza, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Michael Mazza is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.

It’s difficult to know precisely what was behind China’s decision to institute an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) at the weekend. Chinese claims to the contrary, it is clearly meant to up the pressure on Japan in the two countries’ dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, over which the ADIZ extends. Internal Chinese political dynamics may also be at work here; President Xi Jinping, for example, must be benefitting from taking a strong stance vis-à-vis Japan. But whatever the reason for the creation of the ADIZ at this time, Beijing may ultimately regret it – and not only because it increases the likelihood of a violent incident over the East China Sea.

First off, the move needlessly antagonizes Taiwan and South Korea. The fact is that it puts a wrinkle into recently stable cross-Strait relations, as Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the Senkakus (known as the Diaoyutai in Taiwan), and it now has an overlapping ADIZ with the mainland.

The ADIZ is even more surprising in the context of China-South Korea relations, which have looked particularly warm of late. Seoul’s quarrels with Japan over history have been at their worst in recent months, and Beijing has effectively stoked that fire. But China’s new ADIZ overlaps with South Korea’s; covers the disputed Socotra Rock (which both countries claim as within their own exclusive economic zone); and may extend a bit too close for comfort to Jeju Island, where South Korea is building a major naval base. In one fell swoop, Beijing has reminded Seoul that South Korea has more in common with Japan than it normally likes to admit.

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Topics: Asia • China • Foreign Policy • Japan
October 30th, 2013
10:12 AM ET

And the best city in the world for food is...?

Fareed speaks with Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef, food critic and host of Parts Unknown, for his take on the world's greatest city to dine out in. Watch the Tokyo edition of Parts Unknown this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.

You go to Tokyo, you have been many times. I think most will be surprised to know that the city that gets the most Michelin three stars is not Paris, is not New York, but Tokyo. Do you agree with that?

Yes.

Tokyo is the great...

If I would ask ten great chefs that I know around the world what city in the world would you like – if you had to be stuck in one city and eat every meal there for the rest of your life, where would that be – nine out of ten would say Tokyo. There’s a level of perfectionism, attention to detail, quality ingredients and tradition and technique that's really unlike any place else.

It's endlessly deep subject and with the show that I did there most recently, we tried to draw a direct line between that excellence and attention to detail – that fetishism, really, for food and quality with the sort of subterranean repressed ids of the Japanese male. So it's probably going to be a parental advisory type show.

Uh-oh.

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Topics: Food • Japan
Can Abe tap into Japan’s Olympic unity?
September 24th, 2013
09:20 AM ET

Can Abe tap into Japan’s Olympic unity?

By Takanori Sonoda, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Takanori “Tak” Sonoda is a senior fellow at the Mansfield Foundation.  He was previously a vice president of government relations for Honda North America based in the company’s Washington, D.C., office. The views expressed are his own.

Japan got a shot in the arm when it was chosen earlier this month to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, a decision that allows the Japanese people for the first time in decades to coalesce around a common national goal, namely the successful execution of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. But while broadly welcomed, the announcement also highlighted a number of major challenges facing Japan’s government.

For a start, there is now even greater pressure on the government to bring an end to the leakage of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the International Olympic Committee that the Fukushima situation was under control. But reports suggest that at least 300 tons of contaminated water has leaked into the sea from the crippled nuclear power plant site. Indeed, last month, the seriousness of the water leak was raised to a level 3 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), indicating a “serious incident.”  Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant, has for its part repeatedly failed to provide the public with accurate information on the situation.

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Topics: Japan
Is Japan really back?
September 23rd, 2013
09:57 AM ET

Is Japan really back?

By Victor Cha, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Victor Cha is a professor at Georgetown University, senior adviser for Asia at CSIS in Washington D.C., and author of Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sport in Asia. The views expressed are his own.

In August 1964, a nineteen-year-old track athlete ascended the long flight of stairs to light the stadium flame that would signal the start of the Olympic Games. The young man, Yoshinori Sakai, was born the day the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. There could not have been a more powerful way to demonstrate how the Tokyo Olympics marked the death of wartime Japan, and the re-birth and re-emergence of the country on the international stage as an advanced industrial democracy.

Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympics will be no less significant. In 1964, Tokyo stood as the first Asian site in the Olympic era. While many Olympics have since come to Asia (Sapporo, Japan in 1972, Nagano, Japan in 1998, Seoul in 1988, Beijing in 2008, Pyeongchang, Korea in 2018) it will have become the first Asian city to host the mega-event for a second time.

While offering the Olympics to a young, vibrant Muslim country for the first time (Turkey) would have been cool, the International Olympic Selection Committee’s choice of Tokyo seemed well-advised.   Japan’s technical bid was the strongest and the most realistically priced (at $6 billion to $8 billion, versus Turkey at an extravagant $19 billion and Madrid at a paltry $2 billion). Experience was on Japan’s side, having hosted three previous Winter and Summer Olympics.  Tokyo also offered a stable political environment, compared with Istanbul, for example, which borders the conflict in Syria. And, unlike the other two, Japanese world class athletes had not suffered from recent doping scandals.

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Topics: Japan • Sports
Why Fukushima is worse than you think
August 30th, 2013
09:02 AM ET

Why Fukushima is worse than you think

By Mycle Schneider, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Mycle Schneider is an independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy based in Paris. He is the coordinator and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report. The views expressed are his own.

“Careless” was how Toyoshi Fuketa, commissioner of the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, reportedly described the inspection quality of hundreds of water tanks at the crippled Fukushima plant following the recent discovery of a serious radioactive spill. China’s Foreign Ministry went further, saying it was “shocking” that radioactive water was still leaking into the Pacific Ocean two years after the Fukushima incident.

Both comments are to the point, and although many inside and outside Japan surely did not realize how bad the March 11, 2011 disaster was – and how bad it could get – it seems clear now that we have been misled about the scale of the problem confronting Japan. The country needs international help – and quickly.

While the amount of radioactivity released into the environment in March 2011 has been estimated as between 10 percent and 50 percent of the fallout from the Chernobyl accident, the 400,000 tons of contaminated water stored on the Fukushima site contain more than 2.5 times the amount of radioactive cesium dispersed during the 1986 catastrophe in Ukraine.

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