Fri, 27 January 2006
Friday, January 27, 2006. Volume 02, Number 03
Special welcome to first-time listeners, and welcome back to returning listeners. This week again has been busy for political and diplomatic Japan. But, following advice from faithful listener and mentor on things Asian and the communications media, Sol Sanders, I've kept the program to just over 20 minutes.
Responding to another listener suggestion, you now can read or download transcripts of this and the previous three programs by clicking on the transcript link below, or by going to the podcast page of the Japan Considered Project webpage at www.JapanConsidered.org.
We begin with an update on the Livedoor Company/Horie scandal [last week it was just a 'fracas'; this week it became a full-blown 'scandal'] that includes comments by Dr. Edward Lincoln of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Then we review the eruption of another incident in the long-running saga of the export of American beef to Japan. We review the background of that bilateral issue as a key feature of the "gai-atsu," or foreign pressure, pattern in U.S.-Japan relations.
We then consider how Japan's political Opposition is combining the beef export issue with the condominium earthquake resistance data falsification scandal and the Livedoor stock manipulation scandal to create a three-pronged trident with which to torment Prime Minister Koizumi's reform plans for the current Diet session.
For several weeks we have been thwarted by a lack of time in our efforts to take a more comprehensive look at problems and opportunities facing Japan's leading opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan. This week we made it. In the main segment of today's podcast we consider the challenges facing DPJ President Seiji Maehara, as he tries to lead his Party to adapt to changes in Japan's electoral environment. Divisions in Party ideology and policy orientation combine with the self-interest and traditional orientations of older Party leaders to challenge his popular, or even populist approach. An approach that brings Junichiro Koizumi's strategy to mind.
Then, as usual, we close with some inspiring bluegrass music from North Carolina's Wind Riders, a great band.
Here are a few links to individuals and organizations mentioned in today's podcast.
Council on Foreign Relations
Dr. Edward Lincoln
Interview with Dr. Lincoln on Japan Considered
United States Embassy, Tokyo
United States Department of Agriculture
The U.S. Cattlemen's Beef Board
Japan's Ministry of Agriculture
The Democratic Party of Japan
The North Carolina Wind Riders
Remember to continue to send me your comments and suggestions for the program at email@example.com. And click through the other sections of the Japan Considered Project website at www.JapanConsidered.ORG.
Fri, 20 January 2006
Friday, January 20, 2006. Volume 01, Number 03
Another busy week, and a program that runs a few more minutes than the target of twenty minutes. This time we look at the opening day of the 164th Ordinary Session of Japan's Parliament, with focus on Prime Minister Koizumi's policy address, and prospects for this session.
Then we consider the political significance of the Livedoor Co. securities flap that erupted Monday afternoon in Tokyo. Livedoor President Horie ran unsuccessfully for Parliament in the last election as an independent candidate, but with considerable support and encouragement from the LDP. Horie is a name we're bound to hear more of during this session of the Diet.
Then we return to the topic we began last week, what early maneuvering in the LDP presidency race tells us about how Japan's political environment has changed. I suggest that Koizumi and politicians who share his perspective have a better understanding of those changes than do the traditionalists. But also predict that the traditionalists will continue to exercise influence over the selection process.
Below are links to individuals and organizations mentioned during this program:
Japan Considered Project Website
Columbia, South Carolina Weather
Livedoor Co. [in Japanese]
The Liberal Democratic Party
Japan's Parliament: Lower House
Japan's Parliament: Upper House
Fri, 13 January 2006
riday, January 13, 2006. Volume 02, Number 02
Spring classes have begun here at the University of South Carolina. Students are back, and the USC campus is altogether a brighter place. I have an undergraduate class in Japan's foreign relations this semester. About 50 students. Looks like a good group.
This week we run a bit longer than usual, beginning with an update on negotiations with China over exploitation of natural resources in the East China Sea, and then a look at what the handling of the Shanghai Consulate Incident of 2004 tells us about relations between Japan's central political executive and the Foreign Ministry.
Then we begin a review of the Liberal Democratic Party's preparations for a party presidential election to be held this September. Conditions have changed somewhat, and to better understand the current situation we look back at the April 2001 LDP presidential election that placed Junichiro Koizumi in the prime minister's office.
As usual we close with some progressive bluegrass, this time the opening of Billy Parks' "That Memphis Sound." You can hear the whole song on the webpage he maintains for the Dirty River Band, listed below.
Some links to individuals and organizations mentioned in today's podcast:
Dirty River Band
USC's Department of Political Science
Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Office of the Prime Minister
Japan's Liberal Democratic Party
The Japan Considered Project
Fri, 6 January 2006
Friday, January 6, 2006 Volume 02, Number 01
During this first program of the New Year, we focus again on recent developments in Japan's relationship with the People's Republic of China, and how changes in Japan's domestic political environment and political leadership have influenced events.
Next week we will turn to the LDP and DPJ party presidential succession battles, reviewing the candidates, how they are conducting their campaigns, and how the competition has changed since Prime Minister Koizumi's incumbency.
A listener last week suggested that I post transcripts of each podcast, and make them available in the show notes. Would show transcripts be useful? Send me an e-mail at with your opinion, as well as your comments and suggestions on the show.
Check the Japan Considered website for more English language resources on political and Diplomatic Japan, at http://www.japanconsidered.org/. I just posted an interview there with Professor Nathaniel B. Thayer, author of How the Conservatives Rule Japan, in which he discusses his early experiences in Japan and how he got into the field.
Links to individuals and organizations mentioned this week:
The Prime Minister's Office, or Kantei, Website
People's Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Website of the Okinotorishima Island