Wed, 24 December 2008
December 24, 2008; Volume 04, Number 35
Thanks for dropping by again today. And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours from all of us. I hope you have just the sort of year-end holidays you have been wishing for.
Today's Christmas eve. Only Wednesday. Earlier than usual this week, because of certain Holiday confusion from tomorrow onward. It may be a while before I even get this posted to the Net!
Today we begin by considering Japan's struggle with response to the U.N.'s call for support for the international Somalian antipiracy campaign. Once again Tokyo is forced to confront the thorny problem of collective self defense. And it appears to be no easier this year for Prime Minister Aso than it was for Prime Minister Abe.
Then we turn to domestic politics again to follow the "Trials of Taro." Whose position appears to be more and more difficult, if possible. Both the Traditionalists and the Reformists have intensified pressure on him. This week we focus on Yoshimi Watanabe's Lower House vote today for the Opposition-proposed dissolution resolution. And its significance for Japan's domestic politics. Quite a dramatic event.
As always, please continue to send your comments and suggestions to me at JapanConsidered@gmail.com. They make excellent reading. And help me to plan future programs. Even if you don't receive a reply, you can be sure that I've read and considered your note.
Fri, 19 December 2008
December 19, 2008; Volume 04, Number 34
Thanks for tuning in again today. Back home in the regular studio, with lots to consider again this week. We've neglected Japan's international relations for some time now. Thanks to those of you who've written in to remind me about that. So, let's make up for it this time by taking a closer look at the last round of the Six-Party Talks held in Beijing from the 8th to the 11th. And what they mean for Japan's diplomacy.
Then, we'll turn our attention to the Dazaifu Summit. A historic meeting of the leaders of Japan, China, and South Korea, held on Saturday, the 13th, in Dazaifu, Fukuoka. Quite an event. One Japan has been proposing for over a decade now. A good solid meeting, with one quite encouraging development. A frank exchange of views between Japan's prime minister and China's premier over the Senkaku Islands.
Fri, 5 December 2008
December 05 , 2008; Volume 04, Number 33
Back again. This time from the shore of beautiful Lake Wateree State Park. Producing the program from the Mobile Studio in an ideal setting. No excuse not to be upbeat today!
This week we look briefly at Japan's conduct of international relations. Focusing on the frenzied speculation in Japan's media about the effect of the incoming Obama Administration on U.S. relations with Japan. Then we consider very briefly some modest progress in the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclearization plans.
Then we return to what has almost become "The Trials of Taro," with a look at recent developments -- perhaps significant -- within the Liberal Democratic Party. And how they are likely to affect Prime Minister Aso's future. The future of the LDP itself, for that matter! This includes appointment last week of Yoshinobu Shimamura as a spokesman assistant to Prime Minister Aso. An unexpected development that may or may not matter.
Thanks again for your cards and inquiries about the future of this program, and of the Japan Considered Project, after my retirement from the University of South Carolina. Response to both has been so encouraging that I plan to continue on. So, send your suggestions for the program, and for the overall project, that you can see at www.JapanConsidered.com.
Fri, 21 November 2008
November 21, 2008; Volume 04, Number 32
Thanks for joining me today for our Third Anniversary Show! Yup! Three years. A lifetime in the podcast world. With an archive chuck-full of the audio files and transcripts from past programs.
This week we conclude our discussion of political reform, or "seiji kaikaku." And then try to apply the concepts we've been considering to Prime Minister Taro Aso. Is he a Reformist or a Traditionalist? I conclude he's a Traditionalist who just happens to be able to give a wonderful stump speech! And, of course, we consider the significance of all this for the future of Japan's domestic politics.
Next week I hope to focus on the timing of the next general election, and what that tells us about parliamentary politics in Japan. And Japan's reaction to the election of Senator Barak Obama as president of the United States.
Fri, 14 November 2008
November 14, 2008; Volume 04, Number 31
Thanks for dropping in again this Friday. We're slowly getting back to our regular weekly schedule. Hopefully, it will last. But no promises.
This week we return to the Tamogami Essay Incident, considering General Tamogami's testimony before the Upper House Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, and the reaction to that testimony. We also consider the significance of 94 additional active duty Air Self Defense Force officers submitting essays for the same contest, and what that means for military discipline and supervision of military training.
Then, at long last, we return to the topic of political reform, or 'seiji kaikaku' that we began considering week before last. And nearly complete it before the Old Clock on the Screen went into emergency blinking.
Thanks too for your e-mailed messages. Your comments and suggestions for the program are most helpful. Agree or disagree, they're all valuable. So keep 'em coming.
Fri, 7 November 2008
November 7 , 2008; Volume 04, Number 30Click here for a transcript of today's program
It's Friday again. Here in the Mobile Studio, at Lake Wateree State Park. And I'm still on schedule. Remarkable, given all that's been going on around here. This week we have another "extended program," to put it politely. That is, one far longer than our agreed-upon 25 minutes or so. And I didn't even get to complete discussion of political reform, or "seiji kaikaku"!
This week we take a look at the latest Ministry of Defense flap. This one concerning the behavior of a senior uniformed officer, Air Force Chief of Staff, Toshio Tamogami. Who's written an essay in which he flatly contradicts important aspects of Japan's foreign policies. Knowing the essay would be published for all to read and comment upon. Quite a serious issue. And one that takes some time to consider responsibly.
Then we consider the timing of the next general election. With focus on the motivations of Prime Minister Aso and the opposition parties. This issue too is more complex than it might first appear to be. So, by the end of a discussion that only scratches the surface, we're well over time. Though I think it's important to consider the significance of public funding on the timing, and the actual effect of the election, once it's held.
Again, thanks for the e-mailed comments and suggestions for the program. I read every one of them. And take them into consideration when planning future programs. Keep 'em coming!
Fri, 31 October 2008
Program for October 31, 2008; Volume 04, Number 29
It's Friday again. And I'm back on schedule, it seems. Well, for a while, anyway. It's hard to tell these days what the next week will bring. Thanks for tuning in.
Today we begin with by considering some significant recent international developments. First, reaction from Asia's major capitals to election of Taro Aso as Japan's prime minister. Then Chinese reaction to Prime Minister Aso's visit to Beijing on October 24th. And the speech Aso gave in the Great Hall of the People. Then a brief look at Japan's continuing reaction to Washington's decision to remove North Korea from the Department of State's list of terror-sponsoring nations.
Program before last I promised to take a closer look at the meaning of "reform." And finally on this program I have the first part of that complex subject. What is "political reform"? What are the objectives of Japan's political reformers. And so on. Not enough time to finish the consideration. So that will have to wait until the next program. Hopefully, next week.
As always, thanks for your attention to the Japan Considered Podcast.
Mon, 27 October 2008
October 27, 2008; Volume 04, Number 28
Good Monday morning, and thanks for joining in today again. Today's show is a real treat. An interview with Mr. Gregg Rubinstein, Principle of GAR Associates in Washington, D. C. Gregg's a frequent contributor on this program. When I can get him! And always has something interesting to say about Japan's foreign relations and the U.S.-Japan relationship.
This interview was recorded via SkypePhone last Monday, the 20th, at just this time. And I'm finally getting it posted on the Web. Better late than never. So, enjoy Gregg's comments on the current situation.
Next time I'll return to the subject of political reform in Japan, and how we assess it.
Fri, 3 October 2008
October 3, 2008; Volume 04, Number 27
Click here for a transcript of today's program
Thanks for dropping by. Today we consider the emergence of Taro Aso as a "Popular" candidate for the LDP presidency. And a victorious one, at that. How Aso transformed himself from a politician very unpopular with Japan's public to one who could campaign for the LDP presidency as the "popular" choice. And win. Including identification of changes in Japan's domestic political environment that inspired that transmogrification. And what all this will mean for Aso's conduct of the premiership.
Next time we'll focus on political reform, or "seiji kaikaku," and what it means for domestic politics in Japan today.
Sun, 14 September 2008
September 14 , 2008; Volume 04, Number 26
Today we consider what really motivated Prime Minister Fukuda on Monday, September 1st, to announce his intention to resign the premiership. My explanation is considerably different from what appears to be consensus opinion within Japan's political media.
In brief, I doubt that Fukuda was motivated by frustration with the job, with himself, or with others. And that he just threw in the towel. Irresponsibly, carelessly, or selfishly.
I believe Fukuda's resignation represents a carefully orchestrated effort to save the Traditionalist character of the LDP, while maintaining the LDP as Japan's majority parliamentary party.
And, I believe this difference in interpretation helps us better to understand what's actually going on now within the LDP. And probably to better understand the behavior of Taro Aso should he be elected as the LDP's next president, and Japan's next prime minister. And as of today, at least, it seems likely that the race is Aso's to lose.
It further suggests to me that Aso will assume the LDP presidency trying to ride two horses: One to maintain the public approval that he and most everyone else now recognizes as essential to keeping his job; and another with which he'll try to persuade the LDP's Reformists not to bolt the Party. But without allowing significant reforms in the way the LDP has traditionally operated.
I've never tried to ride two horses at once. But it looks to me like a dangerous trick!