Posts Tagged ‘Shinzo Abe’

Abe to ask South Korean President Moon Jae-in to support evacuation in case of emergency on Korean Peninsula

February 4, 2018


FEB 3, 2018

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will ask South Korean President Moon Jae-in for support in evacuating Japanese citizens if a contingency breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, government sources said.

The decision reflects Japan’s concern that escalating tensions could lead to a military clash between Washington and Pyongyang, possibly after the Winter Games conclude in Pyeongchang, the sources said Friday.

Although tensions have briefly eased in the run-up to the sporting extravaganza, speculation is growing in the Japanese government that North Korea could take action once the United States and South Korea resume joint military drills after the Paralympics conclude on March 18, the sources said.

Abe will pay a two-day visit to South Korea and hold talks with Moon on the sidelines of the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang on Friday. It is unclear how Moon might respond. The two are expected to meet for 45 minutes in a hotel near the venue. Abe plans to explain why he feels an evacuation plan is urgently needed and to propose the start of working-level negotiations possibly involving the United States and other countries, the sources said.

Moon is believed to be trying to use sports events to show the international community that tensions with the North are easing. The two Koreas have agreed to march together under a unified Korean flag at the Olympics’ opening ceremony and form a unified women’s ice hockey team.

The Foreign Ministry estimates roughly 38,000 Japanese were residing in South Korea as of October 2016.

“For the safety of the Japanese people, I will firmly request South Korea’s cooperation,” Abe told the Upper House budget committee on Wednesday.

Abe has said other possible topics include trilateral cooperation with the United States to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the 2015 agreement with South Korea on the “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

Image result for north and south korea map, flags,

Tokyo has studied emergency plans to send chartered planes to Seoul and other cities and transport Japanese by land to the southern port city of Busan, where ships would take them to the Japanese mainland via the island of Tsushima in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Many in the government believe that Self-Defense Force destroyers and aircraft, as well as the U.S. military, would be needed to transport large numbers of Japanese.

Tokyo has told Seoul it would like to discuss the possibility of dispatching SDF personnel to South Korea for evacuations.

With just a week before the Olympics, U.S. President Donald Trump has sought to pressure Pyongyang further over its nuclear arms program by consulting with allies and highlighting the human rights abuses raised by defectors.

Trump hosted about a half-dozen North Korean defectors in the Oval Office on Friday, including Ji Seong-ho, who used crutches to escape the reclusive country after a train ran over his limbs. Days earlier, Ji raised his crutches in triumph when Trump singled him out during his State of the Union address. Trump called the defectors “great people that have suffered incredibly.”

Trump also called Moon and Abe the same day to ask them to keep up the pressure. He suggested that the recent communication between North and South Korea was a positive development.

“They are in dialogue, at least as it concerns the Olympics, and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump said.

He avoided some of the inflammatory rhetoric he has used previously, including threatening to unleash “fire and fury” on the rogue nation and dubbing their leader “Little Rocket Man.”

North Korea has not tested a missile since November, and resumed inter-Korean dialogue in January, leading to the agreement on its participation in the games and easing tensions.

Trump has said he is willing to deal with the rising tensions through diplomacy but has also said the United States would use military force if needed. He declared the standoff with the rogue regime “a tricky situation” and again blamed previous administrations for letting the crisis linger for decades.

“We have no road left, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “We’re going to find out how it goes. But we think the Olympics will go very nicely, and after that, who knows? We’ll find out. We’ll find out pretty soon, I suspect.”


Japan, China agree on leaders’ visits

January 28, 2018

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

Foreign Minister Taro Kono (left) and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, pose for photos before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Sunday. | AP


 JAN 28, 2018

Japan and China agreed Sunday to resume reciprocal visits by their leaders, underscoring that Asia’s two biggest economies are eager to mend ties in the year marking the 40th anniversary of the signing of a bilateral friendship treaty.

During 2½ hours of talks between Foreign Minister Kono Taro and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing, the two confirmed the importance of mutual visits by their leaders as part of a full-fledged push to improve Sino-Japanese relations, a Japanese government official said.

Kono and Wang also agreed to hold as soon as possible a trilateral summit that also includes South Korea, which Tokyo had wanted to host last year, the Japanese official said. The summit would bring Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Japan for the first time since he took office in 2013.

“We want to improve overall (bilateral) ties this year,” Kono, the first Japanese foreign minister to visit China in about two years, said at the outset of the meeting open to the media.

Kono, who arrived on Saturday, noted the importance of this year as Tokyo and Beijing mark the 40th anniversary of the peace and friendship treaty.

Wang responded by noting that China welcomes Japan’s “strong determination” to improve relations.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have yet to make official visits to their respective countries. This has been due, in part, to the dispute over the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea known in China as the Diaoyu Islands. The tiny islets are administered by Tokyo, but also claimed by Beijing and Taipei, which calls them Tiaoyutai.

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In addition, North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear ambitions were on the agenda at the meeting, with Tokyo and Beijing agreeing to continue working together toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, the Japanese official said.

Tokyo has urged Beijing to exercise its substantial leverage over Pyongyang and play a key role in forcing the country to change its policy.

Meanwhile, Kono lodged a protest over the entry of a Chinese submarine into the contiguous zone around Japanese territorial waters near the Senkakus earlier this month, urging Beijing to take steps to prevent this from happening again.

Kono and Wang agreed to make efforts for the early implementation of a Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism in the East China Sea.

Tokyo and Beijing have been mired in a territorial row over the Senkakus for years. The dispute hit a fever pitch after the government led by then-Prime Minister Yoshiko Noda, Abe’s predecessor, decided to effectively put them under state control in September 2012.

J. Berkshire Miller, a senior visiting fellow with the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo, said that although Beijing and Tokyo pledged to implement crisis management mechanisms in the East China Sea, “neither side has agreed to even the most baseline conflict-avoidance mechanisms.”

Chinese vessels and aircraft, Miller said, were likely to continue to enter the waters and skies surrounding the Senkakus as Beijing continues to diversify its blend of ships, aircraft and tactics in the East China Sea “through the employment of ‘gray zone’ tactics that look to gradually push boundaries without crossing red lines to provoke a united response from Japan and the U.S.”

These tensions, though, appear to have become a “normalized” part of the Sino-Japanese relationship, and bilateral ties look to be improving after both Abe and Xi bolstered their domestic power bases late last year.

In a sign of this improvement, the two nations reached an effective accord on a bilateral social security agreement that would eliminate dual pension payments by Japanese expats in China and vice versa.

Ahead of any Xi-Abe meeting could come a trilateral summit that also involves South Korea. Seoul hosted the previous trilateral meeting in 2015 and Tokyo has been due to host the next one, though a plan to hold it in 2016 was dropped amid political turmoil in South Korea that saw the country’s president at the time, Park Geun-hye, ousted.

The three countries have been rotating summit-hosting duties since 2008, although the gatherings were not held in 2013 and 2014 after a chill in Japan-China relations over the Senkaku dispute.

“While the trilateral summit would be positive, it really needs to be complemented with bilateral visits — ideally both in China and Japan,” said Miller.

Miller said that while a bilateral summit in China might occur before the year’s end, “the realization of a Xi Jinping visit to Tokyo remains a bit more aspirational.”

“Beijing is still holding out likely for some concession or summit achievement, such as progress toward Japan potentially joining the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) or more concrete cooperation on the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative),” he said.

Kono’s trip to China was the first by a Japanese foreign minister since his predecessor, Fumio Kishida, visited in April 2016.

Japan eyes broad accord on new security pact with Australia; Turnbull visit likely in January

December 25, 2017


DEC 25, 2017

Japan and Australia are arranging for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to visit Japan in January, aiming to bolster their bilateral security cooperation by striking a broad agreement on a new pact, government sources said Monday.

The envisioned “visiting forces agreement” is aimed at facilitating joint drills amid the growing military threat from North Korea and China’s maritime assertiveness in the East and South China seas, according to the sources.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) and Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull hold bilateral talks in Manila on Nov. 13. | KYODO

The two governments hope an agreement in principle on the pact will be reached at a meeting between Turnbull and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, they said.

Japan views Australia, along with the United States and India, as a vital partner under Abe’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy designed to counter China’s rising activities in waters in the region.

The agreement would allow the two countries to bring military equipment and ammunition onto each other’s soil more easily when the Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military conduct exercises.

In January this year, Tokyo and Canberra signed a revised acquisition and cross-servicing agreement that enables the SDF and the Australian military to supply each other with ammunition.

Unlike the similar Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, the planned accord involving Australia does not presuppose a long-term stationing of the Australian military in Japan.

Japan also aims to reach a similar pact with Britain, with Tokyo and London planning to launch negotiations in the near future.

During the meeting, Abe and Turnbull are also expected to confirm their commitment to putting more pressure on North Korea in cooperation with the United States, the sources said.

Japan Proposes Highest Defense Spending Ever

December 17, 2017
JAPAN’S Defence Ministry is planning to strengthen its missile defence against the threat posed by North Korea, a report has revealed.

Japan set for record high defence budget GETTY

Japan set for record high defence budget amid World War 3 fears

The Japanese Defence Ministry is expected to request a record-high defence budget of £34.6 billion (5.19 trillion yen) for the next tax year, as tensions continue to rise on the Korean Peninsula.

The defence budget will be included in the countries budgetary which commences on April 1 2018 and is expected to reach a record-breaking £650 billion (97.7 trillion yen).

The majority of the budget is expected to be spent on protecting Japan against North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development.

The extra funding would cover the cost of preparations for introducing the US military’s Aegis Ashore land-based missile interceptor system.

The initial draft of the defence budget for the fiscal year 2018 was released by the Japanese Defence Ministry in late August.The document specified the purchase of six F-35A fighter jets, four V-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft, as well as the construction of two advanced and compact patrol ships and a new submarine.

The Defence Ministry also hopes to develop the next-generation of radar systems, which would have the capability of detecting stealth fighters.

There are also plans to purchase advanced missiles for anti-missile systems, including SM-3 Block IIA and Patriot PAC-3 MSE interceptors.

Japan is protected by destroyers equipped with US Aegis missile defence systems as well as surface-to-air PAC 3.To ensure their safety, Japan has relied heavily on the US as following World War 2, the renunciation of military forces and warfare became treasured in the Japanese Constitution.

Over the last few years, Japan has been harbouring a goal of amending its pacifist Constitution, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announcing a plan to revise the sanction by 2020.

Japan’s worries have been prompted by the provocative actions of North Korea.

Sinzo AbeGETTY

The Japanese Defence Ministry is expected to request a record-high defence budget of £34.6 billion

This is not set to settle anytime soon, as it has been reported that North Korea could launch a symbolic missile strike this weekend on the anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death.Kim Jong-il died on December 17 2011, paving the way for his son to take control in the hermit state.

And experts fear a symbolic event could be planned for the anniversary on Sunday.

Kim Jong-il and his father Kim il-Sung, founding member of North Korea’s current dictatorial dynasty, are seen as demigods in the rogue state.

Shinzo Abe and Donald TrumpGETTY

To ensure their safety Japan has relied heavily on the US and Donald Trump

This year experts fear the adulation of Kim Jong-il could reach deadly extremes with a missile strike authorised by his increasingly volatile son.The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC has warned a test is likely to take place soon.

They said there was an “elevated chance of provocations” this month, with a “ballistic missile test expected on December 17th.”


Economy watcher sentiment rises in Japan

December 9, 2017

Jiji Press

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Sentiment among so-called economy watchers in Japan rose to its highest level in nearly four years in November on improved household spending and employment, the Cabinet Office said Friday.

The diffusion index gauging the sentiment of economy watchers, or people working in industries sensitive to changes in economic trends, including shop clerks and taxi drivers, compared with three months before rose 2.9 points from the previous month to 55.1 after seasonal adjustment.

The index rose for the third straight month and reached a level unseen since January 2014.

North Korean Missiles Can Hit Anyplace in The World — US Defense Secretary James Mattis said

November 29, 2017



  • The missile went higher than any previous North Korean test
  • North Korea has tested 23 missiles in 16 tests since February

Washington (CNN) — North Korea claims to have successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, topped with a “super-large heavy warhead,” which is capable of striking the US mainland.


The country’s state media made the announcement Wednesday, hours after leader Kim Jong Un ordered the 3 a.m. launch of the Hwasong-15 missile, which reached the highest altitude ever recorded by a North Korean missile.
State news agency KCNA called its so-called new missile “the most powerful ICBM” and said it “meets the goal of the completion of the rocket weaponry system development.
After the launch, Kim said North Korea had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force,” according to KCNA.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis said earlier the missile launched demonstrated North Korea had the ability to hit “everywhere in the world.”
The launch was the first since September, and came despite repeated warnings from President Donald Trump who told reporters at the White House after the launch that the US “will handle” the situation.
“We will take care of it,” the President said.
The Hwasong-15 soared 4,475 kilometers (2,800 miles) in the sky, spending 53 minutes in the air, before splashing down in waters off the coast of Japan, North Korea said. The figures tallied with estimates released by Japan and South Korea.
Trump on North Korea launch: We will handle it

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Trump on North Korea launch: We will handle it 00:17
Mattis, who was with Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, outlined how much tougher that situation has become. The test missile, he said, went “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken” and demonstrates that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un now has the ability to hit “everywhere in the world basically.”
“The bottom line is, it’s a continued effort to build a threat — a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States,” Mattis concluded.
David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that if the missile hadn’t been lofted into the sky and had flown on a standard trajectory, it would have been capable of traveling 13,000 kilometers, or 8,100 miles.
“Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, DC, and in fact any part of the continental United States,” Wright said in a statement, though he noted that range probably wouldn’t be possible if the missile were fitted with a heavy nuclear warhead.
The missile was launched from the west part of North Korea and is likely to have landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, according to Masaki Hikida, public relations officer at Japan’s Ministry of Defense.
The flight time would suggest that this was a major ICBM test “possibly in operational settings” and should “disabuse US officials from thinking military displays, sanctions, or threats are deterring North Korean tests,” according to Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists.
“Today’s test proves that Pyongyang still feels able to test at will,” he told CNN, adding it also shows the Trump administration “has to get serious about deterring an atmospheric nuclear test.”
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho had hinted in September that Pyongyang could carry out an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean, possibly by strapping a warhead atop a missile or dropping it from an airplane.



Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strongly condemned the launch and called for redoubled international pressure on Pyongyang, saying that the US “remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization.” But he added a lightly veiled warning about limited US patience.
“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now,” Tillerson said.
Graham warns of war with North Korea
Graham warns of war with North Korea 01:42
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that, “If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. If there’s a war with North Korea it will be because North Korea brought it on itself, and we’re headed to a war if things don’t change.”
On Wednesday, a North Korea official reiterated comments made to CNN in October that there would be no diplomacy until the country has proven its nuclear capabilities.
The official added the two steps needed to achieve this goal were the “testing of a long-range ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile)” capable of reaching the US, followed by an above-ground nuclear detonation.
“Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States,” the official said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Prior to today’s launch, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had warned of devastating consequences if the US takes military action against North Korea. Pyongyang can batter Seoul with a barrage of conventional weapons, putting millions of South Koreans and more than 28,000 US troops stationed there within range.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking from Tokyo, issued a warning of his own. The latest missile launch, he said, “significantly undermines the strong determination of the international community’s peaceful resolution of the issue.”
International diplomacy swiftly kicked into high gear, with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley requesting an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council with her counterparts from South Korea and Japan. That meeting is set to take place Wednesday afternoon.

Carrots and sticks


Meanwhile, Tillerson announced that the US and Canada will convene a meeting of nations that contribute military forces to the UN Command that supports South Korea to discuss “how the global community can counter North Korea’s threat to international peace.”
For decades, multiple US administrations and international coalitions have tried and failed to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear program, whether they’ve used carrots or sticks. Sometimes, North Korea has taken the carrots — aid and greater access to the international system — and still continued its program.
Sanctions, the latest round of which the US announced on November 22, seem to have made little difference in curbing North Korea’s resolve to obtain nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
The Center for International and Strategic Studies, which closely monitors North Korean launches through its Beyond Parallel initiative, said historical data shows that Pyongyang is set to significantly ratchet up its testing in the first half of 2018.
South Korea demonstrated some of its efforts to prepare for North Korean hostilities on Tuesday. The country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the South Korean military had carried out a “precision missile strike drill” just minutes after North Korea’s launch.
The precision missile strike matched the flight distance of the North Korean missile and landed in waters off the east coast of South Korea, effectively showing North Korea it can hit the exact location where Pyongyang launched the Hwasong-15.
“Our army, navy and air force jointly fired three missiles (a ground-to-ground missile, a ship-to-ground missile and an air-to surface missile) and hit the same target around the similar time to show its ability to target North Korea’s origin of provocation,” said Park Soo-hyun, a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Park added that Moon and Trump spoke on the phone for about 20 minutes.

‘On hair trigger alert’


The point, Mattis told reporters in Washington, was “to make certain North Korea understands that they could be taken under fire by our ally.”
Mount of the Federation of American Scientists said the South Korean goal was to show the North that “it has the ability to hit the North’s mobile missile launchers or leadership targets.”
“It is a measured and pointed response but also a reminder that the peninsula remains on hair-trigger alert,” he told CNN. “In this situation, provocations or even mistakes could quickly escalate out of control.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter that Trump “was briefed, while missile was still in the air, on the situation in North Korea.”
Mysterious 'ghost ships' wash ashore in Japan
 Mysterious ‘ghost ships’ wash ashore in Japan 01:55
North Korea has launched missiles at an unprecedented rate in 2017, testing two in July that also demonstrated intercontinental range.
Before Wednesday’s test, North Korea had fired 22 missiles without active warheads during 15 tests since February. US officials say North Korea is continuing to develop its missiles, rocket fuel and engines, as well as targeting and guidance systems.
The US and South Korea believe Pyongyang may be able to put a miniaturized warhead on a missile sometime in 2018 — giving it the theoretical capability to launch a missile with a warhead atop it that could reach the US.
It is currently testing a more advanced version of its existing ICBM, a US official told CNN earlier this month.

See also:

North Korea Says Nuke Push Complete as Entire U.S. in Range

Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe can lead the ‘Asian century’, if China and Japan are able to bury the past

November 25, 2017

Chandran Nair says Xi and Abe, strong leaders of economic powerhouses, have a historic opportunity to shape the 21st century in Asia, as the US wavers. But first, they must recognise legitimate concerns and embrace the symbolic elements of Asian-style diplomacy

By Chandran Nair
South China Morning Post

Friday, 24 November, 2017, 7:12pm

Donald Trump’s first visit to Asia showed the region at its best and its worst. In Japan, South Korea and China, the US president was greeted with extreme deference. From his ­address to the Korean National Assembly, to Shinzo Abe’s buddy routine, to dinner with Xi Jinping in the Forbidden City, he was treated as a political ­celebrity, and not a politician unpopular abroad and at home.

On the one hand, this shows how Asian countries continue to feel subservient to the US. Trump has criticised these countries at every turn, even during his trip earlier this month, insisting that they are taking advantage of America. In an ideal world, these countries would treat the US president with the same level of respect he has shown them.

On the other hand, we do not live in an ideal world. Although to many in the region, the visit of Trump made it clear that the United States is a diminished power, its president still wields a great deal of clout, and so Asian governments wisely “played” him. If the symbolism and flattery of a state visit is what is needed to ensure Trump listens to Asian views, and to prevent him from acting belligerently, then perhaps it’s a bitter pill that can be swallowed.

Highlights of Donald Trump’s 12-day visit to Asia

But strategic seduction still reveals a problem. If Asian stability is shaped by – or relies so much – on the US, to the point where Asian countries must bend over backwards to keep someone like Trump happy, is the status quo truly stable? Does it rely too much on the capriciousness of US politics? And is it outdated?

Even if you think America’s presence in Asia is a good thing, it is going to change, and undoubtedly get smaller. The US may bow out peacefully, or end up more like Trump: more muscular and zero-sum, where Washington doesn’t even pay lip service to “common solutions”, as it pursues “America First”.

Asians must take the lead in developing what comes next. The crux will be the relationship ­between China and Japan, which is fundamental to issues in East Asia, such as the Korean peninsula. It is time to bury the hatchet. After all, these two economic powerhouses of Asia can lead the transformation of the region if they come together as allies.

China is East Asia’s largest rising power, with a proven model of economic development and governance. Yet, many of its people remain poor, and its growth has had serious environmental repercussions. In this regard, Japan has much to offer. Also, China’s rapid rise – rightly or wrongly – is unnerving its neighbours, which Beijing sometimes seems ­blind to, and this is exploited by its detractors.

Xi and Abe are the strongest leaders their countries have seen in at least a generation

Japan is a hub for modern business and technology. It is also a symbol of peace and tranquillity. Its post-war history, investments and popular culture make it a trusted partner and an admired country.

But economic stagnation and China’s rapid rise have pushed Japan from its position as the premier Asian country. China as a good friend and ally has many upsides for Japan. Also, imagine a Japan that is engaged with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Belt and Road Initiative, rather than pressing ahead with the formerly US-led ­Trans-Pacific Partnership, to the ­exclusion of China.

Finally, President Xi and Prime Minister Abe are the strongest leaders their countries have seen in at least a generation. After Xi’s consolidation of power at the 19th party congress, achieving a status akin to that of Mao Zedong, and Abe’s ­resounding victoryat the polls, both leaders have the strength to take the first step towards an “Asian century”.

Historical antagonism should not be enough to prevent a rapprochement. After all, France and Germany were able to come together as partners a few decades after the most devastating war ­between them. The Paris-Berlin relationship now defines Europe – even more so now, after Brexit.

Why can’t a relationship between Tokyo and Beijing do the same for Asia? One clear difference is that France and West Germany were both US allies, and so friendship between them did not threaten Washington. The same would not be true of a friendship between China and Japan. And therein lies the rub.

Xi Jinping says a stable China-Japan relationship will benefit Asia and the world

This is where Abe and Xi, both newly strengthened, have a historic opportunity to shape the course of the 21st century in Asia. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and they must seize it.

To do so, both sides will need to accept the other’s legitimate interests and concerns. A recent example is the understanding between Seoul and Beijing, ­announced just before Trump’s trip, concerning the US-provided THAAD missile defence system.

By dropping the issue, Beijing probably recognised that South Korea feels genuinely threatened by the North, and needs something to defend against the worst. Yet, Seoul recognised that Beijing’s worry about being encircled warranted a promise that THAAD was not the first step towards a trilateral America-Japan-South-Korea alliance.

For China and Japan to come together, each has to accept that the other has legitimate concerns. Beijing needs to give up its anger over the second world war. It must also offer some kind of guarantee in ­exchange for Japan loosening its agreement with the US. And Tokyo must accept that its strong American ties hinder its ability to act as an honest broker in East Asia and prevent its rise as a central and independent player in the region. It must understand that, to Beijing, a neighbour, Tokyo’s relationship with Washington, a distant ally, appears to be a threat.

China rolls out the red carpet for Donald Trump

Finally, both sides will need to seriously embrace the symbolic elements of Asian-style diplomacy.

Sometimes pejoratively called “giving face”, it is an understanding that countries, governments and populations want to be treated seriously, shown great respect and, importantly, not bullied or insulted in the international arena. If the Vietnamese can roll out the red carpet for the US president, the Chinese can do the same for the Japanese, and vice versa.

Reciprocal visits by Xi and Abe should have all the pomp and circumstance of Trump’s visit. They may be the turning point that the region needs at the outset of “the Asian century.”

Chandran Nair is founder and CEO of the Global Institute For Tomorrow

Now push RCEP, Abe-san — China, Japan, the U.S. and All Asia Trade

November 24, 2017

Japan’s PM gets kudos for reviving the TPP, but to prove his mettle as a pan-Asian leader he can do more for regional free trade.

In the Ramayana epic so popular as a dance form across South-east Asia, the god-king Rama’s staunchest ally in battle is Hanuman, a creature of extraordinary strength and heroic initiative.

But what if Rama, weary of overseas campaigns, abdicated his responsibilities and left it all to his sidekick to continue the good fight?

Something of that nature took place last week on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in Vietnam when, thanks to the diplomatic heavy lifting of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, America’s closest Asian ally, 11 nations of the Pacific Rim agreed to the rump trade deal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, called CPTPP. The abbreviation expands as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TPP.

The critical element of CPTPP is that it omits the US, which pulled out of the TPP on President Donald Trump’s first day in office, thus yanking out two-thirds of the combined gross domestic product of the original TPP twelve.

From 40 per cent of global GDP, the new trade deal covers about 14 per cent, even though it involves the livelihoods of 500 million people. In short, this is Ramayana without Rama.

Why is Mr Abe so fervently playing the keen shepherd? There is perhaps more than one motive.

To begin with, getting this far needed Herculean efforts on the part of all participants, given the complicated nature of the TPP with its interlocking chapters, and high levels of ambition. Every country needed to tackle domestic opposition to some or the other provisions in the deal that hurt a variety of interest groups – indeed, if Japan’s internal struggles had been resolved earlier, TPP, with the US included, may even have become a reality while President Barack Obama was still in office.


Second, getting TPP, or CPTPP, implemented is crucial for Mr Abe’s domestic reform agenda. As entrenched as he is domestically, with an overwhelming mandate to govern, Mr Abe is compelled to make haste slowly.

That holds whether in moving on structural reforms, the third arrow of his Abenomics – seen as a priority for keeping growth ticking over at 2 per cent of GDP for the next decade – or making the constitutional changes required to give Japan a normal military, one that can also come to the aid of its allies if required. A corollary to this is a military industrial complex that can export arms freely.

It is a tactic perfected by some politicians who have to operate in robust democratic systems – India’s late prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, and his successor Atal Bihari Vajpayee were past masters at it – sign first, then order your bureaucrats to frame the necessary changes, citing solemn national commitments!

But there is an important geostrategic element as well; TPP, though sired by the vision of Singapore and New Zealand, had evolved into something larger. Its prescriptions on curtailing state-owned enterprises (SOEs), for instance, were written not just to favour the interests of private industry but also with a clear eye on China.

Since Beijing is in no position currently to yield on SOEs, nor likely to be for at least another decade, all the benefits that accrue from TPP would have reached the signatories bypassing China.

Heroic as his efforts to revive TPP have been, Mr Abe’s crowning glory – both as a champion of globalisation and a leader of Asia – will be if he not only gives his full backing to RCEP, but also uses his considerable heft to prod the recalcitrants to produce a quality deal.

For countries like Vietnam, which are deeply concerned about their overwhelming dependence on China for economic growth, CPTPP is additionally an opportunity to get growth from a wider basket.

Interestingly, one way or the other, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines have all expressed interest. At a time when China is moving swiftly on its Belt and Road Initiative, the signal has gone out loud and clear that BRI is not the only game in town.

Not for nothing is it said that in Asia, trade is strategy.

The big takeaway from CPTPP, and Mr Abe must be thanked for it, is that globalisation is alive and well. Suddenly, Mr Abe – not China’s President Xi Jinping – seems cast in the cheer-leading role. The timing is impeccable: According to the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council annual survey of opinion leaders, rising protectionism is considered the top risk to growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Still, CPTPP, while laudable, does hold back on some vital issues compared with its parent. A priority sector would be intellectual property rights – but these largely were items written into TPP specifically to keep the US on board and are now carrots to be dangled for a future US president to bring his country back into its fold.

Indeed, Mr Trump is poised to soon be made aware of the ramifications of his folly as Australian beef exports to Japan crowd out US beef, thanks to Canberra’s access to the trans-Pacific deal.

CPTPP also involves labour and environmental standards, bans on human trafficking, child labour and support for labour unions – stuff not part of the negotiations on most free trade agreements. These are some of the reasons why it is often referred to as a “high quality” trade deal.

While the optimists hope that the deal can be signed, sealed and delivered by the middle of next year, the realistic expectation is for CPTPP to be concluded in early 2019.

Unlike the TPP, which required ratification by members accounting for 85 per cent of the grouping’s total GDP – the US and Japan for short – the CPTPP requires assent by only a simple majority. That means once any six of the 11 give their assent, it can pass into law.

For the four Asean states in CPTPP – Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam – this is like an Asean Economic Community in fast forward since, between themselves, they can supply almost all sectors and invest without limits, avoiding the need to look for local partners. In a sense, the four have now leapfrogged Asean.

With CPTPP in the bag, as it were, attention will swivel to the slow-moving talks to stitch a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), an Asean-led initiative that seeks to bring into its fold China, Japan, India and South Korea – the four economic giants of Asia plus Australia and New Zealand.

While RCEP ministers held their first summit in Manila recently, progress towards that agreement has been less than satisfactory despite 20 rounds of talks. The bulk of the agreement, including fixing the levels of market access, has yet to be firmed up.

One of the trickiest issues is India’s demand that any “comprehensive” pact should also include liberalisation of trade in services, the area in which it feels its economy has a competitive edge. Other RCEP members have difficulty accepting this because of domestic political sensitivities.

Another tricky issue in RCEP that CPTPP nations managed to overcome is opening up agriculture.

Strategic suspicions of China, which is sometimes erroneously described as the moving force behind RCEP, is a big factor as well. For reasons of their own, India, Indonesia and Japan have all contributed to the paralysis.

“The largest RCEP members do not have FTAs with each other, whether it is India-China, Japan-China or Japan-South Korea,” says Ms Sanchita Basu Das, who leads economics research at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. “Their bilateral issues weigh heavily on RCEP negotiations.”

Still, it will be impossible now for RCEP discussions not to take into account the CPTPP when setting their own, even if lower, benchmarks. Indeed, the addition, this year of government procurement and e-commerce – both part of CPTPP – is indication of how thinking has already been altered.

Heroic as his efforts to revive TPP have been, Mr Abe’s crowning glory – both as a champion of globalisation and a leader of Asia – will be if he not only gives his unequivocal backing to RCEP, but also uses his considerable heft to prod the recalcitrants to produce a quality deal.

Already, by being the prime mover behind the strategic dialogue called Quad – comprising Japan, the US, Australia and India – he has shown a tendency to bypass South-east Asia. To do so on the trade front as well (never mind that four Asean states are part of CPTPP) would make him less of a pan-Asian leader than he aspires to be.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2017, with the headline ‘Now push RCEP, Abe-san’.

Vietnam wants peaceful end to sea disputes — Trump offers to mediate in South China Sea feud — Long Trump News Q and A in Vietnam

November 12, 2017

Image result for trump, south china sea, vietnam photos

Trump offers to mediate in South China Sea feud

 November 12 at 12:16 AM
HANOI, Vietnam — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia (all times local):12:05 p.m.

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang says his country wants to settle disputes in the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations.

Quang made the comments Sunday during a joint appearance with President Donald Trump, who is on a brief state visit to Vietnam. Trump had offered during an earlier meeting Sunday with Quang to serve as a mediator on the South China Sea territorial disputes.

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Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang and U.S. President Donald Trump address a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam November 12, 2017. REUTERS- Jonathan Ernst

Vietnam and China along with four others claim all or parts of the strategic waters.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) is scheduled to arrive in Vietnam for a state visit later Sunday. Disputes over the South China Sea are expected to be high on the agenda during Xi’s talks with Vietnamese leaders.


11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump has highlighted trade issues in meetings with Vietnam’s prime minister and the secretary general of its Communist Party.

Trump told Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong (nuh-WEE’-ihn FOO Trawng) that trade has become a very important element in the relationship between the two countries.

The president delivered a similar message later to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (nuh-WEE’-ihn SOO’-an FOOK). Trump urged Vietnam to buy missiles and other weapons systems from the United States, seeming to suggest that it would help erase a trade imbalance. Trump says the U.S. “makes the greatest missiles in the world.”

Outside of trade, Trump says he looks forward to the onetime adversaries U.S. and Vietnam having a fantastic relationship for years to come.


11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump says stronger U.S. relations with Russia would benefit the globe and suggests that Russian sanctions may be lifted.

Trump says in Vietnam that Russia has been “very heavily sanctioned” and “it’s now time to get back to healing a world that is shattered and broken.” The president is pointing to the need to work with Russia to solve problems in Syria, North Korea and Ukraine.

Trump says he believes “having Russia in a friendly posture as opposed to always fighting them is an asset.”

Congress slapped sanctions on Russia last summer for interfering in the 2016 election. Those sanctions were in addition to existing U.S. penalties on Russia for its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine and 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.


11:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump says it would be a “good thing” for North Korea and the world if he and Kim Jong Un become friends.

But he immediately cast doubt on whether that could happen. Trump has spoken forcefully against North Korea and its nuclear threat while traveling in Asia.

Trump tweeted about the North Korean leader on Saturday, saying he had tried “so hard” to be Kim’s friend and that “maybe someday that will happen!”

Asked at a news conference in Hanoi about the tweet, Trump said a friendship with Kim “might be a strange thing to happen but it’s certainly a possibility.”

Trump says he doesn’t know that friendship will develop, but says it would be “very, very nice if it did.”


10:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he believes in the U.S. intelligence agencies despite his past skepticism about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The president says during a joint news conference with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang that the U.S. intelligence agencies are “currently led by fine people.” He adds, “I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”

Trump’s comments come a day after he bashed the former heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies as “political hacks” and accused Democrats of trying to sabotage relations between the two countries.


10:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is reiterating that “all responsible nations” must act to help stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

Trump says at a joint news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, that “we want progress, not provocation” and “we want stability, not chaos.” Trump says the U.S. wants peace and not war.

North Korea has been a focal point of Trump’s trip to Asia. He is speaking at a news conference with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang.


9:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is offering to serve as a mediator on the South China Sea territorial disputes as he meets with the president of Vietnam.

Trump is telling President Tran Dai Quang he knows Vietnam has had a dispute with China over the strategic waterways.

Trump says he’s a “very good mediator and a very good arbitrator” and willing to help.

Trump was speaking to Quang at the start of their meetings in Hanoi. Trump says North Korea “continues to be a problem” and he’s hopeful that Chinese President Xi Jinping will “be a tremendous help.” Trump says he also hopes that Russia will “be a tremendous help.”

Trump says they’ll also talk about trade. He says the U.S. will “be treated fairly,” adding, “past administrations didn’t understand trade.”


9:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is promising a “tremendous amount of trade” with Vietnam as he arrives at the presidential palace for his meeting with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang.

Trump and Quang spoke briefly to reporters after the U.S. president arrived at the presidential palace in Hanoi on a rainy morning. Trump says they’ll be conducting “billions and billions” of dollars in trade.

The two leaders were greeted by young children waving U.S. and Vietnamese flags and then paused as a band played the two countries’ national anthems.

Trump is in Hanoi for a brief state visit and will hold a joint news conference with Quang. He’ll depart for the Philippines later Sunday for a pair of summits that will close out his trip to Asia.


8:10 a.m. Sunday

President Donald Trump is bashing the “haters and fools” he says are questioning his efforts to improve relations with Russia.

Trump, in the final days of a lengthy Asia trip, shared his thoughts in a series of tweets Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam.

He accused critics of “playing politics” and hurting the country.

The day before, Trump had told reporters that Russia President Vladimir Putin has again denied meddling in the 2016 election. Trump did not make clear whether he believed Putin but did make clear that he did not want to revisit the issue.

Trump has suggested that the ongoing probe into contacts between his campaign and the Russians was hurting the U.S. relationship with Moscow and could hinder efforts to solve crises like Syria and North Korea.


8:05 a.m. Sunday

President Donald Trump is exchanging schools yard taunts with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Trump says in a tweet from Vietnam: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?””

Trump goes on to say sarcastically, “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend” and says that, “maybe someday that will happen!”

Trump has been working to rally global pressure against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program on a trip to Asia. That includes a stern speech delivered in South Korea.

Kim’s government responded to that speech by calling Trump an “old lunatic.”


12:50 a.m. Sunday

President Donald Trump is back on the defensive over Russian election meddling and is accusing Democrats of trying to sabotage U.S.-Russia relations.

Speaking to reporters Saturday aboard Air Force One, Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin vehemently insisted once again that Moscow had not interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.

The Republican president declined to say whether he believed Putin but made clear he wasn’t interested in dwelling on the issue.

Trump is in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a brief state visit. He’ll depart for the Philippines later Sunday for a pair of summits that will close out his trip.

Trump and Putin did not have a formal meeting while they were in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but the two spoke informally several times on the event’s sidelines.


11:15 p.m. Saturday

The Kremlin’s spokesman says Vladimir Putin flatly denied any Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election during a short meeting with President Donald Trump.

The Russian president and Trump met Saturday on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific conference in Vietnam.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agencies as telling reporters: “Trump really raised the topic of so-called interference in U.S. elections.

Peskov says, “Putin categorically rejected even the hypothetical possibility that Russia could have in some way interfered in the U.S. electoral process.”


11:05 p.m.

The White House Correspondents Association is voicing concerns about press access during President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia.

Reporters and photographers traveling with the president were barred from covering any of the events at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the coastal city of Danang on Saturday.

Reporters have also voiced concerns that Trump declined to take questions in China, though he has held press conferences in Japan and South Korea and spoke to reporters at length aboard Air Force One Saturday.

Margaret Talev, the correspondents association president, says in a statement the group is “concerned that access on this trip has eroded more significantly” and that “notice about changes or new coverage restrictions has often come with too short of notice to be able to react effectively.”


8:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is praising Vietnam in brief remarks before a state dinner, calling the nation “one of the great miracles of the world.”

He says the United States and Vietnam have “come a long way,” in an apparent reference to the Vietnam War.

Trump added that “there is nothing more impressive” than the success of the country. He spoke during a state dinner featuring local flavors.

On the menu: steamed rice powder rolls “with fluffy pemmican”; shrimp rolled in fried egg; a seafood soup made with fish maw, shrimp, scallop and shark fin; and Dong Tao chicken rolled with lotus and mushrooms.

Besides dinner, Trump is scheduled for talks with Vietnamese leaders before heading to the Philippines, his last stop on the trip.


7:25 p.m.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday issued its first official statement on President Donald Trump’s trip to Asia, slamming Trump for trying to denuclearize the North.

The ministry said that Trump’s trip “is a warmonger’s trip for confrontation with our country, trying to remove our self-defensive nuclear deterrent.”

It accused Trump of trying to demonize North Korea, keep it apart from the international community and undermine its government.

The ministry said, “Reckless remarks by an old lunatic like Trump will never scare us or stop our advance. On the contrary, all this makes us more sure that our choice to promote economic construction at the same time as building up our nuclear force is all the more righteous, and it pushes us to speed up the effort to complete our nuclear force.”

North Korea is not known to have tested any of its missiles or nuclear devices since Sept. 15, a relative lull after a brisk series of tests earlier this year.


7:20 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is brushing off recent reports that the U.S. commerce secretary had interest in a company that does business with a major Russian company with possible ties to Putin relatives.

Reports this week said Wilbur Ross is a shareholder in a shipping company that relies on the Russian company Sibur for much of its revenue. A man reported to be one of Putin’s sons-in-law is believed to be a major Sibur shareholder.

Putin said Saturday that “This is nothing more than business. It never had and does not have any relation with politics.”

Putin also rejected any Russian connection to the recently indicted former campaign manager of President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort.

Manafort is charged with offenses including failing to register as a foreign agent while advising the party of Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-friendly Ukrainan president who was ousted amid massive street protests in 2014.


6:55 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the lack of a formal meeting with President Donald Trump at a conference in Vietnam reflects continuing tense relations between their countries.

Putin and Trump had several brief exchanges Friday night and Saturday as world leaders gathered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. They did not have a formal, one-on-one meeting.

Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying that the lack of a formal meeting shows that U.S.-Russia relations have “not yet emerged from the state of crisis.”

But he was also quoted as blaming the absence of a sit-down on scheduling conflicts and “certain matters of the protocol” that couldn’t be worked out.


5:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he didn’t see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh AH’-bay) take a tumble on the golf course.

But he says, if it was Abe, “I’m very impressed because (Abe is) better than any gymnast I’ve ever seen.”

Trump made the remarks to reporters aboard Air Force One as it headed toward Hanoi, Vietnam, for meetings and a state banquet.

Japan’s TV Tokyo aired footage of a player identified as Abe trying repeatedly to hit his ball out of a steep bunker. As he finally made the shot, Trump began walking away, and Abe ran up the side of the bunker to catch up.

But just as the 63-year-old prime minister stepped onto the grass, he slipped, making a backward flip down into the sand. He quickly stood up and picked up his cap.


5:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says Russia President Vladimir Putin once again denied meddling in the 2016 election during their conversations Saturday at a summit in Vietnam.

And Trump still won’t say definitively whether he believes Putin.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that every time Putin sees him he says: “I didn’t do that.”

Says Trump: “And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that he means it.”

Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election to try to help Trump win. Multiple investigations are also under way to determine whether Trump campaign officials colluded with them.

Trump dismissed the heads of those agencies as “political hacks.” He says there’s plenty of reason to be suspicious of their findings.


5:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for creating an “artificial barrier” to U.S.-Russian relations by accusing Russia of meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump tells reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Hanoi that the allegations, which he’s dismissed as a witch hunt in the past, are damaging his ability to work with Russia. And he says that’s putting lives at stake.

He says the “artificial barrier” gets in the way of putting global pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Without that obstacle, Trump says, “we could really be helped a lot, tremendously with Russia having to do with North Korea.”

He goes on to say that, “If we can save many, many, many lives by making a deal with Russia having to do with Syria, and then ultimately getting Syria solved and getting Ukraine solved and doing other things, having a good relationship with Russia’s a great, great thing. And this artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way,” he says, adding that, “people will die because of it.”


Tokyo’s main stock index closes at quarter-century high — Nikkei 225 gained 389.25 points to close at 22,937.60, the highest level since January 1992

November 7, 2017


© AFP | Tokyo’s benchmark stock index closed a quarter century high
TOKYO (AFP) – Tokyo’s benchmark stock index closed at a quarter-century high on Tuesday, rising by 1.73 percent amid eased concerns over geopolitical risks and on expectations for sound corporate earnings.

The Nikkei 225 gained 389.25 points to close at 22,937.60, the highest level since January 1992.

The broader Topix index advanced 1.15 percent, or 20.63 points, to 1,813.29.

“Foreign investors are seen actively buying on expectations for brisk corporate earnings,” Hiroaki Hiwata, strategist at Toyo Securities, told AFP.

“Investor sentiment has been supported by political stability in Japan after a general election” last month that resulted in a comfortable victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he added.

Analysts also pointed to some relief from the fact that there has not yet been any significant news to upset the market during US President Donald Trump’s tour in Asia amid lingering tension over North Korea.