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NBR on the Anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake

Two very interesting interviews out of National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) looking at Japan one year on from the Tohoku Earthquake.

The first interview entitled ‘Policy Change in a Post-Crisis Japan’ has Richard J Samuels looking at national security through his own research, best seen in his 2007 book Securing Japan:

But there is debate about the lessons of their success for policy going forward. Those who say “put it in gear” have written a “wake-up call” narrative about March 11. They say, “Yes, the efficacy of the SDF and the alliance were demonstrated, but the real threat is not natural disaster. If we start thinking of the SDF merely as a humanitarian-assistance disaster-relief (HA/DR) operation, then we will be taking our eyes off the real threat. The real threats are China and North Korea, and we have to do more to deter them.”

The stay-the-course group offers a “proof of concept” narrative. They say, “What the self-defense forces and the alliance achieved is what we have been telling everyone that they could achieve for decades.” They insist that the effectiveness of the SDF demonstrated that the nation has something it should value and reward with better treatment.

The third group says that the successful deployment of the self-defense forces for rescue and relief after March 11 taught Japan that the SDF is best and most legitimate when it is carrying shovels, not guns. This group argues Japan should return to the true meaning of Article 9, and not be focused on armaments, but on the creation of a global disaster-relief function for the Japanese military.

Read the full interview at NBR

The second interview, ‘Fukushima One Year Later’, has Daniel Aldrich addressing the nuclear and civil society issues following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis:

While the physical landscape in towns like Rikuzentakata, Ofunato, and Minami Sanriku better resembles normalcy, the recovery process is only just beginning. A number of larger issues, such as the balance between the central government’s fiscal control over the recovery process and the desire of local governments to have more autonomy to pursue creative rebuilding efforts, remain unresolved. Other local-level concerns for Tohoku residents, such as issues of radioactive decontamination, counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder, and the long-term economic viability of these coastal communities, which often depend on fishing and canning industries, must be addressed through intergovernmental consultation. Some larger issues, such as the length of time for which evacuated villages will remain empty, and the creation of new no-build zones adjacent to low-lying, vulnerable areas will take considerable political will to tackle.

Read the full interview at NBR

These are part of a much broader retrospective running through the media both here and abroad, and we will be adding out voice here at JSW this weekend. In the meantime, what other excellent articles or documentaries have you seen addressing the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear issues? Let us know in the comments.

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Mainichi: Japan tells U.S. it may halt F-35 purchase if prices rise

From Mainichi Daily News yesterday:

Japan tells U.S. it may halt F-35 purchase if prices rise

[...] In a letter dated Feb. 13, the ministry expressed its concern to the Pentagon over a rise in the price tag of the F-35, which is being developed by an international consortium led by U.S. aircraft maker Lockheed Martin Corp., the sources said.

The ministry also requested a review of the procurement system under a foreign military sales arrangement that allows the United States to change prices at its discretion, the sources said.

[...]

The letter was sent by Hideshi Tokuchi, chief of the ministry’s bureau of finance and equipment, and addressed to Frank Kendall, acting under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Tokuchi said in the letter that the possibility of canceling the F-35 procurement in the event its price rises cannot be denied. If the price does go up and the matter is deliberated in parliament, it would “invite severe criticism” and “jeopardize” the F-35 procurement plan, he said. [...]

Read more at the Mainichi Daily News site

It will be a great shame if Japan cancels its orders of the F-35 due to a price range, not least because the ASDF could really do with being shot of the F-X program so that it can look ahead to the successor to the F-15Js which seem to be slowly deteriorating.

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Nippon.com: A Review of the Three Principles on Arms Exports

Great little reader over at Nippon.com today:

Late 2011 saw the third review of the Three Principles on Arms Exports since their creation in 1967. How does the latest phase of review differ from the past two? Defense specialist Murayama Yūzō looks at the history of the reviews and what direction future policy should take.

Read more at Nippon.com

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Daily Yomiuri: Mitsubishi Electric hit with suspension for bill padding

The Defense Ministry and two other government entities have suspended Mitsubishi Electric Corp. as a designated contractor because the company has been found to have inflated invoices, the ministry has announced.

The ministry, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center made the announcements and suspended the company Friday for unspecified periods. The ministry added that Mitsubishi contacted it to admit the allegations the same day.

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Nippon.com: Japan’s Diplomatic Agenda for the Asia-Pacific

Jiji Press commentator Yoshikatsu Suzuki discusses the way ahead for Japanese diplomacy in 2012, focusing relevantly enough on the Philippines, which recently offered the US a chance at a new base – an offer the US has turned down, and the Indian Ocean, in whose ports Suzuki sees Japan needing to gain a presence. It makes for an interesting look at some of the contemporary issues affecting Japanese foreign policy.

The year 2012 marks the start of efforts to build a new order in the Asia-Pacific region. The world faces a number of difficult issues and situations whose outcome is in doubt: the Arab Spring, the European crisis, Iran’s nuclear program, and the outlook for North Korea after the death of Kim Jong-il. Now is the time for writing new rules and formulating new frameworks for an era of change. Things are already beginning to stir on the political stage, with changes of government, scheduled or otherwise, likely in a number of countries in the near future.

Read more at Nippon.com.

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Monday Morning Reading for 01/16

Monday Morning Reading for 01/16

Start your week with JSW's Monday Morning Reading, with some of the more in-depth articles we came across to keep you going throughout your working week.

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