Abe’s Tailwind and the End of the “Twisted Diet” for Japan

     Abe and Abenomics have just received a resounding vote of confidence in the recent elections in Japan. Are we now witnessing the end of Japan’s leadership desert? To be sure, Japan still faces the multiple dragons of its economy, its aging population, its nuclear/energy challenges, and China, among others. But Shinzo Abe is riding a new Japanese fire and hope that have been long absent.


Hosted by David Day, this week’s “Issues & Insights” special guest is Dr. Jeffrey W. Hornung, an adjunct Fellow with the Office of the Japan Chair for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. and an Associate Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu.

Dr. Jeffrey Hornung Fellow, Office of Japan Chair, CSIS Washington, D.C. Professor, Asia Pacific Center for Strategic Studies, Honolulu

Dr. Jeffrey Hornung
Fellow, Office of Japan Chair, CSIS Washington, D.C.
Professor, Asia Pacific Center for Strategic Studies, Honolulu

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Entering a New International Market: Developing Critical Depth

This “Asia in Review” Hawaii television show probes the interesting nexus between international business and foreign policy/geopolitics.



Hosted by David Day, this program’s special guests are Mr. John Holman, the Senior U.S. Commercial Officer for the Hawaii and the Pacific Islands (U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Dept of Commerce), and Mr. Michael Messina, Director of Development for the Asia-focused, foreign policy/geopolitical think tank, Pacific Forum, CSIS.



This lively discussion includes the Why and the How of using the resources of both of these organizations when a businessperson is preparing to launch into a new international market.

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Yet Another China Foreign Policy Stumble: The South China Sea

China has had a number of foreign policy gaffes over the past couple of years and its very recent attempt at imposing a fishing ban in the South China Sea (known to the Vietnamese as the “East Sea”) is yet another stumble.  Attempting to protect and encourage the replenishment of fishing stock during the spawning season, China announced on May 11, 2011 a fishing ban to run from May 16 through August 1 over an area hotly contested by several South East Asia countries, most notably by Vietnam.

While replenishing the fishing stock may well be a noble ideal, China’s unilateral action is guaranteed to gin up a firey defiance by the Vietnamese, with fishermen ignoring the ban, boat seizures and violent confrontations– all too predictable.

Vietnam has a 1000 mile coastline to protect and its Eastern Sea is an essential part of its defense perimeter that it has, and will continue to jealously protect. China knows this all too well– given its historical battles and scrapes with Vietnam in these same waters over the millennia.

China’s unilateral muscle-flexing in the South China Sea is hardly simply to protect the  fishing stock which Vietnam’s marine industry depends upon. China had to know full well that its fishing ban would necessarily force a response from Vietnam  and give the PRC an opportunity to reinforce its imprimatur over the disputed waters.

For Vietnam, the Eastern Sea is its “line in the sand.”  Vietnamese public opinion will not stand for any moves by China to nip bites out of Vietnamese waters. China knows this but its policymakers blundered ahead anyway.

Defiance by little colorful Vietnamese fishing boats is one thing. China did not anticipate, however, the announcement by the Vietnamese Navy that it now intends to conduct live firing exercises off of Vietnam’s central coast directly into waters affected by the fishing ban.

Such are the perils of unilateralism–especially when you have a little sleeping tiger to the south.

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Pieces are being put into place for the Transistion of Power in North Korea

Pieces are being put into place for the Transistion of Power in  North Korea

June 29,  2010 by davidfday

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

North Korea’s Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law , was recently promoted to vice-chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission. This is significant because the heir-apparent in North Korea, Kim Jong Un, is Jang’s nephew and, as a top North Korean military official, Jang provides a critical KPA military brass support network for Jong Un.  To stabilize the transistion of power from Kim Jong Il to his youngest son, Jong Un, it must be remembered that Jong Un has no military leadership experience; he does not have the “smoke of the revolution” about him, and will need the military support network provided by his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, if he is to carry any credible authority with the KPA.

The regime transistion of power is  extremely delicate for North Korea. The last transition in this feudal, Stalinist regime took place over a period of some 14 years. Kim Jong Il had years to nuture relationships and leadership credibility within Pyongyang circles as the mantle shifted from his father, Kim Il Sung.

As  the grandson of the revolution, Kim Jong Un does not have the luxury of  time given his father’s ailing health. The support of the senior KPA will be critical for him to assume and hold power. Uncle Jang’s appointment, then, is an important step in this transition.

See, also Blog article called, North Korea: “The Cheonan Was Bait for an Internal Propaganda Frenzy “ also located on this website.


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North Korea: “Juche and Kimilsungism Block Effectiveness of Any Sanctions Against North Korea ”


North Korea: “Juche and Kimilsungism Block Effectiveness of Any Sanctions Against North Korea “ May 27, 2010.

Pyongyang plays by a vastly different rulebook. Economic sanctions vis.a.vis the DPRK only serve as political pablum for constituencies in Seoul and in the U.S. The North Korean philosophy of Juche (originally created by North Korean academic Hwang Jang-Yop who later defected) as modified by Kim Jong Il into Kimilsungism will never permit Pyongyang to knuckle under to economic sanctions imposed by outsiders. If you thoroughly understood that philosophy you would know that economic sanctions are an exercise in futility. In fact, the Dear Leader just demonstrated for the world last year that the regime was all too ready, and did, in fact, shoot itself in the economic foot by completely shutting down the economic zone at Kaesong and trade with South Korea in the wake of its 2009 missile and nuclear tests.

The burden of economic sanctions will not scratch the elite ruling class in Pyongyang or the DPRK military—it will be borne by the North Korean people. They are the weakened, impoverished child that will have to take the brunt of any further economic spanking.



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