Emma Chanlett-Avery, Mark E. Manyin, William H. Cooper, Ian E. Rinehart

AbeShinzo2Comments and actions on controversial historical issues by Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet have raised concern that Tokyo could upset regional relations in ways that hurt U.S. interests. Abe is known as a strong nationalist. Abe’s approach to issues like the so-called “comfort women” sex slaves from the World War II era, history textbooks, visits to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan’s war dead, and statements on a territorial dispute with South Korea will be closely monitored by Japan’s neighbors as well as the United States.
Japan’s membership in the TPP, if an agreement is reached, would constitute a de facto U.S.-Japan FTA. Congress must approve implementing legislation if the TPP is to apply to the United States. Japan’s participation in the talks could enhance the credibility and viability of the TPP, which is a core component of Administration efforts to “rebalance” U.S. foreign policy priorities toward the Asia-Pacific region. If successful, the negotiations could reinvigorate a bilateral economic relationship that has remained steady but stagnant, by forcing the two countries to address long-standing, difficult issues. On the other hand, failure to do so could indicate that the underlying problems are too fundamental to overcome and could set back the relationship.

2 thoughts on “Emma Chanlett-Avery, Mark E. Manyin, William H. Cooper, Ian E. Rinehart

  1. shinichi Post author

    Comments and actions on controversial historical issues by Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet have raised concern that Tokyo could upset regional relations in ways that hurt U.S. interests. Abe is known as a strong nationalist. Abe’s approach to issues like the so-called “comfort women” sex slaves from the World War II era, history textbooks, visits to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan’s war dead, and statements on a territorial dispute with South Korea will be closely monitored by Japan’s neighbors as well as the United States.

    The massive and immediate humanitarian relief provided by the United States following the March 2011 “triple disaster” bolstered the bilateral alliance, but difficult issues remain, particularly those related to the stationing of marines on Okinawa. Washington and Tokyo have agreed to relocate several thousand marines from Okinawa to Guam and other locations in the region, but the two governments have been unable to make tangible progress on implementing a 2006 agreement to relocate the controversial Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to a less densely populated location on Okinawa. In addition, the U.S. Congress has restricted funding for the realignment because of concerns and uncertainty about the cost of the realignment plans.

    Japan is one of the United States’ most important economic partners. Outside of North America, it is the United States’ second-largest export market and second-largest source of imports. Japanese firms are the United States’ second-largest source of foreign direct investment, and Japanese investors are the second-largest foreign holders of U.S. treasuries. In April 2013, the United States and the 10 other countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations completed discussions with Japan and invited Tokyo to join the talks. Accordingly, the Obama Administration notified Congress of its intent to launch negotiations no earlier than 90 calendar days hence.

    Japan’s membership in the TPP, if an agreement is reached, would constitute a de facto U.S.-Japan FTA. Congress must approve implementing legislation if the TPP is to apply to the United States. Japan’s participation in the talks could enhance the credibility and viability of the TPP, which is a core component of Administration efforts to “rebalance” U.S. foreign policy priorities toward the Asia-Pacific region. If successful, the negotiations could reinvigorate a bilateral economic relationship that has remained steady but stagnant, by forcing the two countries to address long-standing, difficult issues. On the other hand, failure to do so could indicate that the underlying problems are too fundamental to overcome and could set back the relationship.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.