Thursday, April 23, 2015

Prime Minister Abe’s Speeches

Good friend Paul Sracic has been invited to attend Prime Minister Abe’s speech before a joint session of Congress, so I decided to give his some unsolicited advice on what to look for.

Here's the preview, Paul.

Money quote:

"Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country."

"Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means...."

Those are some of the principles Bandung affirmed. And Japan, with feelings of deep remorse over the past war, made a pledge to remain a nation always adhering to those very principles throughout, no matter what the circumstances.

In keeping with this same spirit, it was our friends in Asia and Africa who propelled Japan after the Second World War to make possible our reentry into the international community.
To those friends of ours, let me take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt gratitude.

History made it inevitable, one could say, for those countries gathered here three score years ago to show their strong unity, since our forefathers then had a common wish, a wish for peace.

Edit the first two and last two paragraphs as appropriate for the U.S. audience, and you have Mr. Abe's take on the history issues in his speech.  He uses the word "remorse," but he doesn't make it personal. He uses the word "aggression," but its connection to Japanese "remorse" is contextual, only implied. Did it work? The meeting with President Xi Jinping went off without a hitch, and that's all that mattered. As for President Park, Mr. Abe is content to wait her out. It would be nice to have South Korea on our side, but it's not essential to Japan's well-being. They need us much more than we need them. Be polite, but firm. I think this is the outline of what Mr. Abe and his associates are thinking, and I think that they are right.

As for the substance of the speech, the new bilateral guideline and TPP will be the highlights on the bilateral relationship going forward.

And speaking of TPP, it's so nice to see bipartisanship break out after years of increasing acrimony. I did read your comments, and I agree. But I think that she'll come out in clear support with the caveat that she will make sure to enforce both the letter and the spirit of the eventual environmental and labor provisions. I don't think that she has a choice. Neither "non-committal" nor "against" works for her. (See Paul’s take here on Hillary Clinton’s dilemma on what Paul and Eurasia Group both consider a close call in Congress.)

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