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Eyes on Asia - July 2016

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July 2016

Eyes on Asia

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Dear Colleagues,

This issue of Eyes on Asia highlights a special Asia Unbound essay series, curated by Senior Fellow Sheila Smith, on whether and how Japan should revise its decades-old constitution. The document has remained unchanged for nearly seventy years, and many Japanese politicians and citizens believe that the time has come to reform it. Smith has invited fifteen guests—ten Japanese and five non-Japanese politicians and analysts—to share their perspectives on the topic, combining domestic and international voices for a broad range of views. I encourage everyone to read Smith’s introduction to the project and the first four essays in the series. The rest will be released throughout the summer and featured in upcoming Eyes on Asia newsletters.

Earlier this month, an international tribunal in The Hague released a landmark decision on the South China Sea territorial disputes, awarding victory to the Philippines and rejecting expansive Chinese claims. Read reflections on the ruling by legal scholar and Adjunct Senior Fellow Jerome A. Cohen in the Wall Street Journal, East Asia Forum, and on Cohen’s blog. Bruce Dickson, professor at George Washington University, also sat down with me for an Asia Unbound podcast on how Chinese citizens view the Chinese Communist Party. In 2010 and 2014, in collaboration with Chinese scholars, Dickson conducted two broad public opinion surveys of thousands of Chinese urbanites—and what he found will surprise many. Finally, take a look at a new Foreign Affairs article by Senior Fellow Alyssa Ayres, former Senior Fellow Daniel S. Markey, and me entitled “Rebalance the Rebalance” that calls for Washington to reinvigorate U.S. national interests in South and Central Asia.

Stay cool this August,

Liz-sig-small

Elizabeth C. Economy
C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies

Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

THIS ILLUSTRATION IS PART OF A SERIES PRODUCED BY NIHON UNIVERSITY IN 1947 TO PROVIDE A STRAIGHTFORWARD EXPLANATION OF THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE NEW JAPANESE CONSTITUTION. THE IMAGES CONVEY SUCH THEMES AS “THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE PEOPLE,” “THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL,” AND “EQUALITY OF THE PEOPLE.” (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

THIS ILLUSTRATION IS PART OF A SERIES PRODUCED BY NIHON UNIVERSITY IN 1947 TO PROVIDE A STRAIGHTFORWARD EXPLANATION OF THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE NEW JAPANESE CONSTITUTION. THE IMAGES CONVEY SUCH THEMES AS “THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE PEOPLE,” “THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL,” AND “EQUALITY OF THE PEOPLE.” (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)

The unamended 1947 Japanese constitution is the organizing principle of the country’s postwar democracy. But some in Japan think the time has come to change it. Senior Fellow Sheila A. Smith introduces a series of essays on Asia Unbound in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s constitution. Read the introduction »

 

Voters Give Abe an Opening for Debate
 
 

 

Smith writes that July’s elections in the Upper House was an undeniable victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his party, and it could also set the stage for the first-ever postwar parliamentary debate on constitutional revision. But what will that debate look like? Read the post »

 
Sovereignty Resides With the People
 
 

 

Former Lower House member Kazuo Aichi, a longtime leader of the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) deliberations on constitutional revision, believes that the decision to revise the constitution is fundamentally in the hands of the Japanese people. Read the essay »

 
A Call for Caution
 
 

 

Lower House member Hajime Funada, who recently served as chair of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution, advocates for careful and thoughtful progress toward revision that will be built upon a broad base of inter-party support. Read the essay »

 
Seeking Consensus
 
 

 

Natsuo Yamaguchi, president of the Komei party, offers a viewpoint on constitutional revision from his own perspective as a national legislator. The debate today, he argues, is less about whether to revise but rather about how to revise. Read the essay »

 
Resisting Abe’s Push for Revision
 
 

 

Satsuki Eda, chair of the Democratic Party’s research commission on the constitution, argues against allowing the Abe cabinet to prevail in its effort to revise the constitution. Rather, he supports reaching a consensus with the Japanese people on how to improve it so as to produce a more future-oriented document. Read the essay »

 

Cohen on the South China Sea

Cohen on the South China Sea

On July 12, a tribunal in The Hague awarded the Philippines a sweeping victory against China regarding disputed claims in the South China Sea. Read Adjunct Senior Fellow Jerome A. Cohen’s commentary on the decision and the Chinese and Taiwanese reactions to it:

 

PODCASTS

Interpreting the South China Sea Tribunal Ruling
Paul Haenle With Elizabeth C. Economy
 

 

On a Carnegie-Tsinghua Center China in the World podcast, Economy argues that, despite Beijing’s vocal opposition to the tribunal’s ruling, China wishes to avoid conflict in the South China Sea and should prevent further escalation through projects with regional neighbors. Listen to the podcast »

 
The Chinese Communist Party’s Strategy for Survival
Elizabeth C. Economy With Bruce J. Dickson
 

 

Are Chinese citizens unhappy with their government? Based on two public opinion surveys by George Washington University’s Bruce J. Dickson, author of The Dictator’s Dilemma: The Chinese Communist Party’s Strategy for Survival, it seems the answer is quite to the contrary. Listen to the podcast »

 
A Move Toward Nationalism in Japan?

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