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Spotlight on Japan Fall 2016

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Fall 2016

Spotlight on Japan

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Smith Awarded Commendation by Japan’s Foreign Minister



Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, received the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation for fiscal year 2016 in recognition of her contributions to the promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and the United States. The ceremony will take place later this fall.  Read the press release »

Sheila Smith Is Now on Facebook!



Smith’s official Facebook page has been launched. There, she will be sharing her writings and recommending works related to Japan and Asia.  Follow her on Facebook »


Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?



This summer, Smith initiated a broad conversation on CFR’s Asia Unbound blog by inviting leading experts to discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution.

Smith argues that outside of Japan, misconceptions about Japan’s constitutional debate abound, often driven by the headlines of the moment. But what would a Japanese-designed constitution look like? What would remain of the current constitution? How would the Japanese people seek to alter the balance of power between the individual and the state? What individual rights might be asserted—or altered? Those outside Japan need to understand the debate and learn more about the advocates and institutions that will shape it.

Contributors include incumbent and retired lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Democratic Party, and Komeito who have led and will continue to lead the Diet debate on constitutional revision; scholars of law and international affairs from Japan, China, South Korea, and the United States; citizen activists; and younger Japanese. The series will continue into the fall. The full list of contributors can be found at the end of this newsletter.  Read the blog series »

Tweaking and Tinkering Will Not Fix Japan’s Democracy
Sheila A. Smith



The July 10 Upper House election in Japan tipped the legislative balance in favor of lawmakers open to revising Japan’s constitution. In her op-ed for the Financial TimesSmith provides analysis on the prospects for revision, and warns that revising simply for the sake of revising will only weaken confidence in Japan’s democracy, at home and abroad. Read more »

Proceed With Caution on Article Nine
Sheila A. Smith



In an interview with NHK on the prospects of Japanese constitutional revision, Smith cautions that any attempt at a sudden change to Article Nine will lead to tremendous consequences for Japan’s diplomacy with its neighbors. She also emphasizes the need for a transparent and well-thought-out process for any constitutional amendment.  Watch the video »

After Election, What Is Ahead for Japan?



Smith joined Devin Stewart, senior program director and senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, for a podcast discussion of the July Upper House election results. Listen to the podcast here »


The Wishes of the Heisei Emperor



On August 8, Emperor Akihito of Japan appeared in a ten-minute video to inform his people that he wishes to abdicate the throne due to his age. In’s Asia Unbound, Smith reflects on what the Heisei period signifies for the Japanese people, the meaning of his announcement, and the implication for lawmakers. She notes that this is the opening of an important conversation “about how to improve his family’s ability to best serve the interests of the Japanese people.”  Read more »

Will Japan Let Emperor Akihito Retire?



Smith joined Bloomberg’s What Did You Miss? with Scarlet Fu, Joe Weisenthal, and Matt Miller to discuss the possibility of Japanese emperor stepping down. She also spoke on Bloomberg Surveillance with Tom Keene and Barry Ritholtz and was interviewed by the New York Times for two stories on Akihito’s retirement. Watch the video »



Briefing With the Beyond Tomorrow Program



Smith met with Japanese high school students participating in the Beyond Tomorrow Program on August 4. This program brings students from across Japan who have little opportunity to travel abroad to the United States. The discussion focused on President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, Japan’s constitutional revision, and the U.S. presidential election. 

Korea Leadership School



Smith also met with a group of undergraduate students from South Korea who are part of the Korea Leadership School, led by Lee Jang Rho, professor emeritus, Korea University Business School. The group discussed the future of Japan-South Korea relations, the role of political leadership, and U.S. presidential election during the meeting on August 8. 



U.S.-Japan Relations: Hiroshima to The Hague
Sheila A. Smith/Charles McClean



In the fall edition of Comparative Connections, Smith and Charles McClean highlight the significance and implications of President Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima in May, as well as his final visit to Asia as the president of the United States in September for the Group of Twenty and East Asian Summit. Smith and McClean also examined the shared challenges the United States and Japan face—in particular the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, North Korea’s recent fifth nuclear test, and continued maritime tensions in Asia after The Hague ruling. Read more [PDF] »

Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?





Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?
By Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations 

Voters Give Abe an Opening for Constitutional Debate 
By Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations 

Kazuo Aichi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution? 
By Kazuo Aichi, Former Member, House of Representatives, LDP

Hajime Funada: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?
By Hajime Funada, Member, House of Representatives, and Acting Director, LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution

Natsuo Yamaguchi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution? 
By Natsuo Yamaguchi, Member, House of Councillors, and President, Komeito

Satsuki Eda: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution? 
By Satsuki Eda, Former Member, House of Councillors, and Former Chair, Research Commission on the Constitution, Democratic Party

Japanese Public Opinion on Constitutional Revision 
By Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations 

Early Postwar Attitudes on Constitutional Revision 
By Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow, and Ayumi Teraoka, Research Associate for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Japanese Public Opinion on Constitutional Revision in 2016 
By Masatoshi Asaoka, Master’s Candidate, Georgetown University, and Ayumi Teraoka, Research Associate for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

A Nobel Peace Prize for Article Nine 
By Naomi Takasu, Joint Representative, Executive Committee for Nobel Peace Prize for Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution

Getting Rid of the Ghosts in Our Constitutional Debate 
By Shinichi Kitaoka, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency

A Constitution Like Air 
By Karin Koretsune, Japan Women’s University, and Former Member, Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy

The Unbearable Lightness of Our Constitution 
By Keigo Komamura, Professor, Faculty of Law and Vice President, Keio University

Constitutional Revision: More Than Yes or No
By Masatoshi Asaoka, Master's Candidate, Georgetown University 

Owning Our Constitution, Our Future
By Ayumi Teraoka, Research Associate for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Kazuhiro Soda, Documentary Filmmaker and Blogger (Kansatsu suru hibi [Daily Observations])

Helen Hardacre, Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

David S. Law, Charles Nagel Chair of Constitutional Law and Political Science, Affiliated Faculty, East Asian Studies Program, Washington University in St. Louis

Adam P. Liff, Assistant Professor of East Asian International Relations, School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington

Sheen Seong-ho, Professor of International Security and East Asia, and Associate Dean for Office of International Affairs, Seoul National University

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