Archive for May, 2013

Shinzo Abe’s Foreign Policy and Reactions from Asian Powers

Shinzo-AbeSince taking office as Japan’s Prime Minister for the second time, Shinzo Abe’s foreign policy posture has been under close scrutiny. Most have been concerned about his proposal to revise the Japanese Constitution, and how he has handled various expressions of nationalist sentiment from members of his ruling coalition. Some are also taking note of Abe’s recent visits to Russia and the Middle East. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentaries from Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and India. 


Opinion is sharply divided on the question of revising Japan’s constitution to allow the country’s Self-Defense Forces to strike hostile nations if Japan comes under threat.

  • Liberal-leaning papers have been strongly opposed to such constitutional revisions. “We are alarmed by this move,” worried the Asahi Shimbun. “Isn’t it more likely to aggravate, rather than ease, regional tensions and lead to an arms race?”
  • The Mainichi News was more moderate in its criticism, saying that “the question of the SDF’s use of weapons in U.N. peacekeeping operations should be considered separately from operations to protect Japanese nationals.” It also voiced concern that procedural changes which would make it easier to initiate constitutional amendments risked undermining parliamentary democracy.
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RPI Author Hui Zhang: China’s Nuclear Weapon No-First Use Pledge is Real, Promotes Disarmament

Dr. Hui Zhang, a participant in the RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project focusing on China and senior scholar at Harvard University’s Project on Managing the Atom, recently wrote an op-ed for The Diplomat:

On April 16, the Chinese Ministry of Defense released the eighth edition of China’s bi-annual white paper on defense since 1998. However, unlike the previous editions, this one does not reiterate China’s long-standing doctrine of no-first-use nuclear weapons. The obvious omission has sparked a debate over whether China is changing its nuclear doctrine. If China abandons its no-first-use nuclear pledge, which has guided China’s nuclear strategy since  its first nuclear test in 1964, it would severely undermine the global disarmament process, potentially preventing the U.S. and Russian from further reducing their nuclear arsenals and even encouraging the U.S. to expand its nuclear forces. Is China really changing its nuclear policy? (more…)

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India and China Assess Ties as Border Dispute Raises Tensions Ahead of High-Level Visits

ladakhChinese Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit to India next Monday has been overshadowed by recent tensions  over the two countries’ border dispute in the Ladakh region, which had flared up since late April. In this post, we examine the evolution of Indian and Chinese views on this crisis and the future of their bilateral relationship.


In the past few weeks, Indian media and politics have seen a deluge of commentary on this border dispute and India’s relationship with China. During the initial confusion when it was reported that Chinese troops had set up camp in Ladakh on April 15, many called for a stern Indian response , while others urged restraint .

With the withdrawal of troops on May 6 and the visit of Indian external affairs minister Salman Khurshid to Beijing on May 9, the stand-off was temporarily relieved. Commentary then focused on explaining China’s motives and assessing the Indian government’s handling of the crisis.

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Reader’s Choice: The RPI’s Top 5 Policy Alerts

The RPI recently published its 50th Policy Alert. We’re celebrating by bringing back the top 5 most widely read Policy Alerts. Thank you for your continued readership and support!

  1. Policy Alert #45: Asian Powers Comment on French Intervention in Mali (February 2013)
  2. Policy Alert #48: Lessons from Cyprus: Rising Powers Comment on the Bank Bailout and Financial Globalization (March 2013)
  3. Policy Alert #50: Boston Marathon Bombings Elicit Mixed Reactions from Asian Powers (May 2013)
  4. Policy Alert #33: Sentiments from Asia’s Rising Powers on Winning & losing at the Olympics (July 2012)
  5. Policy Alert #44: Heightened Tensions in the East China Sea: Reactions from China and Japan (January 2013)
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Worldviews of Aspiring Powers Review, Meredith Oyen

Reviewed by Meredith Oyen (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Published on H-Diplo (April, 2013)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach 

Cover_LargeThe impact of domestic politics on foreign policy is a subject of long-standing interest for both historians of American foreign relations and political scientists concerned with international relations. A new volume edited by Henry R. Nau and Deepa M. Ollapally, Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia, brings together prominent scholars from across the world to explore the domestic dimension of foreign policy in five important countries. The core argument of this book is that domestic debates powerfully affect foreign policy, sometimes exerting as much influence as external factors. The authors consider the implications of the contesting worldviews not only for each country’s foreign policy, but also for U.S. foreign policy responses. Worldviews of Aspiring Powers therefore offers both a model for future studies of domestic debates in other rising or aspiring powers as well as some thoughtful advice for policymakers.

In order to develop a common vocabulary for discussing and analyzing these debates across the countries under study, Nau’s introductory chapter discusses three aspects of foreign policy under debate everywhere: the scope, means, and goals of policy. By analyzing these three aspects across three broad categories of worldviews–national, regional, and global–he sets up a broad framework of twenty-seven possible worldviews, which the authors of the individual chapter then use as a guide to explore the unique variations of the country under their consideration. Nau makes clear from the outset that reality does not fit the generalized model perfectly, and each country under consideration possesses attributes that make it unique.  (more…)

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Visiting Scholar Yogesh Joshi: Navigating Pakistan’s Nuclear and Domestic Politics

pakistan-nwJogesh Joshi, visiting scholar at the Sigur Center and Ph.D. candidate at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Frank O’Donnell recently co-wrote an article for the East-West Center:

Pakistan is on the verge of a historic moment. For the first time in its national existence, a civilian government completed a full term of office in March of this year. A caretaker government is now administering the country until new elections are held this May. Many argue that if all goes well, successful national elections and a smooth power transition would help ensure that democratization is progressing in a country which has hitherto been ruled mostly by its generals.

However, democracy or no democracy, one trend which continues to unnerve the international community is Pakistan’s nuclear program. The country reportedly has the world’s fifth largest nuclear arsenal and it is projected to expand beyond that of France in the next few years. But this vertical proliferation is not only quantitative in nature; it is also qualitative, insofar as Pakistan is slowly but steadily diversifying the fissile base of its nuclear arsenal from uranium to plutonium. Plutonium-based weapons, unlike uranium ones, are more suitable for miniaturization because they require less fissile material. It also allows for both better concealment and swifter movement of nuclear arsenals. (more…)

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