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Hi Blog. In the recent vein of the GOJ’s more aggressive stance towards projecting its power abroad, we have two articles of note: One is on the harder power of militarism “to protect Japanese nationals abroad” (as the Yomiuri capitalizes on the ISIL beheadings to nudge public policy), and the other is on a (renewed) softer power to fund American universities, particularly Georgetown and Columbia, and therefore have more control over future research directions before they become published. (The institutions below may claim that there are no strings attached, but as the GOJ knows full well through its domestic education monopolies, once you get people hooked on your funding, they have a helluva time dealing with the threat of withdrawal).
One might argue that all countries project power to some degree, and they would be right. But we as consumers, researchers, and concerned critical thinkers should be aware of it. Especially in Japan, an economy with this degree of public debt (more than twice its GDP, the highest in the developed world), a tsunami and nuclear meltdown aftermath that still needs cleaning up, and an upcoming porkbarrel 2020 Olympics, these are interesting budgetary choices. Cherchez l’argent. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Comprehensively bolster measures to protect Japanese nationals abroad
February 04, 2015, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Courtesy of JK
To prevent Japanese nationals from being targeted by international terrorism, the government must comprehensively reinforce countermeasures to protect Japanese living abroad, gather information on terrorism and guard key facilities.
The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is recently believed to have killed two Japanese in Syria, is threatening to continue to carry out terrorist attacks against Japanese. Lacking common sense, the fanatic criminal group will not listen to reason. Other radical groups inspired by ISIL’s latest attack may also target Japanese.
We should realize that the threat of international terrorism has entered a new stage.
The headquarters tasked with promoting measures to handle international organized crime and international terrorism at the Prime Minister’s Office adopted a policy Tuesday of keeping Japanese living abroad informed, through Japanese embassies and other diplomatic missions, about local security conditions.
The government will also step up security for Japanese schools abroad. Such facilities are easy targets for terrorism because they symbolize Japan, so their security systems as well as commuting routes must be checked thoroughly.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made clear Tuesday that the government will increase the number of defense attaches, who are Self-Defense Force officials, at Japanese diplomatic missions abroad.
Following a hostage crisis in Algeria in 2013 that involved Japanese nationals, the government increased the number of defense attaches. At present, more than 50 defense attaches are stationed in about 40 countries.
An SDF official can more easily access classified information held by local military authorities. SDF officials should be proactively deployed in such regions as the Middle East.
In the latest crisis, the issue of keeping Japanese travelers informed of possible risks has become an important task.
Review travel advisories
The Foreign Ministry issues four different levels of travel advisories for potential threats in accordance with local security conditions. The ministry has issued an evacuation advisory, the highest level in terms of risk, to nationals living in Syria or traveling there.
But the advisory has no binding power since the Constitution guarantees the freedom of traveling to a foreign country.
The ministry had repeatedly asked Kenji Goto, who was killed in the latest hostage crisis, to refrain from entering Syria — but to no avail.
The government must examine improvements to the advisory levels according to the risks involved, as well as the best way to communicate and distribute such information.
Terrorist attacks must also be prevented in Japan. Immigration checks need to be tightened further to block terrorists at the water’s edge. Security at governmental organizations, airports, nuclear power plants and other key facilities should be enhanced. It is also vital for the government to cooperate with the intelligence agencies of other countries.
ISIL is trying to spread its radical beliefs beyond national borders by manipulating online resources. It is also necessary to prepare for home-grown terrorism that could be launched by those influenced by such terrorist propaganda.
For example, in Australia, an attacker who had apparently been influenced by ISIL took hostages at a cafe in Sydney in December. The incident ended with two hostages killed.
Are there suspicious people apparently devoted to radicalism, collecting weapons and explosives?
Investigative authorities must vigilantly monitor online activity, detect any sign of terrorism and respond swiftly.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 4, 2015)
To counter China and South Korea, government to fund Japan studies at U.S. colleges
BY TAKASHI UMEKAWA
REUTERS, MAR 16, 2015
The Abe government has budgeted more than $15 million to fund Japan studies at nine universities overseas, including Georgetown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of a “soft power” push to counter the growing influence of China and South Korea.
The program, the first time in over 40 years that Japan has funded such studies at U.S. universities, coincides with efforts by conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to address perceived biases in accounts of the wartime past — moves critics say are an attempt to whitewash history.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgetown University in Washington will receive $5 million each from the Foreign Ministry’s budget for fiscal 2015, which has yet to be enacted, a Finance Ministry official said.
In addition, the Japan Foundation, set up by the government to promote cultural exchange, will allocate ¥25 million per school to six yet-to-be selected universities in the United States and elsewhere, the official said.
That comes on top of $5 million in an extra budget for fiscal 2014 for Japan studies at New York’s Columbia University, where Japan scholar Gerry Curtis will retire late this year.
“The Abe government has a sense of crisis that history issues concerning Japan . . . are not properly understood in the United States, and decided to make a contribution so that Japan research would not die out,” the Finance Ministry official said.
The official said Japanese diplomats will vet professors hired for the programs to ensure they are “appropriate.” However, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said there were no such conditions placed on the funding.
The Foreign Minister “is not placing any such condition as the GOJ’s (Government of Japan) inclusion in the selection procedure of a new scholar,” Takako Ito, the ministry’s assistant press secretary, said in an email.
Georgetown University and MIT declined comment on the funding, while Columbia University spokesman Brian Connolly told reporters by email: “As a matter of long-standing university policy, donors to Columbia do not vet or have veto power over faculty hiring.”
Many Japanese politicians and officials worry Japan has been outmaneuvered by the aggressive public diplomacy of China and South Korea.
After a decade of shrinking spending on public diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry won a total of ¥70 billion for strategic communications in an extra budget for fiscal 2014 and the initial budget for the next year from April, up from ¥20 billion in the initial fiscal 2014 budget.
Those funds are to be used for “soft power” initiatives such as the Japan studies programs at foreign universities and setting up “Japan House” centers to promote the “Japan Brand.”
But the government is also targeting wartime accounts by overseas textbook publishers and others that it sees as incorrect.
One such effort has already sparked a backlash from U.S. scholars, who protested a request by Japan’s government to publisher McGraw-Hill Education to revise a textbook’s account of “comfort women,” the euphemism used in Japan for those forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.