Sunday, February 11, 2018

Monday in Washington, February 12, 2018

GEOSTRATEGIC FLASHPOINT: THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN. 2/12, 9:00-10:00am. Sponsor: Europe Program & Middle East Program, CSIS. Speakers: Adm. James G. Foggo, III, Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; Heather A. Conley,Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic; Director, Europe Program, CSIS; Jon B. Alterman, Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, Director, Middle East Program, CSIS.

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW: CONTINUITY AND CHANGE.
2/12, 10:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy David Trachtenberg, Jim Miller, under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration; Madelyn Creedon, principal deputy administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration during the Obama administration; James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment; and Robert Einhorn of Brookings.

RESPONDING TO THE ROHINGYA CRISIS WITH ETHICAL LEADERSHIP. 2/12, 11:30am-1:00pm. Sponsor: Elliott School, GWU. Speakers: Dr. Wakar, Professor, Pennsylvania State University, Director General, Arakan Rohingya Union, Founding Chairman, Burmese Rohingya Association North America; Amb. Derek Mitchell, CEO, Shwe Strategies LLC, Senior Advisor, Albright Stonebridge Group, US Institute of Peace. Moderator: Dr. Christina Fink, Professor of Practice of International Affairs, Elliott School, GWU. 

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ELECTION SECURITY IN 50 STATES: DEFENDING AMERICA’S ELECTIONS. 2/12, 11:30am-1:15pm. Sponsor: Center for American Progress. Speakers include: Neera Tanden, President & CEO, Center for American Progress ; Jeh Johnson, Former US Secretary of Homeland Security ; Judd Choate, Director of Elections, State of Colorado; Edgardo Cortes, Former Commissioner of Elections, Commonwealth of Virginia. Moderators: Neera Tanden, President & CEO, Center for American Progress; Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Center for American Progress.

IRAN’S POLITICAL FUTURE. 2/12, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Future of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council. Speakers: Nazila Fathi, Journalist, Author, The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran; Suzanne Maloney, Deputy Director, Foreign Policy Program, Brookings; Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation. Moderator: Barbara Slavin, Director, Future of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council.

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RELIGION, SECULARISM AND DEMOCRACY IN DUTERTE'S PHILIPPINES. 2/12, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Berkley Center, Georgetown University. Speakers: David Buckley, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Paul Weber Endowed Chair in Politics, Science & Religion, University of Louisville, Author, Faithful to Secularism: The Religious Politics of Democracy in Ireland, Senegal and the Philippines; Shaun Casey, Director, Berkley Center, Professor of the Practice, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Senior Fellow, Luce Project on Religion and Its Publics, University of Virginia.

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REMAPPING IR: PROTEAN POWER: EXPLORING THE UNCERTAIN AND UNEXPECTED IN WORLD POLITICS. 2/12, 12:30-1:30pm. Sponsor: Mortara Center for International Studies, Walsh School of Foreign Services, Georgetown University. Speakers: Peter Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter Professor of International Studies, Cornell University, Former President, American Political Science Association; Lucia Seybert, Professorial Lecturer, School of International Service, American University.

U.S.-PAKISTAN RELATIONS AT A TURNING POINT: WHAT’S NEXT? 2/12, 2:30-4:00pm. Sponsor: Asia Center, US Institute of Peace (USIP). Speakers: Tanvi Madan, Director, India Project, Brookings; Amb. Richard Olson, Former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; David Sedney, Senior Associate, International Security Program, CSIS; Moeed Yusuf, Associate Vice President, USIP. Moderator: Andrew Wilder, Vice President, USIP.

EUROPE'S CHALLENGE OF RADICALIZATION-VULNERABLE YOUTH AND TECHNIQUES OF COUNTER-TERRORISM. 2/12, 4:30-6:30pm. Sponsor: SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. Speaker: Hon. Koen Geens Louran, Minister of Justice of Belgium.

CRYPTOCURRENCIESAND BLOCKCHAIN: TECHNO-GOLD OR FOOL’S GOLD? 2/12, 5:00-6:30pm. Sponsor: American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Speakers: Jerry Dwyer, Professor, BB&T Scholar, Clemson University; Bert Ely, Principal, Ely & Company Inc., Adjunct Scholar, Cato; Paul H. Kupiec, Resident Scholar, AEI; Hadley Stern, Senior Vice President, Fidelity Investments. Moderator: Alex J. Pollock, Distinguished Senior Fellow, R Street Institute.

#CATODIGITAL — BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING:FISA SECTION 702 AND THE MODERN SURVEILLANCE STATE. 2/12, 6:00-7:00pm. Sponsor: Cato. Speakers: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI); Patrick G. Eddington, Policy Analyst, Homeland Security and Civil Liberties, Cato, Former Military Imagery Analyst, National Photographic Interpretation Center, CIA. Moderator: Kat Murti, Senior Digital Outreach Manager, Cato.

WHAT ABOUT FRANCE, EUROPE, AND TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS?
2/12, 6:30-8:00pm. Sponsor: SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. Speaker: Frédéric Bozo, Professor, Sorbonne Nouvelle, University of Paris III. Moderator: John L. Harper, Kenneth H. Keller Professor, American Foreign Policy, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Monday in Washington, February 5, 2018

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: THE FUTURE OF THE KIGALI AMENDMENT. 2/5, 9:00am-12:30pm. Sponsor: Hudson. Speakers: Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief, Forbes Magazine; Sen. Roy Blunt, US Senator of Missouri; Chris DeMuth, Distinguished Fellow, Hudson; Dave Banks, Special Assistant to the President for Energy and the Environment, National Economic Council; Dr. Stephen Lucas, Deputy Minister, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Government of Canada; Dr. James Hammitt, Professor, Economics, Decision Sciences, Director, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard University; Jeff Holmstead, Partner, Bracewell LLP, Former Director, Office of Air and Radiation, EPA, Former Associate Counsel, President George H.W. Bush; David Doniger, Senior Strategic Director, Climate and Clean Energy Program, National Resources Defense Council; Patrick Michaels, Director, Center for the Study of Science, CATO Institute; Paul Camuti, Chief Technology Officer, Ingersoll Rand Corporation; Stephen Yurek, President & CEO, Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). Moderator: Tom Duesterberg, Senior Fellow, Hudson.

STABILIZING RAQQA: CONNECTING CURRENT OPERATIONS TO U.S. POLICY OBJECTIVES. 2/5, 9:30-11:00am. Sponsor: International Security Program, Project on Prosperity and Development, CSIS. Speakers include: Melissa Dalton, Senior Fellow, Deputy Director, International Security Program, CSIS; Karen Decker, Director, Syria Transition and Response Team, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, US Department of State; Maria Longi, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Middle East Bureau, US Agency for International Development. Moderator: Erol Yayboke, Deputy Director, Fellow, Project on Prosperity and Development, Project on US Leadership in Development, CSIS.

CAN THE US SENATE BE SAVED? 2/5, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Ira Shapiro, Author, Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country? Moderators: William A. Galston, Ezra K. Zilkha Chair and Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings; Molly E. Reynolds, Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings.

GLOBAL ALLIES: COMPARING US ALLIANCES IN THE 21ST CENTURY. 2/5 Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: EastWest Center, Washington. Speaker: author, Dr. Michael Wesley, Professor of International Affairs and Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. 

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MOVE BEYOND GDP? 2/5, 12:30-2:00pm. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Homi Kharas, Interim Vice President & Director, Global Economy and Development, Brookings; Glenn-Marie Lange, Senior Environmental Economist, Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice, The World Bank; Quentin Wodon, Lead Economist, Education Global Practice, The World Bank; Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, The World Bank; Dale Jorgenson, Samuel W. Morris University Professor, Harvard University; Daniel Kaufmann, President & CEO, Natural Resource Governance Institute, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Brookings; Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute. Moderator: David Pilling, Africa Editor, Financial Times. 

FROM BYTES TO BUCKS: SOFT POWER, POLICY, TECH AND CULTURE. 2/5,
1:00-2:30pm, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Asia Program, Kennan Institute, Kissinger Institute, Science and Technology Innovation Program, Wilson Center (WWC). Speakers: Valerie Anishchenkova, Associate Professor, Arabic Studies, Core Faculty, Film Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, 2017 George F. Kennan Fellow, WWC; Irene S. Wu, Senior Analyst, FCC, Instructor, Georgetown University, Fellow, WWC; Rui Zhong,, Program Assistant, Kissinger Institute, WWC; Elizabeth Newbury, Director, Program Associate, Serious Games Initiative, WWC. Moderator: Izabella Tabarovsky,Senior Program Associate, Manager, Regional Engagement, Kennan Institute, WWC. 

ENHANCED DETERRENCE IN THE NORTH: A 21ST CENTURY EUROPEAN ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY. 2/5, 2:00-3:00pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Gen.Philip M. Breedlove (ret.), Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Kathleen H. Hicks, Senior Vice President, Henry A. Kissinger Chair, Director, International Security Program, CSIS; Adm. Mark E. Ferguson, III (USN ret.), Senior Adviser, Europe Program, International Security Program, CSIS. Moderator: Jeffrey Rathke, Senior Fellow, Deputy Director, Europe Program, CSIS.

THE DEMISE OF AMERICA’S FIRST MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM AND THE RISE OF STRATEGIC ARMS LIMITATION. 2/5, 2:00-3:30pm. Sponsor: Carnegie. Author: James Cameron, Assistant Professor of International Relations, University of Fundação Getulio Vargas in São Paulo. Speaker: James G. Hershberg, Professor of History and International Affairs, Elliott School, GWU. Moderator: Togzhan Kassenova, Fellow, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie.

IMPROVING DEFENSE SECTOR GOVERNANCE: LEADERSHIP AND NEW PARTNERS. 2/5
, 3:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: Leadership, Ethics, and Practice Initiative ; Elliott School, GWU. Speakers: Paul Bisca, Conflict & Security Consultant, The World Bank; Alex Johnson, Senior Policy Advisor, Open Society Foundations; Alexandra Kerr, Research Fellow, National Defense University; Michael Posner, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US Department of States. Moderator: Simon Limage, Non-Resident Scholar, Elliott School, GWU. 

CONVERSATION WITH AMBASSADOR JOE HOCKEY ON TRADE IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION AND WITA'S ANNUAL MEMBERS MEETING & RECEPTION. 2/5
, 4:00-7:00pm. Sponsor: Washington International Trade Association (WITA) . Speakers: Hon. Joe Hockey, Ambassador of Australia to the United States; Shawn Donnan, Editor, Global Trade, Financial Times. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Monday in Washington, January 29, 2018

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DONALD TRUMP’S FIRST STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. 1/29, 10:00-11:15am. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: Camille Busette, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, Governance Studies, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings, Director, Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative; John Hudak, Deputy Director, Center for Effective Public Management, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings; Molly E. Reynolds, Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings; Jon Valant, Fellow, Governance Studies, Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings. Moderator: E.J. Dionne, W. Averell Harriman Chair, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings.

MODERNIZING TRADE RULES: THE TPP AND BEYOND. 1/29, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Brookings. Speakers: Tsuyoshi Kawase, Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, Sophia University, Faculty Fellow, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI), Maki Kunimatsu, Chief Policy Analyst, Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting, Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Strategic Management, Chuo University; Joshua Meltzer, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Brookings; Amy Porges, Principal, Porges Trade Law PLLC. Moderator: Mireya Solís, Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies, Senior Fellow & Co-Director, Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Brookings.

A CONVERSATION WITH US SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY KIRSJEN M. NIELSEN. 1/29, 11:30am-Noon. Sponsors: Wilson Center (WWC); Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group. Speakers: Jane Harman, Director, President, & CEO, WWC; Hon. Kirstjen M. Nielsen, US Secretary of Homeland Security. 

MARITIME STRATEGY IN A NEW ERA OF GREAT POWER COMPETITION. 1/29, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Hudson. Speakers: Seth Cropsey, Director, Center for American Seapower, Hudson; Walter Russell Mead, Distinguished Fellow, Hudson, James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities, Bard College, Former Editor-at-Large, The American Interest; Bryan McGrath, Assistant Director, Center for American Seapower, Hudson, Managing Director, FerryBridge Group LLC.

MEDIA AND IDEOLOGY IN XI’S CHINA1/29, 1:30-3:00pm. Sponsor: China Reality Check Series, Freeman Chair, China Studies, CSIS. Speakers: Maria Repnikova, Assistant Professor, Global Communication, Director, Center for Global Information Studies, Georgia State University; Kaiser Kuo, Host & Co-Founder, Sinica Podcast, Former Director, International Communications, Baidu Inc. Moderator: Christopher K. Johnson, Senior Adviser, Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Monday in Washington, January 22, 2018

CHARTERING A NEW COURSE FOR THE INDUSTRIAL BASE. 1/22, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers include: Eric Chewning, Deputy Assistant, Secretary of Defense, Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy (MIBP); Frank Kendal, Former Under Secretary of Defense of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Department of Defense (AT&L); John Luddy, Vice-President, National Security, Aerospace Industries Association; Andrew Philip Hunter, Director, Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group and Senior Fellow, International Security Program.

ENDING CIVIL WARS: HOW CAN WE SUCCEED WITH LIMITED OPPORTUNITIES? 1/22, 2:30-4:00pm. Sponsor: Policy, Learning and Strategy Center, US Institute of Peace (USIP). Speakers: Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow, Stanford University; Nancy Lindborg, President, USIP; Steve Krasner, Professor, Stanford University; Stephen Biddle, Professor, GWU; Susanna Campbell, Professor, American University; Clare Lockhart, Director & Co-Founder, Institute for State Effectiveness; Paul Wise, Professor, Stanford University.

BROADENING THE LENS BEYOND SECURITY: THE NEXT FEW DECADES OF U.S. PAKISTAN RELATIONS. 1/22, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: Project on Prosperity and Development, International Security Program, CSIS. Speakers: Daniel F. Runde, William A. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis, Director, Project on Prosperity, CSIS; HE. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the US; Dr. Seth G. Jones, Harold Brown Chair, Director, Transnational Threats Project, CSIS.

THE BURNS-NOVICK VIETNAM WAR FILM: A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. 1/22, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: Institute of World Politics (IWP). Speakers: Dr. Lewis Sorley, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, Author, Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times, Honorable Warrior: General Harold K. Johnson and the Ethics of Command, Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s LAst Years in Vietnam, Vietnam Chronicles: The Abrams Tapes, 1968-1972, The Vietnam War: An Assessment by South Vietnam’s Generals; Dr. Robert F. Turner, Director of Research, National Student Committee for Victory in Vietnam; Dr. Mark Moyar, Director, Project on Military and Diplomatic History, CSIS, Author, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965; Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism in Vietnam. 

1917: LENIN, WILSON, AND THE BIRTH OF THE NEW WORLD DISORDER: BOOK DISCUSSION. 1/22, January 4:30-6:15pm. Sponsor: Hudson Institute. Speaker: author, Dr. Arthur Herman, senior fellow at Hudson Institute.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Japan needs more humility toward the Comfort Women

Comfort Women
Why Japan needs to revisit the 2015 ‘comfort women’ deal with South Korea

Jeff Kingston says the flawed bilateral agreement, as South Korean President Moon Jae-in asserts, ignores the wartime victims and risks deepening historic resentment. It is time for Japan to take the measure of what it inflicted and make genuine amends

South China Morning Post, January 8, 2018
by Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan

Japan should agree to reopen the bilateral 2015 agreement on “comfort women” and work with South Korea to engage in a victim-centred public process. This agreement, concluded with the impeached former South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, is exceptionally one-sided, never had any legitimacy among South Koreans and thus could never live up to its billing as “final and irreversible”.

The 2015 accord perpetuates the “averted eyes” approach that has persisted for too long and forced women in war to suffer in silence. Insisting that the deal is sacrosanct, while eliding the violation these women endured, dishonours Japan and its victims.

The accord very obviously falls short of addressing the horrific abuses inflicted by Japan’s military on tens of thousands of women, mainly Koreans, in the 1930s and 1940s. On December 27, South Korea released the results of a five-month review of the agreement, which concluded that the victim-centred approach, “established as an international standard when it comes to women’s human rights during war, was not sufficiently reflected during the negotiation process”. In fact, the victims and their advocates were excluded from the secret negotiations – ostensibly meant to sincerely address a profound historical injustice.

Japan says ‘no alternative’ to ‘comfort women’ deal after South Korean president dismisses it

President Moon Jae-in has repeatedly criticised the accord for being flawed in content and process. On January 4, he also met former comfort women and apologised to them for the Park government’s negligence. This compassion was entirely missing in the quid pro quo deal – payouts for silence about a sordid saga of women having to endure sexual slavery. The Japanese government did not even acknowledge its responsibility and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to make a public apology, only phoning it in to Park.

Surely the 2015 agreement is a betrayal of international norms and decency

However, the chances of Japan renegotiating the 2015 agreement appear slim, because it is on firm legal ground. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga insists that the deal is “final and irreversible” and Foreign Minister Taro Kono has warned of serious consequences if Seoul reneges. But condemning Seoul for not abiding by a flawed pact, which a disgraced leader agreed to, is not going to solve anything.

Abe is well known as a revisionist, with a preference for a vindicating and exculpatory wartime history. He has spent most of his political career downsizing and denying state responsibility for the comfort women system. On his watch, comfort women have disappeared from major secondary school textbooks. Abe’s defenders hold up the 2015 agreement as an example of his pragmatism. Indeed, Abe went beyond his comfort zone to authorise it and to indirectly express remorse for the comfort women system.

But what did Abe really concede? He did not have to acknowledge state responsibility for the comfort women system, or have to assume legal responsibility for it; he paid peanuts (US$9 million) to get South Korea to sign away all related claims and did not reach out to the victims or apologise directly to them.

For Abe, Moon’s criticism constitutes a betrayal of trust, but surely the 2015 agreement itself is a betrayal of international norms and decency. The UN Committee Against Torture gave credence to this view last May, when it urged both nations to revise the deal.

Moon is right that the agreement is flawed, but Tokyo is adamant that a deal is a deal. Abe and Japanese diplomats are furious with Moon for moving the goalposts, and not living up to what they believe is South Korea’s end of the bargain: removing the comfort women statues in Seoul and Busan that reproach Japan’s diplomatic presence in these cities.

These statue wars are escalating on the global stage, as Tokyo fights a losing battle to prevent municipalities across the US from installing memorials to the comfort women. This is a counterproductive use of diplomatic resources, as it conveys the impression that Japan lacks compassion towards women victimised by war and wants the world to forget their traumas.

Abe got an incredibly good deal and now finds that it was too good to be true. Japan has to find the courage to take the measure of what it inflicted and act accordingly, by demonstrating greater empathy.

Why modern Japan’s founding moment still divides a nation

Omuta Mine's POW Slave Labor Camp
Mitsui's Miike Mine
UNESCO World Industrial Heritage Site
The Meiji restoration initiated not just modernisation, but also militarism

by Banyan, The Economist, January 11, 2018.

THE story of Japan’s modernisation began 150 years ago this month, when a band of young samurai and their allies overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate and with it seven centuries of feudal rule. Under the shoguns (military rulers), merchant and cultural life—centred upon bustling Edo—had been far from stagnant, as the stunning woodblock prints of Hokusai and Hiroshige attest. But Japan had for more than two centuries been closed and inward-looking. Its stratified society was absurdly rigid.

Above all, the warrior class was ill-equipped to deal with the growing threat posed by the gunboats of America and other Western countries, which had been sailing into Edo Bay and forcing the shoguns to sign treaties opening the country to foreign trade. The contest was unequal. The West had ironclad vessels and the latest guns. The samurai had ceremonial armour with face masks designed to show off impressive false moustaches.

The leaders launched their coup with the slogan “Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians”. For the first part, they called on tradition. They put the imperial line, hitherto mere props in Kyoto, back at the centre of the polity. They brought the 12-year-old emperor, Mutsuhito, up to Edo (now renamed Tokyo, or Eastern Capital), affirmed his unbroken descent from the sun goddess and claimed to rule on his behalf. Mutsuhito died in 1912; posthumously he was given the title of Emperor Meiji. Hence the name for the coup: the Meiji restoration.

As for the second part, far from expelling the barbarians, the new leaders embraced them. In April 1868 a famous “Charter Oath” decreed that “knowledge shall be sought throughout the world” to strengthen imperial rule. Fifty high officials set off on a 22-month world tour to take in everything they could about American and European government, industry, trade, education and warfare. Back in Japan they launched a frenzy of industrial development, administrative reform and military modernisation not even matched by China’s more recent headlong growth. The Meiji restoration was actually a revolution.

For Shinzo Abe, Japan’s current prime minister, the restoration resonates. Mr Abe comes from Yamaguchi, known in feudal times as Choshu. Leaders from Choshu were at the head of the revolution. Mr Abe once told this columnist he identified with them because they did “not simply look inward, but looked…to the world’s wider horizons”. The Choshu men, he explained, saw the threat from Western imperialism. Japan’s harsh choice was either to be the meat served at a Western banquet or a guest at the table. By modernising, Japan became the only big country in Asia to safeguard its independence. It joined the Western high table.

Mr Abe sees lessons in all this, and since he came to office in 2012 he has appeared to be in a tearing hurry to implement them. At home Japan is imperilled by a weak economy, a risk-averse establishment and an ageing, shrinking population. Overseas, China threatens Japan not just in economic terms but, as it grows more assertive, militarily too. A revived economy (with more opportunities for women at work), a vigorous diplomacy and, notwithstanding the constraints of a pacifist post-war constitution, a stronger defence are to him the right responses. (They also help confront the threat posed by a nuclear North Korea.)

The government has gone all-out to promote the 150th anniversary, starting with a push in 2015 to acquire UNESCO “world heritage” status for various spots important in the ensuing industrial revolution. One striking site is Hashima, an island off the coast near Nagasaki that sits above a former coal mine, operated by the Mitsubishi conglomerate, that ran under the sea bed. It was once the most densely populated spot on Earth, housing miners and the families. (Today its post-apocalyptic ruins are best known as the lair of James Bond’s nemesis in “Skyfall”.)

The government website celebrating the Meiji restoration idealises the period as one of grass-roots change and human rights as much as innovation. Yet for ethnic groups whose territory was annexed and culture stifled, such as the Ainu in the north and Okinawans in the south, it was not much fun. The rank-and-file in the new conscript army were brutalised. Workers in the mines and mills led harsh lives. And women, points out Tomomi Yamaguchi of Montana State University, were kept down. They could not vote, divorce or own property. Most Japanese women find little appeal in the nostalgic push by Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party to return to the Meiji era’s “family values”.

Don’t mention the war

There is another problem. The Meiji restoration sowed the seeds of Japan’s 20th-century aggression. The first war dead whose souls were honoured at Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine, later controversial for honouring war criminals, were those who died fighting for the restoration (though even the losing side was supposedly fighting for the emperor). The authoritarian constitution of 1890, borrowed from that of Bismarck’s Germany, fostered emperor-worship and glorification of the armed forces—powerful features of Japan’s war machine.

By the time of Japan’s defeat in 1945 thousands of Koreans and Chinese had been forced to work the mines in Hashima, among many other sites. [Editor: this was a policy designed by PM Abe's grandfather Kishi.] Mr Abe’s government, after much resistance, promised UNESCO it would reflect this history. Yet on Hashima neither the guides nor the pamphlets and signs refer to it. Members of Mr Abe’s government, and at times the prime minister himself, seem to deny the existence of forced labour at all. [Editor: There was also extensive Allied POW slave labor at most of the UNESCO World Industrial Heritage sites of which there is no mention.]

You can see the conundrum without sympathising with it. Those, like Mr Abe, who are less than frank in acknowledging Japan’s wartime past, are worried about pulling on a thread. No clear event, no Reichstag fire, marked the moment when the country lurched into militarism. If aspects of what the Meiji restoration wrought come into question, what is there left to be proud about? The quest to find a modern identity for Japan continues.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Monday in Washington, January 8, 2018

THE ASIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS, 20 YEARS ON: A CONVERSATION WITH LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS. 1/8, ̣9:30-11:00am. Sponsor: Wilson Center (WWC). Speakers: Lawrence H. Summers, President Emeritus, Harvard University, Professor, Charles W. Eliot University; Meg Lundsager, Public Policy Fellow, Wilson , Former US Executive Director, IMF.

CONFRONTING NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR AND MISSILE PROGRAMS: AMERICAN AND JAPANESE VIEWS OF THREATS AND OPTIONS COMPARED. 1/8, 10:00-11:30am. Sponsor: Foreign Policy Program, Brookings. Speakers: Yasushi Kudo, President, Genron NPO; Shibley Telhami, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Program, Brookings, Professor & Director, Critical Issues Poll, University of Maryland. Moderator: Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow & Director of Research, Foreign Policy Program, Brookings.

ASSESSING INNOVATION IN CHINA’S DIGITAL ECONOMY.
1/8, 10:00am-Noon. Sponsor: Technology Policy Program, CSIS. Speakers: Ding Xiangfeng, Chief Scientist, Internet of Things - Alibaba Group; Kaiser Kuo, Host and Co-Founder, The Sinica Podcast, Former Director of International Communications, Baidu Inc.; David London, Senior Director & Head of North America Government Affairs, Ofo; Paul Triolo, Practice Head, Geotechnology, Eurasia Group; Hans Tung, Managing Partner, GGV Capital. Moderator: Samm Sacks, Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Programs, CSIS.

GHOST FROM THE PASTS? ASSESSING RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN SOUTH ASIA. 1/8
, 10:00am-4:00pm. Sponsor: Asia Program, Wilson Center (WWC). Speakers: Bijan Omrani, Editor, Asian Affairs; Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director & Senior Associate, South Asia Program, Wilson Center; Mridu Rai, Professor, Presidency University Kolkata; Dina Siddiqi, Professor, Anthropology, BRAC University Bangladesh; Farahnaz Ispahani, Global Fellow, Wilson Center; Christina Fink, Professor, Practice of International Affairs, GWU; Raza Rumi, Scholar in Residence, Ithaca College; Cassie Adcock, Associate Professor, Washington University St. Louis; Neil DeVotta, Associate Professor, Wake Forest University; Ali Riaz, Professor, Illinois State University. Moderators: Neeti Nair, Associate Professor, Modern South Asia, University of Virginia, Resident Fellow, Wilson Center; Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director & Senior Associate, South Asia Program, Wilson Center.

HOW CITIES ARE COLLABORATING TO COMBAT VIOLENT EXTREMISM. 1/8, Noon-1:30pm, Lunch. Sponsor: Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Strategy, University of Southern California. Speaker: Michael Duffin, Policy Advisor, Office of Countering Violent Extremism, Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism, Author, The Role of Cities in Countering Violent Extremism.

CAUGHT IN CONFLICT: WORKING TO PREVENT THE RECRUITMENT AND USE OF CHILD SOLDIERS. 1/8, 1:00-2:30pm. Sponsor: Stimson. Speakers: Lt. Gen. (ret.) Roméo Dallaire, Founder, Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative; Jo Becker, Advocacy Director, Children’s Right Division, Human Rights Watch. Moderator: Rachel Stohl, Senior Associate and Director, Conventional Defense Program, Stimson.

SHOULD THE FED STICK WITH THE 2 PERCENT INFLATION TARGET OR RETHINK IT? 1/8, 1:00-5:15pm. Sponsor: Brookings. Speakers: David Wessel, Director, Hutchins Center; Lawrence H. Summers, Emeritus, Harvard University; Olivier Blanchard, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute (PIIE); Jeff Frankel, Professor, Harvard University; John Williams, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Rick Mishkin, Professor, Columbia University; Ben S. Bernanke, Distinguished Fellow, Economic Studies; John Taylor, Professor of Economics, Stanford University; Kristin J. Forbes, Professor, MIT; Sarah A. Binder, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies; John David Murray, Former Deputy Governor, Bank of Canada; Eric Rosengren, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

THE FOURTEEN POINTS: WORLD WAR I AND WOODROW WILSON’S LEGACY 100 YEARS LATER. 1/8, 3:00-5:00pm. Sponsor: CSIS. Speakers: Keynote Address, John Warner, Former U.S. Senator (R-VA) and former Secretary of the Navy; Jennifer Keene, Professor & Chair, Department of History, Chapman University; Erez Manela, Professor, History, Harvard University; Michael Neiberg, Chair, War Studies, Professor, History, United States Army War College; Mark Moyar, Director, Project on Military and Diplomatic History, CSIS; Daniel F. Runde, William A. Schreyer Chari & Director, Project on Prosperity and Development, CSIS.


SAFEGUARDING DEMOCRATIC CAPITALISM: US FOREIGN POLICY AND NATIONAL SECURITY, 1920-2015. 1/8, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: History and Public Policy Program, Wilson Center (WWC). Author: Melvyn P. Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor, American History, Compton Professor, Miller Center, University of Virginia. Moderators: Eric Arnesen, Fellow & Professor, American History, GWU; Philippa Strum, Global Fellow & Former Director, Division of United States Studies, Wilson Center.