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Rising Sun in the New West

By Richard Rosecrance

Considering the rise of China, will Japan join a new West? The answer is likely to be “Yes.”

In the past Japan was a leader in charting new strategic choices for the world. In the late 19th century, Japan emerged from the Industrial Revolution and elected a military course, attacking China and then Russia. Later she expanded geographically into Manchuria and China, and took on the United States of America as well in World War II. In both cases other powers followed in her wake.

After the world economy was reestablished, Japan took the lead in fashioning an opposite strategy: that of the “trading state.” Eschewing militarism, she set a new pathway for the recalcitrant superpowers, Russia and America.

Today the rise of China and Japan’s increasing political and economic success denominate her as a member of the New West. The New West is like the European Union; it is open to new members but not by means of coercion or military pressure. Instead of colonization, the New West is looking for democratic states which have succeeded economically, like those in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Japan can join because of new developments in her own governance. Partly owing to the triumph of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), but also because of a new course by the LDP, Japan has undertaken broader responsibilities in her military relation with Washington. She has taken military roles in the area surrounding Japan including in 2004 a commitment to fight alongside the United States in a military crisis.

Second, she has begun to reinterpret her obl Continue reading >

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A Reviving Japan?

By Joseph S. Nye I recently visited Japan and met with Prime Minister Noda, Foreign Minister Genba, and several Diet members, as well as business people and members of the press. The good news is that I came away encouraged. … Continue reading >

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Can women be a catalyst for Japanese renewal?

Japan faces the daunting task of rebuilding after the earthquake and the tsunami. But these natural disasters struck a nation with deep structural issues, including a slow-growth economy, an aging population, often sclerotic political, bureaucratic, and business leadership — and significant workplace discrimination against women.

Many commentators have speculated that Japan’s response to the immediate crisis creates the possibility — though hardly the certainty — of broader, longer-term renewal. And, if such a renewal occurred, an important dimension could be to redress serious gender inequality in the workplace which is more pronounced than in other industrialized nations.

• Employment rates for Japanese men are 20 percent higher than for women, the greatest disparity in the industrialized world. On average, women only earn 60 to 70 percent of compensation paid to men.

• A 2006 UN study found that Japan was last among industrialized nation in economic empowerment of women, with women holding only 10.7 percent of managerial positions in government and business (compared with 42 percent in the U.S.).

• Japanese women are often put on an “administrative” job track, not a “career” job track by Japanese companies with nearly 70 percent of Japanese women leaving the work force permanently after having their first child (in contrast to the U.S. where only one-third don’t return to work after having a child).

• Japan again is last in the league rankings among industrialized nations for representation of women in the national legislature.

• The rates of participation in the job market of Japanese college-educated women are 5 to 15 percent less than other developed nations. And, at the elite Tokyo University, women only make up 20 percent of the student body. Continue reading >

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Some perspective on the Japan nuclear plant crisis

The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum By William H. Tobey (Before he became a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Will Tobey was Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration. … Continue reading >

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The Global Future of Nuclear Power after Fukushima

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan is sending shockwaves through nuclear planning agencies around the world.   Policy makers are asking for reviews of safety regulations, publics are expressing concern, and it appears likely that some of the … Continue reading >

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An experimental nuclear and particle physicist’s assessment of the Japan reactor situation

Richard Wilson is Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He has been an affiliate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is … Continue reading >

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Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis: Some context

By MATTHEW BUNN Harvard Kennedy School Associate Professor Matthew Bunn, whose research topics includes nuclear proliferation risks, the future of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle, and policies to promote innovation in energy technologies, offered these observations early Monday on … Continue reading >

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