Japan

Does Japan’s Foreign Policy Shift Take Collective Security Burden Off US?

japan

I’m sorry for the clunky title, but I was honestly unsure how to title this one—and besides, it sounds like it belongs right in the pages of Foreign Policy magazine. For those of you not in the loop, Japan has had a new election, and the incoming Prime Minister is a bit more, shall we say, “hawkish” than his predecessors:

TOKYO (AP) - Imagine that North Korea launched a missile at Japan. Tokyo could - and would certainly try to - shoot it down. But if the missile were flying overhead toward Hawaii or the continental United States, Japan would have to sit idly by.

Japan’s military is kept on a very short leash under a war-renouncing constitution written by U.S. officials whose main concern was keeping Japan from rearming soon after World War II. But if Japan’s soon-to-be prime minister Shinzo Abe has his way, the status quo may be in for some change.

Abe, set to take office for a second time after leading his conservative party to victory in elections last Sunday, has vowed a fundamental review of Japan’s taboo-ridden postwar security policies and proposed ideas that range from changing the name of the military - now called the Japan Self-Defense Forces - to revising the constitution itself.

Most of all, he wants to open the door to what the Japanese call “collective defense,” which would allow Japan’s troops to fight alongside their allies - especially the U.S. troops who are obliged to defend Japan - if either comes under direct attack. The United States has about 50,000 troops in Japan, including its largest air base in Asia.

Right now, if Japan’s current standoff with China over a group of disputed islands got physical, and U.S. Navy ships coming to Japan’s assistance took enemy fire, Japan wouldn’t be able to help them.

The Complicated World of Bigotry

In the greater Seattle suburb of Kirkland, a very quaint and beautiful area where I would love to live someday, there is a grade-A @$$hole who has led a fevered vendetta against gay rights. He’s the pastor of Antioch Bible Church (where he’s been for over two decades) and has not only been a firm opponent of gay marriage, but of anti-discrimination legislation and domestic partnerships. He is arguably to the right of many gay marriage opponents from far more conservative areas of the country.

It’s worth noting that the pastor in question, Ken Hutcherson, is black. Whatever solidarity he is supposed to have as an ethnic minority for a sexual minority is apparently quite lost on him. Ken Hutcherson’s existence shouldn’t be shocking to those with life experience outside of textbook indoctrination. I’ve met many racists and homophobes, some white, some Hispanic, some Asian, and they all come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. It’s nearly a waste of time to confront them about it. Bigotry is not something people like to admit, and if you mention it they tend to act like they’ve been unfairly attacked.

Now that the high emotion surrounding the passage of the health care bill is in the past, it is very important to remember this. Racism and xenophobia is rampant in the culturally homogenous society of Japan, where even those of Japanese ancestry who were born elsewhere have difficulty being accepted. I’ve personally heard very disparaging remarks towards blacks from Hispanics, heard bigoted comments towards blacks from Indians, heard whites say horrible generalizations about black people and vice versa. Racism is not a homogenous factor of one particular ethnic or political group; it’s the result of the natural tribal instinct that we share with our primate cousins.

Our Government Declares (Economic) War On Japan?

General Motors announced this week that anybody that owns a Toyota vehicle will receive a $1,000 “incentive” to trade said vehicle in for a GM product.

Editor’s Note:  Ford has since matched the $1000 offer.

“We decided to make this offer after receiving many e-mails and calls from our dealers, who have been approached by Toyota customers asking for help,” GM said in a statement. The offers will run through the end of February.

The supposed e-mails and calls mentioned are in relation to the recent widespread recall on many Toyota products due to a faulty gas pedal that has led to at least one death. Toyota is working feverishly to find a fix but has yet to do so which has stopped production and sales of their most popular models including the Camry and Corolla.(as of this writing, a fix has been announced)

If this were General Motors declaring “war” on Toyota at their most vulnerable I would say go for it. I’m all about free markets and the best product usually succeeds. Hence Toyota outsells most if not all GM car models. But that is not what is happening here.

General Motors is now majority-owned by the Federal Government and Barack Obama is essentially the C.E.O. To believe that GM “CEO” Edward Whitacre Jr. didn’t get a thumbs up from President Obama on this is far beyond naive, it borders on gullible.

America Owes No Apologies to Japan

There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” ~ President George Washington, 1793, Fifth Annual Message

It appears that Barack Obama wants to end his time in office in much the same way he began; by touring the world, highlighting and apologizing for America’s supposed sins, and minimizing or ignoring all the good we have done in the world.

He began his first term with an apology tour. On April 3, 2009, in Strasbourg, France, Obama declared “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world…there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” Three days later, in a speech to the Turkish Parliament, Obama doubled down, saying that “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history…Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.” These would be just two of many apologies Obama would make for America in the years to come.

This month, Obama becomes the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima, Japan, since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on it seventy years ago in a bid to bring World War II, the most deadly war in world history, to an end.

Tax Day: Time To Pony Up Your Dollars To Subsidize Other Countries

Usually, when people bleat about spending money on other countries, it’s about humanitarian aid. But we spend far more money on other nations than just humanitarian aid; we also spend billions and billions of dollars subsidizing other nations’ military defense.

So when you file your tax return today to your overlords at the IRS, just remember, you’re paying not only for our military, but for the military of NATO, of South Korea, of Japan, and many other countries, and letting them freeload off of you. Every time a liberal points to European socialism and says we should be more like that, just know a lot of that socialism comes because they don’t have to spend on their military—we do it for them.

Here’s the infographic and the blog post from the Cato Institute to prove it:

cato_defense_infographic_2

 

Sen. Lindsey Graham to South Korea and Japan: “We Have Your Back.”

Senator Lindsey Graham

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham stopped by NBC’s Meet The Press (MTP) Sunday morning to discuss U.S. foreign relations with North Korea. In the wake of recent threats made by the North, Graham expressed support for President Obama’s recent flexing of military strength as a warning saying,

“I think the North Koreans are over-playing their hands. And this [President Obama’s] administration’s acted responsibly. I’m glad we’re not doing the ballistic missile test. I’m glad we had the B-2’s in the theater where they could see ‘em.I’m glad we’re telling our allies South Korea and Japan, ‘We literally have your back’ and the North Koreans need to understand if they attack an American interest or an ally of this country, they’re going [to] pay a heavy price.”

When asked by MTP host David Gregory to give his thoughts on American interests in the region where nearly 30,000 US troops are stationed, Graham replied,

“We’re in the middle. I’m glad we’re there with our allies but the big difference to me is the politics in South Korea are changing by the day regarding North Korea. So if there’s some provocation, it won’t be business as usual by South Korea. I could see a major war happening if the North Koreans overplay their hand this time because the public in South Korea, the United States and I think the whole region is fed up with this guy.”

Gregory probed further saying, “But what happens if there is some kind of conflict between the North and South? That becomes a conflict with the United States doesn’t it?”

To this Graham responded, “The North loses and the South wins with our help, that’s what happens.”

US now has the world’s highest corporate taxes

With Japan lowering its corporate income taxes, the United States reached a not-go-great milestone this week. That’s right, folks, we now have the highest corporate income tax rate in the world. Scott Hodge reports at the Tax Foundation:

It’s official. After eight years of having the second-highest corporate tax rate among industrialized countries, the United States has now assumed the top spot following Japan’s scheduled corporate rate cut on April 1, 2012.  Since 2001, Japan had levied the highest combined corporate tax rate among OECD nations at 39.5 percent, slightly higher than the 39.2 percent combined federal-state rate in the U.S. Japan’s new rate is 38.01 percent, which includes a temporary 10 percent surtax that will expire after 2014.

Statutory U.S. Corporate Tax Rate

The attention given to the Japanese rate cut has overshadowed the fact that Great Britain also cut their corporate tax rate on April 1st from 26 percent to 24 percent, and will cut the rate again to 23 percent in 2013. Moreover, on January 1st of this year, Canada cut its federal corporate tax rate from 16.5 percent to 15 percent. Canada’s combined rate is about 26 percent when the average rate of the Canadian provinces is added to their federal rate.

Another round of stimulus?

With President Barack Obama preparing to unveil his latest Keynesian gimmick aimed at creating jobs (wasn’t the 2009 stimulus supposed to do that?), James Pethokoukis wonders if Obama made the economy worse with actions and interventionist policies he and his administration have already taken or supported.

Pethokoukis discusses the various arguments we’ve heard from both sides. Really, the whole piece is worth a read, but here is the highlight:

First, that the Obama stimulus does not deserve credit for what little economic growth we’ve seen. Second, that while a more libertarian approach to the crisis might have had a better result, there was no way such an approach would or could have be enacted. Finally, the preferred Republican solution—a temporary payroll tax cut—might have been beneficial in the short term and wildly problematic in the long term.

Did Obama make it worse? It is certainly the case that he only deepened a long-term trend that threatens American prosperity more than any other. The events of 2008–2009 exposed a truth about the U.S. economy from which we had shielded ourselves: economic growth has been slowing in a worrisome way throughout the decade. The nation’s GDP has averaged 3.3 percent annual growth for the past half century. But from 2001 to 2007—before the recession hit—it averaged only 2.6 percent. Going forward, growth might be even slower due to the aftermath of the financial crisis and the aging of the population. The Congressional Budget Office​, for instance, pegs long-term growth at just 2 percent or so.

The Animating Contest of Freedom

I know better than to write when I am angry, but I really just can’t help myself. This afternoon I had a conversation that was an epiphany of how absurd we have become as a nation. I guess it was not so much an epiphany as it was the impact of saying them all together in one long thought process. The conversation began on the topic of the economy and the financial struggles facing American families and businesses. That led to comments about how these problems could be fixed, and why they haven’t been. That is when my initial frustration began simmering, evolving into a full-fledged anger. When I look at all of the suffering we are enduring which is self-imposed, the lunacy of the situation is simply too hard to ignore. I’ll explain what I mean …

We’ve been told recently by this administration and their economic experts that inflation is actually quite low. By their standards I suppose that is true, but then again that inflation calculation does not factor in gasoline and food prices. Since the price of gas has doubled since Obama took office, which is worth making note of.

Why has the price of gas doubled? A number of reasons, and right near the top is an administration that desires high gas prices. Candidate Obama said his policies would make energy prices “necessarily skyrocket.” He wants our gas prices to align with Europe, which is often triple ours. To achieve that, his administration has done everything in their power to block domestic energy production. They’ve revoked oil and gas leases, delayed research on locating new energy sources, and used the Gulf oil spill as a pretext to ban offshore drilling, despite the exact opposite recommendation of the commission he appointed to study the issue.

Japan changes minds in favor of nuclear power?

Multiple places yesterday directed my attention to what was essentially one of the most awesome understandings of the nuclear disaster in Japan, and it was written by a guy who opposed nuclear power until the Japan disaster.  The Guardian’s George Monbiot makes an excellent point about the recent events in Japan that has many wondering if nuclear power is safe or not:

You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.

A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

He goes on to point out that despite the hype surrounding Three Mile Island, the actual radiation was actually fairly low.  I have pointed out previously that two of the three towers have been operating since that day and provide electricity to thousands of people without incident.  The dangers have been overstated.

Monbiot’s conversion in favor of nuclear power is important, because his argument is so valid.  It took an extreme amount of damage to get it to the point it’s at now, and even then it’s still not killing people (at this point anyways).  With that in mind, how safe is it well inland where tsunamis aren’t likely to reach?


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