Why Chopsticks? Their Origin and Development in Asian Culinary Culture

Written by Q. Edward Wang. Chopsticks are ubiquitous in Asia. They are so essential for one’s daily life in the region, or the “chopsticks cultural sphere” that encompasses China, Korean Peninsula, Japanese archipelago, and parts of Mongolia and mainland Southeast Asia. This is not only the impression most visitors to the region would have but many …

Why do flags matter? The case of Japan

Written by Takashi Yoshida. On Friday July 10, after a week of emotional debate between legislators, the Confederate flag came down on the South Carolina State House grounds. I may not be an expert on the Confederate flag or the Civil War, but I have studied what Japanese flags have meant and still mean to people in …

China, Japan and the Media: The Politics and Business of Selective Remembering

Written by Wanning Sun. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of China’s ‘War against the Japanese Invasion’. It may therefore be an opportune moment to reflect on how the politics of remembering plays out in the Chinese media. Twenty years ago, while doing research for my doctoral dissertation (which was concerned with how …

German icons of leadership and remembrance: Lessons for Abe?

Written by Patrick Flamm. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Tokyo in March this year, the revival of the old comparison between the alleged model student of historical apologies, Germany, and the unrepentant East Asian counterpart, Japan was on full display in the Western media. In addition to recognizing the various Japanese official apologies for …

Why Fresh Thinking on the South China Sea is a Problem

Written by Kerry Brown. Almost certainly one of the headaches that a new American president will have to start engaging with when they finally come into office in a year and a half’s time will be the complex claims and counter-claims over sovereignty and maritime borders in the South and East China Sea. Issues that once …

ISIS and Abe’s security agenda

Written by Sebastian Maslow. Japan was shocked by the killings of freelance journalist Kenji Goto and security consultant Haruna Yukawa by the terrorist group known as ISIS. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has moved fast to link the hostage crisis to his security agenda envisioning a more militarily proactive Japan. In the eyes of …

Netanyahu’s ‘Look East’ Pitch Is Incomplete

Written by Niv Horesh. Last week saw a rare visit by a Japanese Prime Minster to Israel. In view of Jerusalem’s increasingly troubled relations with many of its traditional Western allies, Abe’s visit was something to celebrate. In the Prime Minister’s entourage were no fewer than one hundred government officials and business people, as if …

Why Is History Still an Issue in China – Japan relations?

Written by Huang Wei. December 13 was China’s National Memorial Day. A state memorial ceremony was held for the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. There was massive coverage of Xi’s speech, especially with respect to the number of victims and China’s official attitude towards Japan. Not surprisingly, there were comments about China trying to play history in order to …

Tokyo expands its options beyond the US-Japan alliance

Written by Alex Calvo. When discussing Japan’s ‘normalization’ as a military power, one of the aspects we need to consider is Tokyo’s growing range of security and defence agreements with countries other than the United States. While not a replacement for the US-Japan Alliance, which remains the cornerstone of the country’s foreign and defence policy, …

Abe’s Cabinet Reshuffle: Implications for Collective Self-Defence Legislation

Written by Corey Wallace. The July 1 cabinet declaration was a critical symbolic change in how the Japanese government conceptualises the spheres of action the Self-Defense Force can (and should) operate in to uphold the security of Japan. Previously the SDF was required to wait until a direct attack on Japan started to take place …