Who Will Stand Up To the Chinese and Russians?

Featured image It is early days, obviously, but nevertheless it is reasonable to expect the Biden administration to return to the passive posture of weakness and international retreat, including, at times, outright anti-Americanism, that characterized the Obama years. With both Russia and, especially, China resurgent, is there anyone else who can stand in their way? Actually, there may be. Foreign Policy has a surprisingly (to me) optimistic assessment of the strategic situation »

Japanese movies, the essentials

Featured image I hope some of our readers followed Scott’s recommendation and watched or taped a few of the Akira Kurosawa films that TCM showed yesterday. I watched High and Low for the first time and loved it. Here are a few more recommendations for those interested in Japanese films from the Kurosawa era: Ikiru: TCM didn’t show this movie, but it’s one of my favorite Kurosawa films. Ikiru is a scathing »

Kurosawa film festival starring Toshiro Mifune [with comment by Paul]

Featured image Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Toshiro Mifune. Mifune was, most famously, one of Akira Kurosawa’s favorite actors. TCM is paying tribute to Mifune today by showing 10 films that amount to a kind of Kurosawa film festival. Here is the lineup, beginning at 6:00 a.m. (Eastern) this morning: Drunken Angel (1948), the first of Mifune’s 16 films for Kurosawa, casts him as a small-time hoodlum who »

Gone Ghosn

Featured image Reading yesterday about the escape of former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn from house arrest in Japan yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, I wondered how he had done it. Held on $14 million bond and awaiting trial in Tokyo, Ghosn turned up in Lebanon. The best the Journal could do at the time was this: “a person familiar with the matter said he arrived in Lebanon via Turkey.” Well, thanks, »

Demographic scare talk

Featured image Catherine Rampell, a liberal Washington Post columnist, notes that 2017 saw the lowest number of births in the U.S. in 30 years. She points out that Japan is experiencing an even sharper decline in births, and then purports to find lessons for the U.S. in the measures Japan is taking to counter its impending population shrinkage. Not surprisingly, the lessons Rampell draws tie to liberal talking points. We need more »

Has Trump driven Japan closer to China?

Featured image Late last month, Japanese Prime Minister Abe visited Beijing. His visit nailed down multibillion-dollar trade deals and promises further to strengthen relations between the two Asian giants. “From competition to coexistence, Japanese and Chinese bilateral relations have entered a new phase,” Abe declared. “With President Xi Jinping, I would like to carve out a new era for China and Japan.” This was a marked contrast to Abe’s 2014 trip to »

Shinobu Hashimoto, RIP [UPDATED]

Featured image Shinobu Hashimoto, the Japanese screenwriter, died last week in Tokyo at the age of 100. Hashimoto wrote screenplays with acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, including the ones for “Rashomon” and “Seven Samurai.” He also co-wrote “Ikiru” along with Kurosawa Hideo Oguni. That film, made in 1952 about a dying modern-day Japanese bureaucrat, has little in common with “Rashomon” and “Seven Samurai” although, like “Rashomon,” it uses flashbacks to great effect. »

What happened to the USS Fitzgerald?

Featured image In the early morning hours of June 17 the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald was involved in a what is described in media reports as a “collision” with the massive Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal container ship. The Fitzgerald returned to Fleet Activities Yokosouka under its own power. Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin spoke to members of the press about the incident on Sunday. His statement is posted here. The ship »

Off to Japan

Featured image I’ll be in Japan for the next two weeks. I don’t plan to blog during this time. When I get back maybe the Senate will have confirmed Neil Gorsuch; the GOP will have formulated a solid Obamacare replacement plan that can pass the House and the Senate; and the Washington Redskins will have signed Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal. I’d settle for just the Gorsuch confirmation, and probably will »

Trump is off to a good start with Japan

Featured image What is the most important trait in a U.S. president? Regard for the Constitution, I believe. What’s second? Probably the ability to distinguish between friendly countries and leaders and unfriendly countries and leaders, and to conduct foreign policy accordingly. The distinguishing part isn’t always easy. Every president is likely to make a mistake or two. The second part — conducting foreign policy accordingly — shouldn’t be too difficult. President Reagan »