By The Window

This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, April 20, 2024. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


On April 11, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attended the first trilateral summit between Japan, the United States, and the Philippines. Kishida promised to double Japan’s defense outlay to 2% of GDP by 2027, making its military budget the world’s third largest, behind only the United States and China.

In a 2018 book, GAVAN McCORMACK examines the contested identity of Japan as both a promoter of “positive pacifism” and as a “client-state” of the United States:

“21st century Japan is a major customer for military material from US arms manufacturers, including Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, Boeing KC-46 Tankers, Northrop-Grumman E2D Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft, General Dynamics Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles and Boeing/Bell MV-22 Ospreys, and for missile and anti-missile systems. In 2017, a preliminary 4.4 billion yen was set aside by the establishment for detailed planning of a space surveillance unit in close cooperation with the Pentagon. The Abe government had also allowed a second early warning US ‘X-Band’ radar system to be installed at a Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) base in Kyoto, and permitted long-range US surveillance (spy) drones to roam the region’s skies from Japanese bases. Overall, 90 percent of Japan’s defense acquisitions are made from US companies. While spending generously on building and maintaining military bases for the US, Japan was also building up its own SDF facilities, especially in the Islands fronting China across the East China Sea. In 2014 Abe dropped the self-imposed ban on military exports adopted forty years earlier at the time of the Miki government, and in 2016 he gave notice that he no longer felt bound by that same government’s ‘one per cent GDP’ ceiling on military spending. Amid rising concerns and talk of a possible renewed Korean peninsular (and wider) war, major Japanese manufacturers began to look towards ‘ship-mounted radar systems, laser technology, amphibious search and rescue aircraft and quiet-running submarines’ as future growth sectors, even as a kind of ‘fourth arrow.’ “

Sheila A. Smith on unspoken economic tensions in the US.-Japan summit and Kishida’s concerns for the security of the Indo-Pacific. Link. And see Premesha Saha on the implications of the trilateral summit. Link.

 “Tokyo’s new commitment to support not only Japanese companies but foreign ones as well shows the determination to regain the country’s former leading role as a semiconductor powerhouse.” By Ryohtaroh Satoh and Cheng Ting-Fang. Link. And Todd Tucker on Biden’s opposition to Japanese company Nippon Steel’s takeover of US Steel. Link.

+  “In response to the January 26 International Court of Justice ruling recognizing potential genocide in Gaza, Itochu Corporation, a Japanese trading conglomerate, has recently severed ties with Elbit Systems.” By Irene Cho. Link. And Brendan Howe on Japan’s geopolitical alignments in the Asia-Pacific region. Link


Sanitation in Gaza

MARIAM ZAQOUT is a PhD researcher in the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds. A recent paper co-authored with Mariam Fayad, Dani J. Barrington, Anna Mdee, and Barbara E. Evans examines stakeholder incentives for delivering sanitation services in the Gaza Strip.

From the abstract:

“The Gaza Strip is dependent on external aid to deliver basic services, including water and sanitation. Such services are not sustainable due to the Israeli occupation and the limited financial and technical capacities of service providers and the state. This paper examines the incentives of stakeholders in delivering sanitation services in the Gaza Strip through a qualitative institutional economics analysis of literature supplemented with qualitative key informant interviews. External aid is crucial to deliver basic services in the Gaza Strip. However, this has created a dependency that undermines the sustainability of sanitation services. Donor agencies often prioritise capital expenditure on visible infrastructure, such as wastewater treatment, without addressing its long and short-term operational needs; hence the Gaza Strip’s needs are continually addressed as an emergency response. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas de facto governments lack sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and Palestine. Therefore, they also lack the capacity and incentives to create an enabling environment for delivering safely managed sanitation.”

+ + +

+  “Once in place, the IMF’s conditions create self-reinforcing dynamics, as policy areas that are marketized are difficult to re-regulate and increased international economic integration is difficult to reverse.” New on PW, Alexandros Kentikelenis and Thomas Stubbs on the economic and social upheavals caused by IMF conditionality. Link.

+  “In 2023, the private sector collected $68 billion more in interest and principal repayments than it lent to the developing world.” New on the Polycrisis, Kate Mackenzie and Tim Sahay examine the structures that back the dominance of the global dollar system. Link.

+  Join us next Wednesday, April 23 at 12 pm ET for a discussion around Brett Christophers’s new book The Price is Wrong, featuring Christophers, Melanie Brusseler, Kyle Chan, and Robinson Meyer. Register here

+  “Iran’s highly-choreographed attack gained valuable intel on Israeli, American, and regional air defense capabilities; cost Israel and its US benefactors over $1 billion in a single night; and further eroded Israel’s image of military invincibility.” An Al-Shabaka roundtable on escalating Iran-Israel relations. Link

+  “The timing of U.S. interest rate cuts is being pushed back, increasing the risk of an unexpectedly prolonged appreciation of the dollar, which could hurt emerging economies.” By Juntaro Arai. Link.

+  Mario Draghi, in his speech at the High-level Conference on the European Pillar of Social Rights, argues for radical cooperation among EU member states to restore European competitiveness. Link.

+  “The new fascism embodied by Putin does not threaten to sweep Europe; rather, it struggles to survive in the global world.” By Traverso Enzo. Link

+  Iñaki Aldasoro, Sebastian Doerr, Leonardo Gambacorta and Daniel Rees on the potential of AI to increase output and offset detrimental secular developments that threaten to depress demand. Link

+  “China had a long history of using commodities, metal, or paper as media of exchange. The first paper money, the jiaozi 交子, appeared around 1010, during the Northern Song (960−1127 CE) dynasty. In 1105, the Northern Song government issued an additional paper money, qianyin 錢引, in parallel to the jiaozi. The qianyin was pegged to copper coins, iron coins, and state-monopolized commodities such as iron and salt. After the Song had to retreat to South China in 1127, the Southern Song regime was established, issuing the third and fourth paper money notes—the guanzi 關子 and huizi 會子. However, the circulation of jiaozi, qianyin, and guanzi remained only regional, in contrast with the later situation under the Yuan, when paper money circulated widely in the country. In 1234, the Mongols defeated the Jin and conquered Northern China. After becoming the Khan of the Mongol Empire in 1260, Kublai promulgated that a new paper money, the zhongtongchao 中統鈔, pegged to silver, was to be issued to replace circulating notes. A paper money economy, backed by silver, replaced a previously chaotic monetary system that mixed various types of paper money with copper coins, iron coins, and silver ingots.” By Hanhui Guan, Nuno Palma, and Meng Wu. Link.

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