Shinzo Abe’s speech to Congress tomorrow

In Japan
Shinzo Abe at Center for Strategic International Studies, February 2013. Ajswab/Wikimedia Commons. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Shinzo Abe at Center for Strategic International Studies, February 2013. Ajswab/Wikimedia Commons. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Tomorrow morning the Prime Minister of Japan will address a joint session of Congress. Shinzo Abe is the first Japanese Prime Minister to address the chamber. I’ll be live-tweeting the address at my Twitter account and write up the results tomorrow once the speech ends. I’ll also be watching the account of Abe’s global communications director Kenko Sone, who’s been documenting the trip extensively.

So far, Abe has visited the JFK Library in Boston with JFK’s daughter and US Ambassador to Japan. He’s also visited the Holocaust Remembrance Museum in Washington and made an unscheduled trip to the Lincoln Memorial with President Obama.
The speech is being closely watched by foreign policy wonks and Japan’s neighbors to see if Shinzo Abe will apologize for Japan’s behavior in World War II (he says he won’t, reiterating that he stands by statements made by previous prime ministers) or what he’ll say about Japan’s defense policy, especially after the US-Japan Defense Policy was amended on Monday for the first time since 1997. The policy expands Japan’s role, allowing it to have a more active role in security efforts – especially when it comes to China and North Korea.

South Koreans in Washington have been loudly protesting Abe’s visit, demanding he apologize for the treatment of Korean comfort women during World War II. The South Korean government wants the same thing and is watching the speech closely. It has even hired a PR company to present its case and make sure reporters hear its case.

These subjects have been talked about alot in the media leading up to the speech, though one subject that is sure to be mentioned in the speech is women in the workplace. Abe has devoted time to this issue during his trip (his only op-ed in the US media so far has been about this topic), but it hasn’t been discussed nearly as much as the security/historical issues, if at all.

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