Friday, April 3, 2020

Visiting Japanese Professors and Officials Highlight Successful Crossley Center Winter Program

The Crossley Center and the Korbel School hosted a program of visiting Japanese professors and government officials in early 2020. The timing of this program was fortunate. Had it occurred even a week later in March, most events would likely have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. The final presentation with Professor Koji Murata was held on March 3, 2020 with an audience of more than 130. It was one of the last large events at the Korbel School campus, which is now entirely online.

The events with Professor Murata and Foreign Ministry official, Noriyuki Shikata, were scheduled in early February and early March and were well attended by a total of more than 300, including Korbel School students and community opinion leaders. Extensive online promotion was conducted by the sponsor organizations, reaching more than 5,000 online by email and via Facebook and Twitter. Panel participants, experts on Asia and U.S. foreign policy, U.S. domestic politics and U.S. and world public opinion were Ambassador Christopher Hill, Office of Global Engagement; Professor Suisheng Zhao, Center for China-U.S. Cooperation; and Dina Smeltz, Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

One of the important features of the program was the collaboration with the Crossley Center, the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation and the Office of Global Engagement. Another unique aspect was the support of the Japanese Consulate of Denver and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs alongside the Korbel School and the University of Denver.

The program met its goals by facilitating an informed conversation among Japanese and Colorado experts on the primary factors that influence the Japan-U.S. alliance. The dialogues dispelled some misperceptions and clarified Japan’s foreign policy for American audiences.

The following are a few of the most salient topics discussed in the three presentations.

  • There are many opportunities for cooperation between the U.S. and Japan, and Asia in general. Japan has been working diligently to improve relations and reduce miscommunications with China.
  • Japan advocates an Asian policy that supports democracy, human rights and freedom of navigation. It works with the EU countries to enhance peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The Japan-U.S. alliance is strong and stable, and the relationship between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump is sound. Abe is one of his few friends on the international stage.
  • The American public supports the alliance with Japan and the bases in Japan, and has a very favorable view of Japan.
  • This is a period of tremendous change and disruption of long-established norms in the West concerning America’s leadership role, the promotion of democracy, free trade and alliances. Some of the change reflects deep worldwide trends and others are based on recent Western leaders and parties. 

In general, the program provided thought leaders an opportunity to share ideas and opinions, and provided considerable information to students and the public.




Prepared by Floyd Ciruli, Director, Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research

Authoritarians Use Virus to Extend Power

Populist demagogues and authoritarians are using the pandemic as an excuse to increase their power and silence critics. The most high-profile head of state seizing dictatorial power due to the coronavirus is Viktor Orbán, prime minister of Hungary and head of nationalist Fidesz Party. The grant of near absolute authority to rule by decree has no clear procedure for relinquishing the power and draconian punishment for anyone who “distorts the truth” about the government’s effort to fight the pandemic or save the economy.

But Orbán is hardly alone as Russia, Turkey, Israel and India are among the countries led by nationalist populists adding to their control. Simultaneously, China and Russia are spreading fake news on social media, especially in Europe, to undermine the unity of the EU. The mostly ominous posts extol the effectiveness of the authoritarians in dealing with the pandemic and claim democratic countries and the EU are failing.

What the authoritarians know and contribute to by their propaganda is the public’s dissatisfaction with democracy and elected officials. In a 2019 Pew poll in 34 of the most significant countries with democratic process, 52 percent of the world’s public said they were dissatisfied with democracy versus 44 percent satisfied. Elected officials did even worse with 64 percent saying officials didn’t care what people like themselves think and half didn’t believe the state was run for the benefit of all. For democracy to survive, it must address these attitudes immediately. Unfortunately, the U.S., which was the world leading advocate for democracy, has relinquished that role.


Peak China – Xi Defense

In 2017, Xi Jinping was labeled China’s paramount leader with no specific limit on his term of office. Since then, he has implemented an aggressive plan to position China as the preeminent Asian power with global aspirations. However, a number of recent events point to Xi’s strategy as having hit a peak.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made his first visit to Wuhan since
the coronavirus outbreak began more than two months ago | Photo via CNN

The picture of Xi in Wuhan, his mouth and nose covered with a virus mask, is part of a massive propaganda effort to shore up his and the Communist Party’s highly damaged image of competence and candor. But, it can’t distract from a host of problems the third year of Xi’s leadership has run into.


The country’s authoritarian excesses are being exposed and criticized around the world. Xi’s and China’s reputation have suffered blow after blow from his aggressive policies ruthlessly implemented. After Hong Kong, to Taiwan, to Uighurs, to new COVID-19, China hit a peak and it is now playing defense.

Read The Buzz
Xi: “Paramount” and “Permanent” Leader
The New Chinese Politburo

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Japan-U.S. Alliance and the 2020 Election

A panel with Professor Koji Murata of Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan, explored the Japan-U.S. alliance in the light of current American public opinion, especially with some of the changed policies of the Trump administration. On March 2, the professor was joined by Senior Researcher Dina Smeltz of the Chicago Council on Global Affair in a panel on the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the 2020 election. Also participating as discussants were: Ambassador Christopher Hill, professor of diplomacy, and Professor Suisheng (Sam) Zhao, director of Korbel’s China Center. I moderated the panel. Dean Fritz Mayer did the welcome.

Japan-U.S. Alliance and the 2020 Election 

Panel Discussion, March 2, 2020

Participants:
Professor Koji Murata, Researcher Dina Smeltz, Professor Suisheng Zhao, Ambassador Christopher Hill, Dean Fritz Mayer (welcome), Professor Floyd Ciruli (moderator)


Professor Ciruli: This panel is to continue the dialogue to underscore the Japan-U.S. benefits to both parties and the relationship’s challenges and strengths.

Professor Murata: The current U.S.-Japan alliance is very strong and stable and the relationship between Abe and Trump is sound. Abe is among the very few friends of Trump on the international stage. 

There are some challenges. Last year at the G20 Summit, Trump said the U.S.-Japan alliance is unfair, claiming if Japan is attacked, the U.S. would have to protect Japan, but not vice versa; “they would just watch it on Sony TVs.” Of those who would attack the U.S. – North Korea, Russian or China – the first targets would be the U.S. bases in Japan, so we wouldn’t be watching it on TV.

The U.S.-Japan alliance is asymmetrical. If Japan is attacked, young people might die defending Japan, but Japan has provided the location of U.S. bases for more than 70 years, resulting in incidences of crime, pollution, etc., so Japan incurs ongoing impact as well.

Japan and the U.S. can do more than just maintain a military alliance – in science, cyber security, etc., they should cooperate. For example, in cyber security, more Pacific countries should be involved. Japan is involved in capacity building in this area. On the pandemic and other issues, we need global cooperation. Japan is trying to help China with the coronavirus, but Chinese ships still violate Japanese waters. These behaviors damage our mutual understanding.

The biggest challenge for the alliance is China. The U.S. has strategically located bases in the area. Some Chinese people claim that the coronavirus was spread by people from the U.S. Around 2025, Chinese GDP will exceed U.S. GDP. But also at this time, India’s GDP will surpass China’s GDP. By 2025, Chinese will lose a large part of its working population. Its population is shrinking.

Now everyone in Japan is talking about the U.S. presidential election. The coronavirus is causing postponement of Xi’s visit to Japan. Abe already has his pick for the next prime minister. Japan’s general election will follow the Tokyo Olympics. All these external issues are affecting Abe’s calculation for Japan’s next election.

Researcher Smeltz: The Chicago Council Survey started in 1974 when Dr. Henry Kissinger obtained funding from the Ford Foundation. The 2019 survey was conducted last June with 2,000 people nationwide. The context was a view that America was retreating from foreign policy and the international stage. 

What we found is that Americans have always supported (7 in 10 now – one of the highest levels) taking an active part in world affairs, such as engaging in trade, providing humanitarian aid, etc. These policies are the bedrock of American policy and have been since WWII.

Our Asian and European allies have borne the brunt of criticism from President Trump. Yet, the public believes these alliances are beneficial to U.S. Regarding Europe, across the board people want to maintain our alliances or even increase them. Regarding trade deals, 63 percent say both sides benefit from trade deals. Trade and the positives trade brings receive some of the highest support we’ve seen no matter the political party of the respondent.

Japan scores the highest in strengthening U.S. national security. Japan also is seen as a partner and ally, but with less influence than other countries. Americans have always supported bases in Japan and that support is especially high now. One reason for this could be the number of active duty military there. The majority of the public – the highest numbers in recent years –supports defending Japan from North Korea. Support is lower regarding China, especially over disputed islands. People have started paying more attention to these issues with the advent of Trump and his tweets.

Americans are tempered as to whether China is a threat – yes, it’s an economic threat, but not militarily. As to the graying of China, the sale of adult diapers exceeds baby diapers.

The rise of China has solidified the alliance with Japan and South Korea. Most Americans see that as important, while believing America should engage China rather than contain it. Tensions with China aren’t as evidenced among the general public as in elite dialogues.


Questions from Ambassador Hill and Professor Zhao

Ambassador Hill: I found the survey results reassuring. One of his great headaches as the Asst. Sec. of Asia was dealing with the issue of bases. It wasn’t just the occasional “incidents.” How do Japanese feel in the long run about American bases and, in particular (and this has come up in South Korea about paying the U.S.), what if there were no U.S. troops in Korea? Would Japan be okay being the only Asian country housing U.S. troops?

Also, regarding the constitution that MacArthur put together limiting Japanese defense spending to 1 percent of GDP: PM Abe has considered changing that, but it had little political support. Where does that stand?

And, you talked about the Chinese population: Can you talk about the Japanese population of 126 million?

Also – How is Abe doing in his current term in office?

Professor Zhao: Regarding the U.S.-Japan alliance, what is the more difficult aspect with Trump? What is the significance of the U.S. economic relationship and how far can the TPP go without the U.S.? If the U.S. reconsidered TPP, what recommendations would you have?

Professor Murata: The U.S. presence in Korea and Japan are not separated. They are integrated. If Trump tried to withdraw from South Korea, certainly Japan would be strongly opposed. U.S. presence on the Korean peninsula is a single purpose – how to prevent an invasion. But the U.S. presence in Japan is much wider. In order to influence Trump [on withdrawal], Japan can improve its relationship with South Korean. When Japan normalized relations with South Korea, Japan was much richer (1965), now South Korea is catching up, but there is an attitude that Japan still looks down on South Korea. We also have to strengthen Japanese security.

In 30 years, Japan will lose 26 million in population. Our budgetary situation is getting more and more difficult. The population is aging. Even though Japanese population is decreasing, we can utilize new science and technology. AI is a vital science; we need to accumulate big data. China and Russia have a strong advantage in doing that over democracies. They don’t have to worry about privacy concerns.

Abe has changed. He is much less nationalistic and more pragmatic. 

With regard to the TPP, I am not sure. Even among Democratic candidates, there is not much support for TPP. If we can modify the framework and save face within the U.S. government, U.S. involvement is more than welcome.

The Japanese defense budget – based on NATO calculations – should increase, but because of our population decrease, we have budget constraints.

Ambassador Hill and Professor Zhao: What do the Japanese think of Trump and the threat of North Korea? Would Japan like to be more involved in policy toward North Korea? Since Abe came to office, what has been the status of Article 9? Could it become a big issue again?

Professor Murata: Article 9 says Japan cannot conduct a war. Abe would like to revise Article 9 to allow self-defense forces. He would need two-thirds majorities in both houses, and I don’t think he can do it. He might want his successor to address this.

Japan is very concerned about North Korean developments. Last year, the U.S. finally abandoned the IMF treaty with Russia, so one possibility is U.S. deployment to perhaps Guam. Japan could join in that. It must be a deterrent to China, Russian and North Korea.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Japan-U.S. Alliance. The Critical Architecture for Security and Prosperity in the Asia Pacific.

The strategic challenge for the United States and Japan in Asia is to engage a rising China, while maintaining a favorable balance of power for the United States, Japan and its allies. A robust U.S.-Japan alliance is critical to the effort and necessitates sustained dialogue on how the alliance can shape the regional order. Achieving that objective will require the United States and Japan to articulate strategy to maintain the balance in the Asia Pacific and understand the benefit that both bring to the strategy. The Korbel School, working with the Japanese Consulate in Denver, prepared a program to bring Japanese strategic thinkers to join with their Denver colleagues at the Korbel School at the University of Denver.

The Korbel School hosted Japanese scholars and government officials in February and March of this year in a program coordinated by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research. The following is a description of the first panel held with Noriyuki Shikata, who was Deputy Chief of Mission, the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. He is currently studying at Harvard where he has received a Master’s in Public Policy. The panel was sponsored by the Crossley Center, the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation and the Office of Global Engagement.

Japan-China-U.S. and Japan’s Vision for the Indo-Pacific

Panel participants were:
Minister Noriyuki Shikata, Professor Suisheng Zhao, Dean Fritz Mayer (introduction and discussant), Professor Floyd Ciruli (moderator)


It is an extraordinary time in global politics and markets. A critical area is in the Indo-Pacific where challenges posed by China to the United States and Japan and a movement of nationalism in the U.S. and other areas around the globe are shaping the future.

Former Minister Noriyuki Shikata observed that the Indo-Pacific is becoming more and more the center of global economy. By 2030, the Chinese economy will surpass the U.S. in GDP. He highlighted that populations in the area are growing and there are already problems resulting from the development of mega cities. In that also lies opportunity for collaboration with the U.S. and U.S. companies. For instance, addressing the issue of pollution will call for more clean energy, as well as how to make cities operate more efficiently.

Japanese relations with China have had tense periods historically and there is recognition that even small conflicts could become quite dangerous. Since 2012, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has been working to improve relations. A crisis communication mechanism was established between Japan/China ministers to avoid any miscommunication. The relationship-building started before Donald Trump became president, but the progress has likely been accelerated because of it.

The concept of the Indo-Pacific region has evolved over the years from Asian, to Asian-Pacific, to Western-Pacific. While it is rightly used as a geographic concept, Prof. Zhao argued that it is more of a political concept. During the Obama administration, Indo-Pacific was used to describe a national security strategy. Another concept is a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, but China objects to this as a U.S. containment strategy.

While Japan and China have had alliances over time, they have been pragmatic, and only where certain interests overlapped.

Minister Shikata offered that, while there are different interpretations of a free and open Indo-Pacific, the Japanese do attach certain issues to the alliance, such as human rights as well as freedom of navigation. He added that outside powers, such as the UK and France, also have an interest in this concept since they have overseas territories that fall in the region. He stressed that Japan’s response is not about containing China, but that when certain conditions are met, there can be collaboration and don’t want to see an escalation of tension in the South China Seas.

The Japanese and Chinese have always learned from each other’s cultures, stretching back thousands of years. Today, more Chinese are coming to Japan with the relaxation of visas, and there is hope this will help improve communications across borders.

This alliance among Asians is likely to continue as the Indo-Pacific region develops into the center of the global economy and U.S. business continues its interest in the region. In the 1980s, Japan was seen to be the economic threat to the U.S. Today, it is China.

Watch video of event here

Friday, March 13, 2020

Romney’s Image Enhanced by Admiring Democrats

When Mitt Romney got a standing ovation at a University of Denver presentation (Feb. 28, 2020), it was clear his vote on impeachment was popular with a large, well-educated university audience. And indeed, a new Gallup poll shows his popularity is now greater among Democrats than Republicans.

In general, Gallup reports public opinion of Republicans and its leaders improved after impeachment and Democrats declined. Since the impeachment, the generic rating of Republicans improved 6 percentage points and Democrats down 3 points.

More specifically, Mitch McConnell’s favorability rating is up 6 points since October 2019 and Nancy Pelosi’s unfavorable rating is up 5 points.

Romney’s 39 percent favorability rating is the same as it was in October 2019, but it is much higher among Democrats (55%) than Republicans (21%), with a 69 percent unfavorability rating. It represents a significant shift between the parties since Romney’s February 5 impeachment vote.

(L to R) Dean Fritz Mayer, former Denmark PM Anders Rasmussen
and Senator Mitt Romney | Photo: Korbel.comms

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

DU Panel on “The Future of Democracy, Free Trade and Alliances in the Trump Era.”

On March 3, as the returns are coming in the Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday, a panel of experts at DU’s Korbel School will discuss “The Future of Democracy, Free Trade and Alliances in the Trump Era.”

Most observers believe it is a critical moment for American foreign policy. Powerful trends are afoot in the world.

  • Democracy is in retreat worldwide and the U.S. What should or could be done about it?
  • Tariffs are now common and foreign trade in decline. What’s gained, what’s lost in the new environment?
  • Alliances and treaties are disdained (NATO), breaking up (EU) or abandoned (TPP). Are we weaker or stronger without them? Is the rule of law, peace and prosperity more or less secure? 
  • Many foreign observers believe President Trump is likely to be re-elected. They are prepared for four more years similar to the last. What does that mean for democracy, free trade and alliances?

Join the discussion with Ambassador Christopher Hill, Senior Researcher Dina Smeltz of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and Professor and Director of the China Center, Sam Zhao. I will present and update the election as the Super Tuesday results roll in.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Doors Open/Reception: 4:45 pm
Program: 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm

Maglione Hall
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Anna and John J. Sie International Relations Complex
University of Denver
2201 S. Gaylord St., 5th Floor Denver, CO

SPACE IS LIMITED
Please register early
Free and open to public
Food provided

RSVP HERE 

Presented by the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Office of Global Engagement and the Center for China-US Cooperation.

Mitt Romney Won Debate With Barack Obama in 2012. Now, he’s Back to Talk About the Crisis of Democracy.

Most observers and the snap polls gave the first presidential debate in the 2012 election to Mitt Romney. It was held at the University of Denver on October 3 and was a high point for the Romney campaign, which ultimately lost the race and Colorado by 5 points.

He’s back this week to talk about the state of democracy with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark and NATO General Security. Senator Romney has spoken often about the importance of the rule of law and public character, but never more as than during his impeachment vote.

“Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to difference conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.”

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research is honored to be a cosponsor of the democracy program with the Korbel School of International Studies and other DU organizations.

Democracy has been an important issue for the Crossley Center for many years. In 2018, DU launched a podcast program called Engaging Issues directed by former business school dean, Jim Griesemer. One of the first programs done in two parts due to the level of interest was “Democracy on the Defensive.” To access the interviews directly, click here.

The overall site with a host of interviews with DU’s most interesting professors on valuable topics is here.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks on Senate floor about the impeachment
trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington,
Feb. 5, 2020 | Senate TV via AP.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Japan-U.S. Alliance and the 2020 Election

On March 2, the Korbel School will host a dialogue with experts on the vital U.S. and Japan strategic alliance. Professor Koji Murata from Doshisha University of Kyoto and Dina Smeltz, senior fellow on public opinion and foreign policy from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs will describe the current political environment in the Asian Pacific.

They will be joined by DU professors Ambassador Christopher Hill, Suisheng (Sam) Zhao and Floyd Ciruli for a panel discussion on the impact of the 2020 election on the alliance and politics in the Asia Pacific in general.



The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Office of Global Engagement and the Center for China-US Cooperation Present: Japan-U.S. Alliance and the 2020 Election.

Monday, March 2, 2020
Doors Open/Reception: 11:45 am
Program: 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
University of Denver
Sie Complex, 2201 S. Gaylord St., Denver, CO
The Forum, 1st Floor, Room 1020

SPACE IS LIMITED
Please register early
Free and open to public
Lunch provided

RSVP HERE 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Foreign Policy News Pivots to Asia - Feb. 4 Event

Asia continues to dominate the news from viruses, to trade deals, to North Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Current events reinforce the status of the alliance between the U.S. and Japan. The Crossley Center is starting this year’s program with a session on the importance of the relationship among the three key stakeholders – Japan, China and the U.S.

The Crossley Center, the Center for China-US Cooperation and the Office of Global Engagement have joined together to present: “Japan-China-U.S. and Japan’s Vision for the Indo-Pacific.” The first speaker will be Noriyuki Shikata, former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Beijing. At noon on Tuesday, February 4, he will discuss Japan’s relationship with China and the U.S. and Japan’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Joining the discussion will be Suisheng (Sam) Zhao, head of the China Center.

Minister Shikata’s presentation is part of a program to explore the U.S. and Japanese challenge in Asia. As I have written:

The strategic challenge for the United States and Japan in Asia is to engage a rising China, while maintaining a favorable balance of power for the United States, Japan and its allies. A robust U.S.-Japan alliance is critical to the effort and necessitates sustained dialogue on how the alliance can shape the regional order. Achieving that objective will require a strategy to maintain the balance in the Asia Pacific and to understand the benefit Japan brings to the strategy. Join the discussion.

Join us at 11:45, Feb. 4, 2020, in Room 1020 (the Forum).

LIMITED SPACE, RSVP HERE 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Japan-China-U.S. and Japan’s Vision for the Indo-Pacific

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, The Center for China-US Cooperation & The Office of Global Engagement Presents:

Noriyuki Shikata
Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Beijing
With Director Floyd Ciruli and Professor Suisheng Zhao


Tuesday, February 4, 2020
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
University of Denver
SIE Complex (The Forum), 1st Floor, Room 1020

Noriyuki Shikata was the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in China. Mr. Shikata has also been a Visiting Professor at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Law/Public Policy and Harvard University. He holds a B.A. in Law from Kyoto University and Master of Public Policy (MPP) from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Event in cooperation with the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver

SPACE IS LIMITED - Please register early

Free and open to the public. Lunch Provided.

RSVP here

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Japan, the US and China in the Indo-Pacific

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, the Center for China-US Cooperation and the Office of Global Engagement Presents:

Minister Noriyuki Shikata
The strategic challenge for the United States and Japan in Asia is to engage a rising China, while maintaining a favorable balance of power for the United States, Japan and its allies. A robust U.S.-Japan alliance is critical to the effort and necessitates sustained dialogue on how the alliance can shape the regional order. Achieving that objective will require the United States and Japan to articulate the strategy to maintain the balance in the Asia Pacific and understand the strategic benefit that Japan brings to the strategy. Join the discussion.

Noriyuki Shikata
Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Beijing
Currently at Harvard
With Director Floyd Ciruli and Professor Suisheng Zhao


Tuesday, February 4, 2020
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
University of Denver
SIE Complex (The Forum), 1st Floor, Room 1020

Event in cooperation with the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver

SPACE IS LIMITED - Please register early

Free and open to the public. Lunch Provided.

RSVP here

Friday, January 17, 2020

DU Event with Minister Noriyuki Shikata

The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, The Center for China-US Cooperation & The Office of Global Engagement Presents:

Japan, the US and China in the Indo-Pacific

Noriyuki Shikata
Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Beijing
With Director Floyd Ciruli and Professor Suisheng Zhao

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
University of Denver
SIE Complex (The Forum), 1st Floor, Room 1020

Noriyuki Shikata was the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in China. His other prior positions include: Deputy Director General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau; Director, Economic Treaties Division, International Legal Affairs Bureau; and Director, Second North America Division, North America Bureau. Mr. Shikata has also been a Visiting Professor at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Law/Public Policy and Harvard University. He holds a B.A. in Law from Kyoto University and Master of Public Policy (MPP) from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Event in cooperation with the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver

SPACE IS LIMITED - Please register early

Free and open to the public. Lunch Provided.

RSVP here

Pompeo Surprised Europe is Not Backing Iran Hardline

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the chief architect of President Trump’s confrontation with Iran and primary advocate of the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, claimed surprise and dismay when France, Germany and Britain didn’t immediately support the killing of Soleimani. Europe also disappointed him when they didn’t welcome the request to terminate the Iran Nuclear agreement as the U.S. has.

He was possibly the only person surprised since the allies have been opposed to the cancellation of the agreement since Trump announced it in 2018. In fact, they have tried to save the agreement and assist Iran in the face of U.S. sanctions. They were immediately calling for restraint after the targeting of Soleimani.


A 2019 Pew international poll of 32 countries, including American allies, showed only 29 percent of the public around the world have confidence in President Trump, and a higher, but still low, 54 percent have a favorable view of the U.S. Specifically, Germany (13%) and France (20%) have almost no confidence in Trump and the favorable opinion of the U.S. is below 50 percent. Great Britain and Canada are only slightly higher.

Trump Losing Respect With the Brass

In spite of a record defense budget ($740 billion), President Trump is losing respect from the Pentagon leaders that he directly commands. One can see the discomfort in military commanders standing behind him in his recent Soleimani press conference. The stress reflects his activities against advice, such as his impulsive withdrawal from Syria, which cost him a Secretary of Defense; clemency for accused military war criminals, which lost a Navy Secretary; his threats to seize Syrian oil and bomb Iranian cultural sites; and a myriad of explanations of the Soleimani “imminent threat.”

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the White House on
the ballistic missile strike that Iran launched against Iraqi air bases
housing U.S. troops, as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Vice President Mike
Pence, and others look on, Jan. 8, 2020 | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Can Colorado Republicans Win a Statewide Election in 2020? If Not, When?

The surge of young unaffiliated voters and Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s national leader has raised the question: Will Republicans continue as a viable party and alternative to Democrats? It should be first pointed out that neither the Democrats nor Republicans are in a strong position in Colorado. During the last decade, while Republicans lost 6 percentage points in registration, Democrats gained zero. The big advance was among unaffiliated voters who mostly disdain the two parties.

In a long featured article, Spencer Campbell in 5280 (November) asks how Republicans plan to retake Colorado in 2020. His opining sentence summed up the challenge.

“A younger electorate—and a backlash against Donald Trump’s presidency—pushed our purple state firmly into the blue in 2018. With one year to go until the 2020 election, here’s how the GOP plans to resurrect Colorado’s moribund Republican Party.”

Analyses came from Republican pollster David Flaherty; party vice chair Kristi Burton Brown; Michael Fields, director of Colorado Raising Action; and ever quoted, Dick Wadhams, former chairman.

My contribution came in a couple of areas. I suggested Trump was a heavy burden today.

“Donald Trump,” says Floyd Ciruli, a Denver pollster and political analyst. “He wasn’t particularly popular here in 2016. He was even less popular in 2018.” Even though the president didn’t top the ticket in the 2018 midterms, his brand of politics sent previously uninspired sectors—independents and young people—to the polls. “To be honest,” Flaherty says, “we think the challenges are nearly insurmountable for the Republican Party at this time.”

Flaherty and I disagreed on Proposition CC. I thought it was a winner for Republicans, and indeed, they helped push it to defeat.

According to Magellan Strategies, 54 percent of likely voters plan to vote yes on Prop CC. Still, Floyd Ciruli, an independent Denver pollster and political analyst, views the referendum as a blunder by Democrats because it provides Republicans an opportunity to rally around issues (low taxes and small government) that brought the party success in the 1990s.

Finally, I argued that one of Gardner’s strengths, which helped him win 2014, was his ability to bring home the projects and help for Colorado as a member of the Senate majority.

Gardner plans to circumvent the Trump balance beam by selling himself as Colorado’s pork-barrel legislator. “He’s trying very hard to establish one of the basic predicates of why a lot of influential people went for him in 2014,” says Floyd Ciruli, a Denver pollster and political analyst. That premise was that it made sense to have a Colorado representative in the ruling party. Now, after almost five years there, Gardner says, “I get to talk about what we’ve accomplished for the state as a whole.”

Gardner and Impeachment. Will it Matter?

Nicholas Riccardi with the AP (Jan. 8, 2010) describes the difficulty Cory Gardner faces navigating impeachment. Gardner’s position has been to align with the President and argue that the House process was partisan and unfair.

Sen. Cory Gardner | Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
I point out: “There’s a lot of factors that are going to make things very difficult for Cory. Impeachment just puts another issue out there.” Democrats, of course, want to get Gardner on the record in comments and votes, which they can use in negative advertising. For example:
  • Gardner has attempted to avoid any discussion of Trump’s underlying Ukraine behavior; i.e., soliciting foreign help to damage an opponent and use American funds for pressure. The media is watching for any sign of wavering.
  • Nancy Pelosi’s argument that the Senate process should fully present the case, including witnesses that were obstructed from testifying, will not win with Mitch McConnell. But, it creates a narrative for the Senate votes, which will be used in the November campaigns claiming that a cover-up and show trial were perpetrated. McConnell’s position and statements undermine the appearance of an impartial verdict.
How important the issue is for Gardner, or even Trump, is unclear. The onslaught of news just since New Year’s has made impeachment fade from view, but the trial should put it back in the news and create new challenges for Republicans.

Does Census Help Republicans or Democrats in 2020?

Lou Jacobson, one of the country’s premier political analysts, described the impact of the 2020 U.S. Census on the states, which could win seats (8) and those that could lose seats. As expected, the impact will depend on circumstances in 2020 because many of the seats that could shift are in battleground states, such as Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Jacobson has been a senior write for Roll Call, the National Journal, Governing and the Almanac of American Politics. He’s now featured in three of the most influential political reports in the country – Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and US News & World Report.

In Colorado, which will gain a seat, he wrote that an independent commission will decide the new district’s boundaries.

“The new seat will likely be centered in the Denver metro area but could affect the lines in far-flung areas of the state, says Floyd Ciruli, an independent pollster in the state.

My prediction was the split will end up Democrats 5 seats and Republicans had their three non-metro Denver seats.


The Party is Over. Unaffiliated Voters Dominate.

As the election of the century approaches, more than two-fifths of Colorado voters chose no party affiliation. And, for a variety of factors, that number is expected to grow.

Unaffiliated voters have been voting on the left in the last couple of elections, but Democrats will have to be careful. These new non-party participants – and they participate at historical rates – don’t like parties or the party establishments and can be quickly attracted by new candidates, issues and looks, much like new Hollywood seasons where the content and the way it’s delivered can doom or reward a show, a studio and a network.

The Colorado two-party system is at risk. Republicans are fighting for their relevance, even their basic competitiveness in counties they dominated as recently as a decade ago. But, Democrats haven’t gained loyal fans, and bad choices in nominees could upend all the rosy 2020 and beyond prognostications.

As the data below shows, Democrats, as a percentage of registration, has been stable for the last 15 years while the voter rolls have surged by a million voters. Republicans, who were in the lead in 2004 by nearly 200,000 voters (Bill Owens was governor and G.W. Bush reelected as president), are now a distinct minority and in danger of losing their top officeholder, Cory Gardner.


And, the number and influences of unaffiliated voters will increase, not diminish.

  • Unaffiliated voters are now able to vote in primaries, and voted in large numbers in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, their first opportunity. They are increasing as a percentage of the electorate and were a significant bloc of voters in the 2019 off-year election.
  • Voters are being registered automatically as unaffiliated at motor vehicle offices and then asked later by mail if they want to join a party.
  • More than half of new local voters and out-of-state transferees, especially the young, have registered unaffiliated. Colorado’s growth adds unaffiliated voters.

Read Colorado Politics: GOP the loser in voter registration – “unaffiliated” the big winner

Monday, January 6, 2020

California Sends a Congressional District to Colorado

California may lose its first congressional seat in its history as a state, as Colorado gains another after a population surge of 700,000 since the 2010 census (current estimate – 5,758,236, up from 5,029,319 in 2010). The following House seat shift is an early projection based on 2019 census estimates by the Brookings Institute and Election Data Services. It shows winners and losers:


Eight to ten seats are moving from old eastern and mid-western states to the west and south, continuing long-term trends on U.S. population shifting. California believes its loss is on the cusp and is spending millions to publicize the Census this April to find enough people to hold on, but the slowdown in foreign immigration, slow family formation of Millennials, and the decade-long flow of ex-pats to Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Texas has brought California’s net growth to a halt.