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    India and Japan Counterbalancing China: How Shared Interests and Fears Led to Negotiation Cooperation

    April 6th, 2015  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe, Taro Aso
    India and Japan recently pledged cooperative efforts to deepen national security interests, as a means to counterbalance China’s increasing influence in the Asian region.
    “A strong India-Japan partnership is not only in the national interest of the two countries but is also important for peace and security in the region,” India’s Defense Minister Parrikar stated, reiterating that he would like to see a strong partnership with Japan in defense equipment and technology.
    While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is involved in one controversy after another within India, there is no doubt that abroad he has been winning hearts and minds wherever he goes outside of his country. Among the first of his official visits was a five day trip to Japan where he was personally welcomed by Abe. With both parties claiming that bilateral ties held great potential, any observer could tell that the foundation for a stronger relationship was being laid down from the outset.
    But what is it about this particular set of ties between India and Japan that makes it so special? Similar political and economic goals? Threats from other neighbors? A need to find understanding partners?
    When two economic giants come to the negotiating table, the mindset makes a huge difference. India and Japan represent the second and third largest military spenders in the region. With the only overt gestures being friendly, and either side acquiescing benefits to the others, the emphasis on collaboration was strong from the onset. Already sharing a history of having supported each other from before both world wars, the historical foundation between India and Japan had already been set. It only needed two like-minded leaders—such as Modi and Abe who have shared interests and fears–to incentivize the process towards negotiation cooperation.
    In negotiation theory, there is a concept called ‘likeness theory’ that forms the crux of any relationship where both negotiating parties can find elements outside of the negotiation that help them bond. This, in turn, based on related negotiation behavioral studies makes it easier to find a solution and collaborate, repivoting the negotiation process towards a positive-sum game, not a zero-sum game.
    Here in this case, both Abe and Modi appear to have similar goals (or likenesses) for their respective nations. Both are fiscally conservative, both are known for favouring an internal economic strengthening, have nationalist tendencies, support strengthening ties with neighbors and both are trying to raise their nations to a standpoint where the world recognizes both India and Japan as true global powers, not just economic powers. With this kind of shared likenesses between Japan and India, it becomes easier for the two Asian giants to negotiate towards cooperation rather than betrayal (non-cooperation) in a iterated prisoners dilemma-type scenario.
    Both Modi and Abe have come to power at times when their people are hungering for economic and political change. With Modi looking to drastically improve India’s infrastructure, Japan is looking for markets to invest in, making this a “win-win” relationship based on “shared and complementary interests” that have a greater chance of principled rather than positional bargaining between the two Asian giants.
    Another common factor for both countries is their mutual neighbor, China. There is no subtle undertone for India here, as there is while negotiating with China, no horatory promises to cooperate while simultaneously coping with intrusions into sovereign territory or aggressive overtures in the international arena (something Modi hinted at in his speech in Kyoto). Similarly for Japan, with relations with China taking a nose dive due to diplomatic riffs and economic disagreements, finding other equally strong partners within the Asian region is imperative.
    Such ever-changing negotiation climate is also simultaneously a clear signal to America that intra-Asian cooperation may not be solely U.S.-centric at all times. With both India and Japan being strong strategic partners for America in the Asian subcontinent, it seems that both India and Japan are taking steps not behind but in concert with the United States under U.S. President Barack Obama.
    From India’s purview, Modi’s is initiating an “Act East” policy – a throwback of sorts and perhaps an improvement on the nation’s earlier “Look East” Policy. We know Modi also took no time in meeting Chinese Premier Xi Jinping in a recent multilateral diplomatic meeting and is set to visit Xi in May later this year. On the other hand, Modi has also already spoken to president Park Geun-Hye of South Korea on the phone. Further, his regular references to the rapid economic growth South Korea has experienced since the 1950-53 Korean War (the nation’s “Miracle on the Han” economic experience) speaks volumes about Modi’s admiration and perhaps economic benchmark for the country relating to India, with a population of over 1.2 billion people.
    Based on the actions of both India and Japan, it is apparent that both Modi and Abe have the shared common interests and fears that may incentivize strategic cooperation vis-à-vis China. But how the forging of such closer India-Japan ties affects the U.S. and Europe is still to be determined.

    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.

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    SmartWatch Wars: How the Apple Watch May be an Opportunity for Asia’s Tech Giants

    March 14th, 2015  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Apple unveiled its much anticipated line of Apple watches recently with a price range of $349 to $17,000. I believe they also revealed a weakness in the company. This is a weakness that Asian companies would be less prone to, such as Samsung (South Korea) and Xiaomi (China). In full disclosure I’ve owned several iPhones, an iPad, and an iPod. I loved these products because they were innovative, fun, easy-to-use, well-built and stylish. In my opinion, the combination of those aspects were done better than anyone else out there. Even though the iPhone is relatively expensive, I still felt that I got a lot of value out of the product. The iPhone eliminated the need for a separate camera, GPS unit, music player, desk calendar, etc.
    As word came out about the watch last year (2014), I felt that it had potential. I was leaning towards buying the least expensive version, realizing that there is probably little initial additional functionality over the iPhone other than the health functions. At this point, it seemed like more of a toy than a need to have, but I was willing to give it a try and open to further possibilities, as I suspect others may also have shared this same consumer sentiment.
    Hearing that the most expensive version of the Apple Watch would start at $10,000–and rise to $17,000–I thought the article I was reading had a typo. Now that this pricing is confirmed, it seems exorbinant on several levels.
    • This signaled that Apple is now willing to move away from products that provide true value. All of the value in a smart watch itself can be obtained at the base price of $349. Beyond that you are paying for jewelry. At a price level above $10,000 you have a vast array of world renowned watches to choose from.
    • What rational consumer would be willing to buy a $10,000+ Apple Watch over a Rolex? A Rolex is truly expensive, but one could argue that it’s not really that expensive at all because it will last for decades. The Apple Watch on the other hand will be the fastest depreciating watch of its price range as the technology advances will quickly make it obsolete.
    • If consumers buy the $10,000 watch, it’s akin to burning money for attention. The fact that someone would rather buy the $10,000 Apple Watch than use the extra money for a wise investment or charitable donation speaks volumes, in my view, of such consumer’s character.
    • Do I want to be associated with the “conspicuous consumption” individual who buys the $10,000+ Apple Watch?
    It almost seems to me that the $10,000+ Apple Watch is a cry for recognition amongst the Apple design team. After Steve Jobs died, there was a fear that Apple might not be able to innovate. Jony Ive thereafter became more prominent and powerful within the company. Rumor has it that Ive was the one who pushed for the $10,000+ watch. The $10,000+ watch is where the design shines and the technology takes a backseat. After all, the smart watch is the same across all models, so you’re just paying for the extra materials and design of the band at $10,000+. This, then, makes Apple not only a technology company but also a fashion company.
    Jony Ive is unquestionably a great designer, but this $10,000+ watch is an unnecessary distraction for the company. What made Apple work before was the teamwork: great vision, great technology, great execution, and great design. We can’t all be great at everything, that’s why we need a pool of diverse talents to make a company great. It appears to me that those at Apple with a talent for business sense and strategy were overridden by those at Apple that want to now be part fashion company. This, I believe, has the potential to create a rift within Apple’s employee and customer base.
    A better strategy for Apple would have been to go down the pyramid instead of up the pyramid. The top of the pyramid contains the wealthiest consumers and the bottom of the pyramid the poorest. When the iPhone C came out, some were expecting this would be Apple’s offering to the developing world, but it wasn’t. Most of the consumers in the world are in the bottom section of the pyramid. To go there is more difficult than to go up the pyramid, but the potential rewards are greater. This is a hole in Apple’s offerings that is recognized and being filled by other players in technology–including Samsung and Xiaomi–in the smart phone space, as well as even Google and Facebook.
    Corporations have the mandate to maximize shareholder value, and at first glance it could appear that extravagantly priced products may add value. However, if you deviate from what your stakeholders (in this case employees and customers) expect from you, those stakeholders may go elsewhere, thereby reducing shareholder value. The $10,000+ Apple Watch isn’t worth that risk. The weakness that the $10,000+ watch exposed is that there must have been a struggle within Apple as to whether or not to enter the luxury goods market. It’s not inconceivable, based on personal speculation, that Jony Ive may even have threatened to leave if not allowed to pursue his personal vision. This has the potential to fracture the company. Asian companies such as Samsung and Xiaomi are less subject to this issue because of Asia’s relatively consensus-based corporate culture. Asian companies are thus more likely to work cohesively as a corporate unit and follow the lead of senior management. This represents a rare yet tangible opportunity for many of Asia’s tech giants.
    Brian Sullivan is an Assistant Professor of Finance at Hallym University in South Korea where he teaches courses on finance and business. He has an MBA in Finance from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a BA in Economics from The University of California at Berkeley.

    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
    The views expressed in this blog are not endorsed, directly or indirectly, by the Asia-Pacific Global Research Group

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    American Law 101: An Easy Primer on the U.S. Legal System (by Jasper Kim)

    January 20th, 2015  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    American Law 101 - COVER
    Publication Release Announcement: Asia-Pacific Global Research Group Team
    American Law 101: An Easy Primer on the U.S. Legal System is a thorough introduction to American legal principles, a highly accessible user’s guide into both the spirit and the black letter law underlying the U.S. legal system. Everyone who wants a better, working understanding of U.S. law and the way it is applied—foreign lawyers, law students or those thinking about law school, business professionals, journalists, and the simply curious—can use this straightforward, approachable guide to the American legal system.
    American Law 101 offers:
    • easy-to-read and succinct explanations and examples of most of the concepts covered in U.S. law schools
    • concepts and terms explained in plain English, with minimum use of American colloquialisms, cultural references, and slang
    • short executive summaries of each chapter that cover the most crucial, “big picture” applications of the concepts covered
    •simple and useful diagrams •complete copies of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, as well as a glossary of legal terms
    Chapters include thinking like an American lawyer, contracts, torts, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, American perspectives on international business and public law, and alternative dispute resolution and civil litigation. American Law 101 offers a better understanding of the U.S. legal system–and the legal professionals working in it—to domestic and international readers.
    About the Author
    Jasper Kim is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, former visiting scholar at Harvard University, professor at the Graduate School of International Studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, and adjunct faculty at the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law. Previously, he worked for Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, and Lehman Brothers.
    Jasper Kim is a member of the Washington, D.C. bar and received graduate economic training from the London School of Economics (LSE), graduate legal training from Rutgers University School of Law, and negotiation training at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation. He is a contributor to various media, including the BBC, Bloomberg, Christian Science Monitor, CNBC, CNN, LA Times, NPR, NYT/IHT, Voice of America, and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). He is the founder of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group,, and author of ABA Fundamentals: International Economic Systems, and 24 Hours with 24 Lawyers: Profiles in Traditional and Non-Traditional Careers.
    Website link (American Bar Association Press):
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.

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    North Korea vs. Human Rights: A Brief History of the NK Human Rights Act

    November 14th, 2014  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Recent efforts to pressure North Korea to improve its human rights conditions through the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI), which among other things, could lead to a UN resolution or ICC referral, has seemingly hit a sensitive spot within North Korea. However, prior to this, little substantive progress was made, in part, due to North Korea’s hard-line stance to its human rights conditions.
    Nearly a decade ago, U.S. legislation was enacted on October 18, 2004 known as the North Korean Human Rights Act. The passage of this Act marked a new and notable phase within the nuclear non-proliferation talks, whereby the issue of human rights was
    directly linked to the issue of North Korean nuclear non-proliferation in a Helsinki-style approach.
    The full text of the North Korean Human Rights Act can be viewed HERE.
    In form, the Act seeks to provide increased aid, monitoring efforts, and
    humanitarian relief to North Korea in the spirit of furthering human rights
    development within the DPRK. In substance, the North Korean Human Rights
    Act attempts to place greater diplomatic and legal pressure on the Kim Jong Un
    regime to improve its human rights record. At the same time, the Act also represents
    a possible negotiation strategy attempt to box in and make the DPRK regime more
    transparent with stipulated requirements for verifiable behavior in compliance with
    the Act.
    By placing human rights as one of the primary items on the negotiation agenda
    in talks with North Korea, two main schools of thought exist: ‘‘universalism’’ and
    ‘‘cultural relativism,’’ in terms of the currently existing literature related to
    international human rights issues. Universalists argue that certain rights are
    ‘‘universal’’ and thus should be globally uniform, such as equal protection, physical
    security, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. Arguably, most of the language
    embedded in the North Korean Human Rights Act is based upon the ‘‘universalist’’
    rather than ‘‘cultural relativist’’ theory of human rights.
    One of the express purposes of the North Korean Human Rights Act is arguably
    to identify human rights as a major factor in future diplomacy between the United
    States and the DPRK, and for the region as a whole. For example, Section 101 of the
    Act notes, ‘‘It is the sense of Congress that the human rights of North Korea should
    remain a key element in future negotiations between the United States, North Korea,
    and other concerned parties in Northeast Asia.’’ It created the position of Special
    Envoy on Human Rights in North Korea with the responsibility of coordinating and
    promoting human rights efforts, and raising such issues with North Korean officials.
    The Act also specifically links non-humanitarian assistance to substantial
    progress in human rights in North Korea. For example, Section 202 identifies areas
    for improvement (i.e., basic human rights and freedoms, family reunification,
    information regarding abductees from Japan and South Korea, reform and
    independent monitoring of prisons and labor camps). It earmarks additional
    humanitarian and non-humanitarian assistance based upon improvements in such
    areas, but also threatens the withholding of such funds, present and future, in the
    event that evidence of improvements fails to emerge in North Korea. When such
    withholding of funds has occurred, at times, the DPRK, as a negotiation strategy,
    has become purposely more provocative in its actions, albeit verbally or through
    military exercises. In effect, this is a negotiation strategy of increasing (or as the case
    may be, creating) one’s ‘‘bargaining chips’’ to be later traded at the negotiation table
    for other items it may want or need.
    Efforts to directly incorporate universal human rights values into North Korea*
    with a government that typically sees human rights issues as varying, based on
    culture, and therefore non-universal*have often resulted in a negotiation clash of
    cultures by linking human rights with efforts related to North Korea, which have
    thus led to a further gap in related negotiations, such as the Six-Party Talks.
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.

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    East-West Negotiation Strategies: Dealing with Seniority Status

    September 18th, 2014  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Seniority is a near universal norm. Those who are older in age are generally given more deference and respect by those who are less senior and younger. So how is this different in Confucian cultures? Probably it’s the degree of deference and respect given to elders, which typically goes much beyond many Western “Socratic” cultures.
    Within the Confucian Code, age is a valuable poker chip. It may well surpass all other factors in determining who is in the more senior bargaining position. Conversely, those who appear young are generally viewed as inexperienced and more of a pupil than a master. This is in stark contrast to many Western cultures where youth is viewed as beneficial since it may provide a new perspective (albeit at the cost of lengthier experience).
    A problem occurs to a mainframe computer system in Japan. The person who is best positioned to understand and solve the problem is a relatively junior worker from California who has three years of experience. Although young, he knows the mainframe computer as well as anyone in the firm. So he is sent to Tokyo the next day. Upon his arrival, he notices right away that the reception he receives at the Japanese firm is less than friendly. Why would this be the case, he asks himself. After all, he is there to help the company solve the problem.
    Any guesses? It turns out that it was a Confucian Code gap in terms of how to solve the problem. Both sides certainly shared the same goal of solving the mainframe computer problem. But the “Socrates v. Confucius” invisible non-meeting of the minds occurred because of differences in the process of how to solve the problem, specifically, who should be sent to solve the problem.
    For the Socratic side, it believed it did the right thing by sending the most qualified person (based on knowledge, not on age). But for the Confucian side, it also believed it did the right thing by expecting an experienced person to do the job (which under the Confucian Code is generally thought of as a person with many years of experience).
    Was one side intentionally acting in bad faith leading to this gap? Absolutely not. Both acted reasonably and did in the right thing according to each sides’ respective view based on two separate cultures–which can be akin as operating systems in a smartphone–both trying to get the job done but in different approaches.
    Ideally, a person who appears in form to be senior, while also having a good working knowledge of the issue at hand would be the ideal situation. But if this isn’t possible, then spending slightly more on two people (or similar team composition) with a person who understands a particular issue in great detail along with a person with less detailed knowledge but appearing more senior could be the next best thing.

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