Monday 16 Dec 2019 | 20:02 | SYDNEY
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Japan

On the trail of the Pope in Japan

Pope Francis visited Japan between 23 and 26 November. It was a busy time that followed directly on from the Pope’s equally busy visit to Thailand. He toured Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. He met with Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Abe Shinzō. He spoke with survivors of the atomic attacks,

Connecting the dots on the Blue Dot Network

The US, Australia, and Japan have joined together to establish a trilateral “Blue Dot Network” to help develop infrastructure “in the Indo-Pacific and around the world”. The plan was announced on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN summit in Thailand last week. This sounds impressive. The Indo

How Africa is breaking China’s neo-colonial shackles

If there’s any indication of how Africa is moving up on everyone’s agenda, look no further than the first edition of the Russia-Africa Summit, which saw 43 African heads of state converging last week on Sochi. Beyond the fact that the summit reflects the brisk trade Moscow does with the

Soft power, hard weather: Japanese resilience

Typhoon Hagibis was the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in decades. The storm’s ferocity was extraordinary, and the level of destruction immense. At least 78 people have been killed, and more than 230,000 evacuated. Notably the typhoon, the 19th to hit Japan this year, struck the east coast

Finally, some plain talk on the Quad

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a foreign policy speech to the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. Australia’s foreign policy analysts can be very grateful for these candid remarks, because they should prompt Canberra to rethink its policy stance on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the “

Dispatches from the front (row)

Only last week The Interpreter featured an article about the pitfalls of importing a major international sporting event into a country that didn’t have enough domestic interest or emotional investment to support it. That may have been the case in Qatar, but having just returned from two weeks and

Can Japan catch up in the economic scramble for Africa?

Recently, China entered the market as an exporter of used cars overseas. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce revealed the populous African nation of Nigeria as one of the destinations for 300 cars in the first batch of freight. The vehicles included brands such as Land Rover, Toyota, Hyundai,

Japan is again hunting whales. What can be done?

This week Japan has formally recommenced commercial whaling for the first time in over 30 years. A small Japanese whaling fleet left port on 1 July after the Japanese government announced that it had set a quota of 227 whales for the remainder of 2019. The quota is made up of 150 Bryde’s whales

America’s fiscal policy rethink reaches Japan

Among some prominent policy wonks in America, a profound rethink of fiscal policy has been underway for the last couple of years, making the case for more-expansionary – or at least less-contractionary – fiscal policy. Japan, already with a mountain of government debt and substantial budget

Japan: grasping for hope in a new imperial era

Japan has three New Year’s Days this year. 1 January, the calendar new year was the obvious beginning, then followed 1 April, the start of the financial and academic year that is famously symbolised by seasonal cherry blossoms – and now 1 May, the once-only celebration of the first day of what

Japan’s very busy fighter force

By international standards, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force is very busy. It scrambles fighters daily to intercept multiple aircraft penetrating Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) – the block of airspace established over, and usually somewhat beyond, a nation’s territory in which

What I missed last year: Japan, the unlikely overachiever

A series where Lowy Institute experts look back on what surprised them in 2018. Surveying international news headlines from 2018, you’d be forgiven for believing that the geopolitical landscape of Asia is exclusively a two-horse race. US, China spar over trade at WTO. More worrying than a US-

Abe’s visit to Australia: raising the stakes

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is scheduled to visit Australia this week on the heels of attending the ASEAN Summit. While there have been regular prime ministerial exchanges between Tokyo and Canberra throughout Abe’s long leadership tenure, there will be more at stake than usual on this

Modi and Abe: judgement waits on India-Japan ties

India and Japan have forged a special strategic and global partnership over the years, and Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe have developed a personal and special relationship, propelling the relationship between the two nations to greater heights. Last month, Abe invited Modi to his

Japan’s immigration and integration questions

Japan is widely considered one of the most monocultural and insulated countries in the world. This is reflected in the contradictions in its immigration policy. Japan is not an easy place to move to: it does not even have an immigration department that specialises in visa and border control

Japan’s complicated relationship with coal power

At first glance, it appears a sea change is underway in how Japanese banks and financial firms treat fossil fuels. According to a comprehensive study released by 350.org in September – Energy Finance in Japan 2018 – Japanese financial institutions underwrote over US$80 billion in loans for

Japan’s advice to Australia to co-exist with China

Japan’s Shinzo Abe now ranks as one of the region’s most experienced prime ministers, and will likely meet with Australia’s newest leader, Scott Morrison, in November. China’s growing influence in the region is a topic both leaders must discuss, given that the prosperity and stability in

A bittersweet victory for Prime Minister Abe

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s President for his third and final term on 20 September, securing him the prime ministership for another three years and potentially making him the longest serving prime minister in Japan’s parliamentary history

Japan is back in the Bay of Bengal

The eastern Indian Ocean has become contested waters. The competition for position between China, India and the US is becoming ever more pronounced. But some recent developments indicate that Japan also intends to become an important security player in the region. Japan is back in the Bay of Bengal

Shinzo Abe’s road to be Japan’s longest serving PM

China’s Xi Jinping this year crafted a constitutional amendment removing the two five-year term limit on the presidency of China, essentially making himself China’s President for life. Around that time in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) carried out

Idols in South Korea and Japan

The music industries in Japan and South Korea are entwining. K-pop idols can successfully sell albums in Japan, and Japanese singers can join K-pop groups. However, in a reflection of national rivalries, there will always be friction between the two competing industries. K-pop has enjoyed a boom

Why Japan is supporting Cambodia’s election

Japan has remained steadfast in its support of the upcoming Cambodian general election on 29 July amid growing pressure by its citizens, civil society organisations, and supporters of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) – Cambodia’s former main opposition party. 

Sources of Shinzo Abe’s resilience

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now the third longest serving prime minister of Japan since the Second World War. Thanks to amendments by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to regulations, it is possible he will become the longest serving prime minister of post-war Japan on 24 August 2019. Why

Should Shinzo Abe happen to meet Kim Jong-un

In recent weeks, Northeast Asia has enjoyed an unprecedented season of summitry. Spurred by a common desire to curb the North Korean nuclear threat, key leaders from the region have held historic bilateral talks with Kim Jong-un in close succession. Despite the fact that a concrete denuclearisation

Japan-Russia: Abe’s brutal truth

On 26 May, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Moscow for what was their 21st bilateral meeting. For the most part, the outcomes of that meeting paint a sorry picture for the Abe administration. No meaningful progress was made at the meeting on core

Shinzo Abe “outside the net”

What if you invited 10,000 of your closest acquaintances to a cherry blossom viewing party in Tokyo, only to find that the blossoms had peaked only days before? What if you flew halfway around the world to play golf with your buddy in Florida, only to have him undercut your deals? What if

Is Japan’s rare earth discovery fool’s gold?

Rare earth. The term sounds like something derived from the imagination of J. R. R. Tolkien, but these composites of seventeen rare minerals are a silent but central foundation of global industry. Rare earth metals are critical to the production of a massive array of industrial goods,

A new high: India–Japan defence links

An unexpected partnership was forged last week at India’s defence exhibition, DefExpo 2018, in Chennai. For some time, India has been in negotiations with Japan to purchase more than a dozen US-2 amphibious aircraft for the Indian Navy and Coast Guard. Considered the world’s best amphibious

What next for the anti-whale hunters?

Japan’s whale hunters are expected home any day, carrying up to 300 minke whales killed in the Southern Ocean. A harpoon ship, Yushin Maru No. 2, quietly slipped into Shiogama Port on Saturday, while the giant abattoir ship Nisshin Maru is still at sea (with its marine tracking monitor turned off

Moon versus Abe and the contest for America’s ear

A battle is underway between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in over their differing approaches to North Korea. They are competing to shape the attitudes of US President Donald Trump, and this contest has been a compelling sideshow at the PyeongChang Winter

Asia’s escalating missile race

If the Cold War was one long arms race, the modern era could be accurately described as an arms jog. Countries are defined less by how many nuclear warheads they have, and more by what they can do with them. This is particularly the case in Australia’s immediate region, where a

Japan: Shinzo Abe faces challenges across the board

As news outlets in Japan summed up the year that was and the year ahead, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s most widely read (and notably pro-government) newspaper featured its top 10 stories for 2017, domestic and international, according to its readers. Domestically, the story was Sota Fujii, a 14-year-

Japan: Shinzo Abe wrestles with constitutional change

Wednesday 29 November in Tokyo, and the morning's breaking news was not Kim Jong-Un firing another missile but that sumo grand champion Haruma Fuji had announced his retirement following a week of scandal surrounding an alleged attack on a junior wrestler. As the two stories played

The symbolic politics of the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute

In recent years, maritime disputes have become highly visible microcosms of broader contests in the Indo-Pacific region. While much attention has been paid to disputes in the South China and East China Sea, a lower profile dispute has bubbled away for years between South Korea and Japan over a

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