Why history is a problem for Park Geun-hye in confronting Japan

Park Geun Hye visits the grave of her assassinated father, former South Korean President Park Chung Hee. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter McGill, London

Relations between South Korea and Japan have deteriorated significantly in recent years. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has refused to hold any bilateral meetings with her Japanese counterpart Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Park lays the blame for poor Japan–ROK relations squarely on Abe for his historical revisionism. Read more…

Inflation fears blurring Modi’s ‘Made in India’ vision

Author: Ranjit Goswami, IMT Nagpur

On 15 August 2014, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his inaugural Independence Day speech. At 80 minutes, it was the longest speech by an Indian Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru’s time. The speech touched upon the various challenges that the world’s largest democracy faces, from female feticide to sanitation. He talked about the need for a new institution in the place of the Planning Commission, created back in 1950, and the need for girls’ toilets at every school, to tackle the high drop-out rates of girls. Read more…

The ghost of historical revisionism in contemporary Japan

Japanese lawmakers visit the Yasukuni Shrine on the day of the 69th anniversary of the end of World War II, Tokyo, 15 August 2014. At least two Japanese Cabinet ministers paid respects at the Tokyo shrine that honours the war dead including convicted criminals, a move that may outrage China and South Korea. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Koichi Nakano, Sophia University

The politics of historical memory is a key factor shaping the international relations of East Asia today. Controversy surrounding the Yasukuni Shrine and the ‘comfort women’ (sex slaves) issue has had far-reaching foreign policy implications for Japan’s relations with its East Asian neighbours. Read more…

Why cultural values cannot be ignored in international relations

A competitor flies a kite of the 'God of Wealth' during the kite flying championship at the 31st Weifang international kite festival in Shandong province, China, 19 April 2014. Ensuring the peaceful rise of new great powers requires a more in-depth and organised effort among Western governments to understand the cultures of Asia and elsewhere. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kadira Pethiyagoda, Canberra

One hundred years ago began the war that was supposed to end all wars. This inauspicious centenary has allowed the foreign affairs commentariat to indulge in one of the things it is best at — drawing historical analogies.

It is true that aspects of the global landscape look similar to a century ago. Read more…

Beijing’s growing influence over Hong Kong

Students protesting for greater democratic rights march in Hong Kong on 24 September 2014. Striking students marched on Hong Kong's financial district, taking their protest to the city's commercial centre for the first time. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Stephan Ortmann, City University of Hong Kong

On 31 August, when Beijing’s offer of universal suffrage to Hong Kong came with an extremely restrictive framework allowing for only two to three establishment candidates, it was just another sign of the Chinese government taking greater control over its special administrative region. Read more…

Japan may not be such an easy pushover on nuclear deal with India

Author: David Brewster, ANU

In recent weeks we have seen the ‘bromance’ between India and Japan reach new heights. Earlier this month, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tokyo amid media hype of a special relationship, and even a de facto alliance, between the two countries. There is talk of a special ‘personal chemistry’ between Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and much was made of the claim that Modi was one of only three people that Abe follows on Twitter. Read more…

Why Thailand must decentralise

Is Thai democracy, like the Democracy Monument, closed for renovations? (Photo: Peter Warr).

Author: Peter Warr, ANU

Bangkok’s iconic Democracy Monument is currently fenced off. A large, hand-written sign reads ‘closed for renovation’. In April the monument was damaged by shots fired at protesters demonstrating against the Pheu Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra. At least three protesters died.

Ironically, Thai democracy is itself ‘closed for renovation’. On 22 May a military coup claimed power, for the 12th time since the 1930s. Read more…

Revitalising India’s manufacturing industry

Indian workers use blowtorches in the heavy fabrication department of a factory near Ahmedabad. (Photo: AAP),

Authors: Anwarul Hoda and Durgesh Kumar Rai, ICRIER

Increasing the GDP growth rate will be a major task for India’s new government. GDP growth will be critical for eradicating poverty and improving the living standards of India’s population. The economy also faces the daunting challenge of providing employment opportunities to about a million people being added to the job market every month. Rapid expansion of the industrial base of the country through labour intensive manufacturing appears to be the perfect solution to the country’s problems. Read more…

The ASEAN Economic Community’s labour policy needs work

Indonesian workers at a construction site in Jakarta, 03 September 2014. A recent publication by the International Labour Organization and the Asian Development Bank on six ASEAN countries found that, with the AEC in place, jobs in agriculture; trade; transportation; and construction would increase in all six countries by 2025.(Photo: AAP).

Author: Sanchita Basu Das, ISEAS

Driven by the looming 2015 deadline, discussion is heating up about the impact ASEAN’s Economic Community (AEC) will have on employment. Set to begin on 31 December 2015, the AEC envisions ASEAN as a single market and production base characterised by the free flow of goods, services, investments and the freer flow of capital and skills. Read more…