Japan deserves some praise on climate change

A floating megasolar power plant on a reservoir in Kasai, Hyogo Prefecture,. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Llewelyn Hughes, ANU

Japan has received some sharp criticism following the G7 meeting in June 2015 for its stance on climate change. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions of 26 per cent below 2013 emission levels by 2030, which is equivalent to 18 per cent less than 1990 emissions. If replicated globally, this would fall short of what is needed to keep the risk of catastrophic climate change to reasonable levels. Read more…

Redefining Japan’s Asia diplomacy

The reforms needed to deliver higher economic growth in Japan are largely domestic, but there is an important international dimension. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

For more than two decades before Shinzo Abe became Japan’s prime minister second time round, Japanese governments had set out no comprehensive strategy for economic reform that took account of the country’s new position in the world. Japan’s economic performance suffered. Its international diplomacy seemed adrift. Read more…

Japan needs to think big on Asian strategy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomes Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to the Akasaka State Guesthouse in Tokyo, Japan, 04 June 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Yoichi Funabashi, RJIF; and Andrea Ryoko Ninomiya, RJIF

Japanese policymakers received a shock when they heard in late March that 57 countries, including some of the United States’ closest allies, had applied to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). While China has steadily been on the rise, since the 2008 global financial crisis, the United States has found itself less able to engage with Asia as it once did. The resulting power vacuum has left the region more vulnerable to destabilisation. Read more…

Is Japan really tilting to the right?

Demonstrators shout while holding banners reading 'No War' during a protest against reforms that would allow Japan to dispatch its Self-Defense Forces overseas, on 26 May 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Stephen Robert Nagy, ICU

Japan is coming under increasing scrutiny as the 70th anniversary of World War II approaches and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moves to reform Japan’s defence policy. Recent concerns over hate speech and the right-wing nationalistic rhetoric of revisionist groups like Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), Sakura Channel, and Zaitokukai (The Association of Citizens Against the Special Privileges of the Zainichi — that is, the resident Korean population) have led commentators to conclude that Japanese people are becoming more nationalistic. But is this really the case? Read more…

Japan and South Korea must foster domestic support for bilateral relations

Members of South Korean conservative groups stage a protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on 1 March 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Junya Nishino, Keio University

Many expected Japan–Republic of Korea (ROK) relations to be reset when the Shinzo Abe and Park Geun-hye administrations first came to power, but the past two years or so have seen further deterioration and pessimism.

June 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries, offering a perfect opportunity to construct a shared long-term vision for Japan–ROK relations. Read more…

Can human security help reframe governance in Asia?

Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attend a joint press conference. Japan and Mongolia are the two countries that remain the key promoters of the human security concept in the Asia Pacific. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Akiko Fukushima, Aoyama Gakuin University

Seventy years ago, the global governance institutions of the United Nations, World Bank, and IMF were created. They have certainly contributed to peace and enabling global economic and financial growth. But the global environment has undergone an immense evolution since then. Read more…

Can freedom go online in Asia?

A man compares a YouTube video with released footage of a collision in the East China Sea. To Japan’s credit, the internet is far freer in Japan than in its Northeast Asian neighbours China and South Korea. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Julian Dierkes, Trevor Kennedy, Melanie Schweiger and Christina Toepell, UBC

The Asian members of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) have announced their love of freedom and willingness to guarantee freedom online. But the reality is that there is a disconnect between stated ambitions and commitments, and actual policy. Read more…