Middle-power multilateralism bringing China into the fold

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se in Seoul in May 2015. Middle-power cooperation could provide the basis for productive coexistence with China. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Yoshihide Soeya, Keio University

China is a central concern in the evolving East Asian order, and its aggressive behaviour toward disputed islands in the South and East China Seas is attracting growing concern. China’s uncompromising attitudes reflect growing confidence in its ability to create or re-create a China-centred order in Asia commensurate with its power and interests. Read more…

A new chapter for Tokyo–Seoul relations, 50 years on?


Author: Lionel Babicz, University of Sydney

The synchronised but separate 50th anniversary celebrations of the Japan–South Korea Treaty on Basic Relations illustrates the relationship between the two countries: inexorably close and painfully distant. The 22 June 2015 celebrations were quite unusual. There was no summit meeting, but two parallel ceremonies with President Park Geun-hye attending in Seoul and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. Read more…

What drives Shinzo Abe?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves after offering a flower during a ceremony commemorating Japanese World War II victims who died overseas at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery in Tokyo. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Richard Katz, Oriential Economist Report

Around the world, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is perhaps most famous for his ‘Abenomics’ program to revive Japan’s economy. So far, it has not worked — mainly because it hasn’t really been tried. Only the first of the famous ‘three arrows’ — monetary stimulus — has been fired. The indispensable third arrow, structural reform, remains lots of nice-sounding targets but little strategy to achieve them. Read more…

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…