ASEAN labouring under outdated migration policies

A foreign worker is given medicine and marked on her arm during a health check at a foreign workers registration one stop service post for Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos nationals, in a park in Bangkok, Thailand, 16 July 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Giovanni Capannelli, ADB

By the end of 2015, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is expected to establish a single market and production base in the region. With an ASEAN overall workforce of more than 300 million people, the AEC will have strong implications in terms of labour migration and human resource development. Read more…

Election reveals the sorry state of Japan’s political opposition

Members of Japan's House of Representatives shout ‘ banzai’, a traditional cheering gesture at the National Diet in Tokyo on 21 November 2014, as Prime Minister Abe dissolved the lower house. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

Last Sunday’s general election in Japan has returned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its ally, the New Komeito, with a two-thirds majority in the lower house of the Diet. That the LDP would get a majority of seats was expected, as various polls had shown since Abe unexpectedly announced snap elections in November. Read more…

Rural China’s economic model limps on

This picture taken on November 19, 2013 shows a farmer working in her rice field in the farming village of Gangzhong in China's eastern Zhejiang province. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Graeme Smith, ANU

‘Benghai’ was changing. Returning to my old office, my home for ten years of fieldwork in rural China, it was clear something was amiss. Gone was the grizzled caretaker, listlessly following his mop around the ground floor of the four-storey building. In his stead was a bank of impossibly cheerful uniformed women in their early twenties. Their smiles could signify only one thing: real estate. Read more…

A ‘beautiful’ Japan in the eye of the media beholder

Masataka Watanabe and Shinya Iida hold a press conference after becoming the new president and chairman, respectively, of Japanese daily The Asahi Shimbun, Osaka, Japan, 5 December 2014. They apologised for withdrawn articles on the Fukushima nuclear disaster and 'comfort women' issue. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Chris Perkins, University of Edinburgh

The Japanese media has been set alight by the debate on Japan’s use of ‘comfort women’ — a euphemism referring to the women used for sex by the Japanese Army in World War II. The furore began in August when Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s premier liberal newspaper, admitted that a source used in a number of articles it published on comfort women had fabricated his story. Read more…

Australia needs to refocus on ASEAN

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott holds hands ASEAN leaders during the ASEAN–Australia 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 12 November 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Gareth Evans, ANU

Things just haven’t clicked the way they should have in the Australian–ASEAN relationship. We seem far removed from the time when as Australia’s Foreign Minister I had no counterparts anywhere in the world with whom I felt more close and comfortable. Read more…

The reign or reining in of Chinese monopolies

A steel worker at a mill owned by Dongbei Special Steel Group Co Ltd, 30 January 2014. DSSG was integrated by three former major state-owned enterprises in Northeast China in 2004. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Patrick Williams, ANU and PKU

Surprise raids by Chinese government officials on the offices of major multinationals in China to catch out monopolistic business activity have created perceptions of bias against foreign firms in the enforcement of the anti-monopoly law. Read more…

The politics of Japan’s new aid charter

Workers on a Japan-funded aid project in Columbia. (Photo: Neil Palmer, Flickr).

Author: Purnendra Jain, University of Adelaide

2014 marks the 60th anniversary of Japan’s foreign aid program. The nation was still receiving World Bank aid when Tokyo began a modest foreign aid program through joining the Colombo Plan in 1954. Today, as one of the world’s largest donors, Japan is placing an increasingly explicit emphasis on foreign aid for the national interest. Read more…

Asiaphoria or Asiaphobia?

Chinese workers sew clothes at a garment factory in Huaibei city, 10 September 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Paul Hubbard, ANU

Those in the business of long-run GDP projections expect Asia, and particularly China, to keep growing above world trend rates for some years. The most optimistic — such as former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Justin Lin — have China growing at 8 per cent for at least the next decade. Read more…

Will China accept international law in the South China Sea?

A worker holds a new officially approved map of China that includes the islands and maritime area that Beijing claims in the South China Sea, at a printing factory in Changsha in south China's Hunan province. China has again rejected an attempt by the Philippines to challenge its territorial claims over the South China Sea through international arbitration. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Donald R. Rothwell, ANU

The ongoing disputes between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea are about to reach a critical point. In January 2013 the Philippines activated procedures under Article 287 and Annex VII of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) over a dispute about the validity of China’s ‘nine-dash line’ in the South China Sea. Read more…

Abe must raise taxes to save Abenomics

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talks to voters during his election campaign tour in front of a local fishery association branch at a fishery port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, 2 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Yukinobu Kitamura, Hitotsubashi University

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of the Diet on 21 November and called a snap general election on 14 December. At the same time, Abe announced that he would postpone the second hike of the consumption tax rate from 1 October 2015 to 1 April 2017. Read more…

Time to rethink economic policies in Indonesia

An Indonesian employee fills a car with subsidised fuel at a petrol station in Jakarta, Indonesia, 24 November 2014. Incoming President Joko Widodo has lowered fuel subsidies but, like Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has not removed them altogether or linked to global prices. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ross McLeod, ANU

Economic performance in post-Suharto Indonesia has been inferior to that achieved during the previous three decades, with economic growth slower and income inequality increasing. With the recent election of a new president, now is a good time to focus on improving the quality of economic policymaking.

To begin, how should Indonesia make use of its rich natural resources? Read more…

Japan’s demographic challenges are also an opportunity

Generations united by fashion: models young and old wait to strut the catwalk at a grandmother and granddaughter show in tokyo in 2014. Despite all the perceived problems, dealing with the challenge of ageing can also be a source of innovation. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hiroshi Yoshikawa, University of Tokyo

Japan’s ageing, shrinking population will cause serious problems for the country throughout the 21st century. Although the fertility rate has recovered to 1.39, this is still very low by international standards. Current official projections estimate that Japan’s present population of 120 million will decline to 40 million by 2110. Read more…