The NLD’s iron-fisted gerontocracy

Tin Oo, senior leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy party, arrives to visit the first day of a regular session of the upper house parliament 3 February 2016, in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Nicholas Farrelly, ANU

All the speculation about who will hold Myanmar’s top jobs should come to an end this month. With newly elected legislators taking their Naypyidaw seats, the specifics of further compromises between the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the military will become clearer. Read more…

‘Old guard’ blocking human rights reform in Indonesia

Indonesian police stand guard in front of a prison during the transfer of death row prisoners in Bali, Indonesia, 4 March 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ken Setiawan, University of Melbourne

To many, Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) election represented a break with the past as he had no ties to existing military or political elites. The new president was also different from his predecessors in other ways. Read more…

China’s challenges in 2016

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the parliament in Cairo, Egypt on 21 January 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kerry Brown, King’s College London

For China, the story for its economy in 2015 simply reinforced what was already becoming apparent through 2014. GDP growth was slowing, and the political capital the Communist Party could collect from lauding this one statistic was diminishing. Read more…

Comfort women agreement must engage civil society

Lee Ok Son, 88, a South Korean woman who was forced to work in a Japanese wartime military brothel, speaks at a press conference at the parliament building in Tokyo on 26 January 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Mary M. McCarthy, Drake University

In the aftermath of North Korea’s recent nuclear test, experts quickly attested to its significance for the 28 December agreement between Japan and South Korea on the ‘comfort women’ issue. The nuclear test provides a pressing reason for why the historical legacy issues that have plagued the South Korea–Japan relationship must be resolved and a means to further solidify the burgeoning thaw in those relations. Read more…

Stormy seas ahead for the Philippine economy?

Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III pours champagne on a FA-50PH aircraft during a joint turn-over and blessing ceremony of newly acquired assets of the Philippine Air Force at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, south of Manila, Philippines, 5 December 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Gilbert Llanto, PIDS

The Philippines has performed well in the past few years relative to its peers. It demonstrated great resilience to exogenous shocks that would have undone less capable economies. But will it be able to sustain its positive economic position? Read more…

Umbrella soldiers march into Hong Kong’s district councils

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying prepares to cast his vote for the District Council Ordinary Election in Hong Kong, China. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Steven Yet, University of Toronto

In November 2015, Hong Kongers went to the polls for the first time since an uprising of pro-democracy sentiment gripped the city during the Umbrella Movement in late 2014. The district council elections drew a record 47 per cent turnout rate, but neither the pro-establishment camp nor the mainstream opposition were able to turn this high turnout in their favour.

Read more…

Public divided over ‘comfort women’ agreement

South Korean demonstrators hold up pictures of deceased former ‘comfort women’ during a rally near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, 30 December 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Trevor Kennedy, UBC, and Misato Nagakawa, RJIF

On 28 December 2015, the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea surprised the world with the announcement of a deal designed to ‘finally and irreversibly’ conclude the long-standing ‘comfort women’ dispute. Both South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have championed the agreement, but the deal’s implementation is fraught with difficulty. Read more…