Politics, not elections, will change Singapore

Supporters of various political parties display party flags ahead of a 11 September snap general election in Singapore. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Stephan Ortmann, CUHK

On 25 August 2015, Singapore’s President Tony Tan officially dissolved the parliament, triggering early parliamentary elections. While these elections, by law, could have waited until January 2017, 2015 is particularly advantageous for the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP). Read more…

Will Xi always be obeyed?

A man walks past a billboard featuring a photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping beside lantern decorations for the Lunar New Year in Baoding, China's northern Hebei province on 24 February 2015. (Photo: AFP)

Author: Ryan Manuel, ANU

It ain’t easy being an autocrat.

Take China’s current President and Party Secretary, Xi Jinping. Since coming to power Xi has shown himself to be unhindered by former norms of collective decision making, and collective blame. Read more…

Abe treads a fine line on WWII

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes his speech during the memorial service at Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan, 15 August 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Gerry Curtis, Columbia University

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II probably satisfies no constituency — not his right wing base, not the political opposition, not the Chinese nor the Koreans. If the US government has any qualms about it, it is keeping them to itself. Read more…

Abe’s WWII balancing act

Chinese newspapers report on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in their 15 August 2015 editions. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Amy King, ANU

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has marked the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender with a statement that simultaneously tried to meet the expectations of conservatives in Japan and the expectations of Japan’s Asian neighbours. There was a risk that, in attempting to satisfy the demands of such different constituencies, Abe would fail to meet any of them. Read more…

An unsteady balance of power likely in Myanmar elections  

Myanmar Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann,  arrives to attend Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 18 August 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Adam P. MacDonald, Halifax

Much uncertainty surrounds the lead up to and conduct of Myanmar’s upcoming legislative elections. The recent voting down of constitutional amendments in parliament — almost certainly (and solely) by the bloc of appointed, non-elected military parliamentarians — erodes to a certain extent the legitimacy of the electoral process. Read more…

Abe’s WWII statement fails history 101

Shinzo Abe statement WWII

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

As the clock ticked down to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Asia Pacific War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced a dilemma. His right-wing supporters were pushing him to produce a commemorative statement that would move away from the apologetic approach of his predecessors and ‘restore Japan’s pride’. Read more…

Relief, surprise and ambiguity in Abe’s war apology

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows before reading out his statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-anticipated statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War provoked relief, surprise and some ambiguity for the future. It was a relief because there had been some reports that Abe would go through with a cabinet decision to pull away from the position of the 1995 Murayama Statement, which was a clear apology to victims of Japan’s wartime aggression. That did not happen. Read more…