The rights of the right as Abe strives for collective self-defence

What role for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with ground SDF chiefs at the force’s Asaka training ground in Tokyo. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are negotiating with their coalition partner, Komeito, to introduce legislation recognising a limited exercise of collective self-defence. There is rising anxiety about how this endeavour is perceived by Japan’s neighbours and what effect this will have on regional stability, given the Abe cabinet’s right-wing revisionist views of Japan’s history. Read more…

Xi Jinping’s comprehensive fight against corruption

Chinese Peoples Armed Policemen are on patrol at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, 9 November 2013. An elite body of Chinas ruling Communist Party opened a crucial policy conclave Saturday (November 9 2013) to endorse reforms to bolster a slowing economy and address imbalances built up during years of torrid growth. The four-day meeting of the Central Committee, in keeping with tradition, is taking place behind closed doors and with minimal real-time publicity. The official Xinhua News Agency issued a terse report confirming the meetings opening. It said the body would discuss major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms.If the party hews to past practice, details of the gathering wont be released until it closes Tuesday. Among the reforms on the table, according to officials and state media, are reforms to create more space for private businesses, liberalize the financial sector and make it easier for rural Chinese to move to urban areas.

Author: Angus Nicholson, ANU

Xi Jinping’s recent announcement of the Four Comprehensives is crucial to reform in the Chinese Communist Party (CPC).

The Four Comprehensives are likely to be put forward as Xi’s contribution to the CPC theoretical canon, providing the ideological legitimacy for his reform and anti-corruption campaign. Read more…

Compromise essential to resolve Myanmar’s minority conundrum

Karen people crossing from Myanmar to a clinic in Thailand. There are still no peace agreements in place between major ethnic groups and the government. (Photo: William Daniels / Panos Pictures).

Author: Nicholas Farrelly, ANU

Four decades civil wars have raged along Myanmar’s ethnic fault lines.

In the official count the country tallies up 135 different ‘national races’. The majority Bamar people, who drive national expectations of language, culture and politics, make up around 60 per cent of the population. The minority groups, most with their own distinct tongues, customs and clothes, make up the rest. Read more…

The quest for Asian pluralism

Hmong children. The Hmong are a recognised ethnic minority in many countries, including Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, but not China. (Photo: Jeremy Horner / Panos Pictures).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

A defining characteristic of the Asian continent is its pluralism. The vast Chinese civilisation on one side and the civilisation of the Indian sub-continent on the other each embraces its own rich cultural, social and ethnic diversity around a dominant cultural stream. Read more…

Making progress on Tibet

Looking homewards: novices at a Tibetan monastery in Mustang, Nepal. Many Tibetan exiles are banking on reforms in China to resolve the dispute. (Photo: Bartosz Hadyniak, iStock).

Author: Robert Barnett, Columbia University

The Chinese authorities last met with representatives of the Tibetan exile leadership five years ago. Since then, no progress has been made towards a resolution of the China–Tibetan dispute. Meanwhile, protests against Chinese rule have continued, with over a hundred self-immolations by Tibetans. Read more…

Japan’s political dynasties fail the porky test

Shinzo Abe is the son of Shintaro Abe, a former leading member of the long-ruling LDP. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Yasushi Asako, Waseda University; Takeshi Iida, Doshisha University; Tetsuya Matsubayashi, Osaka University; and Michiko Ueda, Syracuse University

Political positions are no longer hereditary in modern democracies, but political dynasties nevertheless exist around the globe and dominate political office in East Asia and Japan in particular. But research shows that dynastic politicians in Japan can be socially inefficient and lead to less optimal and inefficient outcomes for their electorates. Read more…

Thai public health care suffering by association

Thai nurse prepares free vaccinations at a hospital on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Bo Kyeong Seo, Free University of Berlin

Thailand’s current democratic crisis sits in stark contrast with its greatest achievement this century: universal health coverage. This achievement is also a prime example of the ideological disagreements on the value of populism in Thai politics. Read more…