Why US military bases divide Okinawa and mainland Japan

Protesters gather holding placards reading 'NO to the new base in Henoko!' during a demonstration against the construction of a new US military base in an environmentally sensitive part of the island in Nago city, Okinawa island on 28 April 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Shino Hateruma, Waseda University

Okinawa is trapped in a dilemma regarding US military bases in the prefecture. For the past 70 years, the bases have helped deter external attacks on Japan, including on Okinawa. But with over 25,000 US military personnel in Okinawa, and about 18 per cent of its land area being used by the US military, the presence of the bases endangers the lives and properties of the local people. Read more…

Carrot and stick tactics fail to calm China’s ethnic antagonism

a billboard at a market in kuqu, Xinjiang Province, encourages good relations between Uyghurs and Han, who make up an increasing part of the population. (Photo: AAP).

Author: James Leibold, La Trobe University

For centuries the Chinese state has governed its distant ethnic frontiers with both carrot and stick. In the past, emperors proffered ‘imperial grace’ (ēn) for those ‘barbarians’ willing to submit (at least nominally) to Chinese dominion, while reserving the right of ‘imperial might’ (wēi) for those who resisted. Read more…

Breaking the deadlock on the Korean peninsula

Shin Han-yong, vice president of a group of South Korean firms with factories at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, speaks to reporters after returning from the park, 20 April 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sangsoo Lee, ISDP

With the Six Party Talks — the main multilateral mechanism to negotiate North Korea’s denuclearisation — moribund since December 2008, the North Korean nuclear issue appears increasingly intractable. North Korea has proceeded with its nuclear program and enshrined its nuclear status in its constitution. Read more…

Pakistan faces perilous choice on Yemen

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivers a statement on the Yemen-Saudi Arabia conflict in Islamabad, Pakistan, 13 April 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Abdul Basit, RSIS

Saudi Arabia’s demand that Pakistan joins its coalition against the Houthi uprising in Yemen has put Islamabad in a catch-22 between joining the Saudi alliance and not antagonising its neighbour Iran. Joining the Saudi coalition would have long-term political, economic and security repercussions for Pakistan. Read more…

Pakistan caught in a bind by Sharif’s Saudi debt

A supporter of Pakistani religious group Jamat ud Dawa waves a party flag during a rally to support the Saudi Arabian government, in Islamabad, Pakistan, 9 April 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS

Stung by his complete failure to muster the parliamentary support needed to join in a Saudi-led intervention in Yemen’s civil war, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now counting the costs of his $1.5 billion folly. Read more…

How Abe used the IS hostage crisis to push security reform


Author: Yukiko Miyagi, University of St Andrews

On 21 January 2015, the Japanese government received a threat from the Islamic State (IS) that it would behead two Japanese hostages unless Japan paid a US$200 million ransom. The message from IS pointed to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement that Japan would offer US$200 million in assistance to states countering IS as part of a US$2.5 billion assistance package for Middle Eastern states. Read more…

Refining the Western counter terrorism strategy

Iraqi security forces prepare to attack Islamic State extremist positions in Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday 26 March 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Amin Saikal, ANU

The US-led international coalition may well be able to roll back the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, but this will not be the end of the story. As long as the conditions and causes that have given rise to IS persists in the Middle East, the emergence of a similar group is always possible in the future. Read more…