Is Abe’s womenomics working?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe poses with his new female Cabinet Ministers (clockwise), Yuko Obuchi, minister of economy, trade and industry, Haruko Arimura, minister in charge of supporting women's empowerment, Midori Matsushima, minister of justice, Eriko Yamatani, chair of the National Public Safety Commission and minister in charge of the abduction issue, and Sanae Takaichi, minister of internal affairs and communications, in Tokyo on 3 September 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Helen Macnaughtan, University of London

In September 2013 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to create a society in which ‘all women can shine’. Abe acknowledged that women had long been an underutilised resource in the Japanese economy. He promised to boost female labour participation rates, increase the presence of women in corporate board rooms and improve gender equality. Two years on, is womenomics working in Japan? Read more…

ASEAN’s ambitions risk outstripping its capacity

The group photo at the opening ceremony for the 47th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 22 August 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Barry Desker, RSIS

Southeast Asia looks set to usher in a new era of cooperation and stability following the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in early August. But significant challenges to regional integration remain and the risk is that ambitious claims may outstrip the capacity to deliver. Read more…

South Korea must confront structural problems in the economy

A delivery worker unloads boxes from a cart at a market in Seoul on 3 August 2015. Export success conceals economic weakness in South Korea, argues Seongman Moon. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Seongman Moon, KIEP

South Korea’s economic growth has slowed significantly since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The five-year average GDP growth rate was 7.9 per cent during 1991–95, but dropped substantially to 4.5 per cent for 2001–05 and then 3.8 per cent in 2006–10. This slowdown is closely linked to that in domestic demand. After the burst of the credit card lending boom from 1999–2002, growth in domestic demand has been close to zero and has even dropped into the negative. Read more…

Will regional tensions shift the deadlock on Okinawa’s military bases?

The Okinawa prefectural assembly adopts a resolution on 19 August 2015, calling for the consolidation and scaling down of US military bases. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: H.D.P. Envall and Kerri Ng, ANU

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be close to achieving one long-pursued goal, the relocation of the controversial Futenma airbase in Okinawa. This has been a perpetual sore in the US‒Japan alliance. But recent international trends may be reshaping Okinawa’s base politics and pushing the two allies closer to carrying out the Futenma relocation. Read more…

Don’t blame China’s skewed sex ratio on the one-child policy

A young Chinese boy takes part in a swimming event in Beijing. Conventional wisdom says that China’s skewed sex ratio is due solely to the one-child policy, but the reality is more complex. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Elizabeth J. Remick, Tufts University, and Charis Loh

In the last decade, China’s serious gender imbalance has made headlines: millions of Chinese men are doomed to bachelorhood due to a shortage of women, with awful social consequences. The conventional wisdom is that this skewing — a sex ratio at birth far higher than the natural ratio of 105 males to 100 females — is caused simply and solely by China’s one-child policy. Read more…

China, India and global headwinds

Author: Alok Sheel, Government of Kerala

When the global financial crisis swept across the world in 2008, it was widely hoped that India would not be as badly affected by the external demand shock as China. After all, exports of goods and services accounted for about 40 per cent of Chinese GDP, and domestic consumption for around 50 per cent, while India consumed over two thirds of its GDP and exported only around 20 per cent. As things turned out, while both economies initially had a relatively soft landing, Indian growth has dipped far more sharply than that of China. Why? Read more…

How to normalise Sino–Japanese defence relations

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing in November 2014, at that time the first leaders' meeting in more than two years. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tomohiko Satake, NIDS

Tensions between Japan and China in recent years have led many to argue that Sino–Japanese relations have entered a period of enduring rivalry, and that a Sino–Japanese military conflict is likely in the near future. But, looking back over post-war history, the current state of relations is rather exceptional. Read more…