CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 26, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, August 26, 2016
China-Japan-Korea-trilateral Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (second from R) meets South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (L), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (second from L) and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (R) during their meeting at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo, Japan, August 24, 2016. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. North Korean missile test facilitates China-Japan-South Korea talks. Earlier this week, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida hosted a two-day meeting with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts. The first since March 2015, the talks were slated to focus on increasing regional cooperation; however, North Korea’s Wednesday test of a submarine-launched missile dominated news coverage of the meeting and elicited wholesale criticism from all three foreign ministers. Read more »

What to Expect at Aung San Suu Kyi’s Peace Conference

by Joshua Kurlantzick Thursday, August 25, 2016
aung-san-suu-kyi-xi-jinping Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping (R) poses for the media before a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, on August 19, 2016. (Rolex Dela Pena/Reuters)

Next week, Aung San Suu Kyi and a host of other dignitaries, including United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, will preside over a major peace conference in Naypyidaw. The conference is billed as a kind of sequel to the Panglong conference, held in February 1947, and presided over by Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, Aung San. At the original Panglong, Aung San, then essentially interim head of the government, and many ethnic minority leaders agreed to work together in a national government. Read more »

Owning Our Constitution, Our Future

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith Monday, August 22, 2016
Japan's Masatoshi Ohno rides a wave during the quarterfinals of the Monster Energy Pro Pipeline surfing competition at Sunset Beach, Hawaii, February 23, 2005 (Lucy Pemoni/REUTERS). Japan's Masatoshi Ohno rides a wave during the quarterfinals of the Monster Energy Pro Pipeline surfing competition at Sunset Beach, Hawaii, February 23, 2005 (Lucy Pemoni/REUTERS).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Ayumi Teraoka is research associate for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 19, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, August 19, 2016
Indonesia-destroys-fishing-boats Four of eight confiscated Vietnamese fishing boats are destroyed in Mempawah Regency, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, February 22, 2016. (Antara Foto/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Indonesia sinks illegal fishing boats. In a move intended to assert sovereignty over resource-rich waters surrounding the Natuna Islands off the Borneo coast, Indonesia sank sixty boats impounded for illegal fishing. Read more »

Constitutional Revision: More Than Yes or No

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith Friday, August 19, 2016
A man raises his hands and shouts "banzai" as he and others gather to watch the sunrise over Mount Fuji, which is known locally as "Diamond Fuji", from atop Ryugatake mountain in Fujikawaguchiko town, southwest of Tokyo January 1, 2010 (Yuriko Nakao/REUTERS). A man raises his hands and shouts "banzai" as he and others gather to watch the sunrise over Mount Fuji, which is known locally as "Diamond Fuji", from atop Ryugatake mountain in Fujikawaguchiko town, southwest of Tokyo January 1, 2010 (Yuriko Nakao/REUTERS).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Masatoshi Asaoka is currently a master’s candidate in the Asian studies program of Georgetown University and an intern for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Read more »

The Unbearable Lightness of Our Constitution

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Plato-resized

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Keigo Komamura, a Japanese constitutional scholar, is professor of law and vice president of Keio University. He serves on the advisory council for the constitutional revision research project led by Helen Hardacre, Reischauer Institute professor of Japanese religions and society at Harvard University. His most recent publication is an edited volume with Satoshi Machidori, Kenpou kaisei no hikaku seijigaku [Comparative Politics of Constitutional Revision] published by Koubundou Press in 2016. Read more »

G20, Global Health, and China

by Yanzhong Huang Tuesday, August 16, 2016
A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou (Aly Song/Reuters) A man rides an electronic bike past a billboard for the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou (Aly Song/Reuters)

New Yorkers who have been used to the annual UNGA sessions (which typically last two weeks and attract over one hundred heads of state and government) in September will probably have difficulty understanding why the two-day G20 summit—to be held in Hangzhou early next month—is such a big deal in China, as tight security measures appear to be causing a great deal of inconvenience to local residents. These measures can be rationalized when we take into account the fact that this will be the first ever G20 summit hosted in China and the second international summit since President Xi Jinping took the reins of the Chinese Communist Party and the military in 2012. Read more »

Cambodia’s Democratic Transition Has Collapsed, With Dangerous Consequences

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, August 16, 2016
cambodia Tens of thousands of people attend a funeral procession to carry the body of Kem Ley, an anti-government figure and the head of a grassroots advocacy group, "Khmer for Khmer" who was shot dead on July 10, to his hometown, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 24, 2016. (Samrang Pring/Reuters)

As Cambodia prepares for national elections in two years, its politics have veered dangerously out of control. Even though young Cambodians are demanding political alternatives and accessing more information outside of state media, the country’s transition toward two-party politics has collapsed. The government’s brutal tactics of the 1990s and early 2000s, when political activists were routinely murdered and opposition parties nearly put out of business, have returned. Young Cambodians may be left with no outlet for their grievances, creating a potentially explosive situation, especially given the promise of reform and dialogue just a few years ago. Read more »

A Constitution Like Air

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith Monday, August 15, 2016
Members of the protest group Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy s (SEALDs) shout slogans during a protest outside parliament in Tokyo, August 21, 2015 (Thomas Peter/REUTERS). Members of the protest group Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy s (SEALDs) shout slogans during a protest outside parliament in Tokyo, August 21, 2015 (Thomas Peter/REUTERS).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Karin Koretsune is a graduate student at Japan Women’s University [Nihon Joshi Daigaku] and a member of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy s (SEALDs).[1] She is the author of Nihon joshidaisei no yononaka wocchi [A Woman College Student’s View of Japan] (2014). Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of August 12, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, August 12, 2016
A Thai electoral worker starts counting ballots at a polling station during a constitutional referendum vote in Bangkok, Thailand August 7, 2016. REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa A Thai electoral worker starts counting ballots at a polling station during a constitutional referendum vote in Bangkok, Thailand on August 7, 2016. (Kerek Wongsa/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Sherry Cho, Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, and Gabriella Meltzer look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. New Thai constitution passed in referendum. In their first opportunity to vote since the 2014 military coup that toppled Yingluck Shinawatra’s democratically-elected government, the Thai people gave a resounding “yes” to the new military-drafted constitution. The results, with over 61 percent voting in favor, may not have been surprising given that the junta did its all to drown out the opposition, arresting and detaining dozens of activists and politicians in the lead-up to the vote. Experts were also quick to point out that approval did not equal widespread endorsement of the junta, as most people had never even seen a draft of the document and merely wanted a return to political normalcy. Read more »