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Asia Unbound

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

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Kazuo Aichi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
(Liberal Democratic Party) (Liberal Democratic Party)

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. 

The next four essays present the views of leading Japanese legislators on constitutional revision.  I invited each to share their thoughts with us, and all four graciously agreed to comment in Japanese. I have translated the essays into English for an audience largely unfamiliar with Japanese politics. For readers with greater in-depth knowledge of Japan, I have included the original Japanese-language essay as reference.

Our first reflection today is by former Lower House Member Kazuo Aichi, a long time leader of the Liberal Democratic Party’s deliberations on constitutional revision. Before he retired in 2009, Aichi served for eight terms (from 1976-2000), representing the first district constituency of Miyagi prefecture, and returned to office in 2005 for his final term. In the Diet, he served as director of the Special Research Commission on the Constitution in the Lower House. Today, he serves as secretary general of the Caucus for A New Japanese Constitution, a cross party group of legislators led by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in support of constitutional revision.

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Voters Give Abe an Opening for Constitutional Debate

by Sheila A. Smith
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd L), who is also leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), smiles with LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada (R), Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki (2nd R) and Vice-President Masahiko Komura as they put a rosette on the name of a candidate who is expected to win the upper house election (REUTERS/Toru Hanai). Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd L), who is also leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), smiles with LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada (R), Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki (2nd R) and Vice-President Masahiko Komura as they put a rosette on the name of a candidate who is expected to win the upper house election (REUTERS/Toru Hanai).

This blog post is part of a series entitled Will Japanese Change Their Constitution?, in which leading experts discuss the prospects for revising Japan’s postwar constitution. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 8, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Dhaka-ceremony People attend a candle light vigil for the victims of the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery and the O'Kitchen Restaurant, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 3, 2016. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

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

1. Dhaka attacks designed to “reverberate globally.” Bangladesh is still reeling from last Friday when at least five Bangladeshi men stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s affluent Gulshan neighborhood and unleashed horror within. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of June 17, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe bows deeply as he delivers his resignation speech at Tokyo metropolitan government assembly session in Tokyo, Japan on June 15, 2016. (Toru Hanai/Reuters) Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe bows deeply as he delivers his resignation speech at Tokyo metropolitan government assembly session in Tokyo, Japan on June 15, 2016. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)

Lincoln Davidson, Bochen Han, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, Ayumi Teraoka, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Prominent Chinese lawyer facing possibility of lifetime imprisonment. The Chinese police have recommended prosecution on a charge of “subverting state power” for Zhou Shifeng, director of the Beijing Fengrui Law Firm whose arrest last summer invigorated a campaign to discredit and dismantle networks of rights-focused defense lawyers who have attempted to challenge the government. Zhou’s law firm took on many contentious cases about legal rights, representing the likes of dissident artist Ai Weiwei and Uighur academic Ilham Tohti. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of June 10, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Vietnam-fish-protests Demonstrators, holding signs, say they are demanding cleaner waters in the central regions after mass fish deaths in recent weeks, in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 1, 2016. (Kham/Reuters)

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

1. Poisoned Vietnamese fish fuel popular discontent. A massive die-off of fish has occurred along 120 miles of coastline in Vietnam, where hundreds of residents in traditional fishing villages have fallen ill from eating the poisoned catch. Read more »

A Personal Reflection on Today in Hiroshima

by Sheila A. Smith
President Barack Obama, flanked by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, talks with atomic bomb survivor Sunao Tsuboi (Toru Hanai/REUTERS). President Barack Obama, flanked by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, talks with atomic bomb survivor Sunao Tsuboi (Toru Hanai/REUTERS).

I woke up early this morning, before 4 a.m. in fact, to head to NPR to be live when President Barack Obama spoke in Hiroshima. As I drove across a dark and quiet Washington, DC, the president was already beginning what has to be his most moving speech to date. As my city was waking up, the entire Japanese nation was listening to our president, the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the atomic bombings. If you have not heard it, you should take a moment to read it here. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of May 20, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Sri-Lanka-floods Villagers pull a boat with people after rescuing them on a flooded road in Biyagama, Sri Lanka, May 17, 2016. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Sri Lanka reeling from massive flooding and mudslides. Sri Lanka is currently experiencing its heaviest rains in twenty-five years, leading to flooding and landslides that have devastated twenty-one out of the country’s twenty-five districts. The death toll as of today has reached nearly seventy people, over 300,000 have been displaced from their homes, and 220 families are still reported missing beneath the mud, which in some places reaches up to thirty feet. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of May 13, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Philippines-transgender-congress Geraldine Roman, a transgender congressional candidate, waves to her supporters as confetti rains during a “Miting de Avance” (last political campaign rally) for the national election in Orani town, Bataan province, north of Manila in the Philippines, May 6, 2016. (Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Theresa Lou, Gabriella Meltzer, and Gabriel Walker look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Philippine congress gains its first transgender member. Despite the country’s discriminatory laws against gay and transgender people, Liberal Party candidate Geraldine Roman received more than 60 percent of the vote in her home province of Bataan in northern Philippines. Roman comes from a long line of politicians, and will take the congressional seat occupied by her mother during the previous three terms. Read more »

Anti-Nuclear Sentiment and Japan’s Energy Choices

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith
Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited's Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility is pictured in Rokkasho village, Aomori prefecture, Japan, December 4, 2015 (Kentaro Hamada/REUTERS). Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited's Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility is pictured in Rokkasho village, Aomori prefecture, Japan, December 4, 2015 (Kentaro Hamada/REUTERS).

Daniel P. Aldrich is professor of political science and public policy and co-director of Northeastern University’s Security and Resilience Studies Program. Read more »