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Asia Unbound

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Showing posts for "Japan"

Honoring the Life of Kenji Goto

by Sheila A. Smith
People holding placards take part a vigil in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, January 30, 2015. Japan and Jordan were working closely on Friday to find out what had happened to two of their nationals being held by Islamic State, after a deadline passed for the release of a would-be suicide bomber being held on death row in Amman. Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST) People holding placards take part a vigil in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo on January 30, 2015 (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters).

Kenji Goto, the freelance journalist taken hostage by ISIS, was reportedly murdered this weekend, and a video released by the terrorist organization claimed that “Japan’s nightmare had begun.” Prime Minister Abe ordered his government to intensify security at home and do all it could to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens abroad. The Prime Minister also announced that, despite ISIS’ threat of retaliation, his country would increase the amount of medical and food aid dedicated to those fleeing from Syria and Iraq. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 23, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his official residence in Tokyo January 23, 2015. It is an unlikely friendship that ties the fates of war correspondent Kenji Goto and troubled loner Haruna Yukawa, the two Japanese hostages for whom Islamic State militants demanded a $200 million ransom this week. (Yuya Shino/Courtesy Reuters) Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his official residence in Tokyo January 23, 2015. It is an unlikely friendship that ties the fates of war correspondent Kenji Goto and troubled loner Haruna Yukawa, the two Japanese hostages for whom Islamic State militants demanded a $200 million ransom this week. (Yuya Shino/Courtesy Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, Ariella Rotenberg, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. The fate of Japanese ISIS hostages still unknown. The fate of two Japanese hostages captured this past Tuesday by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) remains unclear. The terrorist organization released a video on Tuesday threatening to kill Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa in seventy-two hours unless Japan paid a ransom of $200 million; that deadline expired early Friday morning with no news of their status. ISIS captured Haruna Yakawa, the founder of a private security company, in northern Syria in August 2014. Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist, arrived in Syria in late October with the aim of establishing contact with ISIS in hopes that he could convince them to release Yukawa. Friday morning, Goto’s mother held a news conference asking the Japanese government to save her son. Read more »

China, Japan, and the Twenty-One Demands

by Yanzhong Huang
Chinese (L) and Japanese Buddhist monks pray next to candles during a memorial ceremony on the 77th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, December 13, 2014. China and Japan should set aside hatred and not allow the minority who led Japan to war to affect relations now, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday, as the country marked its first national memorial day for the Nanjing Massacre. Picture taken December 13, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Chinese (L) and Japanese Buddhist monks pray next to candles during a memorial ceremony on the 77th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre, in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, December 13, 2014. China and Japan should set aside hatred and not allow the minority who led Japan to war to affect relations now, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday, as the country marked its first national memorial day for the Nanjing Massacre. Picture taken December 13, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Compared with the high-profile national Memorial Day for the Nanjing Massacre last month, the date January 18 passed uneventfully. Chinese media appeared to have forgotten that one hundred years ago, on exactly that day, Japan presented Chinese President Yuan Shikai (Yuan Shih-Kai) with requests that would have turned China into a de facto Japanese protectorate. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of January 16, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Pope Francis waves to the Catholic faithful as he arrives for a meeting with Filipino families in Manila January 16, 2015. Pope Francis called on the Philippine government on Friday to tackle corruption and hear the cries of the poor suffering from "scandalous social inequalities" in Asia's most Catholic country. The Pope arrived the Philippines on Thursday for a five-day visit, the second and last leg of his week-long Asian tour. REUTERS/ Stefano Rellandini ( PHILIPPINES - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS SOCIETY) Pope Francis waves to the Catholic faithful as he arrives for a meeting with Filipino families in Manila on January 16, 2015 (Stefano Rellandini/Courtesy Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, Ariella Rotenberg, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Pope Francis visits Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The pope made his second trip to Asia in less than two years, a sign of his “interest and pastoral concern for the people of that vast continent,” visiting Sri Lanka and Philippines (which have Catholic populations of 6 percent and 81 percent, respectively). His first stop was Colombo, where he preached peace and reconciliation and said that Sri Lanka must heal divisions from the country’s twenty-five year civil war. After holding mass in the capital, Francis traveled to Tamil territory in the north to visit the Our Lady of Madhu shrine, a Catholic pilgrimage site. It was the first visit by a pope to the region. In the Philippines, Asia’s only predominately Christian country, the pope denounced corruption and reasserted the Catholic Church’s opposition to artificial contraception. Francis will hold three masses in the capital of Manila and in Tacloban, the province most affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 19, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A child stands behind candles, lit for the victims of the attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 19, 2014 (Ahktar Soomro/Courtesy: Reuters). A child stands behind candles, lit for the victims of the attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 19, 2014 (Ahktar Soomro/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, Ariella Rotenberg, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Pakistan engulfed in anger and grief after the Taliban kills 132 schoolchildren and sixteen teachers. Members of the Pakistani Taliban attacked a military school in Peshawar, killing 132 schoolchildren and 16 teachers, many of them shot at point-blank range and some burned alive. The Taliban claimed that the attack was to avenge Pakistani military operations in the northwest Taliban haven of North Waziristan. Read more »

Another Four Years for Abe

by Sheila A. Smith
An election official stands among unopened ballot boxes at a counting center in Tokyo, December 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Peter) An election official stands among unopened ballot boxes at a counting center in Tokyo, December 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Yesterday’s snap election proved a victory for Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). His ruling coalition, composed of the LDP and Komeito, returned to govern Japan with a two-thirds majority in the Lower House of Parliament and a renewed sense of support for its policy priorities. But with voter turnout at a postwar low, and one-fourth of the seats still in opposition hands, Abe must persuade many Japanese that he can do what he has promised to revive their economy. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 12, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) reads a joint statement as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi watches after their delegation level talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on December 11, 2014. (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) reads a joint statement as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi watches after their delegation level talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on December 11, 2014. (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, William Piekos, Ariella Rotenberg, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Liu Tienan sentenced to life in prison. Liu Tienan, former deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission and former head of the National Energy Administration, was convicted of bribery and sentenced to life in prison. He was one of the first officials to be singled out by President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption campaign and is among the highest-ranking officials to be imprisoned. Liu admitted to accepting bribes valued at 35 million yuan (approximately US$5.7 million) from 2002 to 2012. Read more »

Electoral Landslide With an Ambiguous Mandate

by Sheila A. Smith
A staff member of an election campaign prepares for their stumping for Japan's upcoming Dec. 14 lower house election, at a election candidate's campaign office in Tokyo December 11, 2014. The words written on white paper read, "Pray for Victory". (Courtesy Reuters/Issei Kato) A staff member of an election campaign prepares for their stumping for Japan's upcoming Dec. 14 lower house election, at a election candidate's campaign office in Tokyo December 11, 2014. The words written on white paper read, "Pray for Victory". (Courtesy Reuters/Issei Kato)

This Sunday, parliamentary elections in Japan are widely expected to return Prime Minister Abe and his ruling coalition to power. Japanese media polling data point to a victory for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of over 300 of the 475 Lower House seats, and with an additional 30 or more seats expected for the Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, this would give the current government a comfortable basis from which to govern. It is even possible that Mr. Abe’s government will retain its two-thirds majority, allowing his next government broad legislative support for his policy agenda. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of November 21, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
China?s President Xi Jinping (L) listens as Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks after a signing ceremony for a free trade deal at Parliament House in Canberra November 17, 2014. China and Australia on Monday signed a declaration of intent on a landmark free trade deal more than a decade in the making, opening up markets worth billions to Australia and loosening restrictions on Chinese investment. Xi is on a three-day official visit to Australia following the G20 leaders summit which was held in Brisbane over the weekend. REUTERS/David Gray (AUSTRALIA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) China's President Xi Jinping (L) listens as Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks after a signing ceremony for a free trade deal at Parliament House in Canberra on November 17, 2014. (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Japan slips into recession, dissolves lower house. New economic data released Monday morning showed that Japan had lapsed into recession, striking yet another serious blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s vaunted economic recovery policy and leading some to ask if this is the end of Abenomics. In a bid to win popular mandate for his economic policies, Abe announced he would delay a planned increase to the national sales tax and dissolve the lower house of Japan’s parliament. On Friday afternoon, lawmakers in the house of representatives chanted “Banzai!” as they disbanded. Snap elections are expected to take place in mid-December, and while Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party may lose a number of seats, they are overwhelmingly expected to maintain their majority and could potentially increase their power. Read more »

Another Election in Tokyo

by Sheila A. Smith
Passers-by are reflected on an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei stock average and the Japanese yen's exchange rate against the U.S. dollar (top) at a brokerage in Tokyo, November 17, 2014. Japan's Nikkei share average tumbled 2.6 percent to a one-week low on Monday morning after Japan's economy unexpectedly slipped into recession. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that he will postpone a planned consumption tax increase in an effort to stimulate Japan's economy. (Courtesy Reuters) Passers-by are reflected on an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei stock average and the Japanese yen's exchange rate against the U.S. dollar (top) at a brokerage in Tokyo, November 17, 2014. Japan's Nikkei share average tumbled 2.6 percent to a one-week low on Monday morning after Japan's economy unexpectedly slipped into recession. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that he will postpone a planned consumption tax increase in an effort to stimulate Japan's economy. (Courtesy Reuters)

Snap elections are a staple of parliamentary democracy, and every now and then, ruling politicians decide that an election is needed to ensure that they continue to have a popular mandate if they change course. Prime Minister Abe has just announced he will dissolve the Diet on November 21, and hold a snap election in December to gain the Japanese public’s endorsement of his leadership of Japan’s economic recovery. Prompted by worse than expected economic results for the third quarter of this year, Abe has decided to postpone a second tax hike that would have raised the consumption tax to 10 percent, and instead focus on stimulating Japan’s economy. Read more »