CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

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

Chinese Human Smuggling and the U.S. Border Security Debate

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Monday, July 18, 2016
The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona, March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Samantha Sais The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona on March 29, 2013. In the past year, the rate of human smuggling from China across certain portions of the U.S.-Mexico Border has increased. (Samantha Sais/Reuters)

Rachel Brown is a research associate for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Migration across the U.S.-Mexico border is the source of polarizing debate in American politics, but rarely is it coupled with another touchy political topic: China. News of an uptick in the number of Chinese citizens smuggled across the border into southern California thus came as a surprise. In June, the San Diego Border Patrol sector reported stopping approximately 663 migrants from China over the past eight months, a 1,281 percent increase from the previous year. Read more »

Natsuo Yamaguchi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith Monday, July 18, 2016
(Komeito) (Komeito)

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. Natsuo Yamaguchi, president of the Komei party, offers a third essay on Japan’s constitution from the perspective of a national legislator. He has served two terms in Japan’s Lower House (1990-1996); three terms in the Upper House (2001-present); and has led his party since 2009. The Komei Party is affiliated with the populist Buddhist organization, the Sokkai Gakkai, and its members have been strongly pacifist since the party formed in 1964 under the leadership of Daisaku Ikeda. The party split in 1994, with some aligning themselves with the New Frontier Party, but came back together as the New Komeito in 1998. As a member of the ruling coalition from 1999-2009 and again from 2012-present, Komeito has been in a unique position to influence the legislative debate over the interpretation of Japan’s constitution. In responding to my invitation, Representative Yamaguchi agreed to share his personal reflections rather than present the official view of his party. Read more »

Hajime Funada: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith Friday, July 15, 2016
(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. This is the second of four essays by Japanese political leaders on constitutional revision. Hajime Funada is also a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who advocates for revision. Since 1979 Funada has served eleven terms in the Lower House, representing the first district constituency of Tochigi prefecture. He served as chair of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution (2014-2015), and played an important role in the Lower House Commission on the Constitution during the deliberations of the Abe cabinet’s new security laws. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of July 15, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 15, 2016
Philippines-decision-waiting Activists watch an announcement by a government official regarding a ruling on the South China Sea disputes by an arbitration court in the Hague at a restaurant in Manila, Philippines, July 12, 2016. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

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

1. Asia reacts to the South China Sea decision. The ruling of the arbitral tribunal in the Philippines’ case against China regarding the South China Sea sent ripples across the region. The Chinese government responded with an unequivocal rejection and state media irately critiqued the tribunal’s award, which included a ruling that China was not entitled to historic rights in the waters and that the Spratly Islands—alone or individually—do not generate any exclusive economic zones. Read more »

Kazuo Aichi: Will the Japanese Change Their Constitution?

by Guest Blogger for Sheila A. Smith Thursday, July 14, 2016
(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. Read more »

The Rise of Modern State Capitalism

by Joshua Kurlantzick Tuesday, July 12, 2016
gazprom Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller attends an annual general meeting of the company's shareholders in Moscow, Russia, on June 30, 2016. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

China’s state-owned enterprises have received the most coverage of any such companies around the world, but they are hardly alone. In fact, although China has been the focus of nearly all discussion of the trend in the West, it is only one player in a new era of state capitalism born over the past decade. Throughout the developing world, many governments are increasing their intervention in their economies. Read more »

Voters Give Abe an Opening for Constitutional Debate

by Sheila A. Smith Monday, July 11, 2016
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 »

Decision Imminent on China-Philippines South China Sea Dispute

by Joshua Kurlantzick Monday, July 11, 2016
philippines-south china sea The BRP Sierra Madre, a marooned transport ship which Philippine Marines live on as a military outpost, is pictured in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on March 30, 2014. (Erik De Castro/Reuters)

Tomorrow, an international tribunal in The Hague is expected to deliver its verdict on the Philippines’ legal case against China’s claims in the South China Sea. Under the previous Aquino administration, Manila launched a case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal, asking for it to rule on whether China’s nine-dashed line claim in the South China Sea was legal under international maritime law, and whether other aspects of Beijing’s claims were legal. Although few other countries paid attention when the case was taken up by the court last year, Vietnam has now rhetorically supported the Philippines’ right to a hearing. Read more »

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

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy Friday, July 8, 2016
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 »