Domestic politics trumps diplomacy: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has taken a strong line on Korea to boost his approval ratings
Leaders on both sides need to see the advantages of long-term close relations over fractious bickering
The relationships among the United States, China and Japan have emerged as the world’s most important trilateral network. China’s political system and ideology are unlikely to converge with those of the US and Japan, which means mutual distrust will remain for the long term. But with the strong and assured leadership of Prime Minister Abe, Japan could be the lynchpin the keeps US-China relations from going off the rails, writes Yoshikazu Kato, Adjunct Associate Professor at the Asia Global Institute, The University of Hong Kong.
Japan’s interwar period between 1925 and 1937 was marked by a gradual backsliding in the liberal democratic political system that had developed since the Meiji Constitution was adopted in 1889. Hiroyuki Yamamoto of Tokyo International University draws parallels between the heightened partisan politics of that time that gave way to anti-democratic forces and the unchecked party competition today in many countries including the US.
This month, G20 leaders will endorse guiding principles for “quality infrastructure investment”, a priority for Japan. China’s support of these principles signals a willingness to address criticism of its Belt and Road Initiative. China and Japan, rivals in delivering high-speed rail, appear open to collaborating on projects that would meet high sustainability standards, writes Motoko Aizawa, President of the Observatory for Sustainable Infrastructure, who for 12 years headed the Policy and Standards Unit in the Environmental and Social Department of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The Asia-Pacific population has been undergoing dramatic aging, which is transforming the region’s demographic landscape beyond recognition. The region is currently ill-equipped to meet this critical challenge, particularly due to a lack of sound and efficient pension systems.
Japan has traditionally imposed one of the most stringent immigration policies among developed nations. But with aging demographics, its increasingly critical labor shortage is prompting more radical approaches, including relaxing a virtual ban on unskilled workers.
The Asia-Pacific casino sector has undergone many changes in the past 15 years. The success of Macao and Singapore has encouraged other regional jurisdictions, such as Japan, to follow suit. The recent passage of Japan’s legalization bill caused heated debate across Japanese society, but stakeholders can engage the community to achieve positive outcomes.
The 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami have caused ordinary Japanese to reevaluate their trust in the food supply. Skeptical of government assurances, consumers turned to private actors, who stepped up their regulatory efforts to fill the trust gap.
Over the past couple of decades, Japan has indicated its desire to play a bigger role in Central Asia and has gradually increased its developmental efforts in the region. However, Japan’s engagement in the region remains overwhelmingly government-driven. To make a bigger impact, it must increase private sector participation.
Undersea cables are the bedrock of the global communications system. Yet, they are severely under-protected. Damage to these cables could create havoc. It is of urgent importance that governments and non-state actors work together to build a framework to ensure the security of such key infrastructure.
Having pursued growth at all costs for decades, the world now faces widespread environmental degradation. In Japan, this is compounded by a demographic crisis driven by a shrinking population. Contrary to conventional understanding, this may actually present an opportunity for the country to work toward a more sustainable future.
Spearheaded by India and Japan, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor aims to improve intercontinental connectivity. But, as of now, this competing plan to China’s Belt and Road Initiative is only a proposition. To make it a reality, India and Japan must enlist the EU.
Mired in demographic crises, East Asia is looking to new reproductive technologies as a solution. But its restrictive, reluctant embrace of these technologies runs counter to evolving social attitudes.