East Asia Forum

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East Asia Forum
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Analysis of economics, politics and public policy in East Asia and the Pacific.

Obama in Japan; Economic Relations March On

Date: 24 May 2016

‘As President of the United States of America, I express my profound apologies for the sufferings inflicted on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atomic bombings’. These, of course, are the words that we are not going to hear Barack Obama speak in Hiroshima on 27 May, when he becomes the first sitting US president to visit the city since the atomic bombings in August 1945.

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Philippine President Duterte Walks the Walk

Date: 24 May 2016

There may be more to the Philippines’ new president Rodrigo Duterte than his tough guy image indicates. In the populist theatrics that are Filipino politics, the overwhelming election of Duterte should not have come as a surprise, even with common, but inaccurate, comparisons to the US presidential candidate Donald Trump. Unlike Trump, Duterte is an active Filipino politician and, unlike Trump, his rhetorical bluster is backed by action.

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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s Election Victory is Relative

Date: 23 May 2016

On 20 May Tsai Ing-wen was inaugurated as president of Taiwan, following her sweeping victory in the January elections. Members of her party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), have already taken up their majority seats in the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament.

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U.S. Interest in India's Defense Needs is Way Up

Date: 23 May 2016

On 10–13 April, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter paid his third visit in just 30 months to India — the seventh by a US Defense Secretary since 2008. The frequency of high-level visits reflects the prominence accorded to New Delhi within the Pentagon’s emerging strategy towards the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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Smaller ASEAN Countries Stand Up to China

Date: 23 May 2016

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s whirlwind tour of Brunei, Cambodia and Laos during 22–24 April 2016 courted support for his country’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. However, the issue of China’s policy in the South China Sea has created a fault line across ASEAN, complicating the unity and effectiveness of the regional grouping.

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ASEAN can still Influence the TPP and OBOR

Date: 20 May 2016

In 2016, Southeast Asia has found itself engaged in proactive regional initiatives led by major powers. The recently signed, but still to be ratified, US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one attempt, while China’s land-based ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ — which together make up its ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative — puts Beijing’s proactive engagement and growing confidence on display.

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Maybe India isn't Interested in American-Style Trade Rules

Date: 20 May 2016

On 2 May 2016, US President Barack Obama published an op-ed in the Washington Post in an attempt to bolster support for the highly controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP has become a political football in the US election primaries, with all of the leading candidates for President expressing their opposition to it.

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Russia's Interest in Asia comes in Below Expectations

Date: 19 May 2016

In early 2014, Russia faced economic sanctions in response to its annexation of Crimea. Many in the country viewed the sanctions as proof that the West has contempt for Russia’s ‘sphere of influence’ in Ukraine and were trying to subvert Russian foreign policy. Responding to this pressure from the West, Moscow turned its attention to the East — specifically, to China.

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Cambodia Needs to Reverse its Race to the Bottom on Rule of Law

Date: 19 May 2016

When the World Justice Project published its rule of law index last year, Cambodia came in at 99 out of 102 countries surveyed, ahead of only Afghanistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. This ranks Cambodia lower than any of its ASEAN peers — even Myanmar achieved better scores.

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Abe Visits Putin, Counter to U.S. Wishes

Date: 18 May 2016

The two most prominent features of Japanese foreign policy are caution and the US alliance. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to travel to Sochi for a summit with President Vladimir Putin on 6 May was therefore remarkable.

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India's Job Creation Data not Reflective of Good Times

Date: 17 May 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of ‘good days’ that underpinned his 2013 election campaign is premised on moving India away from its dole-and-entitlement development model to one that empowers youth by generating large-scale employment. In that context, recently released employment figures from the country’s Labour Bureau are alarming.

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Meanwhile in the Central Philippine Sea

Date: 17 May 2016

While tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea and the disputing governments nervously await a decision in the Philippines’ arbitration case against China, an important sideshow has arisen between Japan and Taiwan in the central Philippine Sea.

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China's Economy: Mostly Planned or Mostly Market

Date: 17 May 2016

There is a recurring question on the nature of China’s economy — is it mostly planned or mostly market? This question has become more concrete this year as China’s partners are scheduled to decide on whether or not to grant China ‘market economy status’. If adopted, this would limit WTO-compatible trade remedies.

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Japan is Aging and Shrinking, but there are Little Signs of Panic

Date: 16 May 2016

The population of Japan peaked in 2008 at 128 million. With the fertility rate — or births per woman — falling below 1.5 at the beginning of the 1990s and falling as low as 1.29 in 2004, the population is shrinking rapidly. Already Japan has one million people fewer than in 2008. The government aims to keep the population above 100 million by 2060.

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Combating India's High Youth Unemployment through Education Reform

Date: 16 May 2016

The Jat reservation agitation has caused considerable social and economic trauma in India, especially in the national capital region around New Delhi. The agitation began as a series of protests in Haryana in February 2016 by the Jat people who were seeking to be included in the list of so-called Backward Classes, which would entitle them to certain affirmative action policies.

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Prioritizing the G7 Countries' Priorties

Date: 16 May 2016

Later this month, Japan will host the 42nd G7 summit. One point of discussion will be Japan’s plan to increase its consumption tax in April 2017. Nobel laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz have come out against this plan, arguing that Japan should hold off on the consumption tax increase.

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But What if You're Already Using Unconventional Monetary Policy?

Date: 13 May 2016

On 29 January 2016, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced its monetary policy for the New Year: quantitative and qualitative monetary easing with a negative interest rate. The policy came as a surprise to money markets. The Nikkei index went up by over 800 points in two days and the yen depreciated sharply against the US dollar.

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India is Giving its Trade Strategies a Rethink

Date: 12 May 2016

India’s approach in negotiating regional and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) is again in sharp focus. Concern is rising over long delays in concluding a number of major agreements of which India is a part. Foremost among these is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) involving the 10 ASEAN economies, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

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Intra-Regional Trade Lagging in South Asia

Date: 11 May 2016

Recent decades have witnessed a growing trend towards regional economic integration. As of February 2016, some 625 notifications of regional trade agreements had been received by the WTO and of these, 419 were in force. However, South Asia is still lagging behind. It remains the least integrated region in the world.

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