Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

Korean leadership in the G20 and the U.S.-ROK alliance

Author: Scott Snyder, Asia Foundation

As global leaders convened in Pittsburgh to address the global economic crisis for the third time in less than a year, there is cause for both optimism and a heavy sense of responsibility to sustain early signs of a global recovery.

Follow-up measures from Pittsburgh within the G20 will fall primarily to South Korea as the chair and host of G20 meetings during 2010 shifts from London to Seoul. This development will mark a significant symbolic turning point in global governance, as South Korea will be the first non-G8 country to hold those responsibilities Read more…

The Japan-Thailand economic partnership agreement: Utilization and implementation issues from the perspective of Thailand

Author: Somkiat Tangkitvanich, TDRI

The Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) became effective in November 2007. Another treaty signed between both parties, and ASEAN members, resulted in the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP). Most of the benefits from these treaties are expected to arise from two components: preferential tariff reductions and cooperation programs.

What are the benefits of both Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) from the perspective of Thailand? What are the obstacles preventing them from being fully utilised? This short blog looks at these questions, and then makes some policy recommendations aimed at improving implementation of these FTAs.

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Waiting for G20: India upbeat one year later

Author, Rajendra Abhyankar, Asia Foundation

For a country where job-creation has always been more important than wealth creation, the idea of a jobless recovery just does not exist. To meet the needs of its vast population, 65 per cent of whom are below age 35, the government is under constant pressure to create (literally) new jobs and succeeds by bringing in 12 to 15 million jobs each year. Yet, India is running to standstill. Hence the crucial importance of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) that assures 100 days employment to every able-bodied person in the countryside. With the economic forecast looking up, the scheme has just been restructured to cover a larger segment of the population.

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Australia and China and the mutual benefits of the relationship

Author: Richard Rigby, ANU China Institute

There are many ways in which a relationship can be mutually beneficial – diplomatically, politically, commercially, educationally, economically. As someone who’s been involved in the Australia-China relationship in one way or another since the beginning of the 1970s, I’m struck by how one can now tick more and more items off, and add new one’s to the list.

The decision to establish relations in late 1972 with the election of the Whitlam government was clearly mutually beneficial, otherwise we wouldn’t have done it.

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North Korea – the US still caught between speaking with the enemy and listening to allies

Author: Jonas Parello-Plesner

Barack Obama: ‘America … has to talk with its enemies.’ ‘[It] requires allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other’.

North Korea is a litmus test for Obama’s foreign policy tenets. On the one hand, Obama promised to speak with the enemy to bring new results in foreign policy. Read more…

Responses to Hatoyama’s middle-power diplomacy

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan

The recent piece by Tobias Harris on Hatoyama’s middle power diplomacy warrants some further discussion.

Tobias Harris says: ‘Okada described Clinton as ‘not obstinate’ when it came to hearing the DPJ government’s concerns’.

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China turns 60 – Weekly editorial

Author: Peter Drysdale

In a few days the People’s Republic of China celebrates is sixtieth anniversary. Over the coming week we have invited leaders and scholars inside and outside China to reflect on where China has come over the past sixty years and where it might be headed in the future. We begin the series with reflections by former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, on the impact of Deng Xiaoping’s commitment to opening up on Australia and the rest of the world. He claims, rightly I believe, that, as China embarked upon its remarkable transformation, Australia developed an exceptional relationship with China, the strength of which has been remarked upon and valued not only because of the mutual benefits it has brought to both Australia and China but also by other powers as they sought to comprehend and manage China’s emerging role in the world. Read more…

Looking back on China’s relations with Australia

Author: Bob Hawke, former Australian Prime Minister

Next week will see the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the ‘new China’, the People’s Republic of China. No country other than China has a greater reason to look back with gratification and satisfaction over those 60 years of the remarkable development of China, than Australia. We have been an extraordinary beneficiary of China’s economic growth. Read more…

Hatoyama’s middle-power diplomacy in New York

Author: Tobias Harris

It may be too early to declare that the Obama administration and the Hatoyama cabinet have successfully managed the transition from LDP to DPJ, but this week was clearly a step in the right direction.

At the start of the week, Foreign Minister Okada Katsuya and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in New York City, which, at least according to this Asahi report, entailed a frank and open discussion of the two most pressing issues for the alliance, Japan’s refueling mission in support of coalition activities in Afghanistan and the Futenma question. Read more…

Deciding who decides at the G20 summit

Author: Nina Hachigian, Center for American Progress & Bruce Jones, Brookings Institution

The agenda for this week’s meeting of the Group of 20 developed and developing nations is full, but when the leaders of all these countries sit down in Pittsburgh to discuss banking regulation, energy and poverty alleviation, one question will not be on the table—the question of who should be at the table in the first place.

Deciding which nations will sit at the global decision-making table is more politically charged than whether to tie bankers’ bonuses to the risks they take or whether countries can and should stop subsidizing fossil fuel consumption. Resolving which nations will try to forge consensus on these and other critical questions, however, is key to determining whether any resolving actually gets done.

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Hatoyama victory a watershed in Japanese post-war history: a view on the Japanese election from China

Author: Liu Jiangyong, Tsinghua University

The 45th Japanese general election was held in August 2009. As a result the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), in power since 1955, was ousted and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to power for the very first time. This election result reflected the deep dissatisfaction amongst the majority of the Japanese voters towards the LDP and their strong desire for reform. The Japanese election seemed much like a re-run of last year’s U.S. general election. Hatoyama has assumed the mantle as the Japanese version of Obama. Despite the DPJ having no experience in governing the country, the Japanese public feel that any replacement of the LDP is welcome.

This election brings about three major changes in the Japanese political and social landscape. Firstly, it has spelt the end of the long dominance of the LDP in Japan’s multiparty political system. This has increased the possibility of regular transitions in power between the two conservative political forces of the LDP and DPJ.

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Japan eyes North Korea’s charm offensive

Author: Amy King, Oxford University

On August 4, the North Korean regime released two detained American journalists after former US President Bill Clinton’s visit to Pyongyang. Clinton’s surprise visit to North Korea was, at best, bittersweet for Japan. The US has consistently exhorted Japan to use the six-party framework to resolve its abduction issue, so Clinton’s ‘humanitarian’ visit to North Korea appeared hypocritical to Japan. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Kawamura Takeo, welcomed the release of the two US journalists and thanked Clinton for pressing North Korea on the Japanese abduction issue. However, the Japanese press was not nearly so magnanimous and was quick to link the Clinton visit to Japan’s ineffectual handling of the North Korean abduction issue. The Japan Times ran with the headline ‘Clinton’s success highlights Japan’s abductees failure’, while Japan Today questioned why Japan did not have its own Clinton to deal with North Korea.

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G20 are trying to hit ambitious greenhouse gas goals while obeying political constraints

Author: Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard

National leaders are meeting at the United Nations in New York to discuss climate change negotiations. Talks are continuing at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh. But hopes look very bleak for progress sufficient to produce at Copenhagen in December a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. The biggest roadblock is the familiar game of ‘After you, Alphonse.’ The United States will not accept quantitative emission targets unless China, India and other developing countries do the same, at the same time. But the developing countries will not cut their emissions below the Business as Usual path (BAU) unless the rich countries go first.

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Japan under the DPJ

Author: Hitoshi Tanaka, JCIE

Despite widespread predictions of a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) defeat, the result of the August 30 general election in Japan was nevertheless stunning. Not only is the LDP no longer the dominant party in the Diet for the first time since the party’s establishment in 1955, its seat total in the Lower House plunged from 300 (out of a total of 480) before the election to 119 after. In stark contrast, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)—the perennial opposition party in the Lower House—raised its presence there by a remarkable 191 seats, for a total of 308. Together with its plurality (109 of 242 seats) in the Upper House, this means that the DPJ now controls 417 (or roughly 58 percent) of 722 seats in the Diet. This paved the way for DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama to be voted in as Prime Minister on September 16. Such a dramatic change in the makeup of the government after five decades of essentially single-party rule will undoubtedly have important implications for Japan’s domestic politics and foreign policy.

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Four challenges in Pittsburgh for the G20

Author: Uri Dadush, Carnegie Endowment

The Great Financial Crisis is far from over, but a stimulus-triggered recovery is now taking hold. The contours of the post-crisis economy are already emerging—from the sharply rising public debt levels in most industrial countries to the severely impaired balance sheets of banks and households in countries at the epicenter of the banking disaster, including the United States, the UK, and several smaller European countries. At the same time, China, India, Brazil, and many other emerging markets, which were badly affected at first, demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of the crisis and have confirmed both their attractiveness as long-term investment destinations and their growing economic and political clout.

The upcoming G20 summit, which will bring together leaders of the largest developing and industrial economies, was born of the crisis, and is the best available option to deal with the post-crisis world. Read more…