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

The way forward in US–North Korea negotiations

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam 27 February 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Leah Millis).

Author: Nobumasa Akiyama, Hitotsubashi University

The breakdown of the second US–North Korea summit in February surprised the international community. But there was an unbridgeable rift between the two on the goals to be pursued through the denuclearisation process. Bewilderment felt by many observers stemmed from reports on US President Donald Trump’s extreme optimism and on speculation that North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un would not have travelled to Vietnam unless he were confident of success. Read more…

The politics of riots in the Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands' prime minister Manasseh Sogavare speaks to the media outside Parliament House in capital Honiara 4 May 2006 (Photo: Reuters/Walter Nalangu).

Author: Jon Fraenkel, Victoria University of Wellington

Riots erupted in Honiara on 24 April after Manasseh Sogavare was elected Prime Minister of the Soloman Islands for the fourth time. In protest, angry crowds hurling rocks descended on Chinatown and vandalised the Pacific Casino Hotel, as they had also done in the aftermath of the 2006 elections. Read more…

Do we need new rules for China at the WTO?

A man walks past a billboard which celebrates China's accession into the World Trade Organization in Beijing, 9 December 2002 (Photo: AP Photo/Greg Baker).

Authors: Henry Gao, SMU, and Weihuan Zhou, UNSW

As it enters its 25th year of existence, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is facing its biggest crisis. Who are the culprits? Some say it is the rise of protectionism, especially the unilateralism of the United States. Others say it is the proliferation of regional trade agreements, especially the mega-regionals. But increasingly more commentators are pointing to China as the biggest threat to the multilateral trading system. Read more…

Japan’s rather modern monarchy

Japanese Emperor Akihito, accompanied by Empress Michiko, visits the Kodomonokuni park in Yokohama, Friday 12 April 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

On Tuesday 30 April 2019, Japan’s Emperor Akihito will abdicate bringing an end to the Heisei (‘achieving peace’) era (1989–2019). The next day, Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne to become the 126th emperor of the world’s oldest monarchy and the new era of Reiwa (‘beautiful harmony’) will begin. But in a modern and democratic Japan, does the monarchy really matter?

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Japan’s Reiwa era may be less than harmonious

Japanese Emperor Akihito (R) makes a speech as Crown Prince Naruhito stands next to him during a public appearance at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, 2 January 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon).

Author: Noriko Kawamura, Washington State University

When Japan’s Emperor Akihito abdicates on Tuesday 30 April 2019 the gengo — or era name — of Heisei (‘achieving peace’) under his 1989–2019 reign will come to an end. A new era will begin when his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, ascends the throne on 1 May. The new era will be known as Reiwa (‘beautiful harmony’) as revealed by the Abe Cabinet to an eagerly awaiting Japanese public on 1 April.

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Filling the post-Heisei void

Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko receive Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko during a celebration marking 60th anniversary of their wedding at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan 10 April 2019. Photo (Imperial Household Agency of Japan/Handout via Reuters).

Author: Jeff Kingston, Temple University, Japan Campus

Emperor Akihito is a tough act to follow. He is known as the people’s emperor because he brought the monarchy closer to the people by sharing the pain of those displaced by disaster and advocating on behalf of the vulnerable and marginalised. This included people suffering from Hansen’s disease as well as the mentally and physically handicapped. His reign contrasted that of Emperor Showa (Hirohito) who was aloof and awkward in fulfilling his public duties in post-war Japan. Read more…

Can India beat the clock in modernising maritime commerce?

Mobile cranes prepare to stack containers at Thar Dry Port in Sanand in the western state of Gujarat, India, 10 February 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave/File Photo).

Author: Pratnashree Basu, Observer Research Foundation

The Indian government’s Sagarmala programme aims to boost the country’s commercial maritime capacity. Launched in 2015 and to be developed over a period of twenty years, the initiative represents the government’s single most essential recognition that ports handle 90 per cent of the country’s exit cargo by volume and 70 per cent by value. The main driver of the project is port-led development (which indicates a much larger scope and scale than port development alone). This involves a massive upheaval of port infrastructure, modernisation, industrialisation and enhanced connectivity. Read more…

Akihito will be remembered as an emperor of the people

Japan's Emperor Akihito is led by a Shinto priest after visiting the tomb of his late father Hirohito to report his abdication at the Musashino Imperial Mausoleum in Tokyo, Japan 23 April 2019, (Photo: Koji Sasahara/Pool via Reuters).

Author: Andrew Horvat, Tokyo

When Emperor Hirohito passed away 30 years ago, the only thing known for certain about the late monarch’s views was that he treasured his memories of a visit to Disneyland. This was known for sure because of a photograph of Hirohito taking part in a rice-planting ceremony which showed him wearing a Mickey Mouse watch. On all other matters, the monarch’s views were received indirectly, through the statements of those who claimed to have spoken with him.

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North Korean arrogance is not a strategy

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his delegation members attend a meeting with Russian counterparts at Far East Federal University on Russky Island in Vladivostok, Russia, 25 April 2019 (Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool via Reuters).

Author: Leif-Eric Easley, Ewha Womans University

North Korea is adjusting its posture after an inconclusive second summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in Hanoi in February 2019. The two leaders continue to praise their personal relationship, leaving the door open for a third summit. However, Trump and Kim are calling on each other to make a ‘courageous’ decision, meaning the other side should do more than they offered for less than they asked for in Vietnam. Read more…

Can sporting mega-events bring change to Japan?

Japan team group (JPN) Rugby : Japan's Rugby World Cup Training Squad (RWCTS) camp in Chiba, Japan. 15 APRIL 2019, (Photo by Reuters, YUTAKA/AFLO SPORT).

Author: Helen Macnaughtan, SOAS University of London

Japan will host the Rugby World Cup (RWC2019) this year, the first Asian nation to do so in the competition’s history. Next year, Japan hosts the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo2020) for the second time, after also being the first Asian hosts of the event in 1964. Reflecting on the legacy of Tokyo 1964 reveals the potential impact these upcoming sports mega-events could bring.

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Building a better Belt and Road

A map illustrating China's silk road economic belt and the 21st century maritime silk road, or the so-called "One Belt, One Road" megaproject, is displayed at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China 18 January 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

Author: Prabir De, RIS New Delhi

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was originally unveiled in 2013 as ‘One Belt, One Road’. To date, 93 countries have formally endorsed the initiative, making up 65 per cent of the global population.

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Managing Abe’s ministerial mishaps

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters before he leaves the Tokyo International Airport to Paris with the new government plane Boeing 777 for a eight-day visit to European and North American countries on 22 April 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Yoshio Tsunoda).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

The Abe administration has been beset by two high-profile ministerial resignations in recent weeks and a third called for by the opposition. Read more…

Looking beyond the good economic news in Bangladesh

Activists of leftist alliance cover their mouth with black cloths as they join in a rally to demand a new election under caretaker government, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 3 January 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain).

Author: Ali Riaz, Illinois State University

Bangladesh’s economy will continue its high growth into 2020 according to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank. This comforts the government, serving as a morale booster for the ruling Awami League (AL). AL is being criticised for their part in the questionable December 2018 election, widely described by global commentators as ‘farcical’. Read more…

Can India’s media shield the election from fake news?

Staff members of the fact checking website, "Alt News", check photos and videos posted on social media platforms inside their office in Ahmedabad, India, 1 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/ Amit Dave).

Author: Usha M Rodrigues, Deakin University

Some of India’s biggest selling newspapers have taken out full-page advertisements to interrogate the role of social media in providing readers with credible information during the 2019 election period. The advertisements proclaim ‘if we don’t have the facts, we don’t print the news’. Read more…

Is poor governance behind the Philippine water crisis?

Water drops from a public artesian well in Muntinlupa City, south of Manila, 17 April 2007. Elevated areas in some parts of Manila dependent on deep wells for drinking water may run dry by 2025 (Photo: Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo).

Author: Agnes C Rola, University of the Philippines Los Baños

The reeling water problem currently facing cities in the Philippines is an outcome of at least three factors, mostly ignored in policy fora. These are poor planning, fragmented and multiple institutions governing the water sector, and a lack of coherence in water property rights and responsibilities. Read more…