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


Washington cannot force Japan and South Korea together

Author: Anthony V Rinna, Sino-NK

Seoul–Tokyo relations under Japan’s new prime minister Fumio Kishida are off to a less-than-promising start. This is no doubt frustrating for the United States, eager to foster reconciliation between two major Indo-Pacific partners.

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Japan needs to step up its COVID-19 testing capacity

Students wearing protective face masks amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, clap along instead of singing a song during a music class at Takanedai Daisan elementary school, which practices various methods of social distancing in order to prevent the infection, in Funabashi, east of Tokyo, Japan 16 July, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kim).

Author: Keiichiro Kobayashi, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

As COVID-19 cases began to mount in Japan in February, it became clear that the government needed to respond with strong policy measures. It was crucial to increase testing capacity and adopt isolation measures to contain the virus and allow economic activity to resume quickly. The Japanese government needed to set and clearly announce a timeline and numerical targets for testing capacity and medical care provision. Read more…

Aegis Ashore and Japan’s constitutional debate

Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono attends a press conference to speak about stopping the deployment procedure of the ground-based interception system 'Aegis Ashore' at Defence Ministry in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo on 25 June 25 2020 (The Yomiuri Shimbun).

Author: Tom Corben, Pacific Forum

Last month, Japan’s Defence Minister Taro Kono made the sudden announcement that Tokyo was abandoning plans to deploy two Aegis Ashore missile defence batteries to sites in northern and southern Honshu. Kono cited significant cost overruns and technical difficulties associated with the trajectory of debris from the system’s booster phase as the core rationales behind the decision.

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Will Yuriko Koike become Japan’s first female PM?

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike gestures as she attends a joint news conference with Japan's Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and other panel members after their talks on the latest situation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan, 10 July, 2020. (Reuters/Issei Kato).

Author: Craig Mark, Kyoritsu Women’s University

The first female governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, was easily re-elected in the gubernatorial poll on 5 July, winning 59.7 per cent of the vote from a 55 per cent turnout. Koike defeated a divided field of a record 21 opposing candidates, securing another four-year term in office. Read more…

Australia and Japan as anchors to regional recovery and cooperation

The Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison shakes hands with the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe during a bilateral meeting ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, 27 June 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Du XiaoyI)

Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU

Australia and Japan have been among the global front runners in managing the COVID-19 health crisis and are positioned to lead the lifting of economic restrictions and economic global recovery, if they are able to contain second wave outbreaks of the pandemic. Read more…

Reimagining global value chains after COVID-19

Author: Shujiro Urata, Waseda University

COVID-19 is exposing the vulnerability of global value chains (GVCs). GVCs contribute to rapid economic growth by enabling multinational corporations to increase their efficiency through fragmented, task-based specialisation. But they are now quickly spreading the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 from China to many other countries. Read more…

Japan, the Olympics and the COVID-19 pandemic

The emblem of the Tokyo Olympic Games at the Tokyo Metropolitan government building, Japan, 11 June 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Yoshio Tsunoda).

Author: Helen Macnaughtan, SOAS University of London

Japan’s path to hosting the Summer Olympics has had more than its fair share of twists and turns. The Tokyo 1940 Olympics were cancelled. Since their inception in 1896 the Olympics have been cancelled only three times: 1916, 1940 and 1944, all in wartime. The Games have weathered political boycotts and acts of terrorism, but in 2020 they have been postponed for the first time because of a pandemic.

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Revitalising Japan’s battered economy post-COVID-19

A crowd of well-wishers visit Ise Grand Shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan on 20 June 2020, one day after the Japanese government lifted its request to refrain from non-essential traveling across prefectural borders. Efforts to explore a ‘new normal’ by striking a balance between resuming activities and preventing infections are now underway (Photo: Reuters/Yomiuri).

Author: Takashi Oshio, Hitotsubashi University

At the end of May, the Japanese government delivered a much larger than expected second supplementary budget, worth 6.2 per cent of GDP (31.9 trillion yen or US$291 billion). Combined with the first supplementary budget (5 per cent of GDP at 25.7 trillion yen or US$234.5 billion), the total fiscal stimulus in response to the COVID-19 shock now amounts to over 11 per cent of Japan’s GDP — the largest in decades. The new package is aimed at extending defensive steps for the most affected individuals and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Read more…

Low levels of digitalisation are a barrier to telework in Japan


Author: Hiroaki Richard Watanabe, University of Sheffield

Despite its ‘high-tech’ image, Japan is in many ways relatively ‘low-tech’. While companies and governments in many countries shifted to ‘telework’ or ‘work from home’ to cope with the spread of COVID-19, many Japanese companies and government offices have been unable to adapt. Read more…

Humanity’s COVID-19 crossroads

A man is sprayed with hypochlorous acid water as a measure to prevent an infection with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the entrance of Kichiri Shinjuku, a Japanese style pub known as an 'izakaya', in Tokyo, Japan 19 May, 2020 (Reuters/Issei Kato).

Author: Naoto Kan, Tokyo

COVID-19 quickly spread worldwide from the end of 2019. While some countries are seeing a decline in transmission and are relaxing restrictions after almost six months of disruption and uncertainty, there are still no signs of an end to the emergency in many countries. Meanwhile, the global economic impact of the virus is worsening, and there is concern that the number of suicides linked to economic collapse will increase. Read more…

Japan’s triple economic shock

A man wearing a protective mask walks past the headquarters of Bank of Japan amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, 22 May 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon).

Author: Sayuri Shirai, Keio University

Japan’s economy has experienced three consecutive shocks over the past year-and-a-half. The first shock struck Japan in early 2019 when the US–China trade war and slowing economic growth adversely affected Japan’s manufacturing sector. This economic effect was exacerbated by a second demand shock caused by the consumption tax hike from 8 to 10 per cent on 1 October 2019. Just as Japan’s economy was recovering, a third shock caused by COVID-19 dealt the most severe blow, plunging Japan into a full-blown recession. Read more…

Japan–US relations in a post-COVID-19 world

A US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base, N.D. and six F-16 Fighting Falcon from Misawa Air Base, Japan conducted bilateral joint training with four Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 off the coast of Northern Japan, 4 Feb 2020 (Photo: Reuters via USAF Staff Sgt Melanie A Bulow-Gonterman).

Author: Fumiaki Kubo, University of Tokyo

Many are insisting that we are seeing a new world order emerge in the current COVID-19 pandemic. But in East Asia there are a number of reminders that we still live, at least partly, in the same world of geopolitics with a high level of tension. Read more…

South Korea and Japan’s COVID-19 image war

South Korean President Moon Jae-In is welcomed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival for a welcome and family photo session at G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, 28 June, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kim).

Authors: Sarah A Son, Sheffield University and Juliette Schwak, Franklin University Switzerland

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, countries are investing in strategic narratives to tell the world their version of the crisis and present themselves as safe, efficient and reliable actors. South Korea and Japan — two early victims of the virus — are no exception to this trend. Yet their efforts to broadcast the success of their approaches in managing COVID-19 are succumbing to both countries’ tendency to draw direct critical comparisons with one another.

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Time to work with Asian partners on a global COVID-19 recovery strategy

Thai Airways idle airplanes are seen parked on the tarmac of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand 25 May, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Silva).

Authors: Peter Drysdale, ANU and Chatib Basri, University of Indonesia

As the world contemplates the savage impact of the COVID-19 virus on the global economy, there’s need to seize initiative in global cooperation to escape the slump caused by the health lockdown. International economic cooperation will be vital to managing the crisis and to supporting the recovery through trade, stabilising markets, faster reopening of business supply chains and international travel. Without it, the world is facing a prolonged health crisis and lasting economic stagnation on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.

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The economy dominates South America’s relationship with China and Japan

Grain is loaded aboard ships for export at a port on the Parana river near Rosario, Argentina, 31 January, 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Brindicci).

Author: Nobuaki Hamaguchi, Kobe University

The United States and Europe tend to associate South America with Amazon rainforest burning, pink-tide leftist ideology, drug trafficking, corruption and illegal migration. These issues oppose their values of justice, social stability and global order. For China, whose 2016 Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean states a position of ‘non-interference in each other’s internal affairs’, these are not of concern.

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