The tale has become accepted diplomatic folklore. In the telling, it was Australia, back in 2008 in the early days of the Rudd government, that decided to scuttle the then-nascent Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the four-way talks also involving Japan, the United States and India. To compound
A four-country bulwark against Beijing's regional dominance is an idea whose time has come. To make it work, New Delhi must be convinced to join in. Originally published in the Australian Financial Review
There have been plenty of Japanese officials weighing in on Tokyo’s Olympic rescheduling plans over the last few months. At times, it’s been hard to know who to focus on, especially when trying to follow the whole affair from Australia.
From the ageing Tokyo 2020 President Mori Yoshiro to
Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is facing tough political challenges while dealing with Covid-19, which he has called “the biggest crisis” since the Second World War. The Abe government’s response to the crisis has been slow and dissatisfying to many Japanese voters,
In early 2020, Japan reopened its National Museum of Territory and Sovereignty. Displays at the museum in Tokyo assert that islands disputed by Japan, South Korea and North Korea are Japanese territory and refer to these islands as Takeshima. South Korea’s government, which also claims sovereignty
Big boys time
From media baron Rupert Murdoch to leadership rival Peter Dutton, Malcolm Turnbull’s new memoir* released this week is partly built on his self-assessment that he can size up a bully better than most.
“The one thing I’d learned with bullies is that sucking up to them is
The last ten days in Japan have been extraordinary. First, the global Covid-19 pandemic forced the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics until July 2021. And now, after a slow response, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has announced a state of emergency for
Even before the coronavirus pandemic began to dominate the news, and as Australia’s bush fires took most of the media oxygen, this past summer was an unusually quiet period in the long-running “whaling wars” in the Southern Ocean.
For the first time in years, a southern summer passed without
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were meant to be a welcome stimulus for the Japanese economy, and an opportunity to showcase Tokyo as a vibrant, “must visit” global city. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was also hoping that the Olympics and subsequent wave of nationalism would give him a
The last day in September in 2021 will mark the end of the current term for Abe Shinzo as President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Prime Minister of Japan.
Due to LDP policy that a president cannot serve more than three consecutive terms, the next 18 months will most likely be Abe’s
The legacy for Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo will be defined by how skilfully he navigates fluid geostrategic and geo-economic variables in the US-Japan-China triangle, at a time when regional order is fragmented and global governance is heavily contested. And of those points, China poses a
2019 saw a rapid deterioration of Japan–South Korea relations on several fronts. In a culmination of the reoccurring spats over nationalist issues such as reparations for Korean comfort women and protests over the Dokdo/Takeshima islands that have characterised the bilateral relationship in recent
A curious anomaly in Japan is that official hospital ships have not been built or used since the end of the Second World War. This is despite the fact that Japan has regular disasters, such as earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, and floods. In such devastating disasters, medical
Six months ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan–North Korea relations remain strained. Since September 2018, the Olympic organising committee withheld North Korea’s request to access the Olympics “extranet”, where national Olympic committees can share information, because it had to
Carlos Ghosn’s fall from grace is one of the most amazing recent episodes in international corporate life.
It seems just like yesterday that Carlos Ghosn was the “rock-star executive” who in 1999 restructured and saved the highly indebted Japanese motor vehicle maker Nissan on behalf of
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has repeatedly pledged that his country would lead global efforts to address climate change. Increasingly, however, Japan is facing scrutiny over the gap between its lofty rhetoric and the reality of its climate policies, which include ongoing support for coal-
The annual release of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report is always a moment of great shame for Asia’s leading economies. The relative gaps between Asian women and men on measures of health, education, economy, and politics are enormous, and not improving sufficiently, as
Pope Francis visited Japan between 23 and 26 November. It was a busy time that followed directly on from the Pope’s equally busy visit to Thailand. He toured Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. He met with Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Abe Shinzō. He spoke with survivors of the atomic attacks,
The US, Australia, and Japan have joined together to establish a trilateral “Blue Dot Network” to help develop infrastructure “in the Indo-Pacific and around the world”. The plan was announced on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN summit in Thailand last week.
This sounds impressive. The Indo
If there’s any indication of how Africa is moving up on everyone’s agenda, look no further than the first edition of the Russia-Africa Summit, which saw 43 African heads of state converging last week on Sochi. Beyond the fact that the summit reflects the brisk trade Moscow does with the
Typhoon Hagibis was the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in decades. The storm’s ferocity was extraordinary, and the level of destruction immense. At least 78 people have been killed, and more than 230,000 evacuated.
Notably the typhoon, the 19th to hit Japan this year, struck the east coast
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a foreign policy speech to the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. Australia’s foreign policy analysts can be very grateful for these candid remarks, because they should prompt Canberra to rethink its policy stance on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the “
Only last week The Interpreter featured an article about the pitfalls of importing a major international sporting event into a country that didn’t have enough domestic interest or emotional investment to support it. That may have been the case in Qatar, but having just returned from two weeks and
In the varied debates about influence in the Pacific, rarely does Japan’s position in the region feature prominently. On the off chance that Japan’s presence in the Pacific is discussed, its “aid diplomacy” is usually characterised in quid pro quo terms.
Yet a closer examination of Japan
Last week, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet after his Liberal Democratic Party’s healthy electoral success in the July upper house election. Abe said he wanted to ensure “stability” as well as tackle “challenges”, and to that end he retained some key allies and
On the weekend of 24–25 August, the Brisbane City Council painted over a freshly-completed mural of a Korean statue on a traffic signal box. The mural had been approved by the Council as part of its Urban Smart Project but it responded to complaints that it was “offensive graffiti
Between April and June this year, Chinese Coast Guard ships entered the contiguous zone around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea for a record 64 consecutive days. In this flashpoint area between China and Japan, the number of Chinese incursions into the islands’ territorial
Recently, China entered the market as an exporter of used cars overseas. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce revealed the populous African nation of Nigeria as one of the destinations for 300 cars in the first batch of freight. The vehicles included brands such as Land Rover, Toyota, Hyundai,
Already at its lowest ebb in decades, the Japan–South Korea relationship looks set to plummet further still. Leading this diplomatic descent are the perennial “history problems”, which have seen significant developments over the past year. Consequently, the issue of compensation for colonial-
In the 1970s, Australia’s main trading partner was Japan. For the first time we were dealing with a country outside the Anglosphere; not only one with a foreign language, but one commercially disciplined by an arcane process of coordination through the keiretsu system, whereby manufacturers,
Japan’s upper house election is set to be held this weekend but has attracted little media attention internationally. Doubtless this is because the House of Councillors is a less consequential body of Japan’s parliament, the national Diet, than the lower house, the House of Representatives,
This week Japan has formally recommenced commercial whaling for the first time in over 30 years.
A small Japanese whaling fleet left port on 1 July after the Japanese government announced that it had set a quota of 227 whales for the remainder of 2019. The quota is made up of 150 Bryde’s whales
Among some prominent policy wonks in America, a profound rethink of fiscal policy has been underway for the last couple of years, making the case for more-expansionary – or at least less-contractionary – fiscal policy. Japan, already with a mountain of government debt and substantial budget
Japan has three New Year’s Days this year. 1 January, the calendar new year was the obvious beginning, then followed 1 April, the start of the financial and academic year that is famously symbolised by seasonal cherry blossoms – and now 1 May, the once-only celebration of the first day of what
By international standards, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force is very busy. It scrambles fighters daily to intercept multiple aircraft penetrating Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) – the block of airspace established over, and usually somewhat beyond, a nation’s territory in which
Relations between South Korea and Japan are spiralling downward – again. This is a depressingly regular event. Every few years, these neighbours slide into a serious spat, driven usually by disputes over historical interpretation – the record of Japan’s colonialism in Korea from 1910 to 1945
As the Philippines gears up for 13 May midterm elections, debate over Manila’s strategic alignment between China and the US has been one area of serious contestation. Opponents of President Rodrigo Duterte have criticised his government’s decision to sign a memorandum of understanding
According to numerous commentators, the country happiest with the “no deal” outcome for the Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi last week was Japan. Fearful that President Donald Trump, in his pursuit of a big win, would not keep Japanese interests in mind, many in Tokyo expected the worst.
A series where Lowy Institute experts look back on what surprised them in 2018.
Surveying international news headlines from 2018, you’d be forgiven for believing that the geopolitical landscape of Asia is exclusively a two-horse race. US, China spar over trade at WTO. More worrying than a US-
It might seem odd to see a glimmer of hope for conservation of the world’s whales, at the very time Japan has announced it will unilaterally withdraw from global whaling regulations and kick-start commercial hunts in its territorial waters.
Australia has branded the move “
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Darwin was rightly billed as historic and “deeply symbolic”. It also delivered some substance, with the announcement of important deals on the financing of regional infrastructure and on deepening cooperation on maritime security. It did not
Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is scheduled to visit Australia this week on the heels of attending the ASEAN Summit. While there have been regular prime ministerial exchanges between Tokyo and Canberra throughout Abe’s long leadership tenure, there will be more at stake than usual on this
India and Japan have forged a special strategic and global partnership over the years, and Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe have developed a personal and special relationship, propelling the relationship between the two nations to greater heights.
Last month, Abe invited Modi to his
Japan is widely considered one of the most monocultural and insulated countries in the world. This is reflected in the contradictions in its immigration policy.
Japan is not an easy place to move to: it does not even have an immigration department that specialises in visa and border control
At first glance, it appears a sea change is underway in how Japanese banks and financial firms treat fossil fuels. According to a comprehensive study released by 350.org in September – Energy Finance in Japan 2018 – Japanese financial institutions underwrote over US$80 billion in loans for
Japan’s Shinzo Abe now ranks as one of the region’s most experienced prime ministers, and will likely meet with Australia’s newest leader, Scott Morrison, in November.
China’s growing influence in the region is a topic both leaders must discuss, given that the prosperity and stability in
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s President for his third and final term on 20 September, securing him the prime ministership for another three years and potentially making him the longest serving prime minister in Japan’s parliamentary history
The eastern Indian Ocean has become contested waters. The competition for position between China, India and the US is becoming ever more pronounced. But some recent developments indicate that Japan also intends to become an important security player in the region. Japan is back in the Bay of Bengal
China’s Xi Jinping this year crafted a constitutional amendment removing the two five-year term limit on the presidency of China, essentially making himself China’s President for life. Around that time in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) carried out
The music industries in Japan and South Korea are entwining. K-pop idols can successfully sell albums in Japan, and Japanese singers can join K-pop groups. However, in a reflection of national rivalries, there will always be friction between the two competing industries.
K-pop has enjoyed a boom