Japan is famous for its “mottainai” culture, often translated as “what a waste!”, which encourages people to reduce what is discarded from their everyday lives. At the same time, Japan’s government, as well as the country’s private sector and citizens, are struggling to
From the breaking news notification in Japanese media around 11:30 in the morning on 8 July to vision a few days later of his hearse driving by the institutions of party and government in Tokyo’s political district Nagatacho that Abe Shinzo was shaped by and that he ultimately re-shaped during his
If there is a cumulative lesson from the past few years, it’s that the era of “polycrises” is firmly upon us. A polycrisis is defined as the net effect from the non-linear interaction of many systemic risks spanning several natural and human-designed systems. One is playing out right in front
As the new Labor government oscillates between promoting investment in Southeast Asia to deepen security ties and trying to keep the Pacific family together in the face of Chinese challenges, recent Australian capital flows tell an interesting story.
The stock of Australian
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party was victorious in Japan’s Upper House election held on Sunday, but it was the killing of former prime minister Abe Shinzo during a campaign speech two days before that will shape the immediate future for the country. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida described Abe’
The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sent shockwaves around the world. Abe’s term as prime minister ended in August 2020, but he remained leader of the largest faction in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and a “king maker” within the party. Given the outpouring
Abe Shinzo’s assassination is a great loss to a region he helped to re-imagine as the “Indo-Pacific”. Leaders have reacted with shock at his killing on Friday. US President Joe Biden lauded Abe’s effort to “advance a common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific” and India’s Prime
The importance of “peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait featured in joint statements issued after US President Joe Biden’s meetings in May with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. This was the second time in consecutive years that Taiwan
Since its resurrection in late 2017, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) between Australia, India, Japan and the United States has gradually become a centrepiece of Australian foreign policy. Every effort was made to ensure that an exhausted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attended
Book review: Line of Advantage: Japan’s Grand Strategy in the Era of Abe Shinzo, by Michael J Green (Columbia University Press)
Michael Green’s examination of Japan’s foreign and security policy in the 21st century elegantly evaluates what was an eight-year effort under Abe Shinzo during his
North Korea at least waited until US President Joe Biden had left Asia before launching another volley of missiles to splash into the sea. American officials had braced for a potential show of force by Pyongyang as Biden toured the region last month for meetings culminating with the “Quad”
Of the many issues canvassed at the Quad leaders’ meeting in Tokyo last week, the four partners stressed the importance of common energy supply chains. The leaders agreed in particular on the significance of “clean energy cooperation” in “clean hydrogen”. With a new Australian
At the first in-person leaders’ summit of the Quad in Washington in September last year, the four member countries came forward with an ambitious space agenda. A working group was giving the task of advancing a number of key strategic areas, including the exchange of satellite data with the
The staff at the neighbourhood convenience store here in Tokyo are always amused when I drop by to pick up four or five papers in the morning. That I have done it twice this week has led to some laughs at the cash register. Monday was to look at the reporting of the Australian election result,
While Russia’s attempt to blackmail Poland and Bulgaria by cutting off natural gas supplies may seem a distant question for the nations of the Indo-Pacific, we believe it is relevant and urgent. Accordingly, the leaders of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, the group known as “the
The clear intention of AUKUS is to tip the military balance in the Indo-Pacific in favour of the United States. The various initiatives in the pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are headlined by cooperation to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia
Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio visited India last month ahead of a G7 summit. With India hesitant to criticise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Japanese media speculated Kishida’s visit was aimed at persuading fellow Quad leader Narendra Modi to change India’s position. The US
According to its members, the Quad – a group comprising the United States, Japan, India and Australia – seeks to present an inclusive vision for the Indo-Pacific region, and its members seek to work with a range of countries. Despite this rhetoric, the group hasn’t established any clear
In the wake of the Ukraine conflict, Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former prime minister and now head of the largest faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), has suggested that Japan consider hosting US nuclear weapons facilities on Japanese soil, similar to some European nations, such as
In early January this year, US military bases in Okinawa, Japan, were again the subject of criticism after the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was detected among US base personnel and subsequently spread to locals. Hostility towards the presence of the bases has existed since the 1950s and the anti-base
The German naval chief, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, lost his job during a visit to Delhi last month. During an interaction where he went woefully off-script, he urged the West to offer “respect” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and keep the focus trained on China, a “not so nice
Over the last several years, the relationship with China has become increasingly awkward for both Australia and Japan. Other nations have also been similarly afflicted and sometimes more so. The expression “grey zone” is now used as a generic label for China’s new form of prickly interstate
Japan is a high-tech country, right? It is, after all, the home of bullet trains, robots, computer games and all sorts of gadgets.
But there is another side of the story: low-tech Japan. Most of the world now communicates by email, but our Japanese friends are still hooked on fax machines. While
Japan and Australia this month formally signed a “landmark” Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), establishing a defence cooperation framework that will allow the stationing of troops in each other’s countries along with the staging of joint training exercises and disaster support.
Although a substantive movement has developed aiming to contain China – AUKUS being only the most recent example, adding to the reconstituted Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, as well as a newly-launched Indo-Pacific strategy by the European Union – these efforts are each
Securing the decks
For a country renowned for churning through ministers, perhaps the most remarkable thing about Japan’s new ministry under freshly appointed leader Fumio Kishida is that it is getting a fresh finance minister for the first time in nine years.
The departure of 81-year-old
In a fiercely contested vote on Wednesday, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) chose Fumio Kishida as party president. He is now set to form government as Japan’s next prime minister. In the runoff vote, former foreign minister Kishida comprehensively defeated his nearest rival
No sooner was the Paralympic flame extinguished, with the athletes filing out of Tokyo’s National Stadium for one last time, that all sporting psephologists turned their eyes to the next big race, the runners positioning themselves for the sprint to become Japan’s next leader. The date of formal
Book Review: Akimoto Daisuke, Japan’s Nuclear Identity and its Implications for Nuclear Abolition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)
It has been rare in recent years for the anniversary of the atomic bombings in Japan to pass without controversy, invariably concerning remarks made by the prime
The flame has just been extinguished for the Tokyo Olympics, a postponed games held under trying circumstances. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his team managed the task well given the pandemic odds stacked against them.
Suga now faces two additional high hurdles. First, his caretaker
One of the unexpected benefits of studying abroad for an extended period is the new perspective it brings to understanding your own country. Certainly, my first two years of study abroad in Tokyo the 1980s, in pre-internet times, taught me things about Australia that I didn’t know, like just how
My university campus sits amid several Olympic venues and the international media centre, down by the ports on Tokyo Bay. From my tenth floor office, I can observe the construction of the second Olympic flame plinth and across the port, the island where canoeing events will be held. On the other
As the excitement of Euro 2020 fades into the football world’s collective memory, another international sporting event rapidly approaches. The Tokyo Olympics, after being in doubt for over 12 months, are now less than two weeks away. It won’t just be Japan wanting things to run smoothly when the
When the US and Japan kicked off a bid to take control of the next generation of mobile technology during a summit of their leaders last week, they also pushed the global debate over supply chains into a new orbit.
A key part of US President Joe Biden’s and Japan’s Prime
The Netflix documentary “Seaspiracy” caused a stir following its release last month, both for highlighting the serious damage human activities are causing the world’s oceans – whether from marine debris or whale hunting – and also for claims that the program features misleading
On 19 March, the leaders of four important democracies of the Indo-Pacific region – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – held (virtually) their first-ever “Quad Summit.” This meeting at the leaders’ level of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was significant on two counts.
Last month, a Japanese district court for the first time ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional. The verdict by the Sapporo District Court was a result of simultaneous lawsuits against the nation demanding marriage equality as well as compensation for psychological
The most notable takeaway from the first-ever “Quad” leaders meeting involving the US, India, Japan and Australia at the weekend was the agreement on expanding the global vaccine supply. The vaccination capacity of India will be increased to produce 1 billion doses by 2022, the leaders announced
The joint statement issued following the weekend meeting of the four “Quad” leaders was titled “The Spirit of the Quad”. This title could be read as either self-affirmation or self-praise. The Quad’s first summit of leaders was a somewhat informal affair, held virtually amid a global
The Seoul Central District Court last month delivered a verdict requiring the Japanese government to pay $US91,000 to 12 former “comfort women” who endured sexual slavery during the Second World War.
The court’s ruling follows off the back of a similar decision by the South Korean Supreme
Focus on the upcoming Australian Open tennis tournament these last few weeks in the local media has been intense. Still, it’s possible that Olympics officials in Japan are monitoring the first tennis Grand Slam event of the year even closer than we are in Australia.
As tournament organisers
The calm but staunch assertion by China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe last month that the Japan-administered islands in the East China Sea belong to China is revealing of the challenges Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide will face in balancing Japan’s great power relationships. The “
The growing synergy among the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue powers of Australia, Japan, the United States and India has provided a crucial impetus to the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific. Bilateral ties between these four states have also seen positive growth, largely a result of “like-
The decades-old dispute between Russia and Japan over the status of the Kuril Islands is far from over. Tokyo, which refers to the islands as the Northern Territories, still insists on a peace treaty with Moscow that would result in Russia’s return of at least two out of four islands to Japan,
Typically, much of the initial foreign policy interest in a new (or slightly revised) Japanese government tends to look towards the United States – to consider the adjustments necessary to the alliance, to plan the first face-to-face meeting, to determine the nickname that will characterise
US elections are as closely watched in Japan as they are in Australia. In November 2016, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the effort to visit president-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower only days after the presidential election result was released. The key reason for Abe’s visit was
Will the bell Toll?
The quiet flood of Japanese investment into Australia over the past few years amid at times mounting alarm about much lower levels of Chinese investment has been regularly noted here.
But the astounding story of corruption and mismanagement inside the largest single Japanese
What makes the Quad foreign ministers conversation this week in Tokyo consequential? Probably the strategic setting – a pandemic, global economic contraction and an accelerated Sino-US strategic competition on one hand, and rising regional tensions from the Himalayas to the South China Sea and