East Asia Forum


East Asia Forum

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Analysis of economics, politics and public policy in East Asia and the Pacific.

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China's Ageing Population could Hinder Per Capita Income Growth


In East Asia, rapid income growth in the second half of last century has produced unprecedented and rapid population ageing. Rising living standards and incomes tend to induce longer lifespans and fewer births per woman, leading to dramatic increases in the proportion of old people within the total population. Where it took France 115 years to double the share of its population that is 65 years and over from 7 to 14 percent, the same shift in China will take just 25 years.

Japan's Military 'Gender Perspective'


On 4 November 2014, Lieutenant-Colonel Chizu Kurita of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force became the first Japanese military officer to be attached to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) headquarters in Brussels. As advisor to the NATO Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security in the office of the Secretary General, she has been primarily advising the body on the how to better integrate a ‘gender perspective’ into its policies and activities.

Can The Hague's South China Sea Ruling be Enforced?


Southeast Asia has descended into a maritime insecurity spiral since the April–June 2012 standoff at Scarborough Shoal between Chinese maritime security forces and the Philippine Navy, which motivated Manila to initiate legal arbitration proceedings in The Hague.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) ruling in favour of the Philippines will be difficult to enforce. To forestall an even more intense security dilemma in the South China Sea, regional policymakers should not lose sight of four vital underlying strategic trends.

North Korea is the Thorn in Russia and China's Side


On 25 June 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing to discuss expanding the China–Russia strategic partnership. Much of their efforts in this direction so far have entailed taking steps to promote bilateral cooperation on economic issues and security. However, beyond this bilateral arrangement a recurring theme in the China–Russia rapprochement in recent years has been the need to balance out a unipolar US-centric global order.

South Korea's Social Demands Outpace Social Spending


South Korea’s economic rise since the 1960s could be attributed to many factors: its geographic position, a homogenous and hard-working population, sound economic governance exercised by authoritarian governments, and a conducive geopolitical environment. It has economically matured, having raised its per capita income fivefold since the 1950s, when it was estimated to be lower than India’s.

Does Taiwan's President Provoke China or Her Party?


Taiwan’s new president Tsai Ing-wen faces a dilemma. If she continues her Kuomintang (KMT) predecessor Ma Ying-jeou’s rapprochement with Beijing, she risks enraging independence-minded members of her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The alternative is grimmer — provoking China after years of cordiality.

Is China's South China Sea Stance Moving Closer to UNCLOS?


Beneath its surface-level bluster, China’s authoritative response to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitration this week contained welcome hints that China may be subtly, and under cover of a strong stance on its South China Sea territorial sovereignty, bringing its South China Sea maritime rights claims into line with UNCLOS.

North Korea's Collapsing Command Economy's Affect on Women


Important changes are taking place inside North Korea. The collapse of the command economy, and the emergence of capitalism in its place, is ongoing. A burgeoning moneyed elite and increasing exposure to foreign pop culture are transforming how North Korean femininity is conceived. These changes are reaching far beyond Pyongyang to affect many, if not most, women in the country.

Countering 70 Years of U.S.-Japan Relationship Building, Trump Presses On


Donald Trump has defied all expectations about the US presidential election by emerging as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. For Japan, his extreme rhetoric brings to the fore a fundamental question as to the future of the US alliance system and its global leadership: will US alliance relationships be weakened as part of the retreat to isolationism espoused by Trump? Or will those alliances be reconfigured to reflect the shifting geopolitical landscape?

China was a Regional Preeminent Power for Centuries, and it is Trying Again


Most of us have never known a world where the United States was not the preeminent power. Now things are starting to look rather different. Not only is much of the global economy stuck in an underperforming rut, but there is also an alternative, seemingly more successful, model of economic development on offer in the so-called ‘Beijing consensus’.

It is precisely this reality, and the hitherto impressive performance of the Chinese economy, that has led some to conclude that, as Martin Jacques puts it, China will ultimately ‘rule the world’.

How to Successfully Wield a Supermajority


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, have won 70 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the upper house triennial elections held on Sunday 10 July. The seats obtained in the upper house are not only many more than the ruling coalition’s 61 seat target, but deliver a two-thirds majority in the upper house for constitutional revision when taking into account other pro-revision political parties.