Taiwan signals its readiness to join the world’s democratic powers


With a new president and a populace gaining confidence in its national identity, Taiwan hopes China will finally recognise its sovereignty Consolidated democracies in Asia are rare. India and Japan democratised after World War II, and Taiwan and South Korea did so from the late 1980s. Countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Mongolia have […]

Australia - Asia relations

Even closer economic engagement in Asia: compelling and overwhelming reasons why


Australia’s economic future rests squarely in its region—Asia—though shadow treasurer CHRIS BOWEN says political leaders here need to do more ‘walk the walk’ than simply ‘talk the talk’. It’s a truism these days that Australia’s economic future lies primarily in Asia. The case for closer economic engagement in Asia is compelling and overwhelming. Take your […]

Japan, Korea

‘Comfort women’ accord requires further compromise


International and domestic pressures will be crucial to how the recent accord between Japan and South Korea on Japan’s use of ‘comfort women’ during the Second World War plays out, writes KERRI NG. On 28 December 2015, the South Korean and Japanese governments announced an agreement on the controversial comfort women issue that has plagued […]


China’s new celebrity politicians


China’s politicians are beginning to shed their staid image for the limelight of social media, notes ELAINE JEFFREYS The emergence of commercial entertainment and sports stars as an elite stratum in China is a relatively recent phenomenon. Nonetheless, celebrity has entered the terrain of governance along with the growth of commercial popular culture, the loosening […]


‘Old guard’ continues to constrain human rights reform in Indonesia


Hopes for human rights reform in Indonesia under President Joko Widodo are far from being realised, writes KEN SETIAWAN. In July 2014, supporters of presidential candidate Joko Widodo (Jokowi) celebrated his victory. To many, Jokowi’s election represented a break with the past, as he had no ties to existing military or political elites. The new […]

Gender and sexuality, Japan

Japanese Supreme Court considers what’s in a woman’s name


The recent decision by Japan’s Supreme Court to uphold a controversial law requiring married couples to have the same surname comes as no surprise, writes STACEY STEELE. On 16 December 2015, the Supreme Court of Japan found that a controversial law requiring married couples to have the same surname is constitutional. Nearly 96 per cent […]