The East Asia Section of IR Insider publishes breaking news reports and analysis from China, North Korea, Japan, and other East Asian countries. Topics covered in the East Asia section may range from Inter-Korean relations to Chinese economic policy and beyond. Our writers Apurva Kothari and Ayako Ohara produce weekly articles. Our section editor is Yun-Da Tsai.
Alongside the contentious “nine-in-one” local elections held on Nov. 24, 2018, Taiwanese voters were also presented with a list of ten questions on a separate referendum ballot received at polling stations the same day.
In a stunning rebuke of the ruling pro-Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwanese voters sacked a majority of DPP officials serving in lower levels of government in favor of candidates from the opposition pro-PRC Nationalist Party (KMT) in “nine-in-one” local elections held on Nov. 24, 2018.
Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group, has been officially confirmed as a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The revelation came on Nov. 26, 2018 as the CPC’s official media outlet, the People’s Daily, published a list of individuals to be honored by the CPC and the Chinese government on the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening-up of the Chinese economy.
Italian luxury fashion house Dolce and Gabbana’s (D&G) abruptly cancelled its massive 500-look fashion show just hours before it was scheduled to begin on Nov. 21, 2018 in Shanghai amid a brewing public relations controversy over its “Eating with Chopsticks” advertisement series and racially offensive private messages allegedly sent by D&G co-founder Stefano Gabbana on social media platform Instagram.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has issued a new report, with new satellite images, detailing an undeclared operational missile base in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). The Nov. 12, 2018 report by the Washington, D.C. think tank confirms doubts over Pyongyang’s commitment to disarmament — specifically, its promise to halt the pursuit of long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads — and casts further skepticism regarding its promise to work towards denuclearization, which was agreed upon during the historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump in June of this year.
A working group from the Japanese ruling coalition on the issue of redressing wrongs committed by the Japanese government under the now-defunct Eugenic Protection Law has proposed that the Japanese government would apologize for and compensate victims of forced sterilization carried out over the five decades when the law was in force.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) concluded its two-month long Mass Games on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. This year’s iteration of the national event concluded with a highly choreographed gymnastics bonanza celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the regime — including over 100,000 North Korean gymnasts, singers, and actors who performed choreographies based on the regime’s history — and prominently featured Chinese President Xi Jinping in the same place of honor granted to former North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-un.
Taiwan experienced one of the worst train accidents in recent history on Oct. 21, 2018, when a Puyuma Express train came off the tracks near Su’ao, Yilan County, in Taiwan’s northeast, killing 18 and injuring at least 200 more.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) has upheld a 2013 ruling that found that Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation — a Japanese steelmaker — should compensate four South Koreans drafted into forced labor, under the Japanese colonial administration of the Korean Peninsula, in the early 1940s.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has stepped up efforts to advance and modernize China’s military technology, including efforts to obtain technologies from private sectors in China and abroad.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a state visit to the People’s Republic of China — his first official state visit to Beijing as Prime Minister — from Oct. 25 through Oct. 27, 2018.
In a ceremony attended by southern China’s government and Communist Party brass held in the city of Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, President of People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping officially opened the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. Spanning over 34 miles (55 kilometers) and holding the record of the world’s longest sea crossing, the HZMB was described by Xi as a representation of Chinese power, ambition, and innovation.
Ahead of an extraordinary session of the National Diet beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, the Japanese government announced on Monday, Oct. 22, that it would consider amendments to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to increase the number of refugees it accepts each year.
The government of China’s western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has formally legalized local government-operated “re-education camps” designed to “educate and transform” individuals with extremist ideologies.
Earlier this Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, the White House formally announced its intent to withdraw the United States from a 144-year old international postal alliance. Amidst the two superpowers’ ongoing trade war, the withdrawal is simply the latest of President Trump’s actions to curtail Chinese trade power.
On Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Korea (ROK, commonly South Korea) announced that it had rejected applications for refugee status from over 500 Yemeni asylum seekers who had arrived at the southern resort island of Jeju earlier this year. The government instead granted a majority of applicants “humanitarian stay” permits, which are issued when the government determines that applicants do not qualify for full refugee status but still allows for applicants to temporarily stay in South Korea for a year on the basis of “other reasons.”
The Japanese government has formally announced plans to designate May 1, 2019 — the date of the accession of the new Emperor of Japan — as a one-off holiday, thus setting the stage for a ten-day vacation period beginning on Apr. 27, 2019 and ending on May 6, 2019.
The Board of Audit of Japan, Japan’s constitutionally-mandated independent expense-auditing agency, released a report on Oct. 4, 2018, detailing that central government expenditures related to the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have exceeded 801.1 billion yen (US$7.14 billion). If combined with spending by the local Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the organizing committee, this figure — already more than seven times the initial budget estimates presented by the national government — would balloon to approximately 3 trillion yen (US$26.7 billion), almost three times the initial estimate for the total cost of hosting the Olympics.
Meng Hongwei, president of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), was reported missing by his wife after he left his residence in France on a trip back to his home country of China in the last week of September. Rumors that swirled about his whereabouts were put to rest last Sunday when the Chinese government confirmed that Meng had been detained for “suspected violations of unspecified state law.” Interpol reported that it had received Meng’s resignation the same day, which was to have immediate effect.
Lee Myung-bak, former president of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) from 2008 to 2013, was sentenced to a 15-year jail term and fined 13 billion won (US$1.5 million) by the Seoul Central District Court on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Lee was found guilty on a range of 16 charges including bribery and embezzlement.
Facing a rapidly aging population, a shrinking working class, and an alarmingly low interest inflation rate, Japan was called upon by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week to revamp Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe’s flagship economic policies aptly named “Abenomics.” The remarks came as IMF Chairwoman Christine Lagarde met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in an “Article IV Consultation,” where the IMF assesses member-countries financial and economic health and development.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) this weekend. The trip comes amid renewed tensions between Washington and Pyongyang and the joint call by the two rival Korean governments last month for the US to join a declaration officially ending the Korean War — which Washington has continued to decline.
The 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly opened on Sept. 18, 2018, at UN headquarters in New York City. The headline general debate ran from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, with over 190 different speeches given by heads of state, foreign ministers, and organization leaders over six days.
On Sept. 24, 2018, Hong Kong’s Secretary of Security John Lee Ka-chiu announced a ban on the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) along with any form of aid or support for the political party. This ban follows a request made earlier this year by Hong Kong’s police, which sought to ban the party under the Societies Ordinance — a public law dating back to Hong Kong’s time as a British possession which states that organizations can be dissolved on the grounds of public safety and national security. As such, the HKNP has become the first-ever political party to be banned under the Ordinance since Hong Kong reverted to China in 1997.
A typhoon is predicted to approach the main island of the Okinawa island chain on Sunday when residents are slated to head to the polls to elect the next governor of Okinawa Prefecture. A key issue is the possible relocation of United States Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, a hotly debated subject related to continued US military presence in Japan under the longstanding Japan-US Security Treaty. Two candidates, Denny Tamaki, and Atsushi Sakima are the major candidates for Okinawa governor.
The Vatican has reportedly reached a “provisional” deal with the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops for the Catholic Church in China. For the agreement, dated to Sept. 22, Pope Francis will officially recognize the appointments of seven bishops who were chosen by the Chinese government without prior papal consent — a landmark development in the relations between the Holy See and People’s Republic of China.
Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe defeated former Minister of Defense Shigeru Ishiba to secure a historic third term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Sept. 20, 2018. His victory — not unexpected — paves the way for him to remain as Prime Minister for up to another three years, with constitutional revision, lackluster economic growth, imperial succession, regional security, and continuing scandals in his government being salient issues for the near future.
FOR FULL ARCHIVE, PLEASE CLICK here.