Breaking news and analysis about China, North Korea, Japan, and other East Asian countries. Our writers Zhenming Tian, Uriel Lee, Xianbo Wu, and Yun Da Tsai each produce weekly. Our section editor is Amber Wang.
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.
On Thursday, Sept. 20, President Moon Jae-in of Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Chairman Kim Jong-un of Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) urged the United States to join talks on declaring an end to the Korean War. While the prospect of a declaration was lauded across the globe, experts expressed doubts if the declaration will actually lead to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
The final tally of Mangkhut’s impact is yet to be determined, although preliminary rough estimates of economic disruption, property damage, and lives lost paint a picture befitting the super typhoon’s sheer meteorological strength and destructive potential.
The Military Manpower Agency (MMA) of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) has formally accused 12 men, all vocal music majors from a university in Seoul, of conspiring to evade obligatory active-duty military service by deliberately gaining weight.
Amidst longstanding tensions between Russia and Japan over disputed islandslying between the two former enemies — recently exacerbated by joint Russia-China military drillsin the area — Russian President Vladimir Putin surpriseddelegates gathered at the Sept. 12 session of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) with the declaration that he wanted a peace treaty with Japan “before the end of this year, without any pre-conditions.”
Alleged state-run mass detention camps for Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region has recently gained international attention, with numerous critics calling Beijing’s recent efforts a “high-pressure indoctrination program.”
Protesters — mainly led by opposition Kuomintang (KMT) politicians and local women’s rights groups — demonstrated on Sept. 10, 2018, in Taipei after a Japanese national was caught on camera raising his foot to make contact with a bronze statue commemorating Taiwanese “comfort women.”
With its epicenter just due east of Tomakomai City, roughly 38 miles (60 kilometers) south of prefectural capital Sapporo City, a forceful 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s Hokkaido island in the early hours of Thursday, Sept. 6, killing at least three dozen.
The resignation of Jun’ichi Fukuda makes him the highest profile departure in the budding #MeToo movement in Japan.
On Thursday, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi returned to Beijing from Pyongyang after participating in bilateral talks with North Korea’s counterpart Ri Yong and Kim Jong-un that lasted for two days. This meeting comes after Kim and South Korea’s leader, Moon Jae-in, signed the Panmunjom Declaration, setting a base for to end the 67-year war and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
On April 28th, China and India concluded a two-day informal summit in Wuhan, China, during which Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to strengthen “strategic communications” and maintain peace along the two countries' shared border.
Hong Kong has reported its first case of measles, suggesting that East Asia faces the prospect of an outbreak of highly contagious measles across the region after Japan and Taiwan reported dozens of active cases earlier this month and placed thousands of people in quarantine.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in jointly issued a declaration of peace, moving towards the end of 65 years of war on the Korean peninsula.
On April 16th, the US Department of Commerce forbade ZTE Corp. , a state-owned Chinese telecommunications equipment and systems company, from acquiring components from American suppliers for a period of seven years. The ban was issued as a punishment for ZTE’s failure to redress its violation of US sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly “North Korea,” has announced several apparent diplomatic concessions in the lead-up to an inter-Korean summit set for Apr. 27, 2018, and a planned summit between the United States and North Korea slated for late May or early June this year.
Recent developments surrounding a scandal regarding the Japanese government’s handling of documents relating to a land sale to an ultra-nationalist educational institution threaten to bring down the current government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
At the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan Province, China on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that China will continue to open its economy and urged "dialogue rather than confrontation" amid the recent rise in economic tensions between the US and China.
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