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.
On Jan. 21, 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) issued a final statement regarding the Japanese-South Korean “radar feud” that occurred at the end of last year. The event triggering the dispute occurred on Dec. 20, 2018, in which a South Korean KDX-I destroyer allegedly locked on its fire-control radar onto a P-1 patrol aircraft of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) flying over the waters off the coast of Japan’s Noto Peninsula.
In a report published last month, the ADM Capital Foundation — a Hong Kong-based environmental advocacy foundation — found that Hong Kong has become the largest market for illegal wildlife products, including pangolin fins and rhino horns.
On Feb. 9, 2019, China’s Foreign Ministry expressed its firm opposition to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, the disputed northeastern border state of India, which concluded the same day.
In another development in the ongoing scandal regarding the slate of financial misconduct allegations against former Nissan Motor Corporation chairman Carlos Ghosn, French automaker Renault issued a statement on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, stating for the first time that Ghosn — in his capacity as CEO and chairman of Renault — had misused company’s funds to his personal benefit.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of South Korea has announced the formation of a massive inquiry into sexual assault and other forms of abuses in the country’s athletics community.
The Trump administration is increasing its efforts to prevent Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from expanding its 5G network in the United States and across the globe, reports show.
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.
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