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Asia Pacific Covid-19

Vaccine Rollout Could Improve the Economic Outlook in the South Pacific, While an Outside Power-struggle Lingers

Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are on the road to economic recovery as vaccine programs begin, potentially reviving tourism and trade in the region. However, the region’s economy remains the subject of external influence.

Asia Pacific Security

Japan: Is A Boost to National Defence On The Way?

In late May, a panel on national security and defence held by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) issued a draft proposal calling for a significant increase in Japan’s defence budget, among other defence related recommendations. This proposal, alongside recent comments made by Japan’s Minister of Defence, suggests a shift towards higher levels of spending and a more proactive defence policy.

Asia Pacific Economics

Japan’s cryptocurrency market: Set to bloom or wither?

The popularisation of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology continues to grow worldwide. In Japan, engagement with cryptocurrency has blossomed among investors and major firms. Though that trend is likely to continue over the longer term, it may be tempered by regulation and an aging population.

Asia Pacific Insights

The Difficult Case of Taiwan’s Sovereignty

In the wake of rising tensions in the South China Sea, between China and its neighbours, the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty is once again in the spotlight as Beijing clamps down in an attempt to secure its maritime borders and territorial claims in the region. Do recent developments suggest an end to the ambiguous status quo?

Asia Pacific Security

The Maldives – An Unlikely ISIS Haven

The Maldives, a small republic of 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, is traditionally a peaceful place, with most locals taking their security and stability for granted. However, today the Maldives has the highest per capita number globally of foreign fighters who have travelled to take up arms and fight in Syria. The government must reinforce its efforts to tackle the root causes of radicalisation, as well as the exacerbating factors in play on the islands. 

Asia Pacific Economics

Japan’s Tech Competitiveness: Why the Decline?

The Japanese government’s plans to increase economic efficiency and productivity through digitalisation reflect Japan’s growing need to develop new and innovative technologies in software and big data. However, Japanese firms’ incremental and often secretive R&D approach and risk-averse attitude to investments in startups undermine these efforts.

Asia Pacific Politics

Japan: Will Suga Remain Prime Minister After September?

After Abe Shinzo stepped down as Japan’s Prime Minister in late August last year, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide emerged as the man to succeed him, through the support of high ranking Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) figures including Abe himself and the party’s secretary-general Nikai Toshihiro. Though Suga began his premiership with reasonable approval ratings, public support has since plummeted. With an LDP leadership contest scheduled for September 2021, the possibility exists that Suga will not be in the top seat by that point this year. How likely is such an outcome, and what factors are likely to contribute?

Asia Pacific Technology and infrastructure

A Neglected Frontier: Challenges to Japan’s Cyber Security

2020’s SolarWinds cyberattack, which affected numerous US government agencies, underscores the growing relevance of IT security and cyber-crime to national governments. Not solely the work of individual criminals, crimes perpetrated by state-sponsored or entirely state-operated hacker groups have increasingly been alleged. With cyberspace growing in importance as a frontier of political contestation, states must act; what steps has Japan been taking, and what barriers are there to enhancing Japan’s cybersecurity?

Asia Pacific Economics

A Big Deal: Signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

On November 15th 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was signed. An ASEAN-led initiative, the agreement was signed during a virtual ceremony in Vietnam. The bloc takes sole position as the world’s largest trading bloc, representing roughly 30% of global GDP.
The signing of this imminent and long-awaited free trade agreement is between 15 nations: the 10 ASEAN members in addition to China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.
The timing of this pan-Asian trading agreeement’s signing is symbolic – amid a global pandemic that has shaken the global economy and caused free trade and globalisation to be questioned; however, it’s significance goes far beyond symbolism.
While this agreement appears to support ASEAN’s incrementalist approach, the pact will do little to halt China’s creeping dominance over the surrounding region, nor influence America’s position of distancing itself from China, or indeed influence any agreement in which China plays a part.

Asia Pacific She Said

Yayasan Rama Sesana and the Quest for Female Reproductive Health in Bali

Yayasan Rama Sesana is a non-profit organization in Bali, Indonesia, which helps vulnerable women in both urban and rural areas take care of their reproductive health by educating them about healthy behaviors and by providing them with donation-based health services at its community centers and mobile clinics. As a service for women from mostly women, the organization aims to create a healthier generation through female empowerment. We spoke to founder, director and general practitioner Dr. Luh Putu Upadisari about her inspiring work and her vision. Through her work, more than 72,000 people have received educational and health services, which have contributed to increased community knowledge, female empowerment and gender equality.