The victory of the LDP and Shinzo Abe in the Japanese elections completes a cycle in Japanese politics. The Democratic Party of Japan, which has crashed to defeat, came to power in 2009 intent on a rapprochement with China. That does not seem to have worked out – to put in mildly. Now Shinzo Abe, a nationalist who wants to re-write Japan’s pacifist post-war constitution, is to be prime minister. Read more
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Yesterday, I was all “the emerging markets have a point about running the IMF”. Read more
Here’s some thought-provoking material to start off your week: Read more
The row between China and Japan over their disputed islands seems to have quietened down. Still, the dispute is a nasty reminder of the potential for conflict between the two powers – and, also, of the risks that the US could get dragged in, writes Gideon Rachman. Read more
A worker at the Jinyuan Company's smelting workshop prepares to pour the rare earth metal Lanthanum into a mould near the town of Damao in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. REUTERS/David Gray
The US, EU and Japan teamed up today – arguably for the first time since the Cold War – to bring an unusual joint case at the World Trade Organisation against China over its export controls on rare earths. Read more
Few can now doubt that Japan’s economy, hardly in the most robust of shapes anyway, has taken a battering from last year’s tsunami. On Monday, data showed that output fell between October and December for the third time in four quarters as companies battled a perfect storm of problems. Read more
Just what the world needs – another think tank. Except that maybe, just maybe, this is a good idea. This week saw the launch of the Fung Global Institute, a self-styled Hong Kong-based independent research institute that wants to be the Brookings of Asia. Its mission is to produce “business-relevant research on global issues from Asian perspectives”.
There are a few red flags here, of which later. But the idea itself is timely. If Asia continues to grow at anything like its current pace, it will play an increasingly important role in the global economy. Yet it lacks anything like a coherent, intellectual voice. The global dialogue is being held in Washington, New York and London. Asia’s views deserve to be heard more – and not just in cacophony of a forum like the G20. Read more
I have just returned from a trip to Tohoku, the north-east region of Japan pulverised by the worst tsunami and earthquake to hit the country in decades. More than 20,000 people are dead or missing and some of the coastal towns in the worst-affected areas lost up to 10 per cent of their inhabitants. Some 200,000 homes and shops have been washed away, nearly 80 per cent of the buildings in some places.
There had been hope that the shock would jolt some sense into Japan’s politicians. Sadly, that seems not to have occurred. Read more