Is Asia’s alpha dog China? Shinzo Abe pushes reform in Japan, but at what price? And will democracy ever come to Thailand? These stories and more are on the February 20th edition of Asia News Weekly.
China: Asia’s Alpha Dog?
As we come to the tail end of the Chinese, or Lunar New Year, hundreds of millions of Chinese travelers are returning from visiting family, friends, and other locations around the globe. However, leading up to the holiday the archipelago accused a Chinese Coast Guard vessel of ramming three fishing boats near the Scarborough Shoal.
Is China bullying small, ASEAN nations in the South China Sea, as some have suggested? It’s the question I put to Mark Cozad, Senior Defense Policy Analyst with the RAND Corporation.
Japan’s Abe Promises Reform
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used a snap election to justify is vision for the country. In his first speech since reorganizing his cabinet following that event, Abe announced he wanted to implement a number of reforms.
“A rocky road lies ahead of all of these goals — the greatest reform effort since the end of the war,” Abe said before continuing, “However, we must undauntedly make progress in carrying out these reforms.” Returning to the podcast is Michael Cucek, Adjunct Fellow at the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, to shed a little light on Abe’s plans.
Will Democracy Return to Thailand?
Thailand was riddled by protests in 2014. Clashes between competing Red and Yellow Shirt supports ultimately prompted then General Prayuth Chan-o-cha to step in, first declaring martial law, and then instigating a full blown coup.
The General, now Prime Minister, vowed to implement a wide variety of reforms and restore democracy to the nation. Just when that will take place, is anyone’s guess. He originally said it would be in place in about a year… but that’s continually pushed back.
Politics and Freedom
In the past year, we’ve seen a trend with many governments imprisoning critics. It leaves some to wonder just how free Asia is and what the future holds. What follows are three examples of how some Asia governments are limiting free speech, and perhaps, using political power plays to eliminate opposition leaders.
Concluding the podcast is a look at other regional news that may have done unnoticed the past week. Stories include a rather progressive movement in one Japanese ward that would recognize same-sex unions. Another story hails from China, where the black market for blood is the only place some who needed it can to ensure they stay alive. Plus a horrible tail of a girl who killed her infant child, threw it in the river, only to have it found by children on their way to school.
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