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Shinzo Abe’s decisive win at the weekend’s Japanese election has given his LDP a mandate for sweeping reform. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Abe’s early election gambit pays off

As widely expected, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to a landslide victory in the country’s snap election. The LDP holds a 291-seat majority in…
Catch from Japan’s previous whaling program. The new program will kill fewer whales. EPA/TIM WATTERS / SEA SHEPHERD

Japan’s new whaling program is a small win for whales, but…

This week, Japan announced a research plan for its New Scientific Whale Research Program in the Antarctic Ocean, to replace previous programs. In March this year, Japan’s previous whaling program, JARPA…
Shinzo Abe, looking for a majority about yay big. EPA/Franck Robichon

Abe can win Japan’s snap election but he needs to win big

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to call a snap election for December 14 comes after what has been a rather bad week for him. Japan has slipped back into recession for the first time since…
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is presenting a snap election as a referendum on his once-lauded policy of ‘Abenomics’. EPA/Franck Robichon

Abe takes a high-stakes gamble in calling an early election in Japan

It may seem politically counter-intuitive for a prime minister to seek an early election just when the economy has gone into recession. But following his return to Japan from the G20 Leaders' Summit in…
This is Abe’s best chance at re-election. Toru Hanai /Reuters

Japan’s snap election is about more than just Abenomics

The decision by Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to call a snap election barely two years into a four-year term demonstrates a degree of political flexibility other world leaders can only envy. Abe…
Golden handshake. Abe and Xi meet on the sidelines of the APEC meeting on Beijing. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool/EPA

APEC summit shows how hard it is to define the Asian ‘region’

With considerable pomp and circumstance – and at considerable expense – it fell to China to host the annual APEC summit this year. If it lives long in the memory at all, the meeting will probably be remembered…
The Abbott governments rush to sign bilateral trade deals with countries including Japan has meant quality has been sacrificed. Alan Porritt/AAP

Australia’s trade negotiating strategy fundamentally flawed

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this Free Trade Scorecard series…
Australia’s approach to trade policy is more thoughtful and calculating than it is given credit for by sections of the media, academia and the public who object to current negotiations. AAP/Newzulu/Jeff Tan

Staying engaged on every front: Australia’s trade policy strategy

Ten years on from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia is entering another round of negotiations towards the new and controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is the first article in the…
Shibitachi, a small fishing village, provides a microcosm of Japan’s dilemma. Marieluise Jonas

Reconstructing Japan requires smart building on the past

Long-term growth and development in Japan is best achieved by working with the landscape and people – a proposition that’s easier to say than put into effect. At 2:46 pm, March 11, 2014, Tokyo stood still…
Sekisui House, a prefab display house at the Shizuoka Factory, Japan. Author

20 shades of beige: lessons from Japanese prefab housing

On a recent tour of Japanese prefabricated housing factories, I was awestruck by the sophistication of Japan’s construction industry: entire factories populated by robots, houses trundling along assembly…
Phreatic eruption: Mount Ontake. EPA/Ministry of Land, Infrastructure

Why Japan’s deadly Ontake eruption could not be predicted

Mount Ontake, Japan’s second-highest volcano, erupted killing at least 31 people on September 27. Since then, there has been feverish speculation about why tourists were on an active volcano and why the…
Japan’s whaling program was defeated in The Hague, but that might not stop more whales being taken in the future. EPA/Tim Watters/Sea Shepherd Australia/AAP

Japan could resume whaling – this time with The Hague’s blessing

Japan is reportedly set to release plans to resume killing whales in the Southern Ocean in the 2015-16 season. It seems like a defiant move, coming just six months after the International Court of Justice…
Is the Bank of Japan holding the country back? EPA

Japan’s central bank is out of control and must be tamed

In the second quarter of this year Japan recorded its largest GDP contraction since the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011. This time, the single most important reason for the downturn is technical: demand…

Don’t mention the war

Whatever you think about the Abbott government, one of its more surprising features is that foreign policy looks like its strongest suit. True, this may not be setting the bar terribly high given the unproductive…
The samurai is the focus of a major exhibition on display at Melbourne’s NGV. Utagawa Yoshitsuya, The death of Kusunoki Masatsura (19th century) colour woodblock (triptych) (a-c) 35.9x74.0 cm (image) (overall) (a-c) 36.4x74.0 cm (sheet) (overall). National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Samurai are on show at the NGV – and they’re not just warriors

A new exhibition has opened at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) on the figure of the Japanese samurai. Bushido: Way of the Samurai explores popular conceptions of the samurai – as well as their lesser…

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