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Analysis and Comment (65)

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…
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…
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…
The Australian government has unquestioningly embraced Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s nationalistic defence policies. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Abe’s Australia visit comes in the wake of constitutional controversy

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will today address a joint sitting of the Australian parliament as part of his tour of Oceania. This rare honour comes in the wake of his cabinet’s controversial decision…
Australia’s free trade agreement with Japan has benefits outside the agricultural sectors. Kimimasa Mayama/AAP

FTA opens Japanese doors for Australian business

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Australia to talk trade and investment in Canberra and sign a free trade agreement between the two countries, it will kickstart a relationship first formed…
Shinzo Abo’s visit to Australia this week, three months after Tony Abbott visited Tokyo, comes at a time of alarm in Asia about a shift in Japan’s defence policy. EPA/Franck Robichon

Japan and Australia join forces in Asia’s Brave New World

In his second stint as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe seems in a hurry. His sudden fall from power in 2007 has left him with a strong sense of the need to get things done quickly. He has embarked on…
The Australian government hopes to finalise the Free Trade Agreement with China by the end of the year. PARKER SONG / POOL/ AAP

Why China-Australia FTA may still be some way off

This week treasurer Joe Hockey, and trade minister Andrew Robb have been in China for the inaugural Australia-China Strategic Economic Dialogue. These talks are one part of the “Strategic Partnership…
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (red helmet) is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono. EPA/Sankei Shimbun Pool

The case for Mark Willacy’s Fukushima

Many readers will know the name Mark Willacy, an Australian journalist who was the ABC’s North Asian correspondent for five years. On March 11, 2011, he would witness events that would redefine Japan as…
Beef sales in Japan involve tightly controlled captive supply chains. Andy Rain/AAP

Japan-Australia deal leaves beef trade in the 20th century

The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) signed last week is a bilateral trade deal in the old-fashioned mould. In the twenty-first century, global economic negotiations tend to be preoccupied…
Signing a Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan was the highlight of Tony Abbott’s whirlwind northeast Asia trip, which also took in China and South Korea. EPA/Kimmasa Mayama

Abbott’s Asia trip comes off – for now

Prime minister Tony Abbott’s diplomatic and trade mission to northeast Asia can be hailed as a success. Overall, it met its main objectives. The trip has strengthened the already deepening relationship…
Achieving a free trade agreement with China would be a major achievement for the Abbott government given the obstacles currently in the way. AAP/Daniel Munoz

Japan and free trade create twin challenges for Abbott in China

Despite the misgivings of the sceptics, prime minister Tony Abbott’s high-profile, potentially high-risk trade mission to northeast Asia could be a triumph. The free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan is…
Tony Abbott has declared Japan, under prime minister Shinzo Abe, as Australia’s ‘best friend in Asia’. But this might come at a cost as Abbott seeks to close a FTA with China. EPA/Mast Irham

Abbott’s pursuit of Japan risks a free trade agreement with China

Prime minister Tony Abbott will be hoping the Japanese leg of his ambitious trade trip to northeast Asia can replicate the success of securing a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea. The close relations…
Japan’s harvest of endangered minke whales was ruled not to be for scientific purposes. EPA/Tim Watters/Sea Shepherd Australia/AAP

Whaling win will be a hollow victory without updating the rules

The International Court of Justice’s ruling this week that Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling program is not scientific does not represent an ultimate victory over whaling. The finer points of the court’s…
Japan has been ordered to quit its scientific whaling program in the Southern Ocean. Josh/Flickr

Whaling in the Antarctic: Japan’s scientific program illegal

Japan’s Southern Ocean “scientific” whaling program is contrary to international law, the International Court of Justice found last night after a four week trial between Australia and Japan in June last…
Fishing boats stranded by the 2011 tsunami, with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Book review: Fukushima

Three years ago today, Japan was hit by the strongest earthquake ever measured in that country – and Fukushima became an international by-word for disaster. Now, as Japan tries to put its past behind it…
After a promising start to an ambitious economic turn-around program, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have more difficulty with tax changes scheduled to come in over the next few years. EPA/Harish Tyagi

Japanese tax hikes loom large for Abenomics

Another record trade deficit for Japan is raising doubts about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” strategy for economic revival. The new figures follow poor manufacturing sentiment numbers earlier…
What has the international response been to China establishing an Air Defence Identification Zone over the East China Sea? EPA/Hiroya Shimoji

China’s ADIZ and Australia’s commitment to America’s Asian order

Last week, China announced the creation of a new Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, encompassing the disputed Senkaku Islands. The move has significantly escalated tensions…
PSY is far from the only player in the global rise of K-pop. Michael Nelson/EPA

Explainer: what is K-pop and J-pop?

A little over a year ago, South Korean singer PSY galloped onto the global pop circuit singing about “sexy ladies” in the Seoul suburb of Gangnam. What followed were a flurry of articles (some going as…
All parties are posturing for influence. Fotopedia

More than a neighbourly dispute awaits Joe Biden in Asia

US Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Asia next week could not come at a more timely moment. It is the first high level visit since President Obama cancelled his trip during the government shutdown in…
Concerns over nuclear energy mean Japan is moving back to fossil fuels. EPA/TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA

Climate targets are the fallout from Japan’s nuclear disaster

Japan has announced it is significantly reducing its greenhouse gas reduction target. It now aims to achieve a 3.8% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 versus 2005 levels. The new target amounts to…
Still giving peace a chance: Yoko Ono at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Yoko Ono: the most famous Japanese person outside Japan

In the pre-internet, pre-“Cool Japan” era, Yoko Ono was arguably the most famous Japanese person outside of Japan – and she’s about to get more famous in Australia. Ono’s life and work is the subject of…
Japanese prime minister has reiterated his desire to maintain control of the disputed Senkaku Islands in his latest show of assertiveness. EPA

Senkaku Islands the latest battleground as Japan gets tough under Abe

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has received praise from financial markets and economists for “Abenomics”, his set of economic stimulus policies which have so far returned positive growth to the long-stagnant…
After centuries of war, Japan’s well-attuned environmental practices spurred rapid growth. mharrsch/Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

Lessons from Edo Japan can help Fukushima recover

After two and a half years, the embattled Japanese government and Tepco, the company responsible for the Fukushima nuclear power plant, have sought the world’s assistance in tackling the three damaged…
Tony Abbott described Shinzo Abe’s Japan as Australia’s ‘closest friend in Asia’. But how might Abbott’s bold declaration affect our relationship in the region? AAP/Karlis Salna

Politics of the ‘closest friend’: Abbott, Japan and the Asia-Pacific

At the joint Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-East Asia summit just held in Brunei, prime minister Tony Abbott hailed Japan as Australia’s “closest friend in Asia”. Abbott invited Japanese…
Shinzo Abe’s decision to increase Japan’s consumption tax from 5% to 8% next year is part of a plan to reassure investors the country’s debt is under control. EPA/Franck Robichon

Japan’s Abe unveils much needed tax rises, stimulus measures

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday a significant increase in the country’s consumption tax and unveiled a ¥5 trillion ($54.5 billion) stimulus package to mitigate the higher levy’s negative…
Hands up if you love synchronised swimming. EPA/Christopher Jue

The Olympics go downtown for Tokyo 2020

It is Tokyo, after all. It was nearly 6am when a few thousand supporters gathered at Komazawa stadium, one of the key venues for Tokyo’s 1964 games, exploded in celebration as International Olympic Committee…
Few countries have pushed forward with nuclear power programmes after Fukushima. Tim Ireland/PA

Fukushima’s positive legacy

Just over two years after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in eastern Japan in March 2011, public attitudes worldwide remain hardened against nuclear power. It may have fallen from the…
Mind the gap: Japanese school girls were covered but not the boys. Flickr/thecrypt

Vaccination gaps led to rubella outbreaks in Japan and Poland

Recent rubella outbreaks in Japan and Poland are the clearest evidence possible that herd immunity matters. There are many reasons why people don’t get vaccinated for totally preventable diseases such…
Science or slaughter? EPA/Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

On law, science and whales: the case of Australia v Japan

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) meets this week to begin hearing its most prominent case in years. It pits two heavyweights, Australia and Japan, against each other in a legal and political dispute…
The finer points of Abenomics are not lost on this guy. ippei-janine

Japan’s PM has frog in throat as ecological crisis looms

Japanese PM Shinzō Abe has a problem, and he might end up killing an awful lot of frogs to solve it. Shares are up in Japan, but everything else has flatlined: kick-starting the stubbornly moribund economy…
Japanese women: needed in the workforce. Byron Villegas

Despite ‘Abenomic’ growth, Japan still needs reform

Amid the doom and gloom of recent world economic reports, Japan has provided a rare source of good news. In the first quarter of the year, its economy grew by 0.9%, indicating an annual growth rate of…
The decision by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to enter into the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations enlivens the process and places Australia in the passenger seat.

Trans-Pacific Partnership at the frontlines of new geo-economic contests

Two recent events promise to breath life into the lumbering Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, with significant consequences for Australia. Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo…
Australian policymakers need to acquaint themselves with the changing nature of regional governance in Asia. www.shutterstock.com

The changing face of Asian regional governance

The growing competition between Japan and China over regional primacy is changing the face of Asian regional governance — but not necessarily in predictable ways. While observers have focused on Asia’s…
Meet a minke whale: should Japan be allowed to continue taking whales in the name of science? Len2040/Flickr

Australia takes Japan to court on whaling – where to now?

From June 26 to July 6 2013 one of the most intriguing environmental court cases in years will be heard by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Australia has taken Japan to court over…
Resource issues dominate Japanese thinking on the Australia-Japan bilateral relationship. AAP

Resource security and the Australia-Japan economic relationship

The Australia-Japan economic relationship is broad, deep, and has an extensive history. However, issues to do with natural resources – minerals, energy and food – loom large in the politics of the contemporary…
Shinzo Abe is determined to resuscitate Japan’s flagging economy by targeting a 2% rate of inflation and promoting private investment. But will it work? AAP

‘Abenomics’: a fix for Japan’s ailing economy and a boost for Australia

The Japanese economy has been stuck in a liquidity trap for almost a decade. Japan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is now in his second stint in office, wants to take radical steps to retrieve…
Minami Minegishi, member of Japanese pop group AKB48, made a tearful public apology on AKB48’s YouTube channel. YouTube

AKB48, headshaving and the sexual politics of J-Pop

Japanese pop star Minami Minegashi made headlines worldwide after shaving her head and making an dramatic public apology on Youtube for violating her pop group AKB48’s strict no dating policy. While shocking…
Japanese anti-nuclear sentiment is strong, but it’s losing out to the desire for cheap electricity. Magnus von Koeller

Japan can’t afford to leave nuclear power switched off

Recent data shows Japan posted a record high trade deficit of ¥6.93tn (A$73.16bn) in 2012. Japan is struggling with rising imports as it tries to replace the energy lost when it shut down of most of its…
Shinzo Abe has returned to the post of prime minister in Japan. m-louis/Flickr

In Japan, it’s bring in the old, turf out the new

I thought for a breathless moment back in 2009 that we would see a new progressive government in Japan. Gone would be almost six decades of unimaginative conservative rule. Gone would be the subservience…
Sea Shepherd has just launched its new ship, the Sam Simon, but it might not see much action if a US court has its way. AAP Image/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Carolina Castro

US court harpoons whaling protesters

On Monday a US federal appeals court granted an injunction requiring the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to stay at least “500 yards” (457 metres) away from Japanese whaling vessels. It is a significant…
Looking to Asian schools is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. Chalkboard image www.shutterstock.com

Our Asian schooling infatuation: the problem of PISA envy

It was fun while it lasted Finland, but we’re going cold on you. We thought your schools had the secret but our new infatuation is with Asian school systems. The Prime Minister seems to agree. The government…
Persuading tourists to return to Japan has become a national mission for the country’s officials. AAP

Making it safe: tourism after Japan’s earthquake

In a highly symbolic move, the World Tourism Summit this week opened in Sendai, Japan, the area most affected by last March’s tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. Hosting the Summit, which…
Julia Gillard needs to do more to impress in South Korea. AAP/Adam Gartrell

Beyond China: Australia and Asia’s northern democracies

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Here, Dr Craig Mark - currently based…
Japan has lost its taste for nuclear, which means higher emissions and less energy security. AAP

Powering Japan after Fukushima

Recently, Jenny Corbett, Executive Director of the Australia-Japan Research School at ANU, sat down with Tatsuo Hatta, Professor Emeritus at Osaka University and a former President of the Japanese Economic…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has signalled a shift towards Japan in our foreign and trade policy - but is this the right direction?. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Politics, not economics may be at the heart of Abbott’s Japan focus

Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s comments in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian newspapers point to a shift in Coalition trade policy that would give Japan higher priority over China. So why would…
Despite the clear benefits, Japan’s agricultural sector seems resistent to an FTA with Australia. AAP

After the disasters, can we revive a free trade agreement with Japan?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was one of the first world leaders to visit Japan after the nation was stricken on 3 March by the earthquake-tsunami-radiation triple disaster. But the Australian government…

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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…

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