Japan and South Korea are engaged in a trade dispute generated by national security concerns. The fallout from this dispute has the potential to hurt the global economy through the propagation of negative shocks to global supply chains. Towards the end of last year, there was some back-off but the dispute raises systemic questions rules about international trade restrictions for national security reasons.
On 20 November 2019, Shinzo Abe became Japan’s longest serving prime minister. Abe has attempted to broaden the scope of Japan’s diplomacy by taking an active approach to foreign policy and national security.
The recent announcement of the US–Japan Trade Agreement (USJTA) must have come as a surprise to many in Japan given its unusual expeditiousness. The agreement was concluded just six months after negotiations began — a dramatic contrast to the EU–Japan Economic Partnership Agreement which took more than five years to achieve.
After two postponements resulting in a delay of four years, the Japanese government at last raised the consumption tax rate from 8 to 10 per cent as of 1 October 2019. The revenue from the consumption tax will be used exclusively to finance growing social security spending such as pensions, medical and old-age care and support for childbearing and childrearing.
While US President Donald Trump’s administration remains unpopular after more than two years in office, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s handling of US–Japan relations is highly admired—at least in Japan. Takaya Imai, possibly the most powerful cabinet secretary supporting Abe, reportedly claimed that Abe and Trump refer to each other by their first names and that Abe’s informal talks with his American counterpart have been near-perfect. What is the origin of the Abe–Trump bromance? And how successful is this relationship in winning favourable policies for Japan?
Japan’s relationship with South Korea is not amicable at the best of times. Yet it in recent months it has entered a rapidly descending diplomatic spiral of unprecedented depth and scope. Mounting bilateral friction over the intractable ‘history problems’ has been steadily bleeding into the economic and security realms of the relationship. The result has been a bilateral trade war with potential repercussions for the global supply chain of high-tech devices.
Since April 2019, the Japanese government has started to expand its immigration program to increase the number of blue-collar foreign workers arriving in the country. But much more needs to be done to sustain Japan’s econom
Emperor Akihito’s abdication at the end of April marked the end of three decades of the Heisei era (1989-2019). And on 1 May 2019 Japan’s new Reiwa era began with Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne.
Japan will host the Rugby World Cup (RWC2019) this year, the first Asian nation to do so in the competition’s history. Next year, Japan hosts the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo2020) for the second time, after also being the first Asian hosts of the event in 1964. Reflecting on the legacy of Tokyo 1964 reveals the potential impact these upcoming sports mega-events could bring.
The June 2018 encounter between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was not the only momentous summit to take place in Singapore last year....