Japan’s diplomatic ambition to compete with China in maintaining its foothold in Thailand seems soon to fizzle out following the failure to reach a deal on a high-speed train project between the Japanese and Thai governments.
This week, I spent my time in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, attending a week-long conference under the Asian Public Intellectual project. The conference brought together 25 Asian Public intellectuals from various fields to present their research, to discuss common concerns in the region, and to exchange views on topics that affect the livelihood of their communities.
A group of Thai and foreign students from various universities in Japan, approximately 20 students, on Tuesday organised a symbolic protest against the recent military coup, the military’s assumption of power in an illegitimate means, the curbing of freedom of expression, particularly among academics and media, as well as the continued arrests and detentions of critics of the coup, some of whom are university students. The protesters wore masks representing those who are behind the political movements against the coup, politicians, academics, po
The Thai political crisis has shown no sign of subsiding. Indeed, the rise of political violence becomes more evident. And since Thailand is an important part of the regional economy, its protracted crisis has produced far-reaching effects on the country’s partners. Japan, a major economic partner of Thailand, has felt the political heat too.
It is summer in Japan. All the leaves are bright green, offering comfortable shade on a hot day. In Kyoto, an ancient capital of Japan and where I have been residing since late March last year, tourists are flooding the city. Kyoto has the second largest number of world heritage sites after Rome. Hundred of temples hide themselves deep in the tranquil mountains. Others line busy streets cheek by jowl with state-of-the-art buildings and shopping centres.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra paid an official visit to Japan from 22-25 May. As Thailand’s first female premier, Yingluck did not just exploit her charm to win over Japan, but was daring to talk openly about the most sensitive issue facing her country—the protracted political crisis that erupted in the wake of the 2006 military coup. That coup overthrew her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, the most successful prime minister in Thailand’s history.
Japan’s Shinzo Abe administration had decided to raise the defence budget for the first time in 11 years. The government called for spending 4.68 trillion yen (US$52 billion) on defence, an increase of 0.8% from last year, in the new fiscal year which will begin this April.
Japan has embarked on adjusting its foreign policy following the electoral victory of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which brought Shinzo Abe back to the premiership for the second time. After the Cabinet was formed on 26 December, Abe sent his deputy, Taro Aso, a former prime minister now in charge of the finance ministry, to Myanmar.
Paris, 29 March 2012. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP) express their outrage at the hanging of three inmates this morning in prisons in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. These executions are the first since July 2010 and occurred less than three months after the new Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa took office. The year 2011 had been the first without any execution since 1993.