In Japan, Parties of little Hope

For usually staid Japan, the last few weeks have been politically rambunctious. Caught in the exchange of verbal missiles between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, even as ballistic ones flew overhead, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suddenly announced a snap election for October 22, more than a year ahead of…
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Shinzo Abe’s high-risk gamble

With North Korean missiles flying overhead, and an economy that remains sluggish, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to call a snap election on October 20, a full year ahead of schedule, is a high-risk gamble. His hurry to corral the country to the polls with less than a month’s notice stems from a concatenation…
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The Smoke Signals From China

For China watchers, the popular TV series, ‘Game of Thrones’, is but an anaemic trifle when compared to the backroom intrigue and power play expected at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Congress will begin on October 18, accompanied by platoons of analysts in paroxysms of tea leaf-reading, attempting…
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Postcard From Tokyo

  Japanese has a bounty of words that recasts the mundane into the luminous. Shinrinyoku, for example, refers to taking a walk in the forest, but translates as “forest bathing”, conjuring up the feel of cleansing light pouring through tall trees on parched skin. Another instance: mon koh refers to lighting incense, but translates as…
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Shinkansen: India and Japan’s Silver Bullet for a Rising China

The inauguration this week of India’s first high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmadabad, using Japanese technology and financing, has a geostrategic significance that transcends its economic worth. It amplifies the growing closeness between India and Japan at a time when both nations are struggling to find their footing in an Asia being re-fashioned by…
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An alliance on track: on the bullet train project

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad this week, the bilateral agenda will range from issues of maritime security to nuclear energy and trade. But at the centrepiece of their summitry will be the inauguration of India’s first high-speed rail corridor from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, to be developed using…
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The Makings of Japan’s First Woman PM

Heralded as the new face of brand Tokyo and touted as a future Prime Minister, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike is currently the brightest star in Japan’s political firmament. Her party’s thumping win over the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections in July has only burnished the 65-year-old politician’s already shiny…
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Spot the similarities: unity in diversity in India and Indonesia

Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia, has often felt like a moderate oasis in an angry, global desert of religious extremism. Until only a few months ago two of the Muslim-majority nation’s most important, if unlikely, leaders, President Joko Widodo and Jakarta Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, embodied this optimism. They were unlikely because neither came from…
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Rajinikanth: The Tamil star who has a cult following in…Japan.

Hiroyoshi takeda is not a typical Japanese man. Instead of a suit and tie, the 39-year-old Tokyoite wears T-shirts with technicolour caricatures of a moustachioed south Indian movie star. Rather than bowing, he dances. He doesn’t ride the metro, but travels the streets in a gaudily adorned auto rickshaw imported from Tamil Nadu. Not for…
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