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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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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Modi and Jokowi: Why the World Should Take Notice

For India and Indonesia, the world’s largest and third-largest democracies, 2014 is a watershed. It is the year that powerful political dynasties, a long-term feature of the region’s electoral landscape, were finally supplanted by a new breed of popular leader.That is why the twin elections — of Narendra Modi in India and of Joko Widodo…
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Forget China, India Should Look to Indonesia

Indians rarely agree on much, but they do tend towards an uncommon consensus about the belief in Indian exceptionalism. Rightists, Leftists and Opportunists find themselves on the same page in espousing the idea that as a country and civilization, India is uniquely diverse, contradictory, large, tolerant, and complex. Having been educated into a strong emotional…
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Europe’s German Schizophrenia

Germany has always been at the heart of the European project. A nation that came to represent the continent’s deepest psychological scars, it was also the motor driving European integration. The European Union emerged and developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the vehicle by which Germany was to be both contained…
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Celebrating the Decline of Europe

t wasn’t long before I realised that moving from Beijing to Brussels entailed more than a switch from chopsticks to chocolate. At heart it was a move from an energetic story of rise to a tired one of decline. In China, everything was on the up: the economy, the sky-scraping new buildings, nationalism, sporting prowess,…
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