Posted on Monday, June 18, 2012 by Rosalind Reischer
A Weekly Compilation of under reported news in Asia.
- Lee Myung-bak urged Japan to reduce its trade deficit and import-restricting trade barriers as necessary pre-conditions for negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). In the same speech, President Lee encouraged his counterpart to issue an apology for the sexual enslavement of South Korean comfort women during World War II. The speech is a microcosm of South Korea-Japan bilateral relations—the nations have many shared interests, but bilateral ties are complicated by their rocky history.
- The United States military will provide the Philippines with a land-based long range radar that will track ships off the Philippine coast. The decision comes after President Benigno Aquino’s visit to Washington, D.C. and reaffirms the U.S. commitment to the Philippines and the strategy of rebalancing to Asia.
- Netizens in China speculated the cause of a “mysterious haze” that descended on Wuhan on Monday. The most grave explanation put forth was an industrial explosion at a nearby steel factory. The Wuhan Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) refuted such allegations and announced the haze was a product of bad weather conditions and farmers’straw-burning habits. The incident further delineates the severity of air pollution in China.
- Violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Western Burma (Myanmar) caused 30,000 people to flee to Bangladesh, where they were refused entry. The unrest indicated potential instability in the reformist government and has raised concerns among the international community and investors. Despite the clashes, Coca-Cola Co. recently announced plans to begin economic and social grants targeting women’s empowerment in Burma.
- Since the 2011 earthquake and subsequent radioactive contamination at Fukushima, Japan has struggled to find effective radiation monitoring techniques, given the nation’s mountainous and remote terrains. This week Japan announced plans to design unmanned aircrafts to measure radioactivity in Fukushima. The drones will have the capacityto fly at higher altitudes and over contaminated areas.
- China sent its first manned space docking mission into space on Friday. The team, which consisted of two men and one woman, completed the docking mission at the Chinese space station, Tiangong, following an initial unmanned docking success last November. These steps are part of a project first conceived in 1992 that aims at a completed space station by 2020.
- For the first time in 42 years, Japan’s Self Defense Forces (SDF) participated in a public military training in the streets of Tokyo. In the wake of a militarily capable China and an increasingly mercurial North Korea, the exercises seek to acclimate the Japanese public to the presence of armed forces. The 2012 Global Peace Index reported a planned reallocation of military resources to the South to mirror China’s military buildup.