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In an interview with Financial Times this week, Iraqi foreign minister Ibrahim Jafari revealed China has offered to provide support for Iraqi airstrikes against ISIS. It’s unclear whether Beijing plans to follow through on this proposition, but potential Chinese-Iraqi cooperation could include weapons sales, intelligence sharing, and military training.
Few thought the LDP would lose its majority in the Lower House of the Japanese Diet, but opposition parties hoped to give Abe a “black eye,” and make it more difficult for him to pass any further reform legislation. However, the latest polls ahead of the December 14 election show that Abe’s gamble may actually result in a pick-up of seats for the LDP.
Moody’s is to be commended for facing up to reality and for downgrading the rating of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) from Aa3 to A1. However, it is to be regretted that Moody’s did so for the wrong reason. Since, contrary to Moody’s belief that JGB investors now face a heightened risk of rising yields and reduced debt affordability over the medium term, the real risk that JGB investors face is a rapidly depreciating Japanese exchange rate and a burst of Japanese inflation that would reduce the real value of their JGB holdings.
Japan does not have to be Asia’s biggest military, but it can compete technologically with anyone. Its armed forces, especially the Ground Self-Defense Forces, may have far less experience than the South Koreans, but neither does the PLA have much recent ground experience. Much of the battle in Asia remains focused on the air and sea domain.
Abe’s goal is to gain a renewed mandate for his controversial policies, including a disastrous sales tax increase earlier this year, more fiscal stimulus spending, and monetary expansion. From a policy point of view, that may not be a bad thing, given the lack of other plans from either Abe’s own LDP or the DPJ. But from a political perspective, the continuing lack of confidence in Japan’s leaders is a worrisome sign for the long-term health of the democracy.
This week’s Sino-Japanese dialogue on the Senkaku Islands’ territorial dispute represents a breakthrough from recent years, in which the specter of an accidental clash between Japanese and Chinese paramilitary forces seemed to grow each month. While there is reason to doubt whether the two sides will be able to keep relations on an even keel for the long-run, at least in the short term the political leadership of both has indicated a willingness to look at the larger question of their bilateral relationship.
Tien is not your average businessman; he had relatively close ties to the Chinese leadership and headed up a leading Hong Kong real estate company. But Beijing, it appears, is more than willing to “eat one of its own” if there is even the slightest hint of criticism about its decisions—in this case it’s decision to stand firmly behind its hand-picked, top city official.