Category - Asia

Japan Ignores Protesters, Authorizes Overseas Military Operations

Move Was Loudly Backed by US, Which Envisions Japanese Support in Future Wars

Anti-War, By Jason Ditz, September 18

Ignoring polls that showed a showing a strong majority of Japanese voters opposed, and weeks of massive public protests, the upper house of the Japanese parliament today voted in favor of changes to reverse limits on war fighting in the post-WW2 Japanese Constitution, allowing the military to conduct overseas operations in “collective defense” of allies.

The limits were imposed after WW2 by the United States to prevent Japan rearming, but it was ironically also the US that pushed heavily to pitch those restrictions, envisioning growing Japanese military involvement in their assorted wars abroad. Current PM Abe Shinzo backed the move heavily, though polls show it is hurting his favorability ratings quite a bit.

The real question yet to be resolved is exactly how much this vote loosens restrictions on Japanese wars abroad, as Abe and other politicians have downplayed the matter, while military officials say there will be “almost nothing” they won’t be able to do abroad in the future.

And while many in the military are salivating at the budget hikes this upgrade portends, some are expressing concern that the change is going to open up increasing US pressure to join the war against ISIS and other major conflicts, and risks a US backlash if they refuse.

New York Times: Japan Military Bills Provoke Scuffling in Parliament

Military-backed Thai council rejects new constitution

Rejection of draft sets back plans for Thailand’s return to democracy, with the military retaining substantial powers.

Al Jazeera, September 6

Thailand’s military-appointed National Reform Council has rejected a new draft constitution, delaying a return to democracy following last year’s coup.

The authors of the draft in the National Reform Council had hoped the charter would move the country past almost a decade of political conflicts, but it met strong opposition from almost all sides of the country’s political divide.

One of the most contentious provisions included a 23-member panel, with military members, that would be empowered to take over from the parliament and prime minister in times of “national crisis”.

Almost all parties criticised the draft, and it risked being voted down in a referendum, further complicating a transition to electoral democracy.

Left Parties Claim All India General Strike ‘a Great Success’

Outlook India, September 2

New Delhi – Terming the All India general strike called by central trade unions (CTUs) “a great success”, Left parties today congratulated the protesters for staging “one of the biggest” demonstrations of working class against Centre’s alleged anti-labour policies.

“Great success I should say. (The response) was more than expected. It is one of the biggest actions of working class and manifestation of their unity against anti-labour policies of Government,” CPI General secretary S Sudhakar Reddy told PTI.

The strike was “successful” despite Centre trying to “dissuade” workers from proceeding with the agitation at the eleventh minute, the CPI(M) said.

“Apart from dissuading RSS-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, they could not succeed in dissuading any other CTU from proceeding with the strike,” the party said in a statement.


Normal life was affected in various parts of the country, including West Bengal, Tripura, Kerala and Karnataka, as 10 CTUs today went on day-long nationwide strike to protest against changes in labour laws and privatisation of PSUs.

The strike affected transport, banking operations and other services in various parts of the country.

Trade unions’ 12-point charter of demands also included urgent measures to contain price rise, contain unemployment, strict enforcement of basic labour laws, universal social security cover for all workers and minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month.

CPI national secretary D Raja claimed all sectors including banking, coal, transport were at the forefront of the strike and the “massive and tremendous” response to the protest sends a “clear” message to the Government that it can’t undermine the voice of working class.

Huge Anti-Government Protests in Malaysia Continue For a Second Day

The demonstration is the largest popular vote of no confidence to date against beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak.

TIME, By Nash Jenkins, August 30

Kuala Lumpur – Saturday’s massive but harmonious anti-government demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur continued overnight and into Sunday morning as historical numbers of Malaysians gathered in the streets of the capital to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“It’s what we need to do for the prime minister to hear our voices and realize we don’t need him anymore,” Abdul Muiz, a 26-year-old businessman in a plastic Guy Fawkes mask, told TIME early Sunday. “I think it’ll stay peaceful — the object is peaceful revolt, since we’re a peaceful nation.”

The marathon rally is expected to last until midnight on Sunday, which will mark the beginning of Merdeka Day, the anniversary of Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957.

By noon on Sunday, the crowd had swelled to rival Saturday’s, which drew 200,000 by organizer’s estimates and 20,000 by police’s. A number of protesters stayed in the streets near Merdeka Square overnight, sleeping on the pavement when tired.

Japan police expect bloody violence as biggest yakuza syndicate set to split

RT, August 28

War is imminent in the Japanese gang world, police say, as Yamaguchi-gumi – the largest yakuza conglomerate – is facing a split. Authorities are awaiting an outbreak of bloody violence, as the syndicate boasts some 43 percent of all Japan’s gang members.

To blame are differences in loyalties to the gang’s 73-year-old boss, Shinobu Tsukasa, who became the country’s most powerful crime lord in 2005, the Japan Times reports.

Reports indicate that he angered some of the gangs in the syndicate by giving preferential treatment to certain branches, as well as harboring ambitions of expanding into new territory, straying outside of the syndicate’s home turf. Tsukasa, who also goes by the name Kenichi Shinoda, is the syndicate’s sixth-generation don.

Twelve of the more than 30 groups now threaten to leave and form their own syndicate, according to the Japan Times’ police sources. This is putting police on very high alert, as the gang – now 100 years old – is quite a large organization. Numbering 10,300 members at the end of 2014, it also comprises 23,400 ‘quasi’-members. The gang’s influence is felt everywhere.

Gujarat remains tense after Patel caste violence

Tension prevails in India’s Gujarat state where two days of caste-related violence has left eight people dead.

BBC, August 27

Fresh clashes were reported overnight and the army has been deployed to maintain peace.

A curfew has been imposed, after members of the influential Patel community, demanding quotas in government jobs, clashed with the police and local people.


Gujarat has been particularly alert to incidents of violence since 2002 when religious riots left at least 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims.


Patels are now demanding affirmative action and classification as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) so that they are entitled to quotas in state-run education centres and in government jobs.

OBC refers to the castes – in the middle of the Hindu caste hierarchy – who do not face so much exclusion or isolation in society but have been traditionally socially and economically disadvantaged.

Second Bomb Found After Explosion Kills 12 at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine

Khaosod English, August 17

Bangkok — Explosives experts reportedly have located a second bomb set in the Thai capital’s commercial heart after a large explosion killed at least 12 people and injured others around 7pm tonight.

National police spokesman Prawuth Thawornsiri said the explosion was caused by a bomb and killed 12 people.

Photos from the scene show blood and bodies on the ground as rescue workers rush to provide aid near the local landmark, which is heavily frequented by Thais and tourists alike and is especially busy during rush hour.

In images tweeted by JS 100 radio just after the blast, fires were burning in Sukhumvit Road. A explosives unit has been dispatched to the site of a deadly bombing in Bangkok this evening to look for another possible bomb, according to a JS100 account.

China stuns financial markets by devaluing yuan for second day running

Stocks, currencies and commodities fall sharply across region as investors fear a stalling China economy and possible currency war despite Beijing’s assurances.

The Guardian, By Martin Farrer & Fergus Ryan, August 11

Beijing – China stunned the world’s financial markets on Wednesday by devaluing the yuan for the second consecutive day, triggering fears the world’s second largest economy is in worse shape than investors believed.

The move sent fresh shockwaves through global markets, pushing shares sharply lower and sending commodity prices further into reverse as traders feared the move could ignite a currency war that would destabilise the world economy.

There were widespread losses in Asia, and in Europe stock markets suffered falls of about 1%, with the FTSE 100 tumbling almost 2% at one stage.


The unexpected yuan devaluation saw Chinese stocks slump in Hong Kong, with the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index sliding 2.6%, extending its loss this quarter to 15%. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1% to 3,886.32 and the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell 1.2% to 4,016.13 points.

TPP talks make progress but no deal on Pacific trade

BBC, August 1

Negotiators from 12 Pacific nations have finished a week of talks without agreement on a regional trade deal.

But the US trade representative Michael Froman said ministers were more confident than ever that a deal on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership was within reach.

He said it would support jobs and economic growth.

Among the sticking points were issues relating to the automobile sector and access to dairy markets.

No date has been set for the next round of talks.

India, Bangladesh swap border enclaves, settle old dispute

AP, July 31

New Delhi – At the stroke of midnight Friday, tens of thousands of stateless people who were stranded for decades along the poorly defined border between India and Bangladesh will finally get to choose their citizenship, as the two countries swapped more than 150 pockets of land to settle the demarcation line dividing them.

Television images showed people bursting firecrackers and raising an Indian flag in the Masaldanga enclave, which became part of India.

India’s External Affairs Ministry in a statement described July 31 as a historic day for both India and Bangladesh as “it marks the resolution of a complex issue that has lingered since independence” from British colonialists in 1947.

Nearly 37,000 people lived in 111 Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh, while 14,000 lived in 51 Bangladeshi enclaves in India. These people are getting citizenship of their choice.