On 16 December Japan will decide the winning aircraft bid for the 'F-X' programme. Along with the usual technical considerations, the bidding process has sparked larger strategic questions for the direction of Japan's national security and could pave the way for greater European involvement in Asia.
The Fukushima disaster earlier this year has raised many doubts about the feasibility of future nuclear energy programmes. This debate has been given greater prominence in Southeast Asia as developing states contend with the prospects of future energy shortages.
By Richard Dowden, Director of the Royal African SocietyParts of Africa have become zones of interest for the US, but its focus on military operations might be counter-productive. Instead the decision by China to focus on resources and commerce could prove far greater in significance.
Far from transforming Asia's naval balance, the launch of China's first aircraft carrier will only begin to expose China to the rigours of modern naval warfare. The region should respond to the strategic ripples by steering carefully between complacency and alarmism.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is looking shaky, to say the least. Although initially riding strong on his policy of rapprochement with China last Fall, the Abe administration has been hit by a number of scandals since December. Abe’s popularity has plummeted to 28% (July ‘07) from a high of 60% (Sept ‘06).
The end of ambiguity about Pyongyang's nuclear capacity raises fundamental questions affecting China, the United States, and the future of international non-proliferation strategy. Indirectly, these consequences could actually work to the advantage of the West in its attempts to prevent Iran 'going nuclear'.
The UN Security Council is certain to impose sanctions on North Korea. But, since these are likely to involve – at least initially – just cutting off trade and diplomatic contacts, no significant impact is expected.