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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS, TRENDS & IDEAS

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Coping with Demographic Realities: The Case of Kawane Village

in Asia/Politics by

Trends in urbanization are often accompanied by even more significant trends of depopulation in rural areas. Japan presents an extreme case in population changes as in addition to being an incredibly urbanized state; it has one of the lowest birthrates in the World. As a consequence, the care of the elderly who remain in rural areas is of growing concern. Efforts from the Japanese government to date have revolved around consolidating the small rural hamlets into larger administrative units. While this drastically improves the efficiency in fund allocation from a governmental standpoint, the services provided to the residents of these hamlets, who are overwhelmingly aged and vulnerable, has significantly decreased. Previously, funds were allocated to each individual hamlet and decisions on utilization were done on the basis of personal connections. After consolidation, the increased geographical distance of the officers from the citizens meant that those residents who needed services were often unable to promptly or adequately receive them. Consequently, self-organization has become a trending topic of research. Significant difficulty exists in implementation of self-organization however, as trends in urbanization have led to severe depopulation in rural communities. As a result, to date, successful examples of this self-organization in Japan have…

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Dragon Ready to Forge Ahead: Will China overtake US?

in Asia/Economics by

The Chinese juggernaut is expected to overtake the American eagle by 2021 in terms of GDP, according to The Economist’s latest estimates (Aug 2014). In fact, China already outpaced the U.S. as the world’s largest manufacturing power in 2010. Since then, it has been further widening its lead, according to the 2013 UN research. Notwithstanding a small dent in its recent growth trend line, partly owing to a slowdown in export demand from key markets (e.g. U.S. and EU), China has been able to achieve its growth target of 7.5% in the second quarter of 2014. Yet a fleet of naysayers still do not believe these numbers indicate an upcoming shift in the world’s power distribution and, in the face of cognitive dissonance, cling to a weakly-grounded belief that United States of America continues to be the one and only hegemon at least until they rest in peace. Stiff opposition to an impending appearance of Chinese hegemony is predicated on two assumptions. The first one is that China cannot sustain its astonishing growth and is soon doomed to fall from its grace. The other is that even if China is able to surpass the U.S. in the economic area, the…

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All That Glitters Is Not Gold

in Asia/Economics by

China’s fundamentals may not be as strong as you’ve been told. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. The fix is in: China will be the next superpower. We’ve been told the economic projections all assure it, but do they? The same projections were made for the Eastern bloc in the 1960s, Japan in the 1980s, and the Asian Tigers in the 1990s. In each of those decades the conventional wisdom, particularly in the United States, whipped policymakers into a frenzy over the implications of dizzying growth numbers. And yet to varying degrees, history has proven the conventional wisdom wrong. Just as history has a tendency to repeat itself, there is strong evidence to suggest it may be wrong on China as well. First, let’s examine economic strength, upon which most “China superpower” predictions are predicated. One of the most oft-cited figures is China’s GDP. In 2013 China met its target to expand by 7.5% – more than double that of the United States, but also only slightly more than half the 14.2% it recorded only 6 years earlier. And how do these numbers stand up qualitatively? Even as GDP has plummeted, it is increasingly being funded by credit accumulation, with…

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