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China’s African mischief

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: As Libya’s National Transitional Council attempts to establish a functioning government for a newly liberated country, the truth about what went on under Col. Muammar El-Qaddafi’s regime is starting to come to light. Various treasures have been unearthed from Tripoli mansions that were hastily vacated by their owners, and what happened to …


The last days of Qaddafi

By Yuriko Koike BENGHAZI: The endgame in the Libyan conflict has at last arrived. Much of Libya’s capital is now in insurgent hands, with the rebel army itself entering from all directions. The military impotence of forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Qaddafi — visible for a week — had been matched by the regime’s growing political …


Asia after the Afghan War

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: July will mark two milestones in America’s sometimes-tortured relations with Asia. One is the beginning of the end of the nearly decade-long struggle in Afghanistan — the longest war in United States history — as President Barack Obama announces the first troop withdrawals. The other is the 40th anniversary of Henry Kissinger’s …


Squaring Asia’s nuclear triangle

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: Just before the fourth trilateral summit between Japan, China, and South Korea began on May 21, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan jointly visited the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, offering encouragement to the disaster’s victims living in evacuation centers. …


The sun will rise again

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: In Japan, memorial services for the dead are normally held 49 days after their passing. The bereaved mourn throughout this period. The number of victims of the earthquake and tsunami that assaulted the Tohoku region of northeast Japan has now reached around 30,000, if those who are still missing are included. This …


Japan’s recovery bonds

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: The tsunami raced through the town at eight meters per second, the speed of a gold-medal sprinter. The wave’s height reached 15 meters, towering above even the highest pole-vault bars. Ships were heaved onto hills, and cars floated like boats. After the wave passed, a chaotic mountain of debris was all that …


Asia’s chains that bind

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: Asian manufacturers have always migrated in search of cheaper labor. Until recently, China seemed their ultimate destination, claiming an ever larger share of investment by Asia’s huge production networks. But three developments in China — rising wage inflation, the coming of a new five-year plan that will seek to shift dramatically the …


Is Cold War II underway?

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington is coming at an increasingly tense moment in Sino/American relations. Indeed, mesmerized by China’s vast military buildup, a new constellation of strategic partnerships among its neighbors, and America’s revitalized commitment to Asian security, many shrewd observers suggest that 2010 saw the first sparks of a …


China’s choice in North Korea

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: If the most dangerous moment for any dictatorship is when it starts to reform, North Korea looks ready to turn that truism on its head. Its recent shelling of South Korea suggests that the failing Kim dynasty might set East Asia alight rather than undertake any serious reform. If peace really is …


Vietnam’s Chinese lessons

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: For 30 years after World War II’s end, Vietnam claimed the global spotlight. Its victories over France and the United States were the defining wars of independence of the post-colonial era. But ever since those immortal scenes of US army helicopters hovering above the abandoned US embassy in Saigon in 1975, Vietnam …


Russia’s lost opportunity with Japan

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: President Dmitri A. Medvedev visit to the south Kuril Islands, which the Soviet Red Army seized from Japan in the closing days of World War II, has demonstrated in unmistakable terms that Russia has no intention of returning the mineral-rich islands. This visit is not only a lost opportunity, given Russia’s need …


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