Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Abe's "shock doctrine" in Japan?
It's called the "shock doctrine," an ideology dreamt up by free-marketeers like Milton Friedman that argues one should exploit crises to impose controversial and irreversible change on nations around the world. Here's an interesting op-ed questioning whether that's what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is up to. In recent days, Abe has talked less about revising Japan's pacifist constitution and more about "collective self-defense" should allies like America need help. It seems increasingly clear that he's using China's provocations to change the nature of Japan's military by stealth. Unless he can build stronger public backing, however, Abe may be the one in for a shock.
Chinese tycoon says "Ni hao, Norway!"
Turned away in Iceland, property magnate Huang Nubo is switching his sights to Norway. First the chairman of Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group wants to buy a hotel in Oslo and then invest as much as $100 million in resorts and other tourism-related property. Huang is the vanguard of a generation of deep-pocketed Chinese with global ambitions. How those ambitions will play around the globe, though, remains to be seen. Iceland gave the thumbs down to Huang's planned $200 million resort and mountain park there. Huang will have to wait and see if Norway proves any more welcoming.
Now even Australia has jobs problem.
The universal take on Australia's latest jobs report is one that Harry Truman would approve of. The former U.S. president abhorred economists giving on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand analyses. Well, the fact that the Aussie economy now sports the highest unemployment rate in 10 years has, in the words of economist Justin Smirk of Westpac, "no silver lining.” Prime Minister Tony Abbott must redouble efforts to shore up growth amid a global slowdown, if he wants to start turning opinions around.
Is Microsoft aiding China's censors?
We live in a world where even the Rolling Stones bow to China. When Mick Jagger and the guys hit Beijing, they agree not to put "Brown Sugar," "Beast of Burden," and "Let's Spend the Night Together" on the set list. But there's something far more sinister about kowtowing by tech company CEOs, folks who claim to be connecting the world and spreading democracy. Google, a company that cultivated an anti-establishment image and a philosophy of "Don't Be Evil" helped China censor cyberspace until it grew a conscience and pulled out in 2010. Is Microsoft's Bing search engine going the other way and aiding Beijing's Great Wall of Censorship? Here's an account of a new study that alleges just that. Not cool, Microsoft. Not cool.
India's female problem.
For all the challenges faced by India's women, few even entertain the idea that their country could rank behind Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia on any metric. When considering women’s participation in the workforce, however, that's precisely the case. Among the BRICS --Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- it has the lowest female participation rate, just 29 percent for women over 15. India also does poorly versus Mexico, Nigeria, Indonesia and Turkey, the so-called MINT economies. Officials in New Delhi may want to get on this issue -- especially with election looming.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @williampesek.)
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