Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Comic book on Fukushima irks Tokyo.
A popular "manga" series has gone where much of the Japanese media fear to tread: Fukushima's radiation crisis. While the nation has long since moved on to other topics, such as excitement over the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, writers of "Oishinbo" comic books are putting a spotlight on health risks in the general vicinity of a reactor damaged during a record earthquake in March 2011. The government, both local and national, is not amused. They’re also missing point: the Japanese public fears the nuclear power plants in their midst and no amount of spin can change that -- only finding alternatives to nuclear power will do.
The Four C's of Chinese wealth.
The idea that where one is born decides much about the potential for economic mobility is as true of China as anywhere else. Here's an interesting Foreign Policy take on the Four C's that can dictate one's wealth trajectory. It turns out that ending up on the right side of China's regional inequality often depends on: the level of urbanization in the city you're in; that city's proximity to the east coast; whether you are near one of China's "capital" cities, meaning those with efficient local governments and well-trained work forces; and the availability "coal," a euphemism for national resources.
The other side of the climate-change coin.
Energy companies have lobbied aggressively, and with considerable success, to paint climate change as some cynical hoax cooked up by environmental zealots. But the question is whether dire predictions concerning the fallout from rising temperatures and sea levels, most recently from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Climate Assessment, are tipping the scales of public opinion. If they are, then how are resource-rich nations around the world preparing for the day when India, China and other emerging-market giants consume fewer fossil fuels? For a look at what's at stake, here’s a timely Project Syndicate op-ed about the future of energy supply, demand and geopolitics.
South Korea names ferry martyrs.
Amid all the ugly headlines and recriminations over South Korea's ferry disaster, it's worthwhile considering the heroes in this tragedy. The government recognized three "martyrs" who gave their lives on April 16 when the Sewol capsized, killing at least 275 people (mostly high school kids). The designation is great for the three families, entitling them to bury their loved ones in a national cemetery and receive compensation. But its significance is far greater amid soul-searching about the cowardice of the captain and crew members, who abandoned ship that day. Hats off to those selfless and demonstrably brave crew members.
India's Modi looks like a shoo-in this week.
“Let’s place people over politics, hope over despair, healing over hurting, inclusion over exclusion and development over divisiveness.” Sounds great, but that's easier said than done for Narendra Modi, who uttered these words last night as he learned that exit polls suggest his Bharatiya Janata Party will be ruling India come Friday. As Modi will quickly find, winning the contest was the easy part. The hard part is figuring out how to shake up the country's corrupt and inefficient political system, that will try to stymie Modi's every attempt at change.
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