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China's Fishermen Set down Their Nets and Pick up Arms
The long-simmering territorial dispute between China and its neighbors over the South China Sea is about to get hotter. China is giving some of its fishermen military training so they can help defend China's claims to three quarters of the sea. Here’s  Japan’s NHK.
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Reporter:
This is Tanmen, a fishing village on Hainan Island in southern China. Local government officials are spending almost 17-million dollars to improve infrastructure They are making this village a base for China's maritime activities.

Here fishermen who build boats are eligible for local subsidies.
If certain requirements are met, they must fish for at least three months in waters in the South China Sea, south of this line.To encourage them to do that, the government also pays a fuel subsidy.
Fisherman Chen Zebo receives this payment and another financial incentive.

Chen Zebo:
I receive the special daily allowance for fishing in the South China Sea. I receive about 300 dollars a day for my boat.

Reporter:
Some fishermen like Chen also serve in the militia, performing maritime assignment for the local government. They receive military training including how to fire weapons. The maritime militia is set up on certain parts of southern and eastern China’s shores. It's estimated that several million Chinese serve in both the sea and land militias.

Members of the militia from Tanmen served in the war against Vietnam and other conflicts. They carried weapons and gave other non-combat support for the regular army.
Now, just over two hundred belong to the militia in Tanmen. They aren't usually armed, but they are required to radio the Chinese authorities as soon as they sight foreign ships or fishing boats.
President Xi Jinping visited Tamnen last year. He ordered the militia to gather information from the open sea and help with construction on remote islands in the South China Sea.
Chen once fished in the region where China and the Philippines are embroiled in territorial disputes. Philippine authorities detained him for short time. But he still believes it’s his duty to protect this area of the sea.

Chen Zebo:
If anything happens in the sea, I'll notify the Chinese authorities right away. If it weren’t for the fisherman of my village, the South China sea would've been occupied by some other countries."
A government run Chinese institution, that researches the South China Sea says, this militia activities play a important role in upholding China’s sovereignty.

Wu Shicun:
This undertakings are ways to protect China's maritime interests. Fishing and economic activities in the South China Sea are an important means of demonstrating China's presence.

Reporter:
In return for generous government incentives, these fishermen sail to the South China Sea to cast their nets. And while there, their unofficial duty is lookouts for their government. These activities send a clear signal that China is determined to assert itself in the area.
 
 

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Nuclear Comeback in Energy Policy

TEPCOIn Japan, government officials are moving ahead with plans to revive nuclear power. Prior to the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi meltdown, 30% of the country's electricity was generated by more than 50 commercial reactors. Previous leaders had vowed to phase nuclear out, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released a new policy redefining it as an important energy source. Here's NHK with more.

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Toshimitsu Motehi, Japanese Industry Minister:

We will figure out how much nuclear power we need and we will secure that amount.


Reporter:

The draft document adopted by a group of cabinet ministers endorses a major change in Japan’s energy policy. The nuclear accident in Fukushima 3 years ago triggered a nationwide debate over nuclear power. The ruling party at that time promises to phase-out nuclear energy within 30 years. Shinzo Abe’s return to power in the December 2012 election changed the situation. The Prime Minister called elimination of nuclear power irresponsible.


The draft energy policy adopted on Tuesday says the government will re-start the reactors once they clear the latest safety regulations.


The document also underlines the need to learn from the nuclear accident and the importance of safety. But some people question whether it is really safe to resumes operations at nuclear power plants.

Among them, the governor of Niigata. His prefecture hosts the world largest nuclear plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company.


Hirohiko Izumida, Niigata Governor:

TEPCO hasn't learned from the Fukushima accident. It's not qualified to operate nuclear plants.


Reporter:

Paul Scalise is an expert on Japan’s energy policy. He explains the rationale behind the government renewed  emphasis on nuclear power.


Paul Scalise/ Research Fellow, Temple University:

You have Japan's very precarious lack of natural resources and the hope that by moving away from fossil fuels like imported gas, oil, and coal, you can avoid very disrupted shocks to both electricity prices as well as gas prices that took place in the 1970s.


Reporter:

Scalise said the energy policy will be welcomed by the business community. But he adds the utilities and the government needs to display more transparency in order to convince the general public. 

 
 

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Thailand's Rice Farmers Add to Protests in Bangkok

Thailand Rice Farmers

 Protests in Thailand aren't letting up. For months anti-government demonstrators have filled the streets of Bangkok. They're calling for an end to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. With her main offices blocked by protesters, Yingluck moved to a temporary office within the defense ministry and protesters have rallied to shut her out. With the latest on the unrest in Thailand, here's Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

 

Reporter:

Anti-government protesters are targeting businesses linked to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s family in their drive to force her to resign.

 

Demonstrators led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban gathered near a property development firm owned by Yingluck’s family. Thailand’s elite and middle class form the core of the anti-Thaksin faction. They want Yingluck to resign and eliminate the influence of her older brother, former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra. He now lives in self-imposed exile.

 

Yingluck now has another political crisis on her hands. More than 2-thousand protesting farmers drove from Central Thailand to Bangkok on Thursday in a convoy of farm vehicles. They want the government to make good on its pledge to buy rice for about 40% more than the market price.


Rice Farmer:

We don’t go back until we get our money. We’ve been waiting for four or five months. If we weren’t running out of food to eat, we wouldn’t have come.

 

Reporter:

The elite and the middle class say the Thaksin family has used government money to buy votes, mainly in the northern and northeastern parts of Thailand. Yingluck, earlier this month, went ahead with a general election. But protests caused officials to cancel voting in nearly 20% of the country’s electoral districts. Thailands’ Electoral Commission rescheduled elections for late April, but on Wednesday decided to postpone voting in those constituencies until an unspecified date. Thailand’s political divide seems only to be deepening as anti-government protesters vow to topple the government.

 
 

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Former Japanese PM Seeks to Mend Ties with South Korea

Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama has stepped front and center into the argument over history between his country and South Korea. He is famous for the so-called ‘Murayama statement’ in 1995 apologizing for Imperial Japan’s aggression in the first half of the 20th century, he said, "Japan…through its colonial rule and digression caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations," he further went on to say "[I] express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and submit my heartfelt apology."


During a recent visit to Seoul, Murayama said all Japanese prime ministers are bound by the apology he made back in 1995.  And the current one, Shinzo Abe, had no choice but to do the same.  Murayama’s statement got wide play in South Korea and Japan. Here's Japan's public broadcaster NHK.


Reporter:

Murayama is the former leader of Japan’s Social Democratic Party, which is currently in opposition. He is on a private visit to South Korea – invited by the country's opposition lawmakers.


Tomiichi Murayama:

I am convinced that my statement has national consensus. Therefore, I can assure you that Mr. Shinzo Abe, as prime minister of Japan, cannot deny my apology.


Reporter:

Murayama called on South Koreans to work to improve relations with Japan that have soured over historical and other issues.


Tomiichi Murayama:

Japan and South Korea must maintain friendly ties. For their mutual benefit, the development of the whole Asian region and world peace.


Reporter:

South Korean president Park Guen-hye reportedly considered meeting with Murayama, but decided not to.

 
 

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US Cautions China against South China Sea Air Defense Zone

Countries that border the South China Sea are worried that China will set up another air defense identification zone. This will allow it to push its claim to a wide area of the waters. And some are ramping up the rhetoric. Philippine president Benigno Aquino compared China to Germany’s carving up Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War Two. Aquino called on nations around the world to help the Philippines resist China’s claims. That brought a response from the US. Here’s NHK.

 

Reporter:

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russell spoke to reporters in Washington. He said the U.S does not recognize China’s air defense zone and warned its leaders not to set up more.

 

Daniel Russell, State Department:

We urge China not to attempt to implement the ADIZ and certainly not to replicate it in other sensitive areas including and particularly in the South China Sea.

 

Reporter:

Russell said the U.S military had shown that China air defense zone won't affect its operations.

 
 

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