The DailyBrief

Wednesday March 8, 2017

Fukushima concerns unanswered: The general view has always been that the Fukushima reactor meltdowns in Japan in 2011 were caused by the tsunami that knocked out backup power to the atomic plant. Daniel Hurst writes that Japanese nuclear engineers think that’s not the full story and, six years on, say a key question remains unanswered: What damage did the massive earthquake cause at the atomic plant before it was hit by the subsequent tsunami?

China trade deficit: State-owned enterprises were a key driver behind China’s resoundingly strong import figures for the first two months, that jumped 51.7% from a year ago to 466.7 billion yuan (US$67.6 billion), reports Steve Wang . State-owned enterprises’ hunger for iron ore and crude oil, along with other basic industrial materials, have pushed China import figures to their best start since 2011.

Thai political changes: Prime Minister Prayuth has been credited for managing a tranquil transition from deceased King Bhumibol Adulyadej to new King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who ascended the throne on December 1. However, reports Shawn W. Crispin, power dynamics are now shifting under the new royal order and this is loosening the popular junta leader’s hold on the kingdom to such an extent that he may well take a bow and assume a less dominant role.

Malaysia-NK tensions rising: North Korea announced yesterday that all Malaysian citizens, including diplomats, will not be allowed to leave the country as tensions escalate over the last month’s assassination of Kim Jong-nam, reports David Hutt. Some believe Pyongyang’s decision to take Malaysian nationals “hostage” is part of an intended trade-off for the return of Kim Jong-nam’s body and is pulling the Southeast Asian nation into a geo-strategic realm it is arguably ill-prepared to navigate.