The DailyBrief

Wednesday October 11, 2017

Japan’s upcoming election: Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike’s Party of Hope promises to stop a planned increase in the consumption tax, tax big companies that stockpile cash, shake up the political system by cutting the number of MPs, and phase out nuclear power, Daniel Hurst writes. At first glance, the fledgling party that is seeking to challenge Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition on October 22 could be seen to be appealing to populist sentiment. However, Gregory Noble, a professor at the University of Tokyo, doesn’t see signs that Japan is about to embrace the type of populism that has swept the US. He said: “There seems to be a limited demand for populism in Japanese society. Social integration is high, the economy is fairly stable, and there are limited inroads of progressivism – all those things are likely to limit the demand for populism.” READ THE STORY HERE

China’s top banker: Next week’s 19th National Congress in Beijing is President Xi Jinping’s party, but the real focus of the conclave is likely to be on who will replace outgoing People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan, William Pesek writes. Zhou, who turns 70 in January, is a tough act to follow. Over the past 15 years, he’s been Beijing’s most consistent and forceful reformer, its economic face across three presidencies and the longest-serving governor among the top 20 economies. During that time, he scrapped China’s dollar peg, modernized monetary-policy tools, ended caps on deposit rates and engineered the yuan’s elevation toward reserve-currency status. Who might replace Zhou? Speculation often centers on Jiang Chaoliang, party secretary in Hubei Province. Political heavyweight Guo Shuqing, chairman of the Banking Regulatory Commission, gets mentioned, as does Yi Gang, one of Zhou’s deputies. READ THE STORY HERE

Asia’s struggling elite: Recent surveys show the region’s pool of super-rich tycoons dipped last year due to sluggish economic growth and a commodity price slump, Alan Boyd writes. There were 607 billionaires in Asia in 2016, according to the latest census by income researchers Wealth-X. That compares with 757 in Europe, 654 in North America, 169 in the Middle East, 144 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 41 in Africa and 25 in the Pacific. China has 249 billionaire tycoons, second only to the US (620), while there are 85 in India, 72 in Hong Kong, 37 in Singapore, 31 in Japan, 25 in Thailand, 23 in South Korea, 22 in Indonesia and 21 in Taiwan. The bad news for billionaires is that it is becoming harder to keep your place among the elite. Difficult economic times trimmed China’s pool of billionaires by 4.2% in 2016, and their wealth dropped by 0.7%. READ THE STORY HERE

Singapore celebrates conscription: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of National Service, a long-standing policy of forcing males to serve in the armed forces, police force or civil defense force, Kirsten Han writes. Most conscripts complete a two-year full-time stint, followed by annual in-camp training obligations. It’s trumpeted by the Ministry of Defense as critical for the tiny country’s “continued survival and success” and “freedom to act in Singaporeans’ best interests” in a country long vulnerable to big external threats and often volatile neighbors. But new generation graduates’ reactions to the mandatory obligation are mixed. Some men find their yearly in-camp training obligations put them at an early disadvantage in an increasingly competitive workforce. READ THE STORY HERE

Pakistani political turmoil: A report, purportedly delivered by the Intelligence Bureau to the Secretariat of the Prime Minister sometime in July, has plunged the troubled Pakistan Muslim League (N) government deeper into crisis, FM Shakil writes. The civilian spy agency’s report links dozens of treasury members with proscribed militant outfits and banned sectarian groups, delivering a further political jolt to the government following the disqualification of its figurehead, Nawaz Sharif, as prime minister on July 28. In response, a group of 37 members of the national assembly – including federal ministers – staged a walkout from parliament last week. The treasury lawmakers implicated were furious when a TV news channel leaked the report, which was allegedly submitted by the IB at the behest of Nawaz when he was still in office. READ THE STORY HERE

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that delivers the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. As we report here, the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play