From Hiroko to Susie: The Untold Stories of Japanese War Brides

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Who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?

Kathryn Tolbert writes: I thought she was beautiful, although I never understood why she plucked her eyebrows off and penciled them on every morning an inch higher. She had been captain of her high school basketball team in Japan, and she ran circles around us kids on a dirt court in our small town in Upstate New York. I can still see this Japanese woman dribbling madly about, yelling “Kyash! Kyash!” That’s how she said Kath, or Kathy.

[Above: Hiroko and Bill with Kathy, left, Sam and Susan. The video is the trailer to a short documentary film, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” which features Hiroko and two other war brides.]

She married my American GI father barely knowing him. She moved from Tokyo to a small poultry farm just outside Elmira, N.Y., and from there she delivered eggs all over the county and into Pennsylvania. My sister describes her as having a “core of steel.” She raised us as determinedly as any mother could, and yet, looking back, I barely knew her.

Some people think the film I co-directed, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” is a paean to loving Japanese mothers. When one interviewer suggested as much to me and fellow director Karen Kasmauski, we exchanged a look that said, “Shall we tell him the truth?” The film, titled after a Japanese proverb, is about strong women, for sure. Warm and loving mothers? No.

So who are these women and what do we, their children, know about them?

They are sisters and daughters of the ferocious enemy that attacked Pearl Harbor in the “day of infamy,” an enemy that surrendered four years later after waves of firebombing on Japanese cities and the dropping of atomic bombs. They married men who occupied their country and came to the United States. And then? They disappeared into America. There were tens of thousands of them, yet they vanished from public awareness — Japanese women who were barely a blip in immigration history, who married into families of North Dakota farmers, Wisconsin loggers, Rhode Island general store owners.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

They either tried, or were pressured, to give up their Japanese identities to become more fully American. A first step was often adopting the American nicknames given them when their Japanese names were deemed too hard to pronounce or remember. Chikako became Peggy; Kiyoko became Barbara. Not too much thought went into those choices, names sometimes imposed in an instant by a U.S. officer organizing his pool of typists. My mother, Hiroko Furukawa, became Susie.

How did it feel to be renamed for someone in the man’s past, a distant relative or former girlfriend? My mother said she didn’t mind, and others said it made their lives easier to have an American name.

The brides, as many as 45,000, landed in the home towns of their husbands, places where Japanese people had been visible only on World War II propaganda posters. Was their skin really yellow? One war bride in South Carolina was asked to pull up her sleeve since no yellow was visible on her hands and wrists.

Hiroko Furukawa Tolbert, 85, mother of Kathryn Tolbert, arrived in Elmira, N.Y., in 1952. Her in-laws called her Susie. (Karen Kasmauski for The Washington Post)

My mother, once a daughter of privilege, came to her in-laws’ chicken farm. She has lived in the same two square miles of countryside ever since. It has been 64 years.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

I read and reread the transcripts from interviews I had recorded with my mother when I was pregnant with my own daughter more than 20 years ago, when I realized I didn’t have even a timeline of her life. Six hours of tapes and they didn’t tell me what I now wanted to know. So I went back to her recently to try to understand what she could possibly have been thinking when she made the choice to marry an American soldier she barely knew. “I wasn’t thinking. I just had to get out,” was one of her succinct responses.

I didn’t know other women like her, although I had two journalist friends who were also daughters of Japanese war brides. When they proposed making a film about our mothers, I readily agreed because I had always wanted to tell her story. And she’s such an excellent raconteur that, sitting beside her in the film as her interviewer, I’m almost an unnecessary prop.

Read the rest of this entry »


China Facing Full-Blown Banking Crisis, World’s Top Financial Watchdog Warns

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China has failed to curb excesses in its credit system and faces mounting risks of a full-blown banking crisis, according to early warning indicators released by the world’.

A key gauge of credit vulnerability is now three times over the danger threshold and has continued to deteriorate, despite pledges by Chinese premier Li Keqiang to wean the economy off debt-driven growth before it is too late.

The Bank for International Settlements warned in its quarterly report that China’s “credit to GDP gap” has reached 30.1, the highest to date and in a different league altogether from any other major country tracked by the institution. It is also significantly higher than the scores in East Asia’s speculative boom on 1997 or in the US subprime bubble before the Lehman crisis.

Studies of earlier banking crises around the world over the last sixty years suggest that any score above ten requires careful monitoring.  The credit to GDP gap measures deviations from normal patterns within any one country and therefore strips out cultural differences.

It is based on work the US economist Hyman Minsky and has proved to be the best single gauge of banking risk, although the final denouement can often take longer than assumed. Indicators for what would happen to debt service costs if interest rates rose 250 basis points are also well over the safety line.

China’s total credit reached 255pc of GDP at the end of last year, a jump of 107 percentage points over eight years. This is an extremely high level for a developing economy and is still rising fast.

Outstanding loans have reached $28 trillion, as much as the commercial banking systems of the US and Japan combined. The scale is enough to threaten a worldwide shock if China ever loses control. Corporate debt alone has reached 171pc of GDP, and it is this that is keeping global regulators awake at night. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] North Korea TV Show Mocks Obama

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“Are you all right Mr. President?” the North Korean playing a White House aide said to the other actor whose head is wrapped with a bloody bandage, NK News reported.

“I smacked my head on the bathroom floor and broke four tiles on it,” the president answered, “as I was so shocked from the North’s hydrogen bomb detonation!”

“So Mr. President, you were testing the hardness of your skull while the North was testing its hydrogen bomb? ” the aide joked, according to NK News.

“I smacked my head on the bathroom floor and broke four tiles on it, as I was so shocked from the North’s hydrogen bomb detonation!”

The 80-minute comedy show’s title roughly translates as “The stage of optimism that Songun (military-first policy) presented — Volume 11.” The skit was televised Sept. 1, according to a South Korean government database. Read the rest of this entry »


Tesla’s Autopilot May Have Caused Fatal Crash in China

A Chinese man suing Tesla Motors tsla after his son was killed while driving one of the U.S. car makers’ vehicles argues that the responsiveness of the car’s “autopilot” function was responsible for the accident, his lawyer said. Tesla’s Autopilot, introduced in October, has been the focus of intense scrutiny. The company said earlier this…(read more)

Source: Fortune


South China Morning Post Closes its Chinese-Language Websites Without Warning

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Things just keep getting worse and worse for Hong Kong’s paper of record.

Now, if you try to log onto South China Morning Post‘s Chinese-language news site or lifestyle site you are redirected to the paper’s English-language website and informed that SCMP’s Chinese-language services have been closed in order to better “integrate resources.” The message concludes, “We thank you for your past support.”

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And just like that years of Chinese-language reporting by the SCMP has been wiped out. Current and former employees told Quartz that they were not told in advance about the decision to close the site. This is backed up by the fact that SCMP’s Chinese-language news site, nanzao.com, was still posting stories on Facebook as late as this afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »


Tighter Monetary Policy Signal Spooks Markets, Global Stock Selloff Continues

Loose Money Party Peaks, Hangover Anticipation Looms.

Rica Gold reports: Global stocks started the week sharply lower amid concerns about tighter monetary policy, resuming declines that have halted two months of calm summer trading.
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“Central banks get most of the credit for the calm and upward-moving market over the summer, but I don’t think we can depend on that going forward.”

— Jeff Layman, chief investment officer at BKD Wealth Advisors

Markets in Europe and Asia retreated Monday amid signs the world’s central banks will be less accommodative than previously expected.APPROVED-non-stop-panic

“Bourses in Asia closed with steep declines, with shares in Hong Kong off around 3.3%, Shanghai down 1.9%, Japan down 1.7% and Australia down 2.2%.”

“Central banks get most of the credit for the calm and upward-moving market over the summer, but I don’t think we can depend on that going forward,” said Jeff Layman, chief investment officer at BKD Wealth Advisors.

The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 1.9% early in the session, while futures pointed to a 0.6% opening loss for the S&P 500 after its biggest daily drop since the U.K.’s EU referendum.

Bourses in Asia closed with steep declines, with shares in Hong Kong off around 3.3%, Shanghai down 1.9%, Japan down 1.7% and Australia down 2.2%.

The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, U.S. There are heightened expectations for an interest rate rise by the Fed later this year.

The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, U.S. There are heightened expectations for an interest rate rise by the Fed later this year. Photo: Reuters

Stocks and long-dated government bonds sold off on Friday after comments from Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren heightened expectations for an interest rate rise later this year. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] What does China want in the South China Sea? In 60 Seconds

DigitalGlobe overview imagery from June 3rd, 2016 of the Fiery Cross Reef located in the South China Sea. Fiery Cross is located in the western part of the Spratly Islands group.  Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images.

Unlike China’s neighbors, the South China Sea‘s islands are not within China’s exclusive economic zone. So what do they want there? AEI Research Fellow Michael Mazza describes China’s motivations for its claims in the waters near the Philippines and Vietnam.

 


[VIDEO] DIPLOMACY! Montage: 18 Times Obama Trashed America in Asia

Here are 18 separate attacks he unloaded while in China and Laos:

  1. There are still too many poor children in the United States
  2. Too many children in America are not getting enough to eat
  3. Despite America’s wealth, we’re not providing sufficient educational resources in poor communities
  4. America lacks the “political will” to help poor inner cities that have suffered discrimination.
  5. Americans are “lazy” in thinking we don’t need to learn about foreign nations.
  6. Colin Kapernack is justified protesting the National Anthem, as the NFL star is raising “real, legitimate issues” about things America needs to be talked about.
  7. America suffers from racism, conflicts between ethnic groups, and discrimination against immigrants.
  8. Criticisms of America being imperfect and having problems with racism discrimination are accurate.
  9. America still has “situations where women are not treated equally.”
  10. America “didn’t think through” our policy in Vietnam War, as dropping cluster bombs proved counterproductive to “winning hearts and minds.”
  11. America’s treatment of Native Americans was “tragic.” Read the rest of this entry »

HONG KONG WRONG: iPhone 7’s New Slogan Translates to ‘This is Penis’ in Cantonese

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The Cantonese language uses subtly different tones to differentiate between words. The Cantonese pronunciation of ‘seven’ (七) uses a ‘cat1’ tone, according to the Chinese Character Database of Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Apple launched its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus at a live event in San Francisco this week. One of the technology firm’s biggest market is China, which includes the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Apple’s ‘This is 7’ slogan for its new iPhone 7 has a rather unfortunate translation in Hong Kong.

Smartphone users have been mocking the technology firm’s latest marketing line because it sounds just like ‘This is penis’ in Cantonese.

The iPhone 7 slogan as it appears on Apple's site  in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (l-r)

China is one of Apple’s biggest markets, but the translations for its new slogan differ drastically across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

“A common example is the Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung who is nicknamed as ‘689’ after being elected to his post with just 689 votes from an election committee – regrettably missing a ‘seven’.”

Apple boss Tim Cook introduces the iPhone 7 during an Apple special event in San Francisco

While mainlanders and Taiwanese people predominantly speak Mandarin, Hong Kong dwellers typically converse in Cantonese, which is why the comical translation only affects them.

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“Earlier this year, Korean technoloy firm Samsung faced similar mockery in Hong Kong following the launch of its Galaxy Note 7.”

Many Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong took to social media to mock the x-rated gaffe, reports Quartz.

Tim Cook unveils newly-designed iPhone 7 at Apple Keynote

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“The number ‘seven’ is a common euphemism of a Cantonese profanity word referring to penis, which only differs slightly in the tone. Number ‘seven’ is widely deployed in local politics.”

‘The slogan “7, is here” in China is the best. They got so many “7”s,’ said one Facebook user.

‘Why didn’t people say anything during the launch of Windows 7?’ queried another. Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea Conducts Fifth Nuclear Test as Regime Celebrates National Holiday 

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The governments in both South Korea and Japan convened emergency meetings to discuss the test.

TOKYO — Anna Fifield reports: North Korea conducted its fifth atomic test Friday morning, South Korean officials said, as Kim Jong Un’s regime continues to defy international condemnation of its nuclear and missile programs and waves of sanctions.

The test, which analysts said appeared to be of a large nuclear device, came at exactly 9 a.m. local time on Friday, the 68th anniversary of the formation of the communist regime by Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather, and a national holiday.

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“We believe this is a nuclear test,” South Korea’s defense ministry said Friday morning after the United States Geological Survey reported a 5.3-magnitude earthquake near Punggye-ri. “Possible explosion, located near the location where North Korea has detonated nuclear explosions in the past,” the USGS said on its website.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

Analysts said that the earthquake was artificial. “USGS is calling it an explosion because it has all the hallmarks: The waveform is sudden, unlike an earthquake, the depth is shallow, the location is the North Korean test site, and it happened on the half-hour,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif.

“This is clearly a nuclear test,” Lewis said, estimating the size at between 10 and 20 kilotons — a size that, if confirmed, would make this the biggest of North Korea’s five tests.

The governments in both South Korea and Japan convened emergency meetings to discuss the test. Read the rest of this entry »


The Economist Explains: How Hong Kong’s Version of Democracy Works

The deck may be stacked, but the results still matter.

HONG KONGERS head to the polls on September 4th to pick their representatives in what, by China’s standards, is a remarkably democratic institution: the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (Legco). When China took possession of Hong Kong from the British in 1997 it promised the territory a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. In the run-up to these elections, the first since the “umbrella revolution” protests of 2014, local newspapers have been filled with candidates who mistrust those guarantees, and by some who want to renegotiate Hong Kong’s relationship with the mainland. Yet it can be taken for granted that a clutch of parties supported by the government in Beijing will continue to dominate Hong Kong’s political system. How does the territory’s democratic process work?

[Read the full story here, at The Economist]

For more than 30 years Hong Kong’s political parties have been split roughly into two camps. On one side are the “pan-democrats”, who argue that only a democratic system can safeguard the civil liberties the territory enjoyed under the British (whom many of the pan-democrats opposed, before the handover). They stand against the “pro-government” or “pro-Beijing” politicians, who regard themselves as patriotic allies of their counterparts in the rest of China. They tend to say that fair elections are less important than smooth relations with the Communist Party in Beijing. The role of Legco is to debate the laws and budgets put forward by the territory’s executive branch. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet the Young Leaders Shaking up Hong Kong Politics

Pedestrians walk past a banner for new party Youngspiration showing disqualified candidate Edward Leung (L) and Baggio Leung (C) during the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong on September 4, 2016. Young Hong Kong independence activists calling for a complete break from China stood in major elections for the first time on September 4, the biggest vote since 2014 pro-democracy rallies. / AFP / Anthony WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing wants pro-democracy activists to go away. Instead, they’re getting elected.

Suzanne Sataline writes: In late 2014, Hong Kong protestors used umbrellas to shield themselves as police soaked them with pepper spray. Student leaders demanded elections free of intrusion from the Chinese central government, capturing headlines around the world, but their efforts failed. On Sept. 4, city residents pushed back again. Voters elected several of those young activists to the city’s legislature, a sharp rebuke to Beijing’s increasing encroachment on political life in the city.

“By the terms of its constitution, called the Basic Law, Hong Kong has autonomy, but with an asterisk. Individual residents cannot elect the city’s leader, nor try to change policies through referenda; they pick just half of their lawmakers. “

A record 2.2 million people queued to cast ballots — hundreds reportedly waited at one polling station past two o’clock in the morning — in the financial capital’s first city-wide election since protests two years earlier. Voters tossed several veteran moderates from the Legislative Council (LegCo), and replaced them with six activists who want to wrest Hong Kong from mainland China’s control. While the chamber’s majority still tilts toward Beijing — thanks mostly to voting rules that grant greater power to trade and industry groups — the new term will seat 30 lawmakers who favor democracy in the 70-member chamber. They will collectively pose a greater obstacle to the city’s unpopular chief executive, C.Y. Leung, a man widely considered too deferential to Beijing.

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“This arrangement of 19 years — engineered by the British crown, enforced by mainland China after it took Hong Kong back — never sought, and was never given, resident approval. Hence the widespread, youth-driven protests two years ago, quickly dubbed the Umbrella Movement.”

By the terms of its constitution, called the Basic Law, Hong Kong has autonomy, but with an asterisk. Individual residents cannot elect the city’s leader, nor try to change policies through referenda; they pick just half of their lawmakers. This arrangement of 19 years — engineered by the British crown, enforced by mainland China after it took Hong Kong back — never sought, and was never given, resident approval. Hence the widespread, youth-driven protests two years ago, quickly dubbed the Umbrella Movement.

[Read the full story here, at Foreign Policy]

Since then, Beijing appears to be tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Many residents were unsettled when five members of a local book publisher disappeared last year, and yet Hong Kong’s government seemed to do little to help. (One man later resurfaced, sharing details of how he’d been kidnapped by state security and held for months in mainland China; a colleague is still missing.) A sudden demotion and resignations at the city’s independent graft commission signaled that the lauded agency might not be so independent anymore. The central government’s chief lawyer in Hong Kong said in April that the government could deploy British colonial laws still on the books, such as those for treason and sedition, to prosecute independence activists. This summer, the city government’s Electoral Affairs Commission barred six candidates from the LegCo race, five of whom demand either independence, or a vote on the issue among Hong Kong residents. (The commission’s chairman is appointed by the city’s chief executive.)

Cheng Chung-tai speaks to supporters in Hong Kong elections

“Since then, Beijing appears to be tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city. Many residents were unsettled when five members of a local book publisher disappeared last year, and yet Hong Kong’s government seemed to do little to help.”

But that didn’t stop the election of young upstarts who aim to amend the constitution, expand voting rights, and bolster civil liberties. Sixtus “Baggio” Leung of a new party called Youngspiration thinks Hong Kong should declare independence from China. (None of the Leungs mentioned in this article are related.) Nathan Law, at age 23 the youngest lawmaker in city history, believes residents deserve a vote for self-determination. Beijing officials “are scared of our influence because we are not controllable,” Law, a leader in the 2014 protests, said. “We can mobilize people and arouse people and create enough tension between Hong Kong and China.”

“A sudden demotion and resignations at the city’s independent graft commission signaled that the lauded agency might not be so independent anymore. The central government’s chief lawyer in Hong Kong said in April that the government could deploy British colonial laws still on the books, such as those for treason and sedition, to prosecute independence activists.”

Some of those activists have been preaching on radio and street corners that Hong Kong is historically and culturally separate from China. The city, they have said, cannot trust China, and city residents should decide their own fate. By July, according to one survey, more than 17 percent of residents, and nearly 40 percent of those aged 15 to 24, said the city should separate from China when the “one-country, two-systems” plan ends in 2047. In August, the banned candidates organized what they called the city’s first independence rally, drawing several thousand people. One of the organizers was Edward Tin-kei Leung, a 25-year-old philosophy student born on the mainland. Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong’s Election is Proof that ‘One Country, Two Systems’ is Alive and Well

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Ilaria Maria Sala writes: The bizarre “One Country, Two Systems” formula under which Hong Kong has been ruled since its handover to Beijing in 1997 has been declared dead many times—but last Sunday’s elections may just have proven its remarkable resilience.

“In many ways, the combination of Hong Kong with China has been like a marriage between two near-strangers, one of whom was brought to the altar without being asked their opinion, and where the power balance is fatally skewed.”

Invented by China’s former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping for China to govern Hong Kong, it was a bold and imperial idea. By allowing Hong Kong to retain its partially democratic system and freedom of expression, it would let the far away “province” govern itself, as long it remained loyal to the center.

“Leaders in Beijing are obsessed with control, and national identity in China is increasingly defined as supporting the Communist Party.”

The current Chinese government has more desire to control and more technology to do so than Deng or the emperors used to, but Hong Kongers are nevertheless guaranteed the right to vote in partial elections, freedom of speech and press, and an independent judiciary, rights citizens on the mainland only wish for.

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

“The sudden, unlawful arrest of dissidents is no surprise in China, but nothing of the kind had ever happened in Hong Kong.”

In many ways, the combination of Hong Kong with China has been like a marriage between two near-strangers, one of whom was brought to the altar without being asked their opinion, and where the power balance is fatally skewed. Hong Kong, with its long-held democratic aspirations and millions of residents who had fled Communist rule on the mainland, was never going to be an easy addition to China. Leaders in Beijing are obsessed with control, and national identity in China is increasingly defined as supporting the Communist Party.

[Read the full story here, at Quartz]

Unsurprisingly, “One Country Two Systems” has been under severe stress in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Hong Kong Student Protest Leader Wins Government Seat 

Candidates from new parties who want greater autonomy for Hong Kong from China won legislative seats in Sunday’s vote–the city’s first major elections since large pro-democracy protests in 2014.

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No Respect for POTUS in Asia

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The president emerged from a smaller staircase in the belly of the aircraft, and many saw it as a deliberate sign of disrespect by the Chinese.

 reports: On President Obama’s final trip to Asia, his impending lame-duck status is showing.

Mr. Obama, who arrived in Laos late Monday night to become the first U.S. president ever to visit the Southeast Asian country, is encountering more than his usual share of friction and confrontation on his 10th trip to the region.

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It started with his arrival at the airport in China, where Chinese officials failed to provide a portable staircase for Mr. Obama to disembark from the upper door of Air Force One with the typical grandiose visibility befitting a visiting head of state. Instead, the president emerged from a smaller staircase in the belly of the aircraft, and many saw it as a deliberate sign of disrespect by the Chinese.

Republican nominee Donald Trump said he would have refused to meet with Chinese officials if they treated him like they treated Mr. Obama. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: China and Russia Think the U.S. under Obama ‘Does Not Earn Any of Their Respect’ 

Taking a question about the conspicuous absence of a mobile staircase for Air Force One when Obama landed in China, Charles Krauthammer said this indignity was more than merely a “microaggression” for the experienced Chinese.

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[VIDEO] ‘Laos!’ Obama Meets Laotian President in First U.S. Presidential Visit

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VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot in the isolated Southeast Asian nation of Laos, opening a three-day visit meant to rebuild trust and close a dark chapter in the shared history between the two countries.

Obama is one of several world leaders coming to the country of nearly 7 million people, where the one-party communist state tightly controls public expression but is using its moment in the spotlight as host of the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to open up to outsiders.

Under a steady, tropical rain, Obama arrived late Monday and began a full day of ceremony and diplomacy Tuesday morning with a meeting with Laotian President Bounnhang Vorachit. The president was greeted by a military band and a display of the troops at the presidential palace.

The visit comes during what is probably Obama’s final trip as president to Southeast Asia, a region that has enjoyed intense attention from the U.S. during his tenure. Obama’s frequent visits to oft-ignored corners of the Asia Pacific have been central to his strategy for countering China’s growing dominance in the region. By bolstering diplomatic ties in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, the Obama administration has declared it wants to compete for influence and market access in China’s backyard.

In Laos, Obama will wrestle with the ghosts of past U.S. policies.

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In the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. rained bombs on Laotian villages and the countryside as America’s war with Vietnam spilled across the border. The Laotian government estimates that more than 2 million tons of ordnance were released during more than 500,000 missions — one bomb every eight minutes for nine years. Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea Fires Three Ballistic Missiles as G20 Leaders Meet in China 

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The missile launches were the latest in a series by the isolated North this year in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, supported by China, that ban all ballistic missile-related activities by the North.

Ju-min Park reports: North Korea fired three ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Monday, the South Korean and U.S. militaries said, as the leaders of the Group of 20 major economies held a summit in China, the North’s main diplomatic ally.

“We are still analyzing details but this is a grave threat to our nation’s security, and we express deep concern.”

— Japan Defence Ministry

The missiles were fired from a region south of the capital Pyongyang just after noon (10.00 p.m. ET) and flew about 1,000 km (600 miles), hitting Japan’s air defense identification zone, South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

“We are still analyzing details but this is a grave threat to our nation’s security, and we express deep concern,” the Japan Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The launches drew immediate condemnation from the United States, which described them as “reckless,” and diplomats said the U.N. Security Council will discuss them behind closed doors on Tuesday at Washington’s and Tokyo’s requests.

The missile launches were the latest in a series by the isolated North this year in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, supported by China, that ban all ballistic missile-related activities by the North.

Pyongyang rejects the ban as infringing its sovereign right to pursue a space program and self defense.

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Shortly after the missile launches, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the G20 summit and agreed to cooperate on monitoring the situation, a Japanese statement said.

The South’s military said the missiles were medium-range Rodong-class, launched as a show of force timed to coincide with the G20 summit. The U.S. Strategic Command said in a statement that two of the three were presumed to be “intermediate range” ballistic missiles and that the third was still being assessed.

In 2014, the North fired two Rodong medium-range missiles just as Park and Abe were meeting U.S. President Barack Obama at the Hague to discuss responding to the North’s arms program. Read the rest of this entry »