As the world continues to struggle with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangladesh has been able to maintain economic growth with the help of its readymade garment sector and foreign remittances. But it has also relied significantly on assistance from its development partners, including Japan.
July was a busy month for US diplomats who have been traversing the Indo-Pacific region, reinforcing US commitment to the region in light of growing concern that Southeast Asian states are moving closer to China.
Until recently, it may have been hard for the average person to grasp how deadly and damaging disasters and shocks can be. No longer. Few anywhere in the world have emerged from the past year and a half without a strong appreciation of the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Along with COVID-19 taking more than 4.5 million lives and upending health systems, business revenue and global logistics, other acute and long-term shocks and stressors have affected communities around the world, including bushfires in Australia, North America and Europe, lethal heatwaves in Oregon, and mudslides in Japan.
According to the Asian Development Bank, Cambodia’s economy contracted by 3.1 per cent in 2020. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) predicts that Cambodia’s poverty rate will rise to 17.6 per cent, around 8 percentage points higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s decision to hold the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games under the one-year postponement plan inherited from the Abe administration revolved around his need to face a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership election in September and a lower-house election by October. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, proceeding with the Games was intended to protect Suga, who lacks a factional base in the LDP, from the threat of internal challengers.
Despite the shortcomings of its healthcare system, Myanmar’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic seemed cautiously optimistic. The National League for Democracy (NLD) government sought epidemiological advice from world-renowned sources in February 2020, launching a Health Sector Contingency Plan and a COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan in April.
In August 2021, Australia held its five-yearly census of population and housing, with responses providing crucial information on the backgrounds and characteristics of people present in Australia. Despite the unusual pandemic context in which it took place, the census provides a vital snapshot that will help shape and target government and non-government policies in a broad range of areas. Among the foremost statistical collections in any country, the census exemplifies the essential contribution of data to developing evidence-based policy.
Japan has entered election season with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) presidential election on 29 September and the lower house election in late October or November. After succeeding Shinzo Abe less than one year ago, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on 3 September that he won’t contest the LDP election and will step down at the end of the month. The race for Japan’s next prime minister is wide open.
In the time of COVID-19, competence in managing the pandemic is a vital criterion for reward or punishment at the polls for democratic leaders. This is politically tricky enough to manage on its own. Add hosting the Olympics during a pandemic and being a transitional leader, and you’re in the unique world of political pain that was the ultimate fate of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.