Following Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement that he will soon step down, one of the frontrunners for Japan’s premiership is Fumio Kishida, a politician who has long been waiting in the wings for the presidency of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Kishida made his first bid for LDP president and prime minister last year, only to be beaten by Suga.
On 13 July 2021, 75-year-old Sher Bahadur Deuba, leader of the Nepali Congress party, was appointed Prime Minister by order of Nepal’s Supreme Court. He finds himself heading a coalition government which will have to grapple not only with the COVID-19 pandemic but also severe political, economic and environmental challenges.
On 3 September 2021, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga unexpectedly announced he would not run in the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) presidential race scheduled for 29 September. Suga’s withdrawal opens up the leadership race and speculation is mounting as to who will throw their hat in the ring and prevail.
Digital banking is expanding globally and the Asia Pacific has emerged as a hotspot for digital banks. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority granted eight virtual banking licenses in 2019 while the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced four successful digital bank applicants in 2020. Following this trend, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Malaysia’s central bank, issued its Licensing Framework for Digital Banks last year to kickstart digital banking in Malaysia.
In July 2021, Richard Branson made global headlines with his journey to outer space on Virgin Galactic’s spaceship. This historical feat proved the feasibility of space tourism and the many interests of corporations in outer space. As a major non-state actor, corporations have joined the increasingly crowded space domain, prompting new discussions on regulating commercial, military and technological activities in outer space.
The prolonged constitutional crisis that had engulfed Samoa since the 9 April 2021 election finally concluded on 23 July with a Court of Appeal ruling. The court ruled that the 24 May swearing-in of Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party leader Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her government — held in a tent outside the parliament after they were locked out of the building — was constitutional, making FAST the legitimate government.
The Indonesian government seems to be transitioning from its pursuit of an elimination endgame in its fight against COVID-19 to a scenario premised on civil cohabitation. There have now been over 4.1 million confirmed COVID-19 infections and over 133,000 COVID-19-related deaths in Indonesia as of 2 September 2021. The government expects that the pandemic will become endemic in 2022 as people’s immunity against the virus increases along with the acceleration of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
In 2019, members of Taiwan’s Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee published a strongly-worded response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s New Year message espousing unification. The historic declaration provided a message of ownership and a vision for indigenous values in Taiwan’s future, but Taiwan has much work to do before it can truly harness what its indigenous peoples have to offer.
As the more lethal and contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 rips across the globe, the prospects of multilateral efforts to combat the virus, tackle the looming global debt crisis and mount a sustainable economic recovery are dim. Nowhere is the insufficiency of the multilateral response more apparent than on the issue of debt relief.