May 26, 2020

In the early stages of the COVID-19 global pandemic, media in the UK focused mainly on China. How they were handling the virus and how it began were just some of the questions being asked. China is where the virus started, so this was natural. Slightly further on in the timeline, however, media reporting in the UK has shifted away from China, and onto our own government’s handling of the virus. China passed its peak long before the UK and has reported zero new cases on multiple occasions. Here in the UK, we are still experiencing thousands of new cases every day. Thus, a shift away from China as the focal point is equally understandable. Yet the questions posed at the start of this pandemic must continue to be asked and begin to be answered. 

It is now common knowledge that the scale, severity,...

April 20, 2020

South Korea is one of the world’s youngest democracies, and the first country to hold a national election during the Covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus was able to side-line previous issues such as the weak economy, government corruption and North-South relations in a deep freeze which previously caused many to think President Moon’s party would lose. However South Korea’s effective response to coronavirus turned many voters to support Moon and his party. The country has managed to bring the number of daily infections from 900, at its peak in late February, to fewer than 30. Despite the risk of coronavirus, the voter turnout was the highest in nearly three decades. Moon’s party, along with a small satellite party, won 180 seats in the 300-seat national assembly, the biggest majority any party has w...

April 17, 2020

In the middle of one of the worst pandemics in recent memory, US intelligence agencies have issued a stark warning; China may have deliberately understated the number of infections and deaths relating to coronavirus. This has major repercussions for the global response to the crisis. That being said, the USA itself did not appear to have been taking the virus seriously during the initial stages of the outbreak. Do these accusations levelled against China therefore offer a distraction from the criticism that the US has received?

Initial signs of a cover-up in China appeared in December 2019 when Doctor Li Wenliang, who was working to combat the virus in Wuhan Province, was arrested by local police for ‘spreading false rumours’ after he posted a message to fellow medics warning about the emergence...

April 16, 2020

Nth room was the major case that rocked South Korea in 2020, where the sale of sexual exploitation videos occurred in Telegram chat rooms. It is estimated that there were up to a maximum of 300, 000 members enjoying the illegal porn filmed by spy cam, blackmailing or even false imprisonment. The number of confirmed victims is a minimum of 74, including 16 children. As the investigations go further, there are reportedly up to ten thousand victims. After being officially exposed by the government-funded Yonhan News Agency on 23rd March 2020, the scandal caused public outrage in South Korea. In just a few days, more than 2.5 million people had petitioned on the Korean political platform "Qingwadae National Petition", demanding the participants' personal information of the group chat to be publishe...

February 16, 2020

The Istanbul Canal was first brought to the world’s attention by Erdogan around the year 2011. Although its plan dates to the pre-Erdogan era, it never came to fruition, either due to a lack of resources or because the project’s dangers weren't properly considered. In fact, the architects of this canal date back to the Ottoman period, which partly gives us an indication of Erdogan’s impulsive attachment to the project. Now that it is actually happening, there is serious debate revolving around this “crazy project.” While Erdogan, the current president of Turkey, calls it his dream project, most citizens who are aware of this project’s possible consequences continue to express their opposition to its construction. 

So, what is the Istanbul Canal Project? It is planned to be a 45 km long artificia...

February 3, 2020

The year is 2018, and the situation is looking bleak for Tsai Ing-wen, the first female elected leader of Taiwan and leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) . Taiwan’s deteriorating international presence, controversial pension reforms, and a slowing economy had seemingly handed much of the political momentum to the nationalist opposition, the Kuomintang (KMT). Indeed, this became evident during the 2018 midterm elections where the KMT stormed to victory, winning 15 out of 22 municipalities whilst winning traditionally safe DPP seats in the south. Indeed, by early 2019, the KMT presidential candidate, Han Kuo-yu, had managed to secure a 20-point lead in most opinion polls over Tsai. 

Yet when one fast forwards to the 11th January 2020, Tsai had secured a landslide victory, with a record...

February 2, 2020

In the last month, the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus has become an increasing concern for the international community. The number of people infected by the virus now exceeds that of the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003 and has forced many countries, such as the United States, to place travel restrictions on passengers arriving from China. Given the scale of this crisis, it is somewhat surprising that the World Health Organisation is still urging governments not to put in place travel restrictions. This is despite the fact that the organisation recently declared that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak represents a global health emergency and not just an emergency in China. To make matters worse, reports from China are subject to strong censorship that is limiting the flow of information about this new v...

January 27, 2020

Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has a belated new year’s resolution: establishing a “new era of Japanese diplomacy,'' according to a speech delivered to the Japanese Diet (parliament) on January 20th. 

Certainly, this is nothing unexpected. Since coming to office in 2012, Abe has pursued a foreign policy that is exceptionally active compared to all his predecessors since 1945. 

Most recently, he has attempted to position himself as a mediator between the US and Iran, and has, for the most part, been successful. Japan has much reason to be invested in keeping the peace - 90% of its crude oil imports pass through the Persian Gulf - and so has thrown its weight behind maintaining the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). Iran seems entirely appreciative of this arrangement; it sees in Japan (and European...

January 13, 2020

Both students and city-based student unions raised their voices against the brutal attack on students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which took place last Monday. The JNU students, mainly left-leaning and protesting against fee increases on campus, were targeted by masked men with iron rods and sticks. The violence injured around 34 people, according to the police.

Amongst the injured was Aishe Ghosh, president of the university's student union, who was beaten over the head with iron rods. During a press conference on Monday, Ghosh accused the student wing of the country's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – known as Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) – of organizing the attack. Experts say the attack fits a pattern of intimidation by Modi’s government and i...

December 11, 2019

In the latest headline to provoke discussion over sexism in Japan, it has been discovered that some Japanese companies are not allowing female employees to wear glasses as they believe it contradicts the desired feminine image expected from female workers.

Social media in Japan has been flooded with the news that women working on makeup counters were told that they were not allowed to wear glasses, as it did not fit with the company image, and must instead wear contact lenses. The women complained that long periods of wearing the lenses made their eyes dry and sensitive. Similar complaints have also come from cosmetic nurses with outrage over how it could limit how effectively they can carry out their job. Whilst some might argue that it is simply company policy to not allow visible prescription...

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