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Podcast: Unpacking the complicated US-Japan relationship with Ambassador Rahm Emanuel

Ian Bremmer is in Tokyo, Japan, to check in on America’s “pivot to Asia.” How’s that going? Given that neither Ukraine nor Israel is located in the Asia Pacific, it is not so great!

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa pose for a photo prior to the 10th trilateral foreign ministers' meeting in Busan, South Korea, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023.

Ahn Young-joon/Pool via REUTERS

China, Japan, and South Korea to resume annual trilateral meetings

Amid escalating tensions in the South China Sea and faced with the looming Taiwan election, the foreign ministers of China, Japan, and South Korea held their first in-person talks since 2019 on Sunday, in Busan, South Korea, with hopes of paving the way for resumption of formal annual trilateral summits.

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FILE PHOTO: Trekkers pause to admire Mt. Kusum Kangru (6369 mts) in the Mt. Everest region in Nepal March 30, 2006.

Gopal Chitrakar/Reuters

Nepal bans TikTok over social disruption

Nepal’s government this week banned the Chinese social video app TikTok, effective immediately, claiming it was disrupting the “social harmony” of the small Himalayan nation.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin hold a joint press conference after their talks in Seoul on Nov. 9, 2023.

Kyodo via Reuters

Blinken comes home, Biden gears up for Xi

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wrapped up a tour of Asian nations last week, as the United States worked to shore up support for its positions on issues including Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s increased belligerence toward Taiwan, and the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East.

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FILE PHOTO: Philippine Navy welcomes the arrival of Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force ship for a two-day goodwill visit upon its arrival at the South Harbor in Metro Manila, Philippines April 26, 2018.

REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Japan looks south to bolster its security

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is in Manila Friday for a summit with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as Tokyo attempts to draw closer to partners in Southeast Asia to hedge against China.

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Pro-Palestine protesters march in London.

Balint Szentgallay via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Pro-Palestinian protests rock London, Machado prevails in Venezuela, drone shortage woes, Madagascan opposition, joint aerial exercise with Asian allies, a great Great Lake discovery

100,000: In London, 100,000 protesters chanted “Stop bombing Gaza” and waved Palestinian flags as they marched from Hyde Park to Whitehall on Saturday. Officials asked Brits to be mindful of the Jewish community, with Metropolitan Police reporting a 13-fold uptick in reports of antisemitic offenses this month compared to last year.

93: Industrial engineer Maria Corina Machado declared victory in the opposition's presidential primary in Venezuela late Sunday. With 26% of ballots counted, she had 93% of the vote. The question now is whether Nicolás Maduro will allow Machado — who's been officially banned from running for office — to challenge him in the 2024 presidential election.

10,000: Ukraine loses 10,000 drones a month in its war with Russia and is now facing a shortage of parts due to export restrictions by China. Concerns about the impact on Ukrainian defense capabilities have prompted a search for alternatives made elsewhere, including by domestic startups.

50,000: Madagascar’s opposition parties held a rally with 50,000 people to protest what they call an “illegitimate” election process ahead of general elections in November. Last month, the country’s constitutional court dismissed appeals to have President Andry Rajoelina’s candidacy declared void over his dual French nationality, angering opposition politicians who say voters do not want “foreigners” running the country.

1: South Korea, the United States, and Japan have held their first joint aerial exercise in the face of an escalating North Korean nuclear threat and a recent visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Pyongyang. South Korea and Japan host 80,000 American troops and are key American allies in the region.

128: A documentary about the invasive quagga mussel’s impact on the Great Lakes led to the discovery of a 128-year-old shipwreck. Filmmakers came across the Africa, a steamship that went missing in October 1895 while carrying coal from Ohio to Ontario, on the bottom of Lake Huron.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kihsida speaks to media at the Prime Minister’s office in Tokyo on Oct. 12, 2023.

The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters

Japan moves to punish Unification Church

Japan’s government has asked a court to strike the legal status of the Unification Church, which has been at the center of an investigation for over a year following the assassination of former PM Shinzo Abe. Abe’s killer, Tetsuya Yamagami, was outraged that the church had solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from his mother, ruining the family’s finances.

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South Korean soldiers check military fences as they patrol near the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, in Paju, north of Seoul February 12, 2013.


Hamas attacks prompt South Korean security rethink

Seoul’s painful history with North Korean infiltration – including deadly border skirmishes and incidents along the Korean Demilitarized Zone separating the countries – means it can’t afford to ignore Israel’s deadly experience with Hamas. Newly appointed Defense Minister Shin Won-shik cited the Hamas attacks on Tuesday when he said South Korea would suspend its participation in a military agreement with North Korea that limits where Seoul can deploy drones, ships, and foot patrols along the DMZ.

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