JAPAN’S INDIAN INSURANCE
Japanese Prime Minister to promote security on Indian trip
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will arrive in India today to promote economic and security ties between the two countries.
The trip comes amid growing Chinese assertiveness in disputed Southeast Asian seas. Almost 60% of Japan’s trade transits through the South China Sea alone and the annual cost of using alternative routes is estimated to be worth $600 million to parts of the Japanese economy.
The visit’s agenda includes a proposed maritime security deal promoting naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. Japan already takes part in a tripartite biannual naval exercise with India and the United States. Abe will likely seek further cooperation with the establishment of a maritime security dialogue as well as annual joint naval exercises. In return, India will obtain increased Japanese technological support for Indian naval projects.
Going forward, this deal is likely to be a key plank of Japanese geostrategic positioning in the South Asian region. The aim is to counter China’s growing threat to Japan’s vital trade routes.
NO INAUGURATION FOR YOU
Campaign season drags on as Kenya holds new elections
After securing 54% of the vote in the August 8 elections, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta expected to be sworn in for his second term today. Instead, he finds himself continuing to campaign for re-election after Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered a new election due to overwhelming evidence of fraud.
The 4-2 Supreme Court decision was hailed as a victory for the rule of law by the embassies of over two dozen countries. Kenya has struggled with allegations of fraud before; controversies over the 2007 election led to ethnic clashes that killed over a thousand. Kenyatta has grudgingly accepted the court’s ruling, and new elections are scheduled for October 17.
But the situation remains delicate; opposition leader and election runner-up Raila Odinga has declared he will not participate in the new election unless Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission CEO Ezra Chiloba is fired and prosecuted and new measures are taken to protect the integrity of the vote.
The new elections are a positive sign for democracy and stability in East Africa’s largest state. But Odinga, through his increasing demands, risks overplaying his legal success and destabilising the fragile election process.
TUMULT IN TOGO
Togo’s parliament debates term limits amid unrest
As protesters clash with police forces in Togo’s capital Lome, the country’s parliament will convene an extraordinary session to debate a bill introducing Presidential term limits today.
Opposition activists seek term limits to constrain the power of President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005 and whose family has ruled Togo for 50 years. Following pressure from thousands of protestors and the UN Special Envoy for West Africa and the Sahel, Gnassingbe agreed to introduce a bill limiting the presidency to two five-year terms.
But opposition leaders are far from satisfied. The bill would not be applied retroactively, allowing Gnassingbe to rule until 2030, and activists are settling in to continue a series of protracted protests calling for the president’s resignation.
Gnassingbe’s introduction of term limits and the relatively restrained response of the security forces—similar protests in 2005 left more than 500 dead—are positive signs for gradual democratic evolution in the African nation. However, the specifics of the new legislation show that Gnassingbe doesn’t intend to give up power just yet.
Macron in St Martin, UK interest rates, Malaysian PM meets Trump
Emmanuel Macron will travel to the overseas French territory of Saint Martin, which was devastated by Hurricane Irma last week. Almost all structures on the Caribbean island, which is split between the Netherlands and France, have been damaged, with many left uninhabitable. More than two-thirds of hospital beds in the French section have been damaged and 100 people have been evacuated for medical treatment. Mr Macron’s government has been criticised for not doing enough to prepare for the storm.
That’s not Macron’s only problem. Workers aligned with the CGT union in France’s oil sector will begin a nationwide strike to protest against his government’s proposed labour reforms. The strike is likely to last 24 hours, with picketers expected to block deliveries to refineries and depots. France’s largest union, the CFDT, won’t take part in the strike.
Despite inflation remaining above the Bank of England’s 2% target, central bankers are expected to keep interest rates steady at 0.25% today. The unusual policy setting is being prompted by an anticipated slowdown in the British economy brought on by Brexit. An announcement will be made at 1100 GMT.
Donald Trump will welcome Malaysia’s prime minister—who’s currently under a corruption cloud—to the White House. As a majority Muslim country, Malaysia is a crucial American partner in fighting Islamic extremism—a growing problem in the Asia Pacific. Kuala Lumpur also enjoys relatively good relations with North Korea; the two countries trade to the value of $4.5 million a year and hundreds of North Koreans work in Malaysia. Mr Trump could well use the visit to pressure Malaysia to cut economic ties with Pyongyang.
The Australian government will begin sending out postal packs for registered voters to have their say on same sex marriage. The postal survey has sparked controversy in Australia, with many on both sides of the political spectrum viewing it as an expensive democratic exercise that imposes no legal obligation on lawmakers. The results of the vote will be announced on November 15.
Apple will unveil its latest range of devices, including its flagship iPhone X. A major leak suggests the new phone will feature face recognition hardware, an edge-to-edge display and wireless charging.