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Japan's Parliament and other political institutions

15-12-2020

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government based on the separation of powers. The Emperor is the symbol of the state and does not hold political functions, only performing ceremonial duties. Nevertheless, he can play a relevant diplomatic role. With Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019, following his father's abdication, Japan has entered the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) age. The 2001 administrative reform strengthened the Prime Minister's leadership in the cabinet ...

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government based on the separation of powers. The Emperor is the symbol of the state and does not hold political functions, only performing ceremonial duties. Nevertheless, he can play a relevant diplomatic role. With Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019, following his father's abdication, Japan has entered the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) age. The 2001 administrative reform strengthened the Prime Minister's leadership in the cabinet. The Chief Cabinet Secretary also plays a relevant role. Suga Yoshihide, leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party, is the country's Prime Minister, succeeding Abe Shinzō, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, in 2020. The Supreme Court is at the top of the judicial system. It is not a constitutional court, despite handling appeals arising from actual disputes. The appointment of its Justices is reviewed by the people at the first general election of the Lower House following their appointment. Japan is a unitary state divided into 47 prefectures. A Metropolitan Government administers the capital, Tokyo. Japan's 1947 Constitution recognises 'local self-government.' Local governments carry out many of the national policies and programmes. They have limited autonomy, also because of their dependence on financial resources from the central government. Japan has a bicameral parliament − the Diet. Although the two chambers share legislative powers, the Lower House (House of Representatives) prevails in the legislative process and is empowered to adopt the final decision on the budget and on the approval of international treaties. Changes in the regional geopolitical environment and in the country's demographic structure have prompted debates on issues such as the revision of the 'pacifist' Article 9 of the Constitution and the seat distribution among electoral constituencies. This is an update of a briefing published in June 2020.

Japan's ageing society

15-12-2020

Japan is aging fast. Its 'super-aged' society is the oldest in the world: 28.7 % of the population are 65 or older, with women forming the majority. The country is also home to a record 80 000 centenarians. By 2036, people aged 65 and over will represent a third of the population. Since 2011, the Japanese population has also been shrinking: it is a rare case of large country whose overall population is becoming smaller in prosperous and peaceful times. Japan's population is expected to drop from ...

Japan is aging fast. Its 'super-aged' society is the oldest in the world: 28.7 % of the population are 65 or older, with women forming the majority. The country is also home to a record 80 000 centenarians. By 2036, people aged 65 and over will represent a third of the population. Since 2011, the Japanese population has also been shrinking: it is a rare case of large country whose overall population is becoming smaller in prosperous and peaceful times. Japan's population is expected to drop from 127 million in 2015 to 88 million by 2065. Japan's demographic crisis is the consequence of the combination of two elements: a high life expectancy and a low fertility rate. In 2018, Japan had the second highest life expectancy in the world. Meanwhile, since the 1970s the country has failed to raise its fertility rate to the replacement level. The working culture, a deterioration of employment opportunities for young men and the traditional gender division of labour are possible explanations for this trend. The consequences of the country's aging and shrinking population include economic crisis, budgetary challenges, pressure on job markets and depopulation of rural areas. The silver economy is meanwhile flourishing and Japan is at the forefront of robot development to face a declining labour force and to take care of its elderly. The government's efforts to address the demographic crisis have yet to succeed however, and immigration has been limited. Tokyo is engaged in global health cooperation and succeeded in incorporating the concept of human security in the sustainable development goals. It has also been active in international cooperation on ageing, with a focus on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. The EU's own ageing society is not far behind Japan. It could benefit from learning from Japan's experience, and cooperating on all aspects relating to demographic challenges, including on 'agetech': technology making comfortable longevity accessible to all.

EU-India: Cooperation on climate

17-11-2020

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi ...

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi is a major promoter of the International Solar Alliance and, alongside other partners, the founder of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The EU and India have assumed a leading role in fighting climate change and have been increasingly cooperating with each other in this field, at both public- and private-sector levels. They have agreed partnerships on sectoral issues such as clean energy, water and urban development. The EU is supporting several Indian projects on climate action, sustainability and clean energy. At their 15th summit, held in July 2020, the EU and India placed a strong focus on climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to engage constructively in its first global stocktaking in 2023.

EU-India: Trade prospects

12-10-2020

The EU-India Summit held in July 2020 agreed to establish a regular high-level dialogue at ministerial level on bilateral trade and investment relations. In this way, the EU and India expressed a clear political will to work together to overcome issues that have hampered their trade relations in recent years and impeded advances towards a bilateral trade and investment agreement – where negotiations have been stalled since 2013 – and achievement of the potential of economic relations between the ...

The EU-India Summit held in July 2020 agreed to establish a regular high-level dialogue at ministerial level on bilateral trade and investment relations. In this way, the EU and India expressed a clear political will to work together to overcome issues that have hampered their trade relations in recent years and impeded advances towards a bilateral trade and investment agreement – where negotiations have been stalled since 2013 – and achievement of the potential of economic relations between the world's two biggest democracies.

EU-India: Cooperation on digitalisation

12-10-2020

A 'human-centric digitalisation to develop inclusive economies and societies' is the main concept behind the digital transformation of both the EU and India. During their July 2020 summit, the two agreed to promote global digitalisation standards characterised by 'safe and ethical deployment'. Their flagship initiatives – the EU digital single market and 'Digital India' – make them natural partners in the promotion of these global standards. Yet, if their ICT cooperation is to make sound progress ...

A 'human-centric digitalisation to develop inclusive economies and societies' is the main concept behind the digital transformation of both the EU and India. During their July 2020 summit, the two agreed to promote global digitalisation standards characterised by 'safe and ethical deployment'. Their flagship initiatives – the EU digital single market and 'Digital India' – make them natural partners in the promotion of these global standards. Yet, if their ICT cooperation is to make sound progress, some of Delhi's protectionist policies need further consideration.

Korean peninsula: State of play - Further uncertainty follows period of hope

20-07-2020

North Korea and South Korea have been on different paths since World War II. The North has remained isolated and poor, its regime inspired by Soviet structures, with a centrally planned economy. The South, meanwhile, after alternating periods of autocratic and democratic rule, made a clear choice at the end of the 1980s in favour of democracy and a market economy, a choice that has led the country to success in several sectors. North and South Korea are still technically at war, as the military conflict ...

North Korea and South Korea have been on different paths since World War II. The North has remained isolated and poor, its regime inspired by Soviet structures, with a centrally planned economy. The South, meanwhile, after alternating periods of autocratic and democratic rule, made a clear choice at the end of the 1980s in favour of democracy and a market economy, a choice that has led the country to success in several sectors. North and South Korea are still technically at war, as the military conflict of 1950-1953 ended with an armistice that was never followed by a peace treaty. There are 28 500 US (United States) soldiers stationed in South Korea, which signed a Mutual Defence Treaty with Washington in 1953. There have been frequent tensions over the past 70 years, and North Korea has become a de facto nuclear power since the 2000s, prompting international sanctions. Early in 2018 a detente raised hopes of peace. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but the summits have led neither to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, nor to the easing of sanctions against the North. Pyongyang's frustration provoked new tensions in the region in June 2020, when the North, in a symbolic move, destroyed the liaison office in the border area, the de facto embassy of the two Koreas. But Kim's options seem limited at present, and there is little chance of progress until after the US presidential elections. Meanwhile, Moon Jae-in has invested much political capital in the Korean peace process, and is willing to make further moves before the end of his mandate in 2022. The EU has traditionally maintained a policy of critical engagement towards North Korea, upholding the international non-proliferation regime and supporting a lasting reduction in tensions on the peninsula. The EU and South Korea are strategic partners. During the 30 June 2020 EU–South Korea summit, the EU reaffirmed its support for Seoul's efforts to engage with the North to achieve peace and prosperity on the peninsula.

Challenges facing India's democracy and economy

13-05-2020

India has a 70-year history of democracy, tolerance and rule of law, and a successful record of managing its patchwork of cultures and religions. In recent months, however, following the second consecutive victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party in the May 2019 general elections, this situation has been changing under the impact of an ever-increasing Hindu nationalist grip on society and politics. After Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, lost its autonomy ...

India has a 70-year history of democracy, tolerance and rule of law, and a successful record of managing its patchwork of cultures and religions. In recent months, however, following the second consecutive victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party in the May 2019 general elections, this situation has been changing under the impact of an ever-increasing Hindu nationalist grip on society and politics. After Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, lost its autonomy, the government adopted the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), allowing foreigners from six religious communities living in three neighbouring countries to apply for Indian citizenship at a faster pace. This new legislation has prompted protests and divisions across India, as, according to both internal and external observers, citizenship would be determined along religious criteria, which risks undermining the country's traditional secularism. The government's plan to launch a national register of citizens has further increased the Muslim community's fear of discrimination. Communal tensions flared into violence in late February 2020 in Delhi, claiming 53 lives. At the same time, India's economy is experiencing a severe downturn: even before the coronavirus outbreak started to have an effect, its growth was slackening and so was job creation, while at the same time unemployment is high, consumer confidence and spending are low, and trust in the banking sector is eroding as credit weakness and non-performing loans hinder its performance. Contrary to expectations, the Union budget for financial year 2021 has not tackled existing structural weaknesses or generated a large fiscal stimulus as an answer to the slowdown.

China's democratic neighbours and coronavirus: Protecting populations without lockdowns

06-05-2020

North-east Asian countries have deep and historical economic, human and cultural connections with China, based on their geographical proximity to the latter country, and were the first to be exposed to the coronavirus contagion after its initial outbreak. They were not caught unprepared, having dealt with the SARS and the MERS epidemics in recent times. South Korea and Taiwan, in particular, have successfully showcased a model characterised by minimal restrictions on economic activities and daily ...

North-east Asian countries have deep and historical economic, human and cultural connections with China, based on their geographical proximity to the latter country, and were the first to be exposed to the coronavirus contagion after its initial outbreak. They were not caught unprepared, having dealt with the SARS and the MERS epidemics in recent times. South Korea and Taiwan, in particular, have successfully showcased a model characterised by minimal restrictions on economic activities and daily lives, where safeguarding the health of the people has not had devastating consequences for the health of the economy, as witnessed in other parts of the world. They have also showed that it is possible to effectively manage the coronavirus threat transparently, without authoritarian methods. Their models, illustrating that it is possible to implement a successful – albeit sometimes unnoticed – alternative to a liberal laissez-faire model or to a drastic lockdown, could become precious assets for public diplomacy and soft power tools. Given the high rate of information and communications technology penetration in the region, it has been easier for the authorities to make use of big data and contact-tracing by smartphone in order to prevent the pandemic from spreading, as well as collect information on those infected. However, this approach has raised issues of privacy, especially as the details collected allow the identification of those infected and could possibly expose them to stigmatisation. Despite the coronavirus outbreak, South Korea is a healthy democracy. It successfully held a general election on 15 April 2020, giving substance to the statement made by the European Parliament's President, David Sassoli: 'Democracy cannot be suspended in the face of Covid-19'.

India's parliament and governing institutions

11-03-2020

India is the biggest democracy in the world. With a population of 1.35 billion in 2018, India was also the world's second most populous country, and is projected to overtake China by 2027. Like the European Union (EU), it is a pluralistic, multi-faith, multilingual (with 22 recognised languages), and multi-ethnic country. Secularism has been enshrined in the Constitution. India's 1950 Constitution provides for a quasi-federal setup: powers are separated between the central union and the 28 state ...

India is the biggest democracy in the world. With a population of 1.35 billion in 2018, India was also the world's second most populous country, and is projected to overtake China by 2027. Like the European Union (EU), it is a pluralistic, multi-faith, multilingual (with 22 recognised languages), and multi-ethnic country. Secularism has been enshrined in the Constitution. India's 1950 Constitution provides for a quasi-federal setup: powers are separated between the central union and the 28 state governments. Competences are allocated according to administrative level, between the Union, states or 'concurrently'. The prime minister possesses the country's effective executive power. As 'Leader of the House' in the lower chamber, the prime minister also holds decisive power in deciding the House's agenda. However, the real power of initiating legislation belongs to the government, and the Parliament has no say on foreign affairs. India's Parliament is bicameral: it includes the Lok Sabha – the lower house – and the Rajya Sabha – the upper house. The two houses are equal, but the Lok Sabha dominates in deciding certain financial matters and on the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers. General elections take place for Lok Sabha members every five years. The last elections took place in May 2019, when Narendra Modi was re-elected as Prime Minister. The Rajva Sabha is a permanent body consisting of members indirectly elected by the states, and it is not subject to dissolution. India has a common law legal system. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal, headed by the Chief Justice of India. It arbitrates on any dispute between the Union and the states, as well as between states, and on the enforcement of fundamental rights. It has powers of judicial review over legislation adopted by both the Union and the states.

Religion and the EU's external policies: Increasing engagement

12-02-2020

Religion has been emerging as a new dimension in the EU's external policies. This paper provides an overview of the principles, institutional set-up and policies underpinning the EU's approach to religious issues in third countries. Nine case studies meanwhile serve to illustrate the important role played by religion in the foreign policies of a number of different countries worldwide.

Religion has been emerging as a new dimension in the EU's external policies. This paper provides an overview of the principles, institutional set-up and policies underpinning the EU's approach to religious issues in third countries. Nine case studies meanwhile serve to illustrate the important role played by religion in the foreign policies of a number of different countries worldwide.

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