Category Archives: BUSINESS

Turning the rising tide of anti-LGBT sentiment in Indonesia

Author: Sharyn Graham Davies, Auckland University of Technology

On 27 January 2018, police in Aceh, Indonesia arrested 12 transwomen and forcibly cut their hair in public. The arrests were the result of a raid on five beauty salons owned and operated by transwomen. The North Aceh police chief declared that Islam is against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people and that the ‘disease’ of LGBT must be eliminated.

Indonesian Muslim children walk past a banner reading ‘Indonesia LGBT Emergency’ in front a mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia, 25 January 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

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While Aceh is unique in Indonesia in that it is the only province to criminalise same-sex relationships, public displays of anti-LGBT sentiment are becoming more common across the archipelago. There were several mass arrests of LGBT citizens in Jakarta last year, and there is continued debate about whether homosexuality should be criminalised despite such a proposal having been rejected by the Constitutional Court in December 2017. How should this growing visibility of anti-LGBT sentiment in Indonesia best be understood?

The answer is not clear-cut and involves a number of interacting factors.

First, there are increasing levels of Islamic piety throughout the country and greater attention is being paid to fundamentalist voices. A number of ulama (Islamic religious leaders) are calling for LGBT individuals to be forcibly re-educated and made to conform to heteronormative (male–female) models. …continue reading

    

New apartment prices in Greater Tokyo drop 20% in January

According to the Real Estate Economic Institute, 1,934 brand new apartments were released for sale across greater Tokyo in January, down 70.2% from the previous month but up 39.7% from January 2017.

The average sale price was 52,930,000 Yen, down 23.4% from last year. The average price per square meter was 787,000 Yen, down 19.3% from last year. In January 2017, new apartment prices saw a steep jump from the year before, with prices rising by 24.1%. If several high-end projects are released onto the market it can pull up average prices for the month.

The contract ratio was 65.2%, up 3.6 points from last year. Remaining inventory was down 3.2% from the end of December.

TOKYO METROPOLITAN AREA

954 new apartments were offered in the Tokyo metropolitan area, down 53.1% from the previous month but up 38.7% from last year. The average sale price was 61,960,000 Yen, down 32.3% from last year. The average price per square meter was 982,000 Yen, down 25.6% from last year.

The contract ratio was 73.4%, above the 70% line said to indicate healthy market conditions. In Western Tokyo it was 50.4%, and 57.5% in Kanagawa Prefecture.

A total of 2,500 apartments are expected to be released for sale in February.

OSAKA REGION

In the Kinki region, the average price of a new apartment was 680,000 Yen/sqm, up 12.6% and the highest level recorded since 1991. The contract ratio was 78.1%, up 3.0 points from last year.

Source: The Real Estate Economic Institute, February 14, 2018.

…continue reading

    

Is Southeast Asia really in an arms race?

Author: Felix Heiduk, German Institute for International and Security Affairs

While countries in many parts of the world are reducing their military spending, Southeast Asian countries are bucking the trend. Total defence spending of ASEAN states doubled over the last 15 years in absolute terms, with countries like Indonesia and Thailand witnessing military expenditure growth rates of 10 per cent on a year-by-year basis.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo walks on the deck of the Indonesian Navy ship KRI Imam Bonjol with some members of his cabinet in the waters of Natuna Islands, Riau Islands province, Indonesia, 23 June 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Antara Foto/Setpres-Krishadiyanto).

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Tightly interlinked with this rise in defence spending is an increase in arms procurements. Several Southeast Asian countries are going on arms spending sprees and buying new frigates, tanks, helicopters, fighter jets and submarines. Vietnam’s arms imports increased by almost 700 per cent over the last decade, shifting Hanoi from the world’s 43rd largest arms buyer to the top ten.

Numerous media outlets and observers have interpreted these changes in the region’s arms dynamics as indicators of an arms race in Southeast Asia. The prospect of an arms race is interlinked with the broader context in which these changes are …continue reading

    

Will the seniority rule wreck Abe’s wage rise?

Author: Naohiro Yashiro, Showa Women’s University

‘Shunto’ is a nation-wide wage negotiation called every spring between companies and enterprise-based labour unions in Japan. Shunto attracted special attention this year after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged the top leader of the Keidanren (the association of Japan’s CEOs) to target a 3 per cent wage increase. Companies that successfully achieve this target are granted a corporate tax reduction of 5 per cent.

Members of the workers’ union of Toyota Motor Corp. raise their fists as they shout slogans during a rally for the annual ‘shunto’ wage negotiations at the company headquarters in Toyota, central Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo 8 March, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Kyodo).

Abe’s latest move is the opposite of a traditional incomes policy, where the government tries to incentivise wage restraint in order to avoid inflation.

Prime Minister Abe has been criticised domestically because average workers have not benefited from ‘Abenomics’. This disappointing result for the average worker comes despite the fact that share prices have increased to highs not seen since the bursting of the bubble in the early 1990s (mainly due to a significant monetary easing policy). The …continue reading

    

Rent in Tokyo reaches record-high

According to Tokyo Kantei, the average monthly rent of a condominium in Tokyo’s 23 wards was 3,488 Yen/sqm in January 2018, up 0.4% from the previous month and up 4.7% from last year. This is the highest level seen since record-keeping began in March 2008.

Across the greater Tokyo area the average monthly rent was 2,742 Yen/sqm, up 0.9% from the previous month and up 2.3% from last year.

Rents in Saitama City and Chiba City are both down year-on-year, while Nagoya City has seen average rents climb by 15.2% over the past 12 months.

Source: Tokyo Kantei, February 15, 2018.

…continue reading