Southeast ASIA
APRIL 8, 2014
What sorts of ethno-religious conflicts can we see in
modern Southeast Asia?
Which is the richest country in Southeast Asia? Is it a
What is the poorest country in Southeast Asia? Is it a
Which is the most democratic country in Southeast Asia
today? (Where have we seen at least two peaceful
transfers of power?)
Malaysia (pp. 167-69, 18689)
Communist (primarily Chinese) rebellion slowed progress
toward independence
Major issue has been the attempts by Malays to ensure their
numerical superiority is reflected in political and economic
Ruling party is a coalition of Malay, Chinese, and Indian
parties. Malays dominate. The ruling party has never lost a
national election but their share of the vote has been dropping
recently. However, Malaysia has yet to experience a peaceful
transfer of power. The ruling party won a close election in
Singapore (pp. 190-91)
Communal tensions with Malays led to Singapore separating
from Malaysia in 1965.
Under leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore became a
trading and financial centre, making it very wealthy
There are elections, but the ruling party always wins, and the
opposition never wins more than a few seats. Opposition
politicians are sometimes charged in civil suits with “insulting”
the leaders of the government. There is no real freedom of
speech or freedom of the press in Singapore.
Don’t confuse a free market with democracy. The first is
economic. The second is political.
religion, ethnicity,
and national identity
Indonesia: everyone is required to believe in one God. Most
are Muslims (Buddhists and Hindus are treated as believing
in one God.)
Malaysia: Ethnic Malays are supposed to be Muslims
Thailand: to be a real Thai, you should be Buddhist.
Burmese also define themselves as Buddhists. That causes
problems for religious minorities.
Chinese maintain a separate cultural identity in some
Southeast Asian countries by frequenting Chinese temples.
Indochina after 1945
Vietnam (pp. 153-59, 19193)
Vietnam, which had been divided into three separate colonies under
the French, resisted the return of the French in 1945. War with the
French ended in 1954 with the division of Vietnam into a Communist
north and an anti-Communist (but not democratic) south.
With Ho Chi Minh, a Communist nationalist, as the leader in the North,
a guerrilla war to unite north and south begins in the late 1950s. The
US intervenes to defend the government of the south. The Americans
admit defeat in 1973. Vietnam is united under a Communist
government in 1975.
Vietnam began imitating China’s economic reforms in 1986. It now,
like China, combines a mixed economy (some capitalism, some state
control) with authoritarian rule.
Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh in Wikipedia
Not an acceptable source to use in your term paper. But the pictures
are interesting.
Instead, you can use the New York Times obituary:
Cambodia’s tragedy (160-62,
Freed from French control in the 1950s, Cambodia tried to remain
neutral in the battle between north and south Vietnam.
The US supported General Lon Nol’s overthrow of the neutral
government of Sihanouk in 1970. That, plus US military attacks
on Cambodia, allowed the Khmer Rouge to seize the nationalist
banner. They took over Cambodia in 1975 and embarked on a
“purification” of the population that cost over 1.5 million dead.
Vietnam invaded in 1979 and forced the Khmer Rouge from
power. Cambodia’s prime minister is a former Khmer Rouge who
first gained power with Vietnamese help and has stayed in power
ever since, even though there have been elections.
The killing fields
Don’t forget Laos (pp.160,
A small country caught up in the battle for Indochina.
The war in Vietnam spilled over into Laotian territory.
When Vietnam and Cambodia went Communist, so did
Laos (the Communist forces were led by a Communist
Laos is now ruled by the Lao People’s Revolutionary
Party, with no other political parties permitted. There
is a mixed economy and an authoritarian political
Brunei (p. 191)
An often overlooked country that is relatively rich
(because of oil).
Less than 425,000 people live in Brunei.
Still an absolute monarchy (sultanate)
11-20% of the population of Brunei are of Chinese
Brunei on the map
Major Violence in SE
1945-75 War in Vietnam (pp. 153-59)
1965 Massacre in Indonesia (p. 173)
1975-78 Killing fields in Cambodia (p. 194)
plus on-going violence in Thailand, the Philippines,
Timor-Leste, and Burma/Myanmar
Douglas MacArthur,
Asia’s greatest revolutionary
1945-1952 Japan is occupied by a foreign power for the
first time in its history
Demilitarization of Japan, including putting war criminals
on trial (but why was the Emperor left on his throne?
pp. 462-3), then Article 9 of the new constitution. (p. 463)
social revolution--land reform for peasants, workers can
now form labour unions, women are now legally equal to
men, the individual is the basic unit of society rather than
the family.
Japan gets democracy
Militarists lose power, and landlords lose their land under
American land reform. At the same time, businessmen get
out from under the thumb of the government, and from the
zaibatsu (conglomerates of interlocked companies)
The MacArthur constitution gives Japan parliamentary
government, equality for women, freedom of speech and
press, freedom for workers to organize.
The MacArthur constitution outlaws war for Japan.
Was Douglas MacArthur Asia’s greatest revolutionary?
The Liberal Democratic Party was replaced as the ruling party by the
Democratic Party of Japan in 2009. Then, in 2012, the voters returned the LDP
to power. That’s two peaceful transfers of power
The peaceful transfer of power to the DPJ brought an end to over 50 years of
Liberal Democratic Party hegemony.
Japan is still bound by article 9 of the MacArthur Constitution, but is becoming
more outspoken in its foreign policy.
Japan still has problems with minorities like burakumin, Ainu, Koreans and
Okinawans. (p. 516)
Japan is unusual in that a religious party plays a minor but significant political
role. Soka Gakki remains a political and religious force. (The New Kōmeitō
political party is associated with SGI.) (p. 468)
What is democracy?
a political system grounded in the recognition of the
legitimacy of conflicts of interests. Democracy
provides mechanisms such as elections for the
peaceful resolution of such conflicts. There also
must be a real possibility for citizens to influence
policy and even to form opposition parties that can
themselves someday run the government Many
scholars withhold the label “democracy” from a
country that has not experienced two peaceful
transfers of power in a row.
the Japanese economy
Japan recovered quickly after the war, and began growing
rapidly (until the 1990s) Administrative guidance from the
government directed investment into more productive
Japan has had a stable government--perhaps too stable.
From 1955 to 2009, most of the time the Liberal Democratic
Party governed Japan (except for 1993-1996). The
Democratic Party of Japan held the majority of the seats in
the Diet and ran the government from 2009 until Dec. 2012,
when the LDP again won the election and control of the
Japan’s Economic Rise
In the 1950s and 60s, Japan had the fastest growing
economy in the world. How did Japan do that?
It rebuilt from the destruction of war with brand new
technology, and with the aid of Korean War contracts.
The government offered advice to ensure capital was
concentrated in the most appropriate sectors
The US took care of Japan’s defence needs, allowing
Japanese capital to be put to peaceful use.
Japan: No Longer #1
Starting in 1990--2 decades of economic stagnation. Japan
now has a lower per capita GDP than Singapore, Hong Kong,
Taiwan --and Canada. But it is not a poor country. It is still
36th in the world, and has the world’s 5th largest national
economy (behind the US, the EU, China, and India).
Japan has the largest government deficit in the world, as a
percentage of annual GDP. More than Greece, Italy, Iceland,
or the US.
An aging and shrinking population, plus a reliance on exports,
makes hopes for a return to the boom days of the 1960s and
1970s look unlikely. Even the shift in 2009 to DPJ from LDP
and back again to the DLP in 2012 has made little difference.
Japan and Its Neighbours
China: The legacy of the Pacific War
Disputes over the Senkaku/ Diaoyutai islands
Korea: North and South
Rocky relations with North Korea because of kidnapped
disputes with South Korea over both Dokto /Takeshima
Island and over history
Russia: Who owns the Kurile islands?
Questioning Japan
New religious movements: Aum Shinrikyo (now
Aleph) and Happy Science (says its still living founder
is the Buddha incarnate) (p. 522)
Nihonjinron--search for the the uniqueness of the
“Japanese race.” Unique language, homogeneous
people, and unique psychology and even physiology.
(p. 516)
Making Japan a “normal country” (able to wage war).
Okinawa after 1945
Conquered by the US in a bloody battle in spring, 1945
Occupied by the US until 1972 (occupation of the rest of
Japan ended in 1952) Taiwan protested the reversion to
Japan. (Some in the PRC now claim that the Kingdom
of the Ryūkyūs was part of China!)
Still has more US military personnel than all of the rest
of Japan
Average income is 75% of the average income of
Japanese on the main islands.

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