Foreign Policy Blogs

East Asia Looms Large in Top Risks of 2010

The Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer and Co.’s global policy think tank, has just published the Top Risks of 2010, its annual attempt to identify and characterize the most pressing global challenges for the year ahead.

It should comes as no surprise that East Asia figures prominently into their calculations.

The top risk of 2010, according to Bremmer and his associates, is US-China Relations. In their own words,

“The G2 was a stillborn idea, because Beijing didn’t want the responsibilities, even though the United States pushed hard for this framework at the Obama-Hu Jintao summit in November. That won’t last in 2010. In the future, we’ll look back at that summit as the peak of the relationship, and we’ll see significant deterioration in US-Chinese relations in the coming year.”

Coming in at at number five is Japan. It seems that the tumult of Yukio Hatoyama and the Democratic Party of Japan’s “regime change” has someone at the Eurasia group anxious over the competency and staying power of the new government. According to the report,

“What happens when the ruling party loses power in a one-party state? You get a zero-party state. That has effectively happened in Japan, and it’s hard to overstate the importance of the sweeping political change—indeed it’s unprecedented for a major industrial democracy. The new Democratic Party of Japan’s (DPJ) efforts to limit the influence of bureaucrats and industrialists
are creating higher policy risk, especially after upper house elections in the summer.”

Other items on their list – namely, US financial regulation, climate change, and Indo-Pak relations – are also arguably linked to the politics and policies of East Asian nations, as China in particular will play a critical role in determining the future course of these thorny issues.

The 2010 report, including its red herrings section, should be read in full. It can be accessed here.

The 2009 report can be accessed here, for nostalgia’s sake.



David Fedman

David Fedman is a PhD student in the History Department of Stanford University where he focuses on modern Japanese and Korean history. He lives in San Francisco, California.