Japan lockdown; Somalia-Kenya ties; China-Australia tiff

In today’s episode, we will revisit the COVID situation in Japan as the country extends lockdown measures in major parts till the end of this month, discuss Somalia’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Kenya, and finally look at the China-Australia relationship that continues to deteriorate.

Today on The Leaders' Brief -
  • One of Asia’s largest economies, Japan is continuing to see a rise in the number of COVID cases. Till last week, the country had recorded over 600,000 cases and 10,000 deaths due to the 2019 coronavirus. To prevent any catastrophic pressure on its health infrastructure, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet took the decision to extend the emergency in four prefectures, adding Aichi and Fukuoka to the list. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo have been under lockdown measures since April 17th. Depending on the extent of the measures imposed, Japan would see second-quarter GDP growth of 0.5% to 1%. 

  • Last week, Somalia announced its decision to restore ties with Kenya. This comes six months after it had severed relations with Nairobi after the Kenyan government hosted the leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state that Somalia doesn’t recognise. Last December, after Nairobi hosted Muse Bihi Abdi, the president of Somaliland, Mogadishu blocked Kenyan imports of khat, an important part of bilateral trade between the sub-Saharan nations. Somalia also accused Kenya of interfering in the electoral process of Jubbaland. 

  • In another step to the rapidly deteriorating relationship between China and Australia, Beijing, last week, announced that it has indefinitely suspended key economic dialogue with Canberra for what it called Australia’s Cold War mindset and ideological discrimination. The announcement comes weeks after Australia decided to scrap two projects involving Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative. China had called the move another unreasonable provocation by Australia, and Beijing’s foreign ministry probing had said it was probing the possibility of taking further action.

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