Failure to play trump card

Dear Asian Affairs

I was very interested to read the ‘Time for Plan B’ article by Dr Richard Cockett in your fine magazine.

Many Vietnamese at home and abroad are wary of China because of its huge size, its long colonisation of our country and its aggressive policies in the Spratly Islands, but President Trump’s new policies are pushing us closer into the arms of China

It is worrying that President Trump does not seem to be thinking about this, especially as North Korea is getting more busy with its nuclear tests, and also countries in the region need to stand against Chinese power. Vietnam can be a good ally and trade partner, yet President Trump is pushing us and its other TPP partners away.

The TPP without the US is not so attractive to Vietnam because it will not have special access to the large American market. But there will still be a lot of gains because Vietnam will benefit from increased market access to new TPP members, and it is never a good idea to rely only on one major power. The TPP will carry on without the United States if it has to.

Le Thi Lam

Westminster, California

Land of the rising sons

Noteworthy item in your July issue on adult adoptions in Japan. It may seem strange to us in the West that a grown man should give up his name, and consequently a part of his identity, yet it so often makes good business sense, as Dr McNeill outlines. What is more, many women the world over do just that when they marry, and for less prestigious reasons. It is only a shame that such adoptions are deemed necessary in a country like Japan, which has so much to admire in terms of its culture and practices, yet remains, in the 21st century, a deeply chauvinistic society.

While not wishing to be pedantic, as someone who has spent time in Japan, I would also like to raise one small point about mukoyōshi, which Dr McNeill seems to say are the brokered marriages between Japanese daughters and the ‘sons’ the family seeks to adopt. In fact, mukoyōsh is the term used for the adopted son-in-law himself; the arranged meetings leading to such unions are omiai.

Morgan Sinclair


Fall of Islamic State?


Re. ‘The rise of Islamic State’ (Asian Affairs, July issue): one hopes this will come closer to being ‘the fall of Islamic State’, especially since the recent killing in a US drone strike of Abu Sayed, leader of the group in Afghanistan (known as ISIL Khorasan, or ISIL-K). Despite its series of brutal attacks in Afghanistan this year and last, IS is not making the gains there that it did in Iraq and Syria back in the day, although how long it takes to eliminate them from the region remains to be seen.

Michael Semple’s tentative optimism about what lies ahead for Afghanistan, taking into account the Afghan people’s desire for peace and unity, is laudable, but are imminent peace talks between the Taliban and the government realistic, given that the group has no united leadership team to undertake such negotiations? Better, perhaps, to first hold talks with the Taliban’s backers, Pakistan; but that, too, could prove no easy task in the light of Nawaz Sharif’s now collapsed premiership.

David Kleid

Finchley, North London

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