Asian Insider, Sept 14: Suga to be Japan’s next premier; ByteDance to opt for Oracle over Microsoft for TikTok; EU-China talks


In today’s bulletin: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga wins 70 per cent of votes in LDP poll; ByteDance opts for partnership with Oracle instead of selling the US operations of TikTok to Microsoft; EU-China agree to hold postponed talks; regional economies step up measures to boost growth, federal-state tensions over containing Covid-19 in Australia, and more.

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Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga won 377 votes, or 70.5 per cent of the 534 valid ballots cast in the country’s ruling party election on Monday, giving him solid backing to be Japan’s next Prime Minister.

The Diet, as Japan’s Parliament is known, will now convene on Wednesday for a three-day extraordinary session to inaugurate the new leader. Mr Suga is expected to name the top brass in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Tuesday, and his new Cabinet on Wednesday, our Japan Correspondent Walter Sim reports.

For now, Mr Suga has said he will continue the policies of his predecessor while pushing reforms in areas such as inefficiencies in the bureaucracy.

Go deeper: 

Suga: From strawberry farm to cusp of nation’s top job (premium content) 

Abe’s successor has a tough act to follow (premium content) 

Shinzo Abe’s exit: Sun sets on a political dynasty in Japan (premium content)


In a surprising turn of events, ByteDance – TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company – has dropped talks with Microsoft to sell the US operations of its music video app and has instead reportedly opted for a business partnership with Oracle Corp. 

People familiar with the matter said the terms are still evolving but it is likely that the deal will look like a corporate restructuring rather than an outright sale. 

Talks between Microsoft and ByteDance have reportedly cooled down. But Walmart – which was earlier working with Microsoft to buy into TikTok US – still remains interested in investing in TikTok US and talks with ByteDance are on, reports said.

Read also: 

Beijing said to prefer shutdown of TikTok in US to its forced sale

TikTok owner plans to spend billions in Singapore after US ban


Differences over Hong Kong and treatment of Uighur people notwithstanding, officials of the European Union and China have decided to go ahead with a meeting today. It comes at a time when China’s economy is showing signs of promising growth and while its rift with Washington remains wide ahead of elections in the United States on November 3.

Chinese officials, EU chiefs Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were due to hold a video-conference to replace a full summit with all 27 EU leaders, which was cancelled because of coronavirus, today.

China has said previously that an investment deal could be concluded this year but EU officials have warned that obstacles remain. 

Delve deeper 

Global Affairs Correspondent Markus Ziener: 

No high hopes for EU-China summit which is unlikely to reverse the dip in ties (premium content)


Economies hit by the Covid-19 pandemic are fighting back. From encouraging consumerism to promoting medical tourism and domestic travel, governments and businesses are trying different ways to lift the gloom.

In Taiwan, the government has issued cash vouchers to 21.5 million people that can be used to purchase a wide range of goods and services, in the hope that it will invigorate the economy.

Malaysia is beginning to see a resumption of medical travel while in India people are considering holiday options as states ease curbs despite infections rising. Read our special report for more.


Australia’s prime minister has been pushed to tears and rival regional leaders have been at loggerheads so much so that there’s even been talk of secession. All this over border closures to contain the spread of the pandemic. 

The federal government has been urging states to open up, the media has been on an overdrive covering the issue and public donations are taking place to support those affected. 

Also read: 

New Zealand to lift coronavirus curbs in most of country on Sept 21


TRUMP’S TOP CHINA ENVOY TO LEAVE BEIJING: The top US diplomat in China, Terry Branstad, is retiring, the American Embassy confirmed on Monday, after President Donald Trump touted the former Iowa governor’s expected campaign help in a key swing state. The embassy’s statement resolved hours of uncertainty about Branstad’s status after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo thanked the envoy for his service in a series of tweets, without explicitly stating whether he was resigning.

INDIAN PM’S CLOSEST AIDE AMIT SHAH HOSPITALISED AGAIN: India’s home minister and the top lieutenant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Amit Shah has been admitted to hospital again due to breathing issues. This would be the third time that the 55-year-old Mr Shah is in a hospital since first testing positive for Covid-19 on Aug 3. He was discharged less than two weeks later, but was treated again within days after complaints of fatigue and body aches.

SEOUL CHARGES FORMER COMFORT WOMEN ACTIVIST WITH FRAUD: South Korean prosecutors indicted the former leader of an advocacy group for victims of Japanese wartime sexual exploitation on charges of fraud and embezzlement. Yoon Mee-hyang stepped down as head of the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, better known as Jungdaehyup, this year to launch a successful bid for a seat in Parliament, where she now serves as a member of the ruling party. But she has been dogged by allegations that she used government subsidies for her own benefit rather than to help the “comfort women” – a Japanese euphemism for those forced to work in Japan’s wartime brothels.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with you tomorrow. 


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