Pesek on Asia: Fukushima's Comic Books, China's Wealth Lottery

By William Pesek

May 13 (Bloomberg View) -- Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories
driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:

Comic book on Fukushima irks Tokyo.

A popular "manga" series has gone where much of the Japanese media fear to
tread: Fukushima's radiation crisis. While the nation has long since moved on
to other topics, such as excitement over the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, writers of
"Oishinbo" comic books are putting a spotlight on health risks in the general
vicinity of a reactor damaged during a record earthquake in March 2011. The
government, both local and national, is not amused. They’re also missing
point: the Japanese public fears the nuclear power plants in their midst and
no amount of spin can change that -- only finding alternatives to nuclear
power will do.

The Four C's of Chinese wealth.

The idea that where one is born decides much about the potential for economic
mobility is as true of China as anywhere else. Here's an interesting Foreign
Policy take on the Four C's that can dictate one's wealth trajectory. It turns
out that ending up on the right side of China's regional inequality often
depends on: the level of urbanization in the city you're in; that city's
proximity to the east coast; whether you are near one of China's "capital"
cities, meaning those with efficient local governments and well-trained work
forces; and the availability "coal," a euphemism for national resources.

The other side of the climate-change coin.

Energy companies have lobbied aggressively, and with considerable success, to
paint climate change as some cynical hoax cooked up by environmental zealots.
But the question is whether dire predictions concerning the fallout from
rising temperatures and sea levels, most recently from the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Climate Assessment, are tipping
the scales of public opinion. If they are, then how are resource-rich nations
around the world preparing for the day when India, China and other
emerging-market giants consume fewer fossil fuels? For a look at what's at
stake, here’s a timely Project Syndicate op-ed about the future of energy
supply, demand and geopolitics.

South Korea names ferry martyrs.

Amid all the ugly headlines and recriminations over South Korea's ferry
disaster, it's worthwhile considering the heroes in this tragedy. The
government recognized three "martyrs" who gave their lives on April 16 when
the Sewol capsized, killing at least 275 people (mostly high school kids). The
designation is great for the three families, entitling them to bury their
loved ones in a national cemetery and receive compensation. But its
significance is far greater amid soul-searching about the cowardice of the
captain and crew members, who abandoned ship that day. Hats off to those
selfless and demonstrably brave crew members.

India's Modi looks like a shoo-in this week.

“Let’s place people over politics, hope over despair, healing over hurting,
inclusion over exclusion and development over divisiveness.” Sounds great, but
that's easier said than done for Narendra Modi, who uttered these words last
night as he learned that exit polls suggest his Bharatiya Janata Party will be
ruling India come Friday. As Modi will quickly find, winning the contest was
the easy part. The hard part is figuring out how to shake up the country's
corrupt and inefficient political system, that will try to stymie Modi's every
attempt at change.

William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at

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