Pesek on Asia: Japanization Stalks Europe

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Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:

Japanization risks hit Europe.

Does Europe risk a Japan-like lost decade? A deep malaise punctuated by deflation, rising public debt and chronically weak consumer and business spending? This Wall Street Journal piece lays out the European case for why it can't happen there: healthier banks than Japan had in the late 1980s, central bankers that acted faster, a more nimble business culture. But I wonder if Europe protests too much; it's still treating the symptoms of its economic problems, not the underlying causes. That, after all, is still Japan's lot to this day.

Chinese dying at their desks.

Speaking of turning Japanese, what's up with the alarming number of Chinese dropping dead at their desks? Japan didn't invent the die-at-work phenomenon, but it has become so prevalent that the nation created a word for it: "karoshi." Here, my Bloomberg colleague Shai Oster explores China's own "epidemic of overwork" and what it means for the world's No. 2 economy.

Australia goes all dovish.

As hawkish members of the Federal Reserve's policy board in Washington circle, the folks at the Reserve Bank of Australia are going the other way. They're grappling with a drop in mining investment, a tighter budget and firm currency, all of which are providing less assistance to efforts to re-balance economic growth. And what if China hits a wall? The question for Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia is whether a record-low 2.5 percent cash rate is stimulative enough to offset the headwinds that are moving Australia's way. Perhaps not.

China's map may trip up Modi.

Narendra Modi's China policy experienced its first hiccup as Beijing unveiled a new map showing all of Arunachal Pradesh and large chunks of Jammu and Kashmir as its territories. The move, termed an act of "cartographic aggression," puts India's new prime minister in a bind. Does Modi match China's provocation and risk alienating a government he hopes to learn from to enliven India's economy? Or does he take it in stride and risk anger at home? It's going to be an interesting week.

North Korea to indict two Americans.

Say what you want about Kim Jong Un, the man can multitask. Between family purges, missile launches and lashing out at actors Seth Rogen and James Franco for trying to whack him in a new Hollywood comedy, the North Korean leader is finding the time to try two Americans detained on charges of unspecified "hostile acts" against the country. Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle both entered North Korea in April. Just a reminder to those who thought Kim would be a nicer guy than his dad that they were wrong.

(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @williampesek.)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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Willie Pesek at

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