Asian Insider May 28: A mass stabbing in Japan; Huawei claims FedEx diverted packages

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.


In one of the most horrific attacks in recent memory in Japan, a man went on a stabbing spree at a bus stop in Greater Tokyo, where a group of children were waiting.

The details:  A 12-year-old girl and 39-year-old man were pronounced dead. 15 others were injured, with three six-year-olds reportedly badly hurt. The suspect, a man in his 50s, died in hospital after stabbing himself in the neck. His motives are not known.

The big picture:   The attack has shocked a country with famously low-rates of violent crime and one where it is not uncommon for young children to be allowed to travel unaccompanied.

The reaction:  Japanese PM Shinzo Abe voiced “strong anger” over the “harrowing” attack, while US President Donald Trump - who is on a visit to Japan - said that “Americans stand with the people of Japan and grieve for the victims and for their families”.

Go deeper:

2 dead, including child, in Japan mass stabbing


Indonesian police have named six new suspects linked to the unrest in Jakarta last week, including three who were paid to kill national leaders. The police did not reveal the identities of the suspects nor their intended targets but said two suspects were paid 150 million (US$10,400) rupiah and 25 million rupiah respectively for the job.

The backdrop:  Protests in Jakarta last week in the wake of the release of official election results escalated into riots that left 8 dead and some 700 injured. The unveiling of a plot to directly target leaders adds a new angle to the unrest and raises further questions about whether the riots were orchestrated and who is behind it. Investigators have suggested that the rioters were paid, saying they found white enveloped on some suspects containing cash of between 200,000 and 500,000 rupiah.

Go deeper:

Indonesian police uncover plot to kill government leaders


Huawei is claiming that two parcels it sent from Japan to China were diverted to the US by Fedex. It also said the American delivery company attempted to divert two other packages sent from Vietnam to huawei offices elsewhere in Asia. Huawei said FedEx did not provide a detailed explanation.

The big picture: Huawei - who said the packages contained important documents but not tech - did not say why it thought the packages were diverted but the insinuation is clear. Huawei is turning the American allegations on their head, suggesting that American companies are engaging in espionage activities on behalf of the government. Initially vague notions of the trade war have been made real for many people in Asia when Huawei was affected and since then, there has been a growing divide on whether US  actions against the telecoms company are warranted or disingenuous.

Go deeper:

Huawei reviewing FedEx relationship, says packages 'diverted'


Joseph Liow, the inaugural Lee Kuan Yew Chair at the Brookings Institution and now a professor of comparative and international politics at the Nanyang Technological University, considers the role of race in the ongoing tensions between China and US in the wake of a US State Department official’s comments  that it is the first time that the US has a great power competitor that “is not Caucasian”.

He writes: “Simply discrediting the intellectual and historical foundations of this kind of thinking will not make it go away. Certainly not in the minds of certain characters in the present administration for whom deepening of competition with China is viewed as not only necessary but desirable. For them, racial and civilisational paradigms would be convenient by way of their further vindication of existing hardline policies. Nor should we discount the influence of racially laced assumptions on American foreign policy thinking in the past.”

Read the commentary here in our “By Invitation” series: Sino-US relations: What has race got to do with it?


If you were feeling  exhausted at work or perhaps feeling an “increased mental distance” from your job, or reduced “professional efficacy”, then you may be experiencing burnout. For the first time the World Health Organisation is officially recognising that common office lament in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) - even providing a description of the syndrome. The ICD is widely used as a benchmark for health insurers so we may soon be able to get some cover for our stress.

Other developments:

Sydney on Tuesday (May 28) announced its first major water restrictions in a decade, putting limits on homes and businesses amid a record-breaking drought. The New South Wales government said the greater Sydney region water catchments were experiencing some of the lowest flows since the 1940s, and that the restrictions would be enforced from next week.

With counting for the European Parliament elections now concluded throughout the 28 member-states of the European Union, it is clear that mainstream, long-established political European parties of both the left and right of the spectrum have lost heavily, as voters throughout the continent switched their loyalties to a variety of smaller and sometimes fringe movements.


That’s a wrap for today. Thanks for reading. We’ll be back tomorrow.