NHK, ASAHI SHIMBUN (Japan), XINHUA (China)
The Japanese government accused China of violating its airspace Thursday morning, after Chinese maritime surveillance planes flew near the islands disputed by the two powers.
China's Xinhua news agency confirms that Chinese planes were sent to patrol the territorial waters surrounding the disputed Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku in Japanese) at around 10:00 A.M. Thursday.
Xinhua cites China's State Oceanic Administration as saying the B-3837 plane joined a fleet of four surveillance ships that are stationed near Japanese territorial waters.
Japanese broadcaster NHK reports that Japan deployed eight F-15 fighter jets and an early warning aircraft in response to the sighting off Uotsuri Island.
Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea (Screenshot from GoogleMaps)
"Despite our repeated warnings, Chinese government ships have entered out territorial waters for three days in a row," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osama Fujimura told Japanese daily the Asahi Shimbun Thursday.
"It is extremely regrettable that, on top of that, an intrusion into our airspace has been committed in this way," he said.
Relations between the two countries have become ever more strained since the Japanese government bought the islands in the East China Sea from a private Japanese owner in September. Both China and Taiwan also claim the islands as part of their own respective territories.
"The Diaoyu islands and affiliated islands are part of China's inherent territory. China's flight over the islands is completely normal," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.
"The Chinese side calls on Japan to halt all entries into water and airspace around the islands."
China's air incursion in Japanese air space over Senkaku islands, further pushes Japan's election discourse towards right.
— Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) December 13, 2012
The incident also comes just days before a general election in Japan, when the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is expected to return to power, headed by former prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is noted for his staunch nationalism.
Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.
SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.
The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.
It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.
Seoul housing prices top London and New York
In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.
According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.
Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.
One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.
According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.
Playing the stock market
At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.
A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."
In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.
42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s
Game of survival
In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.
But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.
This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.
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