Anthony Kuhn

International Correspondent Anthony Kuhn official base is Jakarta, Indonesia, where he opened NPR's first bureau in that country in 2010. From there, he has covered Southeast Asia, and the gamut of natural and human diversity stretching from Myanmar to Fiji and Vietnam to Tasmania. During 2013-2014, he is covering Beijing, China, as NPR's Louisa Lim is on fellowship.

Prior to Jakarta, Kuhn spent five years based in Beijing as a NPR foreign correspondent reporting on China and Northeast Asia. In that time Kuhn covered stories including the effect of China's resurgence on rest of the world, diplomacy and the environment, the ancient cultural traditions that still exert a profound influence in today's China, and the people's quest for social justice in a period of rapid modernization and uneven development. His beat also included such diverse topics as popular theater in Japan and the New York Philharmonic's 2008 musical diplomacy tour to Pyongyang, North Korea.

In 2004-2005, Kuhn was based in London for NPR. He covered stories ranging from the 2005 terrorist attacks on London's transport system to the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. In the spring of 2005, he reported from Iraq on the formation of the post-election interim government.

Kuhn began contributing reports to NPR from China in 1996. During that time, he also worked as an accredited freelance reporter with the Los Angeles Times, and as Beijing correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review.

In what felt to him a previous incarnation, Kuhn once lived on Manhattan's Lower East Side and walked down Broadway to work in Chinatown as a social worker. He majored in French literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He gravitated to China in the early 1980s, studying first at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute and later at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing.

The rising tide laps at the feet of local children and fishermen and submerges all but the tops of the mangrove trees of Tiwoho village in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province. At one degree of latitude north of the equator, the climate here is about the same all year round: hot, wet and perfect for the forests of salt-tolerant trees that grow along sheltered coastlines.

The wall of silence in Indonesia surrounding one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century is beginning to fall apart. A forthcoming report by Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights estimates that a purge of suspected communists during the mid-1960s killed between 600,000 and 1 million people.

The violence reshaped Indonesia's political landscape and affected the course of the Cold War, just as the U.S. was escalating its fight against communism in Southeast Asia.

Supporters of the main opposition party in Myanmar, also known as Burma, filled the streets of the capital, celebrating Sunday a projected victory in closely watched parliamentary by-elections, as the party announced that its leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won a seat in the country's parliament for the first time.

In Myanmar's capital, Yangon, there's an unremarkable old building that's drawing people from around the world.

It's the headquarters of the National League for Democracy, the political opposition party headed by pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. This weekend, she is running for elective office for the first time, and the humble house has become the focus of even greater attention.

Myanmar has an election this Sunday where only a small fraction of the parliamentary seats are at stakes — and yet the ballot is commanding international attention.

The closely watched election is seen as a test of whether the country's rulers are sincere about reforms they have been introducing over the past year.

If the vote is seen as free and fair, it could prompt Western governments to begin lifting sanctions imposed during the half-century of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Japan is home to Asia's oldest and largest motion-picture industry, with its own unique genres and traditions. While every film industry has stuntmen, only Japan has a class of actors whose main job is to be sliced and diced by samurai sword-wielding protagonists. But the decline of period dramas means that this class of actors is literally a dying breed.

With a fierce yell and a resounding thwack, 13-year-old Japanese student Nanami Usui brings her bamboo sword down on her opponent.

By practicing Kendo, or Japanese swordsmanship, Usui is one of several students in the town of Minamisanriku who are rebuilding their confidence after last year's tsunami washed away their homes and shattered their hometown in the country's northeast.

Usui says she dreams of being a police officer, but she doesn't know yet where she wants to live and work.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Japan is remembering the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered a nuclear crisis a year ago today. At 2:46 P.M. local time, trains stopped, sirens blared, and people across Japan bowed their heads in silence. But one year on, rebuilding has not even begun on much of the country's devastated northeast coast.

And as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports, the fishing town of Minamisanriku is still too early for most of the wounds to heal.

(SOUNDBITE OF A BELL AND A CHANTING BUDDHIST MONK)

A year after suffering the worst nuclear accident in its history, Japan is still struggling to understand what happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in the country's northeast.

Last week, an independent commission released a report arguing that Japan narrowly averted what could have been a far deadlier disaster and that the government withheld this information from the public.

Once an international pariah ruled by a repressive military regime, Myanmar has in recent months become one of Southeast Asia's hottest destinations.

Last year, a nominally civilian government took over and began political changes in the country also known as Burma. Now, foreign investors and tourists are flooding in, and foreign governments are considering lifting their sanctions.

Thailand says three Iranians arrested this week were planning to assassinate Israeli diplomats in Bangkok. The bombs went off on Tuesday, wounding one Iranian and four Thai residents. Since then, Israel and Iran have been trading accusations of waging shadow warfare against each other through a series of recent attempted assassinations in several countries.

The military-backed government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has surprised many skeptics with the pace of its political reforms — releasing political prisoners, easing censorship and making peace with ethnic insurgents.

But none of these reforms have won it as much praise as its efforts to mend fences with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. After nearly two decades under house arrest, Suu Kyi is now aiming to work for democracy within the system by running for a seat in parliament.

Last June, some employees at the Global Ikhwan Café, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, established the Obedient Wives Club. Global Ikhwan (Ikhwan is Arabic for "brotherhood") owns businesses in several countries.

Since then, it has been castigated for what Muslim and non-Muslim critics call a "medieval and oppressive interpretation of Islam."

The controversy surprised club organizer Dr. Azlina Jamaluddin. She says that her group is merely suggesting a way to deal with social problems in Malaysia such as a rising divorce rate.

In Asia's modern history, college students have played a leading role in pushing for political reform and challenging authoritarian regimes.

Adam Adli is one of these student activists, and is becoming a prominent political figure as he fights to abolish a 40-year-old law that bars college students in the prosperous Southeast Asian country from participating in politics.

The 22-year-old was among the crowd of thousands chanting "reformasi," or reform, outside Malaysia's high court in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Jan. 9.

Indonesia has one of the world's fastest growing economies, and it's already the largest in Southeast Asia. This growth and stability recently earned it a major credit upgrade at a time when Western countries are fearful of downgrades.

Yet this vibrant economy has an Achilles' heel: its crumbling, overwhelmed infrastructure.

The problem becomes painfully apparent this time every year, when the rainy season fills commuters with dread in the capital, Jakarta, and many other cities.

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