HEREDITARY monarchy has gone out of vogue, but in much of Asia, political leadership remains a family business. India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are all, formally or in practice, led by the son, daughter, widow, widower or sister of an earlier leader.
It is in North-East Asia, however, that the persistence of the hereditary principle in politics has the most intriguing implications. At the root of the regions tensions are contested versions of history. The outcomes of elections in Japan and South Korea last month mean that they, along with China and North Korea, are now all led by the children or grandchildren of men who played big parts in that history.
How they interpret their ancestral duties will help determine how the tensions play out?