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Courts are political institutions. And judges do not operate in an institutional or ideological vacuum, as they are shaped by the social, political, and economic struggles that take place within their political systems. Where the strategic environment confers discretion on the courts, the judges can construct a constitutional identity for their jurisdiction distinct from their government’s vision and redefine the polity’s place in the world. And this constitutional convergence in East Asia will endure so long as the political system in each jurisdiction remains fragmented, the courts continue to be independent and judges choose to align their local jurisprudence with Western human rights law.
Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong are exceptional insofar as their courts are the only ones in Asia that have converged on the use of Structured Proportionality (SP) to invalidate legislation routinely. Their judges reason through the four-stage SP sequentially and harness SP to overturn state action regularly. In East Asia, SP has been used to invalidate laws that limit free speech, freedom of assembly, criminal due process, prisoners’ rights, the right to work, sexual autonomy and the right to property.
There are limits to this constitutional convergence in East Asia. The three courts in Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong will not converge on electoral reform and matters impacting national security. While Taiwan and South Korea are dynamic democracies where competing political parties take turn in office, Hong Kong is a sub-unit of communist China. Therefore, the pursuit of major electoral systemic changes, personnel changes adverse to China’s core interests or challenges that are perceived to undermine national security or sovereignty are simply off-limits to the Hong Kong judiciary.
Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea have the only courts in Asia that regularly use a structured four-stage Proportionality Analysis system to invalidate laws. They also have the only courts in Asia that routinely apply innovative constitutional remedies such as Suspension Orders and Remedial Interpretation to rectify constitutionally flawed legislation. This book explores the constitutional convergence in East Asia and explains its limits.
In Asia, the courts in Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong are the only ones that regularly rely on both Remedial Interpretation and Suspension Orders to rectify constitutionally flawed legislation. Furthermore, neither remedy is expressly authorized by legislation or their respective Constitutions. These novel remedies were wholly created by their top judges. These courts in East Asia have used these innovative remedies to rectify laws on criminal procedure, electoral rights, privacy rights and non-discrimination.
There are two inter-related institutional reasons for this judicialization of public law norms, which promotes this constitutional convergence within East Asia. First, in each jurisdiction, judicialization is fostered by a fragmentation of power within the political branches of government, which hampers the ability of the government of the day to pursue a unified legislative agenda efficaciously. Second, judicialization is facilitated by an independent judiciary. Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea have the most liberal courts in Asia precisely because of the political fragmentation in their constitutional systems, and the insulation of their judges from the control of one dominant party in government, which allow for independent liberal judges to be regularly appointed to the highest court. And these liberal judges in turn can choose to hand down liberal rulings when they secure a majority on the bench.
This comparative study of the constitutional jurisprudence of three East Asian jurisdictions investigates how the rulings of the Constitutional Court of Taiwan, the Constitutional Court of Korea and the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal have converged. The unique political contexts of all three jurisdictions have led to strong courts using the structured proportionality doctrine and innovative constitutional remedies to address human rights issues. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea have the only courts in Asia that regularly use a structured four-stage Proportionality Analysis to invalidate laws, and routinely apply innovative constitutional remedies such as Suspension Orders and Remedial Interpretation to rectify constitutionally flawed legislation. This volume explores how judges in these areas are affected by politics within their different constitutional systems. The latest developments in Asian constitutional law are covered, with detailed analysis of key cases.
Family coaggregation of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and schizophrenia have been presented in previous studies. The shared genetic and environmental factors among psychiatric disorders remain elusive.
This nationwide population-based study examined familial coaggregation of major psychiatric disorders in first-degree relatives (FDRs) of individuals with ASD. Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database was used to identify 26 667 individuals with ASD and 67 998 FDRs of individuals with ASD. The cohort was matched in 1:4 ratio to 271 992 controls. The relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of ADHD, ASD, BD, MDD and schizophrenia were assessed among FDRs of individuals with ASD and ASD with intellectual disability (ASD-ID).
FDRs of individuals with ASD have higher RRs of major psychiatric disorders compared with controls: ASD 17.46 (CI 15.50–19.67), ADHD 3.94 (CI 3.72–4.17), schizophrenia 3.05 (CI 2.74–3.40), BD 2.22 (CI 1.98–2.48) and MDD 1.88 (CI 1.76–2.00). Higher RRs of schizophrenia (4.47, CI 3.95–5.06) and ASD (18.54, CI 16.18–21.23) were observed in FDRs of individuals with both ASD-ID, compared with ASD only.
The risk for major psychiatric disorders was consistently elevated across all types of FDRs of individuals with ASD. FDRs of individuals with ASD-ID are at further higher risk for ASD and schizophrenia. Our results provide leads for future investigation of shared etiologic pathways of ASD, ID and major psychiatric disorders and highlight the importance of mental health care delivered to at-risk families for early diagnoses and interventions.
The antidepressant effect of low-dose ketamine infusion on Taiwanese patients with anxious vs nonanxious treatment-resistant depression (ANX-TRD vs NANX-TRD) has remained unknown.
In total, 71 patients with TRD were randomized to three groups. Each group had participants who received saline infusions mixed with 0 (a normal saline infusion), 0.2, and 0.5 mg/kg of ketamine. Participants were followed up for 2 weeks. Anxious depression was defined as major depressive disorder with a total score of 7 or more on the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale Anxiety-Somatization factor. Generalized estimating equation models were used to investigate the effects of treatment (ketamine vs placebo) and depression type (ANX-TRD vs NANX-TRD) in the reduction of depressive symptoms during the follow-up period.
Patients with ANX-TRD were less likely to respond to a single low-dose ketamine infusion than those with NANX-TRD. Among patients with NANX-TRD, low-dose ketamine infusion was significantly superior to placebo for reducing depressive symptoms. However, among patients with ANX-TRD, ketamine was not superior to placebo; nonetheless, approximately 30% of the patients responded to ketamine infusion compared to 13% who responded to the placebo.
Low-dose ketamine infusion was effective for Taiwanese patients with NANX-TRD but not so effective for those with ANX-TRD. A higher level of anxiety severity accompanying depression was related to greater depression severity. This may confound and reduce the antidepressant effect of ketamine infusion.
Whether the first-degree relatives (FDRs) of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have an increased risk of the major psychiatric disorders, namely schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD, major depressive disorder (MDD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), remains unclear.
Using the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database with the whole population sample size (n = 23 258 175), 89 500 FDRs, including parents, offspring, siblings, and twins, of patients with OCD were identified in our study. The relative risks (RRs) of major psychiatric disorders were assessed among FDRs of patients with OCD.
FDRs of patients with OCD had higher RRs of major psychiatric disorders, namely OCD (RR 8.11, 95% confidence interval (CI) 7.68–8.57), bipolar disorder (RR 2.85, 95% CI 2.68–3.04), MDD (RR 2.67, 95% CI 2.58–2.76), ASD (RR 2.38, 95% CI 2.10–2.71), ADHD (RR 2.19, 95% CI 2.07–2.32), and schizophrenia (RR 1.97, 95% CI 1.86–2.09), compared with the total population. Different familial kinships of FDRs, such as parents, offspring, siblings, and twins consistently had increased risks for these disorders. In addition, a dose-dependent relationship was found between the numbers of OCD probands and the risk of each major psychiatric disorder.
The FDRs, including parents, offspring, siblings, and twins, of patients with OCD have a higher risk of OCD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, MDD, ADHD, and ASD. The familial co-aggregation of OCD with OCD and other major psychiatric disorders was existent in a dose-dependent manner. Given the increased risks of psychiatric disorders, medical practitioners should closely monitor the mental health of the FDRs of patients with OCD.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is highly heterogeneous and can be classified as treatment-resistant depression (TRD) or antidepressant-responsive depression (non-TRD) based on patients' responses to antidepressant treatment. Methods for distinguishing between TRD and non-TRD are critical clinical concerns. Deficits of cortical inhibition (CI) have been reported to play an influential role in the pathophysiology of MDD. Whether TRD patients' CI is more impaired than that of non-TRD patients remains unclear.
Paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (ppTMS) was used to measure cortical inhibitory function including GABAA- and GABAB-receptor-related CI and cortical excitatory function including glutamate-receptor-related intracortical facilitation (ICF). We recruited 36 healthy controls (HC) and 36 patients with MDD (non-TRD, n = 16; TRD, n = 20). All participants received evaluations for depression severity and ppTMS examinations. Non-TRD patients received an additional ppTMS examination after 3 months of treatment with the SSRI escitalopram.
Patients with TRD exhibited reduced short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) and long-interval intracortical inhibition (LICI), as shown by abnormally higher estimates, than those with non-TRD or HC (F = 11.030, p < 0.001; F = 10.309, p < 0.001, respectively). After an adequate trial of escitalopram treatment, the LICI of non-TRD reduced significantly (t = − 3.628, p < 0.001), whereas the ICF remained lower than that of HC and showed no difference from pretreatment non-TRD.
TRD was characterized by relatively reduced CI, including both GABAA- and GABAB-receptor-mediated neurons while non-TRD preserved partial CI. In non-TRD, SSRIs may mainly modulate GABAB-receptor-related LICI. Our findings revealed distinguishable features of CI in antidepressant-resistant and responsive major depression.
Research suggests an association between metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and schizophrenia. However, the risk of metabolic disorders in the unaffected siblings of patients with schizophrenia remains unclear.
Using the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, 3135 unaffected siblings of schizophrenia probands and 12,540 age-/sex-matched control subjects were included and followed up to the end of 2011. Individuals who developed metabolic disorders during the follow-up period were identified.
The unaffected siblings of schizophrenia probands had a higher prevalence of T2DM (3.4% vs. 2.6%, p = 0.010) than the controls. Logistic regression analyses with the adjustment of demographic data revealed that the unaffected siblings of patients with schizophrenia were more likely to develop T2DM (odds ratio [OR]: 1.39, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.10–1.75) later in life compared with the control group. Moreover, only female siblings of schizophrenia probands had an increased risk of hypertension (OR: 1.47, 95% CI: 1.07–2.01) during the follow-up compared with the controls.
The unaffected siblings, especially sisters, of schizophrenia probands had a higher prevalence of T2DM and hypertension compared with the controls. Our study revealed a familial link between schizophrenia and T2DM in a large sample. Additional studies are required to investigate the shared pathophysiology of schizophrenia and T2DM.