- Published on Friday, 18 July 2014 17:20
By Isamu Ueda* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
TOKYO (IDN) - In recent years, Japan has found itself it in a rapidly changing security environment. The global balance of power has shifted and various new threats have emerged within the region, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems that may soon be capable of delivering them.
These changes have sparked serious debate within Japan about how best to meet the changing security needs of the people of Japan and to protect their lives and livelihoods.
Some have gone so far as to suggest that Article 9 of the Constitution, which famously declares that, “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes,” must be fundamentally revised if we are protect ourselves and our national interests.
- Published on Sunday, 08 June 2014 17:16
By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth Viewpoint
KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - In marked contrast to the vibrant exercise of democracy in India last month, a military coup toppled a controversial but democratically elected government in Thailand – an Asian Buddhist country with which Sri Lanka has ancient bonds and shared traditions. Worse still an election was held from May 26-28 in Egypt – a founder member of the Non-aligned Movement (NAM) – resulting in recently retired Army Commander Abdul Fattah al-Sisi securing an incredible fairy-tale 96.9% of the vote in which only 47.45% of the voters cast their vote.
This column wrote in an analysis of the July 3, 2013 coup, which deposed the democratically elected Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Much now depends on the interim Government and their ability to pave the way for fresh elections when a genuinely representative Government will emerge. The Muslim Brotherhood must also change and settle for a compromise and for reconciliation in the larger interests of the stability and prosperity of Egypt and her people.”
- Published on Sunday, 27 April 2014 17:11
By Hugo Novotny* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
NEW DELHI (IDN) - The US, Japan and the European Union nations are gradually losing their dominant positions in the world. At the same time, powerful countries like Brazil, India and China do not try to impose their political and cultural values on less developed countries, but rather they intend to base their relations on a mutually beneficial cooperation.
Thus, the new system of international relations taking shape due to the growth of Asian, Latin American and African nations is erasing the fragile dependency and colonial servility inherited from the history of the last few centuries by means of the power of common agreements and convergence of interests. There is hope that this will turn the current global crisis into a true opportunity for positive global change.
- Published on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 20:58
By Donald Camp* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
WASHINGTON (IDN) - There was a time, not so long ago, when Sri Lanka was known for the quality of its democracy. In 1975, when I was a foreign service officer at the US Embassy there, the country was in economic straits but proud of its international reputation for an independent political culture, a feisty press, and a remarkably high standard of education and social services.
There were tensions between the Sinhalese and Tamils, but there was also a history of cooperation and respect amidst Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious diversity. Hindu shrines thrived within the country’s most sacred Buddhist temples. Christians and Muslims played a prominent political role. And at least among the urban elite, Tamils and Sinhalese studied together, played together, and often married each other.
- Published on Sunday, 09 March 2014 22:33
By Chintamani Mahapatra* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
NEW DELHI (IDN) - As territorial and maritime disputes in Asia have sparked regional cold wars, the United States appears to have adopted a non-aligned strategy to navigate in troubled political space of the continent.
Non-alignment as a diplomatic instrument of state craft has been known to American Administrations for centuries. Although the term “non-alignment” was not used, the need of such a strategy was first articulated by first President of the United States – George Washington. In his farewell address, Washington warned against the folly of getting involved in the European entanglements.
- Published on Sunday, 23 February 2014 01:30
By Hirotsugu Terasaki* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
TOKYO (IDN) - According to UNESCO, ESD (Education for Sustainable Development), is “about enabling us to constructively and creatively address present and future global challenges and create more sustainable and resilient societies.”
The Great Earthquake which shook East Japan in March 2011 served as an important impetus for me to rethink the idea of “resilient societies.” My organization, the Soka Gakkai, mounted major relief efforts soon after the disaster struck. Living in Tokyo, I found that the degree of direct damage was relatively minimal, however, two months after the quake I visited the disaster-stricken areas of East Japan. Towns there had been entirely engulfed by the tsunami waves and everything was swept away along much of the coastline. I was speechless as I saw the horrifying devastation which was beyond my imagination.
- Published on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 13:45
By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - The general elections for 543 seats in the 16th Lok Sabha (the Lower House of Parliament) in India are due in May 2014 and are of indisputable importance. It is also a gigantic electoral exercise with about 800 million voters, 150 million voting for the first time, in the world’s most populous democracy. Consequently, analyzing the trends and the likely outcome is of crucial importance globally.
- Published on Thursday, 30 January 2014 23:32
By Zachary Fillingham* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
TORONTO (IDN) - The East China Sea territorial dispute between China and Japan figured prominently in various geopolitical risk forecasts for 2014, and with good reason. Neither side shows any sign of standing down, and with every new military deployment near the contested area comes an increased risk of a small-scale military incident spiraling into war.
Anti-Japanese sentiment in China runs deep, fueled by memories of Japan’s brutal invasion and occupation during World War II. These feelings have been strengthened by the Chinese education system and state-controlled media, along with frequent examples over the years of half-hearted and waffling contrition on the part of the Japanese government. They have even been absorbed into the national narrative of China’s rise, such that China will only receive the official stamp of superpowerdom once Japan has been fully eclipsed in East Asia - politically, economically, and militarily.
- Published on Monday, 27 January 2014 22:26
By Savitri Goonesekere, Jayantha Dhanapala and G. Usvatte-aratch* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
COLOMBO (IDN | Colombo Telegraph) - There has been, in recent times, public discussion in regard to whether our country is moving towards an authoritarianism that undermines democratic governance. The President, Ministers and government spokespersons have consistently denied this allegation. They refer in particular to the recent elections in three provinces as indicative of a functional and vibrant democracy responsive to the needs of the people. Infrastructure development that has taken place is also cited.
The recently concluded CHOGM hosted by Sri Lanka is considered an indication that Sri Lanka has achieved significant international stature as a country whose governance follows Commonwealth values. These values as stated in the final CHOGM communiqué refer in particular to democracy, human rights, tolerance, freedom of expression, separation of powers, rule of law, good governance, and sustainable development.
- Published on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 18:15
By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
BARCELONA (IDN) - If you take a careful look at the world map of today, and compare it with that of, say, the mid 1960s, you will at least notice one thing: The number of sovereign states has augmented drastically. In the 1960s, depending on the year you are looking at, the number of states amounted to some 170. As of today, there are 206 states: Judging by the membership at the United Nations, there are now 193 undisputed sovereign nations, and additionally there are two observer states, and 11 other states, which are not recognised by several or numerous other member states.