Review of 2011 internationally and events in Japan (March 11 and brutal tsunami)
James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
In 2011 many political convulsions have challenged nations in North Africa and the Middle East. The optimism of the so-called “Arab Spring” remains to be unfulfilled because you have so much uncertainty in nations like Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia. At the same time the death of Osama bin Laden wasn’t the decisive blow to international terrorism because recent events in many nations show that this menace is still potent. This notably applies to the recent slaughter of Christians in Nigeria by Islamists belonging to Boko Haram.
Images of Christians, Muslims, and secularists, celebrating political change in Egypt seems like a distant dream. After all, many Coptic Christians have been killed and a sizeable minority of Muslims supported an Islamic party which seeks to restrict the role of Christians in Egypt.
President Obama, much like the ethical policy of Tony Blair (past leader in the United Kingdom), showed his hand clearly by announcing a huge military deal with Saudi Arabia. Therefore, any notion of democracy and supporting human rights was thrown out the window. In fairness to Obama this is a systematic reality within the body politic of America. However, it makes a mockery of his ethical stances because in the land of Saudi Arabia not one single Buddhist temple is allowed or Christian church and of course all apostates from Islam face death in this nation.
Meanwhile the Euro crisis and the foundations of the European Union have been challenged to the hilt. This applies to one economic crisis after another and monetary issues will continue to be a major issue in the early months of 2012. At the same time political leaders have lost power in Greece and Italy and European technocrats who have been unelected now rule the roost in these two nations. Therefore, the “Arab Spring” appears to be ushering in “a non-democratic new dawn” while in Europe new leaders can obtain power despite being unelected – not a pleasant thought.
On a more positive note you now have a new nation called South Sudan and providing the international community supports this new entity, then some “rays of sunshine” will have happened in 2011. However, the path ahead is fraught with danger because Arab Islamists in Khartoum still desire to rule the many different African ethnic groups which comprise of Sudan. This means that bloodshed will continue in 2012 in places like Darfur and the fear is that the Khartoum government may seek to create instability in South Sudan because of the delicate nature of this new nation. Given this, the international community must develop mechanisms with political leaders in South Sudan in order to help this new nation and to guarantee its future, while major obstacles are being challenged by central forces in Juba.
The Russian Federation and Kazakhstan are entering 2012 with certain levels of uncertainty. This applies to political challenges and outside meddling from international powers which seek to cause mayhem internally. Therefore, the world is waiting to see if Putin can remain all powerful alongside Medvedev or if “the house of cards” will collapse because of external and internal agitation.
The forgotten Serbian Orthodox Christians in Kosovo still face a bleak future because they can’t freely travel around Kosovo. At the same time, power processes are against the Serbian Orthodox Christians of Kosovo and political leaders in Belgrade have to walk a tightrope – but, if the current leaders could abandon their brethren in Kosovo, it would appear that they would do so in order to enter the EU club. However, internal events and a backlash could alter the political landscape in Serbia and this is the main concern of the current political leadership in Belgrade. This means that the ghettoization of an entire religious and ethnic group will continue in the heart of Europe and what does this tell us about the new Europe?
In Myanmar the international media is focusing on current positives because political elites in this nation appear to be opening up. Yet, despite this, many minority ethnic and religious groups are still being persecuted and Free Burma Rangers continues to highlight the reality on the ground. The fear is that these minority ethnic groups will be further abandoned in order to establish short-term goals. Also, if the regime turns away from China – then minorities have much to fear from further abandonment and isolation.
Therefore, the mainly Christian Karen elites and other ethnic groups like the Shan and Chin will continue to face an uncertain future. At the same time, the majority of the international media will give scant coverage outside of issues related to Aung San Suu Kyi and issues related to the current leaders of Myanmar.
Madness sadly hit Norway in 2011 when Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Oslo. The reason for this barbaric attack was then manipulated like a political football but the truth is that this individual was clearly deranged. He was neither a Bible thumping individual nor a regular churchgoer but this didn’t stop the anti-Christian brigade from having a field day. However, the bare fact is that the majority of people he killed were white Norwegians and Christian – this hardly matches the “mad racist” and “devout Christian” image which was being brandished about. Indeed, Breivik stated that ”I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment.”
Sadly, the gruesome murder of innocents was lost and the massacre committed by Anders Breivik was clearly aimed at a political party he detested. The events of this day will never be forgotten in Norway because it highlighted the weakness of security agencies because one individual managed to throw the entire nation into deep shock. Hopefully, Anders Breivik will never be released from prison and different ethnic and religious communities will work more closely together in order to show the real spirit of Norway.
Natural disasters hit many nations, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, and many others. Therefore, tens of thousands of people died because of natural disasters. The March 11 tsunami which hit Japan was felt all over the world because of the harrowing scenes which were caught on camera. Also, Japan became the first nation in history to be hit by a devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis, at the same time.
The reverberations of the nuclear crisis can still be felt today in Japan and throughout the world. Therefore, the nuclear energy issue became a hot topic and nations like Germany did a u-turn without much thought, irrespective if individuals agree with Germany or not. Ironically, this u-turn will not stop Germany utilizing the nuclear power stations in France but this is a different issue. Meanwhile, the government of Japan is caught between realism, business issues, energy concerns, the green movement, power shortages, a general public which is still divided, and other important factors related to the nuclear sector.
The March 11 earthquake which unleashed the tsunami was truly devastating because tens of thousands of people died. Also, the speed of events shocked people because the tsunami literally destroyed towns and villages that were in its path. Therefore, even today many people are still missing and vast numbers of people are without proper homes in areas hit by the tsunami.
Residents who reside (and who resided) near the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima continue to face a bleak future. Also, the tourist industry, fisheries, and other important areas which created jobs have been hindered by the devastating events of March 11. Given this, the central government needs to work closely with local governments and various agencies in order to get the region back on its feet.
It isn’t all doom and gloom because many communities have started to fight back and rebuild and this also applies to attracting new investment. Therefore, the picture is very mixed but clearly all positive mechanisms need to work together in order to resolve the major obstacles which people and the local business community still face.
2011 isn’t only based on negative events but clearly the political, economic, and natural disasters, have all unleashed convulsions which still can be felt. In this sense, the early period of 2012 will be a natural continuation. After all, the nuclear ill wind in Japan remains unresolved when it applies to radiation and its impact on the natural environment and on local people. The economic crisis in Europe remains and the same applies to other parts of the world but some positive signs can be felt in some nations. Also, the so-called “Arab Spring” may turn out to be truly democratic in the long-term or it may be a false dawn where Islamists take control and new despots emerge – it is impossible to say either way with confidence.
Nations like Nigeria and Somalia will continue to face the menace of radical Sunni Islamic terrorist attacks and attacks against central forces will continue. Issues related to democracy in China will be monitored more deeply given the current political climate and North Korea will probably remain on the same footing. However, North Korea may implement some economic reforms and the new leader may turn out to be more independent minded. Meanwhile, the political merry-go-round will continue in Japan whereby political leaders in the two main political parties will face internal struggles.
The Olympics in London in 2012 offer a positive note because this event will be watched by billions of people. Also, you have signs that China and Japan will focus on greater economic initiatives which will strengthen cooperation between these two powerful neighbors. Overall, 2012 looks like another stuttering year whereby economic issues and political convulsions will continue to create new major problems.