Again, there is stagnation in Japan’s effort to make any diplomatic progress with China and South Korea because of Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s offerings to the controversial Yasukuni shrine. The shrine is controversial, because it honors many Japanese war criminals from World War II, including those responsible for ravaging many regions in China and South Korea in the era of the Empire of Japan.
This year, again, brought in the predictable rebuke from both China and South Korea for the Japanese Prime Minister’s offering to the shrine. The Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Abe’s offering was merely an act as a private citizen (Korea JoongAng Daily 04/21/2015 – US Time), but not surprisingly the explanation failed to pacify the angry reaction of government officials from both China and South Korea.
In December 2014, Prime Minister Abe enjoyed renewed support by winning the snap election with a comfortable margin (BBC 12/14/2015). Mostly driven by the public’s approval of “Abenomics”, the Prime Minister has won an economic mandate. “Abenomics” are driven by three major points: massive fiscal stimulus, aggressive easing of monetary policy, and heavy structural reform in Japan (Financial Times Lexicon 04/21/2015). While the aggressive economic policy has lifted the Japanese economy in the short-term, there are doubts whether the revitalized economic growth is sustainable. If “Abenomics” fails, then not only this would be an expensive failure for Japan, but the failing Japanese economy would also hurt the economies of both China and South Korea due to intraregional dependencies from intraregional trade.
Ultimately, it is in the Prime Minister Abe’s interest to make diplomatic progress on China and South Korea as various regional issues, such as North Korea matter, require regional cooperation. Prime Minister’s office has been making great effort to make diplomatic progress, but if the pinnacle diplomatic achievement is merely a cold handshake or an informal meeting with a head of state (The Wall Street Journal 11/10/2014), then there is a long road ahead.
Prime Minister Abe and his government need to reconcile how to balance diplomatic progress with their propensity towards the controversial shrine. Even the current Emperor of Japan Akihito has maintained the imperial household’s embargo on visiting the shrine (Japan Times 8/14/2013).
Prime Minister Abe can probably make “Abenomics” more successful if there was some type of regional cooperation from China and South Korea. Also, the Prime Minister needs China and South Korea to address effectively on the North Korea’s threat. Ultimately, the Prime Minister can do a lot of things more effectively if there is significant diplomatic progress with China and South Korea.
In the long run, if some of Prime Minister Abe’s major policies fail due to lack of regional cooperation from China and South Korea, then serious questions ought to be raised whether the Prime Minister Abe’s personal propensity towards the Yasukuni shrine was worth sacrificing decades of potential Japan’s progress in economic and regional political fronts.
After former Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the President of the United States, the Republican presidential candidates seem to focus her (The New York Times 4/18/2015).
Given that it is still early in the Presidential campaign and Mrs. Clinton being the current front runner in the Democratic ticket, it is a wise decision for the Republicans to temporarily unite against Mrs. Clinton than fight each other.
But on a serious note, at the time of this writing, there has not been substantive debate or even detailed proposals on policy offered by any presidential candidates so far. Checking all of the presidential candidates’ websites, there are only snippets of policy positions on specific issues that the campaign finds important. Granted, it is still early in the campaign season, and I am sure that those detailed broad policy position papers are being prepared as the campaigns develop.
Reading the current candidates’ position on jobs and the economy (if they have any yet) bring disappointment. According to the Federal Reserve’s latest minutes, the economy is in a mixed recovery, with certain areas (e.g. GDP growth, labor market conditions) performing well while other economic measurements seems to see a deceleration (e.g. Real personal consumption expenditures). If anybody would like to get a real detailed, non-partisan report on the current state of the economy, then the Federal Reserve’s minutes provide a clear picture. The report also shows the complexity of the US economy, including how different measures of the economy, while providing contradictory trajectories, represent the complicated interlocking components working together to move ahead on a slow economic recovery (The Federal Reserve 3/17/2015).
After skimming the Federal Reserve minutes, the small snippets on how the candidates will improve the economy look childish. So far, none of the presidential candidates have written any policy positions in regards to improving the US economy given the global market’s impact in our economy.
Does anybody remember the phrase “End America’s dependency on foreign oil”? Where did that phrase go? It disappeared because the overly simplistic political discourse on the American economy did not anticipate that oil prices could go as low today. The reasoning to the decline of the price of oil is still being debated (Saudi Arabia defending market share vs. Saudi Arabia trying to eliminate competition by artificially lowering gas prices vs. glut in the oil inventory in the oil market vs. other reasons), but that debate is more substantive than the overly simplistic political discourse of “America’s dependency on foreign oil”. At the end of the day, the price of gas in the pump is low in America due to the impact of the international oil markets abroad.
Our American economy influences and is influenced by the global economy, and any sensible policy positions on the US economy ought to include some fact on how this country will move forward with trade agreements, tariffs, multilateral cooperation on global market stability, and other components that deals with international trade. It is a bit early in the campaign to demand detail policy statements from the candidates, but I hope the candidates would go beyond the simplistic political snippets and offer a more comprehensive proposal for not only the US economy but on other issues.
Candidates' position on the Economy (that is available on 4/20/2015). Please note that people who have filed as a candidate with the Federal Election Commission and had a policy position on the economy posted on their own website are listed.
The recent events of police shooting unarmed black men have called for universal police wearable cameras to deter police from using excessive force while having the ability to document all events for a later review (The New York Times 4/14/2015).
It should always be stressed that on average, most men and women in law enforcement are good people who are serving the community. Police killings of individuals in unnecessary circumstances are unfortunate and ought not to happen, but the debate should not paint the rest of the police force as a racist entity looking to harass people of color. If there should be a productive debate, it should focus on realistic preventive mechanism that would decrease such tragedies quickly in the short term.
Police wearable body cameras are a great start a priori for decreasing unnecessary police brutality against citizens while also protecting the honest police from false testimonies from bad witnesses. The camera provides a constant awareness for the officer that all actions are being recorded and reviewable by a third party, so there is constant pressure for the officer to act in high standard. On the other hand, the officer’s camera also provides a continuous monitoring on the behalf of the officer such that in the event of a public dispute, the camera can provide a clear witness from the officer’s perspective.
While police body cameras provide a significant preventative mechanism against unnecessary police brutality, sadly, there ought to be a second step: citizen’s right to record videos. There ought to be clear, categorical laws for the right of citizens to record videos of police officers in the event of a dispute. Except in extraordinary circumstances in which evacuation order is necessary (such as right after a terrorist attack or a natural disaster), the police ought to allow and accommodate citizens from recording not only the police officers but also the general scene in dispute as long as it does not hamper police activity and also does not endanger the safety of the citizen recording the video. If the courts allow general witness testimony, why not allow potential witnesses to also use camera to provide a clearer recording of events?
There might be arguments to be made that citizen constantly recording police activities not only harass the officers on duty but also inevitably will bring a hostile division between the police and the community. Indeed, citizens recording police activities are a “check” against police’s unnecessary brutality. However, the police body cameras also provide a counter witness in favor of the honest police officers. If citizens recording police activities do harass police activity, then that event is captured on police body camera as well. If citizens break the law, the police can refer to the recordings on their own body camera as evidence in court.
Consequentially, we will inevitably be living in an era of constant surveillance by both public and private devices. While such surveillance can mitigate police brutalities and false witness testimonies by the public, it is sad that our society has to come to a surveillance solution to prevent tragedies. If more people from the police and citizens alike were a little bit more honest, we would not have to rely on constant camera recordings to prevent tragedies.
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