News from Japan – Week 13

Hello everybody, I am back after a brief and unwanted hiatus due to private stuff. Hopefully, things will settle down a bit more going forward. Just as a brief update on the situation in Japan, the state of emergency is set to end on the 21st of March in all areas of Japan. Most prefectures had already lifted it, but starting from the 21st even Tokyo and surrounding prefectures will go back to (somewhat) normality. Infection numbers have been going down drastically, but it remains to be seen if it will stay that way after the state of emergency ends. The Olympics are still set to take place this year, but there is lots of talk about reduced spectator numbers or no spectators at all, so at this point, it’s anybody’s guess how the event will go. Anyway, without further ado, allow me to bring you this week’s news with commentary by yours truly.

Because I did not release a “News” article last week, I missed an important anniversary that I thought I should mention, so have an article about it. March 11th, 2021 was the 10 year anniversary of the terrible earthquake and tsunami, that devastated the Tohoku area of Japan and caused a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear power plant. The rebuilding efforts are still ongoing, but in a bid to show that Japan can overcome even a disaster like this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a few videos that show what it is like now in affected areas of Tohoku. The article is somewhat short and fails to give any links to the videos, so let me help you out. The videos are released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs YouTube channel “外務省 / MOFA” and there’s a long version and a short version each.

外務省 / MOFA YouTube – Ten Years of Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake
外務省 / MOFA YouTube – Local to global: New Discovery of Fukushima

NHK World – You can read the full article here

Next up, we have an article about the visit of some American officials of the new Biden administration to Japan. Before and after the election of Joe Biden as US president, there were some experts in Japan who voiced concerns that a non-Trump administration could be more China-friendly, which in turn could hurt Japans interests. To be honest, I could never really tell where they got that idea from and thought (and still think) that having an actual human being as the president of one of the biggest nations on earth is definitely the better option.

Usindopacom – You can read the full article here

Sticking with foreign policy, our next article deals with Japans response, or rather lack thereof, to the coup in Myanmar. As most of you will probably be aware, last month the military forcefully seized power in Myanmar, a country that is used to being under the rule of a junta. This time however, the people of Myanmar are determined to make their voices heard to the global community and have been holding protests against military rule every day. The military has responded with violent crackdowns, killing dozens of people since the start of the demonstrations. Other members of the G7 have responded by putting sanctions on the government of Myanmar. Japan is in a fairly unique position, as it has fairly strong ties to Myanmar. Japanese companies have invested heavily in the country and more and more workers from Myanmar come to Japan to combat the manual labor shortage. Nevertheless, Japan is one of few nations who have not imposed any sanctions. While they have condemned the coup strongly and demanded the release of political leaders, that is about the size of it. Japan can often appear a bit aloof and follows a hands-off approach, but maybe now is the time to finally do something about that.

HumanRightsWatch – You can read the full article here

Lastly, and again sticking with diplomacy, let’s talk about something that I had honestly no idea even existed until now, which is the city of Ishigaki in Okinawa. The disputed Senkaku Islands, governed by Japan but claimed by China fall under the jurisdiction of Ishigaki. China, in its usual schoolyard bully fashion, has put heavy pressure on Ishigaki, forbidding Chinese tourists from visiting the town in a bid to hurt them economically. In the face of this aggression, the citizens and council members of Ishigaki are increasingly becoming sympathetic to Taiwan, who share the same plight as them. Now they have put forward a resolution that calls for the central government to establish a “Japan-Taiwan Basic Relations Act”. I really do not know enough about this issue to go into any more detail, but I find it highly interesting so I recommend you check out the following article.

JapanForward – You can read the full article here

A lot of diplomacy and foreign policy, but I will leave it at that for this week. Let’s hope that the virus situation stays stable even when the state of emergency is lifted on Sunday. I hope you all will have a nice weekend and a productive next week. Read you soon (hopefully).

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