Time for Trade Wars?

Researcher, International Relations
Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan
E-mail: info@globalculturz.org

Credit: AFP/Jung Yeon-je

The last week, a trade war broke out between Japan and Korea. The US and China are already in a war of trade and despite several rounds of official and non-official talks between the two nations there is no solution to it. As there are nationalistic governments are in power in most of the countries, the citizens’ pressure to protect ecomic interests of people and local corporates. In these trade wars there is less trade and more emotions. Asia Times writes, ‘The crisis blew up when Tokyo announced this month that South Korean importers of key Japanese semiconductor and display materials are now required to submit to new, and potentially onerous, 90-day government approval processes.’  The trade wars are not just economic they carry some cultural, political issues in the back drop. The issue of Comfort Women has become bone of contention as soon as Moon Govenment came into power. The new government repealed the earlier agreement between Japan and South Korea on Comfort Women issue. Earlier Japan imposed several restrictions on export of materials required by South Korean companies to produce computer chips. Despite foreign minister level tele talks, no progress achieved. Now both countries have removed each other from their respective White Lists. As scholars are speculating this trade war is going to escalate. S K Kim, associated with Daiwa, a reputaed borkerage company said "If Japan removes South Korea from the white list, the impact will be widened to other industry areas, which will be negative for both (countries),” reported CNN. Trade wars are used as a tool resolve the diplomatic issues. Japan and South Korea came together to fight the nuclear challege of the North Korea. But, as Asia News says, Tension between the two neighbours soared last October, after South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered Japanese steelmakers to compensate wartime forced labourers from Korea. The issue escalated with South Korea ordering the seizure of the local assets of Japanese firms and refusing to form an arbitration panel to resolve the dispute. Such measures to settle diplomatic issues are neither good for the two countries nor for the global economy. In the mean the US and China are already in trade tussles and due to which Chinese currency had touched it’s lowest mark. China and US are competing to each other to be global leader. Expansion of naval and air bases in South China Sea is a big concern for many countires, particulalry for Japan, America and India. The US and Japan wants to ensure ‘Free Indo-Pacific’ navigation but due to Chinese presence in South China Sea, countries of South East Asia, India, Japan and America feel concerned. Now this tussle has resulted in the US-China trade war and both countries have already made several impositions on each other.In a recent development, Indian Government has revoked Article 370 in Kashmir a Northern territory of India. In retalliation Pakistan is curtailing trade and diplomatic ties with India. Trade war between the two nuclear-armed nations is set to increase.

Above facts remind us that in all trade tussles only ‘economics’ is not involved. Trades are governed by political, cultural and a few other issues.  The US has banned several countries in different capacities like Iran, Russia and North Korea.   


Credit: g20.org
 Laura Frank
Research Associate, CCGS
Berlin Chair
E-mail: Info@globalculturz.org

G-20 is a group of twenty powerful nations of the globe, which also includes European Union. In 1999 the group was founded with the aim to promote the international financial stability and a few other issues. Economic cooperation was the key agenda behind its establishment. Its consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Spain is a permanent invitee.

Since then G20 leaders have met thirteen times at different global venues and the summit held in Osaka (Japan) on 28-29 June 2019 was the fourteenth one. The economists have raised the doubts of its achievements and its relevance too. The G20 leaders are divided on several issues and the global character of the G20 is severally hampered in new emerging situations globally. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), US=China Trade tussles, Japan-Korea cultural relations, US-Russia tensions and many other regional issues are more dominant over the global goals. In that case G20 summits just become a mere ceremonial meet without a concrete purpose.

Eight themes were put forth for discussion in Osaka. These were (i) Global Economy, (ii) Trade and Investment, (iii)Innovation, (iv) Environment and Energy, (v) Employment, (vi) Women’s empowerment, (vii) Development and (viii) Health. These were important issues before the global leaders to ensure the global sustainable development. Whereas the US has already moved out of Paris climate accord and has faced criticism, it was expected that there will be hardly any progress to control global warming. The worries expressed by Japanese PM Shinzo Abe through the press release is quite obvious, ‘The world economy still faces downside risks due to trade tensions. The G20 shared the determination to take further actions and lead strong economic growth while paying attention to such circumstances.’TheUS-China trade war is, as experts say, is not going to settle till Mr. Trump is in office. Chinese BRI project is boycotted by India, the most accelerating economy of the world. BREXIT has created a big trouble for European Union and Germany is passing through a phase of sluggish growth.

The preamble of the summit declaration suggests that there is a will to get united and make the world a prosperous, terror free, energy secured, gender justice and healthy place for every human individual. It says, 1. We, the Leaders of the G20, met in Osaka, Japan on 28-29 June 2019 to make united efforts to address major global economic challenges. We will work together to foster global economic growth, while harnessing the power of technological innovation, in particular digitalization, and its application for the benefit of all.
2. Building on work done by previous presidencies, we will strive to create a virtuous cycle of growth by addressing inequalities and realize a society where all individuals can make use of their full potential. We are resolved to build a society capable of seizing opportunities, and tackling economic, social and environmental challenges, presented today and in the future, including those of demographic change.
3. We will further lead efforts to foster development and address other global challenges to pave the way toward an inclusive and sustainable world, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.
One journalist said at the venue, Honesty is prime, rest will follow.
For us, Center for Culture & Global Studies, it is satisfactory that there is special mention of promoting tourism and strengthening cultural diplomacy. The Declaration states in its article ’24. Tourism accounts for a significant share of the world's GDP and is expected to continue to be an important driver of global economic growth. We will work to maximize the sector's contribution to the creation of quality jobs and entrepreneurship, especially for women and youth and in the creative industry; economic resilience and recovery; the preservation of natural resources through sustainable tourism planning and management; and the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development’.
We appreciate such endeavors of G20 leaders.

Tussle Between China and Hong Kong

ANDO Saori
Researcher, Department of Sociology and Area Studies
Tokyo City University, Tokyo, Japan
Contact: info@globalculturz.org 

While Hong Kong is struggling to retain its freedom and civil liberties, China wants to grip Hong Kong in more effective manner. Since 1997, when Hong Kong became part of China under one nation two systems policy, there were several protests on the Honk Kong streets in apprehension of Chinese dominance. This recent movement broke out on Sunday and as claimed by the organizers, the Civil Human Rights front, around 1.03 Million people marched against The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a statement saying that the amendment would "will not only threaten the safety of journalists but also have a chilling effect on the freedom of expression in Hong Kong.” further stating, "This sword hanging over journalists will muzzle both the journalists and the whistleblowers, bringing an end to the limited freedom of speech that Hong Kong still enjoys.” American Chamber of Commerce, The Hong Kong Bar Association actively supported the movement citing the Extradition Bill as anti-people, which is yet to become law. The Common citizens of Hong Kong enjoy freedom which their counterparts in mainland China have been denied for decades. 

China has emerged as a robust economic and military power in last two decades. It has greater influence than ever, globally, now-a-days. The success of previous protests in Hong Kong was just notional. It is evident that China is not going to govern Hong Kong in a pious manner and it will indirectly try to control it in such a manner which suits to Government in Beijing. Several Human Rights activists are behind the bars or facing legal cases. Some of them were forced to leave the country. The global community is either neutralor has become just a silent spectator to happening of the Honk Kong due to their economic interests, primarily. A Government spokesperson said in a long statement, 

The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 (the Bill) aims to deal with a murder case which happened in Taiwan in early 2018 involving Hong Kong residents. At the same time, it seeks to plug the loopholes in Hong Kong's overall co-operation mechanism in criminal and juridical assistance matters, including the geographical restrictions and impractical operational requirements under the existing laws. The Government's proposed amendments, which have been thoroughly and prudently considered, can achieve these two objectives.

 The proposed amendments do not pinpoint any particular jurisdiction. After the legislative amendments, Hong Kong can, where necessary, using the same set of standards and under the principle of mutual respect, handle serious criminal cases by case-based surrender arrangements with a jurisdiction that does not have any long-term surrender of fugitive offenders arrangement with Hong Kong. The proposed legislative amendments will not affect any long-term agreements in force.

 All existing human rights and procedural safeguards provided for in the current legislations will be maintained under the case-based arrangements. These include the double criminality principle, protection against death penalty, restriction against re-surrender, rule against double jeopardy, application for habeas corpus and right to appeal and judicial review, etc. The Government will thoroughly and carefully consider each case. The executive authority and the court will perform their respective gate-keeping roles in handling all surrender requests. The Government will reject any surrender request if it could not meet the legal requirements. 
Journalists, Human Rights activists, and Business groups didn’t take the statement in good sense and came out for protests. Any such protest which defies the decision of Government like China will not survive long without the active intervention of global community and destined to die sooner or later.


The Story: Valentine

Akari Watanabe

E-mail: info@globalculturz.org

It was Montreal Airport in the morning last February when they met each other. A lot of coincidences and situations created that opportunity. So in the fist gaze the boy was little confused. He recalled some very similar face in his memory but he denied to himself. Memories are not always good for our existence. Some memories are like unwanted grass in the field those stop the good crop to grow. Sad and painful memories take away our charm of life. But let us concentrate on the story not on the philosophy. So they met and the boy thought it was some illusion. He turned away his eyes and moved forward to board his flight. He was little sleepy. He closed his eyes. After some time he found that the girl is sitting just next seat to him. We don’t believe in miracles but who can deny that there are miracles all around us every day. Some loose their lives and many are saved every day because of one miracle or the other. So the miracle happened on that day too. Now he could not stop himself. He initiated the discussion. “How much time will it take to reach Narita?” She turned her face towards him and replied, “almost 12-15 hours, depending on the weather condition.” “I see, thank you”. In the mean time they got their drinks. He lost again in his memories. Can a face resemble to some one else so accurately? He asked to himself and felt pain, saddened with his past. As the plane took off they started discussing each other very comfortably. He asked to her, which place you belong to in Japan? “Fukushima” she replied coolly. “Oh! I see, the place of great disaster”, he told in a sympathetic manner. She just nodded her head and became quit.     
The plane was in the blue sky passing through dense clouds. He asked the hostess for his favorite red-wine and switched on the screen to watch some movie. While scrolling down the menu he came across ZEGEN, famous black comedy from Japan. He just chose that. The girl was having her orange juice. She looked at his screen just a matter of curiosity. But, ZEGEN forced her to ask him about movies, ”You like black comedies?” ‘Yes’ he replied by turning his face towards her. He took first deep gaze on her face for the first time. A male gaze is a powerful tool of communication; particularly females can read them very easily. So she received the message very loudly, and their relationship got changed. Now, they were not only co-travellers but also ‘more’ than that. The movie on the screen was going on but there was no one to watch that. Both of them were busy in talks about so many issues, movies, music, nature and places. He suddenly realized that they are not still formally introduced to each other. He introduced himself with enthusiasm, ‘my self Steve Jacob’. ‘Oh! Sorry for the late introduction’ the girl said and washed her hand with a tissue and moved her palm towards him. ‘My self Myta’, she holds his hand. ‘Myta’ never heard such a name in Japan’, Steve replied with surprise. ‘Yes but this is my first name’, she replied to clarify. She wanted to tell her family name but the person was in a little hurry. He just stopped her and said ‘Myta, I liked it, no need for more explanation. ‘Thank you, for liking it” she laughed as she was saying that you like the name and not me. Steve realized the mistake and corrected his statement, ‘I like you too’. She laughed loudly this time and their world changed suddenly.

A Greek mythology says—-we all are half and incomplete- . It happens so because of once the mighty God was angry with human beings. That time, the human beings were fully complete. There was no separation between male and female. But our ancestors committed mistakes and made the God displeased. He cursed us and divided us into two parts. Since then we are trying to unite but alas! there is no solution.  

To create a good understanding, sometimes, you don’t need much time. Myta  and Steve developed good understanding among themselves in last twelve-fifteen hours. They shared so many memories with each other. They found that they have very similar and common hobbies like playing chess, listening country music and trekking. It was 8.30 in the morning when their plane landed at Narita Airport.
To be continue:

"We will rebuild it. All together."

      Sayu Sekiguchi

The Open University of Japan
              (Hoso Daigaku)
       Faculty of Liberal Arts
E-mail: info@globalculturz.org

Many a time we have seen the destruction by fire. There were several incidents in Edo-Japan that fire engulfed towns and properties of cultural and historical importance. The human civilization moves ahead despite natural calamities and man-made disasters. The fear of apocalypse is very much rooted in Japanese society. In modern history of Japan the great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and bombardment on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 changed the overall experience of life and death among common people of Japan. It is the great human will that inspires to survive and rebuild.
Recently, Notre Dame, Paris came under the grip of severe fire. There was quick response from the global community and culture and art lover. Many nations, including Japan, pledged to contribute sumptuous amount of money to rebuild the 850 years old historic site.  The process of reconstruction will start soon but it may take a decade or so to complete the work. As CBS News reported, ‘Bells tolled at cathedrals across the French capital exactly 48 hours after the fire began. Cecile Deleville can hardly look at the destruction she has worshipped there for 44 years’. There are many deep memories in people’s mind about Notre Dame.
We visit places not only for businesses but for nature and cultural assets too. A building is not just a structure. It becomes live in our heart. Notre Dame, the Great  Pyramids, Taj Mahal and many more are photographed and kept as a memories not only in our albums but in our hearts as well. Here is a sigh of relief. USA Today states, ‘Officials said other treasures inside the cathedral, such as a dozen large paintings of religious scenes and huge bells made famous by the bell-ringer in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” were also spared, after a plan to safeguard heritage was quickly put into action’. Millions of people across the world are still stunned with this fire.  It would be a big challenge to rebuild the cathedral. Despite money, other skills are required to rebuilding. Kare reported, The roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was because "we don't, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century," said Bertrand de Feydeau, vice president of preservation group Fondation du Patrimoine, adding the roof restoration work would have to use new technology.
Also of concern, Feydeau said, is the organ, "a very fragile instrument, especially its pipes."
 There is pain and sorrow on this happening. Investigators are doing their job. Government is putting its best effort. UNESCO and other global agencies are seeking cooperation in rebuilding. At the end we have lost a historic treasure, which cannot be seen and loved anymore.   

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