Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

TFF PressInfo # 394: The State of the World Right Now: A Macro View

By Johan Galtung

“View” meaning not only a glimpse from above, but a position taken on the world on which the US electorate is now dumping Donald Trump.

That world is today basically multi-polar, maybe with 8 poles: 1) Anglo-America, 2) Latin America-Caribbean, 3) African Unity, 4) Islam-OIC from Casablanca to Mindanao, 5) European Union, 6) Russia more region than state, 7) SAARC from Nepal to Sri Lanka, 8. ASEAN, Australia-New Zealand. [See list of abbreviations with links to the mentioned organisations under the article]

And thre is the multi-regional Shanghai Cooperation Organization, SCO, with China and Russia, Islamic countries, India and Pakistan.

There is a waning state reality, smaller states being increasingly absorbed into regions.

There is a waxing region reality with the above eight; adding West Asian, Central Asian and Northeast Asian regions, maybe eleven.

There is a global reality based on IGOs, inter-governmental organizations, with the United Nations on top; TNCs, the transnational corporations, with the US-based on top so far; and INGOs, international non-governmental organizations, with religions on top.

Now, insert into all of that something concrete from William Blum’s Anti-Empire Report #146 and his Rogue State.

From WWII, the USA has: Read the rest of this entry »

The global power imbalance

By Johan Galtung

Dear Reader: This editorial 444 – the number calls for attention – is dedicated to a global overview, the world “right now”, so unstable with imbalances everywhere that what we are living is fluxes and jumps.

Let us start with two major relations: Nature-human, the US-the Rest.

Look at the human-nature relations.

We are used to being on top, killing and taming animals, protected against many of nature’s hazards including micro-organisms. But nature comes up with ever smaller viri, and larger, or more, tsunamis and earthquakes, and an erratic climate.

We oscillate between blaming ourselves, including military scheming, and the anthropomorphic “Mother Nature is angry” (Evo Morales).

If nature is angry, she has good reasons for a good riddance of us. And we are slow at a deeper human-nature relations respecting and enhancing both.

Nature is on top and our natural sciences are simply not good enough, taken by surprise all the time. Meteorology is good at covering the whole Beaufort wind range from 0-12; others not.

Maybe we have desouled nature and besouled ourselves too much to establish our own Herrschaft (rule, dominance), at the expense of Partnerschaft (partnership).

Unless this changes, imbalance with nature on top, and surprises, will continue.

Maybe the opposite holds for the US-Rest imbalance; that US exceptionalism serves USA as badly as humans above nature serves us? Read the rest of this entry »

Perhaps economic stagnation is a good thing?

By Jonathan Power

August 16th 2006

The announcement was made yesterday – August 15 – by Japan’s Finance Ministry: In the last quarter of the year the Japanese economy grew at an annualised rate of 0.2%. “One wonders if the economy will remain at a standstill for the rest of the year”, the Financial Times asks.

But then Japan’s economy has been becalmed for 30 years. Even though the government has poured billions of dollars into the economy it has had only a small effect in boosting demand.

One wonders when the government will give up and what happens then – another decade of minimal growth? If that is what happens how much does it matter? To the Japanese themselves it seems not that much. By and large they are contented with their lot.

The rest of the word may be worried as a powerful country is importing less and less. It does not contribute to world economic growth as it did before when its fast growing economy progressed at Chinese rates from a much higher base.

Some American and European economists are worrying that the Japanese “disease” will spread before long among all the leading economies. Indeed it could be argued that with Europe in the doldrums – apart from Sweden and Poland – and the US economy not steaming ahead as it once did, this may be already happening.

The former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has said that the world faces looming “secular stagnation” – a persistent period of low growth, low inflation and low interest rates.

But is this such a bad thing if the cost of living also falls? Read the rest of this entry »

Russia and China right now

By Johan Galtung

The background is the two major communist parties in the world. Russia Communist Party-Bolshevik made the November 1917 revolution; from 1922 the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, CPSU(b). CPC, the Communist Party of China, now celebrating its 95th anniversary, made the 1 October 1949 revolution. World-shaking events; in the world’s biggest state in area and in the world’s biggest state in population.

The revolutions cut into the modernity contradictions in the State-Capital-People triangle by conquering State-military and police. Two lasting achievements of CPSU(b): State Planning of the economy – maybe five years at the time, pjatiletka – now found in most countries; and lifting some bottom up to meet basic needs, surprisingly quickly. But CPSU(b) exercised gross structural violence in the countryside. And CPC, imitating CPSU(b), made the same mistake to start with.

Then they became different. Russia got stuck with the Party on top of the State, for some people, but not by the people. CPC, like CPSU, did not – and still does not – permit FAFE, fair and free elections at the national level. But China gave People a voice in the 70,000 People’s Communes, helping them lift themselves up when in misery.

China did not see State and Capital as either-or; like Bolshevik Russia opting for State through expropriation, and neo-liberal USA for Capital through privatization, manipulating and spying on the People. China opened for the neither-nor local level, for the compromise of some welfare state, and for the both-and of their capi-communism.

This intellectual-political flexibility, rooted in daoist holism and an unending force-counter-force dialectic, not in Western faith in a final state, Endzustand, opened for two very different “communisms”.

How are they doing these days, those two communist parties?

The Russian party is out for the time being; and in came capitalism. But over and above that discourse looms the history of a huge Russian Orthodox empire attacked by Vikings, Mongols-Tatars, Turks, Napoleon and Hitler, Catholic Christianity, and Cold Wars with extremist US evangelism, now over Ukraine too.

Yeltsin – hated by Gorbachev (INYT, 3 Jun 2016) – gave the West what they wanted.

Popular Putin tries to build autonomous Russia without Western-capitalist imperialism, probably successful in the longer run. However, in Russia the long run is very long. Read the rest of this entry »

Japan right now – and the US

By Johan Galtung

Except for a dark shadow, all is normal in the land of Japan.

The local levels function very well with diligent Japanese working together to lift them up. Except for those with nuclear power plants, particularly one of them, on the coast, hit by a tsunami. Except too for rural communities laid waste, people aging, leaving, empty villages, hit by having to import rice instead of cultivating it.

Ride the trains, walk the streets with the Japanese; as brisk and busy as ever. A little older, more canes, fewer bicycles, more cars, better streets and roads, cars run faster. In addition, a little fatter, sharing aging and putting on weight with developed societies all over.

Missing are older ladies on bikes navigating the narrow streets with elegance, skirting pedestrians by a centimeter or two–bikes ride on sidewalks in Japan not on the streets–heads high, unperturbed.

Not missing are school classes of lovely children following the teacher with a flag–the small girls being as sweet as anywhere in the world or more so. Judging by their faces the future looks bright.

Tokyo has modernized almost to the extreme. From a concoction of villages with scattered houses of all shapes and colors to a megalopolis of skyscrapers. Totally void of any charm, but mega-modern. We all pray they can stand an earthquake or two. There was a small one during the night; maybe just informing us all that “we are still here”.

Restaurants are filled to the brim, food as delicious as ever. Plus a more recent phenomenon: tables just for women, or having the room that evening, joking, laughing, self-assertive, accompanied by no males. Next, tables only for children; accompanied by no parents?

Ancient Japan shows up as temples and shrines and gardens, as beautiful, as spiritual as ever. It is all there, to our delight.

But under the shadow of the relation to the USA, occupied for 70 years, a colony, micro-managed in the smallest detail and spied upon. Read the rest of this entry »

Marinaleda: A concrete utopia

By Johan Galtung

Marinaleda, Spain

On a periphery road 108 Km east of Sevilla: one white Andalucian village after the other, traditional, poor; and suddenly this super-modern concrete reality, a utopia in many people’s minds!

The basic concept is well known: authorities expropriated land lying fallow in the midst of unemployed starving land labor, and it was transformed into a communal cooperative with very inexpensive housing, kindergarten, schools, clinics. Behind that was the vision, knowledge, skill, will of the mayor for over 30 years, Juan Grillo. With the mind, a reality, and the will to transform that reality.

We are dealing with more than economy and have to look beyond economics to capture what went and goes on. The old distinctions between public and private, and between owning and using, certainly enter. With comments, such as these.

Generally public vs private is seen in terms of state vs capital, the state using plan to advance it goals and capital using the market. That discourse is important and captures a major 20th century reality, the Bolshevik, Soviet experiment as opposed to the Western, Europe-US, ideology and reality, with social democracy in-betweens, both-ands.

As usual, there is a third possibility missing: the commune, the local authority, the municipality. Read the rest of this entry »

China’s Silk geopolitics

By Johan Galtung

China is changing world geography, or at least trying to do so.

Not in the sense of land and water like the Netherlands, but in the sense of weaving new infrastructures on land, on water, in the air, and on the web. It is not surprising that a country with some Marxist orientation would focus politics on infrastructure–but as means of transportation-communication, not as means of production.

Nor is it surprising that a country with a Daoist worldview focuses politics on totalities, on holons and dialectics, forces and counter-forces, trying to tilt balances in China’s favor. How this will work depends on the background, and its implications.

Two recent books, Valerie Hansen, Silk Road: A New History (Oxford University Press, 2012) and Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Knopf, 2015) see them as arteries connecting the world, globalization, before that term became a la mode. Not that loads of goods moved all the way in both directions, parts of the way, maybe further. Europe had much less to offer in return; however:

“Viking traders from–Norway–coarse, suspicious men, by Arab account–were moving down the great rivers of Russia–trading honey, amber and slaves–as early as the ninth century–returning home to be buried with the silks of Byzantium and China beside them”. (Frankopan)

The Silk Roads – so named by the German geographer von Richthofen in 1877 – connected China and Europe (Istanbul) over land from -1200; more precisely from Xi’an to Samarkand by a northern and southern road (Hansen for maps). And the Silk Lanes connected East China and East Africa (Somalia) from +500 till +1500 when Portuguese-Spanish and English naval expansion started a Western takeover by colonization.

The modern Silk Road East-West, Yiwu/China to Madrid/Spain. Although the transit time for goods or people to transit the route is 21 days, this is 30 days faster than a ship and is 1/10 the cost of shipping freight. See

For long periods run by Buddhists in the East and Muslims in the West; Islam using them to expand, from Casablanca to the Philippines. Frankopan sees the high points in the Han dynasty (-207-220, capital Xi’an for West Han), the Tang dynasty (618-902, capital mainly Xi’an) and under Mongolian, Yuan rule–for goods, ideas, faiths, inventions.

Xi’an, 3,000 years old, served as a starting point, both for Silk Roads and for the Silk Lanes, traveling the Yangzi River, or over land, to the East China Sea coast. Till the military uprising against the Tang emperor in 755 (Hansen, Ch. 5, “The Cosmopolitan Terminus on the Silk Road”); but Xi’an is destined always to play major roles.

China is now reviving the past, adding Silk Railroads from East China to Madrid via Kazakhstan-Russia-Belarus-Poland-Germany-France, to Thailand, from East to West Africa–from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic–from North to South Africa. Silk Flights. And Silk Web.

A silky cocoon is being woven, by worms in China. Too much?

Two features stand out in this approach to geopolitics. Read the rest of this entry »

China versus Russia versus USA: Xi versus Putin versus Obama

By Johan Galtung

From very high up three major countries-states stand out clearly: China, the most populous; Russia, the largest; USA, the most military. With three leaders, Xi, Putin, Obama, with much power on their hands.

And here is the key hypothesis, presumably more right than wrong: China-Xi: positive peace; Russia-Putin: negative peace; USA-Obama: war.

We have in mind China – also a region – building relations for reasonably mutual and equal benefit with China all over the world, spinning Asia-Europe-Africa together in a road-rail-ship-air Silk network available to all (with major mistakes in the South China Sea).

We have in mind Russia – itself also a region – calling to Russia leaders in violent conflict from all over the world, seeking cease-fires and accommodation (making itself a major mistake in Syria).

And we have in mind USA – more than a state, less than a region – since WWII ended killing more than 20 million people in 37 countries:

Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, East Timor, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Korea North-South, Laos, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Sudan, Vietnam, Yugoslavia Not included: daily USA mass shootings.

And weaving the world together with the incredible internet (making a major mistake, using it for spying, betraying us all). Read the rest of this entry »

The Axis of Evil

By Johan Galtung

Do you remember the Axis of Evil – Iraq-Iran-North Korea?

George W. Bush, or his speechwriter rather, concocted that axis in 2002 as focus for a global war on terror. The key term is “evil”–not “enemy”, “hostile”–the connotation being “possessed by Satan”. The proof is opposition to a USA chosen by God, as God’s Own People, as “In God we trust”. To exorcise Satan only violence works.

In 1953 North Korea under Kim Il Sung did not capitulate to the USA, only cease-fire, the first US non-victory since 1812. Very evil.

In 1978-79, Iran, by the Khomeini Islamic revolution, decolonized Iran from US dominance and evicted the shah, who had been installed by a US-UK (CIA-MI6) coup in 1953; in fact undoing 1953. Very, very evil.

On 17 May 1987 Saddam Hussein, used by the USA to fight Iran with no gains for Iraq, fired on a US vessel (USS Stark incident). Very, very, very evil.

However, for a USA, never questioning bringing US style democracy and US free market to all countries in the world, this was not seen as others having their own goals. It was seen as exactly that, evil. Read the rest of this entry »

Pluses and minuses of Obama’s foreign policy

By Jonathan Power

So Putin on Monday met Obama. They are going to cooperate against ISIS, the world’s worst problem. President Vladimir Putin says we should not be surprised to see Russian jets working cooperatively – even coordinating – with the US on missile attacks.

Even with both powers working in tandem it will be uphill work. ISIS has attracted over 30,000 foreign fighters, according to a UN Security Council report. At least 2,000 from Russia and ex-Soviet territories are in their number. (In contrast to Russia the US is more threatened by domestic, non-Muslim, terrorists than Muslim extremists.)

Will rapprochement over Syria and ISIS wind the clock back to the benign US-Russia relationship that was begun with President Barack Obama’s early “re-set” which led to, among other things, a significant agreement on reducing nuclear arms? Read the rest of this entry »


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