Japan Remains Committed to Non-Nuclear Principles

By Isamu Ueda* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

TOKYO (IDN) – In recent years, Japan has found itself it in a rapidly changing security environment. The global balance of power has shifted and various new threats have emerged within the region, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems that may soon be capable of delivering them.

These changes have sparked serious debate within Japan about how best to meet the changing security needs of the people of Japan and to protect their lives and livelihoods.

Nuke Proliferation in East Asia Affects International Security

By Valentina Gasbarri* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

ROME (IDN) – The 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 on April 28, 2014 can be especially propitious for standing back from the perennial present of international security issues and evaluating longer-term trends.

The threat posed by the spread of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles is one of the main security challenges of the 21st century. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War led to a gradual reduction both in the security framework and in the perception of security.

In order to address this challenge and develop appropriate solutions, accurate risk factors analysis is required, as well as the ability to generate a multi-dimensional response: promoting the development of a comprehensive non-proliferation regime while also trying to explore how nuclear energy can safely be harnessed for sustainable economic development. The implications of nuclear proliferation for international relations are difficult to predict but profound.

A Buddhist Nun Becomes A Role Model for Women Empowerment

By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsFeature

SINGAPORE (IDN) – By ordaining women into the Sangha (order of Buddha’s disciples), Gautama Buddha 2500 years ago has placed women on an equal footing with men in India. But today in most Asian Buddhist countries nuns are fighting an uphill battle to be recognized as credible teachers of the Dhamma (Buddha’s teachings).  One Nepali woman may be unwittingly changing this perception by virtually singing the Dhamma.

How Power Centres Pressured India’s Diplomacy

By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepthNewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – India’s conduct of foreign affairs is increasingly perceived as being at the behest of power centres other than the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Recent events and developments – though not all of these can or need be recalled here – tend to buttress this perception.

Such a perception casts doubts over the earnestness of the Government of India’s action and the way issues are handled; and raises questions about the MEA’s functioning, especially its ability to exercise its prerogatives. In fact, the MEA appears to be losing primacy on its own turf to not only the Prime Minister’s office above but also the state chief ministers ‘below’.

Berlin Launches A Visionary Project for Interfaith Dialogue

By Francesca Dziadek | IDN-InDepth NewsFeature

BERLIN (IDN) – A leap of faith is on the agenda in Berlin where a visionary project for interfaith dialogue, launched as the House of One, hopes to bring Christians, Jews and Muslims to worship under one roof from 2018.

In a country where inter-religious dialogue has spun numerous initiatives for Christian-Jewish dialogue set up after World War II (1939-45) and post 9/11 – the time after a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001 – public opinion in Germany has yet to come to terms with how it was possible for six million Jews to be murdered by the citizens of a Christian nation.

A New German Fiction

By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – A rather strange debate is taking place in Germany for several months. Most strange, because it refers to a fiction, to a bizarre aspiration – of German troops waging war in different parts of the world, contrary to the role stipulated by the German constitution for the country’s army – an aspiration that hardly fits into the present reality or in the probable future.

This delusion, which began several years ago, and was abandoned for all practical purposes, reached climax again last January, at the Munich Security Conference during which, in an obviously concerted action, two German ministers and the country’s federal president argued that Germany, as the foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier put it, “must be ready for earlier, more decisive and more substantive engagement in the foreign and security policy sphere.”

The Bayonet Trumps The Ballot in Thailand

By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) – On May 22 this year the military in Thailand announced that it had taken over the country, suspended the Constitution and ousted the democratically-elected but controversial Government of Yingluck Shinawatra – sister of the exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thus ended a period of political gridlock as the supporters and opponents of Yingluck conducted their months long struggle for supremacy on the streets of Bangkok imperiling the economic stability of the country and its reputation as a booming tourist capital of the world.

For some this came as a welcome relief. For others it is viewed cynically as more of the same in Thailand’s chequered history after 1932 when a constitutional monarchy was established, leading to a fragile democracy with a vibrant “Tiger” economy enjoying Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) status within the pro-US ASEAN regional group. That is because military dictatorships rather than elected democratic governance has been the predominant pattern in this country – approximately eight times the size of Sri Lanka and a 65 million population – with its centuries old Theravada Buddhist tradition and enjoying the unique advantage of never having been under colonial rule.

India’s Foreign Minister Wins Hearts and Minds

By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – If there is one leading light of the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who struck the right notes, made the right moves and generally impressed observers and her audiences, it is, without doubt, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

She hit the ground running as it were: From keeping up the momentum in relations with the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations, following their leaders’ visits for Prime Minister Modi’s swearing in, the first foreign visit to Bhutan, to the fraught situation in Iraq and the evolving situation in Afghanistan, Swaraj has been on the go from Day One.

In addition, she presided over conclaves of Indian envoys in neighbouring countries to an agenda ably scripted by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and managed a goodwill visit to Bangladesh in the course of which she charmed both Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Remembering Hiroshima For The Sake Of Our Common Future

By Monzurul Huq* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay

TOKYO (IDN) – Human memory is short, particularly when it comes to record war and destruction. Countless details of various times portraying the accounts of misery and human suffering probably remind us of something vague and abstract; something distant and detached, not at all related to the realities that we face at any given time. Since what is seen as vague or blurred hardly serves as solid evidence, and what is distant hardly seems inspiring for stirring our conscience to the level of awakening, we tend to forget about what war and destruction brings to mankind soon after the waves of tragic realities subside and pave the way for a relative tranquil setting, at least for a short time.

Faith Can Move Mountains . . . and Remove Hatred

By Baher Kamal* | IDN-InDepth NewsFeature

CAIRO (IDN) – One does need to think back half a century ago, to remember how much harmony and peaceful coexistence reigned in Arab countries between Muslims, Christians and Jewish.

Nor does one need to recall how hundreds of Muslims gathered to protect Christians praying in their churches in Egypt during and after the 2011 popular upraising. Or how organised groups of Copts acted as a human shield to save Muslims praying in Cairo’s Tahrir Square from extremists’ attacks during the successive waves of popular protests.

Coexistence between adepts to the three monotheist religions in the Arab region has always been taken for granted. In Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine or Syria, Iraq and Morocco, no citizen would ever ask another citizen to which religion does he or she belong.

What happened then?

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