Japan

With the release of the full text of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on February 21, activists in the 11 signatory countries finally got to see if their worst fears of a corporate power grab would be confirmed.

Unfortunately, they mostly were.

In Tokyo on January 24, 11 Pacific Rim countries including Australia reached an agreement to sign a revived Trans-Pacific Partnership (rebranded the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP).

The huge free trade deal almost fell into oblivion last year when US President Donald Trump pulled his country out, citing concerns for the loss of US jobs.

US President Donald Trump made the unprecedented threat to “totally destroy” North Korea, not in a tweet or off the cuff remark, but in a written speech before the United Nations General Assembly on September 20. No other leader of a country has ever stood before the UN and openly stated its intention to destroy another country. 

Coupled with Trump’s earlier threat to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea, this threat must be seen as one that at least includes the possibility of a nuclear attack.

Hiroji Yamashiro was arrested for cutting a wire fence at a protest against a US military base in Okinawa in October. He has been detained ever since.

Yamashiro, the chairman of the Okinawa Peace Movement Centre, has been a fixture of the non-violent opposition to US military base expansion on the island.

My heart breaks over Category 4 Hurricane Matthew’s slamming of Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.

When Hurricane Sandy struck New York City where I live, our entire neighbourhood was destroyed — every single house was uninhabitable.


Refugees in Jordan.

The six richest countries in the world, who make up almost 60% of the world’s economy, are hosting less than 9% of the total number of refugees in the world, a July 18 report by British charity Oxfam found.

The analysis showed that the United States, Germany, France, China, Japan and Britain, which together make up 56.6% of the global gross national product, host just 2.1 million refugees combined.

Every year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sends a group of economists to Australia to survey the domestic economy, comment on the effects of government policy and make some suggestions as to what might best be done in the coming year. It is known as an “article IV consultation”.

The IMF executive board’s latest report was publicly released in early October. After commending Australia’s economic performance during the past two decades, the report noted some challenges ahead. Chief among them is the prospect of “slow growth” in the coming year.


Big protest against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's security bill outside parliament in Tokyo, August 30.

About 120,000 people rallied outside Japan’s parliament on August 30 opposing what they call the “voluntary war law”.

The 70th anniversary of the United States' atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a reminder that when the United States' enemies commit crimes, they are crimes. But when the United States commits crimes, they did not happen.

In 1928, Arthur Ponsonby, a British politician, said: “When war is declared, the first casualty is the truth”. But he never specified what the distorted “truth” might be. If one were to examine all wars the US has engaged in, however, one might conclude the casualty to be civilian death counts.

Japan is the world’s third largest economy, Australia’s second largest export market, and third largest import market. It is also a country whose economy has been stagnant since the land market crash of 1990.

This stagnation, accompanied by a rise from 30% to 40% in the number of workers without permanent full-time jobs since 2002, validates the “stagnation thesis” that Keynes advanced in his 1836 book General Theory.

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