Diary from a UK-based Japanese community after the Tohoku catastrophe
Four moving tectonic plates crowd each other in the eastern vicinity of Japan, and on Friday 11 March at 2:45 in the afternoon Japan Standard Time, pressure that had built up between two of them for years, perhaps centuries, was suddenly released, causing one to slip under the other. The ocean above this rising sea floor also rose, and these displaced masses of water shortly after inundated the northeastern coats of Japan.
Today, the 10th
of March 2011, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama announced that he will transfer his
formal authority to the leader that the exile-Tibetans chose in the upcoming
elections for a Tibetan Prime Minister-in-Exile.
These are fascinating
times, as the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East might well be the
beginning of a “Fourth Wave” of Democracy. The late political scientist Samuel
Huntington once likened clustered incidences of democratizations to “waves”. After
the apparent ebbing out of the “Third Wave”, which between 1974 and the early
1990s swept over Southern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe, the
time might have come for another democratic push. As a political scientist
studying stability and instability of authoritarian regimes, I am extremely
Thai politics have been somewhat baffling the past two weeks. So has Cambodian politics. And as always when the two Kingdoms clash and create irrational political atmospheres, people have suffered. In this case, several people have died. But let’s start with the beginning:
Yes, there has been a serious crisis
recently between China and Japan.
The collision between a Chinese
fishing trawler and a Japanese coastguard patrol boat close to the disputed
islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, prompted both countries
to take drastic measures which resulted in China canceling a number of
high-level ministerial meetings between the two countries. But no, this doesn’t
imply that the region is on the brink of open confrontation. It doesn’t disturb
the general trend towards a more pragmatic cooperative attitude from both
On January 11th, in Paris, the Simone de Beauvoir prize for Women’s freedom 2010 was awarded to two Chinese women, GUO Jianmei 郭健梅, a lawyer in Beijing and Prof. AI Xiaoming 艾晓明 from Sun Zhongshan University (Canton). The Simone de
By way of
introduction, let me affirm that of course Liu Xiaobo should not be in prison
for peacefully publishing his opinions on China’s system of government. He
has a long history of conducting a non-violent personal fight against the Party
leadership, the last time I met him was on Tiananmen. He has also guest-lectured here in Aarhus
Ang San Suu Kyi was released. And there was an election. And
that’s about as concrete as this post is going to get – of course there are
more to be said, but as is always the case with Burma
and her elusive leadership, there are no answers to be found in Rangoon.
As always, details are sketchy, indecipherable and
insufficient and what is really the situation for the average Burmese citizen
is unclear. Getting more concrete than just stating the two above things is not
an easy task.