Japan, China and Asian Peace

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez
Japan, China and Asian Peace

Japan, China and Asian Peace

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Japan and China, two important countries in Asia, are also influential in regional and international politics. These two countries can play a leading role in peace and development in Asia. Although their pasts are conflicting, their peaceful alliance is essential to world reality. Especially for Asia-Pacific peace, it is essential that the two countries come together.

Considering the important position of two countries, researchers have worked on the positive aspects of the friendly role of Japan and China. As they look to the past and the present, some researchers have raised hopes for the future. Ezra Feivel Vogel was an one of them.

Ezra Feivel Vogel, (Born: July 11, 1930, Delaware, Ohio, United States, Died: December 20, 2020, Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States) was an American sociologist who wrote prolifically on modern Japan, China, and Korea, and worked both in academia and the public sphere. He was Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and the author of a masterpiece titled China and Japan: Facing History, published in 2019 just before his death.

According to Ezra Feivel Voge, China and Japan have cultural and political connections that stretch back fifteen hundred years. But today their relationship is strained. China’s military buildup deeply worries Japan, while Japan’s brutal occupation of China in World War II remains an open wound. In recent years less than ten percent of each population had positive feelings toward the other, and both countries insist that the other side must deal openly with its history before relations can improve.

From the sixth century, when the Japanese adopted core elements of Chinese civilization, to the late twentieth century, when China looked to Japan for a path to capitalism, Ezra Vogel’s book examined key turning points in Sino–Japanese history. Throughout much of their past, the two countries maintained deep cultural ties, but China, with its great civilization and resources, had the upper hand. Japan’s success in modernizing in the nineteenth century and its victory in the 1895 Sino–Japanese War changed the dynamic, putting Japan in the dominant position. The bitter legacy of World War II has made cooperation difficult, despite efforts to promote trade and, more recently, tourism.

Vogel underscored the need for Japan to offer a thorough apology for the war, but he also urged China to recognize Japan as a potential vital partner in the region. He argued that for the sake of a stable world order, these two Asian giants must reset their relationship, starting with their common interests in environmental protection, disaster relief, global economic development, and scientific research.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh and Associate Editor, www.barta24.com.

India's G20 presidency to promote the universal sense of one-ness

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

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The previous 17 presidencies of the G20 delivered significant results for ensuring macro-economic stability, rationalising international taxation, relieving debt burden on countries, among many other outcomes. We will benefit from these achievements, and build further upon them.

However, as India assumes this important mantle, I ask myself, can the G20 go further still? Can we catalyse a fundamental mindset shift, to benefit humanity as a whole?

I believe we can.

Our mindsets are shaped by our circumstances. Through all of history, humanity lived in scarcity. We fought for limited resources, because our survival depended on denying them to others. Confrontation and competition – between ideas, ideologies and identities – became the norm.

Unfortunately, we remain trapped in the same zero-sum mindset even today. We see it when countries fight over territory or resources. We see it when supplies of essential goods are weaponised. We see it when vaccines are hoarded by a few, even as billions remain vulnerable.

Some may argue that confrontation and greed are just human nature. I disagree. If humans were inherently selfish, what would explain the lasting appeal of so many spiritual traditions that advocate the fundamental one-ness of us all?

One such tradition, popular in India, sees all living beings, and even inanimate things, as composed of the same five basic elements – the panch tatva of earth, water, fire, air and space. Harmony among these elements – within us and between us – is essential for our physical, social and environmental well-being.

India's G20 presidency will work to promote this universal sense of one-ness. Hence our theme: "One Earth, One Family, One Future."

This is not just a slogan. It takes into account recent changes in human circumstances, which we have collectively failed to appreciate.

Today, we have the means to produce enough to meet the basic needs of all people in the world.

Today, we do not need to fight for our survival – our era need not be one of war. Indeed, it must not be one!

Today, the greatest challenges we face – climate change, terrorism, and pandemics – can be solved not by fighting each other, but only by acting together.

Fortunately, today's technology also gives us the means to address problems on a humanity-wide scale. The massive virtual worlds that we inhabit today demonstrate the scalability of digital technologies.

Housing one-sixth of humanity, and with its immense diversity of languages, religions, customs and beliefs, India is a microcosm of the world.

With the oldest-known traditions of collective decision-making, India contributes to the foundational DNA of democracy. As the mother of democracy, India's national consensus is forged not by diktat, but by blending millions of free voices into one harmonious melody.

Today, India is the fastest growing large economy. Our citizen-centric governance model takes care of even our most marginalised citizens, while nurturing the creative genius of our talented youth.

We have tried to make national development not an exercise in top-down governance, but rather a citizen-led "people's movement."

We have leveraged technology to create digital public goods that are open, inclusive and inter-operable. These have delivered revolutionary progress in fields as varied as social protection, financial inclusion, and electronic payments.

For all these reasons, India's experiences can provide insights for possible global solutions.

During our G20 presidency, we shall present India's experiences, learnings and models as possible templates for others, particularly the developing world.

Our G20 priorities will be shaped in consultation with not just our G20 partners, but also our fellow-travellers in the global South, whose voice often goes unheard.

Our priorities will focus on healing our "One Earth," creating harmony within our "One Family" and giving hope for our "One Future."

For healing our planet, we will encourage sustainable and environment-friendly lifestyles, based on India's tradition of trusteeship towards nature.

For promoting harmony within the human family, we will seek to depoliticise the global supply of food, fertilisers and medical products, so that geo-political tensions do not lead to humanitarian crises. As in our own families, those whose needs are the greatest must always be our first concern.

For imbuing hope in our future generations, we will encourage an honest conversation among the most powerful countries – on mitigating risks posed by weapons of mass destruction and enhancing global security.

India's G20 agenda will be inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented, and decisive. Let us join together to make India's G20 presidency a presidency of healing, harmony and hope. Let us work together to shape a new paradigm – of human-centric globalisation.

Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of India.


Rohingya Issue: From Humanitarian Problem to Security Risk

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez
Rohingya Issue: From Humanitarian Problem to Security Risk

Rohingya Issue: From Humanitarian Problem to Security Risk

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More than 10 lakh Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have been staying in Bangladesh for five years. Bangladesh has set a commendable example by providing humanitarian aid to the whole world. But the unstable situation on the border that has been going on for more than a month due to the internal conflict in Myanmar is very unfortunate. As a result, the roots of the problem around the Rohingyas are growing. The humanitarian problem is gradually becoming a security risk.

It is noteworthy that due to the conflict between the armed group Arakan Army and the country's army in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, security risks and instability often arise on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. The firing started several days ago at Ghumdhum border of Naikxyongchhari upazila of Bandarban. At one point, a mortar shell landed on the zero line opposite the Tumbru border. A Rohingya youth died in this.

Five Rohingya citizens including a child were injured in that incident. Before and after this, several rounds of mortar shells came from Myanmar into Bangladesh border. Each time the Myanmar ambassador was called and protested.

Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has briefed the envoys of the ASEAN Alliance on various aspects of the Rohingya issue. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also called for a more proactive role of the international community in solving the Rohingya problem in her address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Although Rohingya issue has set an example by providing shelter and humanitarian aid to refugees, the problem is not unique to Bangladesh, but part of regional and international problems. The creation of security risks and instability around this sensitive location of the world's largest number of refugees can seriously damage regional peace and international balance. As a result, the international community's role in addressing the humanitarian and security risks of the Rohingya problem is a very urgent priority.

In this case, it is important to prioritize some issues and move towards solving the problem.

1. Sheikh Hasina government's humanitarian role in the Rohingya issue is very positive and effective, which must be continued with the support and cooperation of the international community. As a result, the international community should come forward with a positive attitude at the call of the government.

2. Due to the Rohingya issue, it is imperative that Myanmar take effective steps towards the repatriation of its citizens and a permanent solution to the problem, putting more pressure on Myanmar internationally. Internationally and regionally, different organizations and countries have to work together with sincerity in this regard.

3. The regional and international community must act urgently to prevent potential humanitarian and security catastrophes against Myanmar's creation of border destabilization and security risks. Myanmar must be deterred by applying strong pressure from misdeeds that undermine peace, stability and security.

4. Academics, researchers and experts in Bangladesh need to focus more on the humanitarian, socio-economic, political, security and environmental aspects of the Rohingya problem. Data should be provided at the national and international levels through objective research on the problems that have arisen from this problem in five years and what problems may arise. Based on which the domestic and foreign policy makers can take appropriate plans and programs.

5. It should be monitored whether the huge amount of money allocated for Rohingya is being spent properly and the working NGOs and their manpower should be monitored. Donors on behalf of NGOs should present factual information on humanitarian issues as well as other issues including security.

6. Initiatives should be taken to resolve conflict and tension between Rohingya refugees and local residents.

7. On the Rohingya issue, attention should be paid to the formation of public opinion in the light of national interest and national security policy.

8. International organizations and countries need to be made more active and proactive by providing regular information and briefings on the multidimensional dangers of the problem.

9. The security of Rohingya camps, surrounding areas, especially the adjacent Chittagong Hill Tracts and the sea route must be strengthened and effective steps must be taken to root out activities that pose security risks through terrorism, arms, drug and human trafficking.

10. In order to ensure the security, peace and stability of Cox's Bazar, Chittagong Hill Tracts and South-East region of Bangladesh, which are regionally and internationally very important and sensitive areas of the Indo-Pacific region, more importance should be given to these issues in the national security policy and strategy.

The Rohingya issue has a national and global responsibility to address security risks. Although the problem affects Bangladesh, its regional and international significance is immense. As a result, as Bangladesh is fulfilling its humanitarian responsibility regarding this problem, the international community has also come forward. But the way security and other problems are emerging in the Rohingya issue is very worrying for everyone. As a result, it has now become necessary for everyone to act nationally, regionally and internationally to find an immediate and acceptable solution to these problems.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Department of Political Science, Chittagong University; Associate Editor, www.barta24.com


Who will lead France for the next five years?

Dr Mahfuz Parvez
Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Showdown

Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Showdown

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France on Saturday (April 23) prepared to choose between centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen to rule the country for the next five years after a bitterly contested and polarising election campaign. By Sunday (April 24) evening, the world will know whether France has elected its first female leader, or the first two-term president since Jacques Chirac.

Considering the election processes, It’s looking like Emmanuel Macron is headed for victory; he holds a ten-point average lead in polls over his challenger, the far-right Marine Le Pen. That she is still within range of Macron, who trounced her by 30 percentage points in 2017, has Western capitals nervous that the French could swap an ardent EU supporter for one closer to Moscow than Brussels.

However, Undecided voters are one concern, with as many as 11 percent still yet to make up their minds. The supporters of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon are another wildcard. The worry for Macron is not so much that they would go over to Le Pen, but that they simply won’t vote at all. Just under half of his first round voters don’t intend to cast a ballot on Sunday, but two-thirds of those who plan to vote say they’ll back Macron.

Michele Barbero, in a Paris dispatch for Foreign Policy Journal, spoke with one Mélenchon supporter who isn’t sure whether to vote on Sunday. “I feel disillusioned, desperate, and I have less and less confidence in politics to bring about more social justice,” she said.

As the election of Joe Biden in 2020 showed, a victory for a centrist candidate doesn’t magically de-polarize an electorate. So even a loss may not spell the end for Le Pen, who will be just 58 when the 2027 elections come around—and would no longer have to face Macron, who would be barred from serving a third consecutive term.

With Le Pen within arm’s reach of Macron, some world leaders have gotten off the fence. In a rare foray into French politics, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the case for Macron in a Le Monde op-ed on Thursday. Sharing a byline with his left-leaning counterparts Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, the three men presented a choice between “a democratic candidate, who believes that France grows in a powerful EU. And a far-right candidate, who openly sides with those attacking our freedom and democracy.”

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former Brazilian President has also stated his support for Macron, describing the election as one where “the future of democracy” is at stake.

Although U.S. President Joe Biden has not publicly expressed his preference, his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama still might. The former president would be leaving it late; he already had backed Macron by this time in the 2017 election cycle.

Perhaps doing Le Pen a favor, given the distance she has tried to put between herself and the Russian leader during her campaign, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stayed silent. Her ideological allies in Hungary and Poland have too.

Imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has also stumped for Macron—while skewering his opponent, saying on Twitter that any so-called conservative who is sympathetic to Putin “is actually just a hypocrite with no conscience.”

Barring a too-close-to-call election, exit polls should predict the winner by the time voting ends at 8 p.m. Paris time on Sunday.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Political Science, University of Chittagong and Associate Editor, barta24.com


Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

Tazlina Zamila Khan
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

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Our nation has reached a point where just walking down the street is the most risky and courageous undertaking that one can perform. Once you go out into the street, there is no assurance that you will be able to return to your loved ones. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, such as a bus or a car, you are not protected. I was taken aback when I received some news about one of my students. He and his mother were driving home from school like they often did when their car collided with a rickshaw, killing one of the passengers. The chauffeur was able to flee the scene very quickly, but my student's mother was gravely injured. It was a traumatic experience for such a young boy like him to see such an occurrence unfold in front of his own eyes. The person who died could have been anybody, and it might have been someone you know. Every day, the number of accidents increases, and the worth of human life decreases.

Sometimes it does remind me of one of the dialogues of Spiderman II --‘Uncle Ben was killed that night for being the only one who did the right thing’. Bangladeshi street scenes are similar to this in terms of situation. Even if you are driving safely and, in your lane, you may be involved in an accident due to the negligence of another driver. Thousands of Uncle Ben is Somebody else's careless behavior resulted in these people's death. To make a safer road, how much blood must be shed?

According to a news report of The Daily Star which stated the road accident rates increased by 30%. In addition to reckless driving, a lack of skilled drivers, mental and physical illness in drivers, insufficient benefits for drivers, slow vehicular movement on highways and youths riding carelessly on motorbikes, an ineffective traffic management system, and a lack of awareness among the general public are all factors contributing to traffic fatalities and injuries.

If the management is tight, however, all of these issues will not be addressed for some time. What annoys me the most is that in our nation, there is no consequence for individuals who are guilty for their actions on the road. The vast majority of the time, drivers escape after murdering someone. Every attempt is made to bring justice to the victim's family, but all of it is in vain.

With each victim who escapes, it sends a message to the whole society that "it is alright to murder someone since no one else will come to haunt you." This is very hazardous, and sadly, this is the reality of the situation in the country. As a result, accidents are happening on the other hand culprits are moving freely without being punished.

Despite the government's stated goal of reducing road accidents by 20-25 percent by 2024 and 50 percent by 2030, the number of accidents in the nation has continued to rise over the last few years.

When it comes to following the rules of the road, motorcycles have a particularly difficult time. They indicate that time is more important than human lives by rushing to the destination with the passengers. Every member of the family is affected by even a little accident. No matter how sympathetic or empathic you are to the victim's family, you will never be able to replace the gap left by the death of a spouse, a daughter, or a son. It's impossible to fathom the anguish and misery endured by the families affected by such tragedies.

Despite this, traffic accidents are still being referred to as the elephant in the room. As a matter of fact, it should have been dealt with and resolved much sooner had it been given more priority. In reality, though, it is steadily increasing. Why has it been put off for so long?

Road accidents are still a severe problem, despite the fact that our communication system has undergone a major shift. Adequate driving instruction is essential, and law enforcement authorities should be harsher with those who breach the rules. To illustrate that no one is above the law, the perpetrators of these crimes should be punished.

The writer is a faculty member of a private school