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Is Japan Next?

WSJ: China fears a global conspiracy. FT: North Korea will strike again. Guardian: Belarus is on the verge of collapse.

China fears a global conspiracy

John Lee, a foreign policy fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney and at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, writes in the Wall Street Journal that China’s insecurity stems from its thinking that global powers like the United States, Japan and Western Europe want to contain its rise. China sees the Nobel Peace prize as a conspiracy against the government.

QUOTE: As social unrest rises exponentially each year throughout China, the Communist Party remains as insecure as it has ever been. A regime that is awkward in its own skin and uncomfortable among its own people is always in danger.

Could Japan’s economy be next to fall?

Bethany McLean, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, writes in Slate that some economists worry that Japan will be the next country to face an economic disaster. She writes that as the elderly population retires and reduces its savings, the banking system will be threatened.

QUOTE: While any deterioration in Japan's finances should, mathematically speaking, happen gradually—savers don't yank their money out of the system all at once—modern markets have a way of accelerating underlying problems into crises with remarkable speed.

Germany must understand the reasons for the euro crisis

Columnist Martin Wolf writes in the Financial Times that Germany must have a clear understanding of why the euro faces a crisis in order to fix it. It must recognize that with the exception of Greece, it has not been a fiscal problem but a crisis due to the private sector.

QUOTE: The failings of the eurozone have not been fiscal irresponsibility, but macroeconomic divergence, financial irresponsibility, asset price bubbles, and huge shifts in competitiveness.

The economy will determine Obama’s legacy

Columnist Harold Meyerson writes in the Washington Post that President Obama has done reasonably well compared to past progressive presidents on his social policies. However, his legacy will be determined by his ability to improve the nation’s economy.

QUOTE: In the next two years, he'll have to become the president of internal improvements and industrial policy - approaches whose pedigree is as much 19th-century Whig and Republican (in a word, Lincolnesque) as it is Democratic.

South Korea learns that deterrence works

Author Edward Luttwak writes in Foreign Policy that South Korea acted wisely by conducting its live-fire drills. It successfully showed North Korea that it will not stand for threats or attacks.

QUOTE: The South let it be known that if the North Koreans opened fire anywhere else, in places where it lacked enough artillery to respond in kind, it would resort to airstrikes.

Domestic politics create a year of tensions between the US and China

Jingdong Yuan, an associate professor at the Center for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney, writes in the Asia Times that US-China relations faced a number of setbacks in 2010. Both nations recognize they share similar goals on global issues like climate change and nuclear proliferation, but they often disagree on how to achieve them. Domestic politics prevent Washington and Beijing from compromising.

QUOTE: The question is if Washington and Beijing can manage this period of power transition, where domestic politics make compromises difficult but failure to accommodate each other's core interests could lead to major conflicts.

Few lessons were learned from the financial crisis

Jean-Paul Fitoussi, professor of economics at Sciences-po in Paris, writes in Project Syndicate that now that the worst effects of the financial crisis have passed in most of the world, there is a growing tendency to blame the very governments that attempted to manage the crisis. He argues that people are “racing back to the policies that caused the crisis.”

QUOTE: Today the global economy’s arsonists have become prosecutors, and accuse the fire fighters of having provoked flooding.

Don’t expect the economy to improve much in 2011

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes in the New York Daily News that America’s dismal unemployment rate did not drop in 2010 because politicians refused to address the core issues behind the nation’s economic problems. He argues that 2011 is likely to be even worse as the unemployed see their savings and chances for getting a job fade.

QUOTE: Electing leaders committed to helping working people is what is necessary. Trickle-down economics - the idea that all benefit from largesse to the wealthy - never worked.

North Korea will strike again

Andrei Lankov, professor at the Kookmin University in Seoul, writes in the Financial Times that the South Koreans should not view North Korea’s decision to not retaliate after its military drills as a sign of weakness. Instead, the North is more likely preparing to attack on its own terms.

QUOTE: When Pyongyang needs something, it first drives tensions high and then extracts necessary concessions as a reward for its willingness to ease the tensions.

Belarus is on the verge of collapse

An editorial in the Guardian argues that Belarus’s president Alexander Lukashenko can squash the opposition, prevent all freedom of expression and steal an election. But he is unlikely to last long as his support is plummeting and the nation’s economy is struggling.

QUOTE: In this nation with an average monthly salary of £300 [US$464], there is not much keeping this unpleasant regime from collapsing.

http://www.globalpost.com/passport/todays-views/101222/japan-next