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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS, TRENDS & IDEAS

Scott A Snyder

Scott A. Snyder – Korea as a Middle Power

While South Korea has become a major economic power, it is surrounded by far larger players in Asia. It may never be able to play a leading role in shaping both regional and international affairs, but is currently looking for ways to assert itself on the global stage. These aspirations are typical of what scholars define as a Middle Power – an international actor that is neither small nor large.

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Does Obama’s New AUMF Really Matter?

As reported on February 11th, US President Obama announced his plans to request the authorization to use force against the Islamic State (IS). In preparation for this, the White House released the proposed document, which it notes may be referred to as the “Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (AUMF-ISIL). Although there has been signifiant fanfare and media coverage over the implications of the document, the proposal itself is not as game changing as reported. Largely, this has been a result of overeager media coverage concerning the document. Outlined in the three page draft are the administrations arguments as to why they are requesting authorization against the IS, in addition to limitations of the scope of action and on the executive branch’s powers.  Most notable among these limitations pertains to Subsection (a) of the draft which formally requests authorization. In defining this subsection, the draft notes that it “…does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations”. In essence, this prevents additional deployment of ground troops beyond those which already are present in what is defined as the scope of the theater. In addition, under Section 3…

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What is the Future of the Assembly Line?

Business/Technology by

Production changed drastically during the last century and is continuing doing so without loosing any momentum. The most recognized technological shift occurred with Henry Ford’s use of the assembly line and progress has continued in a variety of fashions. One of these that is often overlooked is the use of robotization, an example being KUKA robots, which have reinvigorated factories over the past decades. Through this robotization and computerization more efficient solutions have been brought to the industry and now we are heading to another techno-climax. In this decade we will look for answers to the following questions: What will we consume and how how we will produce them? How will production tools change? Which raw and recycled materials will be used? Will production locations change? All those questions are bringing robots to the fore of the discussion. I have mentioned about the changes in means of the production promoting in-house production in my previous article “Decentralization of Production and Customization culture”. Also my cowritten academic paper with Eric Watson “Impact of Technological Trends: Scenario Planning the Next Technological Paradigm” aimed to project the possible scenarios. Though in this article I am going manipulate recent technological developments to create a better example in an effort to highlight…

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What Goto’s Murder Means for Japan and East Asia

On January 31st, various news outlets reported that a video showing the murder of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto had been released by the Islamic State (IS). A similar video had been released a week earlier purportedly showing the murder of Goto’s friend, Haruna Yukawa. These events followed negotiations between the Japanese and Jordanian Government’s with the IS over the release of prisoners. Negotiations between Japanese officials and the IS are currently being reported to have broken down following demands for a US $200 million ransom. In the video released, a member of IS addresses the Japanese government, saying: “Because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin.” Within Japan, government officials have begun to debate the nature and role of Japan’s international activities. The result of these debates among interests holding contrasting views of Japan’s role internationally come at a time when Japan’s identity as a nation is itself in flux. Abe and other nationalist politicians have struggled to convince the Japanese public of the need for changes to Article 9 of the constitution, where the country has renounced war and…

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A Needed Inquiry: Interview with The Hon Michael Kirby

Asia/Human Rights/Interviews by

Note: The following interview was published in the Yonsei Journal of International Studies Vol. 6 Issue 2 and can be found online at their site. The Commission’s full report can be found at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. A NEEDED INQUIRY Interview with The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Established in 2013 by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has provided new and valuable information to those concerned with the situation inside North Korea. Through the conducting of public hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Washington D.C., the commission collected information and released a report in February 2014 which detailed many crimes that had occurred within North Korea, including crimes against humanity. The Hon Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia, was appointed to lead this inquiry. During a recent visit to Yonsei University in Seoul, Editor in Chief Eric Watson was able to interview The Hon Michael Kirby. Eric Watson: How did you become involved with the commission? Michael Kirby: I was at a…

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US Amb. Lippert’s Statements and the State of US-ROK-JPN Relations

Asia/Diplomacy by

Earlier today, January 27th, the Korea Times reported that the US Ambassador Mark Lippert reaffirmed the US’ support for the Murayama statement. The Murayama statement, released in 1995 by former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama apologizing for Japanese actions towards its Asian neighbors, is often pointed to as the official apology for Japan’s wartime aggression. Lippert’s remarks follow recent statements by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe seemed to indicate in a recent interview that on the upcoming 70th anniversary of the end of WWII his statements may differ from the wording used by past Japanese prime ministers. At a time when the relations between Japan and Korea are as poor as they ever have been since establishing official ties, Abe’s remarks immediately drew the attention of the US. A close ally to both, the US relies on both countries for its presence in Asia and has so far preferred to avoid applying any direct pressure to the two countries in regards to their territorial and historical disputes. Lippert’s statement appears to be an indication of a heightened sensitivity to provocations that would threaten the uneasy relationship between the two democracies. Lippert seemed to try to preempt others from drawing this conclusion…

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Chasing Innovation

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Urbanization has been the engine of modernization in Europe. For most citizens today, every event from birth to the grave including education, marriage, work and leisure, occur in cities. Cities are mirrors of cultures and regimes. McKinsey’s report entitled “Urban World: The Shifting Global Business Landscape” predicts the changes of the major cities in the next decade. According to the report, there are 8,000 companies that account for 90% of the total world GDP and third of those companies are located in 20 major cities that generate 40% of their revenue. McKinsey’s forecast shows that by 2025, there will be 15,000 companies to have headquarters in 330 cities, and 40% of these companies will be located in emerging economies. Additionally, according to UN’s estimations, between 2010 and 2050, over 40% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Other studies, such as the UN Habitat: State of the World’s Cities 2012/2013, present a prosperity framework which tries to achieve equitable distribution; where poverty is reduced, minorities have rights, genders have equal participation, energy is used efficiently and the quality of environment is increased. The UN also presents some facts regarding the rise in productivity with urbanization and they find two general categories…

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A Tantalizing Glimpse of the Social Web in the Future; When Everything is Connected

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Imagine yourself chatting with your home before you leave the office. Your home control panel will immediately communicate with an oven and a cooktop to prepare dinner and activate the washing machine before you arrive home. Your vacuum will check the condition of your carpet and clean it. When you are stood up on a date, your home will respond and recommend you food. Your home appliances will gear up for a warm welcome to cheer you up. Once you walk into the house, your favorite music and TV program will already be on along with a welcoming message. This is what Ericsson believes is the upcoming society. In years to come, wireless communications will progressively become part of the fabric of everyday life. Tiny communication chips and sensors will be embedded everywhere, weaving themselves into dense digital meshes. Internet-enabled objects will chat with one another by transmitting massive volumes of data; which once collected, will be processed and analyzed in real time for a variety of applications, creating seemingly endless opportunities for business. This may sound like a futuristic movie story line, but evidence demonstrates that this blue-sky dream is becoming real. A group of university students in Korea,…

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Coping with Demographic Realities: The Case of Kawane Village

Asia/Politics by

Trends in urbanization are often accompanied by even more significant trends of depopulation in rural areas. Japan presents an extreme case in population changes as in addition to being an incredibly urbanized state; it has one of the lowest birthrates in the World. As a consequence, the care of the elderly who remain in rural areas is of growing concern. Efforts from the Japanese government to date have revolved around consolidating the small rural hamlets into larger administrative units. While this drastically improves the efficiency in fund allocation from a governmental standpoint, the services provided to the residents of these hamlets, who are overwhelmingly aged and vulnerable, has significantly decreased. Previously, funds were allocated to each individual hamlet and decisions on utilization were done on the basis of personal connections. After consolidation, the increased geographical distance of the officers from the citizens meant that those residents who needed services were often unable to promptly or adequately receive them. Consequently, self-organization has become a trending topic of research. Significant difficulty exists in implementation of self-organization however, as trends in urbanization have led to severe depopulation in rural communities. As a result, to date, successful examples of this self-organization in Japan have…

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How to Design a Truly Smart City

Politics/Technology by

For hundreds of years, people have been flocking to cities where jobs, ideas, and wealth are generated. Cities have been perceived as a symbol of opportunities for success, attracting millions of youths and ambitious individuals every year. According to the United Nations’ projections, by 2050, the urban population will rise to almost 6.5 billion, and 64.1% of the developing countries and 85.9% of the developed countries will be urbanized. In response to rising urban population, some countries, such as China and India, have been spending heaps of money to build new cities for the accommodation of mounting city dwellers. Growing urbanization has caused several problems (e.g. environmental degradation, excessive energy consumption, and traffic congestion). City planners have selected Information Technology (IT) as a solution to some of the urbanization problems as well as a means to promote economic growth. Smart grids, for instance, have been installed to reduce the peak demand of electricity and to conserve energy. The Economist introduced a calculation, which states that if America’s power grid were only 5% more efficient, it would save the equivalent of the greenhouse-gas emissions of 53 million cars. Thomas L. Friedman also claims in his book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, that…

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Wheels Falling off the WTO: Is it high time to write an obituary for multilateralism?

Economics by

Multilateralism was believed to have returned from the grave, when delegates to the World Trade Organization (WTO) bragged of the Bali deal, the first fruit to be reaped out of the long-deadlocked multilateral trade negotiations in December 2013. The resurrection of the Doha round of international trade talks was indeed quite a surprise to those who already promulgated the end of multilateralism. Doha negotiations, initiated in 2001, were suffocated owing to the conflict of interest among WTO members in intractable issues such as agricultural subsidies, intellectual property rights and trade in services. They also experienced the collapse of talks in 2003 and 2008. In 2012 however, the flame of multilateral negotiations was rekindled as the WTO endeavored to simplify the agenda and channel the focus of talks into “trade facilitation”, i.e. the cutting of red tape in customs procedures, which was predominantly supported by the members. When the Bali package was signed in late 2013, a rosy future of multilateralism was sketched out with optimistic economic estimates—for instance, the Peterson Institute for International Economics forecasted that trade facilitation would generate 21 million jobs, particularly in less developed nations, and could increase developing countries’ annual output by $523 billion, tilting the…

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