Watching the World Week In Review: January 11, 2017

Asia and Pacific

According to a source in the Japanese Government, the Crown Prince Naruhito could ascend to the Japanese throne by 2019, replacing the current Emperor Akihito. While the Emperor has no role in the government, he is still considered the head of state. Meanwhile, Japan has recalled its ambassadors to South Korea in response to conflict between the two countries regarding a statue honoring Korean women who served as sex slaves during the Second World War.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered that China‘s textbooks revise the start of the country’s war with Japan to 1931 and officially refer to the war as the “Fourteen Year War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.” Previously, Chinese texts considered 1937 as the start of the war. The move is seen as being made to encourage patriotism in Chinese youth as well as to highlight the role of Chinese Communist’s in resisting the Japanese army even as they were also fighting a Civil War with Chinese nationalists.

The World Bank reduced its estimate for the growth of the Indian economy in the current year from 7.6% to 7% after the country’s moves to remove larger bills from circulation appeared to dampen demand for big ticket items in the country.

The Myanmar government continued to reject claims of genocide against the minority Rohingya population.

As South Korean President Park clings to office, prosecutors are investigating Samsung’s Vice Chairmen in their ongoing corruption probe.

According to the Australian Associated Press, Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson advocated for renaming the Queensland Police Service as the Queensland Police Force, as part of movement towards increased police powers in the state. Hanson founded the nationalist and conservative party Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in 1997.

Western Europe

The German Interior Minister stated that Germany accepted 280,000 asylum seekers in 2016, down from 890,000 in 2015 as the agreement between the European Union and the closure of a route through the Balkans reduced the flow of migrants from Syria. Meanwhile, Francois Fillion, a candidate for President in France, gave his support to quotas in France that limit immigration to the country.

The former President of Germany, Roman Hertzog died on January 10th at the age of 82. Hertzog was the first President of Germany elected after reunification, in 1994, and played an important role in Germany coming to terms with its past.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg sided with Switzerland in a dispute with Turkish immigrants who sought an exemption from sending their daughters to swimming lessons where both boys and girls are present. The Court noted the need to foster local customs in its decision along with concessions that Switzerland had made to the parents.

Despite on-going concerns about the need for more capital in the Italian banking system, Italy‘s Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan told Die Welt that Italy has handled the situation better than many European countries have when measured by the amount of funds the Government has needed to inject into the system.

British Prime Minister Theresa May continues to establish a path forward to Brexit in which the concerns of British voters are addressed while not abandoning British business interests in Europe. It remains a daunting task as German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Britain must accept the free movement of capital, goods, services, and people if it desires continued access to the common market.

Eastern Europe

Russia is denying reports that it has film of United States President-elect Donald Trump with prostitutes from when he visited Moscow in 2013 for the Miss Universe Pageant. Meanwhile, despite promises of a reduction of Russian forces in Syrian, it appears that Russia continues to increase its role in the country.

Politico is reporting that top officials in the Ukraine are attempting to mend fences with the soon-to-be President Trump after seeking to boost Clinton in the American election. The fighting in Ukraine that broke out in 2014 continues, with Ukraine’s Defence Ministry stating that it made key gains north of Donetsk.

The ruling Conservative Party in Poland re-convened parliament despite protests over the manner of passage of a key budget provision.

Middle East

Quater and Egypt are attempting to negotiate a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas, although it appears that nothing has yet been agreed to. Meanwhile a bill is making its way through the Knesset that would allow supporters of an Israeli to be prevented from entering the country.

Reporting from Reuters and The Wall Street Journal on the amount of oil Iraq is exporting is calling into question whether the country is complying with OPEC production cuts. While Iraq has claimed its production has declined, exports continue rising.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say that two human rights activists were arrested last week in Saudi Arabia. Both of the activists were summoned for questioning about their Twitter accounts.

Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died on January 8th. The cleric was seen as a moderate pragmatist within Iran and may open the door for greater hardline pressure on current President Rouhani.


Nigeria announced it would no longer recognize Taiwan as a country and recalled its diplomats to Lagos. Perhaps not coincidentally China announced a $40 billion investment in Nigeria.

A union of oil workers in Nigeria announced a strike in protest of job cuts resulting from a decline in oil prices, but the workers quickly returned to work.

While China deepened ties with Nigeria, India did with Kenya. Indian Prime Minister Modi announced a $100 million line of credit for Kenyan agriculture while the two countries indicated a mutual desire for a deepening of trade.

Mmuse Maimane, leader of an important opposition party in South Africa, visited Israel in defiance of President Jacob Zuma. Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance in South Africa. The Democratic Alliance has recently made gains in the country at the expense of the ruling ANC.

The United States and Canada

President-elect Trump gave his first news conference in which he admitted that Russia was likely behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Coming full circle to his emergence in American politics, Barack Obama stressed the factors uniting Americans in his farewell speech as well as defending several of his policies.



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