Weekend Roundup: 70 Years After Its Defeat, the Land of the Rising Sun Meets China’s Falling Currency


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

The future and the past are never far apart in modern Asia, where both the Middle Kingdom and the Land of the Rising Sun are, as never before, great powers at the same time. This week, on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, tensions simmered as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once again stopped short of an apology for the suffering Japan inflicted during the war. Meanwhile, a newly assertive China prepares for a reportedly unprecedented military display in early September to mark the formal end of the historic war.

After repeated calls from the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury to let the market determine exchange rates, China this week devalued its currency. That, in turn, set off fears of beggar-thy-neighbor currency wars in a slack global economy. Taking this sudden move now, even as state intervention continues to prop up China’s ailing stock market, has shaken confidence in the Communist Party’s lauded ability to master events.

Herbert Bix, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, says Abe aspires to make Japan a great power while sanitizing his nation’s history. We excerpt key passages from the report just submitted to Abe by the Japanese government’s “Advisory Panel on the History of the 20th Century and on Japan’s Role and World Order in the 21st Century,” which controversially concludes that Japan committed “aggression” in World War II. In a reflection on the anniversary of Japan’s defeat, I argue that it is time for Japan to re-Asianize and stop being an American protectorate and political dwarf. But to rejoin the neighborhood in the future, Japan must first come to terms with its past.

Nicholas Lardy sees China’s devaluation as a proper shift toward letting the market play a decisive role in determining exchange rates and not as an unfair move aimed at boosting exports. Tom Doctoroff sees China’s sudden currency depreciation as damaging its brand, losing face and causing high anxiety across the globe.

Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz argues that if the West is not living up to its development aid promises through the current global institutions, it should get out of the way and let the emerging economies construct a new architecture for the global economy. Alexis Crow worries about global “debt contagion” and makes a case for greater investment in infrastructure in the developing world to the benefit of all. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich embraces a new rule of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that requires the disclosure of the pay ratio between top executives and workers.

Grasielle Castro reports that seven out of 10 Brazilians now support President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry explains why he has gone to Havana to open a new U.S. Embassy as relations thaw with Cuba.

Writing from Shanghai, Yang Jiemian says that U.S.-China cooperation in guaranteeing the Iran nuclear deal signals a new day in global governance. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, tells her colleagues to support Obama’s Iran policy or face another war in the Mideast. Writing from Tel Aviv, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi argues that the West should aim to contain rather that destroy ISIS. Former U.S. Special Advisor on the Transition in Syria, Frederic Hof, says ISIS cannot be beaten without taking out the Assad regime in Damascus. In a special report, we profile some of the mothers whose children have joined ISIS.

Daniel Marans analyzes the latest Greek bailout deal. This photo essay of powerful graffiti in the Exarcheia district of Athens illustrates widespread frustration amid crisis. From the island of Lesbos, Greece, WorldPost correspondent Sophia Jones reports that masked commandos are attacking Syrian refugees trying to reach Greek shores by raft from Turkey.

Under-Secretary General of the UN Philippe Douste-Blazy writes that “solidarity micro-contributions” for development are a key way to stem the tide of migration overwhelming Europe today. World editor Charlotte Alfred reports that while the U.K. panicked over Calais migrants, hundreds died at sea. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the world is a more dangerous place for youth than ever before, but sees hope in the way young people are fighting for their future. Benedict Rogers and Andrew Copson worry that freedom of religion and belief is under increasing threat worldwide.

WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini and Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel warn that “humanity’s demand on renewable natural resources exceeds the supply that our planet can regenerate” and that this week, humanity has spent our planet’s budget for the entire year, marking “Earth Overshoot Day.”

On the first anniversary of the Ferguson, Missouri riots over the police shooting of a young, unarmed black man, futurist David Brin suggests that, in addition to cops wearing body cameras, every inner-city youth should be armed with a hands-free camera connected to the cloud to document interactions with authorities.

WorldPost China correspondent Matt Sheehan meets the Chinese rappers “bringing hip-hop to the Middle Kingdom.” Maina Chawla Singh reflects on the “aspirational energy” and “collective capital” of the Indian diaspora. This photo essay looks at daily life inside North Korea.

Reporting on a Google Chrome app user’s experiment in New Zealand, Fusion ponders what happens when the phrase “political correctness” is replaced with the phrase “treating people with respect” when you browse the web. In our Singularity series this week, we examine how virtual reality could unleash the greatest wave of creativity in history.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is Social Media Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


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