Weekend Roundup: How Japan's Past Shadows Asia's Future

03/13/2015 07:46 pm ET | Updated May 13, 2015
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TOKYO -- Looking out onto Tokyo's towering neon cityscape, it is difficult to imagine the utter devastation of Japan's capital 70 years ago this week in one of the world's greatest overlooked atrocities -- the unsparing American firebombing that incinerated more people than either of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. In this respect, Japan is a long way from its past.

But a visit to Tokyo this week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- during which she noted how her country had accepted culpability for its WWII fascist aggression in a way that Japan has not -- also highlights how the past still shadows the present -- and the future -- in Asia. (In Europe also the past has returned from another angle as Greece is demanding reparations from Germany).

In Beijing on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Japan's nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the end of the war with German-like remorse if the growing animus between the two Asian giants is to be put behind them. Such a move is the essential step for the "re-Asianization of Japan" as the world order shifts.

Writing from Frankfurt in The WorldPost this week, Jürgen Jeske looks back to other critical lessons from the early post-war years -- the now forgotten policies that enabled Germany's "economic miracle" of recovery to take off.

Historian Stefan Ihrig looks at how the Islamic bent of Prime Minister Erdogan's "new Turkey" resembles the secular "new Turkey" of Atatürk at the turn of the 20th century. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warns Britain against going its own way apart from Europe.

Writing from New Delhi, Shashi Tharoor sees Indian Prime Minister Modi's visit this week to neighboring states in the Indian Ocean as an attempt to balance China's new plans for a 21st century "maritime Silk Road." Sital Kalantry and Harjant Gill weigh in from different sides on the controversial documentary on rape in India, "India's Daughter."

Ahead of the September summit between Chinese President Xi and U.S. President Obama, Harvard's Joe Nye argues that "only China can contain China" if its neighbors feel threatened and react by building their militaries. Seeking to boost the nascent global recovery through more open trade while also following up on climate change pledges, will be high on the summit agenda, notes Minxin Pei. WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports this week from Tianjin on official hostility to grassroots protests against local corruption despite the much vaunted anti-corruption campaign from President Xi at the top. He also reports on the ironic arrest of five women activists celebrating the passage of China's first draft law on domestic violence.

When it comes to trade agreements, not any trading regime will do if it further harms the environment, Sierra Club Director Michael Brune writes. Former U.S. labor secretary Robert Reich also worries that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (which does not at this point include China) will only serve the interests of multinational companies at the expense of workers.

Writing from Istanbul, Behlül Özkan says the ray of hope for democracy in a Middle East swept up by ISIS fervor is the secular Kurds. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reminds us of the ongoing toll in the Syrian civil war in light of its four year anniversary. This week's "Forgotten Fact" also turns to Syria and looks at how the country's artifacts aren't just being destroyed by the Islamic State -- they're also being looted.

As Iran's negotiations with the West over its nuclear program come to a head, Akbar Ganji analyzes the power struggle in Tehran.

Sir David Tang ponders the symbolism of socialite Paris Hilton -- heir to a fortune from hotels, including the famed Havana Hilton -- meeting up with Fidelito Castro in Havana as Cuba undergoes a defrosting of relations with the U.S..

In his comments to The WorldPost "Future of Work" conference in London, long-time presidential adviser David Gergen spells out three ways to help create well paid jobs in the future "from the bottom up," including by supporting women entrepreneurs. Chelsea Clinton adds that women are still "not there" in terms of equality in the workplace. WorldPost partner Fusion reports from the conference that the British minister of state for culture and the digital economy credits McDonald's as "the biggest education institution in the country" for the kind of "soft skills" workers will need in the future. In a poll by Singularity University this week, most tech executives say the most important thing in any new venture is "failing fast" and not sticking with a losing effort.

Architect Zaha Hadid says that it is hard being an Arab woman in the architecture business. Finally, "Downton Abbey"creator Julian Fellowes says in an interview that "people pray for my characters."


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 Associate World Editors.

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

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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.

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