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Nuclear Coronavirus CSS Blog

Keeping the 2020 Momentum Around Nuclear Issues Alive

Image courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Brian Ferguson/DVIDS

This blog belongs to the CSS’ coronavirus blog series, which forms a part of the center’s analysis of the security policy implications of the coronavirus crisis. See the CSS special theme page on the coronavirus for more.

Various nuclear milestones in 2020 have provided important opportunities to raise awareness on the role of nuclear weapons in national security strategies, their impact on communities, the state of arms control treaties, and progress in nuclear disarmament. While the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference on its 50th anniversary was rescheduled due to the pandemic, the delay could enable member states to further engage in dialogue, seek compromises, and suggest new initiatives. Depending on when and how the conference will eventually take place, the coronavirus crisis might even bring much-needed change to conference proceedings.

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Economy Trade CSS Blog

Top Ten Patent Cooperation Treaty Applicants in 2018

This graphic illustrates the main applicants to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 2018 by countries and companies, such as Huawei, Mitsubishi, and Intel, among others.

For an insight into the implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and targeted influence attempts in Europe, read Linda Maduz and Henrik Larsen’s Strategic Trends 2020 chapter here.

Categories
International Relations Economy

EU-Japan Agreement: Good News on the Long Road to a Deal

Image courtesy of MMMescalino/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 14 July 2017.

For the EU, the EPA would demonstrate its ability to deliver concrete results despite the numerous crises it faces. 

Last week the EU and Japan announced an ‘agreement in principle’ after four years of talks on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the two economic giants. Yet the reaction to this news has not befitted a mega-trade agreement covering over 30% of world GDP and 40% of global trade. This is partly because news emanating from Washington dominates the headlines, but mostly because there is still a long way to go, with the two parties to the agreement bracing themselves for a set of difficult negotiations to finalize the deal.

The agreement in principle means that the chances of the deal falling through are slim, as long as talks are kept at the same level of political priority that made last week’s announcement possible. If agreed, the deal would mark a historic shift in the quality of economic and political relations between the two partners, with far-reaching consequences for third parties as well.

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Security Defense

Missing Manpower: How Japan’s Dwindling Population Impedes Remilitarization

Courtesy of Li Taipo/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Harvard International Review (HIR) on 17 April 2017.

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his skepticism toward America’s most important security pacts and military commitments, sending shockwaves throughout East Asia in April when he suggested that Japan, among others, should pay more for American protection and arm themselves with nuclear weapons to deter North Korea. The Japanese government relies heavily upon its mutual defense treaty with the United States for its national security, as Article IX of the Japanese Constitution strictly limits the nation’s war-making capacity. Trump’s electoral victory in November thus has startling implications for the island nation, prompting some question as to whether Japan should start pursuing a more conventional military arrangement for its own self-defense. However, the prospect of a rapidly aging population and a dwindling labor force will serve as an obstacle to future military self-sufficiency.

The Imperative for an Expanded Military

Following Japan’s defeat in the Second World War, US-led occupation forces drafted a new constitution in which the nation relinquished its right to wage war. The United States subsequently signed a security treaty with Japan, permitting the United States to maintain permanent military bases on Japanese soil “to deter armed attack” against a pacified, and thus vulnerable, Japan. US authorities also encouraged Japan to maintain a limited self-defense force to guard against growing Communist elements in China and Korea. However, the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), now composed of roughly 247,000 active personnel, engage primarily in international peacekeeping and disaster relief.

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Energy

Fukushima Six Years After: East Asia’s Nuclear Energy Conundrum

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This article was originally published by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) on 16 March 2017.

Synopsis

Human factors such as complacency and lack of questioning attitude have been  identified as key contributors to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But six years after the incident, East Asian states have yet to address human factors to make nuclear energy safe and secure in the region.

Commentary

JAPAN COMMEMORATED the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster on 11 March 2017. Since the tsunami–triggered disaster, qualified observers assess that the biggest risk associated with nuclear power comes not from the technology of the infrastructure but from human factors. The Fukushima incident must be regarded as a technological disaster triggered not just by “unforeseeable” natural hazards (earthquake, tsunami), but also human errors.

Comprehensive reports on Fukushima, including findings made by the Japanese parliament and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), examine how human factors such as the complacency of operators due to ‘safety myth’, the absence of regulatory independence from the nuclear industry, and reluctance to question authority all contributed to the “accident”. The Fukushima incident, like others before it, accentuates the utmost importance of addressing human and organisational factors so as to prevent nuclear accidents from occurring, or mitigate their consequences if they do occur.