What are the Responsibilities of Developing and Developed Nations for World Wide Environment?

On December 11, COP 17 (the 17th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change), which was held in Durban, South Africa ended with little outcome. Since Kyoto Protocol which requires developed nations to cut green house gas emissions will be expired by 2012, it was supposed to be made new framework to reduce green house gas emissions in this conference. (Actually, COP started negotiating new framework from several years ago, but it failed to settle in one conclusion.) However, they concluded that they will extend the Kyoto protocol with several revisions, and they will start a new framework which involves the U.S and China by 2020.

The most controversial issue among negotiating new framework was whether developing countries should have the responsibility to reduce emissions (Of course the involvement of the U.S was also controversial). Under the Kyoto protocol, the developing countries have no obligation to reduce emissions. However, since climate change, which probably caused by GHG emissions, has getting more visible and the necessity of cutting GHG has been growing, it is required to involve big developing countries such as China, India which do not have obligation so far but emitting many GHG. Responding to such requirement, China and India opposed to the new framework by saying that it would slow their economic growth. They also argued that since developed countries deteriorated worldwide environment, it is their responsibility to reduce it. So how can we make one solution?

To tell the truth, the amount of GHG emissions of countries, which have obligation under the Kyoto protocol, is only 26% of all emissions in the world. That means the much of GHG is emitted from other countries. Considering this situation, we cannot overlook the country which are emitting large amount of GHG without any obligation. But it is also true that a lot of developing nations are facing more severe environmental impact which is caused by GHG emissions. Developed nations have degraded the environment to grow its economy, and ironically developing nations have been facing more severe environmental damage than developed nations. We can stay without thinking about environmental effect from GHG emissions so much, however, some developing country are suffering from more environmental degradation such as sea water rising, which is threatening some whole nation, and sever climate change, which is spoiling its agriculture. Developing country is more vulnerable to environmental impact because of its weak economy and weak political system to tackle with. Therefore, we need to support them so that they can overcome these severe situations by offering knowledge and technologies, and of course we should have more responsibility to reduce GHG emissions to ease environmental degradation.

When the new framework is negotiated by 2020, the situation of world economy will be different from now days. It is possible that more developing countries will be a big economic country and have more impact on environmental degradation by emitting more GHG. It will be inevitable that such new big economical countries have obligation to reduce GHG emissions, however, developed country should have more obligation not just reducing more GHG but also supporting developing country by offering knowledge and technology so that we can create environmentally friendly country world widely.

by Shunsuke Ochi

Nation? Nationalism? Not necessary anymore?

Ernest Gellner (1983) defined nationalism as follows. “”Nationalism is primarily a political principle that holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent”. He argues nation or nationalism was invented merely because of a sociological necessity created by the birth of industrialisation. Since industrial economies continually make and put into practice technical and organizational innovations, rulers need homogeneous workers who share the same culture acquired by uniform education.

Likewise, Benedict Anderson (2006) argues nationalism or the sense of belonging to nation is just imagined. Nation is merely an imagined community, where people can feel the sense of unity with someone whom they will never meet. Nation was imagined as the movement to abolish the ideas of divine rule and monarchy, as well as the emergence of the printing press under a system of capitalism.

I apologise if I misled their arguments or my English above doesn’t really make sense, but I could find those books only in Japanese. Anyways, the important thing here is to recognise that nation or nationality is a modern creation (invention, imagination), thus it is not universal at all. I totally agree with those arguments. In Edo period of Japan, for example, no one would have recognised themselves as Japanese.

Nation or nationalism has been under severe criticism for a long time, since it has created horrible conflict between nations. Scholars tend to regarded nationalism as an inclusion of the people of the same culture, at the same time, an exclusion of the “different” people. For me, nationalism is not the best idea to represent a diverse range of people living within “nations”. However, liberal form of nationalism is necessary to maintain our democratic states (especially the welfare states). David Miller (1995) criticises both what he calls “conservative nationalism” and “radical multi-culturalism” and insists on the necessity of liberal nationalism. He argues that nation is a community comprised of people who wish to be self-determined politically. Individual identity is plural. For instance, I can call myself a Japanese person, but at the same time I am an Asian, a male, a baseball fan, a beer lover or whatever I wish to be. Nation is only one of those plural identities. What makes nation different from the other sources of identity is its political will to be self-determined. I agree with him in that without nation and nationalism, it will be much harder to achieve social justice (mainly redistribution of wealth) and individual liberty and the base of rights. Who would be willing to share the burden without common sense of unity?

In conclusion, we don’t have to blindly admire nation or nationalism, since it is a modern creation, invention or imagination. However, I think it is necessary to maintain liberal form of nationalism to some extent for our own sake. Probably.

by Yuki Sugiyama

The Melting Pot: Nabe

We learned in class about “The Melting Pot.” Simply put, this is a metaphor to represent when large amounts of immigrants move to a new country or environment. This metaphor was particularly used when analyzing the immigration wave that struck the United States, but can be used for any country with the same situation.

*What I would like to find out is everyone’s opinion on how this affects society. *

Multiculturalism is hard for most people to adapt to. What effect do you think it has on jobs and the outlook on those jobs? If you look at the United States for example, there are so many cultures being mixed together in one place, and some people just cannot get used to it. When you take a good look at America, it is a country made up of foreigners. Japan is the complete opposite. Japan is a heterogeneous society that holds true to their traditions and culture. The United States is a homogenous society, and because of this there will always be racial tension.

So, after thinking about the main aspects of the melting pot, I think that when someone immigrates to a new country they can choose to do three things: conform to the new culture, keep their old culture, or try to maintain a balance between blending in with the new and keeping the old culture as well. One of the most important aspects of this is being able to speak the language. If people cannot understand you or you cannot understand them, there will always be conflicts.

In my opinion, immigration is like a double-edged sword. It can help and hurt societies. For example, it helps keep the society growing, but then also leaves fewer jobs for the native people. This could in turn have people leaving the area in search of jobs. What other situations from immigration can you think of that would greatly affect the society?

by Aaron (AJ) Glass

Cultural Capitalism and today’s apathy

In ancient years, people devoted themselves to gods. They went to worship what they believe in, attended mass, made sacrificial offerings and tried to please their God to achieve enlightenment.

Nowadays, as the influence of religion is decreasing all over the world, we created new gods to find a meaning of life. It seems to me that one of the most powerful gods is capitalism. It is all about “fun” and to achieve this enlightening status, we visit department stores, which do not only sell products but a certain life spirit. We sacrifice hours after hours in part time jobs to be able to pay the price of branded clothes, buy the stylish Starbucks Coffee and other luxurious goods. But the flip side of the coin is that in order to maintain this lifestyle, our products must be produced cheap and workers only receive low wages. While we live in abundance, others suffer. And of course, most of us are aware of this, which is why capitalism needed to recreate its image in order to appear more “human”.

The so-called cultural capitalism tells us that while we are consuming, we can do something for the environment, for the future of poor children in South America or help to buy new furniture for the coffee shop. It gives us the opportunity to continue our lifestyle and feel good at the same time. However, all this will not change the fact that we are still consumers. Maybe the South American children will receive food today, but their parents must work in a factory all day long anyhow. The system in which we live in does not support long-term help for the poor coffee plucker simply because it does not have to. Letting us think that we are already doing something good is enough to stop us from questioning it. As long as our ethnical duties seem to be fulfilled, our social self is satisfied. We do not want be the cause of others’ misfortune. However, if we think we changed something, we will keep quiet and continue consuming obediently.

Furthermore, as people have the impression that no matter what they do, the situation will not change, they experience some kind of helplessness. As a result, they gladly accept the hand of capitalistic companies and numb themselves through buying frenzies. It is easier to close one’s eyes to injustice, which is the reason little people question why Starbucks of all cafés is the one standing for fulfillment of ethnic duties.

I have the impression that a part of my generation including myself is apathetic about a lot of these problems. Not because we do not care, but because we either do not want to change or because we do not know how. But this is exactly one of the reasons why things will not change: apathy. I am not sure what is worse, doing something which has no effect or not doing anything at all. I am sure, however, that we must start thinking and consuming critically and stop being fooled by the happily-ever-after-image which is displayed by those who want us to stay numbed.

by Julia Semineth

Why could it be that people are afraid of immigrants?

When people talk about their opinions on immigrants, the first things that come to mind are: they steal our jobs, the men are violent, the women are promiscuous, and their children are a bad influence on our kids.

This may be because the changes immigrants can cause can be very sudden and challenging. To go a step further, it may be even natural, because every animal reacts aggressively when unknown individuals from the same species approach their territory.

So I think it is may be a natural reaction, but people should not keep this mentality because we are human and have the ability to think logically. The first point is that they don’t steal our jobs. They are nothing that can belong to anybody to begin with and people who have lived in the area for a long time don’t want to do certain jobs like rubbish collection etc., so immigrants only try to benefit from this situation.

Besides this, because they are individuals just like the long-term residents, not every immigrant is violent or sex-crazed. So there may of course be immigrants who kill people or prostitute themselves to get some money, but them being immigrants is not the main reason for that.

Lastly, immigrant children are not a bad influence on the other children. The behaviour of the parents can have more of a bad influence on their offspring than the immigrant children themselves. The children of parents, who genereally dislike immigrants, would come to hate everyone different from them without trying to learn or accept anything about them.

Why do people discriminate against immigrant children in the first place? There are fewer and fewer children in so many countries all over the world, so we are in need of those children to support our countries in the future.

And as to why people are afraid of immigrants, I think it is because people who are affected by their presence cannot be bothered to take the second step to think about this topic logically. This may be because they react too emotionally, but in my opinion that is still no reason to discard the human ability that distinguishes humans from animals.

What do you think about this?

by Julia Lohmann

Let the brain drain!

I want to state my opinion about the phenomenon named Brain Drain. “Brain drain” can be defined as follows; the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another usually for better pay or living conditions. In short, this term implies criticism against large-scale emigration of skilled workers from poor countries to rich countries.

The term was coined in Britain in the 1960’s, when a lot of scientists moved to the US dreaming of the better pay and opportunities.

For instance, AFB news reported that in 2009 11 Americans got the Nobel Prize, and 5 out of 11 were naturalised US citizen. More controversial examples are sub-Saharan African states. It is estimated that during 1960s to 1980s, 30% of skilled labour moved to Europe. In Zimbabwe, 60 people graduates from the medical school annually but 90% of them leave the country. (Peter Stalker 1994)

On the one hand, brain drain can be regarded as exploitation of human resources by rich states; on the other hand this is a great opportunity for development and mutual-understanding. Well, I support the latter. I have three points.

Firstly, some criticise the phenomenon claiming that rich countries are buying skilled workers with money. That’s not necessarily the case. In fact, the labour markets in developing countries are excess. In Côte d’Ivoire in 1985, for example, 40% of university graduates were jobless. So I think supplies meet demands here.

Secondly, sending skilled labours abroad can bring about positive results. South Korea, who now has world highest level of industrial, medical, and intellectual technology, lost 10% of professional workers in the 1970s. So sending skilled workers abroad really is an opportunity to enhance their own growth.
Thirdly, it’s not really a “brain drain”, rather it’s a “brain exchange”. I mean international flow of skilled labour is not one-way. Multi-national cooperation’s and International organisations are placing their factories and offices in developing countries, which brings a lot of skilled workers from developed countries!. I think this is a good for both individuals (they can broaden their career path) and society (for mutual-understanding’s sake).
In conclusion, there’s nothing wrong with brain drain. Rather it can offer opportunities. So why don’ t we let the brain drain?

by Yuki Sugiyama

Patriarchy, Heteronormativity, and the Closet


I saw this rainbow wall somewhere along Kawaramachi..
At first, I felt really glad to see this wall, but then I realized that most people are probably unaware of what a rainbow symbolizes — the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) pride and diversity. 

Most, though not all, societies today seem to maintain its highly patriarchal and heteronormative nature. Such societies have managed to dominate and survive throughout history, causing tremendous impacts on today’s social climate.

In patriarchal societies, people are made to believe that men are more capable than women regarding the many aspects of their lives. This eminent ideology allows the cyclical abuse and discrimination against women, expressed in a vast array of prejudice – may it be in the workplace, or in terms of education, healthcare, and finance, or even at home – such manifestations are evident.

Aside from living in patriarchal societies, most of us today also grew up in immensely heteronormative societies. Heteronormativity refers to the assumption that heterosexuality is universal; hence heterosexual practices must be the standard. Heteronormative societies expect everybody to follow such norms; otherwise one would be deviating from what is socially accepted. Such societies create a hierarchy among its citizens, wherein heterosexuals are above non-heterosexuals – the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. Same-sex relationships are seen either as a taboo or as an act of immorality. It was only in 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders; this was a big leap for the LGBT movement, however until today myriads of people still continue to have negative views regarding homosexuality. This is primarily due to the heteronormative society’s unawareness, misinformation, and skewed understanding of gender diversity and equality. These societies treat the LGBT community differently, hence causing a great disadvantage among LGBT individuals. These disadvantages are manifested in the forms of social stigma, inequality in terms of work opportunities, and even outright verbal, emotional, psychological, and physical abuse.

Patriarchy and heteronormativity, as individual social conditions, are equally problematic. But if you put both conditions together in one society, the problems born from this scenario can magnify and multiply by tenfold.

Patriarchal and heteronormative societies rank its citizens. It prioritizes heterosexual men above all. At the bottom of this social pyramid are non-heterosexual women – lesbian and bisexual women. For several reasons, I believe that non-heterosexual women are discriminated in multiple levels. First, they are discriminated for the simple reason that they are women. Women may find it difficult to live in societies wherein patriarchy and gender inequality are the norms. Women’s voices are often muted, their chances of learning are often halted, and their rights are often trampled over. Second, lesbian and bisexual women are discriminated for being outside the heterosexual norm. They are seen as people who are so different from the “straight“ people. Despite the dominance of such views among most of today’s societies, these socially constructed labels are meaningless. Some lesbian and bisexual women encounter problems with their employers once the issue of their sexuality is discussed, other problems include – difficulties in finding housing, and being victimized by social stigma and violence. Third, lesbian and bisexual women are discriminated based on other aspects such as class, race, ethnicity, religion, and culture. Since we live in the age of capitalism, lower-class lesbian and bisexual women are further buried deeper in the imagined social pyramid. In certain beliefs and cultures, homosexuality is also seen in a negative light, hence stirring even more disadvantages for lesbian and bisexual women.

For many centuries, such societies have continued to heave and force its highly sexist ideologies among its citizens. Perhaps this is one of the many plausible reasons on why some lesbian and bisexual women choose to stay inside the closet – to be protected from the harsh beatings of patriarchal and heteronormative societies.

by Fritz Rodriguez

My view on British multiculturalism

I want to write an article about British multiculturalism. As we saw in the lecture, there’s a debate over whether or not it has failed. Since this is a blog article, not an academic essay, I’d like to share my personal perspective on the issue according to my own experiences in the UK.

Firstly, let me tell you about my experiences a bit here. I’ve lived in England twice actually.
The first time was a lovely homestay with a middle class British family for one month in Coventry city. (an industrial city in Midland, England). They were what we imagine as ‘typical conservative working-class English people.
The second time was a year study abroad as an exchange student in one of the most liberal Universities in the UK named SOAS. I was living in central London, with diverse range of people. So the things were completely different from the former experience. Also I travelled a lot around the UK and Europe.
In general, I absolutely loved my life there (except for the food No offence mate!) and I think I saw quite a lot about issues of race, ethnicity or multiculturalism.

I know it’s almost impossible to assert its failure or success, since things are not that simple. I mean, it’s so hard to define what’s ‘failure’ and ‘success’, some could even say Britain is not a multicultural society at all! There can’t be unified view on that.
So, I’m mentioning both (what I felt was) positive and negative aspects of ‘multicultural Britain’ below.

Positive points

  • Tolerance towards foreigners.

I have never felt discriminated against in the UK, at all. Even in a small village in Scotland, people were really helpful! I didn’t have any difficulty living in the UK as a foreigner.
I also saw a lot of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds living and working, keeping their own lifestyles. For example, in many restaurants there’s always vegetarian food or special meat designed for Muslims. Also in my University, there was a praying room for Muslim students, people could go there and pray even during the class. Those kinds of things cannot be expected in my country, to my sadness.

  • Diversity(limited area)

This diversity was beyond my expectation. People are really diverse and coming from all over the world. In my university, more than 40% of all the students were from outside the UK! Also, there are plenty of Asian British, African British, Caribbean British, Muslim British or anything. I thought being British no longer means being Christian ‘white’ British. This diversity makes the country more attractive and creative!

Negative point

  • Segregated communities

I wrote that diversity is limited above because outside the ‘special places’ like university where everyone agrees with multiculturalism, the communities are very segregated. There’s a area for Chinese, Arabic, Indian, or Bangladesh. When you go outside of the university and look at the reality, there certainly are hates between the groups People seemed to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream, which creates hatred. (Politically radical right wing party is gaining power and at the same time, radical Muslim groups are getting more powerful).

In conclusion, I still don’t know if British multiculturalism is a failure or I don’t know the solution for that. However I wouldn’t call it a success. At least I cannot imagine the same situation happening in Japan. This is how I feel now.

What do you think?

by Yuki Sugiyama

Had Japan lost its Samurai soul? – Identity Crisis

It is often said that Japanese people do not love their country much. People rarely see the flag in everyday life, sing national anthem, and care about its politics. It was only in the old days – before the war that Japanese people used to show their love towards Japan by demonstrating on the street or paying attention to its politics. It seems Japanese had lost its samurai spirit these days.

Japan is a homogeneous society. People speak only Japanese. Most of people in Japan are Japan-originated. However, this has been changing by the wave of globalization. Some people say it started changing after Japan lost World War 2 and let habits and customs of the United States in Japan.

Is globalization affecting the loss of Japanese samurai spirit? As one of Japanese youth, I do not think I am patriotic person. It is probably affecting me because I am interested in foreign culture more than Japanese one. Even though I have grown up in Japan, I could have much information about foreign countries by media. And in Japan, there is some kind of feelings that it is too much when someone is supporting its country so much. When the U.S. found Osama bin Laden died this year, people in the U.S. were celebrating it by shouting “U.S.A! U.S.A!” on the streets. In Japan, many people thought that it was a little bit crazy calling country’s name loudly on the streets.

Strong nationality sometimes can cause problems. But as being one country in the world, country loses its identity and it’ll eventually vanish. In this globalized world, we should hold on to our own identity harder than ever.

by Naoko Matsumoto

Who do we consume for?

Fair trade is something that is very close to my heart. I have become aware of the importance of fair trade since studying Peace and Development for the past three years, and there was one event in particular that helped me realize how deeply connected fair trade is to development. Coffee growers came to my university in Sweden and shared stories about their life in Nicaragua and how dependent they are on the money that they make from fair trade. Without that money, their business would not survive. This was three years ago, and ever since that lecture, I have started buying more food labeled fair trade. And even though I know part of the reason why I decide to spend that extra money is because it makes me feel good about myself, I also feel that I am doing something good for somebody else. That money is not a big deal for me but could help change the life for the better for somebody else across the world. I do realize that it is unrealistic to ask people to only buy fair trade goods, but if everybody would choose one item of food (coffee or milk for instance) and spend a little more money on making it fair trade, I believe it would make a huge difference.

This is hard to admit, but I am also aware of the fact that some of my actions might be considered hypocritical. Animal rights have always been very important to me, and I have thought about becoming a vegetarian for many years. My only reason for not doing so yet is that I am terrible cook and would not now what food to make, which would probably result in nutrient shortage of some sort. Therefore, until I learn how to cook proper vegetarian meals, I buy meat that is organic since it gives me the somewhat satisfying feeling that the animals at least had a decent life until they ended up on my plate. The expression “capitalism with a smiley face” is applicable here, and the phrase “the worst slave owners were those who were kind to their slaves” also feels appropriate. Instead of buying “good” meat, I should quit eating meat all together and simply not be a part of the system.

In my opinion, Zizek is absolutely right when he is talking about “egoist consumption” and how guilt affects us when it comes to our purchases. However, I would feel hypocritical not buying fair trade goods since it is so closely linked to what I am studying. Peace and development studies are all about making the world a better place, and if I can do so by spending a little bit of extra money, then so be it. I believe that most people have the possibility to make minor changes in their daily life in order to make the world a little bit better. If I can do it as a poor student, so can you. For me, it is simply about prioritization. But how do YOU feel about spending more money on fair trade products? Is it worth it? How much are you willing to spend? And would you consider yourself an “egoist consumer”?

by Erika Selander Edström