The Fate of the World Order Rests on Tokyo’s Shoulders

The Fate of the World Order Rests on Tokyo’s Shoulders:

It is no secret that the liberal international order is in danger. Since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016, it has been clear that the United States is prepared to withdraw the military, economic, and political leadership that once underpinned the system. But there are still countries out there striving to keep it from crumbling. One of the most important is Japan.

To be sure, no single country can replace the United States. Rather, there will need to be several. It will be a “multiplex world,” as the American University professor Amitav Acharya has described it, where power and leadership are dispersed among a group of powers alongside other nonstate actors, including multilateral bodies, corporations, and social movements.

In such a system, regional actors will take on the major leadership roles. The European Union and Germany are plausible contenders in Europe. The same could be true of South Africa in sub-Saharan Africa and perhaps Argentina or Brazil in South America. But what about the Indo-Pacific region?

India is an unlikely candidate. Its own development challenges will distract it from exerting much power beyond South Asia. And although the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has a key role to play in managing security in Southeast Asia, it is unlikely to have any capacity to manage the international order in the wider Indo-Pacific region. Despite being an ardent supporter of many elements of the order, moreover, South Korea has proved too preoccupied with events on the Korean Peninsula to do much elsewhere. Finally, although China’s sheer size makes it seem like a natural leader, its human rights abuses, flagrant violations of international law, coercion of neighbors, and attempts to build its own regional architecture make the country one of the world’s largest threats to the liberal order.

That leaves Japan, a status quo power par excellence. Tokyo is highly satisfied with the current order because it has benefited the country greatly, ensuring the peace and stability Japan needed to recover and prosper after World War II. The various international organizations Japan has been able to join, moreover, have given it a louder voice and role in shaping international norms than it otherwise would have had. Tokyo has, in turn, built its international agenda almost solely around upholding and strengthening the liberal international order.

For decades, Japan has been a leading contributor of money and personnel to the United Nations, Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank.

Meanwhile, not only does Japan proactively cooperate with international legal organizations such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court, but prominent Japanese legal scholars have long served as justices on the ICJ—a testament to the importance the country places on the rule of law. In fact, it was one of the first countries to recognize the ICJ’s rulings as compulsory.

The country has also been a fervent advocate for human rights and freedom of navigation. And as a free trade supporter, Japan stepped up after Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership to revamp the initiative as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Under the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, Japan’s role in supporting the international order has been particularly notable. In 2016, Abe launched the “proactive contribution to peace” framework, an effort to push Japan to play a larger role in securing peace, stability, and prosperity. It was part of his broader Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, which the Trump administration later endorsed and which places more of the burden on Japan for protecting freedom, the rule of law, and market economies in the region.

The time may be right for Abe to go further. He was recently re-elected as the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which means he could remain prime minister until 2021. He could use that time to focus on strengthening partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, where his country enjoys a relatively good reputation. Abe could signal that he is willing to allow others to lean on Japan to hold up the rules-based order. Japanese leadership might even entail dispatching more Japanese troops in noncombat roles to address threats to the international order. In addition to continuing to contribute actively to humanitarian assistance and disaster responses, Japan could be an active participant—even leader—in U.N.-mandated peacekeeping operations and responses to epidemics.

This is not to suggest that Japan needs to change its constitutional restraints on the use of force by its military or that Japan should take actions that run it afoul of the United States. Nor does regional leadership mean that Japan can ignore its own domestic challenges, namely demographic decline and ballooning debt. Rather, Japanese policymakers might simply consider that it is time for their country to fully embrace its role as a noncombat civilian power and become the predominant regional pillar of the international order. That would mean signaling a willingness to organize and lead groupings of like-minded states to reinforce the existing order across the Indo-Pacific region. Increasingly, Japan could even begin to shape the order around its own vision, although that vision would not likely stray too far from what the current order looks like. Strengthening the rule of law, freedom of navigation and free trade would no doubt remain Japan’s primary focus.

Although Japan will never be able to exert global leadership in a way comparable to the United States, it might well decide to provide critical leadership to sustain key elements of the international order in the Indo-Pacific region. It has the power to do so: economically, diplomatically, technologically, ideologically, and even in noncombat military power. Japan’s leadership would provide the critical support the order needs. And in doing so, Japan could very well shore up the confidence of those in other regions that want to do the same. The choice is Japan’s to make, but the consequences of the decision will be felt throughout the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

(Via Foreign Policy)

With the United States abdicating (temporarily, I hope) its diplomatic and military role, Japan as the or a  lead of a community of nations stepping into the gap is an intriguing idea.

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LVMH’s chief digital officer says “digital” is a nonsense word

LVMH’s chief digital officer says “digital” is a nonsense word:

[Ian] Rogers, who oversaw Apple’s music streaming service and its Beats1 radio station before LVMH convinced him to jump into luxury in 2015, argues that the trouble begins with the terminology itself. As he told Wired UK:

I think that “digital” is a bit of a nonsense word. I haven’t met anybody who can explain to me, really, what it means. Scott Galloway at L2 said, “Having a chief digital officer is like having a chief electricity officer.” I think that that’s really accurate. What you’re doing is, you’re using this somewhat technical term to mask the fact that your customer’s behaviours have changed. You need to elevate technology inside of your organisation.

His point is that being digitally savvy is no longer a nice bonus in the professional world, but integral to all parts of a modern company. Or at least it should be. “When somebody says, ‘We’re really behind on digital,’ my response is, ‘You’re behind in every aspect of your business?’ he said.

(Via Quartz)

Cannot agree more.

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Why I Dislike Applying “Game-ification” To Goal-Oriented

Just because something is goal oriented does’t mean it is “game-ified”. Seth Godin, in the Q&A section in season 3 episode 6 of his Akimbo podcast , called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) “game-ification”. While it might prove useful & profitable in some contexts, who would say Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or similar organizations “game-ify” sobriety?

Skinner’s Gamification vs. CBT, etc.:

Gamification as it stands presently-defined treats people like children – and often worse: like rats who are effectively controlled via shocks and pellets. It represents an attitude both sinister and egregious; that of superiority. An attitude of control and further – a belief that that control is warranted and appropriate.


Setting aside the emotions that therapy and sobriety raise, let’s think about information security and the “game-ification” of security training in the workplace.

Here we bump into another of Seth’s take –  Get Your Memo Read: (About which I already posted)

Consider a memo that was left outside my door at a hotel recently. The management distributed 1000 of them and perhaps ten people read it and took action.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

  1. Pattern interrupt. When was the last time you listened to the seat belt announcement on an airplane? We ignore it because we’ve been trained to ignore it. When you show up in a place, at a time, with a format that we’ve been trained to ignore, we’ll ignore you.
  2. Write a story. You seek engagement. Talk about me. About you, about yesterday, today and tomorrow. If you earn the first sentence, you’ll need to sell me on reading the second sentence.
  3. Frame the story. Help me compare it to something. Create urgency. Make it about me, my status, my needs.
  4. Chunk the message. How many things are you trying to say? (Hint: two might be too many). Let me scan instead of study.
  5. Include a call to action. Right here, right now.

Game-ification, at least as it relates to security education, rarely includes any of these points. In my experience, most security education programs embrace the airline safety video approach while slapping “game-ification” on the benefits. Giving away badges for doing the bare minimum isn’t helping anyone.

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iPhone 8 – Scattered notes

iPhone 8 – Scattered notes:

8. No Animoji. No Memoji. It’s awesome.

(Via English – Riccardo Mori)

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Citizens are fighting back against the tyranny of day light savings

Citizens are fighting back against the tyranny of day light savings:

Anyone who works with people in Europe probably had a chaotic week. Europeans set their clocks back an hour Sunday (Oct. 28), ending day light saving; but no one else did, except Mexico, in an act of defiance against its northern neighbors, and a few countries in the middle east.

North Americans (except Mexicans) wasted many minutes on empty conference lines because they did not realize their European and Mexican colleagues where on a different time. And they are not the only one who wasted time and money. Airlines, a particularly time-sensitive industry, estimate juggling different time changes costs them $147 million each year. But now some relief may be in sight that will end this madness: The European Union may abolish day light saving time changes in Europe once and for all.

The EU has seriously considered ending time changes after a survey released this summer showed more than 80% of Europeans wanted to stay on one time year round. Initially Europeans hoped this fall would be the last time they’d fall back. But that time frame proved too ambitious (airlines, for example, need at least 18 months to prepare). If the member states do vote to end day light saving, it won’t happen until 2021 at the earliest. The member states also must vote between keeping winter or summer hours. Deciding which time to keep could further divide southern and northern Europeans, just as they finally stopped fighting about spending and debt.

Countries around the world started using our current, standardized time zones in 1884. But the harmony did not last long. In 1908, residents of Port Arthur, Ontario started turning their clocks forward one hour. Within a few years changing the clocks for summer caught on in other parts of Canada. Day light saving really caught on in 1916 when the Germans turned their clocks forward on April 30, to preserve fuel used for artificial lighting during World War I. A few years later it became the standard practice in Europe and America too.

According to Time and Date, a Norwegian website dedicated to providing accurate information on, well, time and date, each year a few new countries ditch time changes. This year was the first without a time-change for Namibia and Tonga. Since the widespread adoption of day light savings, 67 countries have since stopped turning back their clocks. The only hold outs are now mostly richer, developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere, whose businesses and systems are more heavily invested in the status quo. Their reluctance to stop changing time puts them further out of step with developing countries.

Europe may finally end time changing. And this may be enough for the US to stop too. There are already signs Americans are fed up with changing their clocks too. Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are considering forming their own time zone. Florida voted to stay on summer time, their Senator Marco Rubio filed a bill for the whole country to follow suit.

There are few good reasons to change our clocks twice a year. Most of the purported benefits, good for farmers, less energy usage, fewer traffic accidents, are either untrue or unproven. But there is evidence time changes cause health and economic damage. The costs are larger when different countries change their time on different dates and no one knows what time it is. The concept of time and adhering to time zones is meant to facilitate economic transactions and increase coordination. Each country turning its clocks back on a different day undermines these objectives.

It is time to pick a time and stick with it.

(Via Quartz)

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