This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
- Japan’s PM visits Yasukuni shrine, infuriating Chinese and Koreans
- Israel to announce new settlements along with Palestinian prisoner release
- Pakistan protesters block Nato supply route after new drone strikes
Japan’s PM visits Yasukuni shrine, infuriating Chinese and Koreans
China’s foreign minister Wang Yi bares his teeth in a scathing TV interview criticizing Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine (Xinhua)
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a surprise visit to theYasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on Thursday, saying the purpose of the visitwas to pray for peace. Yasukuni Shrine is the national shrine formillions of war dead in Japan regardless of what role they played. Itis still a scared place to all Japanese. The shrine was initiallycreated by Emperor Meiji to commemorate any individuals who had diedin service of the Empire of Japan during the Meiji Restoration.However, the numbers of those enshrined there have been expanded sinceopening in 1867.
China and South Korea are infuriated by the visit, because 14convicted or accused Class A war criminals are enshrined there, inaddition to the war dead from World War II.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said:
“China will not tolerate this. Abe’s visit severelywent against the principle and spirit of the four politicaldocuments between the two countries, as well as the commitmentmade by former Japanese administrations and leaders on historicalissues, and erected a major new political obstacle to the alreadystrained China-Japan relations.
However, according to Abe:
“Some people criticize a visit to Yasukuni assomething to pay homage to war criminals, an idea based onmisunderstanding.
I paid a visit to show (to the war dead) my determination tocreate an age where no one will ever suffer from tragedies ofwars.”
Thursday was also the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birthday,which China celebrated with patriotic songs and TVdocu-dramas. Purposely left out of this “glorious” history was anymention of Mao’s horrific mistakes: the Great Famine of 1958-61 thatkilled tens of millions and the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution thatshattered the lives of millions. Much to the dismay of many Chinese,the party still blocks public debate of these tragedies in case itmight undermine the party’s grip on power. Japan Times (Comment) and CNTV (Beijing) andCS Monitor
Israel to announce new settlements along with Palestinian prisoner release
Israel will announce plans for new West Bank settlement constructionnext week, to coincide with the release of 26 additional Palestinianprisoners, as dictated by the so-called Israeli-Palestinian “peaceprocess.”
The current round of the “peace process” has been driven by U.S.Secretary of State John Kerry. In order to keep the Palestinians fromwalking out of the talks, Kerry got Israel to agree to release a totalof 104 Palestinian prisoners, in four 26-prisoner batches every twomonths. All of the prisoners have been in jail since before the 1993Oslo Accords. Thousands of Israelis protested the release of thefirst two batches, because almost all of the prisoners were convictedof kidnapping, lynching or murdering Israelis, or torturing andexecuting suspected Palestinian collaborators.
The third batch is scheduled for release on December 29, and there isso much internal opposition to the prisoner release that Israel isreconsidering whether to go ahead with it. In addition, the Israelissay that the prisoner releases create an “atmosphere of terror” thatincite further terrorist acts by the Palestinians. In order to pacifythe internal opposition, Israel is expected to pair the prisonerrelease with a new announcement of West Bank settlements — somethingthat will infuriate both John Kerry and the Palestinians.
Whether the prisoner release goes ahead or not, this new version ofthe peace process never had any chance of success. If the prisonerrelease does not go ahead, then the peace talks end now; if theprisoner release does go ahead, then the peace will end after therelease of the fourth and last batch of prisoners in March. Israel National News and Arab News/AFP
Pakistan protesters block Nato supply route after new drone strikes
A U.S. drone strike early Thursday morning killed at least foursuspected militants. These drone strikes are extremely unpopular withthe Pakistani, and they’re condemned by the government as a violationof Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, it’swidely believed that the drone strikes have the tacit approval ofPakistan’s army and intelligence services.
Protesters reacted to the drone strikes by blocking the more southernof the two Nato supply routes through Pakistan. However, thisblockage was only temporary, as police ordered the blockade to end.
There are two truck supply routes from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Bothroutes start in Karachi, Pakistan’s principal port in its southernSindh Province, on the Arabian Sea. From there, one route goesnorth, through the tribal area, and the other is more southern,passing through Balochistan Province into Afghanistan. Thenorthern route has been blocked since December 3 by activistsled by former cricket superstar turned anti-American politicianImran Khan. Khan’s protesters also led Thursday brief blockadeof the southern route.
NATO convoys coming through Pakistan were originally the principalsource of logistical support for the allied Forces in Afghanistan, atone time accounting for 80 to 90 per cent of all supplies for NATOForces. However, Nato forces have for years been seeking alternativesupply routes. Starting on February 20, 2009, shipments beganarriving through the the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a seriesof rail, water and road links to deliver cargo to Afghanistan throughthe former Soviet republics of Central Asia, and the NDN was carrying40% of the supplies by 2011. Between July 2012 and February 2013,28,000 containers came through the NDN into Afghanistan, while only 40containers moved through Pakistan. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP – India) and Dawn (Pakistan)