NEWS ANALYSIS - Global Piracy Acquires a New Dimension

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Map of the Gulf of Guinea, showing the chain of islands formed by the Cameroon line of volcanoesBy Taro Ichikawa

TOKYO - Piracy attacks off the Horn of Africa and in Southeast Asia have attracted most attention but the Gulf of Guinea has emerged as a new "hot spot". Increased assaults are threatening the economic development of the region, particularly the exploitation of its marine resources, according to a maritime security expert.

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NEWS ANALYSIS - 'South China Sea' and Beijing's Naval Strategy

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By Rodger Baker and Zhixing Zhang* Map credit: Stratfor

Over the past decade, the South China Sea has become one of the most volatile flashpoints in East Asia. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan each assert sovereignty over part or all of the sea, and these overlapping claims have led to diplomatic and even military standoffs in recent years.

Because the sea hosts numerous island chains, is rich in mineral and energy resources and has nearly a third of the world's maritime shipping pass through its waters, its strategic value to these countries is obvious. For China, however, control over the South China Sea is more than just a practical matter and goes to the center of Beijing's foreign policy dilemma: how to assert its historical maritime claims while maintaining the non-confrontational foreign policy established by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1980.

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NEWS ANALYSIS - China Prepares to Avert Looming Water Crisis

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Image Credit: www.china.org.cnBy Taro Ichikawa

TOKYO - China is girding up its loins to stave off a serious water crisis by 2030 when population is expected to rise to 1.6 billion. With water consumption soaring, per capita water resources will drop to 1,760 cubic meters – perilously close to 1,700 cubic metres, the internationally recognized benchmark for water shortages, according to Chinese experts.

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VIEWPOINT - What Africa Can Learn from China

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By Dr. Lim Mah-Hui* African Students at Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

GENEVA - We are living in interesting and perilous times. The Chinese word for crisis is made up of two characters – danger and opportunities. Times of danger also offer opportunities to those who are able to use them to their advantage. The international economy is in its worst crisis since the Great Depression. There could be a break-up of the Euro zone with momentous consequences for the world economy; and the U.S. economy is limping along with high level of unemployment five years after the great financial meltdown.

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VIEWPOINT - China's Rare Earth Monopoly Being Challenged

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Image credit: Wikimedia CommonsBy Ajey Lele*

Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China's economic transformation, declared in 1992: "There is oil in the Middle East; there is rare earth in China." China reportedly possesses about a third of the world’s rare earth deposits and controls 97 percent of the global market for rare earth elements. But Beijing's near monopoly is being challenged, among others by countries such as India, Japan and Vietnam – a development which is not leaving China unimpressed.

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PERSPECTIVES - Need to Focus More on Preventive Diplomacy

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By R. NastraniSIPRI Director Dr Bates Gill | Credit: Global Zeros

STOCKHOLM - Short of passionately pleading for a profound change in the military-oriented mind-sets of decision-makers, SIPRI Director Dr Bates Gill has called for a "far greater focus on less militarized solutions" to the global security challenges ahead, and stressed the need for resorting to "an innovative integration of preventive diplomacy, pre-emptive and early-warning technologies, and cooperative transnational partnerships."

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PERSPECTIVES - Post-2014 Afghanistan Draws Tokyo Meet Focus

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The military terminal at Kabul International Airport | Wikimedia CommonsBy Taro Ichikawa

TOKYO - Japan is Afghanistan's second largest donor behind the United States. Since the Tokyo Conference in January 2002, it has provided $3.3 billion till the end of 2011, to support political processes, assist infrastructural, agricultural and industrial development, help meet basic human needs, and promote Afghan culture that has profoundly suffered in the past about three decades

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NUKE ABOLITION - Doomsday Clock One Minute Closer to Midnight

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By Jamshed BaruahJayanta Dhanala | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It is five minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock. Inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and persistent inaction on climate change have prompted the eminent Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) to move the hands of the famed clock one minute closer to midnight.

The last time the Doomsday Clock minute hand moved was in January 2010, when the Clock's minute hand was pushed back one minute from five to six minutes before midnight.

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NUKE ABOLITION - Hiroshima, Nagasaki Bombings Were Avoidable

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David Krieger | Credit: Nuclear Age Peace FoundationBy David Krieger | President of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered and World War II was over. American policy makers have argued that the atomic bombs were the precipitating cause of the surrender. Historical studies of the Japanese decision, however, reveal that what the Japanese were most concerned with was the Soviet Union's entry into the war.

Japan surrendered with the understanding that the emperor system would be retained. The U.S. agreed to do what Truman had been advised to do before the bombings: it signalled to the Japanese that they would be allowed to retain the emperor. This has left historians to speculate that the war could have ended without either the use of the two atomic weapons on Japanese cities or an Allied invasion of Japan.

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