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The Diplomatic Boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

Background Information

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are set to take place this coming February, meaning that some countries have already begun planning out their delegations. However, things have taken an unexpected twist as in the last month, the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia have all announced that they will be diplomatically boycotting the event. Notably, a diplomatic boycott’s major differentiation from a complete Olympic boycott is that in a diplomatic boycott, only government officials from the countries boycotting the games will be absent instead of all the athletes as well. Additionally, Japan has also proclaimed its intentions to not send an official government group to the Olympics, however, they have not formally stated this to be a flat-out diplomatic boycott. 

Why is this happening?

The United States, the first country to announce its decision to boycott the Olympics, stated that the decision comes in response to concerns over numerous human rights violations by China. Britain, Canada, and Australia’s reasoning for the boycotting echoed similar values, with Australia’s added notes of boycotting because of China’s hostility towards their imports and vocal criticism of Australia’s move to build new nuclear synonyms. 

China’s Response

As you can imagine, China has not responded favorably. It has denied all of the accusations made so far and has claimed that these countries are fabricating lies to make them look bad. They also stated the United States would pay for their actions and that they never wanted British or Australian government officials at the games in the first place. 

Impacts

The fallout with China has been mostly verbal for the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia since their declaration to diplomatically boycott the games. However, as stated above, China has hinted at retribution, at least against the United States. Notably, both the United States and Australia are slated to host the Los Angeles 2028 and Brisbane 2032 Olympics respectively, so China’s retribution may come in the form of boycotting those games if nothing else. As for a more short-term impact of the diplomatic boycott of the games, it is evident that tensions have only continued to rise between China and the West, and with numerous powerful nations constantly at each others’ necks, who knows what’s to come for the international community?

Sources

https://www.nytimes.com/article/diplomatic-boycott-olympics.html 12/24/21

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/australia-joins-diplomatic-boycott-beijing-winter-games-2021-12-08/ 12/24/21

https://olympics.com/ioc/olympic-games 12/24/21

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Weekly Summaries

22nd of November – 28th of November

Germany’s new government

Two months after elections took place at the end of September, the German parties Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats announced last week that they have concluded their coalition talks. The leader of the Social Democrats party, Olaf Scholz, is expected to take over as chancellor from Angela Merkel. This means that Germany may finally have a new government. Some policies included in the new deal are raising the minimum wage to 12€, building 400,000 new apartments to fight the housing crisis, legalizing the sale of cannabis, and new plans to phase out the use of coal by 2030.

Other News

  • To help battle the skyrocketing oil prices worldwide, Britain, the U.S., China, India, Japan, and Korea have decided to release tens of millions of barrels of crude oil from their storage, according to the New York Times
  • A bus caught fire and crashed in Bulgaria, killing at least 45 people
  • A new variant of COVID-19 called Omicron that was first detected in South Africa has started to spread
  • 52 people were killed due to a gas buildup and explosion in a Siberian coal mine last week
  • There were clashes between the police and demonstrators in Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands. The protestors demanded that the prime minister resign.
  • The cyberwar between Iran and Israel has reached new heights
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Weekly Summaries

8th of November – 14th of November

Tensions at the Poland-Belarus Border

Poland has stationed thousands of troops along its border with Belarus where migrants from Middle Eastern countries have set up camp, hoping to enter the European Union. This situation can be seen as a confrontation between Belarus and the E.U., of which Poland is a member. Politicians from E.U. member countries have accused President Lukashenko, Belarus’ leader, of “intentionally trying to create a new migrant crisis in Europe,” according to the New York Times. The E.U. imposed sanctions on Belarus after President Lukashenko’s victory in the elections of August 2020.

Other News

  • After Brexit, British companies have found themselves caught in a tangled web of restrictions and financial obstacles if they want to do business in E.U. countries. The country Estonia saw an opportunity and is now welcoming British companies who want to escape such troubles.
  • The top general of Sudan’s army appointed himself as the “head of a new ruling body” after last month’s coup, according to the New York Times
  • Japan’s economy contracted again in the third quarter of the year
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Weekly Summaries

1st of November – 7th of November

Elections in Japan

The governing Liberal Democrats won the elections, but it was closer than usual. The new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, was chosen by his party, the Liberal Democrats, only last month but was still able to lead them to a victory. The other candidate for the representative of the Liberal Democrats was Sanae Takaichi, who would have become Japan’s first female leader. In the end, the Liberal Democrats won 261 seats, easily making the 233 seats necessary to have a majority, but lost 23 seats compared to the 2017 elections. Interestingly, the Liberal Democrats’ main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party, also lost seats, according to the New York Times. Prime minister Kishida is a former foreign minister but faces some charisma in the issues and is in fact often said to be “boring” by the Japanese press.

Other News

  • In pro-democracy protests after the coup in Sudan last week, three people were killed and more than 100 were injured.
  • 4 countries, the U.A.E., Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait called back their diplomats from Lebanon’s capital city, Beirut. The move comes after Lebanon’s information minister referred to the Yemen war as a “Saudi and Emirati aggression,” according to the New York Times.
  • The chief executive of the British bank Barclays stepped down after there was an inquiry by regulators into his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
  • A building collapsed at a construction site in Lagos, Nigeria, killing at least four people and trapping more than 100.
  • In Virginia, USA, a Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, was elected last week. He is the first Republican governor to be elected in Virginia in more than a decade.
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Analysis

How does the history of Japan and America cause the difference between their current business strategies?

Introduction

Each country has its own unique history and background, but while some countries have existed since the BC era, other countries became nations only a few years ago. This article will focus on Japan, one of the oldest nations in the world, and America, one of the youngest. Despite their difference in age, America and Japan are known as developed countries that lead the world economy and business world. According to the GDP (gross domestic product), which shows the economic power of each nation, the United States is the country and Japan is in third place.

RankingCountryUnit: $1000000
1USA20,932,750
2China14,722,840
3Japan5,048,690
4Germany3,803,010
5UK2,710,970

Even though the two countries look similar in numbers, they have had completely different histories, cultures, and backgrounds. Such differences have a great influence on their individual business strategies and decisions as a nation, even still today.

Differences between the U.S. and Japan

One of the biggest differences is the “flexibility of companies”. Flexibility here refers to how typical companies in each country respond to new ideas and how they make decisions. In America, companies tend to adopt novel ideas, and/or techniques by receiving input from people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Such a management style can be described as innovative. On the other hand, people in Japanese companies are homogeneous, meaning that there are only very narrow perspectives. This may explain why Japanese companies tend to respect their existing techniques and work with their resources and do not implement new ideas as often or as easily. In fact, a survey shows that 35% of people said that America is the most innovative country whereas only 12% of them said that it was Japan. But how are these difference explained by the histories of Japan and the U.S.? 

First, we will take a look at how history affects the diversity of the two countries. For America, as widely known, Columbus found an American continent where native Americans had already settled. After his finding of the continent, many Europeans began migrating to the American continent and ultimately colonized the continent. This means that since its discovery, America has been a very diverse country, which it still is today. This in turn means that companies in America consist of a diverse community of people. As opposed to the history of America, Japan has developed with only a single race: Japanese. Because Japan is a small island country, not many countries have tried to invade Japan in its history. In addition, from 1639 to 1854, Japan was a closed country, which means that no one was able to come to Japan and there was no trade with other countries. Such conditions caused  Japan to become an even more homogeneous nation.

The second main difference is the ability of companies to adopt new ideas and approaches. In Japan, because the Japanese culture has been able to flourish for more than 2000 years without being confronted by other cutlures, there are many traditional ideas that people still respect, such as the existence of the natural state. One example of this is that some Japanese words that were first “invented” 1300 years ago to represent body parts and nature are pronounced exactly the same — examples of this are nose and flower as well as tooth and leaf. Because the idea of living “with nature” still penetrates widely in Japan, and there is a belief that long-lasting traditions should not be abolished, people tend to make more conservative decisions. Conversely, Americans have more realistic ideas of nature. For instance, Newton (even though he was from Europe) who found the existence of gravity considered the tree with an apple as an experiment objective, not something to see and enjoy the phase of the tree as the Japanese did. Also, because there are not many long-lasting histories in America because of the late independence, there would be less pressure for people to decide to adopt new, what could sometimes be seen as a bit risky ideas and/or techniques.

Conclusion

In this article, by unraveling the history of the United States and Japan, the huge role that the relevant history of the two countries plays in the business sector was discussed. History has greatly influenced each country’s business greatly, thus explaining the vast differences between the two countries. Based on this article, my suggestion is that businesses should be open to adopting new ideas and techniques, but at the same time, I do think that is important to follow some respected traditions at the same time and not abolish them. Generally, it is always interesting to see the connection between the history of the country and the current situation of the country and explore how the traditions have impacted such developments.

Sources

https://www.globalnote.jp/post-1409.html

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Weekly Summaries

27th of September – 3rd of October

Lithuania enrages China

Recently, Lithuania has been trying to get closer to Taiwan, enraging China by taking actions such as quitting a Chinese-led diplomatic forum. In response, China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania, made it basically impossible for Lithuanian businesses to sell their goods in China, and paused trips by a Chinese cargo train into Lithuania. While Lithuania is a lot smaller than China — China has 1.4 billion people while Lithuania has fewer than 3 million — the country is important as a “transit corridor” for goods heading to Europe from Asia.

Other News

  • Shortages are restraining the recovery of many parts of the economy worldwide
  • In a tweet last week, the Taliban announced that women would be barred from teaching and studying at Kabul University, Afghanistan’s most prestigious university
  • Facebook has “paused development of an Instagram app for children under 13,” according to the New York Time
  • Japan’s governing party elected its choice for the next prime minister: Fumio Kishida

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Weekly Summaries

30th of August – 5th of September

U.S. Forces Left Afghanistan

The last U.S. forces left Afghanistan last Monday. Their departure ended a 20-year long occupation. The war in Afghanistan cost the U.S. over $2 trillion and left more than 170,000 people dead. Shortly before midnight, the last 5 American cargo jets left the Kabul airport, leaving behind many Afghans, including former members of the security forces. The Taliban and fighters celebrated the U.S. departure and gunfire could be heard across Kabul. A day later, President Biden once again defended the withdrawal, claiming that it was a choice “between leaving or escalating” the situation.

Other News

  • The return of a Napoleonic general, Gen. Charles Etienne Gudin, was supposed to improve relations between France and Russia, two countries that have long had difficult diplomatic relations. However, when the ceremony took place, the Presidents were not to be seen. 
  • The leader of Guinea’s special forces led a coup, announcing on state television that the constitution and government had been dissolved. Whether he will be successful is still uncertain.
  • Less than a year after he started office, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan said that he would not seek re-election
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Analysis

The Reaction to the Tokyo Olympics

Introduction

17 days after the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, the Olympics officially ended on August 8th. The Tokyo Olympics are considered to be the most controversial Olympics in history due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On July 13th 2021, about 35% of the Japanese population were in favor of canceling the Olympics, whereas 36% thought it should take place. The question remains, how did the world react after the Olympics? Did global viewers think the short-lived Olympic Games were successful?

Change in the opinion of Japanese people

Surprisingly, a survey conducted by a newspaper called Yomiuri Shinbun found that out of 2478 people in Japan, 64% of them answered that taking part in the Olympics was a good idea. On the other hand, 28% of them said that the Olympics should not have taken place. Compared to the survey before the Olympics, a significant number of people had changed their opinion during the Olympics. In fact, before the Olympics, the highest number of COVID cases in a day was 2520 cases in January 2021. However, on July 27th, the day after the opening ceremony for the Olympics, there were 2846 cases, 300 more than the previous record. Since then, the number of cases kept increasing with a new record high of 5042 cases on August 5th. The increasing Covid cases in Japan suggest that more and more people are challenging the lockdown and becoming more in favor of in-person events. But why are so many inhabitants changing their minds? There are three main reasons; the number of people who go out, feedback from Olympic parties, and COVID cases among Olympians.

Reasons for the change in opinion

According to NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), significantly more people have chosen to stay at home rather than go out or travel since the Olympics started. On July 23th, a Japanese holiday, the number of people who left their homes in Tokyo had decreased by 17%, compared to the previous four weekends. While the exact reason is unknown, many people speculate that such a reduction had occurred as the Olympics had begun, people chose to stay home to watch Olympic games all day rather than go out. Another possible reason is that Japanese people may have wanted to make a good impression on the international Olympians and visitors. Before the Olympics, many people were concerned that athletes and visitors would not be able to enjoy their stay in Tokyo because of the COVID-19 restrictions. However, despite these concerns, the Olympic athletes seemed to have enjoyed their time in Tokyo. For instance, a journalist from Singapore tweeted the excellence of ice that he bought from a convenience store, and went viral with over 28,000 likes. Also, the UK’s gymnastic team — during a video call with President Johnson — praised the Olympic Village’s facilities, such as the dining room where athletes were able to eat anything anytime for free.

The final reason is that the number of COVID cases among Olympic parties remained relatively low. According to a report by NHK, there were only 458 positive cases related to the Olympic Games which included coaches, media, contractors, etc. in the 14 days that the Games lasted. Considering the 17,000 people who traveled to Japan for the Olympics, these 458 positive cases made up a mere 0.02%. These statistics are enough to show that Japan succeeded in protecting themselves and their visitors from the virus.

In addition to those factors, many Japanese people initially disagreed with the Olympics because the mass media was demonizing the games. However, once the Olympics had begun, all TVs stopped reporting negative side-effects and started broadcasting the results of the Olympics, cheering on the athletes. The people who regularly watch the news were thus more likely to change their minds as well once the news outlets shifted their opinion.

Graphs showing this change

Conclusion

Although each person in the world has different opinions about the Olympics, no one should not forget to respect all athletes who participated in the Olympics. All of them have done their best to win gold medals in the Olympics, and they showed us how great sports are with sportsmanship through the 17 days. Some people write defamations to athletes’ social media to criticize their performances, sometimes just because the athletes won a gold medal and the athletes from the people’s countries lost. Such things are unacceptable no matter if they oppose the Olympics or not, and should be punished. Despite Japan’s population divide due to the Olympics in the beginning, it’s fair to say that the majority of the inhabitants were pleased to host the games and welcomed thousands of athletes from around the world.

Sources

  1. https://twitter.com/MatthewMohanCNA/media?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1423957548923641864%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fencount.press%2Farchives%2F205294%2F%3Fpage%3D2%2F 
  2. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20210809/k10013191821000.ht
  3. https://www.yomiuri.co.jp/election/yoron-chosa/20210809-OYT1T50143/
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Analysis

What can Japanese businesses do during the COVID outbreak to survive?

Introduction

On July 9th, the Japanese prime minister Suga declared a state of emergency for the fourth time. With this declaration, all stores are required to close by 8 pm and are not allowed to serve alcohol under any circumstances. In fact, Japan has been in a state of emergency for roughly ⅔ of 2021 already. Due to these conditions, there have been 3,044 bankruptcies from January to June 2021. The question now is, should companies in Japan really follow the state of emergency laws and put themselves in danger of bankruptcy? Can they do anything to save their own business and make a profit while not breaking the rules?

Context: Restrictions in Japan

Before talking about the business system in Japan, let’s start by getting some context on what Japanese people think about the government and the state of emergency itself. The truth is that the feeling of discontent towards the Japanese government has risen since the start of 2021 for two reasons, namely the frequency of state of emergency declarations and the lack of compensation for business owners. Japanese people are starting to think that the government has declared a state of emergency too many times. The below chart provides justification for such claims. It shows the number of COVID-19 infection numbers in Tokyo in 2021, and shows that the government announced the newest declaration on April 25th, only a month after the second declaration had been lifted. The COVID-19 cases at that time in Tokyo were 635, which was far less than the number of cases on January 7th when the second declaration was declared (in January there were 2447 cases). The second reason is the lack of consideration for those who follow the rules. For example, in Tokyo, the government provides subsidies for all businesses — but only around 500 dollars per day, 1000 dollars at the most. However, if the store makes 2000 dollars per day on average, and gets only 1000 dollars as through from the government, then in theory the store would be losing 1000 dollars a day. 

How businesses adapted

In such a harsh situation, business owners developed creative solutions to keep their stores afloat. For example, restaurants offered delivery services and many retail stores turned to online shopping with delivery opportunities Many shops were thus able to survive the duration of the first state of emergency from April of 2020. However, once people became accustomed to those ideas, they stopped showing interest, leaving business owners scrambling to develop new solutions again and again. In reality, there have not been many novel ideas recently,  so it is time to think about what they should do not only from a business perspective but also from an ethical one. For instance, they can open the store until midnight, and serve alcohol hypothetically because the Japanese government doesn’t have the capacity to enforce the law everywhere, but if people see such a store, they might post the name of the store to social media and the store could easily be bombarded with criticism. What can Japanese companies/industries do to keep the economy going, but not contribute to the spread of the virus at the same time?

Outlook to the future

One idea for some businesses to keep making money is to seek opportunities outside of Japan. Some countries like China and the United States have reached the point of resuming a pre-pandemic lifestyle. For instance, at the major league baseball game (MLB) last June no players or audience members present in the stadium wore a mask because the vaccination rate at the time was already higher than 55%. Resuming a pre-pandemic lifestyle in these countries means that the demand for products such as Japanese food and cars would increase due to an increased number of people who want to and do go out. There is a survey that asked 2,722 Japanese companies who are interested in overseas business about the impact of COVID-19. In FY2020, 64.8% of 2,722 companies answered that there was a “negative impact” on overseas sales. However, in FY2021, the number of companies saying this decreased to 27.3%. The survey shows that the demand from overseas for Japanese goods has begun increasing again. By exporting Japanese goods and/or food, Japanese businesses have the potential to grow again.

 The other idea, especially for small businesses which don’t have a chance to trade with foreign countries, is cooperation between companies. This would mean that some small companies can work together to overcome this unprecedented economic challenge. As small companies do not have as many resources as big companies do they should work together by gathering the know-how of each company. For instance, if a small manufacturing company knows how to make high-quality products but doesn’t know how to advertise their products, and a small advertising agency knows how to do so, then those two small companies can be a good match to help each other getting through these challenging times together.

Conclusion

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the majority of people in Japan did and do their best to still continue with their lives and at the same time cooperate with the country’s government to decrease the number of cases. To decrease the number of people who suffer from economic problems, there are some potential solutions for Japanese companies, such as seeking out opportunities abroad or working together with other companies. Hopefully, the business conditions will improve soon not only in Japan but in other countries around the world as well.

Sources

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Weekly Summaries

19th of July – 25th of July

The Olympic Games have started

The Olympics — arguably the greatest sporting event in the world — started on Friday with the opening ceremony. Tennis player Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron. However, the current circumstances with the outbreak of COVID-19 mean that the games look very different this year. More than 120 people involved with the Olympics tested positive so far, including at least six athletes. Additionally, an Algerian judoka decided to quit the Olympics before his competition had even started as the matching of the competitors may have meant that he would have to fight against an Israeli athlete, leaving concerns about whether the Olympics really is successful in bringing athletes from around the world together peacefully.

Haiti gets a new government

A new prime minister was announced in Haiti last week: Ariel Henry. He will replace the interim prime minister Claude Joseph, a neurosurgeon who had not yet been sworn in amid the chaotic struggle for leadership taking place at the moment. However, the list of cabinet ministers hardly changed.

Other News

  • After floods in Western Europe last week left almost 200 people dead, floods in Zhengzhou, China, caused by very heavy rainfall have left more than 30 people dead this week and displaced more than 250,000
  • Officials announced that a recent bus explosion in Pakistan that killed 13 people, including 9 Chinese workers, was a terror attack
  • Extreme weather conditions in the U.S. have continued, with wildfires raging across the Western part of the country