by Richard Basas
With the victory of Mr. Obama in the US Presidential elections a wave of celebration washed over the world media as praise for Obama took place, and in many cases rightly so. He is not only the first African-American President elect in US history, but more so a change from eight years of the Bush administration that can be argued was the worst eight years in Presidential history. While historians quibble over whether Bush was in fact the worst President, or a close 2nd or 3rd, challenges to the abilities of Mr. Obama have already taken place. The Economist Magazine made headlines in the election as the premiere economically conservative publication endorsing Mr. Obama, which is often on the left in his policies and by no means a conservative. Letters to the Editor were by no means gentle, and a number of them critical of The Economist’s endorsement, and a few supporting it but criticizing it for support for the wrong reasons.
In reality, both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain are fine individuals that are forgotten for their real talents, in being able to reach out to the other side for support. With Bush paralysing any support by the Democrats for his policies due to a laundry list of often anti-constitutional problems and controversies, McCain had been the only Republican that represented the majority of Americans and also many people who voted for Democrats in the last election. If Obama is to win the next election, he must focus his attention on the middle, and might even do well to cooperate and appoint some of the moderate Republicans in order to bring America together after eight years of being pulled apart. With nearly 47% supporting McCain in the election to Obama’s 51%, and economic collapse and eight years of Bush and a War in Iraq, Obama can only survive with support from people like McCain, or perhaps hire McCain himself to work in his administration. To take a line from many action hero movies, “It is crazy, but it just might work,” as in America, if Arnold can be the Last Action Hero and be elected to lead California, the 4th largest economy in the world, anything can happen.
Critical support for The Economist’s endorsement often came from non-American readers, who see Obama reasserting himself as the leader of the free world and placing multilateralism as the core of his foreign policy. What seems to be lacking is support for America’s closest and most effective allies, those within the Americas. With NAFTA becoming a heated debate between Obama and Hillary, even producing one of the elections first scandals, Canada and Mexico have been perplexed at how Obama might issue policies that could strangle the Canadian and Mexican economies due to a US economic collapse, a high degree of fear about debt with China and trade with China, that for some reason Hillary Clinton blamed on NAFTA, and the focus on Castro and Chavez, who oppose most activities coming from the US. All this has come with the virtual ignoring of America’s allies in South America that have won many battles against terrorism, poverty, economic collapse and improving democratic institutions. Another major issue, which has brought more death to Mexico than Afghanistan and Iraq combined, is the nearly 4000 deaths that have come about since early 2008 in Mexico’s drug war. With the rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and the pulverization of much of the FARC’s command and control, the drug war has moved well into Mexico where the country has little luck keeping even its most senior officials safe and deaths from the conflict have reached as far north as Canada to as far south as Argentina. With illegal immigration not having a solution since last year’s debate on the new Immigration Bill, and whole new issue has already arisen inside all of America’s allies, on the border and inside the US itself that has been ignored completely by the candidates. With the next major issue in US policy not being seen on the radar of either candidate, it is questionable how the US will treat its closest and most important allies in the next four years.
November 14th, 2008 by Richard Basas
Japan has always maintained a certain level of intrigue for foreigners, especially since the end of the Second World War due to its history, culture, economic progress and people. While Japan stands out as one of the most influential nations of the 20th Century, it has often not been a destination for many immigrants but more of a source for immigrants despite its economic prowess around the globe.
One country that has benefited from Japanese immigration is Brazil. With more than 1.5 million Brazilians with Japanese heritage, it is one of Brazils largest immigrant communities and the source for many Brazilians now moving to Japan. Next to Chinese and Koreans, Brazilians have become the third largest immigrant group in Japan. While many have descendants from Japan originally which produces cultural and legal links with Japan, many Brazilians now coming to live in Japan still require services which are key to Brazilians in the country. With 320,000 Brazilians now having Japanese residency, the concern is that integration in Japanese society make be difficult without asserting social services and education towards the Brazilian community residing in Japan.
One of the greatest concerns is education. In order to produce immigrants in Japan that can grow and work in the country, education for children 5 to 14 years of age is crucial for their future. With 33,000 kids in that age range, only 10,000 are enrolled in Japanese schools, while a further 10,000 are in Brazilian schools in Japan, leaving 10,000 kids not registered in any formal education at all, according to The Japan Times Online. Since 2001, and increase from 45 to 110 Brazilian schools was the result of many kids from Brazil having a tough time with language skills in Japanese, even to the point of being bullied and requiring often non-official school to be opened to accommodate children in the Brazilian community in Japan. While there have been discussions about trying to integrate foreign students into the public school system, the lack of adequate strategies and unfamiliarity in integrating non-Japanese students into the school system is a tough barrier to breach. Ironically, with many of the Brazilians now living in Japan having Japanese heritage, as well as citizenship in Japan due to their heritage, it is likely that the feeling their grandparents had coming to Brazil for the first time as Japanese, is similar to their experience coming to Japan as Brazilians. With Japan slowly becoming multicultural to a slight degree, it is imperative that new Japanese citizens have their needs addressed, often waiting for a paradigm shift in society to meet their needs.