Can Kamaishi, Japan Recover From the Tsunami?

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KAMAISHI, Japan - Two years after the disastrous 2011 earthquake and tsunami, most of the debris from the deluge has been cleared away in this small city on the northern edge of Japan’s tsunami coast. The cars and vans once piled on top of each other like some kind of apocalyptic traffic jam have been sorted out or sold for scrap. My guide, a local teacher who lost three of her aunts in the deluge, drives us up to a lookout. Spread out below us is the coastal village of Unosumai, or, more accurately, what once was the village of Unosumai. The view reminds me of pictures taken of Hiroshima after the atomic bomb had flattened almost everything. The only exception there was one surviving building, the former Industrial Promotion Hall in Hiroshima’s Peace Garden.  read more »

The Collapse of Racial Politics in Southeast Asia

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The recent general election in Malaysia left behind a bitter legacy of political divisions, threats of lawsuits, growing demonstrations, and arrests under the Sedition Act. In a larger sense, however, it was another sign that the race-based political order in Malaysia, and to a certain extent in neighboring Singapore, is breaking down.

Ever since Malaysia won independence in 1957 it has been governed by a coalition – the National Front or Barisan Nasional (BN) - made up of as many as a dozen parties, representing the ethnic and racial makeup of this multicultural country.  read more »