Ẩm thực – The Evil Way that Social Media Messes with Your Mental Health

An interview with Jaron Lanier, author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, on why Instagram and Twitter suck so bad.

Animation of the Instagram logo exploding on a purple background

GQ: It seems like social media brings out everyone’s inner troll.

Lanier: Everybody has the potential to go there. There’s this general feeling of the whole world getting darker and the online world being sort of filled with horrible people. I just don’t buy that. I think what it is is when you put normal people in this setting, it brings out the worst in them. I can give you one interesting example. We’ve certainly seen the worst in Donald Trump being brought out, but think of Elon Musk. Here’s this guy who runs this big company and he’s accomplished all this stuff, and suddenly he’s falsely accusing somebody who’s rescuing kids trapped in a cave of being a pedophile for no reason at all. That’s not him talking—that’s his Twitter addiction talking. That’s an example of someone who’s having the worst brought out of them. I just don’t think he would have gone there if it weren’t for his addiction. I just don’t think that’s who he is.

There is that other thing, which feels unique to Twitter, where each user comes from a place of being right. Shouting down at everyone else. Which is something you touch on: the lack of space for approaching a topic with a sense of your own ignorance.

It’s not a humble place. You know the story of Lord of the Flies, where these boys are stuck on an island and they turn into a wolf pack and they become horrible to each other? That’s Twitter.

You’ve written that social media is structurally humiliating, that the user is subordinate to third-party advertisers.

The strange thing about social media as we know it is that what you experience is that you’re connecting with other people. But the underlying reality is that there’s some third person whom you’re not connecting to who’s paying for the whole thing, and that person isn’t paying to connect with you but to modify you. That’s really weird.

What about Instagram? Can it be used safely if it’s just a closed loop with you and your friends and you’re just sharing cool pictures because you love each other?

Well, it’s a business. Instagram is part of the Facebook family, and the data of you and your friends sharing cool pics will eventually come back, because the only way Facebook makes money is finding some way to use that data to serve the interests of some third party who you didn’t pick. That’s the only possibility. That’s the only way anything can happen. So somehow, some way, somebody will use it to manipulate you. Of course people approach these things with pure hearts. Most of the bad political stuff on Facebook started off with decent people trying to do decent things, and then it just turns to crap later. It starts as Black Lives Matter, and then the algorithm redirects it into a resurgence of the Nazis. It just happens again and again and again. It starts with the Arab Spring, and it turns into ISIS. So yeah, what your friends do can be totally authentic, but somehow at the end of the day it’s going to be turned around and it’ll be turned against them.


Something about your habits will be correlated with a million other people who have similar habits. And then experimentally it’ll be determined that those people can be irritated by something—blue surfboards or whatever it is—and then suddenly somebody will be arranging for you to see those right before Election Day, and statistically you’ll be a little more likely to be irritated and not vote, and so the candidate you’d be associated with will get fewer votes and will lose. And it’ll turn out to ultimately have been driven by data that was entered in this very pure-of-heart way. That’s the kind of thing that happens.

Do you think it’s possible to have a positive experience on social media?

Sure! Of course I do. I mean the term “social media” didn’t exist back when the Internet was being conceived. The use of the term has therefore been associated only with designs that have the qualities that I really detest, including the addictive designs and the constant manipulation and the fact that the only financing available is third parties who are paying to manipulate you. That stuff is what we think of as social media. But of course someday, when there are other designs that are better, those will be called “social media” because there’s nothing wrong with being “social” and there’s nothing wrong with “media.” In principle there should be a form of social media that isn’t awful. I certainly believe that there can and should be.

But is it possible to use Twitter and Instagram and Facebook without feeling like shit afterward?

Not the current generation. That’s what the technology does. That’s like asking, “Is it possible to use heroin well or be a healthy gambler or cigarette smoker?”

Let’s take cigarettes: You know they’re bad for you, but if you have a few every now and then, it’s not so terrible, right?

There are always some people who smoke cigarettes who don’t suffer health effects. It’s just statistical distribution. I’d prefer to never have to judge someone else and say, “You shouldn’t do this,” because I want to live in a society where we leave each other alone. It’s just that once in a while there’s something that’s really causing mass destruction and it demands that we speak out, and this is one of those things. Public cigarette smoking is incredibly rare and mostly illegal, but it used to be incredibly common. There were people who couldn’t imagine that transition could happen. It’s just one of those things where finally there was enough reasonable argument that, like, look, this is stupid.


Full link: https://www.gq.com/story/social-media-is-bad-for-your-mental-health?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=gq&utm_mailing=gq_daily_062319&utm_medium=email&bxid=5c5cba14283d8e788b2c6f8c&cndid=56356405&hasha=b357a3f7d7c5d1ec57c25e9b6231f8b6&hashb=aeff271f8ff4a7fd8fe495e655c0eb7b5e4fe7ac&hashc=1f8ce695fd760fb4d65e389189e83ccceb06e601bec24bb9c826250bee570416&esrc=bounceX&utm_campaign=gq_daily_062319&utm_term=GQ_Daily_Active

Ẩm thực – 10 Dinners You Haven’t Had Since Your Childhood

From cheese fondue to grape meatballs, these throwback dishes were the greatest hits of the 50s and 60s.

10 Dinners You Haven’t Had Since Your Childhood

With the rise in popularity of Instant Pots, air fryers, and meal delivery services, many of the vintage recipes we drooled over as kids have lost their favor. It was once common to heat up a Swanson TV dinner in the oven, but this is 2018 and people are more likely to throw together whatever is on their Blue Apron menu.

While today’s most popular meals are easier to prepare and healthier than the dishes that dominated dining room tables back in the 1950s and 1960s, there’s something that makes us nostalgic about these childhood favorites. Scroll down memory lane and check out our list of 10 dinners you (probably) haven’t had since you were a kid, and then bring yourself back to this decade with the 10 Most-Pinned Slow Cooker Recipes of 2017!


Swanson TV Dinners


In the decades after World War II, TV dinners were all the rage. Swanson led the way in 1950 by producing frozen, oven-ready chicken and turkey pot pies in aluminum trays. The aluminum trays typically had three compartments: one for frozen turkey, chicken, or beef slices and the other two for side dishes. It became increasingly common for families to park themselves in front of the television and chow down on meal heated in a convection oven. The meals were convenient and perfectly suited for eating on a folding tray while watching a new episode of The Andy Griffith Show.


Scalloped Potatoes

Tiffany Ayuda

Hasselback potatoes or potatoes au gratin are today’s version of scalloped potatoes. Many people suspect that the potato-and-cheese-layered baked dish was inspired by the post-war American fascination with French cuisine. This casserole dish might have fallen in the recipe ranks because it’s labor-intensive and carb-heavy. But most people that still prepare this dish serve it during the holidays.



Tiffany Ayuda

You can trace cheese fondue’s roots back to the 1930s when the Swiss Cheese Union used it as a way to increase cheese consumption. However, it didn’t really make its mark on American cuisine until the 1960s. In fact, the U.S. introduction to fondue apparently happened in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. The dish was featured in the Swiss Pavilion’s Alpine restaurant.

Although cheese (and more recently, chocolate) fondue remain popular dishes today, American families aren’t whipping up this unhealthy Swiss favorite as often. For mealtime inspiration that won’t expand your waistline, check out these 30 Quinoa Recipes for Weight Loss!


Beef Bourguignon


If there’s one person to thank for this seriously impressive dish, it’s Julia Child. She catapulted the decadent French dish of beef, veggies, and red wine to popularity via her 1961 cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Though the complex dish isn’t featured much on dinner tables today, it’s often served on special occasions or at French restaurants across the country.


Chicken à la King


We’re not sure where Chicken à la King originated, but it was a popular meal throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The hearty dish consists of diced chicken and vegetables (peas, carrots, bell peppers, and mushrooms) in a cream sauce. It was often served over pasta, rice, or bread. The high-calorie dish bears a striking resemblance to chicken pot pie, which was also a popular entrée choice at the time. You can now find the dish in a freezer aisle near you.


Swedish Meatballs

Andy Pucko/Flickr

While most people today are familiar with Swedish meatballs from IKEA, this 1960s classic was a popular party dish. The recipe calls for standard meatballs and a cream gravy, but some people also liked to serve it with grape jelly.


Pineapple Chicken


Thanks to increased American interest in Hawaiian culture in the 1970s, pretty much every pineapple dish was popular. To prepare pineapple chicken, you marinate the meat in pineapple juice and serve it with chunks of the tropical fruit and rice. If you were lucky, there may have even been a pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.


Beef Stroganoff


Beef stroganoff was introduced to American dinner tables via Russia, likely a result of World War II servicemen who were stationed there and liked the dish so much that they brought the recipe back with them. It’s a tasty (albeit largely unhealthy) combination of beef and noodles or rice slathered in a rich cream sauce. Though the dish was one of the most popular vintage recipes of the 1960s, it isn’t something that’s regularly served for dinner today.


Tuna Casserole

Tiffany Ayuda

Casseroles became a popular household dish in the 1950s primarily because the ingredients were cheap and easy to find at the store. To prepare a tuna casserole, all you need is a can of tuna, a can of veggies, a cap of soup, and a package of egg noodles. It takes about 35 minutes to prepare it. Simple enough, right? In addition to being easily thrown together, tuna casseroles are also a cinch to reheat, making them a common dinner choice and popular dish to take to potlucks.




Another favorite low-cost dish from the 50s, 60s, and 70s was meatloaf. Meatloaf exploded in popularity during the Great Depression and World War II, but it retained its hype in the post-war years because the meat you use to prepare it is cheap.  While this homestyle favorite is still somewhat a heavy hitter, the increased availability and affordability of other meats have made it a less common dinnertime offering. Looking for budget-friendly recipes? Check out these 50 Cheap and Easy Slow Cooker Recipes!


Full link: https://www.eatthis.com/vintage-recipes/?utm_source=nsltr&utm_medium=email&utm_content=19-salads-worse-than-whopper&utm_campaign=etntNewsletter

Collection – Your boyfriend’s inability to function is a bug, not a feature

Today, I did one of the worst things you can do on the internet: read the comments section.

I was reading something about warm winter sweaters, and a woman commented, “this is giving me flashbacks to my boyfriend (who when I first met him was incredibly clueless), whose only idea of winter wear used to be a parka, with a short sleeve graphic tee underneath. when we had a polar vortex and I suggested trying a hoodie under the coat too he looked at me like I was a genius. LOL.”

I’m sorry, what? You had to tell a grown adult to put a sweater on to keep warm, which had never occurred to him before? And his “cluelessness” is cute and funny?

When I hear things like “I have to make my fiancées doctor’s appointments because he won’t do it himself, despite having been in so much pain he hasn’t gotten out of bed for days.” or “My husband can’t watch the kids if I go away for an entire weekend. I have to be home to make sure he doesn’t burn the place down.“, my blood boils.

I know that it feels good to take care of the people you love, or to see someone take your advice on something and have it make their day just a little bit easier. I know some very smart people that can barely cook toast, or who get confused by laundry. Part of the joy of being in a relationship is finding someone who has different strengths than you, and trading on those to make each other’s lives easier. Some people have illnesses that prevent them from doing everything for themselves.

This isn’t about any of those things.

A couple years ago, I was planning a camping trip with my then boyfriend. I was extremely excited about it, and made a list of all the things we needed to do/supplies to pick up before we left. Things like borrowing a tent, getting the directions to the site, figuring out transportation, buying groceries… I took on most of the list, but gave him a few basic things to find before we left (like getting said tent).

I ended up doing everything on that list because I didn’t actually believe he was going to help. I didn’t trust him enough to think that, despite my doing all of the planning and putting a lot of thought into the trip, and despite how excited he knew I was, he would actually do anything. I realized that I couldn’t really respect someone that I didn’t trust to do basic tasks. We broke up a week before that trip, and I went by myself. I have no regrets.

Not being able to function on your own is neither cute or quirky, it’s a problem to be solved. There are many legitimate physical, and mental health related, reasons why it’s difficult for some people to do basic tasks, but just being a man is not one of those. Not being taught how to turn on a dishwasher or how to boil water is not an excuse in the age of the internet. Insisting that the dopey-boyfriend stereotype is okay only prolongs everyone’s discomfort- both the women who are expected to take on more emotional and physical labour to take care of them, and on the dopey-boyfriends themselves. One day, they might be alone, and who will tell them what groceries to buy then?

Women who label their partners’ inability to be functioning adults as cute quirks aren’t just enabling the behavior, but rewarding it. As if not knowing how to put on a sweater is not just okay, but desirable. As if what you want in a partner shouldn’t be a partner, but a kind of pet to take care of.

Should I be overjoyed then, if I find a partner who knows how to cook simple meals, or pick up after themselves, or who can be counted on to go to the store to pick up supplies from a list? Is that the best I have to look forward to?

No one should have to settle for a partner who refuses to learn how to do things for themselves. No partner can do everything right, but they should be someone you can rely on for the things they are capable of doing when you need them.

Let’s stop rewarding bad behavior and treat grown up, capable men like the grown up, capable men they actually are. A lack of ability to perform self-care is a bug, not a feature.

By Victoria M

Full link: https://medium.com/@victoriamyr/your-boyfriends-inability-to-function-is-a-bug-not-a-feature-b58f98d9c8bf

Landscape – Quiet capital flight dents China’s sway as $1.2tn ‘disappears’

Beijing faces waning global clout with current-account deficit looming

BEIJING/TOKYO — China has flexed its financial muscle to strengthen its international influence in recent years, but the country is fast approaching a point where it may have to rethink its strategy.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts that China’s current-account balance will turn negative in 2022, due to the effects of the U.S. trade war and other developments. Under the surface, a huge outflow of money is widening beyond the control of the government’s strict regulators.

The trend raises the possibility of a shift in the global balance of power.

A total of $1.2 trillion has “disappeared” from China’s statistics in a little over a decade, potentially undermining the clout the country has sought to build through the Belt and Road infrastructure initiative and huge investments in U.S. government bonds.

The IMF says China had $2.1 trillion in external net assets as of 2018 — the third-largest total after Japan’s $3.1 trillion and Germany’s $2.3 trillion, but well below its current-account surplus.

Normally, a current-account surplus moves in tandem with an increase or decrease in external net assets. But while China’s surplus grew by $2 trillion from 2009 to 2018, its external assets rose by only $740 billion in the same period.

What explains the $1.2 trillion difference?

Yu Yongding, an economist and former member of the People’s Bank of China monetary policy committee, offered a theory. If a Chinese company exports products worth $1 million to the U.S., it logs the amount as sales in trade with the U.S., according to Yu. But sometimes, only $500,000 ends up in the company’s bank account in China, while the other half remains abroad.

Yu said the accumulation of such money explains a portion of the $1.2 trillion.

In China’s official statistics, a category called “net errors and omissions” covers such hazy transactions. For the 2009-2018 period, China recorded minus $1.1 trillion in this segment — suspiciously close to $1.2 trillion.

China’s net errors and omissions apparently include losses on emerging-market currencies in its foreign reserves. But as they tend to increase when the yuan falls in value, an informal outflow of funds is believed to account for a large portion of the errors and omissions.

Soon, according to the IMF, China will see its current-account balance turn negative. The international body expects a deficit of $6.6 billion in 2022.

The country’s travel-account deficit is also a drag on the balance — and this is not just due to tourists’ shopping sprees.

A Chinese man who works for a company in Beijing last year purchased a secondhand studio apartment in Tokyo for 10 million yen ($93,000). He paid by pooling small amounts of funds he had brought whenever he visited Japan for pleasure or business.

“Part of the travel expenditures is capital flight, and has been used to purchase financial products and property,” Yu said.

China’s travel-account deficit began to increase sharply in 2014. It accounts for roughly 80% of the deficit in service trade, and is calculated from currency exchanges at banks in China, payments by credit cards and smartphones, withdrawals of cash from ATMs, and other transactions by tourists going overseas and students studying abroad.

One study suggests that 60% of the travel balance deficit is due to capital flight.

The bottom line is that, due to capital outflows around Beijing’s regulations, China’s net external assets have not increased as much as its current-account surplus and its income balance remains in the red.

Tadashi Nakamae, president of Japan’s Nakamae International Economic Research, predicts a Chinese current-account deficit will become an established trend.

“Downside pressure on the yuan will increase more in the future,” said Zhang Ming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


Full link: https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Datawatch/Quiet-capital-flight-dents-China-s-sway-as-1.2tn-disappears?utm_campaign=RN%20Free%20newsletter&utm_medium=daily%20newsletter%20free&utm_source=NAR%20Newsletter&utm_content=article%20link

Collection – Facebook’s Libra – how will China react?

  • Expected launch of new global cryptocurrency next year raises new questions for China, analysts say
  • Central bank’s plan to develop a sovereign digital currency yet to make progress

Facebook is set to launch Libra next year. Photo: Reuters

Facebook’s plans to launch a cryptocurrency could usher in a new type of “currency competition” and force China to rethink how it deals with the realities of the digital world, analysts said.

In the past, Beijing has cracked down on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, viewing them as a threat to financial stability, and has tried, with little success, to develop a “sovereign” digital currency of its own.

Facebook’s Libra, which is expected to be launched next year, raises a tough question for Beijing as it may have greater implications for global currencies, payments and financial systems than traditional currencies.

That is because it will be pegged to a basket of convertible currencies – so it could serve as a stable online currency – while its payments will be endorsed by Visa and Mastercard meaning it can be used for a range of online services. Also, Facebook has more than 2 billion users.

In recent years, Beijing has cracked down on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, viewing them as a threat to financial stability. Photo: Reuters

In recent years, Beijing has cracked down on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, viewing them as a threat to financial stability. Photo: Reuters

Also, its aim to make payments easier could undermine Beijing’s efforts to curb capital outflows, while its potential to become a global currency could bring uncertainty to China’s use of the yuan as an economic and policy tool, analysts said.

Wei-Tek Tsai, chief scientist at Tiande Technologies, a Chinese blockchain firm, said the planned launch of Libra heralded a new type of currency competition and the first related to digital currency.

That is because as a stablecoin – a cryptocurrency that holds a stable value – Libra will not be working against fiat currencies, which is state-issued money like the US dollar and the Japanese yuan, but as a supplement to promote their use.

“In the past, the usual practice was devaluing the fiat currency to stimulate exports. When countries begin to competitively depreciate their domestic currencies, global currency wars and exchange rate wars break out. This is old-style currency competition,” Tsai said.

In the new currency competition, they can also use stablecoins to enter other markets, and control trading information. The characteristics of the new competition are: fast circulation, 24/7 and no SwiftWei-Tek Tsai

“In the new currency competition, they can also use stablecoins to enter other markets, and control trading information. The characteristics of the new competition are: fast circulation, 24/7 and no Swift [financial messaging for cross-border payments].”
Facebook has not disclosed the composition of the currency basket that supports Libra, but said it has been “diversified by selecting multiple governments, rather than just one”, to reduce the likelihood of excessive fluctuations.
Jerome Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, said on Wednesday that Facebook had been in contact during the development of Libra and he had high expectations for it on “safety and soundness”.

“Libra will support the dollar, as a supplement to the fiat dollar,” Tsai said. “Some people may think it’s just a US company launching a stablecoin, not a fiat currency, and this company cannot operate in China, so Libra is not important. Is it? Now that the government and central banks from the US and Europe are all in on this, even though they may disagree on their positions. It has become a national-level public debate. How could it not be significant?”

China’s central bank did not respond publicly to Facebook’s white paper announcing its plans to launch Libra last week.

But debate on the new cryptocurrency is heating up. According to a report by Thepaper.cn, Pony Ma, the founder of Chinese technology giant Tencent, was quoted as saying that the technologies behind it were “not difficult” but the key issue was whether it would receive regulatory blessings.

Wang Xing, the co-founder of app developer Meituan, said Libra was a “genius” design and that he expected it to gradually replace sovereign currencies of “weak countries”, according to a report by industry news website Odaily.

China International Capital Corp, a leading brokerage firm, published a report last week saying the launch of Libra “could challenge the existing global payment system”.

An adviser to The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), who asked not to be identified, said Beijing used to think stablecoins were unrelated, or at least insignificant, to fiat currencies but was beginning to realise the world had changed.

That is partly because of the fact that while a number of blockchain-based stable cryptocurrencies have been launched recently, none are linked to the yuan.

Earlier this month, industry news website CoinDesk said that 14 banks had funded the development of stablecoins to ease financial transactions in five fiat currencies: the US and Canadian dollars, British pound, Japanese yen and the euro. Earlier in the year, JP Morgan said it had created a US dollar-backed cryptocurrency for payments between its institutional clients.

Another problem for Beijing is that Facebook and other global social media platforms, like Instagram and WhatsApp, are blocked in China.

China has had a blanket ban on all cryptocurrencies and related funding channels since late 2017, though had earlier promoted the technology.

Industry news website CoinDesk said 14 banks have funded the development of stablecoins to ease financial transactions in fiat currencies. Photo: Reuters

Industry news website CoinDesk said 14 banks have funded the development of stablecoins to ease financial transactions in fiat currencies. Photo: Reuters

The PBOC has been studying the creation of a sovereign digital currency since 2014 and established a research institute dedicated to the subject in 2017. Other central banks appear to have had a similar change of heart.

The US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have no plans to launch digital currencies, while the Bank of England dropped its plans last year in favour of allowing technology companies to set up accounts with it like commercial banks, the Financial Times reported.

Garrick Hileman, head of research at cryptocurrency company Blockchain and research associate at the London School of Economics, said a major reason for many central banks not moving forward with digital currencies was the financial risk.

In theory, issuing a state-backed cryptocurrency allows individuals to open an account at the central bank, an option usually open only to commercial banks. That would mean that in times of crisis, people could move their funds from local banks to the central bank, causing a run on commercial banks and increasing financial instability.

“So I am a bit sceptical, at least in the short term, that any major countries would make a central bank digital currency available to every citizen. I would be very surprised to see that,” Hileman said.

By Sidney Leng  

Full link: https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3015703/reject-or-embrace-how-will-beijing-react-facebooks-libra?utm_medium=email&utm_source=mailchimp&utm_campaign=enlz-scmp_international&utm_content=20190623&MCUID=6af992dbf1&MCCampaignID=7b5a100863&MCAccountID=3775521f5f542047246d9c827&tc=3

Collection – Southeast Asia’s trash, Japan Inc.’s power-generating treasure

Public-private deals put waste to use in Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia

TOKYO — Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia are emerging as fertile markets for waste-to-power plants, and Japan hopes to use its expertise in the field to capitalize on the opportunity.

The Japanese government is forming public-private partnerships to boost exports of the plants to the region. Partners include the Osaka city office and other municipalities as well as Hitachi Zosen and JFE Engineering.

The partners will also provide buyers with collection, separation, recycling and waste-reduction solutions honed in Japan.

The Environment Ministry plans to designate some 10 communities in Southeast Asia as waste-to-energy models by fiscal 2023.

The seas around Southeast Asia are littered with plastic and other refuse, choking marine life and harming ecosystems.

In Japan, which has been wrestling with waste problems since its economy started booming in the 1960s, companies have developed trash-incinerating power plants that can help reduce air pollution.

According to the ministry, Japan has some 380 waste-to-energy plants, accounting for more than 30% of the country’s refuse incineration facilities. Their number has increased more than 20% over the past decade, contributing to the accumulation of operational know-how.

In Southeast Asia, waste-to-power plants have been introduced on a trial basis in countries such as Singapore and Thailand. There are 10 or so across the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The technology is being held back in the region due to high costs. Nevertheless it has been drawing strong attention lately as Southeast Asia’s economic boom brings with it uninvited environmental ills.

The International Finance Corp., a member of the World Bank Group, forecasts that the global market for these plants will expand to $80 billion in 2022 from $7.4 billion in 2013. While China is aggressively marketing its waste-to-energy technology, Japan is offering combination packages that include waste disposal systems, personnel training as well as recycling and other services.

Hitachi Zosen, JFE Engineering, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other Japanese exporters are expected to join consortia to bid for plant orders in Southeast Asia.

The ministry has set aside 2 billion yen ($18.49 million) in its fiscal 2019 budget to support field surveys and other pre-bid activities. It plans to subsidize half of all initial expenses through the Joint Credibility Mechanism.

The mechanism is meant to foster cooperation in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by allowing Japan and a recipient country to share the emissions-offset credits.

The public-private program is also aimed at deepening Japan’s relations with other countries by providing them with easier-on-the-environment technologies. Japan is expected to tout the program as an effort to cope with plastic waste at the Group of 20 summit at the end of this month in Osaka.

As Southeast Asia sorts through more and more plastic waste, it is running out of dumps and landfills to put it all. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

Through the program, Japan will try to match recipient countries’ needs with its exports. For the Philippines — which suffers from fires, foul odors and other social problems as trash piles up because of a lack of landfill sites — Japan will offer waste management technology to prevent emissions of dioxin and other harmful substances.

The ministry will join hands with the municipal governments of Kitakyushu, Yokohama and Osaka to propose a system that incorporates the three cities’ collection, separation and other waste management expertise. It hopes to win orders mainly from the Philippine cities of Davao, Quezon and Cebu.

Companies such as Nippon Steel Engineering are already doing preliminary studies and are expected to take part in the bidding.

Vietnam is contending with serious groundwater contamination. Japan’s Environment Ministry plans to work with Hitachi Zosen, which has experience with similar situations elsewhere in Southeast Asia. The public and private sector partners intend to come up with a proposal to develop water and sewage systems. The ministry plans to use Hanoi as a model city for the initiative.

Indonesia has a similar problem — more waste than it can bury. As a result, plastic waste and toxins are flowing into the ocean. Japan’s Environment Ministry is already surveying the total amount and kinds of waste in the country, in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

In West Java, the ministry will support a consortium’s proposal for an urban waste-management project for which bidding is to take place by the end of this year.

The ministry hopes a successful bid will pave the way for more orders. The Indonesian government is promoting similar projects in 12 areas.

By Nikkei staff writers

Full link: https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Environment/Southeast-Asia-s-trash-Japan-Inc.-s-power-generating-treasure?utm_campaign=RN%20Free%20newsletter&utm_medium=JP%20update%20newsletter%20free&utm_source=NAR%20Newsletter&utm_content=article%20link

Landscape – The world has a simple request for Japan: don’t drop the ball at the Osaka G20 summit

Japan will host the G20 summit over 28–29 June at the most challenging time in the G20’s history. This may seem like a bold statement. After all, the G20 faced the prospect of another great depression back in 2008 and we are certainly not in the middle of a great recession today. Although today’s economic risks and challenges are substantial — a trading system in crisis, slowing global growth, rising financial risks, growing geopolitical tensions, the probability of a US recession, to name a few — they are not at 2008 levels. At least not yet.

Headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva, Switzerland (Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse).

The biggest concern is politics. The political environment for managing growing economic risks is toxic. Since 2008, the United States has switched from promoting multilateralism, cooperation, global rules and global institutions to undermining them. Many G20 countries are political shadows of their former selves. The domestic political strength of the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, South Africa, Argentina and many others has been replaced with a deep grassroots backlash against globalisation and global cooperation.

The concern is not that a fire could break out, it is that the fire department is nowhere to be seen. The world desperately needs to mobilise the G20 to deal with the big risks and challenges facing the world economy. As Shiro Armstrong notes, ‘the G20 has been less effective during “peace” times but make no mistake, the global trading system is now in crisis’. Luckily, Argentina’s 2018 G20 host year has given leaders an opening to do just that.

Through the commitment from leaders last year, Argentina’s host year has provided the opportunity to bring the World Trade Organization up to date. Delivering an outcome on WTO reform will not only address the most pressing challenge facing the world economy today, it will also reinvigorate the G20 and show that the forum is still capable of delivering substantive outcomes. Achieving this will require ambition and an effective strategy.

But is Japan up to the task?

G20 countries, particularly Japan, need to come to grips with their national interest in a strong G20. Few G20 countries do well in bilateral deals with the superpowers, including the superpowers themselves. This means all G20 countries have a strong national interest in multilateralism. These countries do best when the world comes together to agree collectively on the rules for trade, investment, finance, people-to-people links and dispute resolution and therefore have a paramount self-interest in a strong, effective G20.

Recognising collective self-interest in the G20 means that countries form the coalition needed to nudge the reform of the WTO forward, updating global trading rules.

Coalitions have already started to form. Indonesia has emerged as a global leader in the G20 this year in pushing for substantive WTO reform. Indonesia is joined by Australia and other countries in the region who are similarly eager to see progress on WTO reform, giving Japan both the incentive and the means to deliver substantive outcomes next weekend.

But will Japan take the easy way out? Rather than pushing for ambitious outcomes on trade at the G20, is it more likely to stick with its low-target strategy of placating the United States and avoiding anything that may cause Trump discomfort in the flimsy hope that the United States will not put tariffs on Japan’s automobile industry.

This would be a mistake. Japan, perhaps more than any other G20 country, has multilateralism and an open trading system in its DNA, with strong national interests to protect both. Prime Minister Abe’s ‘charm offensive’ against Trump — gold plated golf clubs, meetings with the new Emperor, front-row tickets to the sumo wrestling — is a strategy which relies on an inherently unpredictable US president. Indian Prime Minister Modi pursued a similar strategy and indeed, President Trump had plenty of nice things to say about him too, including right before he increased tariffs on 2,000 Indian exports to the United States. Modi has since retaliated. So much for the charm offensive.

A low-ambition strategy from Japan at the summit means acceptance of the notion that the best hope is a bilateral deal between China and the US which will divert trade from Australia and other Asian economies and move us to a world of managed trade. It will move us away from freer markets, will sideline the WTO and weaken some of its core functions that hold global trade together. A bilateral deal between the US and China, Armstrong warns, is ‘anathema to Australian and Asian interests’.

Worse still, a low ambition strategy from Japan will miss a crucial opportunity. It is an opportunity to put the brakes on the world’s dangerous slide towards unilateralism, protectionism and conflict. The forecast negative GDP impacts of the US–China trade war are significant but fail to grasp the even more important long-term damage being done to the rules, confidence and predictability that businesses and households rely on for cross-border investment, trade, finance and commerce. As Fukunari Kimura asserts, ‘a new trading “regime” that will be dominated by power politics’ is just over the horizon. The damage on global incomes and productivity will be felt for decades to come.

The wave of anti-globalisation sentiment sweeping across the world threatens the very core of the G20’s existence. The cause of this sentiment is deep, structural inadequacies of domestic policy frameworks and safety nets. This threatens the pillars on which prosperity and security have been built: trade, investment, the movement of people and multilateral cooperation.

Delivering substantive results at the G20 in Osaka through setting the strategic direction for reforming the WTO and global trading rules will defuse trade tensions. It will remind the world of the importance of cooperation and the value that can be delivered when countries work together in pursuit of their common national interests. The opportunity is Japan’s to make a real difference. Its simple job is to not drop the ball.

And on China

Today we launch our next issue of East Asia Forum Quarterly (EAFQ) on ‘Chinese Realities’.

The global debate on China is becoming more polarised. Is the Chinese economy robust or on the brink of collapse? Does the concentration of power in the hands of President Xi reflect a weaker or more confident China? Will the trade war set China’s reform backwards? Is the Belt and Road Initiative a platform for improving global infrastructure or a strategy to make developing countries more dependent on China? And is Beijing succeeding in its overseas influence campaign or has China’s global influence diminished in the face of a backlash?

Simple binaries such as these can obscure the messy reality of China and its place in the world. In this special issue of EAFQ, experts from within and outside China force us to confront the complicated, evolving and often contradictory forces shaping Chinese society, politics, economics and global affairs.

In our double feature lead this week, Cai Fang argues that ‘what has happened in trade relations between the [United States and China] is not going to alter the course of Chinese policymakers, and there is no reason to expect a holding back or reversal of China’s reform agenda’.

The Asian Review feature explores the links between Korean pop scandals and chauvinist culture; the birth of a new era in Japan; and India’s ambitions for a multipolar world.

Author: Editorial Board

Full link: https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2019/06/24/the-world-has-a-simple-request-for-japan-dont-drop-the-ball-at-the-osaka-g20-summit/