Peaceful Japan


View of Wagakuni-san from Sainen-ji, Inada, Kasama City, Ibaraki. The 12th Century monk Shinran Shonin lived here for 20 years and wrote that the mountain reminded him of Mt. Hiei back in Kyoto where he first studied Buddhism. Wagakuni means "our country" - the expression is reserved for Japanese referring to Japan. (click picture to enlarge)

Japan has been ranked as the 5th "most peaceful" country on the 2008 Global Peace Index for the second year in a row. Number one was Iceland. The USA ranked 97th, China 67th. Japan was the only G8* country to make the top ten.

Top Ten on the Global Peace Index

The GPI was founded by Steve Killelea, an Australian IT entrepreneur. The 140 countries examined the 2008 rankings were rated by a panel of experts based on 24 factors, such as a country's relations with its neighbors, percent of its budget that is spent on the military, internal or external wars, violent crime rate, respect for human rights, prison population, and so on. For a full description of the methodology visit the website: Global Peace Index.

Here are the bottom 10:

Of course, these rankings are just relative comparisons between countries. I think we can all agree that every country has a lot of room for improvement to make the world a peaceful place where people can focus on higher, more meaningful and beneficial pursuits than violence and war. While the GPI gives us a yardstick to see how we're doing, it's up to all of us to find ways to bring about a more peaceful world.

*The G8 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which together represent about 2/3 of the world's economy, most of the military spending and nuclear arsenals.


The Moody Minstrel said...

Interesting how the top ten is overwhelmingly dominated by Europe whereas the bottom ten is 40% Africa and 50% Asia (60% if you include Russia).

No sign of the Americas anywhere.

What does all of this tell you?

nzm said...

A TV report on Australian news the other night reported that the Dalai Lama was thinking of moving to Iceland because of this result.

I'd like to see him in the dead of winter out in just his robes!

We're going to Iceland in August - I'll let you know if it's as peaceful as they reckon!

nzm said...

Moody: another comment that I saw on this the other day picked out that all the peaceful countries also had damn cold winters and snow - with the exception of NZ and Portugal which generally only have snow on the highest mountains!

As well as democratic voting systems (in environments where that can work) and no sparring religious factions. Isn't it nice to see Ireland in there?

Don Snabulus said...

The US ought to be down there with Iraq and Afghanistan given that we were the cause of their ranking.

No sign of the Americas anywhere.

It tells me that the US-caused drug war keeps the rest of the Americas from being peaceful (as well as the remnants of our meddling during the 80s).

Being a superpower under the control of the military industrial complex will do that.

Pandabonium said...

Moody - there is an interesting graphic on the linked page illustrating your point. It is a map of the world, color coded by country with the rankings.

Canada did come in 11th and Chile, Argentina and Uruguay also were in the upper end of the rankings, but otherwise the Americas showed poorly.

NZM - I wonder if he would get a "warm" welcome? Have a great trip. Will you see Yoko Ono's Peace Tower?

As for the common denominator among countries, I think it is fish. Lutefisk anyone?

Snabby - while the US State Dept. has tried to spin this as due to them spreading democracy throughout the world (cough), much of the trouble in other countries is due to past and present operations of the US government and corporations.

As for the US not being neared to the bottom, remember that the GPI is based on many variables, both internal and external. But stay tuned - the Cheney/Bush Junta is still working on it!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Why is Australia at 27th? I thought it would be in the top ten, but maybe it's because of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and kissing the boots of USA perhaps. Things are changing a little bit now with a change in government.

Pandabonium said...

Wendy - in addition to international aspects, domestic issues are taken into consideration. Australia has one of the highest rates for violent crime, perhaps that had something to do with it coming in at 27.

bonnie said...

I noticed the same thing as Don S. I think there should've been some sort of extra credit given to ol' Number 97 for having such a role in so many of the bottom 10. Ugh.

Congrats to Japan.

Happysurfer said...

Portugal brings back an ex-colleagues's experience. While on a trip to Porto, he unintentionally left a piece of luggage by the roadside and when he went back later, it was still there. That was more than a decade ago though.

A friend in Auckland, NZ, was not so lucky. Her husband who was working in the garden in front, had her house ransacked by burglars who went in from the back. This was about two years ago. I heard that crime rate is on the rise in NZ.

Swinebread said...

What happened to Sweden.... must be all the tension between the immigrants and the locals I guess

Pandabonium said...

Bonnie - yes indeed. (That reminds me of the railroad song "Wreck of the old 97").

I hope Japan can keep it up but the LDP is anxious to get a seat on the UN Security Council so they want to send the "Self Defense Force" to Afghanistan, Sudan, etc. - in a non-combat role of course. Not good IMO.

Happysurfer - interesting anecdotes. I've read NZ has had an increase of robbery recently, but still has a relatively low crime rate overall.

Swinebread - Sweden was 7th last year and 13th this year. It's score is actually about the same, it was nudged down a bit only because some other countries improved their scores.