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.
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.