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Japan needs German courage, the EU doesn't need an army, responding to terrorism, rights for asylum seekers, why Boko Haram is spreading

This week's round-up of global commentary includes what Japan can learn from Germany about dealing with its history, why the European Union should only rely on NATO forces, a measured response to terrorism in London, a stand for asylum seekers in Israel, and how Africa's ungoverned spaces contributed to the spread of Boko Haram.

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    Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talk about the European Union flag at the start of their talks in Tokyo March 9.
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China Daily / Beijing
Japan’s prime minister needs German courage
“The Shinzo Abe administration is eager to elevate itself to the rank of Germany on the international stage and exploit [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel’s trip [to Japan] to doctor its ugly image on historical issues and obtain the kind of global respect Berlin enjoys," states an editorial. As the world prepares to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Merkel’s visit indeed presents Japan with a unique opportunity. But it is not for Tokyo to manipulate the trip for the purpose of gilding its own image, but to truly learn some historical lessons from Germany.... It is time for Tokyo politicians to recognize that glossing over Japan’s past atrocities and gutting its pacifist Constitution will never enable it to be viewed as a ‘normal country.’ ”

The Irish Times / Dublin, Ireland
European Union does not need its own army
EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker’s suggestion that the union needs its own army to strengthen its credibility on the world stage should be understood less in strategic terms than political. As political projects go, moreover, it has precious little chance of succeeding not least because of stout opposition from member states like the UK and most of the neutrals," states an editorial. In an interview with Die Welt [he argued] that the EU is ‘not taken seriously’ and that its own army would help convince Russia that the union is ‘serious about defending the values of the EU....’ Yet with 22 of the EU’s 28 member states already belonging to and relying on Nato to provide a collective defence shield,... Mr. Juncker will have difficulty demonstrating what [value] a European army could bring and finding a consensus for his project.”

The Guardian / London
Temper the hysterical response to terrorism
“The whole terrorism story is out of hand...,” writes Simon Jenkins. “Even if some of those who have gone to Syria return with evil intent, what can they do? They might set off a bomb or fire a gun. That is no threat to the security of the nation or menace to its values. What kind of values are so vulnerable?... The greatest threat to British values just now is from hysteria. It drives language to extremes. It encourages reckless responses and feeds the greed of the security industry. All sense of proportion vanishes as the politics of the scare grips every politician, every lobbyist, every media outlet.”

Haaretz / Tel Aviv
Asylum seekers deserve basic human rights, too
“[Israeli] Former Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar took pride at the end of his term in the increasing flow of asylum-seekers leaving the country last year, following implementation of the ‘voluntary departure’ program promoted by the Interior Ministry. But that ‘voluntary departure’ soon turned out to be a program that endangers the lives and liberty of the asylum-seekers," states an editorial. "A new report by human rights groups includes testimony of asylum-seekers who have been jailed and tortured on their return to Sudan in the framework of ‘voluntary departure....’ The State of Israel is committing a crime against these people, breaking international laws and moral principles.”

Al Jazeera America / New York
Africa’s radical groups exploit ungoverned places
Nigeria’s inability to project force outside certain regions has created a vacuum that has been filled by nonstate actors,” writes Abdullahi Boru Halakhe. “Boko Haram controls the northeastern part of the country, effectively hampering the delivery of services there.... The concept of Africa’s ungoverned space has gained traction in the post-9/11 era. As a result, Western powers have increased their footprints in Africa, making the continent more militarized than at any other time since the end of the Cold War.... The northern regions in Kenya and Nigeria have been undergoverned for decades, left to their own devices as long as they do not threaten their respective countries’ sovereignty.... The armed insurgency in Africa is not the cause but rather a symptom of deficits in governance.”

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