Don't revise Japan's Constitution, religion in Canada, South Korea's response to Japan, Putin's popularity, hate crimes against Muslims

This week's round-up of global commentary includes discussion about Japan revising its Constitution, bias against Canadian Muslims, partnership between South Korea and Japan, explaining Putin's high ratings, and Western media coverage of violence against Muslims.

This file image taken from an online video released by the Islamic State group's al-Furqan media arm on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, purports to show the group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages that the militants identify as Kenji Goto Jogo, left, and Haruna Yukawa, right, unless a $200 million ransom is paid within 72 hours. A second video, released Saturday, claims that the militant group has executed Mr. Yukawa.

The Japan Times / Tokyo
Terrorism no reason to revise Japan’s Constitution
“In Japan, fears have been stoked by the executions of Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto...,” writes Christopher Hobson, assistant professor of political science at Waseda University in Tokyo. “The sorry fates of Yukawa and Goto made the barbarity of Islamic State much more immediately relevant for Japanese.... Yukawa and Goto were abducted while traveling in a warzone where the risk of being kidnapped was very real and well known.... The history of the U.S. and other Western democracies after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 has been a depressing tale: a massive over-reaction to a very limited threat.... Considering how the threat of terrorism has repeatedly been used by politicians to justify extending state powers, we should be very wary of attempts to link the tragic outcomes of Yukawa and Goto to constitutional revision.”

The Globe and Mail / Toronto
Religious freedom is as Canadian as hockey
“Judge Eliana Marengo refused to begin a proceeding involving a Muslim woman because she was wearing a hijab, which covers the head but not the face," states an editorial. "The Court of Quebec judge ... cited courtroom dress codes in refusing to hear Rania El-Alloul.... The case has received so much notice because it is so out of the ordinary. That’s the good news.... The rights of Canadians in such matters are well established, and well known.... [T]he incident is of a piece with a troubling trend.... Canada’s constitution, laws and long-standing practices have made our country an island of freedom – including freedom of religion and conscience. But of late, whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment has become a go-to political tactic for at least some politicians.”

Korea Joongang Daily / Seoul, South Korea
South Korea’s hard line on Japan
“President Park Geun-hye expressed hope for a forward looking partnership between South Korea and Japan," states an editorial. She asked for enlightenment in Japan’s perspective on its past aggressions to open a new chapter in bilateral relations as the country celebrates the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule and the 50th anniversary of diplomatic normalization.... She reiterated the urgent need for Japan to sincerely apologize to the victims of sexual slavery by Japan’s military during World War II and implored Tokyo to stop distorting historical records in Japanese school textbooks.... [U]nless there is a change in Tokyo’s attitude on historical issues, the two countries cannot return to a normal relationship.”

The Moscow Times / Moscow
Why Putin always seems to have high ratings
“Why do the Russian authorities enjoy such unusually high ratings and why does that popular support remain strong despite deteriorating social and economic conditions at home?” writes Fyodor Krasheninnikov. “The system for controlling public opinion continues to operate flawlessly. The authorities use every form of mass media under their control to formulate the public agenda and the particular spin on each issue that best suits their purposes, and then makes a show of taking positions calculated to generate the widest possible voter approval – as surveys consistently confirm.... Their ratings will remain unusually high as long as resources remain to keep the current system of propaganda and coercion in good working order.”

The Daily Star / Beirut, Lebanon
Western media coverage of hate crimes against Muslims
“[A recent] arson attack on a Christian seminary in Jerusalem ... and a similar attack on a mosque the day before are hate crimes, committed by extremist individuals, and are representative of the systemic racism directed at Palestinians by the Israeli government and its policies.... Any attack against any religious building or structure deserves widespread condemnation," states an editorial. "And yet similar attacks against synagogues – deplorable acts of anti-Semitism – receive much more Western media attention than such acts against mosques.... [T]he everyday struggles of Palestinians are ignored by much of the world.”

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