Philippine President Duterte Bestows National Honor on ADB President Nakao
President of the Philippines Mr. Rodrigo Duterte awarded outgoing Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Mr. Takehiko Nakao the Order of Sikatuna, the Philippines’ highest civilian recognition, with the rank of Grand Cross, or Datu, Gold distinction, at Malacañan Palace today.
“At the helm of the ADB, Mr. Nakao has proven to be a true partner of the government in its pursuit of sweeping reforms and ambitious development programs to bring about President Duterte’s goal of liberating Filipinos from poverty and transforming the Philippines into an upper-middle-income economy on his watch,” said Philippine Finance Secretary and ADB Governor Mr. Carlos G. Dominguez. “Under Mr. Nakao’s leadership, the ADB has demonstrated its full confidence in the Duterte presidency’s capability to carry out a comprehensive development strategy for rapid and inclusive growth by raising its lending commitment to the Philippines for programs geared toward closing the country’s infrastructure gap, enhancing the local business climate, promoting countryside development, and achieving lasting peace in Mindanao.”
The Order of Sikatuna was established in 1953 by former President of the Philippines Mr. Elpidio Quirino as the country’s national order of diplomatic merit. It is given to individuals who have rendered exceptional services to the Philippines in developing and strengthening relations with the country.
“I receive this award with my deepest gratitude to President Duterte, Secretary Dominguez, the Government of the Philippines, and its people,” said Mr. Nakao. “As our host country since ADB’s establishment in 1966, the government’s support of ADB over the years has been essential to the success of our operations throughout Asia and the Pacific. ADB has been a strong development partner of the Philippines since the country became a founding member, with our support considerably expanding in the last three years.”
Mr. Nakao also mentioned the highly successful 2018 ADB Annual Meeting hosted by the Government of the Philippines. “For the event, I worked closely with Secretary Dominguez, who served as Chairman of ADB’s Board of Governors. I benefited from the valuable advice from the Secretary about how to make the Annual Meeting more focused and efficient,” he said.
Mr. Nakao assumed office as ADB President on 28 April 2013. Under his leadership, ADB operations in the Philippines have grown significantly. ADB has been supporting the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program and the 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda including rural development and investment in human capital. ADB’s sovereign lending to the Philippines reached a record high of $2.5 billion in 2019, building on $1.4 billion in 2018, compared with an annual average lending commitment of about $800 million in previous years. ADB has also provided knowledge support to the government on its tax reform initiative and K-to-12 extention of school years up to senior high school (from 10 years).
In 2019, about half of ADB’s assistance financed the first phase of the Malolos–Clark Railway Project, one of the government’s major infrastructure investments under BBB. ADB’s support for the project, which is expected to be partially operational in 2022, will total $2.75 billion, making it ADB’s largest project financing in Asia to date. Construction work is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2020.
The new Philippines Country Partnership Strategy for 2018–2022, designed under Mr. Nakao’s leadership, paves the way for providing considerably larger assistance to the country. ADB’s planned assistance through 2022 includes a significant number of major infrastructure projects, such as railways, bridges, flood risk management, and irrigation. In addition, ADB will support the government’s Bangsamoro peace process through lending and technical assistance. ADB will also support policy reforms to improve the country’s investment climate, public financial management, and local economic development.
Mr. Nakao will step down as ADB President on 16 January. He will be succeeded on 17 January by Mr. Masatsugu Asakawa, Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs of Japan until July 2019.
Japanese Nintendo Folds Up Games Sales in Russia
Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade has expanded its list of goods for parallel importation, including some foreign toy brands such as Hasbro, Logitech and Nintendo that were not previously included.
According to the official media release which says “Import stimulus is aimed at those niches in which Russian producers need more time to meet the needs of industrial enterprises and end consumers.” Going forward, the ministry plans to move from inclusion of brands in the list to inclusion of copyright holders, which will simplify the administration of this procedure.
But late April, Nintendo also said it would no longer sell games in Russia through its online store as the Japanese giant winds down operations in the increasingly isolated country. The changes, which were announced and came into effect on April 31, follow Nintendo’s suspension of product shipments to Russia in March 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian customers can still re-download previously purchased content but no new payments can be made or new accounts created, a Nintendo statement said. Following the shipment suspension and “as a result of the economic outlook, Nintendo of Europe has decided to wind down operations of its Russian subsidiary,” it said.
“Payment information tied to Nintendo accounts, such as credit card or PayPal account details, has been deleted for security reasons,” according the to company. Nintendo’s eShop was already “under maintenance” in Russia because its payment provider had stopped ruble transactions.
A growing number of multinationals have fully or partially halted business in Russia since the Ukraine war began. Some have cited disruption to business, while others have directly linked the move to outrage over President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine in February last year.
Nintendo’s rival Sony suspended software and hardware shipments to Russia and operations of the PlayStation Store there in March 2022. “Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) joins the global community in calling for peace in Ukraine,” the company tweeted.
It suspends all the deliveries to Russia, operations of the official online store and the release of Gran Turismo 7 simulator for the Russian market, Sony added. The decision was made in view of disruptions of the chain of supplies and payment problems because of sanctions introduced against Russia after the start of the military operation in Ukraine.
Nintendo is a Japanese multinational video game company headquartered in Kyoto. It’s central focus is the research, development, production, and distribution of entertainment products – primarily video game software and hardware and card games.
Like many other electronics companies, Nintendo offers a recycling program for customers to mail in unused products. As of 2022, Nintendo has sold more than 5.4 billion video games and over 800 million hardware units.
During the peak of Nintendo’s success in the video game industry in the 1990s, its name was ubiquitously used to refer to any video game console, regardless of the manufacturer. It is one of the wealthiest and most valuable companies in the Japanese market, with business affiliates in the United States and Europe. It was founded in 1889 as Nintendo Karuta.
U.S. seeks to add India in NATO plus
There was a message received a few days ago: “In a significant development ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States, a powerful Congressional ‘Committee has recommended strengthening NATO Plus by including India.
NATO Plus, currently NATO Plus 5, is a security arrangement that brings together NATO and five aligned nations — Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and South Korea – to boost global defence cooperation. Bringing India on board would facilitate ‘seamless intelligence sharing between these countries and India would access the latest military technology without much of a time lag.
The House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), led by Chairman Mike Gallagher and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi, overwhelmingly adopted a policy proposal to enhance Taiwan’s deterrence, including through strengthening NATO Plus to include India.
“Winning the strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party and ensuring the security of Taiwan demands the United States strengthen ties to our allies and security partners, including India. Including India in NATO Plus security arrangements ‘would build upon the US and India’s close partnership to strengthen global security and deter the aggression of the CCP across the Indo-Pacific region,” the Select Committee recommended.”
The news is commented by M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer:
“Indian lobbyists daydreaming about a military alliance with the United States are excited over the breaking news that the US House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the US has adopted a policy proposal to enhance the deterrence of Taiwan, which inter alia included strengthening of NATO Plus by the inclusion of India. Indeed, NATO Plus is a privileged group under the alliance umbrella comprising AUKUS members, plus Japan.
The breaking news on the Hill may have something to do with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming State Visit to the US — call it kite-flying or pressure tactic (or both). More likely, it undercuts India’s newfound enthusiasm for leading the Global South at world forums, which is posing headaches for Washington.
What has India got to do with ‘deterrence of Taiwan’, an entity we don’t even recognise?
Where’s the beef in NATO Plus which has neither an Article 5 nor can be an asset for Modi’s vision? Perhaps, the United Kingdom’s experience as the US’ closest ally provides some clues. Considering the word limit, let me quote just a few lines from a UK House of Commons Committee report dated March with recommendations to the Rishi Sunak government:
“The UK-US relationship in defence, security and intelligence is strong and enduring. Our Armed Forces have fought alongside in many campaigns post-1945 and continue to work together on development of both equipment and doctrine. Both countries benefit from the relationship: the UK benefits from US resources and economies of scale; the US from British niche capabilities, the UK’s global reach and its willingness to defend its values. However, defence industrial co-operation is often limited as a result of US defence export controls. Any failure to consult Allies before taking action can also have negative consequences, as was demonstrated by the Afghanistan withdrawal. Nevertheless, the joint approach in response to Russian actions in February 2022 demonstrates the value of the UK-US relationship.”
The analogy is patently insufficient since the UK lives and survives as world power thanks to the US, which is not the case with India.
Nonetheless, realism is needed. There is nothing like a free lunch in the US way of life and ‘interoperability’ within any NATO format will inevitably translate as living off US military hardware and dittoing US global strategy. Europe has learnt the bitter truth that nothing grows under a banyan tree. European defence remains a chimera, occasional captivating speeches by Emmanuel Macron notwithstanding.
Conceivably, the House Select Committee is a doormat for the US arms manufacturers. The paradox is, this move comes only a fortnight after the Indian Navy successfully test-fired the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from its frontline stealth guided-missile destroyer INS Mormugao — that is, within 18 weeks of BrahMos air version being successfully test fired from the supersonic fighter aircraft Sukhoi 30 MK-I and within 15 weeks of India sealing a $375 million deal with the Philippines for supplying three batteries of BrahMos missile in what is by far the single most prestigious export order India’s defence industry ever secured.
NATO Plus will mean sudden death for India-Russia defence cooperation, notes M.K. Bhadrakumar.
South Africa, President Putin and the ICC
South Africa will grant diplomatic immunity to all international officials attending the BRICS summit in August, a move that will allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to avoid arrest.
South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor issued a gazette notice extending its Diplomatic Immunity and Privileges Act to the summit delegates.
“In accordance with the powers vested in me by Section 6(2) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 2001, I hereby recognise the BRICS ministerial meetings to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 1 to 2 June 2023 and the 15th BRICS summit to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 22 to 24 August for the purpose of granting the immunities and privileges provided for in section 6(1) of the said Act as set out in the attached notice,” the gazette reads.
South Africa, which has close ties with Russia, has faced a diplomatic dilemma since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Putin in March over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
A signatory to the ICC, Pretoria is obliged to arrest Putin if he lands in South Africa.
Clayson Monyela, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson, defended the move, saying such notices are issued every time there is an international meeting in the country.
The government notice, released on Monday, followed Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s announcement that he would meet with the inter-ministerial committee tasked with seeking solutions concerning South Africa’s options for Putin’s visit.
“This is a standard conferment of immunities that we do for all international conferences and summits held in South Africa irrespective of the level of participation,” said the department.
“The immunities are for the conference and not for specific individuals. They are meant to protect the conference and its attendees from the jurisdiction of the host country for the duration of the conference.
“These immunities do not override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any attendee of the conference,” added the ministry.
Initially, President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced that the ruling party had resolved that the country would quit ICC before backtracking hours later citing a “communication error”.
South Africa, which has strong economic and trade relations with the US and Europe, has been walking a diplomatic tightrope over the Ukraine conflict, choosing to maintain a neutral stance on the Russia/Ukraine conflict.
The International Relations Department said it is also looking at a legal opinion on handling the ICC’s arrest warrant.
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