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NTS Bulletin

NTS Bulletin April 2012

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NTS VIEWPOINT

NIMBY becoming the rule post-Fukushima?

A year after the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, managing Japan’s energy policies continues to be an uphill task. NIMBY (not in my backyard) dominates domestic opinions on nuclear energy, even as the country grapples with an ailing economy and rising energy-import bills. It is not surprising, then, that Japan’s progress on revising its nuclear energy structures and plans (let alone implementing them) has been slow.

Several interlinked factors contribute to the difficulties in energy-policy formulation post-Fukushima. At the domestic level, anti-nuclear sentiments continue to gain ground. The number of mass protests and calls for local referendums to shut down nuclear power plants has increased. In response to the perceived lack of transparency from top-down information sources, ground-up alternatives have come into existence, further strengthening the anti-nuclear lobby. These voices call for the diversification of Japan’s energy mix.

However, developments at the international level have hampered the country’s ability to fully meet the demands of those who want the country to cease using nuclear energy. The price of imported energy, required by the country to meet the shortfall of energy caused by the decommissioning of its nuclear power plants, has been rising. The price of a key import, liquefied natural gas (LNG), increased sharply in the second half of 2011. The hike in energy prices has placed additional stress on Japan’s already ailing economy. With the Japanese Yen expected to depreciate further in the months to come, the problem seems set to worsen.

In the face of calls to abandon nuclear energy in the country, it may seem ironic that one of the lifelines for Japan’s economy is the development of nuclear energy elsewhere. The demand for Japanese nuclear technology and training from countries keen to develop their own nuclear energy facilities (such as Vietnam, Russia and Indonesia) is a small but important source of income for Japan. Thus, while the anti-nuclear lobby has the upper hand in Japan, anti-nuclear groups in the wider East Asian region are likely to face greater challenges.

Contributed by Sofiah Jamil.

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CLIMATE CHANGE, ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY AND NATURAL DISASTERS

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This report presents the latest projections of socioeconomic trends over the next four decades, and their implications in terms of climate change, biodiversity, water and the health impacts of environmental pollution. Based on a joint modelling effort by the OECD and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), the report looks to ascertain the demographic and economic implications for the environment if more ambitious polices to manage natural assets sustainably fail to be introduced.

This paper outlines the key green-economy issues that will be discussed at the Rio+20 using the following categories: principles of a green economy, policy tools for the transition towards green economies, and international cooperation. The analysis is based on current trends seen in discussions on the green economy as identified from the Zero Draft published in January 2012 and the views and opinions expressed by the G20 countries during the Rio+20 process meetings.

This document, based on a literature review and a survey of forest managers, finds that, worldwide, a number of forest managers have already implemented interesting strategies. Unfortunately, there is a lack of proper monitoring systems to assess the measures’ effectiveness and their social and environmental impacts. Another noteworthy finding is that the impetus for designing strategies to address climate change tends to be perceived risk of climate change impacts rather than incentive schemes.

Events & Announcements

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ENERGY AND HUMAN SECURITY

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This article examines the development of nuclear energy in East Asia. While rapid economic growth in the region has spurred the need for energy diversification, nuclear proliferation and environmental risks have been major concerns. The paper suggests that regional cooperation in nuclear fuel cycle management is helpful in addressing these threats. The paper discusses four scenarios in relation to nuclear fuel cycle management.

This report focuses on the nexus of economic development, resource use and climate change in the Asia-Pacific. It examines resource consumption trends and governance challenges with regard to sustainable development. It then outlines strategies to promote resilience in societies and economies in the region.

Events & Announcements

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FOOD AND HEALTH SECURITY

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This report focuses on the policy measures required to address poverty and food insecurity after the Arab Awakening. Given the report’s findings that the situation in the region is worse than official figures indicate, a new welfare measure identifying five risk groups is introduced. The report recommends three key policy measures and argues that cohesive economic development strategies need to be designed and implemented.

The lack of transparency in Southeast Asia’s rice sector leads to participants in regional markets acting with limited information. This opacity has significant effects on rice price formation, particularly during periods of price shocks and volatility. This policy brief identifies linkages between rice sector opacity and price volatility, and recommends four measures for improving transparency.

Events & Announcements

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INTERNAL AND CROSS-BORDER CONFLICT

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This article argues that the principle of Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) is relevant to Southeast Asia, given the high incidence of internal conflicts and the need for protection of civilians (POC) in the region. However, as a majority of countries in the region still hold reservations regarding, and suspicion towards, the RtoP, the inclusion of the principle into the broader POC approach is conducive to advancing it in the region.

This NTS Alert examines the implications of Myanmar’s recent reforms for its neighbours, China, India, Thailand and Bangladesh. The internal conflict in Myanmar has led to various non-traditional insecurities in these neighbouring countries. The recent moves towards democracy and national reconciliation in Myanmar are expected to help alleviate those insecurities.

Events & Announcements

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TRANSNATIONAL CRIME

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This is a comprehensive survey of global, regional and country consumption of alcohol, patterns of drinking, health consequences and policy responses. It represents a continuing effort by the WHO to support member states by collecting information that would help them in their efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, and address its health and social consequences. The report contains over 100 individual country profiles.

It is estimated that illegal logging generates approximately USD10–15 billion annually. This report argues that, by following the money trail, and using tools developed to go after ‘dirty money’, the justice system can pursue criminal organisations engaged in large-scale illegal logging and confiscate the ill-gotten gains. The report emphasises that, for such initiatives to be effective, law enforcement needs to look past low-level criminals, to where the large part of the profits from illegal logging go.

Events & Announcements

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You are free to publish this material in its entirety or only in part in your newspapers, wire services, internet-based information networks and newsletters and you may use the information in your radio-TV discussions or as a basis for discussion in different fora, provided full credit is given to the author(s) and the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). Kindly inform the publisher (NTS_Centre@ntu.edu.sg) and provide details of when and where the publication was used.

About the Centre:

The Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies was inaugurated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan in May 2008. The Centre maintains research in the fields of Food Security, Climate Change, Energy Security, Health Security as well as Internal and Cross-Border Conflict. It produces policy-relevant analyses aimed at furthering awareness and building capacity to address NTS issues and challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The Centre also provides a platform for scholars and policymakers within and outside Asia to discuss and analyse NTS issues in the region.

In 2009, the Centre was chosen by the MacArthur Foundation as a lead institution for the MacArthur Asia Security Initiative, to develop policy research capacity and recommend policies on the critical security challenges facing the Asia-Pacific.

The Centre is also a founding member and the Secretariat for the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies in Asia (NTS-Asia). More information on the Centre can be found at www.rsis.edu.sg/nts.


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