The Japanese are fighting over their country's status as a pacifist country

GlobalPost
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech during at the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture on March 22, 2015.

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NEED TO KNOW:

A xenophobic Hungarian government didn't want thousands of refugees passing through its country on their way to Germany and other more prosperous European locales. So it closed off its borders, built a razor wire fence and posted riot police.

Thousands of refugees, mostly fleeing the Syrian conflict, found themselves stranded in Serbia. They quickly rerouted to Croatia, where they could make their way north to Slovenia, then Austria and then Germany, where refugees have a better chance of applying and receiving asylum.

After a couple days of that, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said today that his nation had become "overwhelmed" and — wait for it — would be redirecting them toward Hungary. Eh? Had the good prime minister heard the news coming from Hungary? Many refugees now have nowhere to go. They are essentially stuck either inside or along the borders with Hungary and Croatia. This is all kind of ironic. If the two countries had left their borders open, many of the refugees probably would have passed right on through on their way to Germany.

With no coordinated European effort to help the refugees, borders are closing seemingly at random, forcing the refugees to adapt their routes often at the last minute. But few paths are left open. Now the question is: Where can they go? The European Parliament has backed a plan to resettle 120,000 refugees. But that plan has to be accepted by EU ministers, who are meeting in Brussels next week. And those ministers already rejected the plan once. More than 500 million people live in the countries that make up the European Union, by the way. And this debate is over 120,000 people, many of them women and children.

GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Richard Hall, who is traveling with the refugees and is now in Croatia, writes that the decision to start blocking the path of refugees has resulted in chaos. “They beat us. They do a lot to us,” Majid, a Syrian from Damascus who had tried and failed to cross the Serbia-Hungary border before traveling to Croatia, told Hall. “Now I think I prefer to go back to my country and die over there. It’s better, at least I die in my home.”

WANT TO KNOW:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to dismantle the country's long postwar tradition of pacifism is facing a tough fight. Lawmakers have literally scuffled inside parliament during debates over the bill. And protests have erupted on the streets outside.

Article 9 of Japan's constitution prevents the government from using armed force to resolve international disputes. Sounds nice, right? The controversial article was actually written by American occupiers after World War II. The Japanese public, however, which at that point was pretty much done with its government's wars, liked it so much that it was never changed.

Then Abe was elected prime minister in 2012. He argues that Article 9 is antiquated and doesn't reflect modern Japan, which faces both ancient foes nearby — China and South Korea — and more modern foes in distant lands: the Islamic State executed two Japanese citizens in Syria earlier this year.

But to change the constitution, the prime minister will need two-thirds of the parliament to be on board. And then he will need majority support in a public referendum. And it seems that many Japanese are willing to fight for their right to remain pacifist.

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

In China, they call them the “second generation rich.” They are mostly young, they are extravagantly wealthy. And they want everyone to know it. On social media, on television, wherever, these people flaunt their gold cars, their expensive jewelry, their fairy-tale castles.

It's despicable and intensely offensive to the millions of destitute living in China and around the world. But this hasn't stopped this group from joyously lighting their cigarettes with crumpled up cash. And if there is a single person who epitomizes this fabulously obnoxious social strata, it is Guo Meimei.

Well, now she's going to jail — a new symbol of the era of Xi Jinping, who has cracked down on corruption (often brutally) and has felled some of the gaudier icons of contemporary China’s wealth boom — the heirs, the mistresses, and the newly-minted millionaires who delight and infuriate the public by showing off their vast bank balances. The full story of Meimei's downfall is here.