International Current Affairs 2017

Okinoshima Island: Japan’s men-only island gets UNESCO heritage tag

Okinoshima Island, Japan’s men-only island was declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. The island will be the 17th set of Japanese cultural assets to be granted this status and overall 21st in the list.

The island is part of the prefecture’s Munakata region. It is located in south-west Japan between the main island of Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). It still follow strict taboos from ancient times, including the controversial ban on women from entering the island

Okinoshima Island

Okinoshima Island is an ancient religious site in Japan that is considered sacred by the local Munakata Taisha. Entries of women are strictly banned on the island. Even male visitors need to take off their clothes and take a naked bath (purifying bath) before visiting the shrine.

It is permanently manned by a Shinto priest who prays the island’s goddess, in a tradition that has been kept up for centuries. The entire island is considered a Shinto Kami, an ethnic religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Kami are the spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the religion of Shinto.

The island covers an area of 240 acres and has a maximum elevation of 244 m. Since ancient times, it was an important window for foreign trade in Japan, forming part of a trade route that linked the archipelago to the Korean peninsula and China.

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G-20 leaders adopt Hamburg Action Plan

The 12th G-20 summit concluded in Germany’s Hamburg city with adaptation of Hamburg Action Plan. It sets out the group’s strategy for achieving strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

The action plan aims to address major global challenges, including climate change, harnessing digitalisation, and to contribute to prosperity and well-being.

Key Highlights of Hamburg Action Plan

Tackle common challenges: G20 members resolved to tackle common challenges to the global community, including terrorism, displacement, hunger, poverty and health threats, job creation, climate change, energy security and inequality including gender inequality, as a basis for sustainable development and stability.

Trade and globalisation: They stressed on the importance of harnessing the benefits of globalisation, reaffirm the importance of transparency for predictable and mutually beneficial trade relations. They also underlined importance to boost employment by improving sustainable global supply chains, as an important source of job creation and balanced economic growth.

Continue to use all policy tools:  G20 members will use all policy tools such as monetary, fiscal and structural-  individually and collectively to achieve the goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, while enhancing economic and financial resilience.

Paris Agreement: They agreed that the 2015 Paris Agreement is irreversible and reiterated the importance of fulfilment of the UNFCCC commitments by developed countries in providing means of implementation including financial resources to assist developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation actions.

Sustainable livelihoods: G-20 members are committed to increase innovation on sustainable and clean energies and energy efficiency, work towards low greenhouse-gas emission energy systems and harness digitalisation to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Global Health systems: G-20 members called for strengthening health systems and safeguarding against health crises. The leaders called on the UN to keep global health high on the political agenda and strive for cooperative action to strengthen health systems worldwide, including through developing the health workforce. The leaders also stressed on combatting Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), which is a growing threat to public health and economic growth.

About Group of Twenty (G20)

The G20 is the premier forum for its members’ international economic cooperation and decision-making. It is deliberating on global economic issues and other important development challenges.

It was started in 1999 as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the aftermath of the Southeast Asian (Tiger economies) financial crisis. In 2008, the first G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in Washington DC, US. Since them the group had played a key role in responding to the global financial crisis.

Its members include 19 countries India, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, UK, US and European Union (EU). They collectively represent 85% of global GDP, 80% of international trade, 65% of world’s population.

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