Essay Contest

At the end of every semester, the PBRC invites students to submit course papers that relate to the PBRC’s mission of humanistic development across the Pacific.

The biannual essay contest features three to four winning papers, typically selected from each student year, as judged by a selection committee. Winners receive a $50 Amazon gift card and the titles are featured on the PBRC’s website. We welcome submissions from all disciplines and fields.

Spring 2023 Essay Contest Winners

The research paper compares how the two great Chinese poets, Li Bai and Du Fu, demonstrate different attitudes toward the external world –China’s frontiers, borderlands beyond, and foreign people– based on their backgrounds and aspiration. Considering the philosophical, cultural, and political influences that Li Bai and Du Fu received, the paper closely analyzes their poems regarding the external world to understand their reactions to the prolonged history of conflict between Chinese people and foreigners as well as its effects on people’s lives. Li Bai shows the anguish of witnessing the conflict between his mother’s ancestry homeland and his homeland: foreign lands and China, but he also tries to overcome the long history of conflict and the complex relationship between Chinese people and foreigners. For Li Bai, poetry is a means of proving his existence to Chinese society despite being an “outsider” and promoting his transcending standpoint on the conflict over differences in ethnicity. Du Fu demonstrates a great degree of concern and compassion for those who suffer from wars, which comes from his strong passion for serving the nation. Du Fu’s poems reflect his exhaustion from the negative effects of battles on the lives of civilians and himself, as he had to persevere in a life of constant wandering. 

Indigenous art cannot be dissociated from the trauma that permeates Indigenous people’s history. The scars left by oppression and violence, from having their lands stolen and their cultures erased by Western powers, are an inherent part of the creative process. Yet, through their artistic expressions, Indigenous people are able to reclaim their identity and cultures as well as to fight for greater political and social equality. Arts enables them to communicate their cultural knowledge and values with the future generations, and to challenge the prevalent narrative of the West about their own history. This is why Indigenous art is part of a “decolonial aesthetics.” It is a means of resisting cultural erasure and a powerful tool which guides Indigenous people towards freedom and self-determination. In addition, the creative process allows Indigenous people to create an alternative space that can only be manifested through dreaming and taking action. In this transformative space, the concept of colonialism is absent and Indigenous people, as well as all people, are free to be who they are unapologetically. Indigenous art is thus not only the symbol of a struggle, but it is also a doorway to healing and a newfound sense of dignity and acceptance.  

Downtown Eastside (DTES) is Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood, blocks away from expensive, centre-city regions. According to Clarence Stone’s regime theory,  political coalitions between resource-possessing actors (governments, businesses) are necessary to influence policy. However, in response to Stone’s argument, many authors have investigated how marginalised and grassroots groups and organizations can get their voices heard in urban politics. The first section of this paper focuses on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Though typically viewed as a top-down movement, the Olympic bid in Vancouver reveals more complex power dynamics. Then, the paper explores the bottom-up influences on policy regarding the DTES, specifically the adoption of a harm reduction approach, exemplified by the opening of Insite, the first safe-injection site (SIS) in North America. Investigating urban politics in Vancouver around the turn of the century, I argue that top-down and bottom-up influences on policy can both matter, though they have different outcomes and focuses. Another important takeaway is that though more complex dynamics are involved later in the movement for a specific policy approach, initially, the movement is led by small actors, often individuals, and often those facing the crisis themselves or those who become aware and sympathetic.

In this essay, I investigate to what extent Europe excels in achieving regional gender parity compared to other regions. I explore Europe’s progressive women empowerment and gender equality, focusing on political representation, economic power, and bodily ownership. Drawing on data from international organizations, I analyze the contributions of three representative causes: the emancipation of wars on women’s empowerment, the implementation of liberal institutions, and the progressive political culture. By examining the aftermath of the two World Wars, I demonstrate how these conflicts transformed societal roles and enabled women to participate in the national economy. Furthermore, I explore the impact of institutions such as proportional representation and gender quotas, which enhance women’s power and visibility in the public sector. Additionally, I investigate Europe’s welcoming atmosphere for women in political culture. This essay provides a comprehensive analysis highlighting the distinct ways Europe’s society distinguishes itself from other regions regarding women’s empowerment. Through this research, I contribute a new lens into understanding Europe’s achievements in closing the regional gender parity, shedding light on the mechanisms and factors that have led to Europe’s relatively high gender equality.

Fall 2022 Fall Essay Contest Winners

To what extent is Japan democratic? How can Japan be democratic while there is a common view that democracy and the current political system were imposed by the United States? This essay argues that Japan is clearly a liberal democracy despite some shortcomings. Japan had a long history of achieving and consolidating liberal democracy, showing that the early form of democracy before the US occupation of Japan promoted and helped Japan’s democratization after the Second World War. Although there is no clear benchmark that shows the conclusion of the transition to democracy, the indexes of democracy such as Polity V, Freedom House, and Variety of Democracy (V-Dem) indicate that Japan might have consolidated democracy in the 1960s, and since then it is a stable liberal democracy. Democracy in Japan was sustained for more than six decades because of the high civicness, social capital, and social trust. The paper also argues that Japan still has some areas of improvement, such as low participation rate and limited women representation.

This essay argues that the Cambodian genocide can be attributed to the “cruel optimism” of PolPot and his followers in the Khmer Rouge. This essay refers to Laurent Berlant, who conceptualizes “cruel optimism,” good-life fantasies derived from attachments to problematic objects. The histography shows, amidst the devastating U.S. bombings, many Cambodian peasants were depressed, and they attached to the Khmer Rouge as the party that would bring to them the “good-life.” The Khmer Rouge anchored them to the old good lives existent back in the days of the Khmer Empire, motivating its members to fight toward the utopian vision to get back this “good life.” Many Cambodians could not sever their attachment to the Khmer Rouge and the nostalgic past, continuing to support the party even after it committed the genocide. “Cruel optimism” can be a manifestation of self-defense to manage traumatized feelings, as shown by Berlant’s explications about several literary figures who are trapped in their fantasies. Pol Pot, wh initiated the genocide, attached to the peasant-centered communism from his trauma of long-standing inferiority complex against urban folks. However, once he actualized his fantasy of becoming the national leader, possessing the political power, establishing collective camps and agricultural fields, and killing city dwellers, he developed fear and paranoia that he would have lost his power and peasant-oriented worldview. To defend and maintain this “cruel optimism,” he escalated the genocide against not only citizens and foreigners but “the same” Khmers as “potential internal enemies,” resulting in the Cambodian genocide.

This paper examines how the reinforcement of the 1907 Gentlemen’s Agreement, which banned Japanese immigration for single bachelors, incentivized marital status as a strategy for Asian women to challenge the pressures of patriarchal oppression and western orientalism. Specifically, the essay focuses on how picture brides, specifically the Japanese Issei women, were portrayed by western media sources and patriarchal systems within immigration. An analysis of newspapers, personal narratives, and books like Making Asian America by Erik Lee was conducted to discuss how Issei women took advantage of their marriages to succeed despite facing challenges like harsh labor demands and Meiji ideals of women’s role in society. Many western sources perpetuated the narrative of Issei women being weak and trapped as picture brides; however, this essay uncovers the hidden history of how they found power through their marriages. 

Spring 2022 Essay Contest Winners

California’s Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program has been modified many times to better promote electric technologies in the vehicle market over the past thirty years. From the adoption of the first Low Emission Vehicle regulations in 1990 to the development of the latest Advanced Clean Cars II regulations in 2022, the number of the ZEVs that auto manufacturers must produce in California has increased from 2 percent to 35 percent. California Air Resources Board (CARB) does not only establish regulations but also actualizes new technological innovations for the common good. This paper focuses on the historical development of the ZEV program from the 1990s to the 2020s in California. These three decades is divided into seven periods to explore the changes within each time frame. The paper uses law reviews and news articles to demonstrate how CARB has utilized the ZEV program to reduce the GHG emissions and promote renewable energy. In conclusion of this paper, readers will gain a better understanding the ZEV program and become more acquainted with this future technology.

The past several decades in Sri Lanka have been marked by steady industrialization, population growth, and urbanization. These factors have engendered an increasingly consumerist society, in which individuals are generating greater quantities of municipal solid waste (MSW). While per capita MSW generation is just a fraction of what the average American produces, this increasing trend has overwhelmed Sri Lanka’s insufficient waste management systems. Due to these flawed systems, many Sri Lankans resort to open dumping, a harmful practice where individuals simply discard their waste along curbsides or in unmanaged makeshift dumps. This paper will first assert that open dumping yields consequences that threaten the nation’s environmental quality and public health. Then, the paper will examine the legal framework behind solid waste management in Sri Lanka. While a strong legal foundation for safe MSW management exists, weak law enforcement and political unwillingness limits its efficacy. The paper will finally propose an array of policy measures to strengthen Sri Lanka’s solid waste management systems, including but not limited to public education, waste diversion, and waste-to-energy initiatives.

This paper examines China’s political and social system and designs political institutions and state-society relations that will help China segue into a less authoritarian and more democratic state in the future. The paper first measures the degree of the current authoritarian regime in China, and then classifies China as a party-based bureaucratic authoritarian system, with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintaining control over the regime. Given China’s current authoritarian system, the paper imagines an electoral authoritarian system as an ideal transitional regime for China towards soft authoritarianism and, in the future, towards liberal democracy. A design of an electoral authoritarian system for China features a Single-Member District Plurality (SMD-P) system as an electoral system, a unitary and relatively centralized national-subnational relation, and a parliamentary system. In terms of state-society relations, China should loosen control over societal forces but not necessarily let go, in an electoral authoritarian system with a degree of democratization. In doing so, China may improve its state-society relations while maintaining the CCP’s control over the regime. In the end, the paper concludes that China can segue into a less authoritarian and more democratic state by adopting a softer approach.

In Latin America, savings, the difference between earnings and consumption, is relatively low, and this paper explains the close connection between savings and economic growth. The ratio of savings to GDP is low compared to that of the world average. Solow growth model demonstrates that savings rates determine accumulated capital and output. Harrod’s equation introduces the direct relationships between savings rates and economic growth. Although high savings does not guarantee economic growth, low savings become an obstacle to economic development. As economic growth can increase savings, there is a close relationship between savings and economic development. 
Moreover, this paper analyzes the consequences and causes of low savings rates in Latin America. Low savings reduce domestic financial resources for investment and the attraction of foreign direct investment, which causes the deficiency of human and infrastructural capital. The amount of public savings, inflation, the quality of economic institutions, and savings habits are the causes of low savings in Latin America. As Chile successfully increased savings and achieved economic growth through social security and tax reforms, the accurate analysis of the causes and consequences of low savings in each country can offer an effective economic policy for development. 

Fall 2021 Essay Contest Winners

Bushidō, a collective of traditional ideals of the Japanese samurai class, influences many aspects of modern multiculturalism through a lens of socio-cultural heritage and martial practices that harken back to past ages. However, modern notions of Bushidō ignore many unideal aspects of the so-called ‘warrior code,’ in favor of constructing an overarching national narrative that supports a legacy of acceptable social hierarchy. Throughout Japanese history and into the present day, figures of unquestionable influence often occupied positions that did not necessarily fit into this grand national campaign of homogeneity.

Men and women, monks, zealots, laymen, infantry, and disgraced samurai alike claimed warrior status throughout the nation’s history, quietly though no less powerfully lending their legacy to the cultural framework of modern Japan. This essay takes a look at some of these individuals, from the heroines of medieval war sagas to the surreptitious role of the sōhei monks within local disputes. The weaponry and strategy of such groups varies significantly from the rigidly portrayed samurai, allowing us to consider Bushidō from the perspective of individuals who defy traditional classifications. 

Recently, a newer, more vulnerable group is falling victim to sexual violence and oppression in Japan. Forms of sexual entertainment that were once harmless hundreds of years ago have grown into a massive industry, thriving off of young girls. These new depictions of sexual violence against women and girls pose a potential threat for present and future generations. In response to this recent trend, this research essay aims to answer why Japanese men sexualize not only women, and more specifically, young women and girls.

Focusing on the impacts of toxic masculinity in a country with a larger gender gap than other world powers, this paper attempts to deconstruct the Japanese male mind, finding that the Japanese defeat in World War II, coupled with ideologies formed during the Meiji era, have led men to sexualize and objectify girls as young as 5 years old. Further, this paper points out flaws in the justice system of Japan, noting the system and the state’s failure to protect its most vulnerable group of human beings. Finally, this research identifies the normalization of a harmful rape culture that persists in contemporary Japan.

This brief overview of the history of Indigenous musicianship lays bare how cultural expressivity can be used as a powerful tool to challenge authority and manufactured expectations that perpetuate the subjugation of Indigenous identity throughout North America. The expectation of the ‘Native’ as premodern and peripheral to civilized society has been challenged artistically for generations. The power of music and performance to transcend rigid social boundaries, challenge indigenous stereotypes and to contest manufactured gendered divisions has done much to sensitize native and nonnative communities to the processes of decolonization. The research in this paper attempts to contribute to the growing decolonization discourse by showing that Indigenous culture is fluid, adaptable, interactive, as well as still deeply rooted in tribal communities’ spiritual and generational legacies, and that all of these are inherently subversive of the hegemonic discourse that sought to problematize and eradicate Indigenous identity in North America. This is a semi-chronological account of various musicians, performances and genres that starts with the emergence of ‘Indianist’ operas as the first ‘American’ music style up to the politically and socially charged, genre-crossing performances of twenty-first century Native musicians.  

In the 1970s, Venezuela was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. However, over the years, Venezuela’s economy has tumbled drastically as a result of political and economic events both inside and outside the country. After oil prices rose in 1973, Venezuela’s revenue from oil, its main export, skyrocketed. The government nationalized oil industries in the country, and there were incidences of public fund embezzlement by government officials. When oil prices fell in 1989, the economy went into a crisis, which was exacerbated by costly socialist policies by Hugo Chavez and the sacking of about 40% of the state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) workers in 2002.

Venezuela’s inefficient government policies heavily impacted the country’s economy. But how can Venezuela’s economy be transformed through the free-market system as it did in Chile? Just like Venezuela with oil, Chile has vast copper reserves. However, the Pinochet government invested in the copper industry and used revenue from it to develop the production of other goods, namely salmon, wine, forestry goods, and fruits. By diversifying its economy, Chile was able to become resistant to price shocks of copper, sustaining a smooth economic development. The regime also avoided excessive government intervention promoting the free market and facilitating high investments by nationals and foreign investors. 

Venezuela’s economy, although is in a severe crisis, can be restored by policies aimed at diversification of the economy and also provision of a free market that will be guided by the needs of the people.

Spring 2021 Essay Contest Winners

Tibet currently enjoys the official status of autonomy under Article 4 of China’s Constitution. The autonomy, however, is merely nominal, as most administrative and legislative powers still reside in the central government. With its distinct history, culture, language, and religion, Tibet does have legitimate claims for real autonomy, if not independence. The Tibetan leaders in exile, including the Dalai Lama, who once fought for independence, have now settled for a middle-way approach—a greater autonomy! On the other hand, China seems reluctant to compromise with its sovereignty over Tibet. In this paper, I explore the literature on autonomy to assess Tibet’s current status and suggest that China’s constitution does provide an arrangement for greater autonomy under Article 31, as “Special Administrative Regions.” In doing so, I also lay out the Chinese concerns of inspiring secessionist movements in other parts of the country, the possibility of Tibetan nation-building and marginalization of its regional minorities, Tibet’s mode of government, and its development prospects.

In this paper, I discuss the negative interest rate policy (NIRP) implemented by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) in February 2016. Assuming that the Japanese economy is a closed economy, I apply the IS-LM model to see if private consumption and investment have increased by the policy for short-term analysis. For a long-term analysis, I employ the quantity theory of money to analyze whether the increased money supply raised the inflation rate. The real-life data showed that NIRP was successful in increasing the money supply, decreasing the real interest rates and lending rates, and increasing the inflation rate for a certain degree. While private consumption and investment increased year-over-year, the decrease in consumption and investment right after the implementation of NIRP suggests that other variables influenced the IS-LM curves. Overall, the increase in consumption and investment has not been sufficient to achieve the BOJ’s goal, which is to raise the inflation rate by two percent.

The Turkish-Kurdish conflict is one of the longest-lasting violent conflicts of the post-World War II era and spans across multiple nations and geographical areas. What ensued from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire was the creation of a powerful form of nationalism introduced by the burgeoning Turkish state that smothered the majority of ethnic diversity in an attempt to “Turkify” its citizens. This nationalism ended any hope of an independent Kurdish state—what the Kurds of the region had been promised during the Ottoman Empire—and led to the creation of Kurdish retaliatory parties across national boundaries. These parties, at once allies and terrorist groups, have been warring with Turkey since the early 1900s to restore their cultural and ethnic rights. In recent decades, the United States has also been a critical player in the dispute, blurring the divisions between factions and leading both Turkish and Kurdish factions to lose trust in US policymakers. Due to the complex relations between Turkish and Kurdish stakeholders, reaching a peace agreement is difficult but possible as long as both sides disarm and encourage democratic, diplomatic negotiations. However, previous failures and a recent increase in militarization on both sides suggest that reconciliation is unlikely in the near future.

In 2006, then-state chairman Kim Jong-Il authorized the first of six nuclear weapons tests North Korea has conducted in an 11-year span. Nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula has received backlash from dozens of nations that deem North Korea an imminent menace to world peace. The United States has been leading the fight against North Korean nuclear weapons via an aggressive program of economic sanctions aimed primarily at hampering the country’s economic development. The end goal of such policies has come to be known as “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” (CVID). This article reviews the history of nuclear proliferation in and sanctions against North Korea and evaluates the advantages and downsides of US economic sanctions over the last two decades. This article challenges the dominant current of thought for which denuclearization can only be achieved either through economic sanctions or through diplomacy by introducing a hybrid approach named “compliance-and-reward.”

Fall 2020 Essay Contest Winners

Hosting mega sporting events is considered to be a prestigious opportunity for cities to accelerate infrastructure development and to gain global recognition. The implications of mega sporting events extend beyond stated objectives concerning the city’s image and status. This paper aims to trace the case of the 19th Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, to examine the economic, social, and environmental effects that resulted from hosting a mega sporting event. Urban development leading up to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi was anti-poor, hastily planned, and environmentally unsustainable. This paper found that (1) the acceleration of the development of Delhi’s transportation infrastructures, (2) the construction and renovation of sporting facilities, (3) an increase in tourism, (4) the evictions of residents and street vendors, (5) violations of workers’ rights, and (6) the destruction of ecologically-sensitive areas and open spaces all resulted from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

This paper examines Japan’s democracy from the perspectives of its causes, transition, consolidation, and sustainability. The paper engages in questions such as: what caused Japan’s democracy, how did Japan transition to democracy and how did it become consolidated, and how democracy is sustained in Japan. The paper first measures the extent of the current democracy in Japan, then identifies different factors that led Japan’s democracy to its current state. Japan’s democracy was born with foreign influence from the United States, whose occupation force democratized Japan after World War II. Japan’s democracy seems consolidated in the 1970s, when the democracy survived a national economic crisis, and when the dominant political party came to have a new type of the prime minister who did not go through an elite career during World War II. In terms of its sustainability, Japan’s democracy is supported by the high income per capita, high intuitional performance, and the robust civil society. In the end, the paper engages in some future improvements for Japan’s democracy. Japan’s democracy has some shortcomings in political engagement, factionalism and corruption, and women’s representation in politics.

Japan and South Korea have been engaging in a serious territorial dispute over a group of islets called Dokdo in Korean, Takeshima in Japanese, and Liancourt Rocks in English. This paper addresses the following questions: When and what was the first failure to resolve the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute? How and why did it fail? To answer those questions, this paper first examines the causes of the dispute by analyzing the differing South Korean and Japanese narratives concerning which country first recognized Dokdo/Takeshima, which country established sovereignty over the island first, and whether either country legally transferred the island into its territory. This paper argues that the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute stems from the conflicting Japanese and South Korean interpretations of the same historical evidence. This paper then goes on to discuss the first failure in the settlement of the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute: the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Arguing that the San Francisco Peace Treaty could have and should have resolved the dispute, this paper claims that the treaty neglected the issue and failed to provide sovereignty of Dokdo/Takeshima to either Japan or South Korea. As a result, this treaty further led Japan and South Korea to develop self-serving interpretations and thus exacerbated the dispute.

Every month between January and May 2018, an average of 56,000 Venezuelans entered Ecuador, fleeing from the extreme economic and political crisis in their country and seeking better opportunities for survival. This short ethnography (1) investigates the primary struggles of the Venezuelans recently entering Quito, especially regarding discrimination and economic challenges; and (2) examines under which political status Venezuelans are categorized by Quiteños, local humanitarian organizations, and uprooted Venezuelans themselves. Based on participant observations and interviews, this study suggests that despite the general perception of Venezuelans as immigrants, many Quiteños are increasingly noticing that Venezuelans’ desperation has reached the point where they practically could be, or might necessarily be, called “refugees.” Venezuelans often struggle to secure a job because of their nationality and/or lack of legal documents in Ecuador. Although Venezuelans may not have personally encountered discrimination in Quito, Ecuadorians’ rejection of Venezuelans exists and seems to be growing. Ecuadorians’ memories of their own economic crisis and subsequent massive emigration in the past do not seem to have nurtured an empathic attitude towards immigrants in Ecuador. Yet, some Venezuelans feel that rejection and xenophobia are much reduced in Ecuador than in other neighboring countries.

Spring 2020 Essay Contest Winners

Kathmandu’s more than 3% annual population growth implies an increased water demand. It is in this context that the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP), one of Nepal’s several national pride projects, is creating hope among Kathmandu residents. Increased access to clean water is expected after the completion of the MWSP. The paper will argue that although the MWSP is a promising project for Kathmandu, the project has been criticized for three major reasons: (1) high cost of the project, (2) negative ecological and economic effects of the project, and (3) poor public participation in the planning process. This paper will also argue that the overemphasis on the MWSP has resulted in a neglect of several simple solutions. Addressing water leakages and implementing rainwater harvesting are strategies that have remained underemphasized in the context of Kathmandu’s increasing water demand. The case of MWSP also serves as a lesson for planners and decision makers alike to reconsider the implications of large-scale water infrastructure projects and the potential of local simple solutions.

The six stocks of the Barents Sea fisheries constitute an immensely productive biological resource vital to the economies of the Kingdom of Norway and the Russian Federation. The establishment of the 1970s bilateral regime created a pathway for transboundary fisheries management primarily through the Barents Sea Joint Fisheries Commission. However, the regime provides only a diplomatic platform and leaves all regulatory power to the nations’ respective governments. Given the natural fragility of the Arctic food web and the current threat of climate change-related disruption, the effectiveness of the bilateral regimes should be carefully assessed. The Russian Federation’s regulatory capacity is of particular concern due to the nation’s historic pro-production agenda as well as the present absence of government transparency. The government of the USSR encouraged large catches in the Barents Sea and favored industrial interests over ecosystem management practices. While the Russian central government can no longer exert a command-and-control approach, the Soviet Union’s pro-industry regulatory hierarchy has survived and subsequently empowered corporations in the enforcement process. Through a literature review of relevant policy analyses, the following paper explores the Russian Federation’s ability to uphold and enforce international agreements in the Barents Sea.

This paper examines the influence of Confucianism on the government of Singapore that began in the latter part of the 1970s. The adoption of Confucianism by the Singaporean state is examined firstly in a historical context, and subsequently through policy and official statements. The aim of this research paper is to understand what factors pushed the ruling People’s Action Party towards the adoption of Confucian doctrine, as well as the changes that this adoption incurred on the policy and politics of Singapore. This paper then examines whether or not the Singaporean government fulfills its responsibilities towards its people.

Despite calls to ban it in many Western countries, Sharia, or Islamic Law, already exists within the framework of legal pluralism in countries with large Muslim populations. It takes the form of community arbitration, in which two disputing litigants vest legal authority in a neutral third party outside of the traditional judiciary system. Much of the precedent has been set by Rabbinical Law in Jewish communities. This paper will examine how Sharia manifests in the United Kingdom and Ontario, Canada—cases chosen due to their large and historic Muslim communities. Records of cases appealed in the higher courts show the most influential decisions while also shedding light on the interactions between community arbitration and the judicial system. A majority of the cases deal with inheritance and divorce, with no instances of criminal law. Appellate courts frequently uphold arbitration decisions, and previous rulings (including in other cases involving community arbitration) create a strong legal precedent that is used in future cases. Overall, Sharia arbitration in Ontario and the United Kingdom can shed light on the system’s future developments in the United States.

Fall 2019 Essay Contest Winners

Daily trips in urban India are expected to more than double from 2007-2031. According to India’s Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), private vehicle ownership in Indian cities is expected to increase threefold between 1994 and 2021. As elsewhere, India has made increased efforts towards sustainable urban mobility over the last decade. While the link between land use and sustainable mobility is acknowledged, urban development decisions have yet not used this link for decision making. This paper will trace the trajectories of two types of road infrastructure projects; namely Bus Rapid Transit (BRTs) and Flyovers to discuss the connection between land use, road infrastructure, and transportation demand. It argues that there are several inconsistencies in policy commitments, data generation, and planning that affect sustainable urban mobility. The paper will also argue that selective use of data has been used as a strategy in transportation planning. It is in this context that new data technologies are making it possible to generate data from unconventional sources. The work of Hyderabad Urban Lab discusses the use of nascent technologies, ethnographic research and their ability to breach boundaries of expert knowledge domains where the hope for sustainable mobility options lies.

Japan has been engaging with territorial disputes with its neighboring countries China, Korea, and Russia over Dokdo/Takeshima islands, Diayou/Senkaku Islands, and the Southern Kuril Islands/Northern Territories, respectively. Through the comparison of economic, political, judicial, and historical factors surrounding these three disputes, this paper argues that Japan features the territorial disputes mainly for its national pride, which has its root in the memories of Japanese wartime imperialism and the loss of WWII. This sense of pride makes Japan difficult to make any compromise with its neighboring countries since it will be a shame for Japan to admit its wartime aggression and/or its defeat in WWII. This paper further goes on to claim that Japanese national pride is reinforced in the reciprocal relationship between the Japanese government and its citizens; the government instills patriotic perspectives into the minds of Japanese people through textbooks on history and civil society, while the citizens vote for politicians who place themselves in hawkish attitudes toward other East Asian countries.

Because Japan was defeated in the Pacific War, all aspects of Japan’s society were reformed by the occupation forces to democratize Japan. One of the major reforms dealt with education, especially of history textbooks. This paper will begin by discussing these history textbooks, containing ultra-nationalistic ideas, used before and during the war. This paper will then critically analyze history textbook reform under the allied occupation. First, the Japanese government and the occupation forces tried to remove nationalistic ideas from wartime textbooks by blacking out lines and pages which contained those ideas. However, blacking out passages of textbooks was neither practical nor recommended because wartime textbooks contained ultra-nationalistic ideas regardless. The occupation forces created new history textbooks which removed nationalistic content and critically examined Japanese history. Later, the occupation forces introduced a textbook screening system. Around 1950, the occupation forces completely passed responsibility for education reform to the Japanese government; however, a modified version of the textbook screening process still remains in Japan.

Spring 2019 Essay Contest Winners

Malaysia is a country that has defied many democratic theories and trends over time to be an outlier. It has proven that as an electoral authoritarian country, it can still be successful in terms of economic and social development by providing the quality of country performance that is characteristic of many democratic countries. It begs at the question of whether this authoritarian regime works just as fine as other less successful but more democratic countries. The success of Malaysia can be attributed to its stability because Malaysia has already consolidated into a semi-democratic regime that works well in the Malaysian context of having distinct and divided identities. This paper will look at how Malaysia is not a democracy, why it is successful, the causes of its success, and what these causes say about the state of democracy in Malaysia today.

Senegalese society is well known as democratic and politically-stable in spite of the fact that the country is surrounded by authoritarian neighboring countries. In order to investigate how Senegal was able to democratize itself and become one of the few democratic African countries, this paper first measures the current Senegalese democracy level and explains why the regime is considered an electoral democracy. Second, returning to the French colonial era, this paper analyzes a cause of democracy. Third, this paper investigates the slow transition to democracy by explaining the bridge from the post-independence era until today. Finally, this paper examines social factors that can sustain or degrade democracy and concludes that, although it is difficult to foresee the future path of democratic transition because of the complicated relations among those social factors, civil society is a key to direct its democratic path.

The city of Kathmandu, Nepal, has witnessed a rapid rise of motorization from 1990 until today. This paper aims to explore the factors responsible for the increased motorization in Kathmandu. The results of the study revealed that five major factors are causing increased motorization in Kathmandu: (1) rapid population growth, (2) unmet travel demands, (3) poor public transportation, (4) vehicle-centric road infrastructure, and (5) increased affordability. In response to Kathmandu’s increasing motorization and other transport-related issues, the government of Nepal began the Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Project (KSUTP). The findings of this paper suggest that KSUTP in itself is not a comprehensive solution to curb Kathmandu’s motorization. From a planner’s perspective, Kathmandu city requires a comprehensive plan that emphasizes non-motorized transport and improved public transport. Kathmandu’s transport planning should resonate with the transport needs and the economic situation of the city.

The world population is recently approximately 7.4 billion, with China and India occupying 33.3% of the world population. India, for example, is a densely-populated country. Therefore, overpopulation puts pressure on natural resources in India. As a result, environmental issues, such as pollution, climate change, and deforestation, have been problems in India. This paper attempts to demonstrate the issues of overpopulation and its surrounding environmental consequences. Overpopulation, for instance, has led to less available agricultural land areas, resulting in overuse of chemical fertilizers. In addition, excessive use of chemical fertilizers has affected water contamination, causing public health issues and the loss of fish diversity. Moreover, India has suffered from its lack of sanitation systems. With regard to solutions, female education is associated with lower fertility rates in India. Although education would solve overpopulation and its related environmental issues, India’s caste systems should be addressed because more than 200 million people who are considered “Untouchable” are not allowed to attend school.

Fall 2018 Essay Contest Winners

In light of the growing interdependency of global events, the importance of political practices and strategies is becoming increasingly consequential for policy and development. Public diplomacy and public affairs are two such practices. Because of their close relationship with deceptive propaganda practices in attributes such as organization, concern with the action of their audiences, and consistent exposure to their audiences, public diplomacy and public affairs practices carry intrinsic risks toward global policy and development. Despite these similarities, the attention paid toward propaganda studies and studies of public diplomacy and public affairs are hardly comparable. In this essay, using primary examples in the United States and China, I argue for the connection between public diplomacy, public affairs, and propaganda. Then, after exposing some of the risks toward political systems these connections carry, I conclude that more research and analysis of public diplomacy and public affairs practices should be employed in order to maintain accountability in their practices. This is in the hopes that the attention may help prevent the potential manipulation of both domestic and international audiences in political decisions—especially those in policy and development.

This essay critically examines predominantly-held opinions on the historical origin of Japanese leftist radicalism during the 1960s and 1970s. Rather than viewing Japan’s radical youth of the 1960s as a product of the New Left ideology that characterized many leftist movements during the same time period, this essay explores the historical changes in Japanese Marxist ideology and Marxist youth organizations as a result of the end of World War II and the American occupation of Japan. I argue that Japan’s loss in World War II and the occupation of Japan had a deeper influence on Japan’s 1960s and 1970s radical movements than the New Left movement that characterized most Western Marxist movements. This essay questions the legitimacy of referring to these Japanese radical movements as the “Japanese New Left” and concludes that the dominant generalization of these movements as being within the “New Left” ignores both the historical conditions that gave rise to the surge in Japanese leftist radicalism in the 1960s and the historical conditions that led to the New Left itself in 1956.

This paper investigates the absentee balloting system in both the United States and Taiwan, including its origins, constitutional principles, implicit social values, and related arguments. Based on geographic conditions, fast-food culture, and belief in equality, the US has legislated absentee balloting, which can be operated via early voting or vote-by-mail. Nevertheless, the 2000 presidential election has revealed the potential risks of absentee balloting. On the other hand, unlike the voting process in the United States, Taiwan does not permit citizens living outside Taiwan, let alone citizens who live a different region of their voter registration to participate in an absentee ballot. This forces individuals who want to vote to physically vote in polling stations located within their region of registration. Although voices have advocated absentee balloting in Taiwan, the political competition between the two main parties has been the major obstacle. At the end of the paper, I conclude with hopes that Taiwan will realize a more efficient and democratic system, allowing individuals to participate in an absentee ballot voting system.

Driven by the death of my great grandfather due to radiation in Nagasaki, Japan, I researched the atomic bombings in this paper. The purpose of this paper is to answer the question, “why does the Nagasaki atom bomb receive less attention than the Hiroshima bomb from the people in Japan and around the world?” One answer might be because it lacks a famous symbol like the Hiroshima A-Bomb Dome. A more convincing answer might be that the United States cannot justify the bombing of Nagasaki, and therefore the United States has avoided focusing public attention on the attack. Considering that the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki was probably unnecessary, this action becomes more worthy of moral condemnation. We might expect that because the Nagasaki bombing had less ethical rationale, it should be talked about more than Hiroshima, but the opposite is true. To transmit a true history of the atomic bombings for posterity, we need to pay more attention to the history of Nagasaki’s suffering, which has been neglected.

Spring 2018 Essay Contest Winners

Japanese immigration to Canada can be traced back to 1877. As the Japanese Canadian population grew, anti-Japanese sentiments among Canadian whites increased, which motivated the Canadian government to restrict Japanese Canadians. After Pearl Harbor, the government began the Japanese removal policy, but the purpose was not to achieve national security but to gain public support. Japanese Canadians were relocated into internment camps and forced to undergo harsh living conditions. Approaching the end of WWII did not lead to the end of restrictions in Canada, but because of the United States’ emancipation of Japanese Americans and decreased anti-Japanese sentiments, the Canadian government finally released Japanese Canadians in 1949. After a few decades, in 1988, the Canadian government announced the official apology to Japanese Canadians. This was not the result of Japanese Canadians’ lobbying campaign. The official apology was announced because the government needed Japanese Canadians’ votes to win the federal election. In addition, in order to survive within the new global economy, the government wanted to erase the history of racial discrimination and establish the identity of a multinational state.

In 1997, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, written by Iris Chang, was published in the United States. It was one of the first English-language books to introduce the Nanjing Massacre to the Western world. In response to The Rape of Nanking, Masaaki Tanaka’s What Really Happened in Nanking: The Refutation of a Common Myth was published in 2000. Against Chang’s depiction of Japanese aggression toward Chinese people, Tanaka claims that the Nanjing Massacre never happened. Although the arguments of both authors are quite different in terms of the death toll and the depiction of Japanese and Chinese people, they have three similarities: neither of them was a professional historian, their resources were limited due to their lack of language skills, and both authors victimized the people of their own countries. Their perception of the Nanjing Massacre and usage of resources are tied to the purposes of their publications. Whereas Chang aims to pass down Chinese collective memory to the next generation, Tanaka aspires to regain Japanese national pride by denying the wartime history of Japanese aggression. Therefore, their ultimate purpose was not to write the incident itself but to tell the “right” history based on their nationality and beliefs.

The usage of Native American mascots and nicknames continues to fuel debate over possible racism and misrepresentation in American sports. The opinions of affected Native American tribes are often overlooked or intentionally ignored, regardless of their position on the issue. For example, the team owner of the Washington “Redskins” has repeatedly stated that he would never change the team’s nickname, even if he were convinced it was offensive. Tribal representatives who have come out against certain team nicknames for being offensive often also believe that there are sports teams whose mascot and nickname are inoffensive. The response of tribal leaders suggests that taking a name or image from Native American culture is not always offensive and can be done in good faith. In general, there are three factors that are used to determine whether or not a mascot or nickname is offensive: permission, dialogue, and characterization. By accounting for these three factors, teams with Native American mascots or nicknames could avoid using offensive misrepresentation of Native Americans.

Starbucks has brought a new lifestyle to the Chinese. This paper analyzes the popularity and impact of Starbucks in China, which now operates more than a thousand stores in the country. First, the paper looks into Starbucks’s reasons for entering the Chinese market and how Starbucks reaches out to the Chinese people. Next, factors that made Starbucks the choice of the Chinese are analyzed. Lastly, Starbucks’s competitors, challenges, and future prospects in China are reviewed. Starbucks has a bright future as it continues to have successful partnerships with a number of companies in China. Starbucks definitely is popular and has impacted the coffee and tea culture in China, but the effect of the impact is uncertain, in terms of positive or negative effects. Overall, the amount of tea consumption is still higher than coffee consumption, and China still remains the biggest tea consumer and exporter in the world. The coffee market still has a long way to go if it plans to overtake the tea market in China.