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Current Affairs 26th April 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam

Rise of New Japan

Context: Japan’s recent geopolitical shift, marked by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s address to the United States Congress and developments from his summit meeting with President Joe Biden, signals the emergence of a more assertive Japan on the world stage.

Japan’s Shift from Pacifism to a More Assertive Role in Asia

  • Following World War II, Japan embraced a policy of pacifism, refraining from significant military buildup and avoiding involvement in conflicts.
  • Japan’s pacifist stance was reinforced by its alliance with the United States, allowing it to concentrate on economic recovery and technological advancement.
    • By the turn of the 1970s, Japan became the world’s second largest economy, behind only the US.
  • In the mid 2000s, Japan began to articulate ideas for a new security architecture in Asia, promoting concepts like the Indo-Pacific.
  • Since then, Japan has invested enormous diplomatic, political, and financial resources to popularise this geopolitical construct that was eventually adopted by Australia, Indonesia, India, and the United States.
  • Now, Japan is transforming its famed civilian industrial capability into a military industrial complex, and turning from being a US protectorate into an American partner and a significant contributor to Asian and Indo-Pacific security.
  • This shift is driven by a combination of external and internal factors.
    • External Factors:
      • China’s growing military assertiveness, particularly in disputed territories with Japan.
      • Strengthening military ties between China and Russia.
      • North Korea’s advancing military capabilities.
      • Concerns about US commitment to Asian security under the Trump administration.
    • Internal Factors: Rise of conservative voices advocating for a “normal power” Japan taking responsibility for its own security.

Japan’s Military Buildup

  • Japan has done away with the historical cap on defence expenditure
    • According to data from the World Bank, in 2020, Japan’s military expenditure touched 1% of GDP for the first time in six decades.
    • Also pledged to double annual defence spending to around 10 trillion yen ($68 billion) by 2027, which would make Japan the world’s third-biggest military spender after the US and China.
  • Japan has acquired, and is in the process of further acquiring, its own counter-strike capability in the form of cruise missiles.
  • Japan’s cabinet relaxed its self-imposed ban on exports of lethal weapons to friendly nations. This decision enables Japan to leverage its substantial manufacturing and technological prowess to support allies.
  • Collaborating with the US on joint military production and revising command structures.
    • For instance, both countries finalised the establishment of a joint military industrial council to facilitate co-production of weapons.

Changes in Japan’s Diplomatic Posture

  • Reconciliation with South Korea: Japan has attempted to mend historical rifts with South Korea stemming from Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula (1910-1945).
    • This improved relationship facilitates stronger regional security cooperation and allows the US to transition from a system of bilateral alliances to a more collaborative regional security network in Asia.
  • Support for Ukraine: Japan has emerged as a key supporter of Ukraine in the war with Russia.
    • It has provided significant aid for reconstruction and even sent some weapons.
    • Notably, Japan is the sole Asian nation to take a clear stance on defending Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.

India’s Response to Japanese Policy Changes

  • India has not officially responded to Japan’s recent policy shifts.
  • Historical ties: India acknowledged Japan’s historical role in Asia, with figures like Subhas Chandra Bose seeking support from Imperial Japan during the independence movement.
    • Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru advocated for both China and Japan to contribute to shaping post-war Asia.
    • Bilateral relations between India and Japan have taken on a political dimension over the past two decades.
  • However, there remains untapped potential for military cooperation between the two countries.
  • India views a politically determined and militarily robust Japan positively, as it contributes to the goal of establishing a multipolar Asia within a multipolar world framework.

Green Credit Programme

Context: The Green Credit program incentivizes environmental actions but raises concerns about loopholes and potential harm to forest ecosystems.

About Green Credit Programme: An Overview

  • It was announced by the Environment Ministry in October 2023
  • It is an innovative market-based program to encourage environmental action.
  • The Green Credit Programme offers incentives termed ‘green credits‘ to individuals and companies for environmental contributions.
  • Launched as part of the LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) initiative.
  • Administrator: Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) implements, manages, monitors and operates the program.


  • Incentivize voluntary environmental actions by individuals, communities, industries, and companies.
  • Promote sustainable lifestyles and environmental conservation.

Covered Activities

  • Tree Plantation: Increase green cover and fight deforestation.
  • Water Management: Conserve water resources through efficient management.
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Promote eco-friendly farming practices.
  • Waste Management: Reduce pollution through effective waste management systems.
  • Air Pollution Reduction: Improve air quality with initiatives to reduce air pollution.
  • Mangrove Conservation and Restoration: Protect and restore vital mangrove ecosystems.
Green Credit Management System
  • A Green Credit Registry will be established to track and manage earned green credits.
  • Additionally, a trading platform will be created to facilitate the domestic trading of green credits. (This feature is still under development)

What are the Challenges?

  • Potential for misuse: The program might be used as a loophole to bypass existing environmental laws, particularly forest conservation regulations.
  • Focus on monoculture plantations: The program incentivizes planting trees, potentially leading to monoculture plantations or ‘green desert’ which harm biodiversity.
  • Inadequate forest ecosystem protection: The guidelines focus on planting trees instead of protecting existing natural ecosystems.
  • Measurement challenges: Accurately measuring the environmental benefits of different activities (e.g., biodiversity impact) is difficult.
  • Fungibility issues: Equating credits from various activities (e.g., water conservation vs. carbon sequestration) on a single trading platform poses a challenge.
  • Clashes with existing laws: The program might contradict existing environmental laws like the Forest Conservation Act, particularly regarding forest clearance procedures.
  • Carbon trading issues: The program’s provision of using green credits in carbon trading is contentious due to the unclear methodology for equating stored carbon from trees with carbon credits.

Proposed Solutions

  • Improved program design: The program guidelines should be revised to better consider:
    • Protecting existing natural ecosystems alongside afforestation efforts.
    • Incentivizing planting native species over monocultures.
    • Developing a robust system for measuring the environmental benefits of various activities.
  • Strengthening social safeguards: The program should involve civil society and ensure transparency in measurement and verification processes.
  • Addressing fungibility: The limitations of fungibility should be acknowledged, and separate markets for different types of green credits might be considered.
  • Ensuring compliance with existing laws: The program should be designed to complement, not contradict, existing environmental regulations.

Climate Change


  • 2023 was the hottest year on record, and climate models predicted even hotter temperatures in the future.
  • As urbanisation increases, cities will become hotter and more humid, creating dangerous heat waves.

Health Consequences of Climate Change

  • Climate change, primarily through global warming, harms human, animal, and plant health in various ways:
    • Direct heat exposure
    • Extreme weather events
    • Water scarcity
    • Increased infectious diseases
    • Worsened non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and mental health disorders
    • Food insecurity due to reduced crop yields and nutrient quality

Heatwaves and Human Health

  • Heatwaves combine high temperatures with high humidity, making them particularly dangerous.
  • Heat stress can lead to dehydration, overheating, and blood vessel problems, increasing the risk of:
    • Heat exhaustion
    • Heatstroke
    • Circulatory failure
    • Death
  • Infants, young children, elderly adults, people with disabilities, those with pre-existing medical conditions, and women are more vulnerable to heatwaves.

Heatwaves and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)

  • Heatwaves can worsen NCDs, a leading cause of death in India (contributing to 65% of deaths).
  • Heat exposure can increase the risk of:
    • Stroke
    • Heart attack
    • Kidney damage
    • Cataracts in babies
    • Impaired wound healing
  • A global study found a heatwave-related 11.7% increase in mortality, with the highest risk for stroke and coronary heart disease.

Wildfires and Health

  • Wildfires, triggered by heat, release harmful pollutants like PM 2.5, ozone, and carbon monoxide, increasing the risk of:
    • Cardiovascular diseases
    • Respiratory diseases
    • Diabetes
    • Cancer

Impact on Food Security

  • Climate change threatens food security by harming crop yields and reducing the nutritional content of crops.
  • A 1°C temperature rise could decrease yields of staple crops like rice and wheat by 10% in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Rising temperatures could lead to millions more people suffering from zinc, protein, and iron deficiencies in India by 2050.

Adaptation Strategies

  • This include:
    • Heat action plans for urban and rural areas
    • Climate-smart and resilient food and healthcare systems
    • Educating the public and healthcare providers
    • Planning for increased healthcare demands due to heatwaves
    • Urban planning measures like heat shelters, water stations, reflective coatings for buildings, green spaces, and well-ventilated homes
    • Personal protective measures like light clothing, hats, umbrellas, and staying hydrated

Examples, Case studies and Data for Value Addition

  • Citizenship (GS 2): Approximately 35,000 non-resident Indians, mostly Pakistani Hindus, are living in Rajasthan’s Barmer, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jalore, and Jaipur, with around 75% of citizenship applications pending since 2019.


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