Not backing down

first_imgJapan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) today, explaining his efforts to resolve the country’s numerous economic and political challenges. He discussed bolstering relations with the United States, China, India, and Russia, and he boosted more tourism for Tokyo, site of the 2020 Summer Olympics.As part of the event hosted by the Institute of Politics (IOP), HKS Dean David Ellwood joined Joseph Nye, the University Distinguished Service Professor, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy in offering effusive praise of Abe’s leadership.“When my mother and uncles created this institution as a living memorial to my father, they imagined days like this when global leaders, both men and women, would engage students on the critical issues of the day,” and they imagined “that engagement would inspire the students to enter public life, committing themselves to public service,” said Kennedy, who called Abe “a once-in-a-generation leader.”Abe’s morning stop in Cambridge followed visits to the John F. Kennedy Library in Dorchester and the Boston Marathon bombing site in Boston’s Back Bay. His visit was part of a strategic eight-day state visit to several U.S. cities that will culminate in a speech before a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the first ever by a Japanese prime minister. The trip comes amid some public criticism of Abe’s handling of contemporary domestic affairs and the country’s treatment of women during World War II.Pushing ahead with major economic, political, and social reforms, Abe strongly defended his ambitious governmental agenda during a nearly 9-minute address in Japanese to HKS students, faculty, and dignitaries. Acknowledging frequent criticisms from what he called Japan’s “vested interests” and the historic difficulty leaders have in successfully pushing forward more than one or two meaningful reforms, Abe said he’s confident that those who support what he’s doing constitute a “silent majority.”“I have tenaciously engineered a succession of reforms coming one after another, and I will be fearless going forward. It is because now, more than at any time before, I believe there is in Japan among its people a strong and growing desire to pursue reforms,” Abe said through an English translator. Noting the country’s economic troubles, including prolonged deflation and flagging consumer demand, as well as an aging population that has tilted Japan’s macroeconomic balance, Abe said, “My role in these circumstances is to lead the nation to think of itself again as ‘the little engine that could.’”Taking inspiration from the notion of “grace under pressure,” Abe said he doesn’t intend to back down from his policies. He called for a “more robust” alliance with the United States through trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and he encouraged more foreign capital investment, steps designed to improve the economy by “changing diehard business habits.”“Reform never comes without resistance. There will always be pressure from society to suppress it,” he said. “Still, once you have reached a decision after of course having given it much thought, you must carry through on it.”Security was tight at HKS, as Abe’s address came just days after Japanese police arrested a man suspected of landing a drone carrying traces of radioactive material on the roof of the prime minister’s office building. Abe was out of town at the time of the incident and unharmed. According to reports, the suspect said he was protesting Japan’s nuclear energy policy.During and after the speech, about two dozen demonstrators stood outside HKS, holding signs that called on Abe to formally apologize for the Japanese government’s role in the sexual enslavement of thousands of women who were forced to work in military brothels as so-called “comfort women” during World War II. Inside, Harvard College sophomore Joseph Lee Choe asked Abe to address the issue.Abe said, “My heart aches when I think about those people who were victimized by human trafficking and who were subject to immeasurable pain and suffering beyond description,” a feeling “no different” than previous administrations. He said he “upholds” the 1993 Kono Statement on the issue and noted that at the United Nations General Assembly last year, he pledged that Japan would help to lead the international community to fight against sexual trafficking and has contributed $34 million since then to that effort.The statement was Japan’s first acknowledgment of the coercion of women into military sex camps, and it was a controversial apology that some conservatives want retracted. In 2007, Abe had said he didn’t agree with the statement’s findings and ordered it to be reviewed in 2014, leading some to accuse him of trying to whitewash history in the name of national pride and political advantage. But that review left the statement intact.In an interview via email after Abe’s speech, Choe said he wasn’t satisfied with the response.“Yong Soo Lee, a former comfort woman, spoke to a group of Harvard students yesterday about how she was literally dragged from her home and forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II,” Choe said. “Hearing her speak and seeing her tears made me empowered to seek justice for her and other former comfort women. What the Japanese government did was horrific, and an apology is the least they can do to give closure to women like Yong Soo Lee.”When asked about Japan’s relationships with Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC nations), Abe said he hoped Russia will reach a peaceful agreement with Ukraine, and expressed a strong desire for a peace accord between Japan and Russia, noting the 70 years since the end of World War II.He was optimistic about strengthening relations with India, saying that he talks frequently with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that the two countries are eager to expand economic and national security ties.Concerning China, that country’s rapid development is a “major positive” for Japan and the world, Abe said, but he added that China’s conduct in the South China Sea and East China Sea and its “military display” there concern Japan and other nearby nations. “As a responsible major power in the region, I hope sincerely that it would find a peaceful answer to its challenges,” he said.Lastly, Abe touched on a favorite theme: bringing more women into the Japanese government and workforce, particularly in leadership roles. He touted a goal he set for government ministries to field at least 30 percent of female candidates for executive positions, a benchmark all have now cleared, he said. Further, while the number of women in the National Diet, or Japanese parliament, is still “very small,” Abe said women hold two of three major party posts. And in the two years since he took office, companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange have doubled the number of female directors from 90 to 180, he said.Abe said he hopes that companies will build upon that effort, “not because of social policy, but because hiring women would improve the corporate performance,” he said.“I often say that had Lehman Brothers been Lehman Brothers and Sisters, they would still be around.”last_img read more

Christopher Walken Thanks B’way Behanding for Captain Hook Prep

first_img View Comments When Christopher Walken takes on the iconic role of Captain Hook in NBC’s production of Peter Pan Live!, he can thank his most recent Broadway role as preparation for playing the one-handed menace. “I did a play where I was a guy with one hand—that’s one of the reasons why they thought of me for this,” Walken said about his performance in Martin McDonagh’s A Behanding in Spokane in 2010. “You know [playing a one-handed character] took some getting used to because you have to hide your elbow; otherwise, it looks like you’ve got one arm way too long. Maybe I had a little training for [playing Hook].” As for Walken’s tendency to play villains, the Oscar winner said, “ I play bad guys because that’s the parts they offer me.” He called the character of Captain Hook “crazy,” but quickly added, “Jerry Lewis is crazy and so is Charles Manson, so it’s different. I think Hook is complicated. He’s troubled. He’s got a lot of issues. Hook’s a fascinating character.” Walken said it would be “great” to return to Broadway, but he has no immediate plans to do so. Right now, he’s concentrating on rehearsals for the NBC special, starring Allison Williams in the title role, which airs on December 4. last_img read more

Government to revamp student assessment to improve PISA scores

first_imgFollowing a decision to cancel the national exam for elementary, junior high and high school students because of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has instructed the Education Ministry to seize the opportunity to overhaul the national evaluation system for primary and secondary education.Jokowi said that, while the latest report of the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed that Indonesia’s education system had become more inclusive in the past 18 years, it also showed that Indonesian students scored poorly in science, reading and mathematics.“The report that I received showed that [Indonesia’s] PISA score average in 2018 has decreased in three areas of competence, with the greatest decrease in literacy,” Jokowi said in a videoconference with Education Minister Nadiem Makarim on Friday. The triennial 2018 PISA report — which measures the ability of 15-year-olds in the three categories — shows that Indonesia ranked 73rd in mathematics, 74th in reading and 71st in science out of 79 assessed countries and territories.Read also: Not even mediocre? Indonesian students score low in math, reading, science: PISA reportIndonesian students’ mean reading score of 371 in 2018 marks a 21-point decrease from the 2015 score and puts Indonesians far below the OECD average of 487. In mathematics, meanwhile, the study gives Indonesian students a score of 379, a 7-point decrease from 2015, while the mean science score decreased slightly, dropping to 396 points from 403 achieved in 2015. Both scores were also significantly below the OECD average of 489. Jokowi said the PISA findings showed three main drawbacks in Indonesia’s education system the government must immediately address: a large percentage of students with low achievement, a high percentage of students repeating classes and high absenteeism.Nadiem told Jokowi that he had prepared five measures to address the problems and to increase Indonesia’s PISA score in 2024, one of which was to reform the assessments of student’s academic performance.That is in line with a plan the ministry announced last December that it would scrap the national exam in 2021 and replace it with a competency assessment and character survey. Read also: Nadiem grilled at House over new policy“This competency assessment is inspired by PISA and will be very similar to PISA,” Nadiem said on Friday, “The national exam [uses] local standards, but our new competency assessment [uses] international standards.”Nadiem’s five measures also include transforming school leadership, improving teacher education and introducing a flexible curriculum that is adjustable to the needs and learning progress of each student.“What we have now is a syllabus and policies that are so rigid that they prevent teachers from adjusting the learning material based on the student’s ability. […] Not every student must learn the same thing. In one class students should be able to do different homework or projects,” he said.The ministry’s new plan will also allow greater participation of various organizations in transforming Indonesia’s education system, with Nadiem saying all stakeholders should share the responsibility to help improve the education.“Communities and nonprofit organizations working in the education field, companies having a passion for education as well as education technology start-ups must all work together to improve learning outcomes,” he said.Education consultant Indra Charismiadji, while applauding the government’s commitment to improving Indonesia’s PISA scores, said the measures offered by the ministry are not groundbreaking but instead represent an incidental reactive approach.Indra said it was not the assessment standard that had to change but rather the qualification of Indonesian teachers.“But until today, the plan to improve teachers’ quality remains vague,” Indra told The Jakarta Post on Friday. “[The government] said communities and civil society organizations would be asked to help train teachers. But what kind of training? What are the standards and outcomes of the training? What kind of teachers will be produced? We have yet to hear such details.”“Not to mention the absence of a database [and thorough mapping on Indonesia’s teachers] to support the policymaking process. So, I’d say it is all empty rhetoric,” he said.Indra also said the study-from-home policy currently imposed to support physical distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was a way to assess how prepared Indonesia’s education system was to face new challenges in the digital age.“Schools are now closed, and the learning process turns to online platforms […], but we can see that our teachers are not ready with digital learning. It [remote learning] is chaos, and there is no real solution yet,” he said.Topics :last_img read more

For Lakers teammates, it’s all about sharing court with Lonzo Ball

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“The way Julius was rolling to the basket in the fourth quarter (on Sunday),” Walton said, “I’d like to get them some minutes together. You could go down the line. … I’d like to keep Brook and Lonzo in together.”The problem with achieving all of those wishes should by now be obvious.“A lot of those guys are overlapping positions,” Walton lamented, “and we’re not going to play Lonzo 48 minutes.”Corey Brewer has often compared playing with Ball to his days alongside Andre Miller in Denver and Jason Kidd in Dallas.“He makes the game easier for you,” Brewer said. “When you’ve got a guy like that who’s going to get you the ball in the right spots, the game comes easy so you want to play with him.” LOS ANGELES — The close bond shared by Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball is on display during pregame banter in front of their side-by-side lockers and half-court shooting contests at practice. They live only a mile apart in Marina del Rey, though Kuzma joked Wednesday that the pair had not yet carpooled to practice.“He don’t want to pick me up,” Kuzma said. “He usually has a full car at practice. Brings the entourage.”As Kuzma teased, Ball rolled his eyes.The pair’s chemistry is reflected on the floor, as well. Coach Luke Walton said before the Lakers’ game against Washington that he is searching for opportunities to pair the pals on the floor more often. Although, the more he looked at that, he realized that was true of everyone.center_img Kuzma said he and Ball click so well on the floor because they are both comfortable playing fast.“He likes to push the pace on offense in transition,” Kuzma said. “I’m usually one of the first ones down the floor, (it leads to) just easy baskets like that. We’ve had good chemistry since summer league, just playing with each other.”The 27th pick in June’s draft, acquired along with Brook Lopez in the D’Angelo Russell deal, Kuzma has looked comfortable regardless of who he shares the floor with. In his first three games, he averaged 14.7 points while shooting 60.7 percent from the floor.In some ways, he has been surprised by his own NBA success, saying it has been “easier than what I thought, yes, but at the same time it’s hard, too.”“I’m a pretty smart basketball player,” said Kuzma, who played three years of college at Utah. “I pick up on things easily, but you’re still playing against the best players in the world and you have to guard those guys.”THE RETURN OF BRYANTThe Lakers on Wednesday assigned rookie Thomas Bryant to their G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. A few hours later, they called him back.Expect that to happen frequently this season, as the team tries to get the center from the University of Indiana practice time in the NBA Gatorade League and with Walton’s Lakers.“The G-League is great for this reason,” Walton said. “He has been great in practice. He brings energy. He’s a good young player. But we’ve got three games in four nights. And again next week. There’s just not a ton of practice time.”Walton said Bryant, who has not appeared in a regular-season game, needs to be playing every day. On Wednesday, he participated in morning shootaround with the Lakers, practiced with the South Bay affiliate, and was back for tipoff against the Wizards.“It’s just getting those guys as much development as possible because there’s not minutes in the rotation for them,” Walton said. “It allows them to keep growing as players.”last_img read more