What’s your favourite thing about Japan? We love the glorious seasonal food and constant access to convenience stores, plus the overall sense of safety. If you feel safer in Japan than anywhere else in the world, you’re not alone: the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) ranks Japan at number nine on this year’s Global Peace Index, and number three in the Asia Pacific region. Iceland is once again the most peaceful place in the world, top dog since 2008, followed by New Zealand, Portugal and Austria.
This is the 14th edition of the Global Peace Index, and with the sudden arrival of Covid-19 coronavirus, this year’s rankings have an extra dimension. The Global Peace Index ranks 163 regions, approximately 99.7 percent of the world’s population, by their level of peacefulness across three domains: societal safety and security, ongoing domestic and international conflict, and militarisation. This year, coronavirus was added to the criteria; the IEP also considered each region’s response to the pandemic, in addition to the likely impact the pandemic will have on what the IEP calls ‘positive peace’ in the next few years. Positive peace refers to attitudes and social structures that help sustain peaceful societies.
Based on this year’s rankings, the IEP says places with higher peacefulness have generally been better at adapting and responding to the pandemic. Japan’s response to the pandemic, a state of emergency rather than a strict lockdown, may have helped put the country in the top ten, but then again, Japan came ninth on last year’s Global Peace Index, too. Especially right now, there’s something to be said for that kind of consistency.
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