Junko Horiuchi reports: Even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed their recent agreement on joint economic activities on four disputed islands off Hokkaido is a step toward resolving the territorial row, the islands’ strategic importance for Russia is likely to continue complicating the decades-old issue.
Even if the agreed economic cooperation chiefly in the Russian Far East makes headway, the strategic importance of the Russian-held islands, claimed by Japan, bodes ill for Tokyo in its efforts to regain them, especially given the advance of China in the Arctic region and Russia’s need to maintain its nuclear deterrence, according to some analysts.
Japan claims that Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group are an integral part of its territory and were illegally seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s surrender in World War II in August 1945. Russia maintains the Soviet Union took the islands legitimately as the spoils of war.
Robert VerBruggen writes:
In a new Voxsplainer on gun violence, Dylan Matthews claims:
Protestations of gun rights supporters aside, public health researchers who study firearms generally agree that increased firearm ownership rates are associated with higher rates of homicide. … Developed countries with more guns generally have more homicide; states within the US with more guns have more homicide…
The two assertions at the end are not true, and the first sentence explains why: If you want to give a good account of a debate about gun statistics, you don’t treat the consensus of “public health researchers” as gospel. The field is notorious for its anti-gun bias, and there’s a whole literature of work outside of it.
It’s true (as Matthews notes) that there are some studies showing guns to be associated with increased homicide once other factors have been statistically “controlled” (a highly subjective process that can be manipulated, even subconsciously, to make the data say whatever the researcher wants them to say). But there is no simple relationship between gun ownership and homicide rates as such, either among developed countries or among states in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »