Japan slips to eighth in global peace index, as East Asia rifts mount

Kyodo

Japan dropped by two notches from last year to eighth in the 2014 global peace index released Wednesday by an international think tank, with Iceland at the top and Syria, South Sudan and North Korea near the bottom.

The Institute for Economics & Peace’s Global Peace Index ranks 162 countries by their levels of safety and peacefulness, according to 22 indicators including the threat of terrorism, social stability and military outlays.

Relatively small, stable democracies filled the top 10 slots, led by Iceland, Denmark and Austria. The Asia-Pacific region was represented in the top 10 by New Zealand in fourth place and Japan in eighth.

In contrast, Ukraine, facing instability in its standoff with Russia, skidded 30 slots to 141 in the ranking. Egypt, still reeling from the Arab Spring democratic uprising of 2011, marked a similarly sharp fall of 31 places to 143rd place.

Syria, in the bottom position at 162nd, traded places with Afghanistan, while war-torn South Sudan placed 160th.

In East Asia, South Korea ranked 52nd and China 108th. North Korea was 153rd.

Steve Killelea, the founder of the Sydney-based institute, said that the level of peace was gradually deteriorating in East Asia. The region is marked by growing tensions over territorial issues involving China and Japan, among other countries.

The U.S., the country with the biggest military budget, ranked 101st. Russia was 152nd.