The Japan Times newsroom selected the following world news stories as the most important of 2018.
1. Korean detente: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s meetings with presidents Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump led to a detente and a vaguely worded statement that the North would “work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” while committing to a “lasting stable peace.” What stance will Kim take in 2019?
2. Brexit limbo: The U.K.’s planned divorce from the European Union experienced a rocky year, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan facing staunch opposition from within her own party. Calls for a second referendum have risen, and fears of a no-deal Brexit have prompted preparations for possible contingencies.
3. In it for the long run: In March, China removed presidential term limits from its constitution, allowing Xi Jingping to stay in power indefinitely. Xi has consolidated his power, had his name and ideology enshrined in Communist Party doctrine and has become the most powerful leader in China since Mao Zedong.
4. Hot in here: In October, climate scientists warned the world has just 12 years to limit climate change in order to stave off floods, drought, extreme heat and mass poverty. In December, international negotiators at the COP24 conference in Poland agreed to set stricter targets for emissions cuts under the Paris agreement.
5. Mass detention: A U.N. panel said in August it had received credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uighurs were being held in China in what was referred to as a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.” Western nations called for action, but China defended the detentions as “vocational training.”
6. Media under fire: The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that 53 journalists were killed for their work in 2018, doubling the figure from 2017. The killing of one of those journalists, Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in October sparked a diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and its allies.
7. Closing in: Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election produced a wealth of indictments, guilty pleas and convictions. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted of fraud, and the president’s one-time fixer Michael Cohen was handed a three-year prison term.
8. ‘Genocidal intent’: In August, U.N. human rights investigators released a report accusing Myanmar’s military of engaging in mass killings and rapes of the country’s Rohingya population with “genocidal intent.” Stalled repatriation plans in November left the future in doubt for 700,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh camps.
9. Mad scientists: In November, a Chinese scientist claimed to have helped create the world’s first gene-edited babies, leading to shock and ethics concerns across the scientific community. In a letter, 120 Chinese scientists joined the outcry, calling the experiment “crazy.”
10. Zero tolerance: In April, the Trump administration began a policy of separating children from migrant families, drawing outcry that led to a reversal in June. Ahead of the midterm elections in November, Trump politicized a caravan of thousands of migrants heading toward the U.S. border with Mexico.
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