Today’s Top World News from The Washington Post:
- Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Chinese need for conflict is ‘deeply ingrained’--TOKYO — China has a “deeply ingrained” need to spar with Japan and other Asian neighbors over territory, because the ruling Communist Party uses the disputes to maintain strong domestic support, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview. Clashes with neighbors, notably Japan, play to popular opinion, Abe said, given a Chinese education system that emphasizes patriotism and “anti-Japanese sentiment.” Nearly a century after the Jallianwala Bagh, a U.K. prime minister offers something close to a formal apology. Abe’s theory on the entrenched motivation behind China’s recent naval aggression helps explain why he has spent more effort trying to counter the Chinese than make peace with them: He thinks the fierce dispute with China over an island chain in the East China Sea isn’t going away anytime soon, reports Chico Harlan.
-Exclusive Interview: Shinzo Abe’s new agenda: Better ties with U.S. by Fred Hiatt
- Russia tries to improve life expectancy with laws curbing drinking, smoking--MOSCOW — Hours after his inauguration last May, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering his government to increase Russian life expectancy to 74 years by 2018, reflecting urgency in the effort to keep the world’s largest country filled with enough people to sustain it. Last year, life expectancy here was 66.5 years, according to estimates by the CIA World Factbook — 60.1 for men and 73.2 for women — compared with 78.5 years in the United States and 79.8 in the European Union. More people are dying than are being born. Russians bear a staggering load of risk factors for disease, with 60 percent of men smoking and each citizen consuming, on average, more than four gallons of pure alcohol a year. Half the population is overweight, reports Kathy Lally.
- In India, Britain’s David Cameron offers near-apology for colonial-era massacre--NEW DELHI — It wasn’t quite the apology that Indians have been waiting for, but it came close. After 94 years, Britain expressed regret Wednesday for a colonial-era incident in which British troops fired on pro-independence protesters in the northern state of Punjab, killing hundreds. The massacre is described in gruesome detail in many Indian textbooks and has helped shape the nation’s collective memory. Nearly a century after the Jallianwala Bagh, a U.K. prime minister offers something close to a formal apology. Amid much speculation and demand for an apology, British Prime Minister David Cameron took off his shoes and laid a wreath at the site of the shooting in the city of Amritsar on the last day of a three-day visit to India, reports Rama Lakshmi.
-Chinese cyberspies have hacked most Washington institutions, experts say--Start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them. The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies. The information compromised by such intrusions, security experts say, would be enough to map how power is exercised in Washington to a remarkably nuanced degree. The only question, they say, is whether the Chinese have the analytical resources to sort through the massive troves of data they steal every day, report Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima.
- Republican senator John McCain is still raising questions and hackles--In 2010, in the heat of a close race for reelection, McCain boiled down his stance on immigration reform into one memorable phrase: “Complete the danged fence,” a reference to tightening border security. Now, in light of his enthusiasm for broad reforms that could include a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, critics have accused McCain of flip-flopping and selling out. McCain’s 2010 primary opponent, J.D. Hayworth, called McCain’s often-stated belief that immigration reform could benefit Republicans “misguided and false.” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose office phone hold message includes the prompt, “If you are aware of any illegal immigration activity, call the hotline to report it,” said: “I don’t think this is the first time on an issue that he’s changed. Check his records.”McCain has dismissed his critics with characteristic vehemence, even calling one town hall attendee a “jerk.” The long search for the Real John McCain continues. By Jason Horowitz
-The Fix: How immigration threatens to tear the GOP apart--The Republican political establishment sees immigration reform as a political necessity. Much of the party’s base sees it as the end of the rule of law. “The GOP faces a choice between the politics of math and the politics of anecdote,” explained Glen Bolger, a prominent Republican pollster. “The politics of math is pretty clear. The numbers of Hispanics are growing, and politically we cannot afford to get a shrinking piece of a growing pie. The politics of anecdote is that illegal immigrants are only taking jobs, selling drugs, and joining gangs. That’s clearly not the case, and we cannot pretend that it is.” Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s testy townhall typifies the divide between a party in Washington that, for the most part, simply wants to find a way to get to a “yes” on immigration reform and an activist base who views that effort as contradictory to the foundational principles of the party, report Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake.
-The Root: Are Black Immigrants Lost in the Debate?--Immigration reform has emerged as the most-talked-about domestic-policy issue of 2013. In his first major interview after winning re-election, President Obama dubbed it one of his major second-term priorities. But perhaps more notably, high-profile conservative Republicans have latched onto it as well. Fox News firebrand Sean Hannity announced a political about-face on the issue immediately after the 2012 election, declaring his newfound support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Hannity's voice has been echoed by Republican lawmakers such as Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who are working with Democrats to find a bipartisan solution to the current immigration crisis. But the most prominent Republican voice on the issue is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The Cuban American recently appeared on a Time magazine cover with the headline "The Republican Savior: How Marco Rubio Became the Voice of the GOP." By Keli Goff
- As sequester nears, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale at center of storm--Pentagon comptroller Robert F. Hale is overseeing the Defense Department’s plans to furlough most of its 800,000 civilian workers, but he insists that he still meets with friendly faces as he strides down the building’s corridors. “I teasingly say, ‘When I walk down the hall, people still wave, but with fewer fingers,’ ” said Hale, who is balancing the tension and frustration of the times with a bit of wit. As the Defense Department’s chief financial officer and principal adviser on all fiscal matters, including the Pentagon’s annual budget of more than $600 billion, the 66-year-old Hale and his office are at the focal point of a crisis, reports Steve Vogel.
- Pentagon warns workers may need to take unpaid leave if sequester kicks in--The Pentagon warned 800,000 civilian employees worldwide Wednesday that they will be forced to take unpaid leave if deep budget cuts take effect next week, fueling growing anxiety about the impact of the automatic spending reductions on the nation’s economy and security. In the most detailed account of the ramifications of across-the-board cuts, called the sequester, Defense Department officials said civilian personnel could be put on leave one day a week for 22 weeks — effectively cutting their pay by 20 percent for nearly six months. According to the Office of Personnel Management, 107,000 of these workers live in the District, Maryland and Virginia, report Zachary A. Goldfarb and Ernesto Londoño.
Wonkblog: The Sequester: Absolutely everything you could possibly need to know, in one FAQ by Dylan Mathews
- Federal Reserve unlikely to end stimulus efforts soon, minutes signal--Fears that the Federal Reserve will withdraw its massive stimulus have been hanging over financial markets for months. Stocks on Wednesday tumbled on those concerns after minutes of a recent meeting showed growing debate about the initiative within the central bank. But the prevailing sentiment at the Fed, as conveyed by the minutes as well as recent remarks, is that the central bank’s efforts to pump tens of billions of dollars into the economy every month should not end anytime soon. Consumers are just beginning to reap the benefits of ultra-low interest rates and increased credit. Cutting off the program now could harm that fledgling progress before it is fully realized, Fed officials said in a meeting in January, reports Ylan Q. Mui,.