2016 Global Peace Index: NZ, Japan ‘safest’ countries in Asia Pacific
Share this on

2016 Global Peace Index: NZ, Japan ‘safest’ countries in Asia Pacific

ACCORDING to the 10th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI) by the Institute for Economics and Peace, things are getting worse. Indicators for global peace are generally down and there is a widening gap between the most peaceful and least peaceful countries.

If there is a bright side to the results of the study, it a measurable increase in the level of peace in those nations at the top of the list. This may mean that whatever it is they are doing to promote peace, it is continuing to work and work better. Overall, 81 countries became more peaceful, while 79 became less so.

What makes a country more peaceful?

The Sydney-headquartered Institute for Economics and Peace uses 23 indicators to measure the “economic impact of violence” with a possible score of 1–5 in three chief categories relating to peace: safety and security in society, extent of conflict (domestic and international) and degree of militarization.

According to the IEP, factors contributing to peace include:

  • Well-functioning government
  • Free flow of information
  • Good relations with neighbors
  • Equitable distribution of resources
  • High levels of human capital
  • Sound business environment
  • Acceptance of the rights of others
  • Low levels of corruption

Also factored in is how well the individual states deal with “shocks” from outside and inside sources as well as the “cost of violence” in terms of death, fear, security and military expenditure, sexual and violent assault, etc.

Asia Pacific: The good and the bad

In the Asia Pacific region two countries cracked the top 11 of a total of 163 states. This year’s methodology only defined 11 countries as having a “very high” state of peace. The most peaceful countries in the region are New Zealand, which ranked 4th globally, followed by Japan in 9th place, the latter dropping one spot from last year’s rankings. Australia, by comparison, dropped from 9th to 15th, exiting the “very high” club, which included 25 countries in 2015.

The Asia Pacific (excluding South Asia) was the 3rd most peaceful region behind Europe and North America, and maintained the same level of general peace since last year, marked by periods of peace and continued or building military tensions in individual states.

“A number of countries have improved their score this year including Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Myanmar and Thailand. Heightened tensions in the South China Sea will continue to impact external relations between the three main nations concerned, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.”

—Global Peace Index 2016

Japan’s recent political leanings away from post-war pacifism have yet to affect its status as a very peaceful nation in the eyes of the GPI. However, this may change if the Liberal Party’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe realizes his vision of revising the constitution, leaving the door open for a revival of Japanese militarism.

The top 5 most peaceful countries in the Asia Pacific region with global ranking in parenthesis

  1. New Zealand (4)
  2. Japan (9)
  3. Bhutan (13)
  4. Australia (15)
  5. Singapore (20)

The 5 least peaceful countries in Asia with global ranking in parenthesis

  1. Pakistan (153)
  2. North Korea (150)
  3. India (141)
  4. Philippines (139)
  5. Thailand (125)

Notes on methodology regarding Asia

The GPI treated the Asia Pacific and South Asia as separate regions. Central and Western Asian countries were grouped with “Russia and Eurasia” and the “Middle East and North Africa”. Russia, which is in both Asia and Europe, received a very low global ranking of 151, while Afghanistan, which is in both South and Central Asia, but not counted in the Asia Pacific, comes in at the 160th most peaceful country of 163. The least peaceful countries, in descending order, were the war-torn nations of Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Topics covered: