World News Brief, Friday August 15

North Korea fires rockets as Pope begins five-day visit; Okinawans protest relocation of US military base; US tightens control on arms transfer to Israel; Brazil mourns presidential candidate; and more

Top of the Agenda

North Korea Fires Rockets as Pope Visits South Korea

North Korea fired five short-range rockets into the East Sea on Thursday (Yonhap) as Pope Francis landed in South Korea for a five-day trip that kicks off his first Asian tour as pontiff. In an English speech in Seoul, the Pope called for renewed efforts to forge peace on the war-divided Korean Peninsula, urging regional reconciliation (NYT). Notably, Francis also sent a message of goodwill to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a rare gesture that observers say could further a low-key push for better ties with China (SCMP), which has had fraught relations with the Vatican. During his visit, the pope will also convene the region's bishops and lead a meeting of young Asian Catholics.


"Asia offers potential for the Catholic Church to counterbalance falling membership in Europe and the U.S., yet it is a source of problems for Rome, including tensions with Hindu and Muslim communities, stiff competition from Protestant evangelical groups, and declining rates of church attendance," writes Deborah Ball for the Wall Street Journal.

"The Catholic Church in Korea enjoys a high level of respect from non-Catholics, maintains good relations with other religious communities, and has a history of positive social engagement for the common good. Pope Francis's visit will recognize these accomplishments, a move that will not only please Koreans, but hold up their church as a model of evangelization," writes Franklin Rausch for CNN.

"Spanish rule left the Philippines strongly Catholic, but Korea is less simple. In the 18th century curious intellectuals encountered Catholicism in Beijing and smuggled it home," writes the Economist.



Okinawans Demonstrate Against U.S. Military Base

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied on Japan's southern Okinawa island on Thursday, protesting the long-delayed relocation of a controversial U.S. military base (AFP). Workers broke ground on the construction plans to build new runways at Camp Schwab.

This CFR Backgrounder discusses the history, evolution, and future of the U.S.-Japan security alliance.


White House tightens control on arms transfer to Israel

Brazil mourns presidential candidate

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