Taro Aso with Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Image: Franco Origlia
A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center has shown that the most persecuted religion in the world today is Christianity. The case of religious freedom for Christians—most notably Catholics—in Japan, however, represents a positive model for the reconciliation of democracy with the value of religious freedom for religious minorities.
Since 1873, Catholics in modern Japan have enjoyed complete religious freedom, even though the Christian population in Japan has never surpassed one percent of the total Japanese population (with Catholics measuring in at about one half of that). Japanese Catholics have the freedom to believe as they choose, can freely express this belief in the public square, and have maintained this freedom throughout both times of peace and times of war over the last century.
Yet, Catholics have not always enjoyed the same degree of religious freedom within Japan as they do today; it is well known that Japanese Catholics experienced persecution during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Examples include the 1597 crucifixion of St. Paul Miki, S.J. and his twenty-five companions and the use of the “ana-tsurushi” torture technique that leaves people hung upside down in a pit of filth.
However, this began to change when the Shintoist leaders of the Meiji Revolution overthrew the Confucian ancien regime in 1867. Secularist leaders eventually came to power and effectively ended the persecution of Catholics by 1873; all Christians were then free to practice their faith as they wished. In fact, Japanese citizens were explicitly guaranteed the right to freedom of religion under Article 28 of the Meiji Constitution (1889-1945). Japan has since served as a model for reconciling religious minorities with democratic governance.
For example, many Catholics have gone on to hold influential positions of public trust and authority in Japan since the imposition of Article 28 of the Meiji Constitution. David Takashi Hara became Japan’s first Catholic Prime Minster in 1918. Rear Admiral Stefano Shojiro Yamamoto was an evangelical Catholic who introduced Emperor Hirohito to Pope Benedict XV during the emperor’s Grand Tour of Europe in 1921. Frank Yosuke Matsuoka, the man who led Japan’s delegation out of the League of Nations in 1933 and served as Japan’s foreign minister from 1940 to 1941, held deep Catholic affinities and formally converted to Catholicism on his deathbed in 1946.
Subsequently, there has also been a distinctly “Catholic factor” in Japanese foreign affairs. The “John Doe Associates” initiative, a 1941 backdoor diplomatic effort by American and Japanese Catholics in an attempt to avoid war, is a prime example of this. The “John Doe” of this initiative was Fr. James Drought, who was joined by Bishop James E. Walsh and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s Catholic Postmaster, General Frank C. Walker, in an effort to reach out to Matsuoka and others in the Japanese government. The effort ultimately failed, but it suggests one way by which Catholicism provided certain diplomatic avenues for Japan.
Additionally, there appears to be a disproportionate number of Catholics in Japan’s diplomatic corps, including men like Augustine Masahide Kanayama (1909-97), who tried to bring the Second World War to a quick end through an effort known as “Operation Vessel”. Moreover, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and Emperor Hirohito, two men strongly inclined toward Catholicism, explicitly opposed attempts by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur to promote his personal brand of Protestantism and Freemasonry during his military occupation of Japan after World War II. Yoshida would go on to become the single most important Catholic influence on politics in postwar Japan, establishing the basic structure of the postwar political system in ways analogous to what Kondrad Adenauer represented for postwar West Germany.
Even during the tumultuous years of World War II, scant evidence exists to suggest that there was any form of governmental persecution of Japanese Catholics. In fact, there is overwhelming proof that Japanese Catholics continued enjoying a complete freedom of religion during this time: Japanese citizens continued to attend Mass and receive the sacraments throughout the war, Rear Admiral Yamamoto continued speaking out publicly on behalf of his Catholic faith in efforts to avert war, and Yoshihiko Yoshimitsu, a Catholic theology professor at Sophia University, was even invited to the “Overcoming Modernity” symposium that was sponsored by the Imperial Navy in 1942.
This brief history of Catholicism in modern Japan offers insight into how important religious minorities can be for their societies. The United States would be wise to learn from this example. Recent concerns have arisen over the religious freedom of Catholics in the United States, particularly by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in relation to how the Affordable Care Act is being implemented under the Department of Health and Human Services. While many identify religious freedom for Christians as only being an issue in countries like China, Pakistan, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia, we must not forget the role of religious freedom in our own democracy here at home.
The role of Japanese Catholicism goes to the heart of cultural identity. It also highlights the power that the freedom of religion can exercise on human activities. If Japan, even at the height of its war with the West, could guarantee not merely the right to worship but the full public religious freedom of its Catholic citizens, then surely there are lessons here for the United States and other Western governments that, while often complacent about their traditional cultural affinities with Christianity, seem bent on violating the religious rights of their Catholic citizens today.
Dr. Kevin M. Doak holds the Nippon Foundation Endowed Chair in Japanese Studies at Georgetown University, where he is also a professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.
Christopher K. Johnson, Senior Advisor and Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), led a discussion on Chinese domestic politics and foreign policy at the most recent “China Speaker Series” seminar hosted by Georgetown University’s Asian Studies Program. The
Journal sat down with Mr. Johnson after the event to hear more about his views on China’s Third Plenum and Xi Jinping’s leadership.
GJIA: How did China’s Third Plenum of the Eighteenth Central Committee differ from the previous ones?
CJ: The recent Third Plenum in China differed from the previous ones in that Chinese leadership tried to find a balance between being specific [about its reform plans] and being able to get things actually accomplished. The communiqué that was rolled out in the 1993 Third Plenum [of the Fourteenth Central Committee] was too specific. It had passages about clamping down on prostitution, preventing gum chewing, and more. Yet the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) did not implement these measures until much later in the decade when Zhu Rongji became the country’s Premier. In 2003, the party leaders included almost no specifics in the communiqué; they did implement some of the grand strategies listed in the document, but the problem was that, because there were not enough specifics, those measures were too uncoordinated to be impactful.
Therefore, this time, the leadership was looking to include fewer specifics in their decision than the 1993 document did, though I am surprised at the amount of details that they have provided. But more importantly, they have focused on their ability to very quickly deliver at least some of the proposed reform measures. For example, Xi Jinping has repeatedly said, “Empty talk harms the nation.” In the Weibo era, comments like this reach the public very quickly. If the party [had] produced a document and [done] just that, they would have received a lot of criticism from the Chinese public [for] being another do-nothing leadership. So party leadership had to strike that balance between specificity and feasibility this time.
GJIA: Which reform measures in the released Third Plenum communiqué did you find most striking and unexpected?
CJ: In terms of the most striking outcomes of the Third Plenum, I think it is that they were able to, at least in general terms, take on state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Also, this idea that market forces will play the decisive role in allocating resources—and how the Party is couching this as ideological advancement for the CCP—puts a lot of weight and significance on ideological guides to reform. Furthermore, there are many items in the communiqué that human rights activists will like: closing re-education-through-labor camps, loosening up the one-child policy, and reducing the number of crimes subject to the death penalty. As far as the overall scope of reforms is concerned, Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, said before the Plenum convened that this meeting will carry out fundamental, unprecedented reforms that will touch every aspect of Chinese society and economy. People were skeptical of his announcement at first, but it turns out that the Party leadership did get pretty close to Yu’s words.
GJIA: You stressed during the event that Xi Jinping played a central role in the drafting of the Third Plenum communiqué and that, without his early exposure to Chinese politics due to the influence of his father Xi Zhongxun, developing such a detailed policy blueprint within a year of assuming top leadership would have been extremely difficult. Can you tell us more about Xi’s political background and explain how his leadership style is different from that of Hu Jintao? How was Xi able to rapidly consolidate his power within the CCP?
CJ: In terms of Xi Jinping’s background, the most important fact is his ‘princeling’ pedigree. Being a child of one of the regime’s founders carries a lot of stock within the Chinese political system. There are a couple of reasons that it is so valuable, and these are the factors that distinguish Xi from Hu Jintao.
First, it means that Xi has this born-to-rule mentality and self-confidence that Hu lacked. If you talk to people who have met with Xi, they would tell you how he comes across as much a more engaged and confident leader. In the United States, we would say that Xi is a talented retail politician. He knows how to get down with the public. Generally, the Chinese public is not too fond of princelings because they have all these privileges and are often seen as corrupt. However, this is not the case for Xi; the general public is very supportive of him. The reason for this is that, early in his career, Xi made a very smart decision: he was holding an influential position at the Central Military Commission, and could have stayed in this prestigious job, but instead chose to go down to the county level where he spent a very long time working with peasants. Xi thus has this credibility among the Chinese people in a way that Hu certainly did not.
Second, faction-wise, Hu Jintao always had Jiang Zemin looking over his shoulder and this prevented Hu from fully consolidating his power. It is clear that Xi is where he is now because Jiang wanted him to be, in part; there is this relationship between the most powerful figures within the system. And as such, Xi was able to gain a lot of credibility within the elite group as well, which would allow him to execute his policy more easily.
GJIA: The Chinese government recently announced that it is setting up a new national security committee (like Washington’s National Security Council). What was the motivation behind its creation, and how exactly will this security agency function? More importantly, what are some implications of this power transfer for China’s internal political dynamics?
CJ: China’s leaders have been talking about establishing a national security council since the 1990s, and some people say that it goes even further than that. The reason is that they knew that they needed more coordination. The challenge for the CCP has been that they have a stove-piped Leninist system riding on top of an extremely dynamic society, both domestically and globally. The challenge now is that when they make noise, when they swing their arms around, they are more likely to be noticed. They can no longer afford to have this lack of coordination because global implications of what they do are so much more significant in today’s world.
How they were able to do it, I think says a lot about Xi Jinping. He was able to surmount substantial resistance; [with the new agency established], the existing security services lose power, the Party’s legal apparatus loses power, the Political Science and Law Committee loses power, the military to a certain degree, and so on. Though when they roll out the membership of this new body, there will be several military officers in very senior positions.
The other thing to watch for is how the tasks [of China’s new security body] will be balanced between internal and external security issues. Many China experts have already said that this is not the White House National Security Council (NSC). It cannot be, because the White House NSC does not really play a domestic role. In China, however, security is always looked at from domestic perspective first. Therefore, there is going to be a balance been the two, if not a tilt towards domestic security issues. In sum, the most important things keep in mind are: 1) The new body’s membership and where it fits organizationally in the system. Is it indeed above the Central Committee or is it branching entirely off from it? 2) Is it really the side body where Xi Jinping can shape policies that are based largely on his own design? Will he consult the Politburo Standing Committee in this process or not necessarily so? These are some of the most important questions that we should be asking.
Christopher K. Johnson is a senior advisor and holds the Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS. He has frequently advised senior White House, cabinet, congressional, military, and foreign officials on the Chinese leadership and Beijing’s foreign policy. Previously, Mr. Johnson worked as a senior China analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he played a key role in the analytic support to policymakers during the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis and the 1999 accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
Mr. Johnson was interviewed by Daye Shim Lee and William Handel on 19 November 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates meets with NATO Ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs in October 2010 at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Image: U.S. Department of Defense.
The recent support by Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga of an Afghan-U.S. bilateral security agreement marks the end of an era for NATO. While the pending security agreement will help pave the way for a continued NATO presence in Afghanistan until 2024, the alliance’s future involvement in the country will be significantly smaller than over the past decade. As the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission winds down, a bigger debate over what the alliance should focus on in coming years will intensify. This debate is very important not just to the alliance itself, but to transatlantic relations more broadly. Unless NATO can continue to show relevance after Afghanistan, the future of the alliance might well—to paraphrase former Defense Secretary Robert Gates—look dim and dismal.
True enough, Afghanistan has played a key role in shaping transatlantic relations over the past decade. Responding to Afghanistan provided NATO with a justification for its own existence in the new post-9/11 security context by undertaking a complex out-of-area crisis management mission. Though not the first time NATO allies had operated together outside the immediate North Atlantic area—they had previously undertaken stabilization and reconstruction efforts on the Balkans—the Afghanistan mission was the first “deep-out-of-area” mission ever attempted. But Afghanistan also proved more difficult and complex than anything the alliance had previously attempted.
The most extensive and longest lasting mission ever undertaken by NATO, the ISAF mission has absorbed tremendous resources and political attention. Moreover, commensurate with the worsening situation on the ground, public support on both sides of the Atlantic for the mission gradually eroded. The mission’s high human and fiscal costs have also damaged alliance solidarity. NATO allies today are less likely to act in unison. Increasingly, NATO contributions will take place on an “opt-in” basis—as was the case during the 2011 Libya intervention—rather than as a genuinely collective effort, which was the norm up until recently. Emerging out of Afghanistan is therefore a “two-tier alliance,” with a core group of states willing and able to carry out military interventions and with others remaining at the sidelines.
As a result, future NATO missions will be significantly smaller in both scope and scale. Large-scale nation-building—especially when it occurs in faraway places with little direct strategic significance—is definitely a thing of the past. And when NATO does intervene, it will do so using a much smaller footprint. But if this is the case, what should NATO’s post-Afghanistan security role be?
There is a great sense of urgency to the question. The strategic environment in which NATO operates is rapidly changing. The U.S. pivot to Asia and the Eurocrisis, combined with unprecedented security challenges in Europe’s southern neighborhood, all form the backdrop of transatlantic relations in the coming years. Moreover, Washington has repeatedly sent the message to its European allies that it expects them to share a bigger piece of the security pie for the United States to continue investing in the transatlantic relationship.
Herein lies an apparent paradox: in order to keep NATO relevant in the 21st century, the alliance must manage both its traditional territorial defense tasks and take on new ones relevant to global security, all while avoiding costly and long-lasting missions far from the North Atlantic. What does this leave NATO to do?
First of all, NATO must take steps to preserve some of the progress it has made in Afghanistan when it comes to promoting interoperability between European and American forces. It can do so by boosting the number of joint trainings and exercises. This is particularly relevant given the likelihood of withdrawal of some of the American troops from Europe in coming years. Fortunately, this process of promoting interoperability has already started (e.g. the Connected Forces Initiative), but more should be done.
Another obvious opportunity for NATO is in Europe’s wider neighborhood, an area that is of course highly relevant in the post-Arab Spring security environment. Finally, NATO should seek to become a platform for advancing new global partnerships with current partners such as Australia and Japan as well as with regional security organizations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the African Union. One regional area where NATO can fill a void is the Arctic, where it could work with other regional players to promote a peaceful development in the region.
The end of the Afghanistan mission marks the beginning of a new era for NATO. Clearly, the alliance will not attempt another Afghan mission anytime soon. Yet, returning to its original purpose of territorial defense is not a viable option either. Instead, NATO must seek to become more dynamic in terms of allies’ commitments and more diverse in terms of missions while keeping focused on new security challenges in order to remain relevant in today’s rapidly changing security environment.
Erik Brattberg is a graduate of the Master of Science in Foreign Service program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
Mongolia, Mozambique, and Myanmar share much in common. All possess enormous untapped natural resources, experienced recent turns from communism to democracy, border at least one nation belonging to the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) or CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa) economic blocs, and currently demonstrate remarkable economic growth.
M3, as investors are calling the alliterative trifecta, is quickly becoming the next emerging market cluster. Mongolian-based Silk Road Management, which coined “M3” in 2012, established the first fund ever to be focused on Mongolia, Myanmar, and Mozambique, aiming to profit from these three “resource-rich frontier markets” with legitimate optimism.
Each country has enormous potential to mine itself into prosperity. Mongolia is home to 10 percent of global coal reserves and ranks twelfth in the world’s holdings of proven copper. In total, the country may possess roughly $1 trillion of untapped minerals, earning the moniker “Minegolia.” This $1 trillion would account for over 30 percent of gross domestic output in the foreseeable future. Mozambique has significant amounts of aluminum and coal as well as $400 billion worth of natural gas deposits. Its national currency, the metical, was the best performing currency in 2012, as foreign direct investment hit a record $5.2 billion, of which 83 percent went into gas and mining. Finally, Myanmar—a mineral repository—annually exports $1.75 billion in jade and provides 90 percent of the world’s ruby supply. It further accounts for 80 percent of the world’s teak wood and reportedly has 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Given the numbers, it is easy to be optimistic about the M3’s future market performance. Mongolia’s economy is expected to top 12 percent annual growth in 2013, according to the IMF, while Mozambique and Myanmar are forecasted at 7 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively. Silk Road Management claims that all three will be among the world’s top five fastest growing countries in the next decade.
Of course, prudence is needed to avoid overhyping yet another economic bloc. In the early 2000’s, Goldman Sachs’s Jim O’Neill broadcasted the rise of BRIC, which he now admits has become little more than the big “C” due to Chinese growth. Then in 2010 came HSBC’s CIVETS. Despite great publicity, the CIVETS fund ultimately closed in July of this year; however, the following graph clearly shows M3 is outshining yesterday’s acronyms.
M3 Outshines Yesterday’s Acronyms
The graph, compiled from World Bank data, illustrates M3’s annual GDP growth rate as more than double that of the BRIC and CIVETS groupings. Political turmoil in Egypt and Turkey, combined with current account balance issues in Indonesia, India, and Vietnam, has lowered the CIVETS’s 2013 growth to 4 percent on average. BRIC countries are seeing a slowdown of commodity windfalls, especially for Brazil and Russia, while China and India are attempting to pivot to internal, consumption-based growth. BRIC growth will average slightly over 4 percent in 2013, while the M3 collectively may achieve a blistering 9.5 percent. Yet the real challenge for all M3 countries will be equitably profiting from their assets with only nascent democracies in place.
Mozambique, Mongolia, and Myanmar are all leaving behind somber histories of communism and civil war. Mozambique’s fifteen-year civil war between the Marxist FRELIMO regime and anti-communist RENAMO rebels left nearly 1 million dead between 1977 and 1992. Recent saber-rattling between these two forces further threatens to upend the brokered peace and economic growth. Myanmar (formerly Burma) experienced a similar battle with the Soviet-inspired military junta for 50 years. While free elections and the release of activist Aung San Suu Kyi in 2010 have turned a page in Myanmar’s history, tension still permeates the country’s Muslim and Buddhist communities. Mongolia also had its share of communist troubles. In spite of its 1990 democratic revolution, the Stalin-Choibalsan purges that cost 30,000 lives have certainly left an indelible mark on the country.
It is clear that the M3 nations face a lot of political headwind. No country is fully able to sever itself from a bloody history without residual effects, and Mozambique, Mongolia, and Myanmar face additional populist sentiments and growing pains that could derail economic progress. Their heavy dependence on resource exports, especially to China, is susceptible to a decline in global commodity demand. Inflation, the curse of most resource-based economies, is especially rampant in Mongolia and Mozambique, inciting political attempts to ameliorate the higher costs through large government redistributions. Private investment contracts for minerals have also been put on hold, canceled, or renegotiated in each country. Hoping to squeeze out additional foreign funds, government overreach has dampened investor enthusiasm across the M3.
It may be too early to tell if the M3 will become high-performance economies like the Asian Tigers or simply be another overly optimistic agglomeration of letters. Uncertainty in terms of political stability and rule of law makes these three countries questionable investment choices, but profits may indeed arise if investors can tolerate some hefty risk.
Ryan Rommann is an independent international relations researcher. His work has appeared in such places as The Guardian, The Diplomat and American Interest. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Ryan lived in Mongolia for 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with members of the Alpha Group, a counter-terrorism task force within Russia’s Federal Security Services. Image: SpetsnazAlpha.
With the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in mind, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a new and harsher anti-terrorism law. The first part of this new law is aimed at forcing relatives of insurgents to repay any damage resulting from terrorist acts committed in Russia. It specifies that relatives and/or people close to the terrorist should compensate for damages if it is proven that they obtained money or other goods due to terrorist activities. The concept of “close people” is so broadly defined that it encompasses anyone with a personal relationship with the suspected terrorist or militant. This new law delegates enormous power to the Russian security apparatus, and particularly the North Caucasus branch of the police and the Federal Security Service (FSB). Instead of creating new investigative powers and capacities, it simply offers policemen a new way to abuse the counter-terrorist operations in order to extract bribes from ordinary people in the region.
In fact, security forces in Russia have regularly abused new anti-terrorism laws in order to extract bribes and eliminate political opponents by labeling them as extremists. The most notable examples of these abuses were observed with the anti-Wahhabism law in Dagestan in September of 1999, which was unofficially extended to the entire North Caucasus region throughout the 2000s. Following the Chechen invasion of Dagestan in 1999, the Dagestani government outlawed “Wahhabism” as a whole movement or ideology, as well as “other extremist activities,” without fully defining the concepts. There are no details outlined in the law regarding how it should be applied and whether it is aiding the counter-terrorist operation, nor does anyone supervise or review how the law is being applied by police forces. The anti-Wahhabi law opened Pandora’s Box, and has lead to corruption and abuses that have helped feed the insurgency in areas like Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan.
I personally witnessed the arbitrary nature of security force behaviors and decisions associated with the anti-Wahhabi law. Just my having a beard labeled me as a “Wahhabi” and was enough for police in Dagestan to control, search, and try to extract bribes from me on a daily basis. For many local Dagestanis, it also means arbitrary arrests and other abuses, including torture, disappearances, and extra-judicial killings. In the best case scenario, the new law will create a system of collective responsibility and justice inspired by the abuses committed in Chechnya against the militants’ families (torching and bombing houses, torture, and disappearances). Trying to emulate the brutal counter-insurgency techniques of Chechnya in other North Caucasus republics has proven to be a catastrophe. Nothing seems to indicate that this new law will differ from previous tendencies.
The new law will also boost the penalties for participating in and financing insurgent groups by doubling most of the associated prison terms and fines. It will criminalize the act of undergoing training in order to commit a “terrorist act.” This might act as a deterrent for lower-level and part-time members of the insurgency, but it is very doubtful to have any effect on the committed leaders and followers involved in insurgent attacks. This addition to the anti-terrorism law will also inadvertently mark journalists, human-rights workers, and academics trying to access and interview insurgents as individuals linked with terrorist activities. The local police and the Russian government might use the new law as way to suppress and scare people from documenting abuses committed against ordinary people and insurgents. The concept of undergoing training might be stretched to the point that meeting with insurgents will be enough to undergo criminal proceedings in the North Caucasus. There are more chances that the law will be used for political reasons than for reasons of security.
In recent years, academic researchers, international organizations and the Russian government itself have clearly identified that the insurgency is the result of corruption, low economic development, and security force abuses rather than a growing problem of religious extremism. Instead of building on these findings and the recent success against extremism, this new law seems to reinforce the major structural problems in the North Caucasus. The Russian government and its security forces in the region have been successful in combating extremism by infiltrating the insurgency and conducting crucial counter-terrorist operations. The new law does not provide new tools for the security services to fight extremism; it simply reinforces the lawlessness and high-level of corruption amongst policemen in the North Caucasus.
It is extremely doubtful that this new law will contribute to fighting terrorism in the region. It will probably simply further antagonize the local population and reinforce the insurgency’s recruitment capacity in the near future. This situation will only increase the possibility of witnessing a terrorist attack against Sochi Olympic installations or a “soft” undefended target, such as tourist places and transportation infrastructure in the vicinity of the Russian capital.
Jean-François Ratelle is a postdoctoral fellow at the George Washington University, with research interests including the micro-dynamics of violence, civil wars, terrorism, Islamic radicalization, the North Caucasus, and the Balkans. He completed his PhD in political science at the University of Ottawa in 2013, with a dissertation dealing with the recent upsurge of insurgent violence in the North Caucasus.
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