At about the same time when Munich's railway stations were cleared on threats of terrorist attacks, the beautiful Grand-Place in Brussels blanketed by storm-troopers and some 100,000 police and army personnel patrolled the French cities, the people in the Land of the Rising Sun were serenely praying on New Year's sunrise to the celestial sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami.
Starting with New Zealand's cheerful celebrations and spectacular firework displays in the breathtaking Sydney Harbour, East Asia was ushering in a New Year with song and dance in its public squares, millions of revelers in its streets and contemplative moments in its temples of warship.
They had many things to celebrate.
This fastest-growing segment of the world economy is lifting millions of its people out of poverty, and its rapidly expanding middle class is expected to provide a new source of support to struggling developed economies.
With more than $700 billion in excess savings, East Asia can do that: It is by far the world's largest capital exporter and the main hope of non-inflationary finance to the deeply indebted countries.
East Asia is also ending the year on a high note of peace and economic cooperation.
Koreans are talking (nicely)
Japan and South Korea reached recently an agreement on one of the most contentious issues in their history.
Yes, the critics are finding things to fault in the way Tokyo and Seoul came together in their deal on WWII "comfort women," but I believe this agreement is just the first step of many that the two countries will undertake to narrow disagreements on their past and to build closer economic, social and political ties.
Relations between the north and south parts of the Korean Peninsula are also discussed in a more positive key than has been the case in recent years. Conciliatory initiatives are now coming from both sides.