Search Results for ‘23’

19 – The Sad Necessity of Economic Self-censorship (23 Apr 09)

Notwithstanding the gradually declining fortunes of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan as a journalists’ club (you cannot count on finding a real-life correspondent when you enter its main bar), it still manages to pull off memorable events at which journalists are given the opportunity to engage prominent figures in serious and searching conversation. I participated in one yesterday, at which two recipients of the Japan Prize, David Kuhl & Dennis Meadows, could discuss what they had been doing and thinking. For the radiology pioneer and “father of positron emission tomography scanning” – allowing doctors to look into the physical substance of our brains and other soft tissue – the press could hardly have been expected to express more than awe, but the exchange with Dr. Meadows turned into a probing discussion. Having become famous 37 years ago with his Club of Rome report The Limits to Growth, Meadows has continued to think about what economies are for and what they cannot do. If the format of the event and time had permitted it, this FCCJ press luncheon could easily have turned into a brainstorming session about the broader background against which the current financial crisis could...

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23 – Lifting Japan’s Curse of ‘Muddling Through’ (22 May 09)

The forced resignation of the leader of Japan’s opposition party, Ichiro Ozawa, and the election of Yukio Hatoyama as his succcessor, may appear to outsiders as the proverbial storm in a teacup, but it is more than that: it is directly related to the question whether or not Japan’s curse of ‘muddling through’ will be lifted after the forthcoming elections. Especially now that it has been demonstrated, once again, that the immune system of Japan’s political world is still capable of keeping down those who might upset the status quo. The status quo is treasured by Japan’s administrative bureaucracy, of which the editors of the big newspapers, the managers of the industrial federations, as well as those of the financial institutions and much of big industry also form a part. The absence of waves is a sacred condition. It prevents what is known here as “a confused situation” – disturbance of the social order that the administrators fear most. The Japanese public as a whole is less addicted to the status quo. And when I came back to Japan in the beginning of this year my first conversations with old friends, with political analysts, and in casual...

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On Nuclear Collision And Disarmament (23 Feb 2009)

The terrorist with a nuclear bomb is the spectre that has now haunted us for some years. It has kept security agencies more than busy. The legal position of free citizens has been sacrificed in the process, and it has justified massive defense expenditures. And then, suddenly, we hear about the collision of two nuclear submarines in oceanic depths, the British HMS Vanguard and the French Le Triomphant. Both were carrying nuclear ballistic warheads. Their names by themselves are suggestive of the military fairy-tale that has produced these vessels. As if we are still living in the time of Napoleon and Lord Nelson, the navies of these NATO allies and European Union partners are keeping their navigation details hidden from each other. With a near catastrophe as the result. It took several weeks before the world heard snippets of information about it. A position analysis is overdue. The financial crisis demands all attention. We have “change”, the key promise of Obama’s election campaign, in abundance, but it is of quite a different kind than the new president would seem to have envisaged. He would re-unite the American nation, correct the disastrous excesses of the domestic and foreign policies...

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Time For Nato to Shut Up (23 june 2011)

Europe ought to be grateful to Robert M Gates. In his farewell speech in Brussels he read the allies a lesson they could not have misunderstood. If, from hereon, Europeans are not prepared to deliver more to the alliance, American voters – and with them Congress – will dump NATO. Why be grateful for that statement? Because a better demonstration of the bankruptcy of the alliance is difficult to imagine. The Europeans can only gain from a confrontation with that reality, and Gates has just made such a confrontation more likely. If the European states comply with the demands made by the departing American defense secretary this would boil down to them accepting a permanent status as vassals of the United States. Washington determines how many, where and when. The why of it all remains unclear and can change by the day. Take the case of Libya where as the main purpose of military action regime change has been substituted for protection of the population. What did Gates say about Afghanistan? A recent visit to that country had convinced him of the reality of progress. But “It is no secret that for too long, the international military effort...

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