Search Results for ‘50’

31 – Japan’s Political Tremors and Shifts (31 Mar 2011)

Japan’s calamitous earthquake and tsunami were preceded by great tremors and shifts in its political system, the continuation and outcome of which will inevitably affect the longer term aftermath of the natural disaster. In September 2009 the relatively new DPJ ended a virtual one-party system that had lasted over half a century. But its coming to power had even greater significance. The problems and promise of this change revolve around a question that in Japan was never truly settled. Who has the right to rule? The constitution gives it without a moment’s hesitation to elected officials representing Japanese citizens. But tradition, rooted in the 250 years of the Tokugawa shogunate bureaucracy, has always favored the career officials. The post-World War II ruling party, the LDP formed in 1955, had not done much actual ruling once postwar reconstruction had been completed by politicians who had emerged from the bureaucratic elite. That reconstruction of a war-devastated country was never halted by a political debate about what to do next; it automatically evolved into an unofficial but very real national policy of seemingly limitless expansion of industrial production capacity, with little regard for other possible economic and social priorities. Alternative...

Total in this post : 50: 2

12 – Taking Japan Seriously (4 feb 09)

I just heard that Newsweek will no longer have a bureau with correspondents in Tokyo, and that the Los Angeles Times has begun to cover Japan out of Seoul, Korea. When the Newsweek bureau chief goes, Tokyo loses one of its most thoughtful foreign correspondents. These are merely the latest developments in the gradual marginalization of Japan as a source of news and stories about how things might be done differently in different civilizations; in other words: of Japan as a source of knowledge. TV, the main source of information for the vast majority in most places, lost interest in Japan some years ago. It illustrates the unfortunate fact that our sources of knowledge and the way we go about gathering this knowledge are quite heavily dependent on fashion. Not so long ago it was believed that if you wanted to know our contemporary world you could not do without knowledge of Japan, especially if you wanted to do business. Most of that kind of attention reserved for Japan, as reflected by books, articles, and general discussion, has been switched to China. This is not difficult to understand. Editors do not find Japan sexy enough anymore, nothing...

Total in this post : 50: 1

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...

Total in this post : 50: 1