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)

...get a point across, a point deserving at least 500 words, which his or her editor refuses to understand. The marginalization of Japan as a source of knowledge is too bad, especially at this very moment, when the world and in particular Washington could learn a great deal from Japan in connection with the credit crisis. This quite aside from the fact that Japan remains the world’s second largest industrial power. What makes Japan so important and interesting as a source of knowledge? It forces anyone who is serious about its complexities to rethink matters long taken for granted in the United States and Europe. The kind of knowledge one can gather from Japan, aside from the kind known as marketing, is conceptual. Again and again, when considering things Japanese, I can get excited about the way in which its ways undermine commonplace beliefs about politics, about social life and, especially, about economic matters. How that came to be is an interesting question. I am inclined to think that the combination of Japan’s highly sophisticated culture and the three centuries of isolation in which it developed has much to do with it. In any case, Thailand or Malaysia, or France,...

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