Sep 22, 2010

Dim outlook for Japan's muddled leadership

OSAKA — Having seen a new prime minister every year for five consecutive years, Japan has just narrowly avoided having its third in 2010. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has been elected president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), surviving a challenge from ...

Jul 27, 2010

Sumos and the yakuza

OSAKA — Perhaps no other sport is pursued as religiously as sumo wrestling. Before a match, referees — who double as Shinto priests — purify the seaweed, salt and sake. Wrestlers wash their faces, mouths and armpits before entering the dohyo (ring), on whose ...

Feb 4, 2010

Ozawa: Japan's secret shogun

OSAKA — With the post-general election honeymoon over, the Japanese public has become increasingly aware that Ichiro Ozawa, secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), is the puppet-master behind Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s Cabinet. Although he distances himself from formal policymaking ...

Dec 16, 2009

What does Japan want from Washington?

OSAKA — Three months after the Democratic Party of Japan’s landslide general election victory, the new administration’s foreign and security policy appears to be increasingly at odds with that of the United States. Indeed, there is growing concern on both sides of the Pacific ...

Sep 2, 2009

Japanese metamorphosis

OSAKA — Sunday’s landslide general-election victory by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) terminated the one-party- dominated system that the catch-all Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has controlled almost without interruption since 1955. For most of the last decade, the DPJ was not seen as ...

Sep 18, 2008

Japan spinning its wheels

OSAKA — To lose one prime minister may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two in one year looks like carelessness. That paraphrase by Oscar Wilde aptly sums up the current state of Japanese politics, given the serial resignations of Prime Ministers Shinzo ...

Jul 22, 2008

Quiet changes in Japan's defense

OSAKA — Japan appears to be drifting aimlessly under a divided government, and its external policy seems equally disoriented under a Fukuda administration that has been up to its neck and largely unsuccessful in blazing new trails for the country. Surprisingly, though, bureaucratic autopilot ...

Aug 22, 2007

Japan's bureaucrats versus Shinzo Abe

OSAKA — Much has been made of the massive defeat Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party suffered in the July 29 Upper House elections. But as the smoke from the vote dissipates, it has become clear that the real victor is neither the ...