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Kevin Rafferty
For Kevin Rafferty's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
COMMENTARY / World
Feb 1, 2008
Suharto puzzle still in play
HONG KONG — In death, Indonesia's former President Suharto was praised as a great and almost saintly ruler. At Suharto's state funeral Monday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono saluted the casket, one general to another, and declared "His service is an example to us."
COMMENTARY / World
Dec 24, 2007
Christmas letter to Pope Benedict XVI
HONG KONG — Until three years ago, you had a well-earned reputation as the fierce watchdog of the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. You were nicknamed "God's Rottweiler."
COMMENTARY / World
Dec 16, 2007
Gored by a political truth
HONG KONG — He still has the same patrician manner — friends would say aloof, others might say pompous. He still carries a mountainous chip on his shoulder, believing that he was robbed of the U.S. presidency seven years ago.
COMMENTARY / World
Nov 14, 2007
Shake up top financial clubs
HONG KONG — They trooped out for their five minute photo-op, gray men in gray suits — plus this time one woman, also in a gray suit — and then huddled again for their discussions and finally painted a rosy economic picture of a world of turbulence.
COMMENTARY / World
Nov 1, 2007
Not so welcome to Japan any longer
HONG KONG — Japan is still purporting to celebrate "Yokoso Japan" or Welcome to Japan — just as it is preparing to inflict on every foreign visitor measures that are harassing, time-consuming, unnecessary, and would be illegal if done to Japanese citizens in Japan.
COMMENTARY / World
Oct 10, 2007
A role for Japan in Myanmar
HONG KONG — If any good is to come from the murder of cameraman Kenji Nagai on the streets of Yangon, it must be that Japan recovers its moral voice. So far there has been a small stirring of conscience and murmurs that aid may be cut as a mark of dissatisfaction with the murderous Myanmarese military regime. This is a start, but is not sufficient.
COMMENTARY / World
Oct 2, 2007
China can change Myanmar
HONG KONG — Buddhist monks, the most pacific of dedicated religious people, marched through the streets of Myanmar's main cities Yangon and Mandalay last week in protest against years of hardship, gross mismanagement and corruption inflicted on their long-suffering people.
Japan Times
LIFE / Lifestyle
Dec 5, 2006
There's no need to grit your teeth
It has all the elements of a nightmare. A masked person stands over you wielding a small mirror in one gloved hand and a needle-sharp probe in the other. A drill powerful enough to cut through bone in seconds sits idle on a table beside other implements of torture. You cannot see the masked face clearly because of dazzling lights above you, but your tormentor draws closer, eyes encased in goggles like a creature from outer space.
COMMENTARY / World
Nov 20, 2006
Thaksin poses dilemma for Thai leaders
Thaksin Shinawatra, in exile in London, has given notice that he is still alive and very much kicking. Indeed, the deposed leader is playing a devilishly devious and clever, but potentially deadly, game for himself and for Thailand.
COMMENTARY / World
Nov 12, 2006
Vatican places state of limbo in limbo
HONG KONG -- Theologians of the Roman Catholic Church are recommending the abolition of a special place that has existed for more than 2,000 years and enriched the world of literature and politics, as well as theology. Pope Benedict XVI himself has given his clear opinion, as an eminent theologian, that he agrees that limbo should be banished.
COMMENTARY / World
Sep 25, 2006
Pope showed bias in misguided moment
HONG KONG -- What theological devil tempted Pope Benedict XVI earlier this month to make a byzantine reference to a long-forgotten Christian emperor who, under siege in Constantinople (now Istanbul) from Muslim forces, made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad's instruction to spread Islam by fire and sword?
COMMENTARY / World
Sep 4, 2006
An uphill battle for Manmohan Singh
HONG KONG -- When Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, following in the footsteps of Jawaharlal Nehru, spoke from the great gateway of Shah Jehan's Red Fort to celebrate Independence Day, he looked like a tiny, almost insignificant figure, framed by gigantic red sandstone walls, as he looked down on the throng below.
CULTURE / Books
Jul 23, 2006
Taking people out of the boxes
IDENTITY AND VIOLENCE: The Illusion of Destiny, by Amartya Sen. Allen Lane, 2006, 215 pp., $24.95 (cloth). Amartya Sen once had trouble getting a hotel operator to understand the spelling of his family name. So he spelled it out letter by letter in this form: "S for somebody; E for everybody; N for nobody," an interesting play with words relating to the self, personal identity and perception of oneself, which is the focus of this interesting and important book.
COMMENTARY / World
Jun 6, 2006
Thaksin best underscores fatal flaws of his kind of rule
HONG KONG -- Thailand's "democracy" is in limbo. Judges of the country's three top courts have decided that April's elections were unconstitutional, and new ones must be held. The Election Commission set October for new elections, but the judges said the commission has no power to set the date and its members must resign, which they have refused to do.
COMMENTARY / World
Apr 6, 2006
U.S. is its own worst enemy
HONG KONG -- U.S. congressmen heartily congratulated themselves when -- after their outcry -- Dubai Ports World backed off and decided to relinquish control of the U.S. ports that were included in its takeover of P&O.
COMMENTARY / World
Feb 21, 2006
Empire of debt has its limits
HONG KONG -- Recent news about U.S. current-account deficits with the rest of the world gives grim pause for thought from Beijing and Tokyo to London, and especially in Washington, for it shows the United States approaching the financial equivalent of a nuclear meltdown.
COMMENTARY / World
Jan 15, 2006
Infamous English word is just an import
HONG KONG -- Apart from Thatcherism and the creation of the modern game of soccer, some cynics say that the major English contribution to modern international life has been the widespread promulgation of the dreadful "F" word.
COMMENTARY / World
Dec 28, 2005
INEPT LEADERSHIP CONTINUES
HONG KONG -- A controversial plan to extend democracy in Hong Kong died Dec. 21 when the legislature failed to pass it by a big enough majority. Hopes of true democracy in the special region of China have thus been put into deep freeze, with recriminations reverberating from Hong Kong to Beijing and back.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Aug 7, 2005
Mao was closer to seventy percent bad
An elegant Georgian terrace house in London's Notting Hill Gate, perhaps the most upmarket area for Britain's chattering classes now that Prime Minister Tony Blair and his friends have deserted Islington, may seem an unlikely venue for a counter-revolution against Mao Zedong's revolutionary claims. Yet this is the base for Jung Chang and her husband Jon Halliday's efforts to rewrite and right history.
CULTURE / Books / THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Jun 26, 2005
The Red emperor's new clothes
MAO, THE UNKNOWN STORY, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. Jonathan Cape, 2005, 814 pp., £25 (cloth). It is savagely ironic that just when China is viciously attacking Japan for trying to rewrite its history, here is a book that claims that the whole official history of the revered founding father of Communist China is a myth written to cover up the evil of a monster.

Longform

Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin,” once the victim of high waves that dragged it into the sea, sits at the end of a pier on the south side of Naoshima.
Why is the most exciting art in Japan so hard to get to?