Kevin Rafferty
For Kevin Rafferty's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
May 12, 2005
Tony Blair's Pyrrhic victory
HONG KONG -- The people of Britain have just re-elected Tony Blair and his Labour Party to a record third successive election victory. But in what should have been his moment of greatest triumph, Blair faces the ultimate question -- when will he give up the job of prime minister?
Nov 15, 2004
Last gasp of U.S. hegemony
HONG KONG -- Sometimes it is difficult to fathom the mind of Mr. Market. After the Congress Party won the Indian election, the stock market plunged. After U.S. President George W. Bush's re-election was confirmed, markets everywhere were almost dancing with joy, seemingly oblivious to $50-a-barrel oil prices, the bloody mess in Iraq, the threats from al-Qaeda, America's jobless recovery and its yawning deficits.
Sep 11, 2004
China takes no chances in Hong Kong poll
HONG KONG -- It is now clear that China is quietly tearing up the fine promises it made in 1984 that Hong Kong would be permitted a high degree of autonomy when China resumed sovereignty over the city after 150 years of British colonial rule. Beijing is going to great lengths to ensure that prodemocracy politicians do not get a majority in the Sept. 12 elections.
Jun 27, 2004
Flagging heart for the EU
LONDON -- More than 40,000 Britons have made a special trip to Portugal for a two-week European festival while, back at home, tens of millions of others are following the festival, alternatively rejoicing and groaning, on television screens in pubs and bars, city centers and homes. Euro 2004 is the most popular event since the World Cup in Japan and South Korea two years ago -- far bigger than the Olympic Games. It has brought out national flags flying from almost every car and many homes in the country.
Jun 2, 2004
China threatens Hong Kong's freedoms
When China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 after 150 years of British rule, the "one country, two systems" formula for this special administrative region of China promised that Beijing would leave Hong Kong's free-wheeling capitalist way of life untouched for at least 50 years.
May 9, 2004
Seat China at the top table
Can China successfully take the steam out of its overheating economy without causing a collapse, or more appropriately, given the steam metaphor, a meltdown? The question is not an academic one, but very real — and not just for the 1.3 billion people in China.
Oct 30, 2003
Style trumps substance in Bangkok
BANGKOK -- The appearance of the 21 leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in their handmade shiny silk shirts said a lot about this year's summit in Bangkok -- style over substance.
Oct 9, 2003
Charming the IMF in Dubai
HONG KONG -- James Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank, made the most powerful speech of his career at the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund in Dubai last month. It was full of sharp sound bites driving toward a vital central theme that Wolfensohn enunciated with a great passion -- that this world is out of balance and something needs to be done urgently or we shall all suffer.
Aug 15, 2003
Baron of porn spills it all
HONG KONG -- His pictures beamed across the nation's television stations and front pages of all of its newspapers from down market tabloids to sober-sided broadsheets: the grin on his face was as wide as a melon and he held, fanlike, a huge wad of currency notes for all the world, like a television game show host holding the latest jackpot, or a central bank official showing off the latest issue of freshly designed notes.
Aug 1, 2003
Too rich, too complex to be run by slaves
HONG KONG -- China's new premier, Wen Jiabao, on his first visit to Hong Kong in his new job gave a resounding speech, declaring that local people were in charge of their own destiny. The question now is whether he meant it and whether the leaders in Beijing are prepared to trust the maturity of Hong Kong's people -- not just for their own benefit but also for the good of all of China.
Jun 6, 2003
State of the 'empire'
BANGKOK — China has suffered most from the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus with thousands of victims, a few hundred deaths and new cases being uncovered daily as the disease spreads from major cities to the countryside.
May 9, 2002
Uproar greets plans for Hong Kong's new showcase
HONG KONG The Hong Kong government has just unveiled plans for a new multibillion-dollar headquarters on a prime site right on the central harbor front -- and has immediately run into arguments and accusations of building an expensive folie de grandeur. Unnecessary, potentially an expensive eyesore, set to ruin the unique waterfront view -- these are just some of the outpourings of protests already made against the proposal.
Japan Times
Feb 21, 2002
Chino cements image as ADB's best chief ever
MANILA It was the most important night of the year. As "Show 2001" got off to a start, the hall was packed to standing room only, and talented employees -- mostly Filipinos -- strutted their stuff in aid of local charities.
Jan 3, 2002
Hong Kong's ills raise serious doubts about fixed dollar peg
HONG KONG -- Argentina's economic crisis and the disappearance of the peso as the national currency will put the Hong Kong in the spotlight and the local dollar under pressure in foreign exchange markets.
Aug 3, 2001
The Thai dilemma: ethics or stability?
BANGKOK -- Is Thailand's prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra just an entrepreneurial businessman in a hurry, anxious to bring to the country the same benefits that he won in the telecom business, where he became a U.S.-dollar billionaire and very quickly, one of the world's richest 500 people? Or does he just love power so much that he will do anything to keep it?
Apr 16, 2001
Supachai set to champion globalization at WTO
In spite of the battle in Seattle and the subsequent inertia that has gripped the World Trade Organization, Supachai Panitchpakdi is looking forward to the challenge of taking over from Mike Moore as head of the trade body next year. He promises that he will be an active leader who will try to revive the cause of global trade, which he admits is facing difficulties.
Apr 16, 2001
Reflections on the Asia crisis and Western solutions
Perhaps it was a good job that Supachai did not stand in Thailand's January elections, saying he wanted to devote all of his time to preparing to take over at the WTO.


Later this month, author Shogo Imamura will open Honmaru, a bookstore that allows other businesses to rent its shelves. It's part of a wave of ideas Japanese booksellers are trying to compete with online spaces.
The story isn't over for Japan's bookstores