Michael Birnbaum

For Michael Birnbaum's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Economic disparities center stage in German poll

/ | Sep 18, 2013

Economic disparities center stage in German poll

Germany has near record-low unemployment and a locomotive-strong economy, which leaves Frieder Beckmann with a question: Why can he only get a job that pays $2 an hour? It is the kind of question that is also being voiced by other Germans, who say ordinary ...

Frugal German election contrasts sharply with U.S.

/ | Aug 20, 2013

Frugal German election contrasts sharply with U.S.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calendar this past week looked like this: unpack from an Italian vacation, catch up with advisers and kick off a campaign with a small-town rally for an election that will be held in just five weeks. In the United States, the ...

| Jul 18, 2013

Germans direct NSA ire at Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel grew up in a society where the government kept a Big Brother eye on its citizens. Now, critics say, she has assented to similar practices — this time coming from the U.S., not East Germany's fearsome secret police. Revelations about U.S. ...

Autobahn speed limit bid rankles

/ May 29, 2013

Autobahn speed limit bid rankles

For many in this car-crazy nation, the freedom to hurtle down the famed autobahn at 190 kph or more is an inalienable right. Germany, one of the world's top car producers, is alone among industrial countries in allowing drivers to decide for themselves how fast ...

May 12, 2013

Trendsetting U.S. craft beers pour into Germany

Almost 65 years after Allied planes flew Western supplies into blockaded Berlin, a new American import is arriving by air: craft beer. The beer is being flown in due to a new surge of German interest in American brewing that's upending a centuries-old relationship in ...

A gentler Ottoman Empire returns to Balkans

Apr 2, 2013

A gentler Ottoman Empire returns to Balkans

Turkey conquered the Balkans five centuries ago. Now Turkish power is making inroads through friendlier means. Two Turkish-run universities have opened in Bosnia's Ottoman-influenced capital in recent years, bringing an influx of Turkish students and culture to a predominantly Muslim country still reeling from a ...

Green turns black as Europe burns up cheap U.S. coal

Mar 4, 2013

Green turns black as Europe burns up cheap U.S. coal

Green-friendly Europe has a dirty secret: It is burning a lot more coal. Europe's use of the fossil fuel spiked last year after a long decline, powered by a surge of cheap U.S. coal on global markets and by the unintended consequences of ambitious ...

Armed drones stir debate in pacifist Germany

Feb 14, 2013

Armed drones stir debate in pacifist Germany

The debate over the legality of drone warfare is stretching from Capitol Hill into the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate, as Germany considers purchasing armed drones for the first time. Ever since World War II, Germany has been skeptical about military deployments, mindful of its ...