An American scholar who recently proposed writing a book about leadership in Japan was told by his colleagues, "A book? You'll be lucky to find enough material to write a chapter, or more likely a newspaper article, on the subject!"

Along these lines, it is said -- only half in jest -- that Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's main contribution to Japanese politics has been, unwittingly, to demonstrate the dearth of leadership in contemporary Japan. But the view that Japan lacks leadership is widely shared, not only about politics but about the government bureaucracy, business, academia, journalism -- indeed, most segments of Japanese society.

Some argue that "Asian" styles of leadership are different from "Western" styles and that for this reason Japanese leaders should not be judged by the same criteria as leaders in, for example, the United States and Europe. But South Korea (Kim Dae Jung), Taiwan (Lee Teng-hui), Singapore (Lee Kuan Yew), Malaysia (Mahathir Mohamad), China (Zhu Rongji) and Myanmar (Aung San Suu Kyi) have all managed to produce public figures who possess many of the traits that Westerners believe are essential for "leadership."