April 15, 2002 |
After decades of scandals, insider dealings and official arrogance, Japan last year enacted a national information disclosure law designed to open bureaucrats' shadowy corridors of power to greater public scrutiny. A year later, Atsuko Nomura, head of an Osaka group called the Right to Know Network, is roundly disappointed. Requests for information have been put off, ignored or answered with a fraction of what her group has asked for. Bureaucrats are dismissive.
February 16, 2002 |
He calls himself Japan's first "lawmaker with blue eyes," and he has a mission: to end racial discrimination in this long-homogenous culture. Marutei Tsurunen, a 61-year-old naturalized Japanese citizen of Finnish heritage, took his seat in parliament last week amid lots of media attention and a pledge to fight social bias using his new platform as the first Westerner to serve in the Diet. Twenty years ago, the idea of a Caucasian lawmaker in Japan would have been unthinkable.
January 31, 2002 |
This land of stalwart samurai and knife-wielding ninja is getting positively teary-eyed. The spigots opened a few days ago, before Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka was fired Tuesday for squabbling with political rivals. As the pressure mounted, the nation's top diplomat, a woman so tough she's been called "an untamed stallion," cried in public. The next day, archrival Muneo Suzuki, a conservative lawmaker credited with helping engineer her downfall, shed a few of his own tears.
November 30, 2001 |
She's been called erratic, spoiled, a liar, the ice queen and a loose cannon. During the last seven months, she's insulted the emperor, the prime minister, her own political party, bureaucrats and voters. A quick glance at the polls, however, suggests why Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka still has a job. Despite nonstop controversy and a growing chorus of powerful critics, her approval rating among ordinary Japanese is 70%.
August 11, 2001 |
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was reanointed president of his ruling party, winning a full two-year term and setting the stage for the popular leader's real battle to implement painful reforms. Koizumi's biggest immediate headache, though, was a diplomatic one mostly of his own making. He must decide soon whether to go ahead with a proposed visit to a Shinto shrine for war dead where war criminals are also enshrined, a move that would outrage China and South Korea.
July 30, 2001 |
The Japanese government secured a clear victory in elections Sunday, bolstering Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ambitions to upend the status quo and attack this nation's deeply rooted economic, political and social problems. "We did better than I expected," a weary, unshaven Koizumi said in a television interview a few hours after the polls closed. "Now my role is to implement reform."