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Koizumi’s Kingdom of Illusion
Nearly four years after he was first elected Prime Minister, promising to “reform” Japan even if it meant destroying his own party, the LDP, Koizumi did the unthinkable: he secured an even bigger majority by promising again to do more-or-less the same, having failed ignominiously in the meantime to advance a reform agenda. Though head of government, he won a resounding triumph by presenting himself as leader of a crusading force of reformers.
Why China’s Workers are Losing Their World
How did the thinking of most Chinese workers, even the most impoverished and politically active ones, become subject to the hegemony of the market and the state?
The Kashmiri tragedy
In time much will be written about the most devastating earthquake in Pakistan’s short history, and most of what will be written will dwell on the grief and suffering of the millions of people affected. Indeed in the first few days after the quake, there has been an outpouring of emotion around the world and people from far and wide have embarked on all kinds of relief drives in a genuine display of solidarity.
Meanwhile Pakistani government functionaries have made stirring calls for the nation to unite and promised to lead from the front in the relief effort. It would appear however, that the thousands of families that have been ravaged by the quake in the remotest parts of the many valleys of the Northwest Frontier Province and Kashmir have reason to disagree with the government’s claims. For days after the quake, basic help had not reached entire towns and villages that were flattened, prompting angry and frustrated backlashes from many of those affected. Looting is commonplace and when relief supplies do reach affected areas, the most deserving are usually crowded out.
A Very Lonely Japan
Christian Caryl provides a timely, lucid and quite sobering summary of Japan’s growing diplomatic isolation. Governed by an elite largely content to rely on the obviously asymmetrical partnership with the United States, Japan has made little serious effort to put behind it conflicts with its major neighbors China and Korea. The roots of these conflicts lie in Japanese aggression and colonization in the Pacific War. But they are repeatedly nourished by a noxious nationalism played out in successive Yasukuni Shrine visits by the Prime Minister and the continuing textbook controversy over the treatment of the war and war crimes.
People Power: Have Okinawan protests forced Tokyo and Washington to rethink their base plan?
After nine years of stalling and prevarication over the replacement of Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, and nearly eighteen months of protests against its proposed replacement, a solution of sorts is finally stirring in the dusty halls of power in Kasumigaseki.
On September 24, the Yomiuri newspaper reported that the Japanese government is backing the relocation of Futenma’s Marine chopper base to the Marines Camp Schwab in Nago. Tokyo had initially supported the construction of a joint civil-military airport off the coast of Henoko village to replace Futenma.
At an estimated cost of 330 billion yen, the Heneko project would have lined the pockets of local and national construction firms – key backers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party — and settled one of the rawest issues in the US-Japan security alliance: reducing [by 21 percent, according to Stars and Stripes] the American military footprint in Okinawa Prefecture, which reluctantly hosts three quarters of all US military facilities in Japan. There was just one serious problem: many local people strongly opposed the idea.