July 23, 2002
WASHINGTON -- Poor Japan. The World Cup's over, the home team lost. The economy is still on the ropes, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's erstwhile sky-high ratings have been brought low. Kids are beating up "salarymen" for fun. If there were ever a country in need of a shot in the arm, Japan would now be it. So, herewith, an immodest proposal to get Japanese juices flowing: Make the country's military part of the global war on terrorism. But wait. Isn't that already the case? The Japanese government would have you believe so. And it wouldn't be wholly wrong.
April 27, 1991
The gulf conflict has given Japan and Germany a chance to break out of their post-World War II inhibitions against even the most remote and indirect involvement of their military forces overseas.During the U.S.-led arms buildup and attack on Iraq, governments in Bonn and Tokyo were paralyzed, this despite a realization that a more active contribution to the coalition war effort would increase their clout in world affairs. Now that a cease fire prevails in the Persian Gulf, Japan and Germany evidently feel free to set mild interventionist precedents of potential future importance.
June 5, 1995
WASHINGTON -- In the surly auto trade brawl between the United States and Japan, Tokyo is hanging tough and is unlikely to back down because it thinks it's right and it thinks it's going to win.President Clinton and his trade team have been betting that Japanese carmakers will figure it's cheaper to buy enough U.S-made auto parts to make Detroit happy than to risk Washington's threatened $5.9 billion in tariffs on Japanese luxury cars, which are set to...
October 17, 2002
GEN. DOUGLAS MacArthur oversaw the postwar occupation of Japan from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. An ideal spot, in the heart of the city, overlooking the Imperial Palace. The proximity to the palace proved fortuitous to the general's mission, for his success in reforming Japan after its surrender in 1945 could not have been accomplished without the cooperation of the reigning emperor, Hirohito. General MacArthur recognized the cultural and historical significance of the emperor in Japanese society.
August 11, 1993
With the formal election of Morihiro Hosokawa as prime minister, the new Japanese government needs to start implementing its shaky mandate. The coalition of eight parties that narrowly won last month's elections has made it clear what it is against: continued rule by the long-dominant Liberal Democrats. Now it has to show what it is for. Ousting the Liberal Democrats after 38 years of unbroken rule was difficult enough; governing Japan afterward will be more so.The election result was as much a self-inflicted wound by the Liberal Democrats as it was a political victory for the disparate melange of parties that make up the governing coalition.
May 15, 1995
Relations between the United States and Japan three months in advance of V-J Day find officials in both countries exchanging insults and pushing their export-import tensions to a point where the new World Trade Organization could be in crisis before it gets going.At the end of April, Japanese Transport Minister Shizuka Kamei charged that the U.S. is trying to "use as slaves" the "very diligent Japanese" by pushing the yen so high relative to the dollar that his country's competitive position is undercut.
November 29, 1991
With its historic introduction of regular, full scale high-definition television, Japan has ushered in a new era in mass communications. Japan also has graphically demonstrated that it's not just Americans who are capable of making egregious misjudgments of the market. Any nation can.After more than a decade's effort, Japan, the world leader in consumer electronics, has brought out television sets that cost $30,000 each to show a picture made up of 1,125 lines of broadcast information. U.S. television uses 525 lines, so Japan's new system is an order of magnitude sharper.
November 16, 1992
On the surface it looks just like the sort of political squabble most democratic countries have from time to time. A politician gets caught handling dirty money, gets off with a slap on the wrist, precipitates a public uproar and a factional fight within his party and is forced to resign. But the drama being played out in Japan has some of the earmarks of a political earthquake.Political corruption is nothing new in the peculiar kind of democracy that has existed less than half a century in the ancient kingdom.
April 17, 1994
The United States will not soon get satisfaction in its trade dispute with Japan and will have to delay ultimatums about sanctions. At the moment, there is no one in Japan with the authority to make concessions, and it may be a prolonged moment. The resignation of Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa leaves confusion and weakness at least until a successor is named, and probably longer. Meanwhile, the system moves along under the lubrication of the powerful bureaucracy, which can do everything but change.
May 26, 1994
Having pushed their trade dispute to the point of mutual disadvantage, the United States and Japan are moved bravely ahead toward the status quo ante -- toward the policy positions of the Bush era that Candidate Clinton so willingly assailed and President Clinton so coyly embraces.Make no mistake: Japan is the clear winner in this test of wills, which is not to say that its weak governments have enhanced the well-being of their people. Quite the reverse. If the Clinton administration is to execute this latest flip-flop without excessive embarrassment, it had better hope Japanese business prevails over Tokyo's bureaucracy.