Japan and the IMF: A lesson in how not to handle economic diplomacy
News On Japan via The Economist -- Oct 05
Yoshihiko Noda, Japan's prime minister, still chafes at a cover story in The Economist last year called "Turning Japanese", which argued that the West was suffering from a Japan-style lack of leadership. He has sought to change that image by pushing through a controversial bill to raise the consumption tax. But on October 1st he gave a lesson in how petty political expediency still trumps most things.
Just a week before hosting the annual IMF/World Bank meetings, Mr Noda replaced his finance minister with Koriki Jojima, a 65-year-old former union leader and parliamentary dealmaker who has neither ministerial nor financial experience. He is Japan's third finance minister in just over a year.
Analysts say Mr Jojima's appointment reflected little more than a "Buggins's turn" reshuffle, producing the third cabinet of Mr Noda's 13 months as prime minister. With support for his party weak ahead of an election he has promised to call soon, Mr Noda had to offer some party stalwarts cabinet posts to maintain unity. Mr Jojima's apparent bargaining skills may also have helped: Mr Noda needs opposition support for a bill to issue bonds to finance this year's budget in order to avoid Japan's own "fiscal cliff" in the coming months.
A collection of materials related to a 17th century mission sent by a Japanese feudal lord to Europe and the world's oldest autographic diary left 10 centuries ago by a Japanese regent have been selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World registry, the Japanese education ministry said Wednesday. (Global Post )
Almost 1,500 people were transported to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke last week, up sharply from 942 in the preceding week, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Times )
Among about 200,000 traffic signals nationwide, 16 percent are being used beyond the end of the expected lifetime of their electrical systems and some have even toppled over due to age, according to the National Police Agency. (Yomiuri )
In May, Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to men's entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), said that "Abenomics" had caused a spike in prices at high-end soapland bathhouses in Tokyo. However, the same editor tells Shukan Post (June 28) that the initiative is not impacting the low-end market in the same way. (Tokyo Reporter )
Tokyo District Court decided on Monday to open planned examinations of three witnesses who are former senior members of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult and now death-row inmates, during an upcoming trial of another former senior Aum member. (Jiji Press )