Hideko Takayama

Lost, Without a Trace

The 13-year-old girl was on her way home from badminton practice when she disappeared. Every night for five years, her mother kept the porch light on, hoping against hope for Megumi Yokota's return.

Born To Run

The prime minister calls a snap election, he wins by a landslide and his party returns to Parliament with a huge majority. What happens next? Certainly not a public struggle over who's going to succeed the leader, right?Wrong.

Heizo Takenaka

Heizo Takenaka has long been Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's point man for economic reform in Japan. After Koizumi was overwhelmingly re-elected in September, he appointed Takenaka minister for Internal Affairs and Communications.


Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's announcement last week that he had decided to shake up his cabinet caught Japan's political class off guard--and set the country on a potentially risky foreign-policy course.

The Good Life

It's the kind of first-class pampering that execs have come to expect from their favorite airlines. A chauffeur collects them from the office and delivers them--just 10 minutes before departure--to the terminal, where the business-only lounge offers all the amenities of a well-stocked boardroom.

Drilling To The Core

In Jules Verne's classic 19th-century novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth," Professor Lidenbrock travels to a mysterious subterranean world. Now a Japanese ship is aiming to replicate his adventure, striking out on its own quest to explore the earth's depths.


James Bowell, signalman third class, was standing on the bridge of his ship when the kamikazes came. "The sky was full of airplanes," he recalls, flown by pilots bent on killing as many Americans as possible at the sacrifice of their own lives.


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and North Korea's deputy foreign minister, Kim Gye Gwan, had a private dinner meeting in Beijing on July 9.

Corporate Culture: The J Factor

Not long ago, Toyota Motors president Fujio Cho welcomed 1,700 new employees at a traditional Japanese "joining-the-firm ceremony." Last year was stellar for Toyota, but Cho skipped through the rosy stats, including record overseas production for the 13th straight year, to dwell on an almost apocalyptic vision of rising competition, particularly from South Korea and China. "Toyota's lead is growing smaller," he warned. "If we stop and relax, we could soon find ourselves facing a threat to our...


When Sony last week announced that it was naming Welsh-born American Howard Stringer as its new CEO, the faltering share price jumped. With a stroke, Sony joined the tiny club of Japanese companies with foreign bosses.


You have to give credit to Kim Jong Il for one thing--he knows the score. The North Korean leader's subjects may be largely ignorant of the bleak situation in their country, owing to the country's all-encompassing propaganda machine, but Kim himself clearly has no illusions.


The Lone Samurai By William Scott Wilson Asked to name the best swordsman ever, most Japanese would pick Miyamoto Musashi, the famous 17th-century samurai turned artist who is the subject of more than 50 movies and dozens of books.


JAPAN FUEL TO THE FIRE RISING TENSIONS WITH CHINA MAY ADD IMPETUS TO JAPAN'S GRADUAL SHIFT TO A MORE ASSERTIVE MILITARY. BY CHRISTIAN CARYL WITH HIDEKO TAKAYAMA AND KAY ITOI IN TOKYO Few world leaders can pass up the temptation of a nice photo op with the men and women in uniform, and Junichiro Koizumi is no exception.


When 83-year-old Tsuma Miyagawa wants to get her pension money or deposit cash in a savings account, there's only one place for her to go--the local post office.


Etajima, The Officer Candidate School of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), is a demanding military academy. Awakened by a bugle call at 6 a.m., midshipmen throw on uniforms and race outside to form up and be corrected by "discipline officers." Midshipmen, in fact, run everywhere. "We steal their time," says an assistant discipline officer.

The Man In Charge

Japanese have a saying about angling for mudfish. "You may catch one under a willow tree," it holds, "but not a second at the same spot." Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi characteristically ignored that folk wisdom last week--and hauled in a second catch every bit as tasty as the first.

Made In Japan

The story unfolding in Tsuruoka seems to defy an iron law of the postindustrial age: that factories and jobs will flow from rich nations to poorer ones. In 2002 Kenwood built a portable mini-disc (MD) production line in Malaysia to take advantage of low wages, but last year moved production back to this small city 460 kilometers north of Tokyo.


TRAVELLIVING LA VIDA LATINABy Malcolm BeithSo you wanna salsa? Join the club. Salsa--the music and dance, not the condiment--derived from the traditional Cuban son in the 1950s.


BUSINESS TRAVELRitzy Rooms For LessBusiness travelers used to be the cash cows of the hotel business. Armed with corporate credit cards and expense accounts, they'd happily lay down hundreds of dollars per night for the privilege of a Godiva chocolate on their pillow and a sunken whirlpool tub in their bathroom.


The red flag flew briefly over an idyllic patch of Shizuoka prefecture last week. At a hot-spring resort nestled amid tangerine orchards, the Japanese Communist Party staged a congress aimed at reversing its declining performance in national elections--a gathering it billed as a "historic" break from the past.

Koizumi's Children

The political stars have come out for Hideo Tanaka, a 59-year-old newcomer to the national stage who is stumping to win Kyoto's fourth district in critical Diet elections Nov. 9.

Entering The Sumo Ring

Of all the fresh faces in Japan's new cabinet, Sadakazu Tanigaki's is the most likely to sport a black eye or two sometime soon. As head of the powerful Ministry of Finance, he's fighting to shore up Japan's shrinking tax base, fund a massive pension scheme saddled with a staggering $4 trillion shortfall, support corporate restructuring and rationalize social-welfare spending--all from within a bureaucracy that built Japan's failed economic system and traditionally has opposed radical reforms.

Jumping Into The Fray

Ritual was meant to command the day. Japan's newly appointed Land, Infrastructure and Transport minister, 46-year-old Nobuteru Ishihara, stood in his office last Thursday afternoon as some 60 public-corporation chiefs entered, one after another, to intone the formal salutation, Yoroshiku-onegaishimasu.

Koizumi's Big Step

Hiromu Nonaka, the 77-year-old liberal democratic Party stalwart, was arguably the most powerful man in Japan. As a leader of the ruling party's largest faction, which controls 100 seats in Parliament, Nonaka was a political kingmaker.


Few Japanese novelists--and fewer of those women--have been widely read in English. Natsuo Kirino looks set to change that with "OUT," her controversial six-year-old best seller, just released in the United States (368 pages.

How To Deal With Kim

In 1997, Hwang Jang Yop, former secretary of North Korea's Workers' Party, startled the world by becoming the highest-ranking official ever to defect from the Hermit Kingdom.

Heirs To The Kingdom

For the experts who ponder North Korea's future, reading tea leaves is part of the job description. But soap bubbles? Suds were among the clues contained in a cryptic, 16-page internal military document leaked from North Korea and published in February in the South.

Mother Knows Best

Even by Pyongyang's bizarre standards, the military directive is a strange one. Instead of laying down new orders or repeating old ones, the 16-page internal document, circulated by the People's Army, sings the praises of a woman identified only as Omonim ("Respected Mother"), "the most faithful of the faithful, who devotes herself to our beloved supreme commander." Respected Mother is quoted as acknowledging the North's "difficult" situation and asking the country's 1 million troops if their...