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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...