lt;P>When Japanese investigators raised a North Korean spy ship from the ocean's depths last September, they found more than they'd bargained for. The vessel, which sank after a fire fight with the Japanese Coast Guard in December 2001, had an arsenal worthy of Arnold Schwarzenegger: rocket launchers, an 82mm bazooka, an antiaircraft machine gun and two surface-to-air missiles.
Truth, as they say, has no place in diplomacy. Yet blatant falsehoods can also prove damaging. Just ask Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who is under the gun to explain certain lines in a joint declaration he signed with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il at a summit meeting in Pyongyang on Sept. 17.The controversial passage reads: "The two nations confirm that they will abide by all international agreements related to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula." Pyongyang's nuclear...
For a few brief hours this summer, million of North Koreans sampled a rare treat. Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central Television unexpectedly interrupted its regularly scheduled propaganda to air excerpts of World Cup football matches--including highlights from cohost South Korea's dramatic march to the semifinals.
It doesn't take a sleuth to find the intellectual roots of Japan's cabinet. Five ministers, all leading reformers, either attended or taught at Keio University, a private, unabashedly preppy institution that long played second fiddle to Tokyo University, Japan's equivalent of Oxford and Cambridge.
Shinichi Fujimura once boasted that he could "see 500,000-year-old landscapes." An amateur Japanese paleontologist with an uncanny knack for finding buried relics, he was rumored to have supernatural powers, and colleagues gave him the nickname "God's Hand." For 20 years Fujimura's discoveries illuminated Japanese prehistory; he unearthed evidence of ancient settlements at some 42 sites across the country, and, based largely on his work, paleontologists theorized the existence of a primitive...
Japan paid handsomely to finance the gulf war, but it remembers the victory as a national humiliation. Hamstrung by its American-imposed "peace constitution," the country's Self-Defense Force couldn't join the allied campaign that in 1991 liberated occupied Kuwait.Yet under intense pressure from Washington, Tokyo became the war's cash dispenser, donating $13 billion to achieve Iraq's defeat.
Much has been made in Japan of the clout of teenage girls, the arbiters of taste and uncrowned queens of the fashion industry. But when it comes to toys, a radically different demographic is beginning to call the shots.Japanese toymakers now see senior citizens as their most dynamic market.
When she came into office in April, everyone knew that Makiko Tanaka would not be your average foreign minister. The 57-year-old politician from Niigata prefecture had gained a reputation as an obachan, a term for middle-aged Japanese women who tend not to mince words.
You may soon be named heir apparent in one of the world's most reclusive, repressive and downright odd kingdoms--so what do you do for fun? When immigration officials at Tokyo's Narita airport took a look at the Dominican passport of a man named Pang Xiong last Tuesday, they had more than a few such questions. "He didn't look like a Latin American, and he didn't speak Spanish," said a passenger in line behind the crew-cut Pang, who was built like a wrestler gone to seed.
Japanese feminist Mizuho Fukushima remembers the encounter as if it happened only yesterday. About two years ago, while attending a wedding party near the Diet building in downtown Tokyo, the opposition lawmaker found herself unexpectedly face-to-face with one of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's conservative old guard.
Nothing in Suguru Okuhara's life prepared him to like Korea. His grandfather, an unrepentant veteran of Japan's Imperial Army, called Koreans racist names and sang songs in the shower with lyrics like "Koreans sound like pigs." Six years ago his father almost had to drag Okuhara, now a 25-year-old ad-agency employee, onto the ferry from Japan to South Korea for a family holiday.
As stock prices in Japan collapsed to a 16-year low last week, Tokyo stepped in to pump up the market and rescue the country's sinking banks. That should have been welcome news to Oki Matsumoto, a former partner at Goldman Sachs who, three years ago, established an online trading venture called Monex.