Warriors From The North

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.

Japan's Military Complex

The students met secretly to avoid the campus radicals. Outside the gates of Kobe University, they boarded two minibuses last month and rode to an underground parking garage guarded by members of Japan's de facto Army, the Self-Defense Force.

Asian Security: Losing Face Over Nukes

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...

Rebel Rich

A rebellion is brewing on Japan's northern frontier. This one doesn't involve armed guerrillas, or even a last-gasp campaign by Hokkaido's few remaining indigenous people, the Ainu, demanding the return of lands occupied by displaced samurai in the 19th century.

Hands Across The Sea

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.

Roots Of Rebellion

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.

The Ties That Bind

She was a daughter of Korea's Paekche kingdom, a foreign princess betrothed in a political marriage to a Japanese prince. As a second wife, Takanono Niigasa struggled to evade palace backstabbing until her husband became emperor in A.D. 770.

Grass-Roots Revolt

The audience leans forward to hear an answer to its woes. At the podium, author and retired banker Yoshiteru Iwai, a grandfatherly star on Japan's small-town lecture circuit, begins a spirited pep talk on how small-business owners can ease their debt burdens.

King Of The Zombies

soldier returned home and built his father's tiny drugstore into Japan's largest retail empire. In the 1950s he popularized cash registers. In the 1960s he pioneered discount retailing, making his company--Daiei--the Wal-Mart of its day in Japan.

Lightning Rod

Before she took the helm as Japan's top diplomat last April, Makiko Tanaka told NEWSWEEK that she hoped to be her government's "brains" on foreign policy.

Archeology: With A Wave Of God's Hand

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...

Bringing Up The Rear

To this day Japan remembers the allied victory during the gulf war as a national humiliation. Hamstrung by public opinion and its American-imposed "peace constitution," the country's Self-Defense Forces couldn't join the military campaign that in 1991 liberated Kuwait.

From The New Front: Shamed Into Battle

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.

Taking On The Machine

The road to Osaki village skirts Aso Bay beneath hills blanketed with lush forest. Like most of Japan's remote Tsushima Island, the area is breathtakingly beautiful--until the undulating shoreline yields to a hideous construction site directly below the fishing hamlet.

Japan's Crowning Dream

Older first-time moms in Japan need look no further for inspiration than the Chrysanthemum Palace. Crown Princess Masako, 37, is six months pregnant, and is likely to deliver a baby in late November or early December.

Appropriate For All Ages

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.

Movies And Massage

Filmmakers, stars and movie buffs are rubbing shoulders this week at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Never heard of it? You will soon; the reputation of the festival, now in its 36th year, is rising almost as fast as that of the Czech town that hosts it.

The Silence Of The Damned

Are you pining for the lost glories of the great information-technology gold rush? Believe it or not, there's a virtually untouched market of 20 million people--hardworking, motivated and desperate for the freedom and mobility exemplified by the wired world.

Safe At Last

Over the years, I have met a fair number of North Korean refugees hiding in China. They all beg for help from international society, but their voices have been thin and distant because they have to stay underground.

Japan: Tough-Talking Tanaka

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.

Tradition Down The Drain

It's showtime at Showa Yokujo, a public bathhouse in central Tokyo. Wearing a brightly colored costume, Sumihiro Tajima shuffles and flips cards as part of his magic show.

Time To Crack The Books

Mao Kurahashi wasn't sure whether she should get a job or stay in school. As an art-history major at Keio University, one of Japan's most prestigious private universities, Kurahashi, 23, was intrigued by historical ruins like those at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

The Son Also Surprises

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.

Looks Are Everything

In 1992 Japan's long-ruling liberal Democrats handed an important cabinet job to a member with a distinguished lineage. Junichiro Koizumi, then in his early 50s, followed in his grandfather's footsteps to head Japan's Post and Telecommunications Ministry.

A Rebel P.M.

Japanese voters clearly liked his style. Pushing for reform earned Junichiro Koizumi a reputation as a political maverick. It was an image enhanced by his long hair (permed four times a year) and his penchant for singing heavy-metal songs in karaoke bars.

Can A Woman Rule Japan?

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.

Whatever Happened To... Alberto Fujimori?

Alberto Fujimori's new life in Japan seems comfortable enough. (It sure beats the alternative.) From the windows of his new abode, a posh condominium in central Tokyo, he has enjoyed views of cherry blossoms.

Japan Finds Its Seoul

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.

Help! I Need Somebody

Going home is never easy. For Akio Kanzaki, the brooding Japanese salaryman in Ai Nagai's new stage drama "Hello, Mother," the experience proves downright unnerving.

Thou Shalt Buy Stocks

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.