Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Remembering Hiro’s gentle smile

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As Hiro Muramoto headed out the door of the Tokyo newsroom last week, weighed down with TV equipment on his way to Bangkok to cover demonstrations, he flashed a smile at a Reuters colleague.

It was, she remembers, a “Hiro” smile. It was gentle, rather than a broad grin, and it showed the 43-year-old was pleased once again to take his expertise on the road to do his job telling the world what was going on.THAILAND/

It was doing that job that cost him his life as he was killed, along with 20 others, during a sudden burst of violence during the protests in central Bangkok on Saturday night.

Hiro was not the gung-ho war correspondent of the movies. He was a careful, loving married Dad of two and a gentle mentor for young colleagues and an expert story teller.

The “Japan High School Party”

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If ever proof were needed that personal ties can trump policy in Japanese political alliances , a new party being set up by a band of ageing opposition MPs should do the trick.

Former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, 71, favours raising taxes to pay for burgeoning social welfare costs in Japan’s greying society and helped push to privatise Japan’s huge postal system back in 2005.

Japan “opens up” to freelancers

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Hatoyama at a news conferenceJapan, breaking with tradition, has started to open up government news conferences to reporters outside the country’s established media. But have they become genuinely “open”?

After six months on the job, Prime Minister  Yukio Hatoyama  held his first news conference last month accessible to magazine, freelance and online journalists, drawing a packed crowd at the premier’s Kantei office . Other ministers, including those for foreign affairs, banking and environment, have also started news conferences for journalists excluded from so-called ”press clubs”, which are reserved for a small number of mainstream news agencies, newspapers and broadcasters. The elite press clubs have long enjoyed exclusive access to government news conferences, off-the-record briefings and other events. Opening up the news conferences to non-club members has been a big deal, and only came about after Hatoyama’s Democratic Party took power last year with promises for change and more transparent policies.

from Raw Japan:

Watching the giants fall

Some elections count more than others, and never more than when a longstanding dominant party is sent packing. I've been lucky enough to witness turning points in four countries on two continents.

France, India, Italy, now Japan -- all have rejected one-party dominance for the rough and tumble of alternating majorities. In each case, I was fortunate to behold history.

from Raw Japan:

Japan two-party system — long in arriving

Observers of Japanese politics who have long thought the country was ripe for a real two-party system are watching Sunday's election with a dual sense of incredulity -- surprise that it has taken so long to oust the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and surprise that it finally looks like happening.

Media surveys show the decade-old opposition Democratic Party is set to win the poll for parliament's powerful lower house -- and probably by a landslide, ushering in party leader Yukio Hatoyama at the head of a government pledged to spend more on consumers and workers than the companies that benefited most from LDP policies.

It’s all the fault of those people who work and save too much

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One thing we’ve learnt from the crisis is that if something sounds funny it probably is. All that talk about slicing and dicing subprime debt to turn it into triple-A securities was hard to understand at the time and now we know it was just the 21st century equivalent of alchemy.

The current debate about the responsibility that surplus countries like China, Germany and Japan share for the crisis has a similar ring.

from Raw Japan:

G7 drink row adds to Japan government woes

Japan's finance minister denies he was drunk at a G7 news conference but opposition lawmakers sense blood in the water and are demanding he be fired, adding yet more pressure on a deeply unpopular government that faces an election this year.

The story is the Internet phenomenon of the day in Japan as TV stations and newspapers issued stories calling attention to Shoichi Nakagawa's behaviour at the news conference at the G7 gathering in Rome over the weekend.

from MacroScope:

Winners in a trade war

Trade protectionism -- or at least the threat of it -- has raised it head as the global economy has declined, bringing with it all the historical fears about the Great Depression. Consider the flurry of concern about a "Buy American" clause in one of the U.S. stimulus bills.

It is traditionally assumed that widespread protectionism would most hurt the biggest economies, the United States and Japan. But Barclays Capital analyst David Woo says this is not so and that Russia, Canada, Australia and Sweden are the most vulnerable.

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