Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Japan eyes pop art stimulus


Japan’s manga-loving prime minister, Taro Aso, has long touted the importance of pop culture such as comicbooks and anime to boost Japan’s global diplomatic status. Now he’s targeting pop culture’s economic potential.

JAPAN/Included in a $154 billlion stimulus package is a target of raising exports from the “content” sector to about 18 percent of exports from less than 2 percent now, and Aso waved glossy magazines from China and Taiwan featuring Japanese pop stars on their covers to show what he wants to do.

“Japanese content, such as anime and video games, and fashion draw attention from consumers around the world,” he told reporters. “Unfortunately, this ‘soft power’ is not being linked to business overseas.”

The prime minister says he wants to harness Japanese pop art to create a $200 billion to $300 billion market and 500,000 new jobs over the next decade or so.JAPAN-MANGA/

Japan has its first female PM — she’s a dog


One of the women often cited as a possible candidate to break through the bamboo ceiling and become Japan’s first woman prime minister says she’s been pipped to the post by her dog.

Yuriko Koike, a former defence and environment minister who raised eyebrows by standing against the current prime minister, Taro Aso, in the race for leadership of the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) last year, keeps a photo in her office of her Yorkshire terrier, “Sori”, which means “prime minister” in Japanese.

Prime Minister, 68, keeps fit


Sit-ups, push-ups and back exercises — 50 a day each — are keeping Japan’s 68-year-old Prime Minister Taro Aso as fit as a fiddle. 

Aso, in his latest e-mail magazine, brushed off a comment by one reader that he was looking worn out after five months on the job. Tabloids have also been awash with stories that the premier was losing sleep and weight over a series of setbacks, including the resignation last month of his finance minister, who had been forced to deny he was drunk at a G7 news conference in Rome.

Desperate times, desperate measures?


With Prime Minister Taro Aso’s public support tanking ahead of a tough election this year, some lawmakers in Japan’s conservative ruling party — long dominated by dark-suited men — are pondering the once unthinkable — replacing a him with a her.

Opinion polls show voter support for Aso, Japan’s third prime minister in less than two years, near or even below 10 percent, and a hefty majority want him to resign within months.

Government stock rescue?


Japanese stocks are sinking towards levels unseen since 1982, sending alarmed government officials scurrying to come up with some way of propping them up.

MARKETS-JAPAN-STOCKS Officials are looking at steps to support stocks after the plunge, which has taken the benchmark Nikkei to within sight of a 26-year low hit last October.

Fun and games keeping a finance minister awake


Do you play games on your mobile phone, as millions of Japanese do? Here’s one for you.

A software company has launched a mobile phone game that pokes fun at former Japanese finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who resigned earlier this month after nearly dozing off at a news conference in Rome.240ss00

Japan’s next prime minister?


Japan’s finance minister, Kaoru Yosano, already has three key cabinet posts. Now some pundits say  he looks well-placed to take the top job, too.

Public support for Prime Minister Taro Aso, suffering  a slump after policy flip-flops and gaffes, took another hit when close ally Shoichi Nakagawa quit as finance minister last week after being forced to deny he was drunk at at G7 gathering in Rome.

A Clinton jinx on ruling party?


Japan’s ruling coalition could be forgiven for feeling nervous over U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s meeting with the leaders of the powerful main opposition party this week.

The last time a Clinton met Japanese opposition executives, the Liberal Democratic Party lost its grip on power within weeks. That was in 1993, when then U.S. President Bill Clinton attended an embassy reception with politicians including Morihiro Hosokawa, soon to become the first non-LDP premier since 1955.

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.

The poetic side of recession


JAPANJapan’s salaried workers may have an image as corporate drudges, but some are turning economic angst and political ire into poetry for a competition

“My motivation, falling in tandem with steps to cut corporate costs” is one entry in the contest for “Best 10 Senryu”, a type of humorous verse similar to 17-syllable “haiku” but without references to nature or the seasons.