Tuesday, April 20, 2010

News Blast


Japan falls fast from Obama priority list

When he took office, US President Barack Obama moved quickly to show his commitment to Japan. He welcomed its then prime minister as his first White House guest and Hillary Clinton made the Asian ally her first destination as secretary of state. What a difference a year makes. When Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama came to Washington last week for a summit on nuclear security, his face-time with Obama consisted of approaching him at a dinner when the president asked guests to enjoy the food before discussions.

Now isn't the time to privatize Japan Post

Japan's government is planning to expand deposit caps at the country's state-owned bank -- already one of the biggest deposit-taking institutions in the world. Critics worry this move signals a fundamental rollback of the Junichiro Koizumi-era reforms. To the contrary: Now would be the wrong time to privatize the postal bank. Japan Post is a 200 trillion yen ($2.2 trillion) government-owned institution. Privatization advocates assume private-sector demand for funds isn't fulfilled by the postal savings bank, since its lending to the private sector is extremely limited. If this were the case, the correct policy would be for the government to aggressively reduce both its fiscal deficit and the role of the postal-savings program-and then get out of the private sector's way. That is precisely what former Prime Minister Koizumi wanted to do when he pushed hard for postal privatization in 2005.

Japan's flatlining is a future prototype

Immigration is a taboo issue in homogeneous Japan, leaving us to mull how it can fare with what it has, demographically speaking. The strategy seems to be morphing into Asia's Switzerland, proving that living standards needn't shrink with population. There are environmental benefits in making do with fewer people. Can our planet really sustain 9 billion people by 2050? Imagine the massive leaps in clean-energy technology required to make things even somewhat sustainable.

Reprieve for death row dogs in Japan 

Dog-lovers in Japan are dismayed because increasingly many pet puppies are being disposed of once they grow up, most ending up at the pound where more than 70 per cent are put down. The idea of adopting a dog from the pound has not caught on in Japan where many strays are seen as second-hand goods. Now a group has been formed in Japan to try to save dogs from death row.

Guide drafted for teaching Japanese to foreign residents

A government subcommittee has drafted guidelines for the first time on teaching Japanese to foreign residents to make their daily life easier, officials said Thursday. The draft guidelines compiled by the Cultural Affairs Council subcommittee lists examples of words and phrases that foreigners should be encouraged to learn for smooth communication in 10 main categories, including health care, travel and shopping.

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