Don’t panic

Pollster Karlyn Bowman, writing at American.com, presents data on Japanese public opinion drawn from a variety of recent surveys (mostly old Pew Global Attitudes polls).The overall picture — Japanese are generally pleased with relations with the US, displeased about the rise of China — is not altogether surprising, although some findings were unexpected.First, in response …

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F-22 as a totem for China hawks

The F-22 issue continues to smolder, it seems, as Japan eyes the next-generation stealth fighter hungrily.The US Congress, however, has just passed the 2008 defense budget, which retains the Obey Amendment's prohibition on the export of the F-22.Will this be the end of Tokyo's lobbying to get the prohibition lifted in time for Japan to …

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Democracy is the issue

The DPJ appears to be advancing on all fronts, pushing hard even in "conservative kingdoms" like Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu, the surprisingly competitive election in Kagoshima being the subject of an article in today's Yomiuri (surprise! not online).If the campaign continues this way until Sunday, even my worst-case scenario prediction will likely miss high.Not surprisingly, …

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More bad news for the LDP?

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has issued statistics regarding early voting for Sunday's Upper House elections.The ministry's report found that early voting is up more than 50% from 2004, rising from approximately 260,000 votes to nearly 400,00 votes, with higher tallies recorded in every prefecture except Miyazaki and Kochi.Mainichi concludes that the increase …

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Missing the point on Japan’s normalization

Using the occasion of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force pilots participating in live-bombing exercises with the US in the Marianas, Norimitsu Onishi of the New York Times has a prominently featured article in today's edition (also on the front page, top of the fold of today's IHT) on Japan's shedding "military restraints."The NYT website also features …

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Thinking about Japanese democracy

With the Upper House elections now a week away, it is worthwhile to step back and think about Japan's political system. At least that's what I did recently, reading Bradley Richardson's Japanese Democracy: Power, Coordination, and Performance — this month's recommended book.Published in 1997, Richardson's book is obviously not the place to go for analysis …

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