2009年5月30日 星期六

Murakami 's "1Q84,"

New novel by Japan's Murakami a pre-release hit

TOKYO (AFP) — The first novel in five years by Japan's best known modern writer Haruki Murakami became a bestseller before it hit stores on Friday and despite the fact the author has kept its plot a mystery.

When Murakami's "1Q84," which can be read as "1984" in Japanese, finally went on sale, his legions of fanatical fans had already reserved tens of thousands of copies of the two-volume novel, booksellers said.

Online retailer Amazon.co.jp also said it had received advance orders for about 20,000 copies of either part one or two of the book, its biggest hit for a Japanese novelist.

Murakami, 60, a former Tokyo jazz bar owner who is often mentioned as a Nobel literature prize contender, has struck a global chord with his sensitive tales on the absurdity and loneliness of modern life.

His novels, which have drawn an international cult following and been translated into three dozen languages, include the titles "Norwegian Wood," "Kafka on the Shore" and "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle."

Murakami, who rarely gives media interviews, has kept a tight veil over the new novel and its plot, while his Japanese publisher has made little effort to promote the title.

"As far as I know, this is the first time that we have released a new novel without any pre-release marketing," said Akiko Saito, chief editor of the literature section of Shinchosha Publishing Co.

"We are seeing a market impact much bigger than expected."

The publisher had quickly increased its first print run amid the surging advance orders and was now planning to print an initial 300,000 copies of part one and 280,000 copies of part two, she said.

Saito said the secrecy surrounding its release was meant to please fans.

"After we published 'Kafka,' many readers told us they wished they had read the novel without any prior knowledge of what it was about," she said.

Kanae Miyazu, a Tokyo photographer and long-time Murakami fan, said she immediately bought both volumes on Friday.

"Even without knowing anything about the book, I decided to buy and read it anyway because I trust Mr. Murakami," she said. "Any book of his would be fun."

The publishers said they did not know when the novel would be published in English and other languages.

may help suppliers, university gives away iPhones to nab truants

Japan university gives away iPhones to nab truants

TOKYO (AP) — A prestigious Japanese university is giving away hundreds of iPhones, in part to use its Global Positioning System to nab students that skip class.

Truants in Japan often fake attendance by getting friends to answer roll-call or hand in signed attendance cards. That's verging on cheating since attendance is a key requirement for graduation here.

Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo is giving Apple Inc.'s iPhone 3G to 550 students in its School of Social Informatics, which studies the use of Internet and computer technology in society.

The gadget will work as a tool for studies, but it also comes with GPS, a satellite navigation system that automatically checks on its whereabouts. The university plans to use that as a way check attendance.

Students who skip class could still fake attendance by giving their iPhone to a friend who goes to class. But youngsters aren't likely to lend their mobile phones, which are packed with personal information and e-mail, according to the university.

U.S. universities use the iPhone for various, other purposes. At Stanford University, students have developed iPhone applications in a course. At Duke University, the gadget is used to get around the campus and find information about course listings and other events.

Aoyama Gakuin signed a deal earlier this month with Softbank Corp., the exclusive vendors of the iPhone in Japan.

The number of students using the iPhone is expected to reach 1,000 in the program — the first time the iPhone is being used on such a scale at a Japanese university.

The iPhone will be used to relay course materials, lecture videos and tests. The university hopes students will develop software applications and other lifestyle uses for the cell phone.

Japan minister says government may help suppliers if GM files for bankruptcy

YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer
12:29 AM PDT, May 29, 2009
TOKYO (AP) — Japan will consider assistance for autoparts suppliers if they are seriously hurt by fallout from General Motors Corp.'s likely bankruptcy, the industry minister said Friday.

Toshihiro Nikai, minister of economy, trade and industry, said he was closely monitoring how Japanese manufacturers may be affected if General Motors collapses. He said the government "must consider measures," if there are any signs of serious trouble, according to a ministry official.

A person familiar with GM's plans has said it was "probable" that the Detroit-based automaker would seek bankruptcy protection on Monday. The person didn't want to be identified because the plans were still under discussion with the U.S. and Canadian governments.

GM has business ties with more than 100 Japanese suppliers, many of them small companies vulnerable to cash shortages.

GM's woes have been scrutinized in Japan — home to the world's top automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. The recent news about GM has been relatively calmly received here even as executives acknowledge the possibility of ripple-effects on the industry and American consumer sentiments.

Still, worries are simmering about some of Japan's smaller manufacturers, which may not be able to ride out the loss of their GM business or the burden of bad debts.

Some Japanese companies, including Aisin Seiki, have applied for a part of the U.S. Treasury Department's $5 billion support program for suppliers.

But it's unclear whether they will get any of the money.

Nikai's comments appear aimed at allaying such fears by assuring the Japanese government will step in and help any cash-strapped manufacturers.

In the long run, a weakened GM is expected to be a growth opportunity for Japanese automakers with their strength in smaller fuel-efficient vehicles.

The U.S. Treasury has already loaned $19.4 billion to GM, which lost $6 billion in the first quarter, and will get 72.5 percent of the new company's stock. In bankruptcy protection, GM is expected to then close factories, cut jobs and try to return to profitability.

2009年5月29日 星期五


「ロングライフ牛乳」 アジア向け輸出を拡大


 ホクレンは28日、今年度から北海道産牛乳のアジア向け輸出を強めると発表した。高温殺菌によってパック詰めから60日間の飲用が可能な「ロング ライフ(LL)牛乳」の試飲会を台湾や中国、シンガポールで催すことでファン獲得を図り、輸出量を早期に倍増させることを目指す。佐藤俊彰会長は28日の 定例記者会見で明らかにした。牛乳の国内消費量は、飲用シーンの多様化や少子高齢化の影響で年々減少しているため、アジア市場の開拓に本腰を入れ、活路を 見いだす構えだ。


 道産のLL牛乳は台湾などで1リットル当たり300~400円で販売され、200円程度の国内価格よりは割高だが、「安全・安心で高品質というプ ラス評価が定着しつつある」(佐藤会長)ため、2008年度は輸出を始めた1996年度のほぼ9倍に当たる798トンを輸出した。


2009年5月29日 読売新聞)

2009年5月24日 星期日

Horror story printed on toilet paper in Japan

Japanese author Koji Suzuki, of the 1998 Hollywood film "Ring," poses with toilet paper rolls printed with drawing of a ghost on them to promote the product in Fuji, central Japan, Saturday, May 23, 2009. The product, dubbed "Japan's scariest toilet paper," carries Suzuki's latest horror story "Drop" for release next month. The toilet paper roll would be "a horror experience in the toilet," manufacturer said. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

TOKYO (AP) — In a country where ghosts are traditionally believed to hide in the loo, a Japanese company is advertising a new literary experience — a horror story printed on toilet paper.

Each roll carries several copies of a new nine-chapter novella written by Koji Suzuki, the Japanese author of the horror story "Ring," which has been made into movies in both Japan and Hollywood.

"Drop," set in a public restroom, takes up about three feet (90 centimeters) of a roll and can be read in just a few minutes, according to the manufacturer, Hayashi Paper.

The company promotes the toilet paper, which will sell for 210 yen ($2.20) a roll, as "a horror experience in the toilet."

Toilets in Japan were traditionally tucked away in a dark corner of the house due to religious beliefs. Parents would tease children that a hairy hand might pull them down into the dark pool below.

2009年5月22日 星期五

Japan relaxes flu guidelines as cases near 300

Japan relaxes flu guidelines as cases near 300

Fri May 22, 2009 12:05am EDT

By Isabel Reynolds

TOKYO, May 22 (Reuters) - Japan relaxed rules for dealing with the new H1N1 flu on Friday, concerned that strict regulations could harm the economy and needlessly restrict the public, given that most of its nearly 300 cases have been mild.

Japan's plans were drafted with the deadly bird flu in mind, while studies show the new swine flu is behaving like seasonal flu.

"It is important to make it possible for the local government to respond flexibly depending on the situation of the region," Prime Minister Taro Aso told a meeting on influenza.

Under the new guidelines, suspected patients in areas where the number of cases are rapidly increasing would be allowed to go to regular medical institutions rather than only designated "fever centres" set up to deal with the new flu, health minister Yoichi Masuzoe told a news conference.

Designated centres in western areas, where the infection is widespread, have filled to bursting in recent days.

Schools in infected areas would not automatically be closed down, Masuzoe added.

Quarantine checks on airplanes will no longer be conducted in most instances. Japan also relaxed its travel warning for Mexico, calling for caution rather than the postponement of visits.

Only a small percentage of passengers were wearing surgical masks on Tokyo commuter trains though many people are still trying to stockpile them, causing a shortage. Some were selling off their stocks at a profit on Internet auction sites.

Yahoo.co.jp's online auction Website showed over 12,400 offerings of medical masks, with the latest bid for one item, 100 boxes of 50 masks, reaching 500,000 yen.

The H1N1 flu strain is a never-before-seen mixture of swine, bird and human viruses that spreads easily between people. It has killed 85 people and infected more than 11,000 in 41 countries, according to the World Health Organisation.

A total of 289 cases have been confirmed in Japan, most in the western part of the country and many of them high school students. Two cases have been confirmed in Tokyo.

There were recriminations over some failures to prevent infection.

The head teacher of a school near Tokyo, attended by two girls who were infected on a trip to New York, was reduced to tears at a news conference this week after receiving dozens of telephone calls criticising him for allowing them to go.

"All the responsibility lies with me," Takayoshi Maeda told reporters.

While some restrictions are being relaxed, politicians in the junior ruling coalition New Komeito Party were being urged to take precautions. The party's candidates in a July Tokyo assembly election were advised to limit their hand-shaking during the campaign, the regional Tokyo Shimbun daily said. (Additional reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Valerie Lee)

2009年5月21日 星期四


舊情綿綿 ──日本老片好滋味

  • 2009-05-22
  • 中國時報
  • 【李黎】


 對於一個從小到大看了幾十年電影的資深影迷,昔日的煩惱是錯過了電影院的公演就是永遠錯過了,期待若干時日後重映的機會比重逢訣別了的情 人還渺茫。那份遺憾真是足以入詩的。待到影帶、影碟日益普及之後,這份詩意的遺憾從此不再;尤其許多經典名片用了高科技方法修復、製成DVD,網上訂購方 便無比,如今已經很少有找不到的電影了。


 可是有時回頭看一些變成經典的老電影,竟會有「走味」了的感覺,幾乎要懷疑自己記憶是否可靠了。不過我看日本的老電影就很少發生這種情 況,反而常是看出更多的滋味來。前些時又把小津安二郎的「晚春」 細看一回,一縷像鄉愁般遙遠而甜蜜的淡淡憂傷拂之不去──何以看日本老電影會讓我生起鄉愁,只有自己知道,也只有小津的電影做得到吧。

 暫且擱下個人的心境和喜愛不談,日本老電影之迷人如陳年佳釀,而新片佳作在質與量上始終難以比得過老電影,其實跟日本電影業的盛衰歷史有 關。從戰後到整個六○年代是日本電影的全盛時期,今日所公認的經典名片幾乎全出自那二十多年;而影史上地位屹立不可動搖的大師們的頂尖作品也全出現在那段 時光。其後就氣勢遞減,佳片寥寥可數了;而且奇怪的是這個現象跟經濟成長無關──甚至可以說是反其道而行﹕反而是日本成了經濟超強大國之後電影業變得乏善可陳了。也難怪影迷們總覺得日本電影是越老越可愛。




 所幸我十多年前就有了舒明的「日本電影風貌」 (1995,台北聯合文學出版社),作為選看日本電影的參考和指南。舒明是香港影評人,日本電影專家;他在2007年還出了「平成年代的日本電影」,我因 為對日本新電影尚未涉及,所以還沒來得及讀。而就在此時,舒明又有一本關於日本電影的新書出版,這次是和鄭樹森合著的「日本電影十大」(印刻文學,2009年5月)。鄭樹森是比較文學教授,他的「電影類型與類型電影」(2005,台北洪範)是一本足以作為電影文化教科書的著作;這樣的兩家聯袂點評「十大」,當有看頭。

 舒明和鄭樹森在這本書裡採用了一個很「日本」的形式──對談,來討論日本電影(限於劇情長片)的「十大」﹕十大導演(其實有二十名)和他 們的代表性佳作、十大名片,還有「電影旬報」和「文藝春秋」在不同年代票選出的「十大」、「百大」等等排名榜。兩人一個是專攻日本電影的行家,一個是比較 文學和文化現象的學者,對談擦出的火花既有英雄所見之同,也有彼此互補之處。



 特別有意思的是他們提出對「大師」的嚴格要求──以他們共同設定的標準,一位「大師」級的導演需要的條件是﹕1、鮮明的風格,2、圓熟的 技巧,3、具有個人視野,4、創作持久,同時作品還要有5、豐富的產量和6、多元的題材。而大師的作品,也有「傑作」(masterpiece)、「佳 作」(near masterpiece)以及「水準之作」的區分。我覺得這樣的要求值得推廣,不應僅限於電影,也可以用在其他的藝術領域裡;但願如此可以避免「大師」、 「傑作」頭銜氾濫成災的現象。


 最好看的部份當然是逐部討論大師的名作,同時兼及其他佳作,涵蓋了個人和作品承先啟後的歷史性;所以針對每一位的討論都可以當成獨立篇章來讀。鄭、舒兩人的談話方式令我想起美國70-90年代最受歡迎的影評節目──兩位資深影評人Siskel and Ebert在電視上對談評論新上演的電影;他們的對話就有這份「現場感」,讀起來很過癮。談到的片子,若是看過的可以在閱讀時心中默默加入他們的談論,沒看過的則可以考慮要不要找來看。

 說了半天,他倆心目中的十大日本導演是誰?名單在此──黑澤明。小津安二郎、溝口健二(並列第二名)。木下惠介、市川崑、成瀨巳喜男(並 列第四)。今村昌平。小林正樹。山田洋次、新藤兼人(並列第九)。後面四位算是比較新的導演,雖然50、60年代就有作品,但代表作都是70年代後的了。 (2000年「電影旬報」選出的20世紀日本導演排名榜,前四名黑澤、小津、溝口、木下都與鄭舒的名單一致,第五到第十依次則是﹕成瀨巳喜男、山田洋次、 市川崑、內田吐夢、大島渚、深作欣二。)他們還談到另十位及兩位「遺珠」,就把名單全面概括了。

 然後是十大導演每個人的一部代表作。再經討論──有的早有一致的定論,有的還是略有爭論,從先前共同選出的「傑作」中挑出一部大師最有代 表性的頂尖之作。按照前面的導演名單順序呼應,這十部電影是﹕「七武士」、「晚春」、「元祿忠臣藏」、「卡門還鄉」、「細雪」、「女人踏上樓梯時」、「日 本昆蟲記」、「切腹」、「兒子」、「午後的遺書」。


 限於每位導演必得選一部又僅只能選一部,我認為這樣形成的名單反並不能等同為「十大佳片」的首選。倒是書的最後一部份「名單及片目」,收 入了不同的排名榜在不同年代票選出的導演「20強」、「50強」,和電影「百大」;其中「電影旬報」在1999年選出的「百大」的前十名,不受十大導演一 人一片的限制,結果竟與鄭、舒二家的名單大相徑庭;而小津的「晚春」竟連「百大」都未進入,也可看出日本文化界的大型票選結果與兩位中國影 評人口味的出入。這十部高居「百大」榜首的影片是﹕「七武士」(黑澤明)、「浮雲」(成瀨巳喜男)、「飢餓海峽」(內田吐夢)、「東京物語」(小津安二 郎)、「幕暮太陽傳」(川島雄三)、「羅生門」(黑澤明)、「赤色殺意」(今村昌平)、「無仁義之戰」系列(深作欣二)、「二十四隻眼睛」(木下惠介)、 「雨月物語」(溝口健二)。

 並無例外也不出人意外的,排在榜上前頭遙遙領先的還是那幾位已經走進歷史的名字,伴隨著他們那些部多半會召喚鄉愁的黑白片,和看到片名便 升起綿綿舊情的老電影。那真是一個特別的年代﹕戰爭的創痛猶鉅傷痕猶新,經濟尚在掙扎起步,然而一個絢麗的電影時代開始了,那樣千般剛烈又萬般溫柔的光芒 持續了四分之一個世紀,消逝之後偶現的閃爍光點只令人更加懷念那個永遠不再的年代。


What do Japan’s parties think?







就此而言,日本的政客们辜负了民众的期望。在定于今年秋季举行的下一次大选中,执政的自民党(LDP)似乎注定将败在民主党(DPJ)手下。自民党 符合日本总体上保守的倾向,却派别林立。而民主党则是由社会民主党人和心怀不满的前自民党成员组成的联盟。两党都缺乏连贯的哲学。

两党都做出了确凿、明确的承诺,也都瞄准了狭隘的利益集团。不过,二者都未曾向选民提供足够的信息,使其预见到它们会如何应对国家面临的重大挑战或 意想不到的事件。选民们必须清楚各党的前进方向,而不是被要求参与一些细枝末节的问题。不过,要做到这一点,两党首先必须认清自我。


What do Japan’s parties think?

Editorial 2009-05-22

Japan’s economic model is broken. Output fell in the first quarter by 4 per cent; a record decline. Its economic structure, however, is only one facet of Japan’s problems. The country is approaching an election when a change in government seems likely. This is a chance for the country to debate what it would like to be. It must be seized.

Japan is the world’s second largest economy. Its export-led strategy, however, has beached the country, leaving it at the mercy of others’ appetites. The largest contributor to the first-quarter dive was the decline in exports which, in turn, drove down private investment.

Japan is suffering because demand has fallen in the deficit consumer nations, hobbling it along with much of east Asia. But Japan’s exporters were also knocked back by the strengthening of the yen; at its January 2009 zenith, the currency was 50 per cent stronger than during its summer 2007 nadir.

Even with a strong currency, household consumption fell in the first quarter. Indeed, the only sector which expanded in the three months was the state; current government spending rose enough to offset falls in public infrastructure investment.

When robust growth re-emerges, whether it comes from China or the US, Japan will benefit. But simply awaiting the return of appetites elsewhere is a route to relative decline. Like Germany, another structurally mercantilist powerhouse, Japan must generate demand at home.

The future of the Japanese economy, however, is just one part of the debate that the country needs to have. It is struggling with a greying population, and the country’s low-income workers have struggled with stagnant wages for decades. This is a time for ideas.

In this regard, Japan’s politicians are failing. The ruling Liberal Democratic party looks set to lose the next election – due by the autumn – to the Democratic party of Japan. The LDP fits Japan’s broadly conservative tendencies but is faction-riven. The DPJ, meanwhile, is a coalition of social democrats and disgruntled LDP ex-members. Neither has a coherent philosophy.

Both parties have certain, specific pledges and have targeted narrow interest groups. Neither, however, has told voters enough to let them predict how the parties would respond to the country’s grand challenges or to unforeseen events. Rather than being asked to engage in microdetail, electors need to know in which direction the parties face. But, to achieve that, the parties will need to work out what they think themselves.

2009年5月19日 星期二

紐約時報今日兩則日 本新聞

Japan’s G.D.P. Shrinks at Record Pace

HONG KONG — Gross domestic product shrank 15.2 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier, in the biggest decline since 1955.

In Japan, Secure Jobs Have a Cost

OSAKA, Japan — Some are questioning the system, bolstered by government subsidies, that keeps otherwise idle workers occupied.

2009年5月17日 星期日

行動創新 堅持日本製造的Panasonic筆電

行動創新 堅持日本製造的Panasonic筆電

2008年9月,東京一橋大學正舉辦日本經營學會年會的午休時間,與會學者不約而同用筆記型電腦(NB)讀mail或做下午場次發表前準備。讓我十分訝異的是,一字排開的NB品牌,居然90%以上是Panasonic的Let's Note。

這個輕型只有940公克、電池續航力最長達15小時、安靜、不會發燙的NB,不僅100%在日本組裝,而且連續六年被日經Personal Computer,評為使用者滿意度暨品牌忠誠度雙雙第一,是在日本最受歡迎的NB。

台灣以主導全球NB生產知名於世界,台灣最後一條NB組裝線在2005年10月關閉,移轉海外生產被認為是全球化的趨勢。Panasonic卻在2008 年度生產了65萬台NB,不僅Let's Note 是日本高階市場的霸主,也有超過50%的產品外銷歐美法人,規模雖然小但獲利卻十分豐碩。



松下電器創業於1918年,2008年10月改名為Panasonic。Panasonic在1960年代投入電腦的研發與製造,前30年間並未獲利。 1996年推出Let's note系列之後,自有品牌與獲利才逐漸趨於穩固。1993年,負責企業內IT應用推廣的倉林龍一受命於當時的森下洋一社長,從使用者角度為30年不賺錢 的電腦事業把脈,蔚為關鍵。



「美國是汽車社會,NB的輕量與堅固並不是重要考量;日本則是電車社會,行動型概念相對重要。」倉林龍一如此認為,因此將產品概念定位為「行動型個性化商 品」、「PC業界的法拉利」,以30到40歲的商務或具影響力人士為對象,包括IT企業員工、資訊器材開發人員、系統工程師、大學資訊或管理教授、PC玩 家等。


行動型NB概念的成功,不僅奠定了Panasonic PC事業的榮景,更堪稱是1981年IBM豎立PC 產品系統規格,帶動模組型開放性產品結構的設計概念以來,最重要的PC系統型創新。



第一,從家電到NB,企業內部的知識管理結晶。譬如,Let's Note的安靜,就源自無風扇熱流向機構設計技術,是該公司從事冰箱、洗衣機、空調等白物家電製造超過60年的技術結晶。



第三,堅持日本組裝,形成連結研發、生產技術與行銷營業的智慧型工廠平台。一方面透過拜訪法人用戶、適用者俱樂部、部落格等多方管道,與顧客直接接觸,理 解並及時反應顧客需求;另一方面積極建構出一種橫跨研發技術、生產人員、品保人員以及營業人員的機動性溝通協調機制,靈活調適市場變化與需求。

Panasonic PC事業的小而美策略,不僅確保了高附加價值的日本市場與歐美法人市場,也有效地將產品的開發與製造留在日本國內。值得重視的是,這個案例說明,高附加價 值產品製造基地存在的關鍵,在於產品研製過程的磨合共創能力,而不在傳統的降低勞工成本或追求規模優勢。

Panasonic NB堅持日本製造,對於已經面臨代工瓶頸的台灣電子廠商,饒富啟發。台灣電子系統廠商在積極發展自有品牌事業時,也可能以產品鏈水平分工的角度進行策略切 割,保留部分設計及生產部門,積極建構自有品牌事業的技術型組織能力,深耕能夠創造高獲利的產品系統整合型技術。


2009年5月16日 星期六

Yukio Hatoyama 鳩山氏

Japan opposition leader selected
BBC News - UK
Japan's opposition Democratic Party has chosen Yukio Hatoyama, the grandson of a former prime minister, as leader ahead of elections later this year. ...

Hatoyama to lead Japan opposition back to future
Reuters - USA
By Isabel Reynolds TOKYO (Reuters) - The new leader of Japan's main opposition Democratic Party, a fourth-generation lawmaker and close ally of his ...

Yukio Hatoyama was elected president of Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) on Saturday, taking charge of the main opposition party that is struggling with scandal and disunity.

In the election among party lawmakers, Hatoyama, 62, received 124 votes in besting his sole opponent, Vice President Katsuya Okada, 55, who received 95 votes.

The election was made necessary when Ichiro Ozawa resigned Monday, due in part to the indictment of his state-funded aide on charges of falsifying political fund reports.

Hatoyama will lead Minshuto in the Lower House election that must be called by September in a showdown with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for control of the government.

Both Hatoyama and Okada have previously served as presidents of Minshuto.(IHT/Asahi: May 16,2009)

Japan Opposition Picks Election Candidate
Wall Street Journal - USA
By TAKASHI NAKAMICHI TOKYO -- Japan's largest opposition party Saturday picked Yukio Hatoyama as its new leader to fight a national election, ...

歴代首相などに扮する政治コントで知られる劇団「ザ・ニュースペーパー」のリーダー渡部又兵衛さんは「短期間の代表選では盛り上がらないと言われたが、 思った以上に注目を浴びていた。麻生・自民と比べると、鳩山・民主の方がまだ新鮮さがあるように思う」と語った。16日、東京都多摩市の公演で、民主党を 題材にしたパロディーを演じた。「うちの劇団の場合、鳩山さんと麻生さんは同一人物が演じており、それはそれで話題になるとは思っています」。

 岡田氏は小泉元首相の郵政解散のとき、民主党代表として大敗した。評論家の小沢遼子さん(72)は「今、小泉改革の成果が否定され、麻生政権も小 泉路線をなし崩しにしている。岡田さんがどう戦うか見てみたかった」と述べた。代表選の結果について、「党内には小沢路線を否定するわけではないという考 え方があるのだろう」と話した。


 自民党や新党さきがけを経て、経済企画庁長官も務めた田中秀征さん(68)。小沢氏や鳩山氏と政治活動を共にしたことがある。「世論の高まりとと もに岡田氏が激しく追い上げたが、鳩山氏が辛くも逃げ切った」とみる。「世論に抗して新代表となった鳩山氏の責任は重い。党内をまとめることができても、 世論をまとめて総選挙に臨むのは至難の業だからだ」と話した。

「友愛」の人、鳩山新代表 宇宙人の異名、タフさ強調(2/2ページ)

党代表選で小沢路線の継承を訴えながら、「愛のある政治」を説き続け、鳩山カラーを発揮した。16日に示した代表選公約のタイトルも「友愛の日本を 創(つく)る」。この浮世離れしたキャッチフレーズこそが、「宇宙人」と呼ばれる鳩山由紀夫氏(62)のつかみどころのなさを浮き彫りにしている。


 鳩山氏は16日の政見スピーチで、「友愛」の理念をこう説明した。そんな主張を「頼りないと申す方も多くいる」ことは自覚している。だが就任後の 記者会見でも「友愛社会を建設するのは並大抵のことではない。官僚主導の政治と決別する宣言だから」と、今後も貫く姿勢を強調した。


 中曽根元首相は、この理念を「ソフトクリーム」に例えた。甘くてすぐに溶けて消えてしまう、という意味だ。この日の両院議員総会でこの点を指摘さ れると、「かつて中曽根さんに言われた。ソフトクリームからアイスキャンディーになった。芯が出てきたな、と」と反論。だが、果たして芯は出てきたのか。

 人柄の良さは折り紙付き。「政治は愛」「政治を科学する」などと他の政治家からはめったに聞かれない言葉を口にするため、永田町では「宇宙人」と呼ばれ るが、大衆受けはいい。車いすの高齢者や子どもには目線を合わせて話し込む。3年半前の幹事長就任以来、全国遊説を精力的にこなし、街頭で一人ひとりに 配った名刺は3万枚に上る。

特に小沢代表になってからは、「口べた」という小沢氏の代弁者として、小沢氏への批判を受け止める緩衝材の役割をこなした。小沢氏が欠席した会合で は「なにぶん代表はシャイなもので……」と笑いをとる。「小沢代表は『政局顔』だけど、政策にも通じている」などと擁護することもあった。

 昨年4月の日銀副総裁の同意人事では、小沢氏と衝突した。2度にわたって拒否した総裁人事への同意を決めたことで、党内では副総裁にも同意すべき だとの意見が大勢だった。不同意を主張する小沢氏に「幹事長を辞める覚悟だ」と迫ったが、説得に失敗。やむなく不同意で党内をまとめる鳩山氏に、同僚議員 からは「幹事長が泥をかぶっている」と評価が高まった。こうした打たれ強さは持ち味だ。



 しかし、就任後の会見で「親類縁者一人もいない北海道という新天地を政治家のスタートラインに置いた」と世襲批判を否定し、こう言い切った。 「メール問題、大連立とか、この数年の間にもいろんな民主党の歴史があり、これを一つひとつ乗り越えてきた。そう簡単に気力がなえて、さじを投げる鳩山で はないことをご理解願いたい」

2009年5月11日 星期一

Opposition Leader Ozawa Quits Ahead of Election

避免對眾院選舉不利 小澤辭去民主黨黨魁 【18:15】












Japan Opposition Leader Quits Ahead of Election

Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, May 11, 2009; 9:29 AM

TOKYO, May 11 -- In this election year in Japan, history-making political change had seemed a sure thing.

The economy was in a deep sinkhole and the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party was in disarray. In late winter, party elders demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose approval numbers sank into the single digits.

But scandal has smiled this spring on Aso and his ruling party.

The top aide to the leader of the main opposition party was indicted in March for illegal fundraising. The once-surging poll numbers of the Democratic Party of Japan plummeted. And the veteran leader of the opposition, Ichiro Ozawa, resigned Monday to try to save his party from losing an election that must be held by September.

"I have decided to sacrifice myself and resign as party leader to strengthen our party unity for a clear victory in the next election," Ozawa told a news conference.

"To me, whether I become prime minister is not an issue at all," he added. "We just simply must change this long, rotten government."

Ozawa, 66 and a 40-year fixture in Japanese politics, quit on a day when a national newspaper poll showed that 70 percent of voters do not approve of him. The poll also showed that voters much preferred Aso to Ozawa -- a sharp reversal of public sentiment in recent months.

The resignation will allow the opposition to chose a younger, less-blemished politician to be the face of a party whose policies emphasize consumer rights and transparency in political fundraising.

By selling change and clean government, the party -- under Ozawa's leadership -- had in the past two years outmaneuvered the Liberal Democratic Party, which has dominated Japanese politics for a half-century.

The opposition grabbed control of the upper house of parliament in an election in 2007, and has since been able to embarrass the ruling party and derail many of its policies.

The Liberal Democrats have been plagued over the years by scandals over political contributions, especially from large construction companies milking huge government contracts. The Democratic Party had insisted it was different. It pledged not to take money from construction firms and to break the cozy relationship between government bureaucrats and the companies they funded.

So when Ozawa's top aide was indicted for taking money over several years from a large construction company, the political damage was swift and severe.

Within days, Ozawa's approval ratings sank beneath those of Aso.

In the past two months, political analysts have said that Ozawa would have to quit for his party to have a chance in the elections.

While Aso has clearly benefited from Ozawa's troubles, the prime minister remains deeply unpopular. Since taking office in September, his poll numbers have ranked him as one of the most disliked leaders in postwar Japan.

His popularity has risen from single digits. But the poll in Monday's Yomiuri newspaper showed that his approval rating is still under 30 percent, and 60 percent of those surveyed disapprove of his leadership.

Special correspondent Akiko Yamamoto contributed to this report.

2009年5月10日 星期日

'A Drifting Life' by Yoshihiro Tatsumi


'A Drifting Life' by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, translated from the Japanese by Taro Nettleton, edited, designed and lettered by Adrian Tomine

The story of manga, through the eyes of an artist who has lived its entire history.
By Susan Carpenter
May 10, 2009
A Drifting Life

A Graphic Novel-Memoir

Yoshihiro Tatsumi, translated from the Japanese by Taro Nettleton, edited, designed and lettered by Adrian Tomine

The date: Aug. 15, 1945. The country: Japan. Following a series of nuclear and firebomb attacks that laid waste to dozens of cities and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, Emperor Hirohito finally announced Japan's surrender in World War II, leaving his subjects to deal with the death and disease of loved ones, the rebuilding of the country's infrastructure and rampant shortages of food and medicine.

They were, to be sure, bleak times. Yet it was this horrific backdrop that set the stage for the creation of what would become a worldwide cultural force just a few decades later -- manga, or Japanese comics. Rising from the ashes of a defeated and disarmed Japan, manga hasn't just been adopted by American culture, it has continued to provide fodder for TV shows, movies, video games and books.

Now a new graphic novel-memoir seeks to shed some light on that era, chronicling the birth of an art form along with the role of one of its star players -- Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Drawn and written by the now 74-year-old legend, the brick-thick memoir "A Drifting Life" is the story of manga as seen through the eyes of an artist who has lived its entire history.

Not coincidentally, "A Drifting Life" begins the same day as Japan's surrender. Tatsumi was just 10 years old, living with his four siblings and two feuding parents in Osaka -- much of which had been wiped out by firebombs earlier that year.

Like many boys his age in a pre-television world, Tatsumi spent his days reading comics. It wasn't long before he was drawing them to escape the grim realities of his daily life, then sending them to the growing catalog of manga magazines that sprang up in the late 1940s and early '50s.

The only place Tatsumi "felt alive was in the realm of imagination." "There was no freedom in reality," the artist writes in a panel that shows nothing but a blank page. "The creative act of making something from nothing allowed him to live in an infinitely free world."

At that time, manga was mostly short-form, consisting of a few panels that featured fanciful cartoonish characters engaged in some sort of gag. And that is exactly what Tatsumi was drawing -- and getting published and paid for -- as a tween and young teenager. The pen-and-ink stylings Tatsumi uses to tell that part of his story, however, are clearly from manga's elder statesman. The clean, orderly style is the work of a fully realized artist who's spent 60 years honing his craft, and "A Drifting Life" represents the "dramatic pictures" (gekiga) for which Tatsumi is best known -- emotional and realistic renderings of a hard-knock life told from an underdog perspective. Rather than jokes and action, the emphasis is on character and narrative.

It was this ahead-of-its-time sensibility that caught the eye of a latter-day artist who shares the same sensibilities -- Adrian Tomine. The driving force behind Tatsumi's relatively recent fame in the U.S., the 34-year-old superstar of contemporary alternative American comics edited and designed "A Drifting Life."

Eleven years in the making, "A Drifting Life" is published by Drawn & Quarterly, which put out Tomine's popular Optic Nerve comics and which, at Tomine's urging, also released Tatsumi's "The Push Man and Other Stories" in 2005 and "Abandon the Old in Tokyo" in 2006. Where the earlier books featured comics from the late '60s and early '70s, "A Drifting Life" is the first Tatsumi book published in the U.S. to feature his more recent work.

As much as the book is a personal take on the formative years of manga, it's also a peek into the artist's creative process and a history lesson that shows how a transitioning postwar culture shaped manga's form and content. Tatsumi's inclusion of Japanese societal touchstones, such as the U.S. testing in the 1950s of the hydrogen bomb in the Pacific and the rise of teenage singing sensation Hibari Misora, are merely artistic representations of cultural influence. On an even deeper level, Tatsumi's entire mode of storytelling was formed by politics, sports, literature and movies.

It was "The Count of Monte Cristo," for example, that led Tatsumi to embrace the sentiment of that book's lead character -- "that all human creation progresses toward simplification and 'simplification' is refinement." It was the rioting of his fellow Japanese against the signing of a security treaty with the U.S. in 1960 that led to Tatsumi's realization that the "dramatic pictures" he was making lacked anger. And it was his reading of American comics in the '50s that taught him that "visuals should be the primary method of expression" and that "dialogue should be as abbreviated as possible."

While much is made of the influence of Mickey Spillane's crime fiction on Tatsumi's hard-boiled content, film may have had an even greater effect. Tatsumi tended to go to the movies whenever he was stuck on a story, and the cinematic techniques he observed often wound up in his comics. The fog in the 1956 French film "People of No Importance," for example, taught Tatsumi that light and shadow could be used to characterize emotion.

Indeed, one of the most striking image sequences in "A Drifting Life" involves a romantic tryst that begins with a hug, progresses to a kiss and ends with a close-up of a pair of shoes and a fallen book bag.

"A Drifting Life" is a beautiful portrait of a dark time during which Tatsumi's artistic experimentation was clearly a guiding light for a fledgling movement. Even at 800-plus pages, it seems to end too soon, stopping in 1960. One can only hope that Tatsumi pens the rest of his illustrious life story.

Carpenter is a Times staff writer.

2009年5月6日 星期三

The search for Craig Arnold

FILE --This undated file photo released by Ausable Press shows Craig Arnold, 41. Arnold, an assistant professor of English at the University of Wyoming and a published poet. The search for Arnold who disappeared on a remote Japanese island will end Wednesday, May 6, 2009,a police official said. (AP Photo/Ausable Press, Amanda Abel)


Search for US poet in Japan to be scaled down

TOKYO (AP) — Authorities have scaled down their search for an award-winning U.S. poet who disappeared while hiking up a volcano on a remote Japanese island because their efforts have yielded no clues for more than a week, police said Wednesday.

University of Wyoming assistant professor Craig Arnold, 41, was reported missing April 27 after he failed to return from a hike on the tiny island of Kuchinoerabu-jima, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of Japan's southern Kyushu island.

Ten rescue workers, including policemen and firefighters, left for the day's search after sunrise Wednesday, down from 40 people through Tuesday, local police official Takashi Yamasaki said. They will be hiking up the volcano while combing through the area, he added.

Yamasaki said the poet has not returned to a local inn for nine days since he left for a hike.

"We have not found anything, including his belongings," another local police official, Yoshiyuki Kuzuhara, said.

A U.S.-based search-and-rescue organization sent four people to Japan to keep up the search.

The searchers from the 1st Special Response Group arrived Tuesday night. Their strategy will be to look carefully for Arnold's trail and then pursue any signs, said David Kovar, founder of the nonprofit organization based in Mountain View, California.

Japanese authorities say they had ruled out Arnold being either inside the volcano's crater or at the barren top of the mountain. U.S. military aircraft were involved in the search during its first day.

Kuzuhara said the mountain has no hiking trail, and the locals hardly go there.

The island, with a population of just 150 people, is covered by dense vegetation. It is about seven miles (11 kilometers) long and three miles (five kilometers) wide and dominated by the 1,800-foot (550-meter) volcano, which last erupted in 1980.

Arnold had been traveling around the world, working on a book about volcanoes. He is the author of two award-winning books of poetry and was in Japan through the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission's Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship.

Since arriving in Japan in mid-March, Arnold had updated his blog "Volcano Pilgrim: Five Months in Japan as a Wandering Poet," almost daily. The last entry was dated April 26, the day before his disappearance, when he wrote about Miyakejima, another volcanic island off the southern coast of Tokyo.

Arnold grew up in a U.S. Air Force family and lived four years on the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the U.S. military has several bases.

Associated Press Writer Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyoming, contributed to this report.


Arts, Briefly

No Sign of Poet Lost in Japan

Published: May 5, 2009

The Japanese police said that a weeklong search had not turned up any details on the whereabouts of Craig Arnold, an American poet who has been missing on a Japanese island since last week, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Arnold, 41, a professor at the University of Wyoming, has been missing since April 27, when he went hiking up a volcano on Kuchinoerabu, a small island near the coast of Japan’s southern Kyushu island. He had been visiting there on a fellowship provided by the United States-Japan Friendship Commission’s Creative Artists Exchange. About 40 police officers, firefighters and rescue workers had been searching for him, but Yoshiyuki Kuzuhara, a local police officer, told The Associated Press, “We have not found anything, including his belongings.” The police said they had ruled out the possibilities that Mr. Arnold had fallen into the volcano’s crater or was stranded at its peak.

2009年5月1日 星期五

Nation builder's debt lesson should be heeded

Nation builder's debt lesson should be heeded


Writer and educator Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901), who played a prominent role in Japan's nation building during its period of cultural enlightenment, made many profound remarks. "Setting aside assassination, there is nothing more terrifying in this world than debts," he stated in his autobiography. Coming from the man whose image is printed on 10,000-yen notes, the lesson carries weight.

Fukuzawa would roll over in his grave if he knew about this nation's soaring debts that keep swelling. Combined with debts accrued by local governments, the nation owes a total of 800 trillion yen. If companies or households were saddled with snowballing debts of such magnitude, they would have stopped functioning a long time ago.

The government submitted a supplementary budget bill that finances a package of economic stimulus measures worth 15 trillion yen to the Diet on Monday. With the additional spending, the annual budget for fiscal 2009 will top 100 trillion yen for the first time ever.

While pump-priming measures are needed to cope with the recession, the issuance of new government bonds would also be the highest ever, at 44 trillion yen. I am told the figure is more or less equivalent to total tax revenues. If it were a household, it means it can barely make ends meet with new borrowing matching income.

Be that as it may, before we knew it, the phrase "once in a century" has virtually become a talisman for the government and the ruling parties. In the face of a once-in-a-century recession, they say, "This is no time to dissolve the Lower House (for a snap election)." "Therefore, we need to implement a bold stimulus package," they say.

It is being used as an excuse for any situation. Both the "1,000-yen" expressway tolls on weekends and holidays for passenger cars equipped with electronic toll collection systems and the generous extra budget bill have come to look like election measures stuck with talismans.

Fukuzawa feared debts apparently because they must be repaid without fail. The same goes for national debts. Future generations must foot the bill. We can hear the approaching sound of a tax increase.

Incidentally, not only Fukuzawa but also Higuchi Ichiyo (1872-1896) and Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928), whose portraits adorn 5,000-yen and 1,000-yen notes, respectively, were born to impoverished families. Despite their poor circumstances, they grew to be influential people. In heaven, they must be watching over the Diet debate and discussing with one another "wise ways" to spend the budget to stimulate the economy, as the government says.

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 29(IHT/Asahi: April 30,2009)