本日の「Asahi.com」の記事（下のリンク参照）でも報じられているように、「ソフトパワー」の議論で有名なジョセフ・ナイ教授が在日米国大使に任命されるのではないかといわれている。 日本をソフトパワーの代表的な国とみなすナイ氏のような人が大使になることは日本にとって良いニュースかもしれないが、他方それには危険な側面もあり、親日派の大使の任命は、日本の国民や政治家に対して、日本側がそれほど努力しなくても日米関係は強固で安定していると誤解させる可能性もあるといえよう。 参考：Reference: Asahi.com (1/9): "Joseph Nye to be next U.S. envoy to Japan" http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200901080260.html
It is reported in today's Asahi.com article (see the link above) that Professor Joseph Nye, who is well known for his argument about "soft power," is likely to be the next ambassador to Japan. While this might be good news for Japan in view of his high regards for Japan as a leading soft-power nation, there would be some danger exactly for that reason, that is, a frendly ambassador could mislead the Japanese public and politicians to believe that Japan-US relations would be firm and stable without much effort on the part of Japan.
It is reported in the Asia-Pacific News article linked above that French President Sarkozy showed no interest in meeting the Prime Minister of the host nation of G8, causing a diplomatic "incident" with Japan. In fact, the French prsident is the only G8 leader who had no bilateral talk with Prime Minister Fukuda. Instead, as reported in the Xinhua article (see the link above), President Sarkozy met Chinese President Hu Jintao while in Japan, and there is no doubt that this meeting might well be interpreted by many Japanese as a sign of "Japan passing" on the part of representative European leaders.
There was a special class meeting with a guest speaker from China (Nanjing University of Finance and Economics), Mr. Zhang Weifu, on “China’ current problems and responsibilities” in the East Asia course offered at the Economics Department of USC (University of Southern California) in Los Angeles on June 18.
First, Mr. Zhang gave a brief talk about income inequalities and regional developments in China. Regarding the income disparity issue, he pointed out that in China the Gini coefficient seems very high, meaning a high degree of inequalities, mainly because of vast income disparities between urban and rural areas, which consist of “two different worlds” in China, given the fact that rural to urban migration is strictly regulated. However, within the rural area as well as within the urban area, there does not exist such a high level of inequalities, although some disparities may be remaining within each area, just as they are in any other countries. Mr. Zhang also touched on recent incidents in Tibet in the context of what he described as the “peaceful development of all regions” in China. Aside from his personal insistence that Tibet has historically been part of China for the last few hundred years, his main point on this issue seemed to be that it is important to have an uninterrupted development of the Chinese economy without violence and disturbances, which could possibly result in regional disintegration of China as a nation with disastrous consequences not only on China itself but also on the global economy.
After his presentation, an active discussion took place, as some students asked him about whether China’s economic success will help introduce democracy or maintain the current communist rule in China. Mr. Zhang responded by insisting that China has its own political system, a kind of “Asian system,” which is and will be different from Western-style “democracy” for the sake of the Chinese people, an argument which may not sell well in the U.S.
In the second half of the meeting, Professor Takahiro Miyao gave a brief lecture on current problems in China, such as energy, environment, piracy and other key issues involving China and other emerging economies. And then he conducted a questionnaire exercise by asking all the participating students to answer various questions concerning China’s responsibilities as possible factors to cause some of the global problems such as high energy prices, global warming, etc.
Interestingly enough, the questionnaire results have shown that the respondents seem to think that China is not mainly responsible for the energy and environmental problems or trade imbalances with the U.S., although China is considered largely responsible for rampant piracy activities within that country. It is impressive, to say the least, to see very lenient attitude toward China as a possible cause for various global problems as well as very optimistic prospects for China’s long-term prosperity and stability among the participating students. This may be partly because at least half of the students are from Asia, and partly because they sense an improving official relationship between China and the U.S. for the last several years.
18日付の「Washington Post」の記事（下のリンク参照）によると、米国のアナポリスで開催されている米中戦略経済対話で、財務長官ポールソン米財務長官が王岐山副首相と協議を行ったとのこと。 この記事のタイトルは、「米中対話で石油の問題が前面に」というものであるが、本日実際に何が話し合われたかは、色々な新聞記事の見出しを見る限りどうもはっきりしない。 下のリンクにあるように見出しのリストは以下のようなものである。 "US, China wrapping up high-level economic talks with plenty of disagreements remaining" "US presses China to open markets, faces dollar criticism" "US, China report no major economic breakthroughs" "China says lessons learned from US economic woes" "China, US pledge further cooperation" "Talks with US start on positive note" これは一種の「羅生門」現象、つまり、誰もが自分の見たいものが見える状況で、それは「戦略」とは正反対のものといえよう。 参考：Reference Google: "China" [All 562 news articles] including the following: Washington Post (6/18) "Oil to the Fore in US-China Talks" http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&tab=wn&ned=us&ie=UTF-8&ncl=1222738130
It is reported in today's Washington Post article (see the link above) that US Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson met Wang Qishan, China's vice premier at the US Naval Academy on the firsst day of the Strategic Economic Dialogue today. Although this article is entitled "Oil to the Fore in US-China Talks," what was really discussed on today's meeting is not clear by looking at a list of mass media reports (see the link above) on today's Strategic Economic Dialogue with varying headlines as follows:
"US, China wrapping up high-level economic talks with plenty of disagreements remaining" "US presses China to open markets, faces dollar criticism" "US, China report no major economic breakthroughs" "China says lessons learned from US economic woes" "China, US pledge further cooperation" "Talks with US start on positive note"
It is a kind of "Rashomon," meaning that everyone can see whatever he or she would like to see in this dialogue. That is just the opposite to the meaning of the word "strategic."
It is reported in today's NY Times (see the link above) that hundreds of thousands of people went out to the streets of Seoul and other major cities in South Korea on Tuesday to protest the resumption of beef imports from the U.S. This was the biggest demonstration in a couple of decades, as it coincided with the 21st anniversary of the June 10 "People Power" struggle in 1987, when marked the end of military dictatorship and the beginning of the direct presidential election system in South Korea. It is a kind of irony that new president Lee Myung-bak is now being severely criticized by the people who elected him.
ディスカッショングループの司会を務める目良浩一教授 Prof. Koichi Mera, Organizing & Moderating Discussions 目良教授（左）
目良浩一南カリフォルニア大学教授の論文「Proposals For Revival of Japan As an Independent Nation」（下のリンク参照）で言及されているように、ロサンゼルス地域で有志がディスカッショングループを作り、日本の歴史や国際関係に関する本を読んだり、メンバーの間で感想や意見を交流したりしている。そのグループの6月会合が6月1日午後3時からロサンゼルスの「リトル・トーキョー」地区にある日系文化会館で開催され、20人ほどのメンバーが参加して、目良教授の司会のもとに2冊の本を講読し、質疑応答を行った。
----------------------------------------------------------------------- As was reported in USC Professor Koichi Mera’s article, "Proposals For Revival of Japan As an Independent Nation" (see the link above), there is a discussion group organized in the Los Angeles area, reading books and various materials on Japan’s history and foreign relations and exchanging opinions and information among group members. The June meeting of the discussion group was held at JACCC in the “Little Tokyo” district of the City of Los Angeles at 3pm on June 1. About twenty people participated in the meeting, reading two books and exchanging questions and answers, moderated by Professor Mera.
The first book taken up was “National Intelligence Strategy” (Kokka Joho Senryaku) by Sato Masaru and Koh Young Choul, both of whom were once involved in national intelligence activities in Japan and South Korea, respectively. The main point of this book is to emphasize the importance of reestablishment of Japan’s intelligence capabilities which were lost due to the defeat of the war with the U.S. in order for Japan, along with South Korea, to survive in the coming age of “nuclear imperialism,” triggered by North Korea, Iran, and other rogue states. In this context, Koh Young Choul argues that Japan could possibly create an excellent intelligence agency, even better than the American CIA, by utilizing its most advanced technology and also by returning to the tradition of good intelligence taught at Army Nakano (Intelligence) School in the prewar period.
Discussions among the participants centered around the lack of recognition of the important role of intelligence for the state as well as for business among Japanese politicians and businesspersons, in contrast to the situation in the U.S., where the government as well as private businesses are fully aware of the strategic importance of intelligence activities on a daily basis. Regarding Koh Young Choul’s argument, some participants raised a question whether the U.S. would allow Japan to possess a strong intelligence capability in competition with the CIA, and also some doubt about the role and the quality of Army Nakano School, which apparently failed to produce true specialists to meet the nation’s needs for intelligence at that time.
The second book was entitled “Overcoming ‘Anti-Japan’: How to Deal with China, and South and North Korea” (Han-nichi no Chokoku), authored by Nishimura Koyu, where anti-Japanese movements and sentiments in China, South and North Korea, as well as within Japan are highlighted by referring to various episodes, from long-standing controversies on the Imperial family and the Yasukuni shrine to recent conflicts between Japan and South Korea in the “manga” world, as well as between Japan and China in the “blog” world.
In the free discussion, the first question raised was whether or not the situation regarding anti-Japanese sentiment in China and South Korea has now changed due to recent developments in political and social conditions in Japan as well as in China and South Korea with some new initiative to reverse the recent trends of confrontation and antagonism on the both sides. A majority of participants seemed to have an opinion that the situation has not changed in any fundamental way, especially with regard to Japan-China relations, where China’s “self-centeredness” and “regional hegemony” are still dominant and Japan’s mass media is not critical enough to reveal China’s true intention in its recent approach to Japan, according to some participants.
However, there were some disagreements among the participants over the issues of (1) whether blogs are an effective means to obtain adequate information to supplement mass media reporting, (2) whether it is inevitable for Japanese business (including the mass media) to take a “pro-Chinese” stance these days, regardless of its political stance, and (3) whether we should take a “nationalistic” or “universal” interpretation of Japan’s wartime experience, especially with China and Korea.
It was quite refreshing and impressive to hear this kind of discussions on Japan’s past, present and future in a place like Los Angeles. In a sense those Japanese who are living overseas should be more concerned than those residing in Japan about where their home country is going, because that question is vital to their identity as Japanese away from home.
昨日から胡錦濤中国国家主席が日本を訪問していることについて、本日の新聞に、一見すると「友好的」なタイトルが付いた2つの記事が載っているが、この2つの報道の仕方はまったく対照的である。まず第1の「ウォール・ストリート・ジャーナル」の記事は、日中関係を掘り下げて分析しており、毒入りギョーザ問題や東シナ海のガス油田問題、さらにはチベットの人権問題まで取り上げている。この記事が述べているように、今回の訪問の主要な目的は「オリンピック直前に中国のイメージを和らげよう」とすることなので、胡錦濤氏はこれらの難しい懸案には触れたがらないであろうと思われる。 これとは対照的に、ブルーンバーグの記事は、読売新聞のネット版の記事を引用して、ただ単に胡錦濤国家主席が昨晩の福田首相との会食の際に日本にパンダをプレゼントすると述べたことを伝えた上で、「これは両国の友好的な関係を象徴するもの」と付け加えて記事は終わっている。このような「表面的」な記事こそ、中国側がパンダを送ったりして作り出そうとしているもので、それによって難しい懸案を当面忘れさせようとしているのではないだろうか。 ある意味で、今回の中国国家主席の日本訪問は、政治家やジャーナリストや学者にとって、日中関係という重要な課題に関して錯綜する情報を扱う上での一貫性やプロ意識や道徳的基準を問われるリトマス試験紙であるとも考えられよう。 Article: Hu’s Japan Visit May Ease Strain The Wall Street Journal (5/7/2008) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121009573406771125.html?mod=googlenews_wsj Reference: China Offers Pair of Giant Pandas to Japan, Yomiuri Reports Bloomberg (5/7/2008) http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=anpX3iLHil2s&refer=japan
In today’s newspapers, there are two, very different kinds of reports, although with somewhat similar, “friendly” titles, on the Chinese premier’s visit to Japan, which began yesterday. The first report is in the Wall Street Journal, which is an in-depth analysis of various issues on Japan-China relations, including the poisoned gyoza problem and the gas exploration problem in the East China Sea as well as the human rights issue in Tibet, which Mr. Hu Jintao would not like to take up this time, because the main purpose of his visit to Japan is to “soften China’s image ahead of this summer’s Olympic games,” according to the report. In contrast, the second report in Bloomberg is just covering a new development, that is about Mr. Hu Jintao’s offer of a pair of giant pandas to Japan at a dinner with Mr. Yasuo Fukuda yesterday as “a symbol of friendly ties between the two countries,” by referring to a Yomiuri Shimbun report on the web. This kind of “superficial reporting” is exactly what the Chinese side would like to generate, hoping that serious issues might be forgotten, at least for the time being, by handing out gifts like pandas to Japan. In a sense, the Chinese premier’s visit to Japan this time can be considered a litmus test for politicians, journalists and scholars regarding their integrity, professionalism and moral standards in handling confusing pieces of information on an important affair like Japan-China relations.
アフリカの新聞（下のリンク参照）で報道されているが、上村外相がアフリカ支援の計画を発表し、今後5年間で1000ほどの学校を建設する援助計画を打ち上げたという。これは日本のためというより、初等教育を必要とするアフリカの多くの子どもたちのための計画である。 このような計画の発表は、来月横浜で行われるアフリカサミット会議（TICAD）との関連でなされたものであろうが、問題は現在のような国会の状況ではたしてこのような計画を実施に移すことができるかどうかということである。 参考：Reference ALLAFRICA (4/29): Africa: Japan to Build 1,000 Schools http://allafrica.com/stories/200804291203.html
It is reported in Africa's newspaper (see the link above) that Japan's Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura has announced a plan to build 1,000 schools in the next five years. This is not directly for the sake of Japan, but for large numbers of African children who badly need basic education. This announcement came in connection with the Africa Summit (TICAD) which will be held in Yokohama next month. Although such a plan is certainly welcome by African nations as well as by many of the Japanese who are aware of the African issues, the problem is, of course, whether such a ministerial plan can be implemented, given the difficult situation in the parliament.
日本のプラスの影響力：Japan's Positive Influence in the World
ドイツと並んで最高の評価：Highest Ratings with Germany
本日付の「The Daily Yomiuri」の記事（下のリンク参照）が報じているが、読売新聞、BBC World Service他による最近の調査で、日本が世界でもっともプラスの影響を与えている国であるという結果が出た。 日本がプラスの影響力をもつという意見が56％で、ドイツと並んで世界でもっとも高かったのに対して、マイナスの影響を与えているという意見は18％で、ドイツに次いで低かったという。 ただし、日本に対してマイナスの見方が多いのは、中国（55％）と韓国（52％）で、この点は日本が大いに注意すべきであろう。 ちなみに米国については、プラスが35％で、マイナスが47％と全体としてマイナスイメージが強いようである。 参考：Reference "Global poll: Japan has most positive influence in world" http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080402TDY01305.htm
It is reported in today's Daily Yomiuri (see the link above) that according to a recent survey conducted jointly by the Yomiuri Shimbun, the BBC World Service and other institutions, Japan seems to be among the most beneficial countries, having a positive influence in the world. Japan obtained the most positive ratings with 56% of respondents worldwide saying that Japan has a positive influence, and this is a tie with Germany, while only 18% said Japan has a negative influence and this is the second lowest after Germany. Nagative views on Japan were dominant mainly in China (55%) and South Korea (52%), a fact that Japan should take seriously. Regarding the U.S., there were less positive ratings (35%) than negative ratings (47%).
今月初めに行われた日中経済会議で合意された共同声明に関する奇妙なニュースが本日の新聞のネット版に載っている。それは中国が、共同声明の中で日本が元の切り上げを希望している部分とエネルギー問題における中国の役割に言及している部分を削除して発表したというもの。 問題はそれが意図的になされたのかどうかということである。 「The Japan Times」の記事は、高村外相による「何か手違いがあって削られてしまったのだと思う」という談話を引用している。 他方、「Asahi.com」の記事は、ある政府関係者の「外交ではあってはならない法外な行為」というコメントを載せており、さらに「このように削除された声明は福田首相の訪中前に新たな日中問題に発展する可能性がある」と結論付けている。 はたして意図的だったかどうかは別にして、中国の次の一手が、日中関係を悪化させるかどうかを決めることになるであろう。 参考：References The Japan Times (12/10): “Japan asks China for correction of joint statement on yuan” http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071210a1.html Asahi.com/English (12/10): Japan infuriated by China's deletions from joint press communiqué http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200712100113.html
There is some weird news about the joint press communiqué that Japan and China agreed upon earlier this month, that is, China deleted the portions of the communiqué that mentioned Japan’s hope for a higher value of the yuan and China’s role in energy problems. The question is whether this was done intentionally or not. The Japan Times quoted Foreign Minister Komura’s statement that “I think there were some slip-ups and this is why some parts were dropped.” On the other hand, Asahi.com reports that a Japanese government official said“it is a reckless act that must not be conducted in diplomacy,” and concludes that “the incomplete communiqué could now develop into a new conflict ahead of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s planned visit to China.” Whether it was intentional or not, China’s next step is important to decide if this will become something detrimental to Japan-China relations in the future.
最近の調査結果（下のリンク参照）によると、日中両国とも相手国の印象が昨年よりもかなり改善した。 これは過去1年間に両国の首脳が相互に訪問したことの結果であることは明らかである。 しかしながら、日中の間で非対称な点もあり、中国での回答者の半数以上が日本の印象はこの1年間でよくなったと答えたのに対して、日本では中国の印象が改善したと答えた人は20％以下に留まった。 参考：Reference The Japan Times (8/18): "More Chinese view Japan favorably: survey" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070818f1.html
According to a recent survey (see the link above), both Japan and China improved their impressions of each other substantially, compared to a year ago. Clearly this is a result of political leaders' visits to each other's countries for the past year. However, there remains some asymmetry, as more than a half of Chinese respondents said that they improved their impressions of Japan, while less than 20% of Japanese respondents improved their impressions of China.
Which country is the biggest threat to world stability? North Korea or Iran? No, the answer is the United States(!), at least in many European countries, according to Harris Research for the Financial Times (see the link above). Although in the US, North Korea and Iran are considered the biggest threat, young people seem to share the European view, regarding their own country as the biggest risk. This means that President Bush has alienated not only Europeans but also some Americans by sticking to the unpopular war in Iraq.
ほとんど誰もが中国元は過小評価されており、切上げるべきということでは同意する。しかしどの程度切上げるべきであろうか。 一つの答えは、PPP（購買力平価）という概念を使って得られる。ここでPPPレートとは、それぞれの国内で同じ商品バスケットの価格で計った通貨の価値が同じになるような為替レートのことをいう。 中国については1ドル1.8元がPPPレートであるのに対して、実際のレートは7.6元と4倍も割安なので、4倍の切り上げが必要という結論が得られる。 日本円については、PPPレートは114円なので、実際のレート123円は10％程度の過小評価となっているだけなので、10％の切り上げまでは正当化されるであろうが、中国元に比べると非常に小幅な切り上げにとどまるといえよう。 参考：Reference Wikipedia: "Purchasing Power Parity" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purchasing_power_parity
Almost everyone agrees that the Chinese yuan is currently undervalued and should be revalued. Then the question is how much. A possible answer is given by using the concept of PPP(purchasing power parity). "A purchasing power parity exchange rate equalizes the purchasing power of different currencies in their home countries for a given basket of goods" (see the link above). Since China's PPP rate is 1.8 yuan and the actual rate is 7.6 yuan, which is only one fourth of the PPP rate, the Chinese currency should be quadrupled to realize the PPP rate. As for the Japanese yen, the PPP rate is 114 yen, while the actual rate is 123 yen, so only 10% appreciation is warranted for the Japanese currency, much less than for the Chinese yuan.
「名犬ラッシーやジュディ・ガーランドや若い頃のエリザベス・テイラーは海外での米国のイメージを回復させるか？」という質問で始まる記事がロサンゼルス・タイムズ（以下のリンク参照）に載っている。これは特に日本で最近よく取り上げられる「ソフトパワー」の視点から興味深い記事のように見える。 しかし海外ですでに人気がある日本のアニメやマンガと異なり、米国の古い映画はそれほど海外でアピールするとは思えず、特に若者には相手にされないであろう。 この記事によると、カリフォルニアの民主党議員ダイアン・ワトソンが法案を提出しようとしている内容は、米国のイメージを改善しようと古典的なアメリカ映画のDVDを海外に送って米大使館の図書館で一般に公開しようというもの。しかしどこの国であろうと、わざわざ米大使館の図書館まで行って古いアメリカ映画を観ようとする人は、すでに良い米国のイメージを持っているに違いないので、これは明らかに税金の無駄遣いではないだろうか。 参考：Reference LA Times (6/2): "Showing the U.S.' best features" http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-filmdiplomacy2jun02,0,4506110.story?coll=la-home-business
This LA Times article (see the link above) starts with a question: "Can Lassie, Judy Garland and a young Elizabeth Taylor rescue America's image abroad?" Sounds like an interesting question, especially from the viewpoint of "soft power," which is often talked about in Japan these days. However, unlike Japan's anime and manga, which are already very popular overseas and, therefore, can possibly be utilized to promote Japan, not many old American movies are terribly attractive to overseas audiences, particularly among young people. According to this article, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) wants to ship DVDs of classic American movies to show at US embassy libraries in order to improve the image of the US. Undoubtedly, this would be a waste of taxpayers' money, because in any country only those who already have a good image of the US would be willing to take time to visit a US embassy to see old American movies.
It is reported in today's Nikkei Shimbun (p. 2) that Prime Minister Abe has just started his Middle East tour to visit 5 nations for his "energy diplomacy," where FTAs will be used as a diplomatic tool to strengthen Japan's ties with those nations. In fact, according to the Nikkei Net article linked above, Japan and UAE have just agreed to hold annual ministerial meetings and discuss about economic cooperation including a possible FTA agreement between the two countries. It is questionable, however, if FTAs (or EPAs) should be used as a diplomatic tool like this, because (1) FTAs (or EPAs) are essentially bilateral arrangements and thus inferior to multilateral agreements from the global viewpoint, and (2) a successful FTA (or EPA) requires certain conditions such as more or less equal levels of economic development between the two nations in question (see Honda paper linked above).
本日の「The Japan Times」（下のリンク参照）では、OECDによれば日本の純ODA額が24年ぶりにこれまでの2位から3位に後退したと報じられている。もっとも粗ODA額（借款返済受取額を差し引く以前の額）では依然として2位ではあるが。 これは日本政府が支出削減を行っているためで、特にODAが削減の対象になっていることから起こったといえる。それに対して欧米では、地域の覇権と反テロリズム活動という視点から、発展途上国の支援のために戦略的に財政支出を行っている。 いずれにしても、日本政府は特に外交の分野では財政改革主義の再検討を行うべきではないだろうか。 参考：Reference The Japan Times (4/4/2007): "Japan drops to third place in global ODA behind U.S., Britain" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20070404a2.html
It is reported in today's Japan Times (see the link above) that, according to OECD, Japan is now in the third place in terms of net ODA (Official Developent Assistance), dropping from the second place for the first time in 24 years, although it is still in the second place in gross terms (before subtracting debt repayments received) This has resulted from the Japanese government's budget cuts in general, affecting its ODA budget in particular. On the other hand, the U.S. and Europe are strategically spending public money to support developing nations from the standpoint of regional hegemony and counter-terrorism in the third world. At any rate, it may be about time for the Japanese government to reconsider the fiscal reform priority, especially in the area of international relations.
In today's Yomiuri Newspaper (p. 9) there is an article on India's IT service company, Tata Consultancy Services, which is now focusing on Japan's huge market by increasing the number of software engineers who have done some work for Japan in the past and training them intensively in the Japanese language. In the interview section of the same article, the president of Infosys Technologies emphasizes the importance of the Japanese software market and its recent changes in favor of Indian software companies. It is concluded in the aricle, however, that relation-building in Japan is not easy for any Indian company, given the geographical as well as psychological distance between Japan and India. According to a report on the 10/16/2006 issue of Yomiuri (see the link above), there is an increasing number of Indian IT engineers living in Japan, trying to overcome various barriers for their success in Japanese business. Hopefully, their efforts are now paying off.
Today it is reported in various newspapers in Japan and the U.S. that China succeeded in shooting down a satellite with a ballistic missile from the ground last week. According to LA Times (see the link above), the U.S., Canada and Australia formally protested, but Japan only demanded an explanation. This difference between Japan and the U.S. in perception is clearly seen in the treatment of the news, where the news headline in LA Times includes the expression "Beijing's recent test raises alarms," while the news headlines in Yomiuri (see the link above) and other Japanese newspapers as well only indicate the fact about China's missible test -- completely different from their treatment of North Korea's missile and nuclear tests.
WEF (World Economic Forum) has just released the 2006 Global Gender Gap Report, where in terms of the Gender Gap Index, Japan is ranked in the 79th place among the 115 nations surveyed; that is the bottom of all advanced nations and even below such nations as China, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia in Asia. In particular, Japan's ranking is extremely low in terms of "economic participation and opportunity" and "political empowerment." We Japanese, especially men, tend to think that women's position has recently been improving substantially in both business and politics, but apparently the speed is not fast enough to catch up with other countries. In fact, Japan's ranking dropped from last year's 38th to this year's 79th! Japan needs more women presidents, women politicians, and even a women prime minister in the near future.
It is reported in today's Nikkei Newpaper (p. 1) that Japan is willing to accept some nurses from Indonesia under EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) to take effect next year, following Japan's similar agreement with the Philippines. While this sounds like a good development for Japan's Asia diplomacy as well as immigration policy, in reality this is only "nominal" and "superficial" rather than a serious policy initiative on the part of the Japanese government, because those who wish to come to Japan will have to pass Japan's national certification tests (in addition to their own tests at home) and only a few hundred of them will be accepted every year. This is not going to change the current situation at all, where Japan has only 2 million foreigners, while the U.S. has more than 35 million, according to official statistics.