By Mike Head, 25 March 2011
Radioactive contamination is spreading from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, adding to the huge damage bill caused by its breakdown.
By Chris Talbot, 24 March 2011
The events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are slipping off the front pages, but the situation in is still not under control.
By John Chan, 23 March 2011
The government’s appeal for “national unity” is designed to block any public criticism amid growing anger over the official response to the earthquake.
By Mike Head, 22 March 2011
Anger is emerging over the Democratic Party government’s failure to provide basic services to the nearly half a million people rendered homeless.
By Mike Head, 21 March 2011
As food and water contamination spreads to Tokyo, there is mounting evidence that government and company cover-ups have continued throughout the unfolding crisis.
By Chris Talbot and Patrick O’Connor, 19 March 2011
Radiation from Fukushima has now been detected as far away as California as Japan’s nuclear safety agency raised its assessment of the crisis from 4 to 5 on the 7-point scale.
By John Chan, 18 March 2011
An unprecedented speech delivered by Japanese Emperor Akihito on Wednesday underscores the severity of the crisis facing the ruling Democratic Party government and the entire political establishment.
By Nick Beams, 18 March 2011
The Japanese earthquake disaster could well be the catalyst that sets off a new stage in the global financial breakdown that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
By Patrick O’Connor, 18 March 2011
TEPCO remains in charge of the emergency response, despite bearing primary responsibility for what is shaping up as the greatest corporate crime of the twenty-first century.
By Chris Talbot, 17 March 2011
Neither the Japanese government nor the utility company TEPCO are giving trustworthy accounts of the dimensions of the crisis.
By Mike Head, 17 March 2011
The Tokyo Electric Power Company has a long, documented record of serious safety breaches, systemic cover-ups of potentially fatal disasters, and suppression of popular opposition.
By Patrick O’Connor, 17 March 2011
Six days after the natural disaster struck, the survivors are suffering extremely difficult conditions.
By Patrick O’Connor, 16 March 2011
Several nuclear reactors in the Fukushima facility remain at risk of total meltdown, following a series of explosions and fires.
By Nick Beams, 16 March 2011
Japanese equity markets have experienced their worst fall since the global share market crash of October 1987 in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck last Friday.
By Patrick Martin, 16 March 2011
Over the past 40 years there have been repeated warnings of the danger of nuclear technology, as well as a series of incidents—Windscale, Fermi I, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl—that demonstrated the real-life consequences for millions of people.
By Mike Head, 15 March 2011
The tremendous shock to the Japanese economy has profound international implications.
By Mike Head, 15 March 2011
Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis worsened today, even as the full horror of the death and destruction left by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami continued to emerge.
By Patrick O'Connor, 14 March 2011
Entire towns on the country’s north-east coast were wiped out by the 10-metre high wall of water.
By Chris Talbot and Patrick Martin, 14 March 2011
The World Socialist Web Site expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of those who have died, to those who have been injured, and to those who have lost their homes and whose livelihoods have been swept away in this cataclysm.
12 March 2011
A WSWS reader in Japan sent a report overnight on the earthquake’s impact in Tokyo and northern prefectures.
By Mike Head, 12 March 2011
The people of Japan have been struck by the largest quake in the country’s history, followed by tsunamis that have washed away thousands of homes.
By Oliver Campbell, 18 February 2011
The cables, from 2006 and 2008, underscore the growth of tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, and point to Washington’s attempts to undermine Chinese influence, in concert with its allies.
By John Chan, 17 February 2011
Talks between the Japanese and Russian foreign ministers broke down last week—another indication of sharp tensions in North East Asia.
By Joe Lopez, 2 February 2011
Despite widespread public opposition, the Japanese government is determined to double the unpopular consumption tax.
By John Chan, 13 January 2011
The US is pushing its allies, Japan and South Korea, into closer defence relations as part of its broader efforts to counter Chinese influence in the region.
By John Chan, 15 December 2010
The focus on strengthening Japan’s naval power is in line with US strategic efforts to maintain naval dominance in North East Asia and thus the potential to cut off China’s vital shipping routes.
By Andrea Peters, 5 November 2010
Diplomatic tensions have erupted between Russia and Japan, following a high-profile visit by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to the South Kuril Islands.
By John Chan, 29 October 2010
None of the issues that erupted between Japan and China last month during a sharp dispute over the arrest of a Chinese trawler captain by Japanese authorities in waters near the contested Diaoyu/ Senkaku islands has been resolved.
By John Chan, 11 October 2010
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao agreed last week to restore high-level talks between the two countries, but addressed none of the underlying issues.
By John Chan, 29 September 2010
Tensions between Japan and China are continuing, amid new claims and counterclaims, despite Tokyo’s release of a Chinese trawler captain.
By John Chan, 25 September 2010
The rapid escalation of a minor incident into a major confrontation between the world’s second and third largest economic powers has underlined the extreme tensions between the major powers.
By John Chan, 21 September 2010
Japan and China are both taking a hard-line stance in the diplomatic row that has erupted over Japan’s detention of a Chinese trawler captain in disputed waters in the East China Sea.
By Barry Grey, 18 September 2010
Two events this week have highlighted the growth of global economic tensions and the slide toward international trade and currency wars.
By John Chan, 16 September 2010
None of the conflicts behind the Democratic Party’s leadership contest on Tuesday has been resolved after Naoto Kan’s victory over Ichiro Ozawa.
By John Chan, 14 September 2010
Sharp diplomatic exchanges have erupted between Japan and China after two Japanese Coast Guard vessels reportedly collided with a Chinese fishing trawler in the waters off the disputed Diaoyu Islands last week.
By John Chan, 11 September 2010
Next week’s ballot for the leadership of Japan’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the post of prime minister has brought to the surface deep divisions not only within the party but within the political establishment as a whole.
By Peter Symonds, 4 September 2010
If Ichiro Ozawa wins the top job in the Democratic Party of Japan, he will become the country’s third prime minister in just over a year, reflecting deep-seated political instability fuelled by economic stagnation, a worsening social crisis and growing global antagonisms.
By Peter Symonds, 28 August 2010
Japan is heading for new political turmoil after key powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa announced a bid on Thursday to oust Naoto Kan as prime minister.
By John Chan, 17 July 2010
Japan’s ruling Democratic Party lost its majority in the upper house of the Diet in last Sunday’s elections, amid mounting public hostility to the government’s proposed austerity measures.
By Peter Symonds, 21 June 2010
Last week newly installed Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan unveiled new concessions to the corporate elite, even as he foreshadowed a doubling of the country highly unpopular sales tax.
By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2010
Naoto Kan faces the task of trying to revive the government’s fortunes before next month’s upper house elections, but confronts the same basic dilemma as his predecessor—how to implement policies that are widely unpopular.
By Peter Symonds, 3 June 2010
The resignation follow a disastrous slump in the government’s poll ratings amid opposition to its decision to retain a major US military base on Okinawa, as well as growing economic uncertainty and rising social tensions.
By John Chan, 29 April 2010
A rally of 90,000 people in Okinawa on Sunday against the continued presence of a US Marine air base has heightened the political crisis facing the Japanese government over the issue.
By Alex Messenger, 25 March 2010
Recent economic statistics appear to show Japan is shaking off the worst of the global economic crisis, but the headline figures say nothing about the most critical issues, chronic deflation and public debt.
By John Chan, 24 March 2010
The Japanese government has revealed the existence of a five-decades-old secret arrangement with the US, allowing the American military to bring nuclear weapons into the country.
By Alex Messenger, 12 February 2010
Toyota’s recall of eight million cars worldwide, and the protectionist response of the US government, media and unions, underscore the ongoing fallout in the international auto industry from the global financial crash.
By John Chan, 19 January 2010
The resignation of Hirohisa Fujii as Japan’s finance minister is the first clear sign of crisis in the country’s Democrat-led government.
By John Chan, 11 December 2009
The Japanese government has announced an emergency stimulus package worth 7.2 trillion yen for the first quarter of 2010 in a bid to stave off what officials warn could be a “double-dip recession”.
By John Chan, 12 November 2009
The government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is facing growing demands from big business to ditch its election promises, slash social spending and rein in mushrooming public debt.
By John Chan, 4 November 2009
In the lead-up to US President Barack Obama’s first visit to Japan, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has signalled that his government is wanting to readjust the country’s longstanding alliance with the US.
By Peter Symonds, 17 September 2009
The Hatoyama government is the end product of a lengthy process that followed the break-up of the post-war relationships in the 1970s and 1980s. Powerful sections of the establishment concluded that a new instrument was required to aggressively prosecute its interests at home and abroad. That is precisely what the new administration will now be under enormous pressure to do.
By Peter Symonds, 11 September 2009
Even before it is sworn into office, the Hatoyama government is preparing to make deep cuts to the previous government’s stimulus spending.
By Peter Symonds, 9 September 2009
The ignominious electoral collapse of the LDP amid the greatest global economic crisis since the 1930s is another sign that politics, not only in Japan but internationally, is entering uncharted and stormy waters.
By John Chan, 7 September 2009
The Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory in the country’s general elections on August 30. Yet despite its control of both houses of parliament, the next government will not be in a strong position.
By John Chan, 2 September 2009
The gulf between the limited election pledges of the Democrats and the social realities facing broad layers of working people will quickly become evident.
By Peter Symonds, 31 August 2009
The opposition Democratic Party of Japan routed the Liberal Democratic Party in lower house elections yesterday, ending more than 50 years of almost continuous rule.
By Peter Symonds, 29 August 2009
Japan is poised on the eve of a political sea change. All the opinion polling points to a landslide defeat in tomorrow’s election for the Liberal Democratic Party, which has held power almost continuously since its formation in 1955.
By Peter Symonds, 28 August 2009
At a critical turning point in Japanese politics, the Communist Party is positioning itself as a safety valve for the political establishment.
By John Chan, 25 August 2009
The Japanese economy officially grew by 0.9 percent in the second quarter. The news, however, is unlikely to affect the outcome of Sunday’s general elections.
By Peter Symonds, 23 July 2009
The ruling LDP heads into a general election trailing behind the opposition DPJ in all the polls and facing an end to its virtually unbroken 53-year rule.
By Mike Head, 16 July 2009
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has called an early election for August 30, even though his LDP-led coalition seems almost certain to lose.
By John Chan, 9 July 2009
Japanese prime minister Taro Aso appointed two new cabinet ministers in the latest move to shore up his government.
By Peter Symonds, 22 May 2009
The Japanese economy shrank by 4 percent in the first quarter of 2009 or an annualised rate of 15.2 percent. The plunge in GDP was the worst since records began in 1955 and the largest of any major industrialised country.
By John Chan, 16 April 2009
One aspect of North Korea’s missile launch has been the Japanese government’s reaction. With his popularity at record lows, Prime Minister Taro Aso exaggerated the threat to divert attention from the crisis at home and boost the case for military rearmament.
By Carol Divjak, 26 March 2009
With the Japanese economy hit hard by plummeting exports and a deep recession, hundreds of thousands of people are facing unemployment and poverty.
By John Chan, 20 March 2009
A fund-raising scandal has exposed the fragility of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), once thought to be marching unstoppably toward office.
By Peter Symonds, 26 February 2009
The collapse of Japanese exports last month underscores just how rapidly economic recession is turning into a full-blown depression—and not just in Japan.
By John Chan, 23 February 2009
As Japan confronts its worst recession since World War II, the government is in disarray, with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) heading toward defeat in general elections due by September.
By Peter Symonds, 18 February 2009
Economic data released on Monday revealed that the world’s second largest economy contracted at an annualised rate of 12.7 percent for the final quarter of 2008—the steepest decline since 1974. Deutsche Bank in Tokyo bluntly predicted a “severe depression” in Japan, lasting at least until late 2010.
By John Chan, 8 January 2009
Last year’s scandal involving the Japan Air Self-Defence Force chief of staff Toshio Tamogami has highlighted the resurgence of militarism within sections of the political establishment. Tamogami was sacked from his post in October after he won an essay competition with an entry that justified Japanese military aggression in the 1930s and 1940s.
By John Chan, 18 December 2008
Less than three months after assuming office, the future of Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso is in doubt as both the economy and his government’s approval ratings have plunged sharply.
13 December 2008
The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea will meet today for their first-ever joint summit. While the meeting is billed as a show of Asian unity in the face of the deepening global economic crisis, the longstanding animosities and tensions that blocked collaboration in the past are not far below the surface.
By John Chan, 24 November 2008
There are signs of a growing radicalisation among young people in Japan provoked by their own worsening prospects and the deepening gulf between rich and poor, amid the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s.
By Peter Symonds, 19 November 2008
The Japanese economy has officially entered recession for the first time since 2001 after the release of figures on Monday showing a second quarter of negative GDP growth.
By Peter Symonds, 29 October 2008
Despite claims that Japan was well positioned to weather the crisis, the world’s second largest economy is rapidly being dragged into the financial and economic maelstrom sweeping the globe.
By Peter Symonds, 22 October 2008
After weeks of wild fluctuations on the Japanese and global stock markets, further indications have emerged this week that the world's second largest economy is in recession.
By John Chan, 2 October 2008
All major share markets across Asia tumbled badly on Tuesday after the US House of Representatives rejected the Bush administration's $US700 billion rescue package for Wall Street.
An offbeat image
By John Chan, 27 September 2008
The lower house of Japanese parliament, the Diet, endorsed Taro Aso as Japan’s new prime minister on Wednesday, after he won the post of president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on September 22. Aso takes over from former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, amid low support for the LDP government, a global financial crisis and signs of recession in the Japanese economy.
By John Chan, 20 September 2008
Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is due to pick a replacement for outgoing Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Monday.
By John Chan, 18 September 2008
The American financial crisis has sent shockwaves throughout Asia over the past few days as governments, banks and corporations scramble to cope with plunging share prices, international financial turmoil and the prospects of a serious downturn in the US and other major economies.
By Peter Symonds, 3 September 2008
Confronting a slowing economy and continuing political deadlock, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda abruptly resigned on Monday after just under a year in power. While Fukuda expressed the hope that his resignation would prevent “a political vacuum,” his successor will face the same problems that plagued his term in office.
By John Chan, 4 August 2008
After an attempted rapprochement earlier this year, relations between South Korea and Japan have deteriorated since the Japanese government’s decision on July 14 to include its claim over the tiny Dokdo islets (known as Takeshima in Japan) into teaching guidelines for middle school teachers. The South Korean government of President Lee Myung-bak immediately reacted by stirring up Korean nationalism as a means of diverting attention from widespread opposition to his administration.
By Eric Des Marais, 29 July 2008
In the largest strike ever in the history of the industry, Japanese fishermen brought the nation’s 200,000-strong fishing fleet to a grinding halt on July 15 to protest against the high fuel prices that are crippling their livelihoods. It is estimated that nearly 400,000 fishermen refused to go to sea. In Tokyo, 3,600 marchers joined a protest to demand tax breaks and financial support in front of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
By John Chan, 23 June 2008
Millions of Japanese citizens were shocked by a bloody lunchtime scene on June 8, when Tomohiro Kato, a 25-year-old temporary auto worker, went to Tokyo’s busy Akihabara shopping district, ran down several people with a truck and proceeded to stab others in the street, killing seven. Ten people were wounded.
By John Chan, 2 May 2008
The victory of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the lower house by-election for Yamaguchi prefecture on April 26 has delivered a major blow to embattled Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
By Peter Symonds, 18 January 2008
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda last Friday used his government’s two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament to force through legislation restarting Japan’s naval refuelling assistance to the US-led occupation of Afghanistan. The vote not only overruled the opposition-controlled upper house, but also ignored widespread popular opposition in Japan to the Bush administration’s “war on terror”.
By Eric Des Marais, 4 December 2007
Nova Corporation, Japan’s largest provider of private English and other foreign language education, has collapsed. The company, which at its height comprised over 900 schools, employed over 4,000 foreign teachers and 2,000 Japanese staff, and provided lessons to nearly 500,000 students, closed its doors on October 27, leaving its foreign language instructors stranded halfway around the world from homes as far away as Europe and America. Most of these workers are broke and many have already been evicted from their apartments.
By John Chan, 6 November 2007
Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda was forced last week to end the country’s logistical support for the US-led war in Afghanistan. While the immediate reason was the refusal of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to support enabling legislation in the upper house of the Diet, the government confronts broad popular hostility to its backing for the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism”.
By John Chan, 26 September 2007
Yasuo Fukuda, 71, was installed as Japan’s new prime minister on Tuesday following the resignation of Shinzo Abe after less than 12 months in office. Fukuda, one of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) factional heavyweights, is widely regarded as “a safe pair of hands” following the party’s disastrous loss in the upper house elections on July 29.
By John Chan, 14 September 2007
Less than a year after assuming his post, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his resignation on Wednesday. His decision comes in the wake of a disastrous result for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the country’s upper house elections on July 29 and continued poor polling following a major cabinet reshuffle on August 27.
By John Chan, 4 September 2007
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet on August 27 in a desperate attempt to prop up a deeply unpopular government. Only five ministers retained their posts. Most of the remaining eleven positions were filled with factional bosses and longstanding ministers drawn from previous Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) governments, especially that of Abe’s predecessor Junichiro Koizumi.
By Joe Lopez, 4 August 2007
The defeat of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in upper house elections on July 29 is a serious political blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office just 10 months ago. The result revealed widespread hostility toward Abe’s agenda of reviving Japanese militarism, backing the US “war on terror” and implementing regressive economic and social policies.
By John Chan, 16 July 2007
Japan’s defence minister, Fumio Kyuma, resigned on July 3, just three days after he provoked public outrage by declaring that the US “could not help” but drop atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945. Kyuma’s rapid political demise not only revealed the continuing deeply-felt hostility in Japan to the US atrocities six decades ago, but the growing public opposition to the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and its militarist policies.
By John Chan, 8 May 2007
More than six months after assuming power, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finally made his first trip to Washington on April 26. He then travelled on to visit five major oil producers in the Middle East, demonstrating that one of the fundamentals of the US-Japan alliance is energy.
By Joe Lopez, 13 April 2007
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe provoked a wave of international protests by claiming early last month there was “no evidence” suggesting that Japan’s wartime militarist regime coerced—“in the narrow sense of the word”— the sex slavery of “comfort women” throughout Asia in 1930s and 1940s. While aimed at stirring up right-wing nationalist sentiment at home, Abe’s comments generated opposition from China, South Korea and elsewhere in the region.
By John Chan, 7 March 2007
Amid plummetting support in opinion polls for Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi had a word of advice for the incumbent. He told a top-level meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on February 20 that Abe had to defy public opinion and press ahead with the government’s unpopular policies.
By John Chan, 31 January 2007
Just weeks after being installed as Japan’s first post-war defence minister, Fumio Kyuma has openly criticised the US over the war in Iraq. The comments are at odds with Japan’s previous wholehearted support for the Bush administration’s “war on terror” and the deployment of Japanese troops to Iraq—a move that was deeply unpopular.
By John Chan, 19 January 2007
In a step towards the revival of Japanese militarism, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government on January 9 set up the country’s first defence ministry since the end of World War II. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the new defence minister, Fumio Kyuma, attended the official ceremony to rename the previous defence agency headquarters as the new defence ministry.
By Joe Lopez, 3 January 2007
The Japanese government has pushed through controversial changes to the country’s education law, winding back the clock to the state indoctrination that characterised the militarist regimes of the 1930s and 1940s. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner New Komeito passed the so-called reform in the parliamentary upper house on December 15.
By John Chan, 13 December 2006
After just three months in power, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is confronting a sharp drop in his approval ratings. Questions are already being raised in ruling circles about Abe’s ability to push ahead with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) agenda of militarism and free-market economic reforms.