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“Word of the Year” Contest Tracks Popular History of JapanRichard Medhurst

For three decades now, an annual ritual has seen the year’s most popular Japanese buzzwords compiled into a list by the publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha. The long list for 2014 was announced last week. Looking back over the complete 30-year history reveals the preoccupations of the period, offering a scenic route through the changing zeitgeist for newcomers to Japan and nostalgia to anyone with long-ter…
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Abe Cabinet Rocked by Double Resignation

The administration of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō was hit by the resignations of two high-profile women ministers on October 20. On Monday morning, Obuchi Yūko offered her resignation as minister of economy, trade, and industry in connection with accusations of improper use of funds from her political support groups and campaign donors. That afternoon Matsushima Midori, minister of justice, stepped …
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Abe’s Enforcer: Suga Yoshihide’s Stabilizing Influence on the CabinetMakihara Izuru

Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide has played a key role in the second Abe Shinzō administration, picking the right senior bureaucrats to support the administration’s policies, keeping cabinet members in line, and preventing gaffes from escalating into PR fiascos. As a self-made man—quite rare in national politics today—Suga has managed to work his way up, but challenges remain.
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Issues and Expectations for Indonesia’s Incoming PresidentShiraishi Takashi

Joko Widodo, a politician who worked his way up from a common background, is about to take office as president of Indonesia. Shiraishi Takashi considers the significance of Widodo’s election and the prospects for the new president.
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A First Reshuffle for Second Abe Cabinet (September 2014)

On September 3, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō announced the results of his first cabinet reshuffle since assuming office for the second time in December 2012. Six senior ministers retained their positions, including Deputy Prime Minister Asō Tarō, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida Fumio. Former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Ishiba Shigeru took the newly created post of minister in charge of reviving local economies.
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The Sunflower Movement and the Emergence of a “New Mass” in TaiwanWakabayashi Masahiro

When students occupied Taiwan’s parliament building this spring, they won backing from a broad mass of citizens. What is the nature of this new mass, and what are the prospects for the new civic movement resisting President Ma Ying-jeou’s tilt toward China?
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The National Decline that Lifted AKB48 to the TopMamiya Jun

Two years ago, around the time the Democratic Party of Japan’s brief spell in power was coming to a close, I met with two colleagues—one a noted political scholar and chancellor of a public university, and the other a well-known critic and sociologist. We were discussing plans for a new book, provisionally titled The Collapse of Japanese Politics, to be issued by the publishing house where I was w…
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Timeline for May 2014

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō completes a six-nation tour of Europe, a manga series spurs debate over Fukushima, and Japan enjoys a day of sporting triumph. Review the major news stories of May 2014.
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The Pressures of Change: The Office of Prime Minister in the United Kingdom and JapanTakayasu Kensuke

Although Japan and the United Kingdom both use a parliamentary system, the position of the prime minister differs significantly. As the role of the Japanese prime minister becomes increasingly important, political scientist Takayasu Kensuke looks at the weaknesses of the present system through a comparison with the situation in the United Kingdom.
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Eurasian Diplomacy in Japan, 1997–2001Tōgō Kazuhiko

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of China in the 1990s, Japan’s leaders recognized the need for a more independent foreign policy adapted to the realities of the post–Cold War era. “Eurasian diplomacy” played a crucial role in this transition, as related by a former top Foreign Ministry official closely involved in the policy’s development and implementation under three successive LDP prime ministers.
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