NO. 2 -- January 17, 1997


Feature Article


An Interview With Yoshihisa Komori Of The Sankei Shimbun

The print and the electronic media have played important roles in U.S.-Japan relations by conveying information and creating images of the two countries. Yoshihisa Komori, editor-at-large in the Washington, D.C. bureau of The Sankei Shimbun, acknowledges, though, that it can be challenging for Japanese journalists to provide accurate and insightful reporting on the U.S. political scene in a way that also piques the interest of readers back home. Mr. Komori, who has served several tours in the Washington bureaus of two major Japanese dailies, recently discussed with JEI Senior Political Analyst Barbara Wanner his experiences covering U.S. presidential elections as well as other issues in U.S.-Japan political and economic relations.

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Weekly Review

Japanese Stock Prices Ring In Unhappy New Year For Investors by Jon Choy

Institutional and individual investors who put money into Japanese equities may have had their fortitude tested once too often since the beginning of 1996. With government officials in Tokyo sounding optimistic at the start of the year about economic growth and corporate profits, investors began 1996 trading with a vote of confidence. By midyear the Nikkei average of 225 selected stocks traded on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange had risen more than 14 percent from its 1995 close. Subsequently, however, negative events always seemed to crop up just as the market appeared to be on a roll.


Yen Weakened In 1996 by Douglas Ostrom

Despite having an almost unique ability to jangle nerves, the yen-dollar exchange rate caused little angst among policymakers on either side of the Pacific in 1996. The Japanese currency averaged ¥108.8=$1.00 for the year, representing a 13.5 percent depreciation from 1995's figure. The average for 1996, however, was close to the midpoint number for recent years


Hashimoto Visit Aims At Deepening Ties With Asean by Christopher B. Johnstone

With the ongoing hostage crisis in Peru never far from his mind, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto embarked January 7 on an eight-day swing through five Southeast Asian countries. The tour provided a symbolic opportunity to solidify Japanese ties with its prosperous southern neighbors. Nevertheless, beyond pledges of continued cooperation in promoting the region's development &endash;&endash; including a hefty loan package for Vietnam &endash;&endash; and Mr. Hashimoto's proposal for regular summits between Tokyo and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the trip appeared to produce few newsworthy results.


Political Shifts May Create Opportunities, Problems For Hashimoto Government by Barbara Wanner

So many changes have occurred in Japan's political landscape over the past four years that news of the creation of yet another party tends to evoke yawns rather than raise eyebrows. That certainly appeared to be the case with the December 26 announce-ment by former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata that he and 12 other members of Shinshinto had broken away from the largest opposition party to form Taiyoto (translated Sun Party). Although Mr. Hata said that the group aims to "serve as the core of a movement to unite [the political] opposition," most observers are skeptical that Taiyoto can mount an effective challenge to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

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