From the Editor

Back to Contents of Issue: May 2003

Welcome to the world of the now.

by Roland Kelts

Springtime in Japan means cherry blossoms and the threat of a stock market and banking collapse. This year, of course, the war in the Middle East has dominated the news. The markets and the banks can hum merrily along -- or collapse quietly.

I just flew to Tokyo from New York. In Manhattan, barflies and unemployed actors told me of fiscal misery; one Wall Street buck gleefully espoused the wisdom of investing now -- in Halliburton, Dick Cheney's oil interest.

This issue is about paradoxes. Japanese students overstaying their welcomes overseas as young Japanese capitalize on domestic inertia at home, selling access to a thriving nightlife demographic (see Stuart Braun's cover story). McDonald's is sputtering while a local video-rental chain and a convenience store capitalize on the keitai phenomenon. Share-holders are calling on corporations to keep the faith and smokers are stubbing their cigs -- as Japan's tobacco giants seek riches elsewhere in Asia. And Astro Boy, the earliest incarnation of Japan's post-World War II faith in technological salvation, is reincarnated as Animatrix, both an offshoot and precursor of Hollywood's "The Matrix."

War thunders on as I write. But around our Tokyo offices, spring's soft winds breathe peacefully.

Welcome to the world of the now.

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