From the Editors

Back to Contents of Issue: November 2003

Read all about ... the new fad

by The Editors

A friend phoned from New York to say that Japan had again become "the new fad." With three Japan-related films showing in the cinemas -- Sofia Coppola's indie hit, Quentin Tarantino's ultra-violent homage to Samurai flicks and the forthcoming Tom Cruise Samurai-epic -- the country is making a strong showing at the global box office. And with two sports superstars, Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, at the helms of two of the strongest teams in Major League Baseball, Japan's pop cultural reach is stretching from the silver screen to sports stadiums.

Reelected prime minister Junichiro Koizumi seems to have received a blood transfusion -- at just about the time that the nation's economic indicators are pointing toward possible progress, however minimal, for the first time in years.

We're reminded that Japan remains home to the world's fastest and most powerful supercomputer, The Earth Simulator -- explored in all its sci-fi glory in this issue -- and that youthful IT entrepreneurs like Kansai's rock-loving, Hawaiian-raised Koji Tomita are still thriving, surfing through the lean years. Japan remains a brilliant imitator, as our Starbucks story reveals, finding ways to absorb a business model and recast it for greater success. Even the dreaded aging nation phenomenon can be a boon if you follow our in-depth investor analysis, beginning on page 14.

We head down to Okinawa for a look at US troops and the local economy, and up to oil-rich Sakhalin, where Japanese tourists are discovering their pasts. Read all about ... the new fad.

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