Justin Mccurry

Make or break for Koizumi

Japan was plunged into political turmoil this week when the Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, was pushed into calling a snap election that risks destroying his party. The crisis was prompted by radical plans to privatise the post office, which Koizumi has put at the heart of a structural reform programme.

Japan hooked on vinegar

On French fries it takes some beating. On salads it is palatable, in small doses. But straight from the bottle? Japan, a country not immune to some unusual gastronomic quirks (squid-flavoured ice-cream, to name but one), is hooked on vinegar, and without a shaking head or screwed-up face to be seen.

Japanese leader’s eco-home

Three years of renovation have transformed the Japanese Prime Minister's residence from a crumbling, vermin-invested pile into a state-of-the-art ecological home. The building, built in 1929, is being touted as proof of Japan's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to officials it is the first home to be powered by clean-energy fuel cells.

China and Japan in race for oil

Testy relations between China and Japan were further strained this week when Tokyo signalled its intention to explore gas fields in the contested seabed between the two countries. The Japanese Trade Ministry started accepting bids from companies to drill in a region just east of what Tokyo describes as a median line separating the countries' exclusive economic zones.

Geishas in Hollywood

The profession has worked hard to change its image in recent years, and now geishas are concerned that Steven Spielberg's new movie may exploit them, writes Justin McCurry.

For the sake of suffering

The world, if the biologists' projections turn out to be correct, will soon begin to revert to the Bible's fourth day of creation. There will be grass and "herb-yielding seed" and "the fruit tree yielding fruit". But "the moving creature that hath life", the "fowl that may fly above the Earth", or the "great whales, and every living creature that moveth" may one day be almost unknown to us. George Monbiot reports.

Computer chip giant raided

The Japan offices of Intel, the world's largest maker of computer chips, were raided by the country's fair trade watchdog last week over allegations that the company had pressured PC manufacturers not to install chips made by rivals.

Battered Boks start picking up the pieces

England captain Martin Johnson surveyed his battered troops last night and announced proudly: ''It wasn't pretty, but it's all about winning.'' Johnson, a huge, craggy character who knows all about the merits of not being pretty, said: ''There was a lot of pressure on us, but it's great to play a tough Test match like that and win it. The guys responded really well.''

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