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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 31, 2013/ 20 Shevat, 5773

Freedom? In Japan, conservatives don't mention it

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | TOKYO - When Japan's Liberal Democratic Party stormed back to power in last month's parliamentary elections, news stories in the West described the landslide as a resounding victory for conservatives in a vote driven by economic anxiety. Voters in 2009 had replaced the long-ruling Liberal Democrats - the more conservative party, its name notwithstanding - with a left-leaning coalition that had failed to pull the country out of a prolonged decline. Now the electorate had shifted decidedly rightward, and a conservative former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was back in the saddle.

Shinzo Abe returned as prime minister after his party swept to power in recent parliamentary elections. The Liberal Democratic Party's victory was widely described as a triumph for Japanese conservatives.

Was Japan having a Tea Party moment?

The sumo-sized win for Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party might have reminded an American observer of the conservative surge in the United States two years earlier, when the largest Republican majority in 60 years swept to control of the House of Representatives. President Obama ruefully described it as a "shellacking," but it represented a triumph for Tea Party conservatives committed to smaller government, lower taxes, individual liberty, and free enterprise. Could something similar be galvanizing voters in Japan?

Japan certainly could use a healthy taxpayer revolt. The Japanese economy has underperformed for years, its national debt is more than twice its GDP, and its population is rapidly - and expensively - aging. Five times in the past 15 years Japan has gone into recession, and credit-rating agencies have downgraded its sovereign debt. In the 1980s, many regarded Japan as an unstoppable economic force; today it is commonplace to speak of Japan's "lost decades" and its depressed levels of consumption and investment. An "increasingly accepted" view, the Washington Post noted recently, is that Japan is "not just in a prolonged slump but also in an inescapable decline."

It wasn't too far in America's past that such Carteresque malaise provided an opening to optimistic Reaganite conservatism. The tax revolt of the 1970s, like the Tea Party movement a generation later, invigorated a pro-growth, libertarian message that has become an indelible aspect of American conservative thinking. Given the rut into which Japan has been led by a succession of big-spending, heavy-borrowing governments, this should be a great window of opportunity for Japanese advocates of freedom, open markets, and individual initiative.

Alas, no. There is a fledgling libertarian movement in Japan — even an organization called the Tokyo Tea Party — but for the most part it seems diffident and low-key. Few seem avid to make the case that liberty is an inalienable right, or that there is rarely a better way to advance dignity and prosperity than by shrinking the scope, cost, and intrusiveness of government.

"Conservatives" may have cruised to victory in the recent elections, but as I discover during a visit to Japan this month as a guest of the nonprofit Foreign Press Center, conservatism here has little in common with its American counterpart. Japanese conservatives tend to "like stronger government," argues political scientist Masaru Kohno, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an expert on Japanese party politics. The conviction that there should be "less government intervention in economic affairs — Milton Friedman, not Maynard Keynes — that dimension does not exist here." Even when politicians in Japan call for deregulation, he observes, it doesn't come from a philosophical belief that smaller government is better.

There are fiscal conservatives within the Liberal Democratic Party, but they are in the minority. Politicians feel no grassroots pressure to curb government expenditures or pay down public debt, says Taro Kono, who has been a member of parliament since 1996. The right-left divide in Japanese politics has never been about economics or the size of government. Far more intense have been the debates over foreign policy, national security, and relations with the United States.

Not even Yuya Watase, the founder of the Tokyo Tea Party, wants to talk about free enterprise or the stifling impact of high taxes. He prefers a more roundabout approach — speaking to audiences about the history of Japanese democracy, and encouraging them to think about self-government. The brash liberty arguments so characteristic of conservative rallies in America — "Don't Tread on Me" — wouldn't resonate with most Japanese, he tells me. There is simply no tradition in Japanese life for extolling personal liberty or celebrating the individual.

Tea Party protesters wave a "Don't Tread on Me" flag at a 2009 rally in Knoxville, Tenn. Japan's fledgling Tea Party movement prefers a more indirect approach.

Perhaps this reflects the strong emphasis in Japanese culture on fitting in with the group; a famous Japanese maxim warns that "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down." Even the Tokyo Tea Party wants to be seen as part of a larger group. That's why Watase chose the name he did: The term "Tea Party" has no historical meaning for Japanese, but it suggests that that the Tokyo group is part of an international movement, not merely a nail sticking up.

There was at least one libertarian bloom in last month's elections: a small parliamentary faction called Your Party that unabashedly champions low taxes and less government. It has only 18 members in Japan's 480-seat lower house, but some of them, at least, aren't too inhibited to talk about freedom. When I ask the newly-elected Hidehiro Mitani, a young and energetic lawyer, to sum up his pitch to the voters, he doesn't hesitate: "Don't rely on the government."

Granted, it's not quite as catchy as "Don't Tread On Me." But if that message spreads, Japan may have its Tea Party yet.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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