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Japan’s Political Tremors

NEW YORK – Rarely – indeed, perhaps not since World War II – have the Japanese had such good press abroad. Even South Korean newspapers have been full of praise for the self-discipline of ordinary Japanese in dire circumstances. And coming from Koreans, not usually Japan’s biggest fans, that is no small thing.

When it comes to Japanese officials, however, matters are a little different. There has been much complaining from foreign observers, aid teams, reporters, and government spokesmen about the lack of clarity, not to mention reliability, of official Japanese statements about the various disasters following the massive earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11. Serious problems appeared to be skirted, deliberately hidden, or played down.