Daily Archives: March 3, 2010

I expected the Japanese to be feeling anxious about China, what with the much-ballyhooed moment later this year, when the Chinese economy will become larger than that of Japan. What I hadn’t expected to find was increasing alarm about South Korea – a poorer, smaller country that was once colonised by Japan.

But, as it happens, the Japanese are increasingly contrasting their own struggles with Korean success. The most recent cause of anxiety was the Winter Olympics. The South Koreans did brilliantly and came fifth in the medals table with six gold medals. The Japanese didn’t win any golds at all – and only got five medals of any colour.

To the Japanese, the Olympics seem unpleasantly symbolic. The South Korean economy also seems to be doing much better than Japan’s. South Korea managed to grow (just) in 2009, while Japanese GDP shrank by over 5%. In the latest quarter, South Korea grew by 6% while Japan was still in recession. Read more

By Daniel Dombey, US diplomatic correspondent

Hillary Clinton is now in the surreal city of Brasilia, with its Le Corbusier-inspired office blocks, which stack up in a line like so many giant dominoes, its teepee-like cathedral and its complete lack of human scale.

The capital, which is an officially designated Unesco World Heritage Site, is getting ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary and is showing its age. Outside its limits, the savanna seems to roll on forever, interrupted only by the satellite settlements and shantytowns where millions of workers live. Inside, we are skulking in the bowels of the foreign ministry building while Clinton is meeting the minister upstairs. Read more

By Daniel Dombey, US diplomatic correspondent

What do you say about a natural disaster that has displaced 2m people, destroyed or damaged 500,000 homes and killed some 800 people – but still seems almost overshadowed by an even greater calamity elsewhere?
Hillary Clinton sought to put her thoughts and feelings into words when she paid a flying visit to Chile on Tuesday, whose devastating 8.8 Richter scale earthquake comes hard on the heels of the Biblical scenes of devastation in Haiti.
Arriving with aid, promises of more help on the way and a vow not to distract the country from its emergency and reconstruction effort, she was clearly moved. Read more