2012年02月28日

ロシア史を書き換える ボリス・エリツィンは1996年に大統領の椅子を盗んだのか?


Rewriting Russian History: Did Boris Yeltsin Steal the 1996
Presidential Election?
( TIME )

A year ago, the tomes of Russia's official history got a little fatter
thanks to President Dmitri Medvedev, who helped publish the letters of
post-Soviet Russia's first President, Boris Yeltsin. In a foreword to
the collection, Medvedev eulogized the founding father, who died in
2007, for creating "the base of a new Russian statehood, without which
none of our future successes would be possible." But behind closed
doors on Monday, during a meeting with opposition leaders, Medvedev
reportedly offered another take on the official story. According to
four people who were in the room, Medvedev stated, like a bolt from the
blue, that Russia's first President did not actually win re-election in
1996 for his second term. The second presidential vote in Russia's
history, in other words, was rigged.

With less than two weeks before Russia's next presidential election,
this is not a random piece of trivia for the country's chattering
class. It was Yeltsin, after all, who named Vladimir Putin as his
chosen successor in 2000 to ease him into power. And it was Putin who
did the same favor for Medvedev eight years later. So if the third link
in this chain has admitted that the first link was a fraud, what does
that make him? What does that make the entire system? What does that
mean for Putin's campaign to win a third term as President?

That is perhaps the most amazing thing about this purported scandal.
Three days after it broke, it has practically disappeared from the
headlines and never even made a blip on the state-run TV news. Even the
opposition leaders who claim to have heard the historic slip seem sort
of blase about it. In Babkin's words, after Medvedev said that the 1996
election was rigged: "It was not discussed any further. It passed
without comment."

And that will likely be the outcome of Medvedev's meeting: a return to
the authorized version of the past. There will certainly be no reversal
of history. The stakes are simply too high, and to borrow Medvedev's
phrase from his introduction to Yeltsin's collection of letters, "none
of our future successes would be possible" without the system that
Yeltsin built. So for now, the system is focusing on its next round of
success. On March 4, Putin will be the odds-on favorite to win a third
presidential term. The closest challenger, just like in 1996, is the
Communist Party's Zyuganov, who will likely see a little bit of history
repeating.

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2012年02月24日

明仁天皇の心臓手術成功 されど君主制の懸念は消えず


Emperor Akihito’s Heart Surgery a Success, But Concerns for Monarchy
Linger
( TIME )

Japan’s 78-year-old Emperor Akihito underwent successful heart bypass
surgery yesterday at the University of Tokyo Hospital. The procedure,
which lasted less than six hours, was not an emergency; the Emperor’s
team of doctors decided the angina patient should have the coronary
artery bypass now to enjoy a better quality of life as he gets older.

Emperor Akihito’s ongoing health problems have raised questions about
succession law in the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world.
Currently, Japan’s Imperial House Law states that a new emperor will
only take the throne when his father dies. Women are ineligible and
that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon: In 2005, when former
Prime Minster Junichiro Koizumi raised the idea that birth order, not
gender, be the determining factor for succession, his own Liberal
Democratic Party heartily objected and the idea was shelved.

That leaves the small Imperial family with a serious shortage of male
heirs. After Crown Prince Naruhito, 51, and Prince Akishino, 46, five-
year-old Hisahito, Prince Akishino’s son, is the only male currently
in the family who will be eligible to take over the throne for the next
generation. “By the time [Hisahito] assumes the throne, he will be the
imperial family,” Colin Jones, a law professor at Doshisha University,
told Bloomberg.

Emperor Akihito is held in high regard in Japan, having brought a more
down-to-earth touch to a monarchy in which the emperor had been thought
of as a living god. After last year’s 9.0 earthquake and tsunami,
Emperor Akihito made an unprecedented televised speech expressing his
concern. He and his wife Empress Michiko visited temporary shelters on
the devastated coast in April and opened the hot springs at one of
their villas to disaster victims.

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2012年02月21日

激増する日本の独身者「愛はどこに?」


As Its Single Ranks Swell, Japan Wonders 'Where's the Love?'
( TIME )

Dai Nakajima wouldn't mind a girlfriend. At 28, he's starting to feel
pressure to settle down. Not short of gumption, he approaches girls on
the streets of Tokyo's trendy districts and asks if they'd like to join
his weekly gokon parties. Like blind dating in a group, these singles-
only meet-ups are designed to help people connect and, ideally,
exchange numbers. He admits that his street success rate is only about
10%, but says that's enough to keep him going. "I've been looking for
four years," he says. "But to be honest, I'm enjoying my single life."

Nakajima is single, yes, but not alone. "Not dating," "single" and "no
real need to get married" were the surprising majority of responses in
a government-sponsored 2011 survey of men and women ages 18 to 34. A
record-high 61.4% of unmarried men had no girlfriend, up 9.2 points
since the previous survey in 2005. Unmarried women with no boyfriend
hit a record 49.5%, up nearly 5 points. Among the 40% who said there
was no need to get married, 45% of the men said they have no particular
interest in "dating the opposite sex." (Comparable figures on same-sex
relationships are not available.) This ambivalence has sparked fears
that Japan's birthrate and, indeed, its economy, will continue to flag.

It is still unclear what, exactly, is behind the country's changing
dating and marriage patterns. However, anecdotal evidence suggests
shifting gender norms and new economic realities are playing a role.
Along with labels like otaku (geek) and hikikomori (shut-ins), young
Japanese men are often derisively called "herbivores" for shunning so-
called manly pursuits. Meanwhile, more Japanese women are entering the
workforce, earning wages and enjoying increased economic freedom.

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2012年02月17日

北朝鮮脱走スシ職人が思い出す金正恩


North Korea’s Runaway Sushi Chef Remembers Kim Jong Un
( TIME )

Kenji Fujimoto is easy to recognize, if only because of the trademark
disguise he has been wearing for the past decade or so. The longtime
sushi chef to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Fujimoto has been laying
low since returning to his native Japan in 2001, moving house
frequently and wearing a variety of headgear and dark sunglasses to
avoid any unwanted attention. Indeed, his name is not actually Kenji
Fujimoto: that is the nom de plume he has been writing under since his
first book, I Was Kim Jong Il’s Chef, was published in 2003.

Despite his efforts, Fujimoto does not exactly blend in with the black-
clad office crowd making their way home in the purplish light of a
Tokyo dusk. Sporting a silver goatee, a blue scarf wrapped snugly
around his skull and blue-tinted sunglasses, the middle-aged chef
turned author walks past Tokyo Station with a battered brown leather
briefcase in hand. In a country fixated on the behavior of its
secretive nuclear-armed neighbor, Fujimoto’s years of proximity to
North Korea’s First Family have gained him a regular spot on Japanese
television, particularly in the month since the death of the Kim Jong
Il on Dec. 17.

Fujimoto has high hopes for the young leader’s tenure in one of the
world’s most isolated and impoverished nations. In Successor of the
North: Kim Jong Un, he describes how the teenager would, unbeknownst to
his father, went to Fujimoto’s room to bum an Yves Saint Laurent
cigarette from the chef. (The book includes a small photograph of one
of the cigarette packs.) During one of these clandestine smoke breaks,
the young Kim reportedly wondered aloud how, while he was enjoying
Rollerblading and horseback riding on the family compound, the North
Korean people were faring. “He can lead North Korea in a good
direction,” Fujimoto says. “What his grandfather Kim Il Sung
couldn’t do, and what his father Kim Jong Il couldn’t do, will be
done by Kim Jong Un … I believe he will choose a path of change and
reform.” When asked about reports that he would closely follow the
policy of his father, Fujimoto says, flatly, “You are wrong.”

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2012年02月14日

至高の声 ホイットニー・ヒューストン


The Voice: Whitney Houston
( TIME )

Several years ago in Los Angeles, I walked out of a hotel in Westwood
and saw a beautiful but slight woman step out of a limousine, stride
past her bodyguards and head up the front steps. It took me several
moments to say to myself, “Isn’t that Whitney Houston?” She wasn’t
what I expected. She wasn’t of supermodel dimensions -- even if she
was one of the most beautiful women in the world. She didn’t say a word
-- even though her voice will echo forever in the soundtrack of the
my life. She simply walked imperiously forward, not evincing the
slightest curiosity at the riffraff around her -- myself included. She
looked as if she felt she was the most important person in the world at
that moment. And she was, for everyone who saw her. It was a sight I
will never forget. Yet, though her self-confidence radiated into that
southern California evening, she looked uncannily frail, almost small.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston, 48, died on the eve of the Grammy Awards,
the music industry’s annual celebration of itself. The cause of her
death is yet unknown, but it is certain to plunge her colleagues,
friends, rivals and disciples into the kind of introspective mourning
reserved only for the artists who have achieved the greatest success
and become the victims of their great good fortune. Her voice, combined
with her looks, made her one of the biggest stars on the planet. She
set sales record after sales record. Her first major foray into the
movie industry in The Bodyguard (1992) became a milestone in the issue
(or non-issue) of race in casting (who could quarrel with her being the
star?) and produced -- or, as some critics would say, inflicted -- a
version of “I Will Always Love You” on the cosmos that will
reverberate until its sound waves make contact with extraterrestrial
intelligence. It was the range and power of her natural gifts that
produced at the 1991 Super Bowl -- with the U.S. 10 days into the first
Gulf War -- one of the most astonishing renditions of the Star Spangled
Banner ever heard. The U.S. Air Force flying overhead became a mere
afterthought to her renewal of the vigor of a song written in 1814. She
was the voice of America.

That image was of the gorgeous all-American girl who could belt ballads
and dance tunes with equal ease. It was revolutionary in its way: that
an African-American woman could embody that archetype as seamlessly as
white women have in the past -- at least in public. In the beginning,
she was perfectly cast: glamorous and distant, with a voice that was
warm even if the celebrity was unapproachable. She made you move; she
made you want; she gave immediacy and voice to your instincts and
emotions. But she was a goddess.

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