Stories written by Catherine Makino

JAPAN: Ruling Party Scandal a Blow to Political Reform

Allegations of money laundering within the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) appear to have dashed hopes that the ruling party would distinguish itself from the scandal-plagued conservative administration that had ruled Japan for almost half a century.

DEVELOPMENT: Integration Key to Easing Migration Tensions

Greater interaction and integration are crucial to easing social tensions in countries that are host to a growing number of migrants, experts say.

RIGHTS-JAPAN: Privacy Invaded in Sex Crime Trial

Japan's first sex crime trial under the new lay judge system finished in September amid large-scale media attention that troubled the female victims.

Mari Miura: "Even though women want to get back to work earlier, it is sometimes impossible due to the shortage of day care."  Credit: Mari Miura

JAPAN: Careers On Hold For Most Women

Tomoko Ando and her husband divorced because she refused to quit her job as a lawyer and start a family. The shortage of daycare centres has created a dilemma for women like Ando who want to continue working, but also start a family.

Kaoru Arai (left), 88, feels lucky that she is still healthy and lives with her son, Kiyoshi (right). Credit: Catherine Makino/IPS

JAPAN: Aging Population Needs More than Short-Term Solutions

Sachiko Yamada has been hoping to spend her retirement years traveling and living the good life. Today she devotes her time to taking care of her 90-year- old mother five days a week, leaving her with two days off while her mother goes to a care centre for the elderly.

JAPAN: Obama Visit Hailed, But Left Crucial Questions Unanswered

Setting foot on the Land of Cherry Blossom over the weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama waxed nostalgic, recalling his first visit to Japan as a young boy, when his mother brought him there.

JAPAN: Fresh Aid to Mekong Signals Rivalry with China — Experts

There is more to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's pledge last week to extend at least 500 billion yen (5.6 billion U.S. dollars) in fresh assistance to the Mekong region than meets the eye, or so observers think.

RIGHTS-CHINA: ‘Give Uyghurs a Chance to Live in Peace’

Following the bloody clashes in July in Urumqi, the capital of the restive Xingjian region in China, activist Rebiya Kadeer found herself in the midst of another controversy, having been accused by the Chinese government of instigating the riots.

Tokyo

JAPAN: Death from Overwork Persists Amid Economic Crunch

One morning nine months ago, Kenji Hamada's colleagues were surprised to find him in their Tokyo office slumped over his desk. They thought he was sleeping, but when he did not wake up after two hours, they realised he was dead.

Lawyer Yoko Hayashi: government "must work with

RIGHTS-JAPAN: Get Cracking on Gender Equality

Japan's new female justice minister has promised to get serious about gender equality.


RIGHTS-BANGLADESH: Glimmers of Hope Amid an Elusive Peace

Sultana Kamal dreams of a country "where every single citizen will live in democracy, in equality" and where everyone has "equal share to resources and opportunities." Fulfilling this dream has been her lifelong advocacy as a human rights advocate.

DEVELOPMENT-BHUTAN: ‘GDP Fuels Consumerism’

A tiny kingdom located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered by China and India used to be one of the most isolated countries in the world until it became a full-fledged democracy in 2008.

Ann Wright: "People seldom hear a former U.S. government official criticise U.S. policies" Credit: www.voicesofconscience.com

Q&A: "Punishment Has to Be Top Priority in U.S. Military"

Ann Wright is a former U.S. diplomat who served in the military for 29 years.

ENVIRONMENT: Japan to Take Leadership Role Toward Copenhagen

Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito talked to IPS about Japan giving technical and financial support to developing countries and its goal of cutting its greenhouse emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Japan is the world's fifth- largest greenhouse gas emitter.

Grameen Bank

Q&A: ‘Meltdown Not the Only Crisis in the World’

Muhammad Yunus, who claimed the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize founding Grameen Bank, which has lent out more than six billion dollars to mostly poor women, says the global recession presents a historical opportunity for change.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper  Credit: Catherine Makino/IPS

Q&A: ‘Internet Should Not Build Firewalls of Hate’

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, one of the world's leading human rights activists, is often heard on the subject of hate. He is an international authority on issues related to digital hate over the Internet.