My first day of work was yesterday. I met with Mr. Asao and his staff, and received details about my itinerary for the coming weeks and my living arrangements. It seems that I will be living in Kamakura, in Kanagawa Prefecture. Before I move in, however, I will be working at 海洋学園, an elite boarding school established by Toyota in Aichi Prefecture, for several weeks, to brush up my Japanese.
As such, posting might be slight in the coming weeks, although I will try to write as often as possible.
Some interesting reads...At Slate, Bill Emmott, former Economist editor in chief, and Fareed Zakara, editor of Newsweek International, have been debating Ian Bremmer's The J Curve, this year's must-read international politics book...Also at Slate, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum has an article about China's reluctance to discipline North Korea...At The New Yorker, a long review by Anthony Grafton of William Clark's Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University (via Arts and Letters Daily)...In The New York Times, Jeff Stein notes a disturbing ignorance among public officials. I have also been reading Thomas Barnett's Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating, about which I will comment soon.
And, finally, today's Japanese word of the day is: 赤絨毯 (akajyuutan). According to Mr. Asao's private secretary, who gave me a tour of the House of Councillors building yesterday, this is a (slightly) pejorative term used to refer to politicians, who spend their days walking about on the red carpets of the Diet building.