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Japan once boasted one of the best educational systems in the world and a post-World War II industrial boom that made it one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

Once admired for it remarkable successes, Japan’s economic miracle has turned into a spectacular mess. Imagine a land of endemic pollution, tenement cities and skyrocketing debts. A country beset by high unemployment, a failed banking system and a stock market melt down that wiped away more than $10 trillion dollars in assets. Driven by its mania for control and growth at any cost, Japan’s bloated bureaucracy props up old industries instead of investing in new technologies. But there’s light on the horizon, a maverick reformer, Junichiro Koizumi, yesterday won an election that will put him in a position as the country’s new prime minister.

Can the 59-year-old mop-topped rock music fan transform the political system? How did Japan get itself into so much trouble anyway?
(Hosted by Alex Beam)


Ezra Vogel, professor of social sciences at Harvard University and author of “Is Japan Still Number One?”;

Alex Kerr, Kyoto resident and author of “Dogs and Demons, Tales From the Dark Side of Japan”

Toshiaki Miura, a Washington based political reporter with the newspaper, Asahi Shimbun.