Japan's Hatoyama, the new prime minister, is carrying out a campaign promise to push aside bureaucrats and shift more power to the politicians. The effort is playing to favorable reviews – though budging an entrenched bureaucracy will take time.
Japan may try again to relocate the Futenma US base in Okinawa to the fishing village of Henoko, ahead of a May deadline to resolve the issue. But both antibase activists and the US have voiced objections to that plan.
Two Greenpeace activists in Japan face up to 10 years in prison for tactics used in exposing black market sales of whale meat. Anti-whaling groups hope Monday's trial helps turn Japanese public opinion against the whale harvest.
The Prius recall by Toyota is another wake-up call for the Japanese to shift their corporations, government, and society to a new economic strategy.
Two Greenpeace Japan activists will go to trial Feb. 12 after trying to expose illegal sales of whale meat. In a departure from the confrontational tactics of Sea Shepherd and its "Whale Wars," Greenpeace is trying to quietly convince Japan to end whaling.
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan vowed to shake up the country's powerful bureaucracy. Instead it's bogged down in a corruption probe against key strategist Ichiro Ozawa.
Newly appointed Japan finance minister Naoto Kan faces the tough task of stimulating a struggling economy while keeping public debt under control. His role as deputy prime minister was to wrench policy powers away from bureaucrats.
Obama, in first stop of his Asia trip, addressed the thorny issue of a US military base in Okinawa. Despite recent tensions, Obamamania is still strong in Japan.
As China rises and the dollar falls, the US ally seeks more independence, but not less security, from America. Tokyo is the first stop on the president's Asia tour.