Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fair, balanced, informative...

I must be going soft...I am giving a thumbs up to a second article in two days.

Actually, I owe Paul Wiseman one--I was way too cranky about one of his recent articles.

This one is a keeper.

Income inequality shrinks Japan's middle class

By Paul Wiseman and Naoko Nishiwaki, TOKYO — Since he dropped out of college a few years ago, Takeshi Ito has bounced from job to job — washing dishes, waiting tables, selling mobile phones.

These days, he works for a temp agency, laboriously typing data into computers. Ito, 29, lives with his parents, trying to save enough money to marry his girlfriend, a kindergarten teacher.

"I can't be picky" about jobs, he says. "My choices are limited. ... I'd like to be independent, but realistically, I can't."

He speaks wistfully of a friend who finished college and landed on the fast track at an advertising agency. "He got a 1 million yen ($8,600) bonus," Ito says. "And he recently became an executive. I wish I could do such a thing."

Ito and his yuppie friend have found themselves on opposite sides of a widening gap: the one that separates Japan's economic winners from its losers.

Click through and listen to all the voices!

Seven individuals: five Japanese, one American, one European.

A politician, 4 economists (from a bank, the OECD, academia and an independent research institute), a linguist and an unfortunate, to put it all in context.

Numbers, numbers, numbers, everywhere!

And with a coda that does not feel forced.

Calloo, callay, I chortle.

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