Karel von Wolferen, veteran commentator on Japanese politics and author of  The Enigma of Japanese Power, has an article offering gentle praise for the Kan administration’s response to the triple disasters that hit Japan last month. I do not offer it as a complete apology for the government, but instead as a counter-weight to the frequent (and in many cases knee-jerk) condemnations of the Kan administration that have come from both the Western and the Japanese press.

Wolferen says that criticism of the government is automatic in Japanese media. That doesn’t quite fit my layman’s observation, (Kan simply does not come off as quite so convincing or in control as Edano in the press conferences, and I think that is the source of some of the criticism from the public) but I’ll let it pass.

Amid the horrifying news from Japan, the establishment of new standards of political leadership there is easy to miss – in part because the Japanese media follow old habits of automatically criticizing how officials are dealing with the calamity, and many foreign reporters who lack perspective simply copy that critical tone. But, compared to the aftermath of the catastrophic Kobe earthquake of 1995, when the authorities appeared to wash their hands of the victims’ miseries, the difference could hardly be greater.

via The Daily Star – Opinion Articles – Amid the horror, Japans new leaders deserve our esteem.