TV & Radio
McGreevey's 'Confession' a best-seller
Thursday, September 28, 2006
BY JOSH MARGOLIN
Former Gov. James E. McGreevey's recently released memoir has reached best-seller status on two key book-industry charts.
The New York Times book review will report in the Oct. 8 issue that McGreevey's book, "The Confession," ranked No. 3 in non-fiction hardcover sales for its first week in print, a spokeswoman for the newspaper said yesterday. The Times does not release actual sales figures, only rankings.
And, according to first-week sales statistics from Nielsen BookScan U.S., the book ranked No. 4 in the adult non-fiction category and No. 1 in the biography/autobiography category, said Nielsen vice president Jim King.
Nielsen recorded 15,000 copies of McGreevey's book sold since it hit store shelves on Sept. 19 -- 8,000 fewer than the week's top-ranked adult non-fiction work, "Inside My Heart," by Robin McGraw.
The 384-page book focuses mostly on McGreevey's secret life as a closeted gay man -- from his sexual encounters with men at highway rest stops to his infatuation with Golan Cipel, the Israeli national McGreevey plucked from obscurity and placed on the state payroll as his homeland security adviser. It also touches on the backroom politics in New Jersey and how McGreevey was able to thrive in that world.
McGreevey announced he is "a gay American" and resigned on Aug. 12, 2004. He then retreated into seclusion and therapy for nearly two years until re-emerging in a media blitz that coincided with the book release. In the last 10 days, McGreevey has appeared with Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and in interviews with newspapers and television and radio networks.
"The Confession" was published by ReganBooks, which has agreed to pay the former governor up to $500,000 for his memoir.
McGreevey was in Washington, D.C., yesterday for book signings and interviews. On his way into a signing at the well-known gay bookstore, Lambda Rising, McGreevey said he had no comment on the sales figures. David France, who co-authored the book with the ex-governor, also declined to comment.
Courageous or cowardly? (Gay)
Debate simmers as McGreevey promotes his new book
By RYAN LEE
Friday, September 29, 2006
By James E. McGreevey
As Abe Takes Japan's Reins, Focus on the Women: William Pesek
By William Pesek
Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Hearing Japan's new leader, Shinzo Abe, say he would like to build on his predecessor's economic successes was music to investors' ears.
``Some people say it would be better to give the reform a rest or modify it, but I'd like to accelerate and reinforce it,'' Abe said this week, as he succeeded Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister of the world's No. 2 economy.
The bad news is that Abe, 52, offered no specifics on how he would do that. Nor did he mention which of Koizumi's policies he views as vital to lick deflation once and for all. Abe also remained vague about which of Koizumi's neglected upgrades he plans to tackle.
Japan is surely back from the crises of the 1990s, and Koizumi, 64, deserves some credit. Thanks also to China's boom and private-sector restructuring, the economy is more competitive, incomes are rising and companies are hiring again.
Yet Abe's to-do list is a daunting one that will require considerable attention. It includes reducing Japan's mountain of debt, increasing productivity, boosting entrepreneurship, shoring up the pension system and better utilizing the female workforce.
This last task -- empowering women -- is a bigger issue than meets the eye as Abe takes the reins. While feminists may be miffed that Abe's Cabinet includes just two women, they may be cheered by the importance of the two positions he has entrusted to women.
Take Hiroko Ota, 52, is assuming many of the responsibilities performed by Heizo Takenaka as economy czar. While much attention has been paid to Abe's selection of Koji Omi as finance minister, Takenaka's work as state minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy gets far more credit for Japan's current growth than officials at the Finance Ministry.
Ota's appointment ``looks like a Takenaka II role, as she is an academic with a specialization in public policy,'' said Richard Jerram, chief Japan economist at Macquarie Securities Ltd. in Tokyo. While Ota faces an uphill climb, she is a non- ideological economist untainted by years of political maneuvering.
Abe named Sanae Takaichi, 45, as state minister for a variety of areas, including innovation, the declining birthrate and gender equality. She is a member of Japan's lower house and was a vice minister of economy and industry in the Koizumi administration.
As Japan struggles to bring its long-awaited recovery to the next level, Ota and Takaichi may be Abe's key Cabinet choices.
Ota, like Takenaka before her, is charged with zeroing in on impediments to Japan's growth potential. Whether it be prodding regional banks to dispose of bad loans as aggressively as large ones, encouraging companies to boost productivity or mulling how to close the gap between rich and poor, Ota's work is pivotal.
Takaichi also will address issues at the core of why Japan isn't growing faster than the annual 1 percent seen in the second quarter or why stocks aren't skyrocketing. While there's plenty of innovation at companies, Japan lacks a thriving, entrepreneurial spirit. Stimulating it requires a major push in the private and public sectors.
An equally important focus must be on working harder to tap the vast female workforce. While women have made great strides since laws were passed in 1986 to protect them in the workplace, Japan still has one of the lowest rates of female participation in politics among developed nations.
What's more, corporate Japan's failure to fully utilize one half of the workforce holds back growth.
In the 1990s, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party tried building roads, bridges, dams and just about anything else to stimulate growth. Politicians bailed out loads of deadbeat companies and pumped countless amounts of yen into banks that supported profitless ventures. All of this was financed with government debt.
Japan has been slow to try something that many international economists say might do far more to boost growth: letting more women into the executive suite, or at least allowing them to climb higher on the corporate ladder. Picking from a deeper and more diverse labor pool could boost growth and productivity.
Again, things are improving. Companies such as Daiei Inc. and Sanyo Electric Co. are now run by women, and Japan Inc.'s concrete ceiling has been replaced with something closer to glass. Even so, how often does the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development urge a developed nation to provide women with more opportunities to boost growth? In recent years, the OECD has done just that with Japan.
Sexism also worsens Japan's demographics. Thanks to a declining birthrate, Japan's population actually fell in 2005. A continuation of the trend would complicate efforts to fund the national pension system and may lead to even more government-debt issuance.
One reason for Japan's low birthrate is the corporate culture. For all too many well-educated, ambitious Japanese women, having children remains a career-ending decision.
Delaying childbirth may be considered a form of rebellion by career-minded women against societal expectations to have kids and become housewives. With investments, tax initiatives and some fresh thinking, Japan could reduce the cost of daycare and childrearing, and reverse the trend.
And so, investors wondering when the economy will reach its full potential might be wise to keep their eyes on Japan's women -- especially the two Abe chose.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer of this column: William Pesek in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated: September 28, 2006 15:35 EDT
The A team
Sep 28th 2006 | TOKYO
From The Economist print edition
A new prime minister picks his cabinet
HAVING won the race for the presidency of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a week earlier, Shinzo Abe on September 26th was duly elected by parliament to succeed Junichiro Koizumi, the prime minister since 2001. As Mr Koizumi bowed out, Japan's new leader swiftly announced his government.
Those inclined to view Mr Koizumi's iconoclastic years as an aberration from Japan's normal political course may find confirmation in Mr Abe's appointments. Prominent are party hacks who helped Mr Abe to the LDP presidency—Mr Koizumi remained aloof from his backers—while spoils have also been handsomely distributed among the party factions that Mr Koizumi rather hoped to destroy. Thus Koji Omi, a 73-year-old who was an early and vigorous supporter of Mr Abe among a generation that initially disdained him, has been made finance minister; he is no pro-market reformist, though probably in favour of balancing the books. In all, four members of the Mori faction (the party's biggest, to which Mr Abe had belonged) were awarded cabinet posts. The Niwa-Koga faction was thanked for its support with four positions, including a job for Hakuo Yanigasawa, a hapless finance minister under Mr Koizumi, and Sanae Takaichi, who thinks war criminals should be honoured at the Yasukuni shrine and who deplores the right of married women to keep their maiden names. She is the minister for gender equality.
The style of these appointments has disheartened pro-market reformers. Yet while admittedly rewarding party factions and older politicians, Mr Abe has also put vigorous reformists into key posts. In particular, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, a former Bank of Japan official and close ally of Mr Abe, has the crucial job of chief cabinet secretary—the position that Mr Abe held until this week. Staunchly pro-market, Mr Shiozaki thinks that even Mr Koizumi's radical reformer, Heizo Takenaka, who is considered by Mr Abe to be too obviously associated with the Koizumi reforms, grew soft; he is loathed by bureaucrats for his cockiness. In addition, Mr Abe has made an academic, Hiroko Ota, a protégé of Mr Takenaka, economy minister. She will steer the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the main policymaking body.
Mr Abe has also moved to centralise authority within a traditionally weak prime minister's office, by creating teams of advisers to hammer out economic and security policy—his models are America's National Economic Council and National Security Council, respectively. Here, too, he has appointed bright, practical minds: notably Takumi Nemoto, another ally, who is responsible for economic policy. Mr Abe has sought to thwart any moves by the party to undercut him by making secretary-general of the LDP the other of Mr Koizumi's two key former reformers, Hidenao Nakagawa, the new prime minister's strongest backer. It all suggests an emphasis on more policymaking, not less.
As for foreign affairs, Mr Abe looks set, unsurprisingly, to count on fellow conservatives like himself. Yuriko Koike, a 54-year-old former journalist who fills the new post of national security adviser, has been a staunch advocate of placing sanctions on North Korea for its refusal to provide details of Japanese citizens abducted in the 1970s and 1980s. Taro Aso, who lost to Mr Abe in the fight to lead the LDP, remains foreign minister. Mr Aso backed Mr Abe in pushing for international sanctions against North Korea after it loosed off missiles in July. But he is also seeking an emollient early summit with China.