Although Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi maximized his abilities as an agent of transformation, he fell short of fulfilling his original policy pledges [July 3]. Without a solid ideological foundation, he lacked a grand design to lead Japan. I hope that his successor will be more of a builder than a reformer and will earn Japan respect not only from the U.S. but also from our neighboring countries, such as China and Korea.
TIME said, "When Koizumi steps down in September, Japanese politics will lose a little spark." There's always darkness after a spark dies out, and there will surely be a political lull after Koizumi's departure. It remains to be seen how soon his successor will be able to bring things back to life.
K. Chidanand Kumar
I have been a supporter of Koizumi's since before he became Prime Minister. I always found his way of speaking easy to understand and his manner appealing. Koizumi made Japanese politics interesting. I bid him a fond farewell and hope that his successor will continue his reforms.
Hunting on the High Seas
Re "Revenge of the Whale Hunters" [July 3]: Japan's whaling practices are in full compliance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Japan supports the protection of endangered whales and advocates that only abundant species be harvested sustainably. Japan's commitment to whaling for scientific research is sincere and necessary to establish the proper conservation of whales. In fact, scientific knowledge from Japan has been highly commended by the International Whaling Commission's scientific committee. As the world's second-largest donor of official development assistance, Japan provides aid to developing countries regardless of their position on whaling. That Japan is using "bribery to get its way" is a completely false accusation.
Jiro Okuyama, Director
Japan Information Center
Consulate General of Japan
New York City
India on the Move
It was with great pride that I read the stories about the boom time in India [June 19], a country in which the ancient and the modern coexist. On a recent visit to India, I observed that downtown Bombay appears to have stood still in time, while changes are more apparent in the city's suburbs. India's great strides in education, technology and medicine can prove to the world that the country is a force to be reckoned with.
I thoroughly enjoyed your story on the rapid changes in India. As an Indian living in England, I often wonder what the true cost of this economic boom is, especially the impact on Indian values and culture. Extended families are becoming fragmented, the young have little pride in their culture, and there is contempt for everything that is old. In contrast, a developed nation like England is steeped in tradition and still manages to hold on to its history. There was a time when people didn't have much money but life was less complicated, a time when what you had mattered more than what you didn't have.
The World's Business Tool
Mandarin's emergence as the second global language after English proves that Asia is on the road to becoming a superpower [June 26]. With the Chinese economy booming, it is no surprise that people all over the world are choosing to study Mandarin.
Mandarin has become the language to learn in order to gain access to business opportunities in China, which is becoming the world's biggest arena for business. By opening its markets to foreign investors, China has made its official language as important as English. Suddenly people throughout the world are rushing to master Mandarin. In today's global economy, Mandarin has become an essential business tool.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Re "Officially Wrong" [July 3], about the World Cup referees making bad calls: A single referee must linger near the center of the field and watch all the action from a distance. Since most penalties occur near the goals, it is understandable that refs make such bad calls. And with television cameras capturing every angle of play, we spectators know instantly that a referee has blown it. Despite the advances in ball technology that have made the game faster, there has been no increase in the number of referees. I agree with retired ref Gilles Veissière, whom you quoted suggesting that football needs another referee so that there would be one ref to cover play on each side of the field.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Dream Was Over
Former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos remains optimistic about resolving the long-contested ill-gotten-wealth cases filed against her family [July 3]. TIME's March 10, 1986, cover story described the scene at the posh presidential residence after the People Power revolution forced President Ferdinand Marcos into exile:
"No sooner had the helicopters whisked away Ferdinand Marcos, his family and entourage than the looters and the curious began to arrive. They found a half-eaten bowl of caviar and the hospital bed and medical equipment of a sick man. They gawked at the scores of pairs of shoes of a rich woman. One visitor was reminded of a line from the Japanese poet Basho: 'Autumn leaves, the remains of a samurai's dream' ... A few came to plunder and destroy. ONE MAN THREW A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE DEPARTED FIRST LADY INTO AN ORNAMENTAL FISH POOL. But mostly, since an invitation to the Malacañang Palace had long been considered a jewel beyond price to the average Filipino, they came as tourists and as survivors. One excited old man said he had lived a block away for 40 years, and never dreamed he would ever see the day when he would set foot in the palace." Read more at timearchive.com.
Setting the Record Straight
A Few Good People
TIME's July 17 story on Japan's economic recovery incorrectly stated that the monetary-policy committee of the Bank of Japan comprises nine men. Of the nine people on the committee, one is a woman.