Economy Spells Trouble for Leading Party in Japan
( New York Times )

With his graying hair and his corporate-standard dark blue suit, which he dutifully wears in Tokyo’s sweltering summer heat, Saburo Toyoda appears an unlikely proponent of change.

But since losing his lifetime job seven years ago, and going through several other jobs that paid less than half his former salary, Mr. Toyoda, a 54-year-old salesman, says he is fed up with Japan’s long malaise. Like many Japanese, he now wants what amounts to a revolution in this politically risk-averse nation: the ousting of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has governed Japan for more than a half-century.

Japan has seen a broad upwelling of such frustration in recent years, and particularly since the beginning of the financial crisis last fall, which brought the unfamiliar sight here of mass layoffs and the unemployed tossed onto the streets. Now, the growing disillusion here seems to have reached a critical but long-elusive threshold: when Japanese voters go to the polls on Aug. 30 to vote in parliamentary elections, they appear almost certain to oust the Liberal Democrats from power for only the second time since 1955.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・swelter 暑さにうだる、汗だくになる
・proponent 提案者、支持者
・malaise 肉体的不快感、不安、(社会などの)沈滞
・upwelling 湧き出ること
・disillusion 幻滅、迷夢をさます(こと)
・threshold 敷居、境界

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Leader of Japan’s Opposition Resigns
( New York Times )

Ichiro Ozawa, the Japanese opposition leader, announced his
resignation on Monday, saying he wanted to prevent a campaign
finance scandal involving one of his aides from hurting his party’s chances of unseating the long-governing Liberal Democratic Party.

Mr. Ozawa had tried to ride out the controversy, criticizing the prosecutors for what he called a politically motivated investigation, while stopping short of accusing them of helping the unpopular Liberal Democrats. But the scandal appears to have further tarnished Japanese voters’ views of both parties ahead of a national election that must be held by Sept. 10.

Mr. Ozawa is known as one of the last of Japan’s shadow shoguns, having learned the art of Japan’s consensus-driven backroom politics as a young lawmaker from past prime ministers like Kakuei Tanaka, who invented the nation’s current version of pork-barrel politics. Once anointed as a future leader of the Liberal Democrats, Mr. Ozawa bolted the party in 1993 to help organize the fledgling centrist opposition.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・opposition 反対(する者)、野党
・resignation 辞任
・controversy 論争
・accus 非難する、告訴する
・tarnish 曇らす、変色させる、(名誉など)傷つける

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Japan’s Political Dynasties Come Under Fire but Prove Resilient
( New York Times )

By almost any measure, Katsuhito Yokokume should have at least a fighting chance in the coming parliamentary elections, which could decide Japan’s future.

A truck driver’s son who graduated from the nation’s top
university, Mr. Yokokume, an energetic 27-year-old lawyer, is a
candidate for the main opposition Democratic Party, which has ridden rising popular discontent with the long-governing Liberal Democratic Party. Yet, on a recent chilly morning of greeting voters with deep bows and handshakes at a train station, he got the same apologetic but blunt rejection he gets every day.

“I’m sorry, but this is Koizumi country,” one commuter explained.

Now, as the party faces its biggest challenge since its founding in 1955, such de facto hereditary control of parliamentary seats is coming under unprecedented criticism here. But it is also showing stubborn resilience.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・popular 人気のある、庶民の
・chilly cool より寒く、cold ほど寒くない寒さ
・apologetic 謝罪する、わびの
・rejection  拒絶

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Key Ozawa aide arrested over illegal funds
( Japan Times )

The chief secretary of Ichiro Ozawa, head of the Democratic Party of Japan and a leading candidate to be the next prime minister, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of accepting illegal corporate donations, prosecutors said.

Experts said Okubo's arrest deals a blow to the DPJ, which is
attempting to promote itself as a viable alternative to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party while the LDP's leader, Prime Minister Taro Aso, is suffering from historically low public support ratings.

"The opaqueness surrounding Ozawa's political funds has been his Achilles heel. The damage to the DPJ will be severe," said Tomoaki Iwai, a political science professor at Nihon University in Tokyo. "Attention may be focused on whether he should resign or be summoned to the Diet as a sworn witness."

【 まずは準備運動 】

・suspicion 感づき、疑い
・corporate 企業の 
・donation 寄付
・opaqueness 不透明さ
・summon 呼出す、召喚する

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Minister Quits at Bad Time for Japan’s Economy
( New York Times )

The resignation of Japan’s finance minister, who faced criticism for his odd behavior at a news conference at a Group of 7 meeting in Rome over the weekend, poses fresh problems for the country’s leadership during a worsening recession.

The episode, which led the minister, Shoichi Nakagawa, to quit on Tuesday, was a major setback for Prime Minister Taro Aso, who has been in office since only September. He has already come under fire for his handling of the economy and for a series of embarrassing gaffes of his own.

At the news conference in Rome on Saturday, a red-faced Mr. Nakagawa gave muddled answers and at times appeared to nod off. A clip of Mr. Nakagawa in which he yawns groggily and closes his eyes while speaking has been circulating on the Internet.

Mr. Nakagawa denied that he had been drinking and said cold
medication and fatigue were to blame for his behavior.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・recession (景気の一時的)後退、退場
・embarrasse 困らせる、当惑させる
・muddle ごちゃまぜにする、まごつかせる
・nod off 眠り込む.
・yawn あくび(する)
・groggily よろよろして、ふらふらして
・fatigue 疲労

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