Mr President, Barack Hussein Obama

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The Obama speech

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Obama Inauguration

44th President of the United States making his Presidency oath

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My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and ploughed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have travelled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

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Kanji of the Year

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Kanji for the year 2008 : 『変』

For further informaton, check the Wikipedia.

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Kanji of the Year 1995 - 2008

In Japan, they started using a 漢字, 【Kanji】 (which means Chinese character)

to represent the whole year from 1995.

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For this year, the keyword is “change” as in the frequent changing of the Japanese Prime Ministers (Abe to Fukuda to Aso), Mr. Obama winning the American Presidency elections spreading the word ‘change’ globally and also the obvious and serious economical and ecological changes around the world. The word “変” is read as “hen” (for the Chinese reading 音読み) and “kawari” (for the Japanese reading 訓読み). It mainly means change but it also means weird. There were many changes in this year and of course, a very weird year indeed as well. Anyway, we all are hoping for better changes in the world, no matter where we are. What will year 2009 have in store for us ? Let’s get surprised. Hopefully, surprised in a good way.

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Barack Obama for the 44th President of the U.S.A.

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Historic win, indeed !

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Thank you banner from Barack Obama

Obama proved that “change” can happen.

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It’s official that the 44th President of the United States of America will be Barack Obama, backed up by his vice, Joe Biden. Obama is no more longer a Senator Barack Obama, he’s now the Mr. President Barack Obama. It’s amazing to witness the win of what once regarded impossible, of course, but also to see how much attention the world is giving to this long lingering election which had finally come to an end. Nothing will change overnight but it is definitely a start of a new world. Obama has the voice, the resilient voice to utter out the messages that were growing in him. Now, I guess the eyes of the world are going to be diverged to see how he’s going to lead the weakening country and also on how he’s going to face all of the many unsolved major problems in the world. At least, I think I can believe that he would be a President who won’t simply start a war for any reasons (18 out of 43 past presidents were not involved in any wars, just see who the rest were and they make the majority). Congratulations, USA, I do believe you’ve made the right choice. May peace really be with us.

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Happy birthday again, Malaysia !

Happy 916 to every single Malaysian !

Today is a day which is as important as the independence day for us, Malaysians. It is the day when Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore joined together to form a new nation to which I call my motherland. Anyway, it is also said that today, we will have some significant changes back in Malaysia but will that actually happen. Well, at the moment, I don’t hear anything with any big impact. Let’s just observe and hope for the very best. By the way, please watch the next video made by my junior, Calvin, entitled “Jiwa Malaysia” which he had won first prize for the Peraduan Video Merdeka 2008 organized by Malaysian Students Association in Japan (MSAJ). Calvin, you don’t mind right ? *hehe* Anyway, very good video and love those kids. They do represent us Malaysia very much indeed for who they are.

***

Jiwa Malaysia

Commenting on Tun M’s blog

His latest post, “THE SOCIAL CONTRACT 3”

To read it, visit CheDet.com

Placing his views in his very own blog since May 2008

***

Good evening, Tun M.

In times like these, where everything is pretty stirred up and murky, that is when rationality is needed and our nation needs it, simply put, every single citizen of our motherland needs to be rational. I don’t recall that I learned about the Social Contract during my History classes back in school bench. Did my textbooks state much about it or was the fact packed up together in just a few simple sentences? Either that or perhaps I was more attentive to my science subjects, which was implanted in my mind that it will be able to ‘secure a better future’, especially in Malaysia for me, when everyone stresses that going to science stream is a better choice (that I came to grow up knowing that this is not always true). Or just maybe my History teachers, the government servants, were not doing their job well enough? (I will read Part 1 and 2 to teach myself what the Social Contract is all about through your writings)

I do agree with a commentator that Tun M should rewrite this article in Malay since all of us did learn and are still learning about the Malaysian history in Malay, in a form which we all find much more familiar and easier to understand. After all, it is our national language, Bumis or non-Bumis and Malaysian kids nowadays have access to read your blog, Tun M.

Please do enlighten us, the young Malaysians, on how and what our ancestors had agreed and was it that all of us must keep abide to it even after half a century or in the long run as well? We know that Malay has the special rights. We see that in the different quotas we have in the many different systems. We know Chinese and Indians didn’t mind the conditions laid to them as long as they got their citizenship back then. We all lived freely without much problem and fuss up to now (except for what had happened during May 13, 1963). We didn’t mind that it had always been expressed in the fashion of “Malay, Chinese and Indian”, accordingly to the population pie, and not “Indian, Malay, Chinese” or the other 5 combinations that can be made with these 3 syllables. But, isn’t it time to consider that all of us who are being born in Malaysia, raised with the Malaysian culture, to be as one, in a single identity as a unified nation? Perhaps, what young Malays are telling is that the non-Malays are also Malaysia “Malaysians” and soon, we need to change the situation.

But then again, before all that, you are right, Tun M. Are we ALL ready to switch everything to the “equal rights” that everyone (both the minority young Malays you’ve stated and non-Malays) is hailing about? Some of us are ready but when turned effective, how many will drown in it? I still remember how you commented on globalism, Tun M. Are you worried that the considered more able non-Malays will overtake everything that the Malay owns, if equality begins to be enforced? If the stage is unleveled, Malaysia might be at the risk of being not balanced although how it appears to be in balance. I understand and I never argued much about the quota when another Chinese (or other international friends) comes to me to complain about it. I always tell them, our ancestors said yes to special rights to the Bumiputras and we are living on this fate. We can do nothing unless a change happens. Till then, we still have to live on. That is what I tell those who approaches me with their sighs.

On the other side, perhaps young Malays are tired of being undermined and regarded lowly. They perhaps are hating the idea being looked at in a way as if they have a cushion to fall onto anytime although they are working strong and hard to prove that they have grown to not need such insurances anymore.

We need wisdom on this matter. We need great people to put the rails so that everything would go strong and steady for our nation. I believe that is the job of a politician which should be regarded the highest in rank when it comes to selflessness. Anyway, everything is happening for a reason. We are reminded again that a nation is a biological entity and that we evolve from time to time. Tun M, people are hearing rumors that you are coming back. I am just hoping that you are packed with powerful and effective solutions when you officially decide that you are going to have power in the government, once again.

All these by Andrew Soh, the boy with a vibrant orange tie, who asked you what was your ideal vision for year 2020 at the Embassy of Malaysia, here in Japan when you came over for your honorable degree from the Meiji University in year 2001 and still recalls you, at the podium in front of a crowd of students, answering “little young children (you did stress all races) with smiles on their faces, playing peacefully in a developed nation in various aspect of areas.” I am the one who also said that you can sign on my 1000 yen note during dinner the night of the event and am still hoping hard in my heart that what you’ve envisioned for our country will happen. Thank you for your valuable signature and my parents are still keeping it proudly with my two shot picture with you, Sir, placed in a special album in our humble home in Kuala Lumpur.

First, “pendatang”and next, “partner”, why not “one” ?

Najib: Chinese are always regarded
as partners, not pendatang

From The Star

I like this flag because this is the flag I am born with and
this is the only flag I can relate with for the rest of life

PEKAN: Non-Malays in this country are Umno’s partners whose rights and interests will be safeguarded, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

He said Umno has never regarded the Chinese in this country as “pendatang” (immigrants), and as the main pillar in Barisan Nasional, Umno’s policy is clear that the party accepts non-Malays as partners in nation-building .

Najib said it is also clear that the Barisan policy would focus on nation-building and any views given by other leaders at division level are their personal views.

He was asked to comment on the refusal of Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail to apologise over his recent remark that the Chinese were “immigrants who do not deserve equal rights”.

Najib, who had earlier presented land titles to Felda settlers in Felda Cini 5 here, said Ahmad’s statement does not reflect or represent the policies of Umno and Barisan.

On Gerakan’s view that it will have another look at its position in Barisan if Umno fails to gain the people’s confidence, Najib said its acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had told him Gerakan would always be in Barisan .

“The most important thing to do is to have frequent discussions, meetings and consultations within the component parties.

“Those are the reasons that we always have Barisan meetings, Supreme Council and Barisan management meetings to enable us to discuss and consult in a more general way,” Najib said.

To a question whether Umno was pressured by other component parties in Barisan , Najib said: “We did not receive any pressure because we stick to the spirit of friendship in Barisan, but we accept that they want the meetings and consultations to be held frequently.”

On rumours spread by SMSes and false reports in Opposition publications, Najib said the Government will study whether action can be taken against those involved.

“We regret the lies and false statements made to confuse the people. We regret that there are certain quarters who are doing this.

“If we take action, they will say that the action is politically motivated,” he said.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said: “Ahmad’s statement was blown out of context. Racial and religious polarisation is getting worse and this is very unhealthy.”

He said the people were getting fed up with so much politicking and polemics, adding that the Government was expected to get on with the work at hand – building the economy, improving education and reforming Barisan.

“We are falling into the opposition trap of demonisation, cynicism and perception. It leaves a bad aftertaste. Everyone should stop before we get divided even more,” he said.

***

I will give my full support for the first politician that who would affirm that all of us, every single one of us as “one” instead of blurring things with the term “partner”. The term “partner” is defined as one that is united or associated with another or others in an activity or a sphere of common interest, especially:

  1. A member of a business partnership.
  2. A spouse.
  3. A domestic partner.
  4. Either of two persons dancing together.
  5. One of a pair or team in a sport or game, such as tennis or bridge.

Common interest, yes, we all wish for the best of our nation. United? I believe not yet for we only associate when we need each other as “partners”, and hurt as “pendatang” when we are not needed. Perhaps it is too idealistic and too much of utopianism in what I am saying here but that should be our common goal. The day when we can accept one another as a being who is a citizen of a same nation who thinks for the best of our nation. Lately, a lot has been said, no matter it is from the people of the government or the opposition parties, to disturb the harmony we have in our country.  Today, I am not pin-pointing at any certain individuals, but it is for us all Malaysians, every single one of us to think of who we are, no matter what ethnicity we hold. Anyway, look at our Jalur Gemilang and remind yourself of what the blue color stands for.

Japan’s without a head on 1st September 2008

Who’s next ? Is it going to be Taro ?

Fukuda quits as leader of Japan after 11 months

From International Herald Tribune

Yasuo Fukuda resigned as the prime minister of Japan on Monday,
after less than a year in office marked by political gridlock, plunging
approval ratings and disarray within the governing Liberal Democratic Party.

“I feel it’s best to hand over the reins of power to a new leader,” Fukuda said
in Tokyo on Monday evening. His 11-month tenure was the shortest for
a Japanese leader since 1994.

Fukuda is the second prime minister to resign since the Liberal Democratic Party,
or LDP, lost control of the upper house of Parliament in July 2007 to the Democratic
Party of Japan. Fukuda’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, also resigned suddenly after just
12 months in the job. The governing party’s inability to work with the opposition – or
win popular support for road taxes and higher health care premiums for the elderly – suggests
that it will have to struggle to maintain its decades-long grip on power.

Recent political gridlock led to the first leadership vacancy at the
Bank of Japan in more than eight decades and helped drive the country’s
benchmark stock index, the Nikkei 225 stock average, down about 20 percent
since Junichiro Koizumi, Abe’s predecessor, left office.

“The 53-year-old LDP is reaching the end of its political shelf life,” said
Masayuki Fukuoka, a professor of political science at Hakuoh University north of Tokyo.

The party is required to hold lower-house elections by September 2009.
It has held power through coalitions for all but about a year since it was formed in 1955.

The coalition had to use its two-thirds majority to override upper-house
vetoes on legislation to renew refueling missions in the Indian Ocean for
the U.S. military and taxes earmarked for road construction. It was the first
time that the lower house had used the maneuver since 1951.

Fukuda’s approval rating has fallen by almost half since he took office
last September. Public support for his cabinet fell to 29 percent, down
9 percentage points from early August, the newspaper The Nikkei reported
Monday, citing its own telephone survey. Fukuda’s disapproval rating rose
14 points, to 63 percent. The Nikkei said it contacted 1,549 households and
obtained 866 valid responses.

Fukuda replaced Abe, who cited his inability “to gain the trust of the people”
when he stepped down. Abe resigned after his approval rating fell below 30 percent.

Fukuda, the first prime minister whose father also held the position,
beat former Foreign Minister Taro Aso in the LDP’s party vote for the leadership.
He had served as cabinet chief for former prime ministers Koizumi and Yoshiro Mori.

When he assembled his first cabinet in September, Fukuda said he wanted
to “revive” the LDP by transforming it into a political party that “firmly implements policies.”

Aso will handle the selection of a new party leader, Fukuda said. Analysts
said that Aso, who is the LDP’s secretary general and an outspoken,
right-leaning politician, was the front-runner to succeed Fukuda.

Speculation had been simmering that the unpopular prime minister might
be replaced before a general election that must be held by September 2009.
Fukuda’s resignation does not automatically mean an election. His party
must pick a new leader and win the confidence of the lower house if it
wants to carry on leading Japan’s coalition government.

“The LDP has had no leadership, and is in the process of disintegrating,” Gerald Curtis,
a political science professor at Columbia University, said before Fukuda’s
resignation Monday. “Japan is a political basket case.”

The brief terms of Abe and Fukuda contrasted with that of Koizumi, who left
office after five-and-half years. When he was elected, Japan faced economic
deflation and recession. Koizumi cut spending and urged banks to write off bad loans.

***

First, it started off with Abe when he got bullied and his resignation created history, quite a bitter one for this developed country. Next, the person who took his baton was Fukuda and only after 11 months, he quited just today on the 1st September 2008, creating another so-called surprising bitter history for Japan. Fukuda wasn’t functioning as he should. The numbers weren’t supporting him at all from the very beginning and the atmosphere of him quiting (after his big failure to change things around during his recent cabinet reshuffling that was just done a few months ago) had been looming around. Now, the question arises, “Who’s next?” but it has always been obvious in this country. They always prepare for its nation of whom they should choose. Japan’s needs a charismatic character which can lead the country and at the same time keep the heat going. Will Taro be the one ? We’ll see but many of us are quite sure who it will be when the news is out about the birth of a new cabinet in the near future.