The Oriental Economist is a periodic newsletter that adds a whole next dimension of quality to the very idea of the ordinarily mundane if not dreary “newsletter”.  The brainchild (and dear baby) of New York intellectual Richard Katz, TOE, as it is warmly called, has for years been totally invaluable to those of us wanting to know a lot more about the inner logic and customs of Japanese national politics. Call it the “Gaijin Guide’, if you will (referring to the Japanese expression for “outsider”). The (roughly monthly) political journal is read by many insiders as well, including officials at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassy and consulate officials all over the word, including in Beijing. Foreign governments all over the world find its assessments especially knowledgeable and level-headed. TOE also occasionally takes in outside contributions, such as the February issue’s excerpt from the new book ‘Conversations with Ban Ki-moon,” in which the UN secretary general (a former South Korean foreign minister) had much to say about Japan and its prospects.