All posts by Angela Erika Kubo

ASKA comes out with new hit…. “Say yes—to meth”

Japanese singer-songwriter ASKA is known best for his 1991 hit single with music duo CHAGE and ASKA, “Say Yes,” but his recent arrest over drug possession shows that he just can’t say no to meth.

ASKA, whose real name is Shigeaki Miyazaki, confessed to police that he had smoked stimulant drugs several times in his home. Police found several doses of methamphetamines and over 90 MDMA pills in a desk drawer in an office in ASKA’s home in Meguro. Police also seized a glass pipe with traces of stimulant drugs and MDMA on it and are investigating ASKA’s drug use at the home of an alleged lover, Kasumi Tochinai, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.

On May 17th, police also discovered several urine test kits that are said to be sold only to hospitals and police and are not commercially available. Police suspect that ASKA had kept the kits to prevent his drug use from being discovered. Obviously, he didn’t use the kits very well or was too high to remember that he had them in the first place.

Although news of ASKA’s arrest has exploded throughout the Japanese media, suspicion over whether ASKA was on drugs dates back to last August. Weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported that ASKA and CHAGE’s comeback concert was suddenly postponed because of his meth use–not because of he “suspected” that he had “transient cerebral ischemia,” which was the official reason he gave.

The magazine claimed that a member of a Yamaguchi-gumi affiliated gang in Hokkaido took a video of ASKA inhaling meth in his home and blackmailed him with the video for money. Incidentally, the gang member was the one who sold meth, cocaine, marijuana, and MDMA to ASKA, which goes to show that you should never trust your drug dealer.

Two months later, in an interview with Shukan Bunshun, ASKA stated, “I’ve never done stimulant drugs, because I’ve always been raised in a ‘germ-free condition 無菌状態’. Actually, I was using caffeine and sodium benzoate.”

ASKA also claimed that upon finding out that the guy who was allegedly dealing him drugs was a yakuza, he broke off ties with him.

However, the damage was already done. Shukan Bunshun’s article last August was enough to put ASKA under police suspicion.

While ASKA has finally said “yes” to allegations that he has been taking stimulant drugs, Japanese society “says no”—Universal Music Japan has not only cancelled its contract with the duo, but has also halted distribution of all music and video products. Walt Disney followed suit and pulled out a video that Hayao Miyazaki did in collaboration with CHAGE and ASKA out of a DVD set of Miyazaki’s works.

However, all the attention has brought some of his music back into the limelight, even if it’s in the form of a parody of the classic SAY YES.

These lyrics put a new spin on the original. It’s worth learning Japanese just to appreciate the cynical irony in this version of the song. 😀




迷わずにSay Yes(一部自供)♪


Jake Adelstein contributed bad jokes about ASKA and the “Say Yes” references to this article, because he’s old enough to remember when SAY YES was a hit. 

Tokyo gets its first Bitcoin ATM–at The Pink Cow of all places


While most ATMs in Tokyo are located in convenience stores, in train stations, or on important street corners, Tokyo’s first fully operational Bitcoin ATM is located in The Pink Cow, a Cal-Mex restaurant and bar in the middle of Roppongi. The bar is a popular expat hangout in the city, and is a gathering place for artists and musicians. More recently, the restaurant has been home to frequent gatherings of Bitcoin fans in Tokyo, and incidentally became the first restaurant in Japan to accept Bitcoins.

According to Jeff Quigley at Tech in Asia, as of Friday, the ATM had been used 75 times since it was unveiled. Despite the collapse of Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, this February, when the theft of several hundred thousand Bitcoins forced the company to declare bankruptcy, it seems that faith in the virtual currency is still strong.

Just make sure that you don’t withdraw your entire savings while inebriated. The staff at The Pink Cow are notorious for being generous with the alcohol when they mix cocktails. (I would know since I worked behind the bar for a year.)

Book Review: How to Use Fuck (For Japanese Students of Eigo)

Editor’s Note: This review contains several four letter words that our genteel readers may find offensive. If swear words and euphemisms for sexual intercourse make you uncomfortable, please do not read further. Thank you. 

How to Use Fuck Correctly: 99 Phrases Using Fuck, Shit, Damn, and Hell that Schools Won’t Teach You that Should be Used with Care (正しいFUCK 使い方学校では教えてくれない、取扱注意のFuck, Shit, Damn, Hellを使った99フレーズ) is a detailed guide for anyone who shit about learning the many nuances (and yes, there are many) between the four 4-letter curse words that any English speaker should know: fuck, shit, damn, and hell. Many students in Japanese schools give don’t give a shit about learning how to speak English (and the Japanese government is doing a shitty job at promoting English education), but learning to cuss out your taxi driver if you ever go to New York City is all you’ll ever need to know if you’re that lazy.

photo 1

But if you’re serious about becoming fluent in English, this guide is great for learning what your teacher failed to teach you in high school. The book is supervised by MADSAKI, who, according to the bio on the book jacket, is a “bad motherfucker with 25-years of experience in the United States (25年在米経験のあるバッドマザファッカー)” No kidding. It’s written like that.

The starts off with a section on how the book covers words that can’t be aired on television or radio in English-speaking countries. It advises beginners to stick straight to the model sentences provided in the guide and recommends using these words with very close friends, or better yet, by yourself. The section also comes with a chart ranking the various curse words from dirty to sort of acceptable to use with the f-bomb at the very top and “hell” at the bottom. Of course, the book fails to mention that if you’re a native English speaker from the United States, which is home to many conservatives, you’ll likely offend someone.


The introduction ends up with a serious warning, which is unintentionally hilarious: “Incorrect handling of these words will cause hazardous conditions, and we assume that you will likely suffer from moderate failure or light injures, or serious injuries or death.”

But if you don’t give a fuck at all, then read on.

Each usage of one of the four bad words comes with an illustration of a celebrity, a movie scene, or something from Western pop culture. Some of them refer to incidents as recent as March when Ellen DeGeneres took a group selfie at the Academy Awards. Each chapter ends with a list of famous quotes or proverbs said by famous people which uses one of the four bad words taught by the book.

photo 1-3

The only issue with the book is that some of the translations of the phrases are not exactly accurate. Indeed, it is difficult to find a Japanese equivalent of the word “fuck.” However, there are pages that could use better translations. For example, the phrase “DAAAMMNN, She’s hot!” which comes with an illustration of Woody Allen, is translated as “信じられない、ちょーいい女じゃん(I can’t believe it! She’s a great woman!”) The book notes that the phrase should be used to when you want to say that something is amazing. However, I doubt that Woody Allen was thinking that his ex-girlfriend’s step-daughter, which he later began a relationship with, was a “great woman.” Sexy (セクシー) would be a more appropriate translation.


The book comes with a CD that allows users to hear the correct pronunciation of each usage of f*uck. The announcer has a perky female voice commonly heard on children’s English language TV programs. I was disappointed that they didn’t have someone who could convey the feeling a native speaker would use in one’s voice to say a cuss word, especially in cases in anger.

In short, the book is pretty fucking awesome. Though, if you’re like me, you’d see this book as less instructional and more like something for cheap fucking laughs. I shit you not.

The First Rule Of Secret 3D Gun Club In Japan: Don’t Upload The Video of Firing The Gun on Youtube

PistolIn Japan, getting your hands on a gun is almost impossible, so the natural thing to do if you want a firearm is to make one. Or more appropriately, print one. Just don’t upload a video of yourself on Youtube doing target practice with that gun. In Japan, except for police officers and members of the military, it is a crime to possess a firearm, another crime to fire it, and another crime to have a gun and a bullet together at the same time.  If you insist on being locked and loaded, be prepared to be locked up for a very long time.

A Shonan Institute of Technology employee Yoshitomo Imura was arrested earlier this month for making a homemade handgun using a 3D printer. Police were aware of Imura’s activities early on. Imura had uploaded a video of himself shooting his homemade gun on the Internet, and even published detailed blueprints of the weapon online. The gun was allegedly capable of firing lethal rounds making it a full fledged weapon—not just a brightly colored toy.

On Twitter, Imura reportedly stated what is common to hear at an NRA (National Rifle Association) rally in the United States: “It’s a basic human right to bear a gun. I will confront the movement to regulate guns.”

The Kanagawa Prefectural Police, who were aware of Imura’s activities after seeing the online video, arrested Imura on violations of the Swords and Firearms Control Law. The case is a first and serves as a warning for those who think that they can exploit any loopholes in the law by using printed guns. Or at least remind gun law violators that they shouldn’t show their NRA colors online for everyone to see.

Police in Japan take gun laws so seriously that they’ll even pursue a violator to the grave. One police officer who committed suicide using a firearm was charged posthumously.

Jake Adelstein contributed to this article.

Activists launch lawsuit against Taiji Whale Museum

A group of anti-dolphin hunting activists announced at the Foreign Correspondents’ Cub of Japan yesterday that they had launched a lawsuit against the owner and operator of the Taiji Whale Museum.

The activists who are part of Australia for Dolphins, Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, and Save Japan Dolphins assert in their lawsuit that the museum breached Article 14 of the constitution, which prohibits racial discrimination, by denying entrance to visitors, which include dolphin welfare experts and observers, on the basis of their race.

Although the lawsuit targets the museum’s practice of turning away foreigners, activists such as Sarah Lucas, CEO of Australia for Dolphins, hope that by winning they can pressure the museum and local government into providing better accommodations to Angel, a rare albino dolphin calf that was captured in January and is now displayed in a tank in conditions which dolphin advocate Ric O’Barry describe as “hell.”

O’Barry, who had snuck into the museum several times in disguise argued that Angel, who is kept in a tank that is “too small” with male dolphins of different species, is being “bullied” and that she has no one to talk to because the other dolphins “speak a different language.”

“What I would like to see happen is to take Angel out of that tank and just go a few hundred meters and construct a temporary floating pen where she can be in natural sea water,” said O’Barry.

Since starting a petition on titled “Action for Angel” about two weeks ago, Australia for Dolphins has gathered almost 30,000 people signatures to ask the Taiji government to release Angel into a shaded sea pen.

No Spitting On The Train…Staff or Conductor. Japan Commuter Etiquette #1


Violence against station staff is a crime–and JR reportedly will be releasing a new series of posters this year to remind passengers to show a little curtesy to railway staff–even if the train is 15 minutes late.

No Spitting poster

This isn’t the first time that JR has used posters to get a message across. In 2011, JR launched one of their biggest campaigns with slogans such as “It’s a crime to spit on the station staff.” The poster shows a male wearing an orange shirt and jacket, who just missed the train by a few seconds, spitting at a train conductor.

There’s no knowing whether they had an effect on behavior from passengers, but they did generate snickers.

The latest “stop the violence” poster is here. It’s not quite as memorable as the others before. And clearly “violence” (暴力)doesn’t have a Pasmo card or it would be whisking on past the gates.

There is a price for violence.
There is a price for violence.

On a serious note, violence against train staff is a problem, and it is true that some passengers spit on or lash out at staff. However, whether the new posters get anyone’s attention remains to be seen. Violence against train staff is no laughing matter and these new posters, reflecting that spirit, aren’t very funny.

In regards to “Questions surround reporter’s revisionist take on Japan’s history”

On May 8th, Kyodo News published an article concerning former New York Times Tokyo bureau chief Henry S. Stokes and his recent best-seller 英国人記者が見た連合国戦勝史観の虚妄  (Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist).  The Kyodo News article raised questions about the veracity of the book and whether it really represented Mr. Stokes’s views or the views of the two right wing individuals, Hiroyuki Fujita, who helped “translate” the book and Hideaki Kase aka Tony Kase.

I am a journalist who is just starting her career and I was asked to do the transcripts for an English version of the book. After some time, I realized that I felt that Mr. Stokes, who is a very nice elderly journalist who I respect, was having his words taken out of context. I resigned from the job and relinquished any further payments. Here are the resignation letters I sent to Mr. Fujita and my notice and apology to Mr. Stokes.

I did speak with Kyodo News about why I resigned. I have no further comments. If you would like to know more, please speak to the publisher or the individuals involved.

The controversial book by Henry S. Stokes. Does it represent his views or those of the extremist "translators" who put it together?
The controversial book by Henry S. Stokes. Does it represent his views or those of the extremist “translators” who put it together?


May 2nd, 2014 

Dear Fujita-san, 
I hope you are doing well. I apologize for not contacting you earlier. I’ve actually been extremely busy with my full-time job with Jake Adelstein and have had to work unexpectedly through the weekend and overtime this entire week to work on a new project with him. For the time being, I am turning down all side jobs from anyone. 
I think that it would be best if you found someone else to finish the job, since I’ve become unable to focus on the transcripts, which take a lot of energy to accomplish. I’ve also become increasingly uncomfortable with the content of some of the recordings,which make it even more difficult. It seems that words are being put into Henry’s mouth and that the interviews don’t reflect his real opinions or thoughts–and that there are many leading questions (誘導尋問). 
Here are the recordings which I have finished so far. If they are included in the 50, 000 yen sum that you gave me, then that is fine. I don’t require any more payment. 
Angela Kubo 


May 4th 2014

Dear Henry, 

This is Angela Kubo, who had been working on the transcripts for the book.
I’m very sorry to let you down, but I’ve decided to resign from the job because I had a moral issue with compiling these transcripts. I felt that what you said in the transcripts was completely different on important points from what is written in your book. Below is my resignation letter, which I sent to Fujita-san.
Henry, I have a lot of respect for you, and I pulled out of this job because of this respect. I will be at the press club tomorrow and would like to speak to you about this transcripts. Perhaps you should consider speaking to someone about this issue, because I find it very serious that your book is very different from what you say in the audio.
Angela Erika Kubo


A note from the editor-in-chief:  The questions as to whether Henry Stokes, a long time acquaintance, was deceived and turned into a mouthpiece for the Japanese right wing is a very fascinating one. However, I’m friends with and work with Angela Kubo. I know the reporter at Kyodo News who wrote the story well and we have worked together and I know Henry. The foreign journalist community in Japan is very small.  All that being said, therefore, I’m unable to objectively write about this story at this time and will recuse myself for the time being.  –Jake Adelstein 

For reference: Kyodo News conducted a long recorded interview with Mr. Stokes. The Japanese version of the story compares the statements in the book with the statements in the interview in detail. If you can read Japanese you may find it enlightening. It follows the english text from the Kyodo News article below:

From the Kyodo News article: Over the course of multiple interviews with Kyodo News beginning on April 5, Stokes repeatedly expressed a view on Nanjing that directly contradicts the remarks attributed to him in both his own book and the articles in WiLL and Yukan Fuji.

“I don’t come within ten-thousand miles of this stuff as a position,” he said, dismissing the view that Nanjing is a fabrication as “ludicrous,” “fatuous” and “utterly, utterly asinine.”

“The stance I take is that ghastly events occurred in Nanjing,” Stokes said, adding that he does, however, disagree with Chinese assessments that 300,000 people died during the six days when the Imperial Japanese Army overran China’s then capital. He also objects to the use of the term massacre, preferring the more anodyne “Nanjing Incident.”


著書 南京が陥落してから人口が増え始め、翌1月には、25万人に膨れ上がった。戦闘が終わって治安が回復されて、人々が南京へと戻ってきたのだ。このことからも「南京大虐殺」などなかったことは、明白だ。歴史の事実として「南京大虐殺」は、なかった。それは、中華民国政府が 捏造 (ねつぞう) した、プロパガンダだった。
 ストークス氏 そうは言えない。(この文章は)私のものではない。後から付け加えられた。修正する必要がある。私は「MASSACRE(大虐殺)」という言葉は好まない。その表現は日本語では使えるが英語だとぞっとするほど恐ろしい。大虐殺と呼べないにせよ、南京で何か非常に恐ろしい事件が起きたかと問われれば、答えはイエスだ。中華民国政府のプロパガンダは(南京大虐殺が史実とされる)理由の一つだが唯一の理由ではない。

The interview conducted with VOICE magazine’s March issue by Mr. Stokes also has the following seeming affirmation of the Nanjing Incident and affirms the credibility of the book China’s War With Japan by Rana Mitter.





TEPCO makes $4.3 Billion in 2013 despite meltdown. Crime doesn’t pay, criminal negligence does

TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) announced a profit of ¥43.2 billion ($4.3 billion) for the 2013 fiscal year. It is the first time the company moved into the black since an earthquake and tsunami crippled the reactors, leading to a nuclear meltdown in March of 2011.

Despite a drop in electricity sales due to higher than usual winter temperatures, overall sales increased 11 percent from the previous fiscal year due to a rate increase and fuel cost adjustments. Out of ten electric companies, TEPCO was one of the four that posted a profit. The remaining six, which includes power companies in Kansai and Kyushu, recorded a deficit due to relying on fossil fuels to offset the shut down nuclear plants, according to Asahi Shimbun.

Last September, the Abe administration announced that it would give ¥47 billion of taxpayer money to prevent further contaminated water from leaking from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. That amount is far greater than the profits that TEPCO posted on April 30th, meaning that if the government had not given them any money last year, the company would have announced another year of losses.

The company has not made it clear what the profits will be used for and whether any of the money will be used to support supplement the taxpayer funds allocated to clean up the disaster or compensate those who in Fukushima whose homes fell under the evacuation zone. However, TEPCO’s stockholders, which include LDP politicians such as Masahiro Imamura and LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba have a cause to celebrate. Both hold 6000 and 4813 shares in the company respectively.

As nuclear waste continues to leak into the ocean surrounding Fukushima Prefecture, pro-nuclear advocate Shigeru Ishiba who resembles the Japanese anime hero, Anpanman, seems less like a hero, and more like the arch-villain of the series, Baikinman (Germ Man.) Or maybe in the eyes of the LDP, the general public, 80% of which oppose nuclear power are just like “germs.” In any event, for the large number of ruling party members with stock shares in TEPCO, the profits are good news; the losers are everyone else.

Ishiba-man gives an atomic punch to the people of Japan and the clean energy fans in a dramatic fight to save the profitability of TEPCO–in which he owned at least 6,000 shares.


Go-Betweens: The World Seen through Children

For any art fans out there, Mori Art Museum, located in Roppongi Hills, will be holding a new exhibition from Saturday, May 31 through Sunday, August 31, 2014. The exhibition, titled “Go-Betweens: The World Seen through Children,” will feature children through various forms of art and different perspectives such as politics, culture, family and other aspects of the world surrounding children. Notable in a country that is lacking young people.

Won Seoung Won Oversleeping (from the series My Age of Seven)2010 Type C-print  86 x 120 cm
Won Seoung Won
Oversleeping (from the series My Age of Seven)2010
Type C-print
86 x 120 cm


The exhibition will feature 26 of the world’s top artists, notably Jacob A. Riis. Riis is well known for his coverage of the impoverished in the New York City slums through his reporting and photography. The exhibit will feature Riis’s documentation of late 19th century immigrant children in the city, who often served as “go-betweens” due to their role as a bridge for their parents, who had a poor grasp of English.

In addition to Riis’s works, other highlights will be displays of works by Lewis W. Hine, whose photographs helped change America’s labor laws, and Miyatake Toyo, who documented life in a Japanese-American internment camp in California. All works serve as valuable historical documents that brought about significant social change.

Miyatake Toyo From the series Manzanar War Relocation Center1942-1945 Gelatin silver print 50.8 x 60.8 cm Collection: Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
Miyatake Toyo
From the series Manzanar War Relocation Center1942-1945
Gelatin silver print
50.8 x 60.8 cm
Collection: Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

In addition, the exhibit will feature newcomers to Japan’s art scene such as Rineke Dijkstra and video artist Fiona Tan. The exhibition will also feature never –before-seen works by Teruya Yuken, whose art is staged in the forests of Yanbaru in Okinawa.

“In general (in Japan also) there are quite a few “children-themed” exhibitions around, but believe that there have hardly been any exhibitions that deal with the “darkness” or issues of the children’s surroundings,” the public relations department at Mori Art Museum told the Japan Subculture Research Center.

There will also be film screenings throughout the summer, a selection of 7 films that cover the theme of children in some way. One notable showing is Hafu: the mixed race, which received critical acclaim last year following its release, on July 5th.

Photos from Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2014

Tokyo’s 3rd annual gay pride parade was held yesterday. A long line of members of the LGBT community and their supporters marched from Yoyogi Park, through Shibuya and back to the starting point.

In addition to campaigning LGBT rights, attention was brought to other issues such as AIDS. Notable supporters in the parade included Japan’s First Lady Akie Abe. Despite being married to the hawkish Shinzo Abe, Akie has a large public profile and takes a strong stand on some issues, even in opposition to her husband. She also maintains a regularly updated Facebook page.


People of all ages and sexual orientations marched in the parade. Some of them wore face paint. While others wore more elaborate, eye-catching costumes to stand out.





Unlike in the United States, where LGBT rights are a polarizing political issue, gay rights are hardly ever debated within the Japanese government. You can find out more about the parade here.