Brand Japan, Brand Abe: A Clash of Narratives

Written by Nancy Snow Two decades ago I was working at the United States Information Agency (USIA), an independent foreign affairs agency of the U.S. Government. We were separate from the Department of State—the counterpart to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan, and our primary task was Public Diplomacy. Some called what we did government propaganda. To be precise, the slogan stamped across the agency façade was “Telling America’s Story... Read More

Rest in Peace, Kenji Goto. A journalist who fought for peace & was killed in war.

Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist, known for his dedicated reporting on the atrocities of war and humanitarian activities, was killed by the Islamic State (ISIS) circa February 1st, 2015 (Japan Standard Time). He wasn’t a war reporter; he was an anti-war reporter. He shared his knowledge with the world, educating others and learning from them as well. According to The Guardian: “Kenji tweeted about many things. But one tweet has captured... Read More

Japan’s MOFA threatens ISIS with “strong indignation” if (hypothetical) hostages executed

January 22nd, Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged $200 million in non-military assistance to support countries affected by the campaign against ISIS during an ongoing six-day Middle East tour. Today (January 20th Japan time), The Islamic State released a video threatening to kill two Japanese hostages, the journalist Kenji Goto, and another self-proclaimed mercenary, unless they receive a $200 million ransom in the next 72 hours. The hawkish... Read More

Japan’s Dangerous Tilt to The Right: a report from Hamburg, Germany

by Natalia Berner*  HAMBURG Japan is plunging to right, as voices of alarm start to rise, but most of German and Japanese society does not realize how serious the recent political situation has become. Reactions are similar to those of a paralyzed moose facing the headlamps of an upcoming truck. Koichi Nakano, a professor of political science at Sophia University (上智大学) is one of the very few outspoken critics still standing up and critiquing... Read More

The First Victim of War is The Truth: Japan’s Journalists Protest The Secrets Law

The First Victim of War is The Truth Tokyo Shimbun’s National News Chief (12/10/2014) A few days after Japan lost the war, thick clouds of smoke spewed from government and military facilities as mass amounts of documents were burned. It was an organized cover-up to thwart investigations by the allied forces. Because of this more than half of Japan’s secret documents were lost, we lost our chance to get a handle on the full scope of the war.... Read More

The Star Trek Conference In Beijing: Klingon Warlord Xi Disses Tanuga* IV Leader Abe

It may look like a costume party, but as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation shindig draws to a close, nobody is having a good time. TOKYO—Imagine if you will, that this year’s APEC summit was set in the Star Trek Universe and China was the belligerent Klingon Empire; it’s not hard if you try. And things aren’t going so well for the United Federation of Planets. Klingon Warlord Xi hosts UFP conference but not all goes well. The Asia-Pacific... Read More

Japan’s Female Police Commissioner worked with racist & sexist newspaper?

NOTE: This article has been corrected after a reader pointed out that the Eriko Yamatani corner was written by a Zaitokukai  former executive and associate Shigeo Masuki and not Ms. Yamatani herself. Recently appointed head of Japan’s Public Safety Commission, Eriko Yamatani 山谷えり子, who oversees all of Japan’s police forces, may be inappropriate to deal with Japan’s domestic violence issues—among other things. She... Read More

AKB48: A Microcosm Of Dark Corporate Japan. Sexual exploitation of child labor is sooo cute. (Book review)

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Japanese – men AND women – is the apparent lack of awareness regarding issues like gender and racial discrimination, worker exploitation, social injustice and other stuff that have western observers of our culture taking one look and scratching their heads. That stuff about a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly yelling out harassment remarks to a female politician while the... Read More

Ninkyodo, dude! Even The Yakuza Are Speaking English Now

You may remember this this year, Japan’s largest organized crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, launched its own website in Japan. But as I wrote in the article on April 1st for VICE News, if you were hoping to see guys covered in tattoos, epic gun battles, bloody sword fights, and fingers being chopped off — as one might— it wasn’t so exciting. And it was in Japanese only. There were other minor problems with the initial effort. Learn... Read More

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... Read More

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