“The Only Woman in the Room”/ How The Amazing Beate Wrote Equal Rights For Women Into Japan’s Constitution

Unanswerable questions of the year: Is Japan really going to war? Is Japan’s peacetime constitution going to be trashed by the ruling party and returned back to the Imperial Constitution, which did not give suffrage or equal rights to women? This question will be on the mind and haunt your waking hours after reading “The Only Woman in the Room” by Beate Sirota Gordon. In this memoir, she takes us through the various events in her... Read More

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

Japan’s Establishment Is A-Okay With Apartheid! 日本へようこそ!

The Newspaper Columnist & Close Associate of Prime Minister Abe Who Wants to Bring Apartheid to Japan http://t.co/QugHdjlsK6 — Jake Adelstein/中本哲史 (@jakeadelstein) February 14, 2015  Read More

What’s really obscene in Japan? It’s shouldn’t be the vagina.

What is “obscene” in Japan? Legally and morally it has different meanings in the Japanese language, just as it does in the west. In the legal sense, the Japanese word for it, waists (猥褻), refers to something that maliciously stimulates sexual desire in an inappropriate and immoral manner. There are a lot of things that would qualify for that: widely sold manga depicting incest, gang rape, and sexual abuse of children. Magazines and newspapers... Read More

Journalists & Citizens Ask Asahi To Retract Retraction of Critical Nuclear Disaster Reporting

  Last December, journalists and citizens asked Japan’s 2nd largest newspaper,  Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞) to retract its retraction of a major scoop surrounding leaked government reports on the real situation inside the crippled Fukushima nuclear facility during the 3/11 crisis.  Should the Asahi have stood by its reporting? On May 20, 2014, the Asahi newspaper published a scoop based on the leaked testimony of Masao Yoshida, the... Read More

From 98-Pound Weakling to Black Belt

The author is thrown during the 2012 National Yoshinkan Demonstration   By Benjamin Boas Mou ikkai! Do it again! Punching someone properly is an incredibly difficult thing to do. It was not enough to simply drive my fist forward and connect with the target. No, when selected to play the role of the model attacker for the Aikido training of a Japanese police officer, this is nowhere near sufficient. Hips must be aligned with shoulders. The wrist... Read More

The Year of Dokufu: Poisonous Women in Japan

by Kaori Shoji       Wow. What a year THAT was, on a whole lot of levels. The unofficial diagnosis is that things will get worse in the year of the sheep, but let’s put that aside for now. A thought to mull over: 2014 was the year the crime rate among senior citizens multiplied by 46 times, and the image of the Japanese Woman – long ranked among the most demure, sensible and persevering humans on the planet – was... Read More

Freedom: A Small Tokyo Bar Where Someone Knows Your Name

by Dan Ryan The tiny neighborhood bars and watering holes distributed throughout Tokyo are probably as numerous as the stars on a clear night in the Himalayas. Perversely, they’re often the kinds of places that are easy to miss, at least in the daytime, even if a given joint is open when one happens to walk by. But sometimes one can pass a Tokyo bar, even a run-down looking place, and feel strangely drawn to it. Something about it catches the eye... Read More

Merry X-Mas Eve Panic

  There’s a Japanese saying that ただものほど高いものはない:”There’s nothing more expensive than something free.” Gift-giving is a delight in any country but sometimes a little paranoia and some misunderstanding can make for a blue Christmas. Japanese-Lebanese film-maker, Soraya Umewaka, has made a delightful little Christmas comedy that captures some of the joys and silliness of Japan’s version of... 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

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