Japan media focus blurred on big issues

| Aug 8, 2006

Japan media focus blurred on big issues

All the pain of the tragedy that has befallen their family is etched in the crumpled faces of Shigeru and Sakie Yokota. Most parents can only imagine the horror of losing a child, but after years of believing daughter Megumi was the victim of ...

Japan ready to battle 'culinary imperialists'

| May 30, 2006

Japan ready to battle 'culinary imperialists'

Earlier this year I was commissioned by a British newspaper to research a Japanese company called Hakudai, which was reputed to be putting whale meat into dog food. I found the company in Chikura, a sleepy fishing town in Chiba Prefecture with a long ...

Local fury at Hardy perennial

| May 9, 2006

Local fury at Hardy perennial

Last month, as they have every year for decades, a small crowd of people gathered under fat cherry blossoms in Tokyo’s Aoyama Park, carrying red lanterns, placards and peace symbols. From a distance the gathering could have been a hanami party, but the perfumed ...

Imelda Marcos: Still angry after all these years

Apr 23, 2006

Imelda Marcos: Still angry after all these years

The beautiful half of one of the 20th century’s most notorious dictatorships, Imelda Marcos has spent two decades fighting attempts to jail her and trace a reputed fortune of billions. On the 20th anniversary of the revolution that ousted her and Ferdinand Marcos from ...

Musical match for Japan Goliath

| Apr 18, 2006

Musical match for Japan Goliath

Tetsuo Tanaka has been protesting his dismissal from an electronics company for a quarter of a century. Now his struggle, one of the longest one-man campaigns in Japanese history, is to be the subject of a documentary It’s a Friday morning in Takao, west ...

The doomsday doctor

| Mar 21, 2006

The doomsday doctor

Japan is officially shrinking. Last October’s census found 19,000 fewer Japanese than the previous year; the first time, barring the catastrophic year of 1945 that the population has dropped since censuses began in 1920. The peak population figure of 127.75 million may well one ...

Enemy of the state

| Feb 14, 2006

Enemy of the state

Is Toshiyuki Obora a threat to society? The Japanese state certainly seems to think so. The police arrested the 47-year-old elementary school worker and held him in detention for 75 days. “I thought it would never end,” says Obora. After confiscating his computer and ...

Dec 11, 2005

The 'undigested other': Koreans in Japan

Few parents would voluntarily send a son to live in North Korea; Kongsun Yang sent all three of his. In the early 1970s, Yang waved goodbye to his young Osaka-born boys, who later married and started families in Pyongyang. Poor and unhappy, the sons ...