| Sep 6, 2005

The empire strikes back

Venerated by militarists and marinated in over a century of militarism and war, Yasukuni Shrine may well be Japan’s least friendly venue for a demonstration by pacifists. Still, every Aug. 15, a motley crew of Christians, radicals and antiwar campaigners come here to stage ...

Press freedom

| Aug 23, 2005

Press freedom

Earlier this year, journalists from the Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shimpo were stunned to learn that they would not be allowed to cover the return of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit from Iraq. The decision to snub the papers’ representatives helped expose a ...

A fight to the death

| Jul 12, 2005

A fight to the death

Her bony, 80-year-old body floating around inside a nylon shirt and cigarette permanently clamped between what appear to be her two remaining front teeth, Kan Kyon Nam is an unlikely illegal squatter. But frail or not, if the bulldozers come she wants it known ...

Man bites dogs like never before

Jun 19, 2005

Man bites dogs like never before

Meeting Takeru Kobayashi is like coming face-to-face with someone who has slept with Julia Roberts or had a near-death experience: You long to ask what it felt like. How does it feel to cram 4 kg of food into your stomach in less time ...

Drop-dead gorgeous

Apr 10, 2005

Drop-dead gorgeous

Eiko Koike is a leggy, lushly upholstered Japanese celebrity, famous for her doe eyes and D-cup breasts. Normally paid millions of yen a day to squeeze her pneumatic form into designer clothes, sports cars or anything else that needs the kind of sales boost ...

Exhausted Kurds desperate to leave

| Mar 29, 2005

Exhausted Kurds desperate to leave

Two large portraits adorn the walls of the otherwise colorless apartment in a Tokyo charity home that Meryem Dogan shares with her two young children. One shows her smiling husband Erdal and the other is a photo of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the ...

'I want to make Japan a better place to live'

| Feb 1, 2005

'I want to make Japan a better place to live'

Chong Hyang Gyun has just written herself into the history books, but not for the reason she wanted. The 54-year-old public health nurse spent a decade fighting the Tokyo Government for the right to take a promotion exam, from which she was barred because ...

Japan's enemy within

| Jan 25, 2005

Japan's enemy within

Riding home from school on the crowded Tokyo underground recently one day, 12-year-old Kim says she felt something hit the back of her head. When she checked what it was, her hand came away covered in saliva spat by a middle-aged male passenger. As ...

WATCHING THE DETECTIVES

Nov 28, 2004

WATCHING THE DETECTIVES

On a rainy Saturday night in the neon-drenched streets of Shinjuku, Kenji Shimura looks like 1,000 other salarymen: off-the-rack black suit, sensible shoes and a face made for anonymous middle-management in an insurance firm. But few salarymen get paid to spend much of their ...

| Nov 21, 2004

Lolitas' bard is sitting pretty

The morgue-like, air-conditioned lobby of Tokyo’s Keio Plaza Hotel is the haunt of businessmen in crisp black suits who sip $10 coffees and nod along to conversations that never rise above a murmur. But the studied cool is broken when Novala Takemoto swishes in, ...