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, ...

Trouble in paradise

| Oct 5, 2004

Trouble in paradise

It is one of the more uneven fights in the history of Japanese protest movements. In the official corner is the Japanese government, which is pushing a Washington-led plan to build a new U.S. helicopter base off the coast of a fishing village in ...

To hell and back again

| Sep 28, 2004

To hell and back again

For a woman who barely cheated death earlier this year and who has since spent months recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Nahoko Takato looks in remarkably fine fettle. Animated and chatty, she radiates the energy of someone who has rediscovered her zest for life. ...

| Jul 13, 2004

The big squeeze

The news from Japan these days is untypically sunny. The economy is performing at its sharpest clip for 13 years, investment and profits are up and analysts are gingerly forecasting a sustained recovery. And like a giant exclamation mark to the optimistic predictions, along ...

McEnglish for the masses

| Feb 24, 2004

McEnglish for the masses

American sociologist George Ritzer coined the term McDonaldization to describe how a method of production that originated in fast food restaurants is sweeping through every aspect of society. Ritzer wondered why a system supposed to make life easier is slowly imprisoning us in an ...

Japan: pink heaven for traffickers

Feb 1, 2004

Japan: pink heaven for traffickers

How many of the 700,000 to 4 million global victims of human trafficking a year (according to a 2002 U.S. State Department survey) end up in Japan? Given the secretive nature of the trade, nobody knows for sure, but the Geneva-based International Organization for ...

| Dec 9, 2003

Burden of proof impossible to bear

It may not have been exactly what the government has in mind by the cliche “international cooperation,” but dozens of ordinary Japanese folk recently gave up a precious Sunday to help out foreigners in trouble. The gaijin are locked up in jails around Japan ...

| Nov 11, 2003

Running the sex trade gantlet

It could be a scene from most neighborhoods in urban Japan but it happened to be mine in Hashimoto, Kanagawa Prefecture. Weary male commuters file through the ticket barriers of the JR Yokohama Line greeted by half a dozen leggy beauties carrying fliers for ...