Lifer freed by a single smuggled hair strand

Jul 22, 2009

Lifer freed by a single smuggled hair strand

In the end, Toshikazu Sugaya may owe his freedom to a single strand of hair. As he languished in prison on a life sentence for a murder he did not commit, his lawyer told him there was only one way out: disprove the false ...

Rumpus on campus

| Jun 9, 2009

Rumpus on campus

Illegal arrests, forced expulsions, “kidnappings” by security police and beatings by hired thugs. No, it’s not another dispatch from a violent banana republic. Those accusations come from the leafy back-streets of Ichigaya, Tokyo, home to a branch campus of the prestigious Hosei University. Hosei ...

Mean streets feared under Tokyo's new safety law

| May 5, 2009

Mean streets feared under Tokyo's new safety law

Last month a group of activists called Dystopia Tokyo called a protest against what they described as a “Draconian” new city ordinance by conservative Gov. Shintaro Ishihara. Ishihara was revising an existing public safety law to allow “Orwellian” city-center crackdowns on street demos, public ...

'A battle for Japan's future'

| Apr 14, 2009

'A battle for Japan's future'

Despite being Japan’s most densely populated area, Warabi rarely causes a blip on the national media radar. Set in a rusting corner of Saitama Prefecture, the city has two minor recent claims to fame: a communist mayor and the 13-year-old daughter of illegal Filipino ...

A young life in legal limbo

| Feb 10, 2009

A young life in legal limbo

For years, Arlan and Sarah Calderon fretted over when to tell their daughter, Noriko, that she was different. Dark-haired and olive-skinned, she looked indistinguishable from the children she walked to school with every day in Warabi, an everyman suburb of Saitama Prefecture. But unknown ...

Jan 4, 2009

Japan's 'Mr. Television'

Picture the world’s busiest television presenter, and imagine yourself squinting through the glare of high-wattage celebrity, struggling to breathe in air perfumed with pampered showbiz egos. But fresh from hosting Japan’s most popular afternoon talk-show, Monta Mino arrives in a reception lounge at the ...

Japan's 'Mr. Television'

| Jan 4, 2009

Japan's 'Mr. Television'

Picture the world’s busiest television presenter, and imagine yourself squinting through the glare of high-wattage celebrity, struggling to breathe in air perfumed with pampered showbiz egos. But fresh from hosting Japan’s most popular afternoon talk-show, Monta Mino arrives in a reception lounge at the ...

Singing the bluefin tuna blues

Dec 19, 2008

Singing the bluefin tuna blues

IKI, Nagasaki Pref. — On a gloomy day pregnant with rain and the weight of past expectations, Minoru Nakamura is welcomed back to port like a conquering hero. Three family generations, including Nakamura’s father, Toshiaki, and newborn child, Misaki, wait ashore, smiles wide as ...

'Tokyo Two' fight to clear names

| Dec 9, 2008

'Tokyo Two' fight to clear names

Six months ago Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were ordinary men looking after young families. But in June they were arrested by a large group of uniformed police, taken to a detention center in Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, and held for 26 days. They ...