| Jan 8, 2008

Bottle of water delivers wrong message

NEW YORK — “You really have to wonder at the utter stupidity and the irresponsibility sometimes of American consumers,” Salt Lake City Mayor Ross “Rocky” Anderson said. “These false needs are provided, and too often we just fall in line with what Madison Avenue ...

| Oct 29, 2007

Fatal deliverance from an 'iron storm'

NEW YORK — I was thinking once again about the intractability of Japan’s part in the Pacific phase of World War II when the news came: Okinawans had staged a huge rally to protest the Japanese government’s downplaying in textbooks the military’s role in ...

| Sep 24, 2007

The Self-Defense Forces: living with a lie

NEW YORK — Many commentators have invoked historical analogies for U.S. President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and its still unfolding aftermath, with some saying, correctly, that no exact historical analogies are possible for anything, the least of all this damnable war. Still, ...

| Aug 20, 2007

Why can't Americans give up their guns?

NEW YORK — Is there anything comparable to the numbing obstinacy, the utter blindness to reality, that politicians display toward the consequences of untrammeled gun ownership in this country? So I wondered, once again, when I stumbled upon President George W. Bush’s answer to ...

| Jul 30, 2007

How a woman portrayed Hitler as human

NEW YORK — What kind of courage, or audacity even, is required to stage, in Washington, a play featuring Adolf Hitler — one provocatively titled “My Friend Hitler” and written no less than by Yukio Mishima? After all, not just Hitler, but anything associated ...

| May 28, 2007

Rooting out the purplish, yellow perils

NEW YORK — A certain plant of the pea family has been appreciated in Japan — poetically, dietarily and medicinally — since ancient times. So, in the oldest extant anthology of Japanese poetry, the “Man’yoshu,” it is used as an epithet for “without interruption,” ...

Apr 8, 2007

Broadening the literary view of choosing a purposeful death

SUICIDAL HONOR: General Nogi and the Writings of Mori Ogai and Natsume Soseki, by Doris. G. Bargen. University of Hawaii Press, 2006, 289 pp., $42 (cloth) The name of Maresuke Nogi (1849-1912) reverberated through the world twice: when he subdued the Russian fortress at ...