Aso's kanji conundrums spur self-reflection, textbook sales

Mar 7, 2009

Aso's kanji conundrums spur self-reflection, textbook sales

Reading Japanese isn’t easy — even for Japanese. Take Prime Minister Taro Aso. He’s made so many public blunders that an opposition lawmaker tried to give him a reading test during a televised session of the Diet. The leader bungled the word for “frequent,” ...

Company housing custom swells homeless ranks

Feb 18, 2009

Company housing custom swells homeless ranks

In corporate Japan, losing your job can mean losing your home as well. As major companies cut their workforces in the economic downturn, many workers are finding themselves out on the street because they have to move out of company-run dormitories. Sadanori Suzuki was ...

Discrimination claims die hard in Japan

Jan 25, 2009

Discrimination claims die hard in Japan

As the United States welcomes its first African-American president, Japan is still struggling with prejudices that are preventing it from breaking ancient taboos and installing a minority as its leader, some say. Nearly a decade ago, seasoned politician Hiromu Nonaka was on the verge ...

Japan scores first commercial satellite order

Jan 14, 2009

Japan scores first commercial satellite order

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has won its first commercial order to launch a satellite on an H-IIA rocket, a deal that officials hope will grow into a business that could support Japan’s cash-strapped space program. The agreement with a South Korean entity to launch sometime ...

Crown Princess panned for living high life

Feb 7, 2008

Crown Princess panned for living high life

First, Crown Princess Masako feasted on classy Mexican fare from a 13-dish special menu in her honor. Then it was roast duck and shark’s fin soup at a top Chinese eatery. A month later, she enjoyed a sumptuous repast at a French restaurant where ...

High mercury level warnings fail to put Japanese off tuna

Jan 31, 2008

High mercury level warnings fail to put Japanese off tuna

Kazuhiro Ukiuchi loves his tuna sushi, and he tries to have it once a week — despite the common knowledge in Japan the popular fish can contain toxic mercury. “I wouldn’t worry about it,” Ukiuchi said, strolling through Tokyo’s main fish market on Friday. ...

Sep 6, 2007

Anger brews over dubious social security system

confers with Social Insurance Agency consultant Kiyoshi Kawaguchi at an agency branch office last month. AP PHOTO He’s glad he did: The 74-year-old discovered the government had shortchanged him by ¥460,000 in benefits he accrued while driving a truck for three years in the ...

Jul 18, 2007

Comics defying taboos, ditching slapstick for political satire

listens to ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Yasuhide Nakayama during a taping of Ota’s weekly “news” show at NTV in Tokyo in May. AP PHOTO “It’s easy to spot them nodding off during Diet sessions,” he tells the studio audience while a large screen ...

Despite economic recovery, suicide rate remains high

Jun 1, 2007

Despite economic recovery, suicide rate remains high

The hanging death of the farm minister this week grimly underscored the country’s stubbornly high suicide rate — and the government’s struggle to discourage large numbers of Japanese from killing themselves. Toshikatsu Matsuoka, 62, hanged himself Monday just before he was to face questioning ...

Feb 18, 2007

Author of book on Masako slams Kodansha for backing out

The author of a book on Crown Princess Masako criticized a Japanese publishing house Saturday for its decision to cancel a translation of his biography following protests by the government, calling the step a “blatant attack on freedom of speech.” Kodansha Ltd. said late ...