Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman is a fiction and nonfiction writer who has lived in Hokkaido by the sea almost as long as he can remember. He has been contributing regularly to The Japan Times for 10 years. His latest novel is “The Naked Ear” (VBW/Blackcover Books, 2012).

For Michael Hoffman's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

What shape will populism take in modern Japan?

| Dec 3, 2016

What shape will populism take in modern Japan?

Populism isn’t new. A wave of it generated democracy in ancient Greece, circa 500 B.C. Its modern form, born in America in the early 19th century, was a revolt against the planter aristocracy that had governed since independence in 1776. Andrew Jackson — said ...

Will Trump join forces with Abe or push him toward Putin?

| Nov 19, 2016

Will Trump join forces with Abe or push him toward Putin?

What do intellectuals know? Nothing. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump proved it. Pre-election, the only intelligent forecast seemed to be that his manifold defects would undo him: his boorishness, prejudice, intellectual vacuity, political inexperience, etc., etc. It’s all been replayed so often over the past ...

| Nov 19, 2016

Vileness is a quality more repugnant than evil

There is a kind of moral ugliness that, without being quite evil, may be even more repellant than evil because evil — genuine evil — has, sometimes, a certain romantic appeal. You can admire the villain’s strength, or courage, or dash, or reckless defiance ...

South Sudan and Japan: a tale of love and civil war

| Nov 12, 2016

South Sudan and Japan: a tale of love and civil war

If you can call South Sudan “stable,” you can call anything stable. You can call anything anything. Defense Minister Tomomi Inada’s sunny assessment of this infant African nation in the throes of civil war followed her whirlwind tour last month. What did she see? ...

The unbearable burden of 24/7 work

| Nov 5, 2016

The unbearable burden of 24/7 work

There was no nonsense about the 1990s in Japan. The economy had crashed, the bubble had burst. “The age of human relationships is over,” declared a corporate executive to Aera magazine in 1996, defending the cost-cutting layoffs then gathering speed. “This is the era ...

Who advises Japan's business leaders?

| Oct 1, 2016

Who advises Japan's business leaders?

Take a wild guess: Who’s the second most influential management guru in Japan, after — it almost goes without saying — Peter Drucker? Hint: He’s been dead 2,500 years. He’s Chinese. No, not Confucius. (Twenty years ago it might have been.) Give up? Sun ...

The rise of a toxic machine named fascism

| Sep 17, 2016

The rise of a toxic machine named fascism

Why not fascism? Japan was sinking into chaos. “Officer …” An old woman enters the police station. Would the officers kindly help her find her lost daughter? Foster-daughter, actually. With gruff sympathy, the constables hear her out. They are moved by how far she ...