| Sep 9, 2012

Joy among the clouds and shadows

Yoko Sakata was an ordinary “office lady,” not earning much and not aspiring to much, when she began suspecting her boyfriend of having an affair. She hired a private detective, who confirmed her fears and then paid her a compliment: “You have good intuition.” ...

Imagine a better Olympics for Japan

| Sep 3, 2012

Imagine a better Olympics for Japan

“Sekai wa itsuka hitotsu ni naru” (「世界はいつかひとつになる」) — that’s what “And the world will be as one,” from John Lennon’s “Imagine,” sounds like in Japanese, at least according to the Asahi Shimbun. The matter arises in connection with the dai sanjukkai orinpikku kyogitaikai (第三十回オリンピック競技大会, ...

Japanese-Americans: life after the war and internment

Aug 19, 2012

Japanese-Americans: life after the war and internment

AFTER CAMP: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics, by Greg Robinson. University of California Press, 2012, 328 pp., $27.95 (paperback) “A Jap is a Jap.” Franklin Roosevelt didn’t say that — West Coast Defense commander General John Dewitt did. But Roosevelt acted ...

Seeking eternal youth in an aging society

| Aug 12, 2012

Seeking eternal youth in an aging society

Here’s an idea: we all retire at 40. Not “retire” exactly, in the current sense of the word. Let’s say at 40, we withdraw temporarily from the salaried grind and — fantastic thought! — go back to school, upgrade or deepen our knowledge and ...

The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan's masses

Jul 29, 2012

The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan's masses

“Democracy is so popular these days!” — “The Democracy Song,” 1919 One hundred years ago this week — on July 30, 1912 — Emperor Meiji passed away and Japan, traveling blind and hardly knowing where it was going, entered a new age. The Taisho ...

| Jul 29, 2012

Who can we vote for to avoid the worst-case scenario?

“Japan’s Worst-Case Scenarios” — that’s the title of the lead feature in the July issue of the monthly Takarajima. No one writing on such a theme need fear a shortage of material. The magazine easily fills 40 pages analyzing catastrophes and catastrophes-in-waiting: Tokyo leveled ...

'Taisho Democracy' pays the ultimate price

Jul 29, 2012

'Taisho Democracy' pays the ultimate price

Party politics seems as natural to many of us today as government itself, but imagine how it looked to the uninitiated 150 years ago. “A perplexing institution was representative government,” wrote Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901), Japan’s great popularizer of Western civilization. In England in 1862 ...