| Sep 5, 2011

National child allowance threatened by rebuilding cost

Kodomo teate (子供手当て, child allowance) is a benign, beneficent social policy rooted in horror, having first seen the light of day in certain European countries that had been dangerously depopulated by World War I. World War II and its carnage helped spread the idea, ...

Forgotten atrocity of the atomic age

Aug 28, 2011

Forgotten atrocity of the atomic age

Hiroshima was nothing. Nine years later on March 1, 1954, there occurred at Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands an atomic blast equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshimas. THE DAY THE SUN ROSE IN THE WEST: Bikini, The Lucky Dragon, and I, by Matashichi Oishi. University ...

| Aug 21, 2011

Now it's Japan's turn to shout 'Yes, we can!'

Two thousand eight was a dreadful year. Long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were going badly. The U.S. “subprime crisis” was strangling the global economy. Rising food prices were causing concern at best, riots at worst. The worse things got, the more helpless the ...

| Aug 7, 2011

Man convicted of murder may soon be proved innocent

“Can you imagine how it feels for an innocent man to be kept in prison for years?” demanded Govinda Prasad Mainali during a Japan Times interview in November 2003. He’d been in prison six years then. He’s still there. Perhaps not for much longer. ...

| Aug 1, 2011

Japan finally seems to be shifting from nuclear power

Post-nuclear Japan? Probably not any time soon, but Naoto Kan last month became Japan’s first prime minister ever to take a step in that direction. He said: “Genpatsu ni izon shinai shakai wo mezasubeki da” (“原発に依存しない社会を目指すべきだ, We should aim to be a society that ...

Most unlikely bedfellows

Jul 31, 2011

Most unlikely bedfellows

“How wonderful! How marvelous! From here to the southeast is what the Westerners call the Pacific Ocean and the American states! They must be very close!” — Watanabe Kazan, artist and samurai, in a diary recording a sojourn in Enoshima, an island off Kamakura ...

| Jul 17, 2011

It seems Japan has literally gone to the dogs

Japan has found an answer to loneliness, despair, fear, disgust and uncertainty. Hint: It’s alive, stands on four legs and barks. Well, so much the better if the gloom weighing us down can be so easily dispelled. Or is it? Japan’s pet boom is ...

Jul 10, 2011

Salvation through baffling wisdom

PURIFYING ZEN: Watsuji Tetsuro’s Shamon Dogen. Translated by Steve Bein. University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, 174 pp., $24 (paper) Zen is baffling: You find yourself wrestling with thoughts such as “It is easy to grasp body-mind. The world is like rice or flax or ...