'Teflon Abe' gets high marks despite unpopular policies

| Mar 26, 2016

'Teflon Abe' gets high marks despite unpopular policies

Is Japan a democracy? Yes, of course, obviously. Voters vote, demonstrators demonstrate, critics criticize. These are the vital signs, and they’re positive. Just look at the government scrambling to blunt the charge of an anonymous blogger venting rage at being unable to get her ...

| Mar 19, 2016

The Meiji Era and the soul of Japan: part 2

An ambitious young man of the 1880s, flattering a girl he may want to marry (or may not, if a more advantageous alliance materializes), asks her, “What are you reading these days, Osei?” When Osei in reply mentions “Outlines of the World’s History” by ...

Beneath the chaos, an old new order

| Mar 12, 2016

Beneath the chaos, an old new order

We are all going to die. Most of us will die miserably — it’s in the nature of things. Hopefully none of us, infirm in body and mind, will die falling from an upper story of a nursing care home, pushed to our deaths ...

| Feb 20, 2016

The Meiji Era and the soul of Japan: part 1

‘Japan’s first modern novel” was published serially between 1887 and 1889. A magazine article of 1887 helps us get our bearings: “It is now over 20 years since the Restoration; our Meiji society will soon have gone through a whole generation. … The ways ...

One slip can sink a salaryman's career

| Feb 13, 2016

One slip can sink a salaryman's career

‘I’ve always been shy,” says Kazuo. “Face-to-face communication never came easily to me.” At 48, he’s been out of work five years. He lives with his mother, who’s close to 80 — mostly off her pension. A typical day — typical not only of ...

Is society on the cusp of massive change?

| Jan 30, 2016

Is society on the cusp of massive change?

Philosopher Tatsuru Uchida, interviewed earlier this month by the Asahi Shimbun, merely confirms what we all know, or sense, when he says: “This is an age of transition. We’re going through the confusion characteristic of bedrock change.” Transition, confusion — yes indeed. “Global capitalism,” ...

From sexual liberation to liberation from sex

| Jan 16, 2016

From sexual liberation to liberation from sex

Young people are forever shocking their elders, and elders, however shocking they themselves may have been to their own elders once upon a time, never fail to play their generation’s perennial role of shocked onlookers to shocking youthful behavior of one sort or another. ...

| Jan 16, 2016

'It is I who rule' — Japan's 'Manyoshu' morning

What fun civilization is in its infancy! How bright and fresh the world looks at the dawn of consciousness! Listen: “Your basket, with your pretty basket,/ Your trowel, with your little trowel,/ Maiden, picking herbs on this hillside,/ I would ask you: Where is ...

Still dreaming of an end to household drudgery

| Jan 2, 2016

Still dreaming of an end to household drudgery

As amazing as technology’s ability to solve our problems is its inability to solve our problems. (Its tendency to create new problems is a subject best left for another day.) Last month the Asahi Shimbun Globe supplement heralded “the day housework is no more.” ...