Can democracy survive the rise of the right?

| Dec 26, 2015

Can democracy survive the rise of the right?

“What,” demanded a protesting student at the height of the summer of protests just past, “is to become of democracy?” No question better sums up a year ending, as it began, with terrorist massacres. Can democracy survive unbridled terror? It faces other challenges as ...

| Dec 19, 2015

Japan's 'Christian century' failed to blossom

Christmas approaches. Christian or not, the mind turns to Christian themes. What are the Christian themes? Love. Forgiveness. Meekness. Turn the other cheek. The kingdom of heaven. Once upon a time Japan almost turned Christian. In 1549, a Basque missionary named Francis Xavier became ...

Hunter and hunted: Where are they now?

| Dec 5, 2015

Hunter and hunted: Where are they now?

The mutilations are frightful — dog, cat, rabbit and pigeon corpses missing heads, tails, limbs, ears. Weekly Playboy magazine reports nearly 40 sightings in the past four months in the Kanto region alone. Who’s out there doing these things? With what thoughts in mind? ...

Japan's children face a dementia boom

| Nov 28, 2015

Japan's children face a dementia boom

Confucius said it’s not enough merely to provide for our parents. We must revere them. To fail in filial reverence, he said, is to be no better than the animals. What did Confucius know? He lived 2,500 years ago, when life expectancy at birth ...

More couples saying, 'I do ... but not yet'

| Nov 14, 2015

More couples saying, 'I do ... but not yet'

“Just the other day I had a date with a woman. We were planning on seeing a movie but it was such a beautiful day that I said, ‘We can see a movie anytime, let’s watch the sunset instead.’ She was furious: ‘Why didn’t ...

| Nov 14, 2015

Surviving a sudden transition to democracy

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to humankind? History is long and frequently awful, but a war that consumed 60 million people and added “Hiroshima,” “Nagasaki” and “Auschwitz” to the world’s vocabulary surely stands apart. And suddenly it was over. Suddenly ...

Without doubt, company executives will just go with the flow

| Nov 7, 2015

Without doubt, company executives will just go with the flow

Asahi Kasei. Toyo Tire & Rubber. Toshiba. What’s the connection? Executives lined up before the cameras, bowing their heads in shame. Shame for what — their wrongdoing, or their exposure? That’s their business. A sordid picture either way — substandard construction, falsified data, bogus ...

Media vultures circle over battered SEALDs

| Oct 24, 2015

Media vultures circle over battered SEALDs

That’s it? It’s over? “Scattered like leaves in the autumn wind,” sighs Shukan Shincho magazine, speaking of the massive nationwide demonstrations that, through the summer, heralded (to some) a new political awakening of the Japanese masses (or something). The protesters’ immediate target was new ...

It's a small world, with no respect for islands

| Oct 10, 2015

It's a small world, with no respect for islands

To what extent are your problems my problems? To what extent are Syria’s troubles Japan’s? To no extent at all, judging by the paltry number of refugees Japan admits. Europe, of course, is engulfed. But that’s Europe’s problem. Is it still possible to think ...