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 ...

Ashes to diamonds and the cost of death

| Sep 26, 2015

Ashes to diamonds and the cost of death

‘Where do we go when we die?” Every child, or the child in all of us, asks that at some point, with parents and philosophers saying this or that in reply: “We go to heaven,” “We merge with the Absolute,” and so on — ...

| Sep 19, 2015

Government's affinity to the universe, religion

Supposing we think of the universe this way: there is Heaven and there is Earth; nothing else — no other worlds, no gods. “Heaven” is roughly analogous to what we moderns call “Nature.” Heaven’s laws, however, unlike Nature’s, are moral, not physical. Two substances ...

Will the bullies inherit Japan's top jobs?

| Sep 12, 2015

Will the bullies inherit Japan's top jobs?

Why aren’t people nice, good and kind? It sounds like a stupid question, and probably is. Still, you’d think that, having outgrown the feral competition of our “nasty, brutish and short” phase, we’d have evolved in a kinder, gentler direction — as we have, ...

Only a teenager, yet an expert on war

| Aug 29, 2015

Only a teenager, yet an expert on war

‘The last war was the worst.” She’s 15 and has already been through four wars: 2006, 2008-09, 2012, 2014. She’s qualified to make comparisons — this war worse than that one, the latest one worst of all. She’s a Palestinian growing up in the ...

Add looming poverty to list of seniors' woes

| Aug 15, 2015

Add looming poverty to list of seniors' woes

What a sad country this is. Granted, Spa! magazine paints in primary colors. Maybe it’s missing a nuance or two? Maybe things aren’t really so bad? Maybe. Hopefully. On the other hand, some of the statistics presented are hard to argue with — Japan’s ...

| Aug 15, 2015

The fraught debate over science and divinity

Truth is a sordid business. It brings nations down to earth, cuts people down to size. Why honor it, therefore? Why esteem it above myth, which does the opposite, raising nations to the gods and turning ordinary, unremarkable people into subjects of divine rulers? ...

A political turning point for Japan's youth

| Aug 1, 2015

A political turning point for Japan's youth

July 15, 2015, will go down in Japanese history. As what, though? The day democracy’s decline became irreversible? Or the day democracy’s decline was reversed? The Wall Street Journal covered the core event of the drama in these terms: “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made ...