| May 19, 2013

Trimming the fat from Japan's problems

Why do people disagree? It seems a stupid question. Maybe it is. Or maybe not. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that we are all rational beings. We possess average intelligence, adequate and more or less similar education, and copious exposure to ...

| May 5, 2013

The first kiss of death for a single society

Let us pause for a moment to consider … the kiss. So simple a gesture; so overpowering, sometimes, the effect. Who doesn’t remember his or her first kiss — and remember it with pleasure? First sex can be a painful memory; a first kiss ...

| Apr 28, 2013

Disaster long lurked amid Japan's isolation

“The evolution of political thought in this relatively isolated island nation during the period in question is unique to the point of being somewhat freakish.” This gives a reader pause. Freakish? The judgment is historian Hiroshi Watanabe’s in “A History of Japanese Political Thought, ...

| Apr 21, 2013

Fearing the worst if Japan joins the TPP

Here is Shukan Josei magazine’s nightmare scenario of a typical Japanese salaryman’s TPP future, if in fact Japan joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement currently being negotiated among 12 countries. After a genetically-engineered, chemical-drenched breakfast, he hops into his American-made car, drives to his ...

| Apr 7, 2013

Men cry discrimination as women's status rises

Japan, it seems, is forever discriminating against someone. Women, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, lifestyle minorities, the disabled, part-time workers — all have made claims against a state and a national psychology that define acceptability very narrowly relative to most other developed societies. Who in ...

| Mar 31, 2013

Life is too short for an undesirable satori

The wise have always inveighed against materialism. But most people are not wise, and it remains a material world. The economy dominates the news, an indication of where our strongest interest lies. Our spirits rise or fall with the stock market, the unemployment rate, ...

| Mar 17, 2013

Japan needs to humor its old teacher: China

Is it true, as the American philosopher George Santayana famously remarked just over a century ago, that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”? If it is, is the reverse necessarily false? Imagine he had said — his eye, for ...