| 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 ...

| Mar 3, 2013

Solution to bullying lies in 'resetting' culprits

“The biggest problem in Japanese education is the idea that you can eliminate bullying by reforming the system.” That provocative statement opens an article in Shukan Gendai by the eminent Catholic novelist and conservative thinker Ayako Sono. It is provocative because the prevailing view ...

| Feb 17, 2013

Hiding from strangers in the global village

In his 1993 novel “Hanauzumi,” Junichi Watanabe pictures a prosperous farming village in Saitama. The year is 1868. The Meiji Restoration has just occurred. The shogun has been overthrown. The teenage Emperor Meiji has been conveyed from the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto and ...

The evolution of Japan's turn away from Confucian ideas

Feb 10, 2013

The evolution of Japan's turn away from Confucian ideas

"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,” writes political thought scholar Hiroshi Watanabe of the University of Tokyo.

| Feb 3, 2013

Constitutional revision may bring less freedom

Article 18 of Japan’s Constitution states, “No person shall be held in bondage of any kind. Involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime, is prohibited.” And Article 97 declares, “The fundamental human rights by this Constitution guaranteed to the people of Japan are fruits ...

Nothing much compels reader to sympathize with characters

Jan 26, 2013

Nothing much compels reader to sympathize with characters

RIVER OF FIRE and Other Stories, by O Chonghui. Translated by Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton. Columbia University Press, 2012, 224 pp., $27.50 (hardcover) I can’t remember a book of fiction that felt as much like a force-feeding as this one has. It seems only ...

No loss for words when expressing scale of DPJ's defeat

| Jan 7, 2013

No loss for words when expressing scale of DPJ's defeat

December’s election aftermath offered a good chance to learn synonyms for “crushing defeat” and “overwhelming victory.” Taihai (大敗, great defeat), kanpai (完敗, total defeat) — not to be confused with kanpai! (乾杯, cheers!) — kaimetsutekina haiboku (壊滅的な敗北, annihilating defeat), zanpai (惨敗, crushing defeat), rekishitekina ...