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 ...

| Jan 6, 2013

Additives: Let's hope we are not what we eat

Four-legged chickens In a book published last year titled “Shoku wo Kangaeru” (“Thinking about Food”), plant geneticist Yoichiro Sato describes his surprise when told by an elementary school teacher that many children nowadays draw chickens with four legs. Impossible, he thought. On second thought, ...

| Dec 23, 2012

Abe is a hawk, the public merely conservative

Commenting acidly on November’s U.S. presidential election, American columnist George Will said all it showed was “whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney has the smaller gigantic number of Americans not wanting him to be president.” Substitute the names of Prime Minister-elect Shinzo Abe and ...

Four aspects of Japan's history

| Dec 23, 2012

Four aspects of Japan's history

“Oh, what happy people they must have been!” Thus Yukie Chiri (1903-22), reflecting on the pristine past of her people, the Ainu of southwestern Hokkaido. “Ainu Spirits Singing” (University of Hawaii Press) by Sarah Strong is an elegy to a lost time and an ...