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 ...

The ends of the world

Dec 9, 2012

The ends of the world

We are doomed. Are we doomed? December 21, 2012 is 12 days away. The world will end on that day, says the ancient Mayan calendar. Or does it say that? Whether it does or not (most experts now agree it does not) other dangers ...

Dec 9, 2012

Apocalypse made in Japan

A world-ending cataclysm is common to many mythologies. The Biblical flood narrative is the best known and follows a fairly typical pattern: wrathful deity, mass destruction, surviving remnant — in this case the righteous man Noah and his family. We gather from these tales ...

A third force enters the election race

Dec 3, 2012

A third force enters the election race

On Nov. 16 Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda shūin wo kaisan shita (衆院を解散した, dissolved the Diet’s Lower House). In August he had promised to do it “chikai uchi ni” (「近いうちに」”soon”). The term is elastic and the governing Minshuto (民主党, Democratic Party of Japan, DPJ) stretched ...