Olympics provide golden opportunity for change

| Apr 11, 2015

Olympics provide golden opportunity for change

While there are many reasons why a city would want to host the Olympic Games, most have to do with money and prestige: The Olympics bring international attention to the host city for two weeks. Consequently, the city has to look its best, but ...

Koga's parting shot may not hit its target

| Apr 4, 2015

Koga's parting shot may not hit its target

In February, Reporters Without Borders published its annual list of countries ranked in terms of press freedom. Japan came in at No. 61, down two places from the previous year and lower than Taiwan (51) and South Korea (60). The reason for the decline ...

Japan's public housing system has a shelf life

| Apr 4, 2015

Japan's public housing system has a shelf life

One of the most desirable properties in Tokyo is Chateau Mita, located in Minato Ward within walking distance of several embassies and Tokyo Tower and less than 10 minutes from four subway stations. The apartment building was constructed in 1964 and by 2000 there ...

Political obstacles stymie energy autonomy

| Mar 28, 2015

Political obstacles stymie energy autonomy

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Japan earlier this month, local coverage focused on a joint German-Japanese statement about the Ukraine crisis and her comment that Japan should forthrightly address its actions during World War II. She said nothing about how Japan and ...

Failing to rebuild communities in Tohoku

| Mar 14, 2015

Failing to rebuild communities in Tohoku

The NHK travel program “Tsurube no Kazoku ni Kampai” (“Tsurube Toasts Families”) recently aired a two-parter about the town of Watari in Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated in the March 11, 2011, tsunami. In the series, rakugo storyteller Shofukutei Tsurube and a celebrity guest ...

Okinawa's story told differently in Tokyo

| Mar 7, 2015

Okinawa's story told differently in Tokyo

Last week, at the end of a report on the TBS newsmagazine show “Hodo Tokushu” about protests against the proposed U.S. Marine Corps base at Henoko in Okinawa, the show’s host mentioned that in response to charges from local press that it had violently ...

Cheap rural homes come at a price

| Mar 6, 2015

Cheap rural homes come at a price

Though the hollowing-out of population in regional areas in Japan has become a major issue for the central government, it’s been a problem for regional governments for more than three decades. Twenty years ago there was a popular promotional method called “I-turn,” devised as ...

Shibuya's same-sex move kicks off debate

| Feb 28, 2015

Shibuya's same-sex move kicks off debate

On Feb. 13, Asahi Shimbun’s daily Vox Populi, Vox Dei column mentioned Morizo and Kiccoro, the official mascots of the 2005 World Expo held in Aichi Prefecture. These two “woodland fairies” supposedly hailed from Seto, which issued them the same resident cards (jūminhyō) held ...