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 ...

Cowed news media has forgotten its role

| Feb 21, 2015

Cowed news media has forgotten its role

In his Tokyo Shimbun column about weekly magazines, Hiroyuki Shinoda recently lauded Shukan Asahi for accusing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of exploiting the murder of journalist Kenji Goto by the Islamic State group for political purposes. Shinoda points out that the magazine had been ...

A changing Japan needs to rethink how to safeguard children

| Feb 7, 2015

A changing Japan needs to rethink how to safeguard children

On Christmas Day last year, a 17-year-old boy was sent to prison by the Saitama District Court for the murder of his maternal grandparents. Prosecutors demanded an indefinite sentence, but the court gave him 15 years after taking the boy’s “environment” into consideration. The ...

Renting comes with guarantors, not guarantees

| Feb 6, 2015

Renting comes with guarantors, not guarantees

According to the most recent census, as of 2010 the population of Japan stood at a little less than 128 million, and if demographic trends continue at the current rate it will be 107 million in 2030 and 97 million in 2050. Despite this ...

Goverment's pension manga displays some pretty old values

| Jan 31, 2015

Goverment's pension manga displays some pretty old values

On Jan. 12, people who will turn 20 this year attended ceremonies marking Coming-of-Age Day at auditoriums run by local governments. Some wore outrageous getups as final statements of youthful folly before “entering society” and some exercised their entitlement by getting drunk and acting ...

Mika Mifune gets ready for some serious 'me' time

| Jan 24, 2015

Mika Mifune gets ready for some serious 'me' time

Historian Daniel J. Boorstin once defined a celebrity as someone who is “known for his well-knownness” — a person famous for being famous. Though many celebrities have talent and other attributes that draw attention, it is easier to gain notoriety passively by being related ...

Snark levels were on full blast for 'Kohaku'

| Jan 17, 2015

Snark levels were on full blast for 'Kohaku'

The 2014 edition of NHK’s venerated song contest, “Kohaku Uta Gassen,” broadcast on Dec. 31, was remarkable for several reasons, though the performance that generated the most remarks was the one by the equally venerated pop-rock group Southern All Stars, their first on the ...

| Jan 10, 2015

Dull and authentic beats out polished TV

Another New Year’s break, another two-week onslaught of inconsequential television programs based on the variety show model of comedians talking about themselves, watching videos of other people doing supposedly interesting things and playing games whose main entertainment function is humiliation. The resilience of this ...