Mascots bear cash for local authorities

| Jan 13, 2013

Mascots bear cash for local authorities

In September 2007, after Shinzo Abe had abruptly quit his first stint as prime minister, sales of Shin-chan Manju, a bean-paste-filled bun named after Abe, spiked. The maker of the buns had tried to promote the product over the course of Abe’s year as ...

Japan's farming could be going to seed

| Jan 6, 2013

Japan's farming could be going to seed

“Tis the season for predictions, and last week Hiromasa Yonekura, the chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), told Asahi Shimbun he believed Japan will decide in 2013 to take part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. Yonekura is also chairman of Sumitomo Chemical, ...

Checking out the <em>real</em> estate agents

| Jan 1, 2013

Checking out the real estate agents

Several months ago we looked at a house that had been bought at auction by a housing company, fixed up and then put on the market. We found it among the listings on the home page of a realtor we’ve dealt with in the ...

| Dec 30, 2012

This year's highlights and lowlights

Media figures of the year: The “Right Brothers” Conservatives supposedly made a comeback in 2012, but if you believe Japan’s social outlook is basically conservative to begin with, you have to wonder what they were coming back from. The country’s fiscal policy is anything ...

Endure New Year's on TV with the rest of Japan

Dec 28, 2012

Endure New Year's on TV with the rest of Japan

Last year, NHK’s annual New Year’s Eve song contest, “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (7:15-11:45 p.m.), enjoyed its first ratings boost in more than a decade. As the most hallowed tradition in Japanese broadcasting, the program offered some needed end-of-year holiday solace for a nation still ...

| Dec 16, 2012

An aging country learning to adapt

Occasionally in this space I refer to a financial writer called “Gucci-san” who contributes a weekly column to Aera. Apparently, he works for an investment consulting firm that does a lot of work in mergers and acquisitions. In a recent piece he said that ...

Liberals left behind in turn to the right

| Dec 9, 2012

Liberals left behind in turn to the right

The Latin morpheme liber (free) has a lot to answer for. Take the word “liberal,” which represented a fairly clear political position until American “conservatives” demonized it. But liberals are not “libertarians.” The former are seen to favor government schemes that guarantee the welfare ...