Criminal notoriety for the sake of fame

| Aug 23, 2014

Criminal notoriety for the sake of fame

by Philip Brasor

Hirofumi Watanabe, the man convicted Thursday of threatening publishers, stores, universities and basically anyone or anything that had something to do with the popular manga “Kuroko no Basuke (Kuroko’s Basketball),” has enjoyed a peculiar sort of celebrity since he was arrested in December. Prior ...

Home is where the hard work is

| Aug 16, 2014

Home is where the hard work is

by Philip Brasor

Earlier this year, house builder Asahi Kasei Homes produced a video “white paper” based on a survey of 1,371 “double-income families” with children. Seventy percent of the husbands surveyed said they had been subjected to kaji-hara, or “housework harassment,” by their wives. AKH defined ...

Critics get frank when it comes to Godzilla

| Aug 9, 2014

Critics get frank when it comes to Godzilla

by Philip Brasor

Because Japanese media are incestuous in their inter-corporate dealings, those writers referred to as hyōronka (critics) tend to be less critical about popular culture than their counterparts in North America and Europe. They are more likely to engage in punditry or public relations, because ...

Is the next stop 'brokesville' for the maglev?

| Aug 2, 2014

Is the next stop 'brokesville' for the maglev?

by Philip Brasor

Robert Moses, the civil servant who built the great park-expressway-bridge network in New York state during the middle of the last century, succeeded by gaming the system. Understanding how politics would make it difficult for him to fulfill his vision, he often started a ...

Art vs. morals debate plays out in the press

| Jul 26, 2014

Art vs. morals debate plays out in the press

by Philip Brasor

In her semiautobiographical feature film “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?,” Anna Margarita Albelo plays a struggling film director who makes ends meet by screening her movies in art galleries where she shows up dressed as a vagina. Though the story is mainly about relationships, ...

Health care system needs a new diagnosis

| Jul 12, 2014

Health care system needs a new diagnosis

by Philip Brasor

In March 2007, the city of Yubari in Hokkaido became the first Japanese municipality to declare bankruptcy, letting loose a flood of media coverage characterized by expressions of sympathy for residents. Yubari’s debt had reached ¥63 billion, the result, according to national press reports, ...

Fiery Shinjuku protest goes global without NHK

| Jul 5, 2014

Fiery Shinjuku protest goes global without NHK

by Philip Brasor

Until the Great East Japan Earthquake, social media didn’t have much purchase on Japanese social life. But disasters are transformative, and in a country where the mass media is cautious about its role vis-a-vis the authorities, social media came into its own after the ...

Any publicity is good news for beer firms

| Jun 21, 2014

Any publicity is good news for beer firms

by Philip Brasor

At a Tokyo news conference on June 4, Sapporo Beer President Masaki Oga announced his company would halt sales of its Goku Zero alcoholic beverage after current inventory was shipped. The parent company, Sapporo Holdings, had been contacted by the National Tax Agency in ...

The thrill of the job won't pay the rent

| Jun 14, 2014

The thrill of the job won't pay the rent

by Philip Brasor

“If your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right.” — Talking Heads Last January, NHK’s nightly in-depth news series, “Closeup Gendai,” ran a feature about the practice of “poeticizing” (poemu-ka) the harsher aspects of life. It’s not a trend that’s easy to ...

Media minds manners in royal reportage

| Jun 7, 2014

Media minds manners in royal reportage

by Philip Brasor

As much as we all love them, the Imperial family doesn’t make for exciting reading. Last week, the European press was beside itself with news of the abdication of Spain’s King Juan Carlos, who has been hit by several public support-sapping scandals in recent ...