New universities are big business, needed or not

| Nov 18, 2012

New universities are big business, needed or not

by Philip Brasor

People who use the Tokyu Toyoko Line, which connects Tokyo and Yokohama, may wonder why there are stations called Toritsu-Daigaku and Gakugei-Daigaku when there are no daigaku (universities) near them. There used to be a Gakugei Daigaku (Tokyo Gakugei University) but it moved to ...

Ishihara resignation a gift for the media

| Nov 4, 2012

Ishihara resignation a gift for the media

by Philip Brasor

When Shintaro Ishihara announced on Oct. 25 that he was resigning as governor of Tokyo so that he could form a new political party before the next general election, some of the dailies printed gōgai (extra editions) to report it, thus indicating it was ...

Hashimoto needs a much thicker skin

| Oct 28, 2012

Hashimoto needs a much thicker skin

by Philip Brasor

There is a breed of political reporter that thrives on misanthropy. These journalists have no use for empathy when trying to understand issues or individuals. They are only stimulated by acrimony, by the need to reveal the darkest impulses of human endeavor. H.L. Mencken, ...

<em>Enka</em> scandal keeps star in the news

| Oct 21, 2012

Enka scandal keeps star in the news

by Philip Brasor

The conflict between Japan and South Korea over Takeshima/Dokdo has spilled over into the entertainment realm. Some Korean actors and K-pop stars have stated publicly that the group of islets belongs to Korea, causing Masayuki Matsumoto, the president of NHK, to express concern. Last ...

Animal Welfare Law left neutered

| Oct 7, 2012

Animal Welfare Law left neutered

by Philip Brasor

The friction between competing political parties no longer fortifies the effectiveness of lawmaking. If anything it confounds the process. The opposition Liberal Democratic Party has openly vowed to be legislatively uncooperative until the ruling Democratic Party of Japan calls an election, so in order ...

Senkaku issue falls hard from the shelf

| Sep 30, 2012

Senkaku issue falls hard from the shelf

by Philip Brasor

Tanaage, which means to put something on the shelf, is a term that pops up often in the coverage of the current imbroglio over the islands that Japan calls the Senkakus. There is disagreement over when China, which calls the islands Diaoyu, started insisting ...

Scrutiny of Tohoku reconstruction funds needed

| Sep 23, 2012

Scrutiny of Tohoku reconstruction funds needed

by Philip Brasor

Last December there was a mild eruption of indignation when it was reported that some of the money earmarked for reconstruction of areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 would go to protect research whaling from interventionists like Sea Shepherd. Greenpeace ...

Japan's depressing increase in psychoactive drug use

| Sep 16, 2012

Japan's depressing increase in psychoactive drug use

by Philip Brasor

In July, the British pharmaceutical behemoth GlaxoSmithKline reached a $3 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the company’s illegal marketing of several drugs in the United States. One of these, the antidepressant Paxil, was pushed by GSK salespersons for treating children, ...