| Mar 18, 2012

Quake insurance is but a token offering

by Philip Brasor

As the government continues to push for an increase in the consumption tax, a question related to last year’s disaster is still being debated: How much of the burden for rebuilding should be shouldered by taxpayers? We live in a resolutely capitalist country that ...

| Mar 11, 2012

Public wary of official optimism

by Philip Brasor

Ambition can sometimes be measured by the amount of deference paid to the established order, so the recently published book “Genpatsu Kiki to Todai Waho,” which irreverently analyzes the “parlance of the University of Tokyo” as it was utilized during the early days of ...

| Mar 4, 2012

Japan's lonely people: Where do they all belong?

by Philip Brasor

In recent weeks, three cases of kodokushi, or “lonely deaths,” have been covered extensively in the news. One involved a Saitama Prefecture family of three whose bodies were found in their apartment several months after the electricity and gas were turned off for nonpayment. ...

Job-seeking comedy avoids real issues

| Feb 26, 2012

Job-seeking comedy avoids real issues

by Philip Brasor

In 2004, novelist Ryu Murakami published “13-sai no Hello Work,” a job guide for 13-year-olds, though most of the copies were bought by adults. The book did not offer practical advice, but rather job descriptions in all lines of work, from engineer to prostitute, ...

| Feb 19, 2012

Feeding tube politics an awkward subject

by Philip Brasor

On Feb. 6, Nobuteru Ishihara, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, recounted on a BS Asahi talk show a visit he recently made to a medical facility where patients were hooked up to gastric feeding tubes, or irō. He said it reminded him ...

| Jan 29, 2012

Disaster adds tension to year-in-the-life TV

by Philip Brasor

Fuji TV’s Sunday afternoon documentary series “The Non-Fiction” usually covers individuals over long periods of time. “The Old Man and Radiation,” aired in two parts on Jan. 15 and 22, was about Toshihiko Kawamoto, an 80-year-old former carpenter who moved from Tokyo to the ...

Can showbiz really sever yakuza ties?

| Jan 22, 2012

Can showbiz really sever yakuza ties?

by Philip Brasor

Last August, comedian and TV emcee Shinsuke Shimada retired from show business following allegations that he’d been palling around with an underworld figure. His withdrawal came on the eve of the implementation of a well-publicized police crackdown on organizations that work with antisocial elements, ...