Judo scandal casts doubt on Olympic bid

| Feb 17, 2013

Judo scandal casts doubt on Olympic bid

by Philip Brasor

News stories don’t exist in a vacuum. What often makes them “news” is a confluence of factors that provide a context of interest. Though the public thinks the current story about 15 female judo athletes (jūdōka) demanding fundamental changes to the way the national ...

Taro Aso may, for once, have a point

| Feb 9, 2013

Taro Aso may, for once, have a point

by Philip Brasor

Ever since the Liberal Democratic Party regained power last year, standard-bearer Shinzo Abe has been conspicuously cautious with his public pronouncements, cooling it on the nationalist rhetoric and keeping the bravado to a minimum. Deprived of excitement, the media was delighted by Vice Prime ...

Mascots bear cash for local authorities

| Jan 13, 2013

Mascots bear cash for local authorities

by Philip Brasor

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

by Philip Brasor

“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, ...

| Dec 30, 2012

This year's highlights and lowlights

by Philip Brasor

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 ...

| Dec 16, 2012

An aging country learning to adapt

by Philip Brasor

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

by Philip Brasor

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 ...

| Dec 2, 2012

Koreeda's daring TV drama stands alone

by Philip Brasor

Once upon a time television was considered much less prestigious than the movies, and then cable and other forms of pay TV showed up. Producers no longer had to think mainly about sponsors and family sensitivities because they could target programs at specific demographics. ...