National Topics

Creative crooks stay one step ahead

| Nov 15, 2014

Creative crooks stay one step ahead

by Mark Schreiber

The “Ore, ore” (“It’s me”) fraudsters and their ilk, who telephone elderly people and pretend to be a relative in need of money to help them out of a jam, keep coming up with new scams. One might say Japan is a target-rich environment. ...

Determining good and evil, with the kids

| Nov 8, 2014

Determining good and evil, with the kids

by Michael Hoffman

What is “moral education”? Assuming we more or less know what education is, try defining “moral.” The education ministry’s website takes a stab at it: “A heart-and-mind (kokoro) that values life, a heart-and-mind that is considerate toward others…” That’s unimpeachable as far as it ...

Nov 4, 2014

Murakami chides Japan for ignoring role in WWII, Fukushima disaster

Writer Haruki Murakami has chided his country for shirking responsibility for its World War II aggression as well as the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In an interview published Monday in the Mainichi Shimbun, the 65-year-old author said: “No one has taken real responsibility for the ...

Media whips up fuss over S&M bar claim

| Nov 1, 2014

Media whips up fuss over S&M bar claim

by Mark Schreiber

First came what the tabloids referred to as “W-jinin,” the resignations of two female Cabinet members — Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi and Justice Minister Midori Matsushima — on the same day. The “W” in this case conveys two nuances: the first ...

Debating the merits of lifetime employment

| Nov 1, 2014

Debating the merits of lifetime employment

by Philip Brasor

Some years ago I worked for a language-teaching service that offered in-house classes for companies. One client was a major electronics manufacturer, and many of the students were trained engineers assigned to the sales division. This human resources tactic always struck me as counter-productive, ...

The romantic notion of rural relocation

| Oct 25, 2014

The romantic notion of rural relocation

by Michael Hoffman

Yu Iwamoto began adult life working in the slums, refugee camps and precarious schools of Afghanistan. Had he even heard, back then, of the Oki Islands off the coast of Shimane Prefecture? He may have. The little archipelago is remote but famous. Political rebels ...

Nico Nico moves into Ikebukuro

Oct 24, 2014

Nico Nico moves into Ikebukuro

by Patrick ST. Michel

Since launching in 2006, online video-sharing service Nico Nico (originally Nico Nico Douga) has become one of Japan’s central hubs for aspiring artists and entertainers to share their talents with users across the country. They’ve fostered a millions-strong community capable of influencing mainstream Japanese ...