National Topics

Fast-food follies have media in a frenzy

| Aug 2, 2014

Fast-food follies have media in a frenzy

by Mark Schreiber

Almost exactly a year ago (on July 27, 2013), this column reported on how the print media was inundated with concerns over the safety of foods from abroad. Among the sources cited was Takarajima magazine, which quoted a foodstuffs importer as saying, “The decline ...

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, ...

Is Japan sinking further into 'Aum-ification'?

| Jul 26, 2014

Is Japan sinking further into 'Aum-ification'?

by Michael Hoffman

The world — this insignificant little spinning rock we call home — is nearing its end. Armageddon lies ahead: violence, upheaval, horror. The normal human mind shrinks from the mere thought, but “higher consciousness” embraces it. Higher consciousness sees things in a wider perspective. ...

The high cost of peace and quiet

| Jul 12, 2014

The high cost of peace and quiet

by Michael Hoffman

Peace and quiet! How rare it is, how precious. Why rare? Because a full-blooded modern economy is no monastery, no “ancient pond” into which a frog may jump, producing the hushed “sound of water” immortalized by the haiku poet Basho (1644-94). Engines roar, machinery ...

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 ...

Ongoing Obokata story seeks out scandal

| Jul 5, 2014

Ongoing Obokata story seeks out scandal

by Mark Schreiber

The paper, titled “Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency,” was accepted by the British science journal Nature on Dec. 20, 2013, and published online on Jan. 29, 2014. The authors were listed as Haruko Obokata, Teruhiko Wakayama, Yoshiki Sasai, Koji Kojima, Martin ...

A life of lettuce has its benefits

| Jun 28, 2014

A life of lettuce has its benefits

by Michael Hoffman

Lettuce. Let us raise a glass to lettuce. There’s a village in Nagano Prefecture called Kawakami — nothing, nowhere little place, deep in the mountains, far from the main road, population 3,960. Why does Shukan Gendai magazine devote three full pages to profiling it? ...