National Topics

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Blondes have more fun in NHK's morning drama

by Philip Brasor

Two weeks ago I received a message from a reader who asked me to ask NHK why the public broadcaster had changed the name and the hair color of the female protagonist of its new daily 15-minute asa-dora (morning drama series) “Massan,” which is based on the life of Masataka ...

A dark force targets youth at their jobs

| Oct 18, 2014

A dark force targets youth at their jobs

by Philip Brasor

In the ongoing discussion about workplace abuse, the media has advanced yet another new term. “Black baito” modifies the already popular phrase “black kigyō,” which are companies that manipulate or ignore labor standards in order to get employees to work overtime without pay. “Baito” ...

In-debt idols send wrong message to girls

| Oct 11, 2014

In-debt idols send wrong message to girls

by Philip Brasor

Two weeks ago a female pop group called The Margarines debuted via a Tokyo news conference. Since Japanese show business has no shortage of young women who want to sing and dance in order to “fulfill their dreams,” the new ensemble needed a gimmick. ...

Tourists may not warm to Japan's welcome

| Oct 4, 2014

Tourists may not warm to Japan's welcome

by Philip Brasor

A former colleague of mine always made it a point to tell people coming to Japan for a visit to bring lots of handkerchiefs because the public restrooms didn’t have towel dispensers. I always took a more positive view and emphasized that public restrooms ...