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National Stadium plan hit as too grandiose

| Nov 25, 2013

National Stadium plan hit as too grandiose

by Masaaki Kameda

The new National Stadium planned for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has come under the spotlight due to its huge size and massive costs, and for a design critics say doesn’t fit in with its surroundings. Following are questions and answers regarding construction of the ...

Diet reform paralyzed by hypocritical habits

| Nov 4, 2013

Diet reform paralyzed by hypocritical habits

by Ayako Mie

Indecision is a much-criticized feature of Japanese politics. Diet sessions are rife with unproductive wrangling as the ruling and opposition camps dispute the timing of the submission of bills while avoiding constructive discussions on them. Making matters worse, because the Constitution stipulates that Cabinet ...

Online courses: Collegiate equalizer?

| Oct 28, 2013

Online courses: Collegiate equalizer?

by Mizuho Aoki

The latest trend in online education is taking the academic world by storm. From around 2011, a group of U.S. universities or professors launched start-ups to provide courses taken at elite universities free to anyone with Internet access. By signing on to a website ...

Elevation signs

| Oct 21, 2013

Elevation signs

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, Over the summer, a new sign appeared on the wall of the elementary school closest to where I live. The sign includes the English words “above sea level,” along with some kanji and numerals, so I assume its informing us of the ...

Mercury still threat, Abe assurances or not

| Oct 21, 2013

Mercury still threat, Abe assurances or not

by Eric Johnston

Earlier this month, delegates from over 130 nations gathered in Kumamoto to launch the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The U.N.-brokered treaty aims to limit mercury use and emissions. It comes at a time when the U.N. Environmental Program warns half of all global anthropogenic ...

Tax-free account seeks to spur investment

| Oct 15, 2013

Tax-free account seeks to spur investment

by Tomoko Otake

Starting in January, individuals who invest in stocks and investment trusts in a Nippon Individual Savings Account will be eligible for tax exemptions of up to five years on their financial gains. The new instrument is aimed at getting people used to accumulating financial ...

Deliveries boost convenience stores' cachet

| Oct 7, 2013

Deliveries boost convenience stores' cachet

by Mami Maruko

The nation’s convenience stores have been in a constant state of evolution, starting by offering small snacks and drinks and basic daily goods like newspapers, magazines and toiletries. Today, customers at the “conbini,” as convenience stores are called in Japan, can pay various household ...