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New thugs on block sidestep the usual suspects

| May 14, 2013

New thugs on block sidestep the usual suspects

by Tomohiro Osaki

Japan’s underworld, namely the “boryokudan” (gangster organizations) better known as yakuza, have been targeted with crackdowns in recent years focused on cutting their funding and expanding their criminal liability. But a new type of thug appears to be acting with impunity by operating in ...

The 5 p.m. bell

| Apr 16, 2013

The 5 p.m. bell

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, I live in a medium-size city in Saitama Prefecture and am puzzled by a speaker system mounted on a huge pole right outside my apartment. Every evening at 5 p.m., music plays from the speakers for 20 or 30 seconds and then ...

Resurgent rubella raises fetus threat

| Apr 2, 2013

Resurgent rubella raises fetus threat

by Mizuho Aoki

The rubella epidemic is spreading quickly, particularly in the Kanto region. Usually limited to developing countries, the disease, also known as German measles, poses a threat to pregnant women as it can cause disorders in fetuses, including hearing impairments, cardiac disease and cataracts. Rubella ...

Curse or cash cow: Japan ready for casinos?

| Mar 26, 2013

Curse or cash cow: Japan ready for casinos?

by Eric Johnston

Lawmakers are seriously considering legalizing casinos so Japanese can roll the dice without having to travel to gambling houses in the United States, East and Southeast Asia. Backed by the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc and smaller forces, including Nippon Ishin no Kai ...

Ginza stage set for Kabukiza's fifth coming

| Mar 19, 2013

Ginza stage set for Kabukiza's fifth coming

by Jun Hongo

The venerable Kabukiza Theater in Tokyo’s Ginza district reopens April 2 after three years of renovations and the addition of a 29-floor attached office tower. A key venue for kabuki and other performances since 1889, the theater will retain its original ornate Japanese facade. ...

White gloves

| Mar 19, 2013

White gloves

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, I’m curious about the prevalence of white gloves in Japan. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, all sorts of people wear white gloves on the job here, including taxi drivers, police officers and elevator girls. I have no idea if this is true, ...