Tokyo hopes this Olympics bid wins

| Jan 15, 2013

Tokyo hopes this Olympics bid wins

by Kazuaki Nagata

Tokyo’s quest to host the 2020 Olympics entered a new stage last week when it presented its candidature file to the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland. The final round will determine in September whether Tokyo has what it takes to hold off rival bidders ...

Mismatch: Universities on rise but students in decline

| Dec 4, 2012

Mismatch: Universities on rise but students in decline

by Mizuho Aoki

Education minister Makiko Tanaka drew immediate flak in early November when she outright refused her advisory panel’s recommendation to approve three new universities. The outspoken Tanaka justified her decision by asserting that higher education is in decline because there are too many universities. As ...

Ishiharas — family ties with a twist

| Nov 20, 2012

Ishiharas — family ties with a twist

by Jun Hongo

The Ishiharas trail the Hatoyamas 2-0 in prime ministers. But when it comes to the variety, prominence and celebrity of each individual member, not many families in Japan today can compete with the Ishihara bunch. Following are questions and answers regarding the Ishihara family, ...

Part of aging process: Preparing for the end

| Sep 4, 2012

Part of aging process: Preparing for the end

by Hiroko Nakata

When young people say “shukatsu,” they mean job-hunting. But nowadays, older people are grimly playing on the word by changing the kanji for “shu” to convey a different kind of activity: preparing for “the end.” How are people preparing for death? Why has the ...

Revival eludes nation's birthrate

| Aug 28, 2012

Revival eludes nation's birthrate

by Masami Ito

It sounds like a broken record: Japan is beset by a low birthrate and an aging society. The nation certainly has a long “to do” list to finish before it can create an environment more conducive to raising children. Amid a surge in singles, ...

Did hearings let public send clear nuke signal?

| Aug 14, 2012

Did hearings let public send clear nuke signal?

by Natsuko Fukue

The 11 government-sponsored hearings on what the public thinks the nation’s future energy mix should be in light of the Fukushima nuclear crisis ended earlier this month to mixed reviews. Many participants appeared doubtful the government truly intended to take their opinions into serious ...

Volunteers struggle to track neediest residents

| Apr 3, 2012

Volunteers struggle to track neediest residents

by Mizuho Aoki

Welfare commissioners cover a broad array of tasks, including regularly checking in on elderly and disabled residents, looking for signs of child abuse, providing local residents with information about services, and even helping them dispose of garbage. Although demand for welfare commissioners is on ...

Tohoku in rebuilding bubble

| Mar 27, 2012

Tohoku in rebuilding bubble

by Eric Johnston

As Tohoku struggles to rebuild from last year’s quake and tsunami, money continues to pour into the region in the form of central government subsidies for cleanup, repair and reconstruction. The result has been a reconstruction bubble providing a massive cash infusion to not ...

Literary awards run spectrum

| Feb 14, 2012

Literary awards run spectrum

by Natsuko Fukue

When writer Shinya Tanaka won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize last month, he said, “I deserve this,” paraphrasing U.S. actress Shirley MacLaine at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1984. His cynicism about selection committee members and Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara also drew attention from the ...

Student count, knowledge sliding

| Jan 10, 2012

Student count, knowledge sliding

by Minoru Matsutani

Education experts have for years been lamenting the academic decline of young Japanese. Teachers have complained that an increasing number of college students lack even the basics that should have been driven home in junior high school. Students’ math and science skills have markedly ...

Tax, pension breaks called favoritism for homemakers

| Dec 6, 2011

Tax, pension breaks called favoritism for homemakers

by Mizuho Aoki

The tax and social security systems have long been seen as favoring full-time homemakers over working women because they are based on single-income households. But dual-income households have been the norm since 1997, leading many experts to call the systems outdated. According to a ...