Capital crimes soon to lose statute

| Mar 30, 2010

Capital crimes soon to lose statute

by Setsuko Kamiya

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government recently approved a bill to abolish the statute of limitations on crimes that could be punishable by hanging in a move experts say signals a major shift in the justice system. The bill, which would amend the Criminal ...

Absentee ballot system up, running

| Jun 3, 2008

Absentee ballot system up, running

by Setsuko Kamiya

Suffrage is a fundamental right of a democracy, and many countries ensure their citizens can cast absentee ballots. It was only a decade ago, however, that Japanese living abroad won the right to vote in national polls. They had to campaign actively before politicians ...

Law bends over backward to allow 'fuzoku'

| May 27, 2008

Law bends over backward to allow 'fuzoku'

by Jun Hongo

Some desires money can’t gratify, but for appetites of the flesh, there are ways in Japan to legally sate one’s carnal cravings. Like many countries, prostitution is illegal in Japan, at least on paper. Brothel-like “soapland” and sexual massage parlors get around these barriers. ...

| May 6, 2008

Finance Ministry losing its luster

by Shinichi Terada

The Finance Ministry has long been known as the most powerful and elitist of Japan’s bureaucracy. When Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda repeatedly tried in March to appoint a former vice finance minister as the new Bank of Japan governor — only to be rejected ...

Pension system obligations and benefits

| Apr 29, 2008

Pension system obligations and benefits

by Takahiro Fukada

As the social welfare system grows in complexity, non-Japanese in particular are likely feeling a sense of frustration at the lack of information available in their native language. All foreign workers are obliged by law to join the public pension system, although many are ...

BOJ finds itself in 'unpresidented' state

| Apr 1, 2008

BOJ finds itself in 'unpresidented' state

by Kanako Takahara

The divided Diet has left the Bank of Japan with a vacant seat at the top for the first time since the war. This came about after Toshihiko Fukui’s five-year term ended in mid-March and the government’s nominees to succeed him were vetoed. Following ...

Basics of the U.S. military presence

| Mar 25, 2008

Basics of the U.S. military presence

by Reiji Yoshida

The issue of U.S. military forces in Japan has come to the fore again following the alleged rape of a 14-year-old Okinawan girl by a U.S. Marine. Although the girl has withdrawn the accusation, locals and politicians have seized on the incident — a ...

Politics in game of never-ending musical chairs

| Mar 4, 2008

Politics in game of never-ending musical chairs

by Masami Ito

A nearly unbroken line of Liberal Democratic Party politicians has headed the government since the party’s 1955 formation. This dominance, however, was shaken by the stunning victory of the Democratic Party of Japan in the July 2007 House of Councilors election. In this reshaped ...

| Jan 29, 2008

G8: Meaningful or anachronistic forum?

by Eric Johnston

Over the next six months, Japan will host a series of meetings of the Group of Eight countries, culminating in the Leaders’ Summit at Lake Toya, Hokkaido, in July. Along with leaders of the G8 — Japan, the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, ...

| Dec 25, 2007

Whaling — for nationalism or science?

by Kanako Takahara

When it comes to whaling, Japan digs in its heels, as do antiwhaling nations and conservation groups. Since the International Whaling Commission imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, antiwhaling nations, including Australia and Britain, have condemned Japan for conducting commercial whaling disguised ...

Hemp OK as rope, not as dope

| Dec 11, 2007

Hemp OK as rope, not as dope

by Jun Hongo

A Justice Ministry report released last month says the number of Cannabis Control Law violations set a record in 2006, while the amount of marijuana seized dropped to half from the previous year. Some experts fear this indicates a rise in casual mar ijuana ...