Entrance exams get failing grade

| Dec 2, 2013

Entrance exams get failing grade

by Tomohiro Osaki

National university exams are notorious for their emphasis on book learning. Once a year, examinees throng test sites, doing their best to regurgitate heaps of facts in the hopes of getting into the university of their choice. Once done, however, the pressure to study ...

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 ...

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 ...

TEAP stresses pragmatic approach

| Sep 16, 2013

TEAP stresses pragmatic approach

by Tomohiro Osaki

As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party forges ahead with its strategy of nurturing “internationally minded” talent to aid economic growth, the prospect that students’ scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) will be used as criteria for entering ...

Reactor makers look abroad as home market fizzles

| Sep 9, 2013

Reactor makers look abroad as home market fizzles

by Kazuaki Nagata

The Fukushima meltdowns and the continuing radiation crisis may have turned the public off of atomic energy at home, but it’s full steam ahead for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japan’s heavy industries when it comes to exporting that technology to power-hungry economies abroad. ...