Mar 24, 2014

Abe's transparency move falls short

The Abe administration's decision to keep and release summaries of the minutes of Cabinet meetings sounds like a positive step, but it is not likely to lead to a substantial increase in the transparency of how the government makes decisions.

Mar 23, 2014

Education ministry's heavy hand

Two weeks before school starts, Japan's education minister tells the town of Taketomi, Okinawa Prefecture, that it may not use the junior high school civics textbook it adopted in place of the "conservative" textbook selected by an area-wide council.

Mar 22, 2014

Kyoto University's bold hiring move

The recent news that Kyoto University will publicly seek candidates for its next president from abroad, as well as from Japan, may come as a shock to some in academia.

Mar 21, 2014

Lay judges' moral dilemma

How does Japan's justice minister respond to a petition from 20 citizens who, as lay judges, agonized over the possibility of having to hand down a death sentence? They call for an immediate halt to capital punishment.

Mar 21, 2014

Rising land prices in big cities

For 2013, the megalopolises of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka showed rises in both residential and commercial land prices for the first time in six years.

Mar 20, 2014

Putin's Crimean prize

Even if Russia does not send its military into any other parts of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin retains the threat of future action, if only "reluctantly," and will be able to keep Ukraine, and the rest of central Europe, on the defensive.

Mar 19, 2014

Riken's credibility on the line

The prestigious government-backed Riken Research Institute finds itself in the awkward spot of defending its credibility as a science institute after "grave errors" were found in two recent papers describing a possible new method for creating pluripotent stem cells.

Mar 19, 2014

A sign from North Korea

Last week's meeting in Ulan Bator between the parents of 1977 Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota and Megumi's North Korean daughter could be a sign that Pyongyang wants to resolve the abduction issue and end its diplomatic isolation.

Mar 18, 2014

Overhaul the electoral systems

Diet members need to set their sights on overhauling the electoral systems for both houses before the next national election and explore what kinds of systems would better suit the different roles of each chamber.

Mar 17, 2014

New burden for Minamata victims

The Environment Ministry appears to have relaxed conditions for the official recognition of Minamata disease victims, but the attached record-keeping requirements make it unlikely that many more people will receive financial relief.

Mar 17, 2014

Change at the top court's helm

It is hoped that incoming new chief Justice Itsuro Terada will stand firm in keeping the Supreme Court independent of political presssures as it considers controversial issues such as the disparity in vote value between legislative constituencies and whether Japan may exercise its right ...