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James Pearson
For James Pearson's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC / FOCUS
May 26, 2017
Kim's rocket stars: the trio behind North Korea's missile program
After successful missile launches, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un often exchanges smiles and hugs with the same three men and shares a celebratory smoke with them.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC / FOCUS
May 21, 2017
North Korea's Unit 180, the cyberwarfare cell that worries the West
North Korea's main spy agency has a special cell called Unit 180 that is likely to have launched some of its most daring and successful cyberattacks, according to defectors, officials and internet security experts.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
May 14, 2017
Made in North Korea: As tougher sanctions loom, more local goods in stores
From carrot-flavored toothpaste and charcoal face masks to motorcycles and solar panels, visitors to North Korea say they are seeing more and more locally made products in the isolated country's shops and supermarkets, replacing mostly Chinese imports.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC / ANALYSIS
May 3, 2017
As U.S. and China find common ground on North Korea, will Russia aid Kim regime?
When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent Lunar New Year greetings this year, the first card went to Russian President Vladimir Putin, ahead even of leaders from China and other allies of the isolated country, according to its official news agency.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Apr 21, 2017
Colas, cigarettes: North Korea airline diversifies as threats mount of sanctions
Even after disembarking from North Korea's Air Koryo plane at Pyongyang airport, it is difficult to miss the airline's brand. The Air Koryo conglomerate makes cigarettes and fizzy drinks, besides owning a taxi fleet and gas stations — and all have the same flying crane logo as the carrier.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Apr 10, 2017
'Dollars and euros': How a Malaysian firm helped fund North Korea's leadership
Over the past two decades, North Korean-born Han Hun Il, the founding chief executive of a Malaysian conglomerate, funneled money to the leadership in Pyongyang, a North Korean defector, speaking out for the first time, has said.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Feb 27, 2017
North Korea spy agency runs arms operation out of Malaysia, U.N. says
It is in Kuala Lumpur's "Little India" neighborhood, behind an unmarked door on the second floor of a rundown building, where a military equipment company called Glocom says it has its office.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Feb 5, 2017
Former North Korean envoy tells of taking Kim's brother to Clapton concert
Two years ago, Thae Yong Ho, then North Korea's deputy ambassador in London, received an unexpected phone call from the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee in Pyongyang telling him to get ready to receive a very important e-mail.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC / Politics
Jan 25, 2017
North Korean elite turning against leader Kim, high-level defector says
The North Korean elite are outwardly expressing their discontent toward young leader Kim Jong Un and his government as more outside information trickles into the isolated country, North Korea's former deputy ambassador to London said on Wednesday.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Jan 4, 2017
North Korea's claim of ICBM test plausible, experts say
North Korea has been working through 2016 on developing components for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), making the isolated nation's claim that it was close to a test-launch plausible, international weapons experts said on Monday.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC / ANALYSIS
Aug 31, 2016
North Korea makes progress on missiles, but no evidence of nuclear warhead yet
North Korea has made considerable progress this year on weapons technology, including testing a submarine-launched missile for the first time, but it is still not clear if the isolated nation has developed a nuclear warhead.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC / ANALYSIS
Aug 8, 2016
Despite sanctions, North Korean prices hold steady as Kim leaves markets alone
Food and fuel prices in North Korea have remained largely stable under leader Kim Jong Un, despite tightening international sanctions to punish the North for its nuclear and ballistic missile tests, rare data from inside the isolated country shows.
ASIA PACIFIC
Jul 17, 2016
Strength of North Korea's military waning as Kim turns to nuclear weapons and cyberwarfare
Like many of the 1.2 million people serving in the army in North Korea, Eom Yeong Nam spent more time holding the wooden handle of a shovel than a Kalashnikov rifle during his years in the 501 Construction Brigade.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
May 18, 2016
North Korea's new ad men try out pitches to a growing consumer class
"Pyongyang Spirit: A drink you won't forget after drinking once," reads the text of an ad for a clear, vodka-like North Korean alcohol.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
May 6, 2016
Pyongyang skyline changes shape despite sanctions
The Pyongyang skyline is rising — and not just with the trophy structures that represent the North Korean state. Despite its political and economic isolation, the capital is in the midst of a building boom.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Apr 1, 2016
Swiss, Swedish troops remain at Korea DMZ to monitor 1953 truce
In a tiny mess hall set amid pine trees and rose bushes on the heavily fortified border between South and North Korea, a lunch of steak and asparagus is served. Outside, bird song competes with the drone of North Korean loudspeakers blaring propaganda.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Mar 31, 2016
North Korea in 'top-speed dash' for May congress, Kim's nuclear policy
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is poised to declare his signature ruling policy during a rare party congress in May and, despite tough new U.N. sanctions, it is likely to be the twin pursuit of nuclear prowess and economic development.
ASIA PACIFIC
Mar 13, 2016
U.S. serves up Korean 'rocket salad' in war drill response to North's threats
There's more to do in South Korea's heavily forested Rocket Valley, just a few kilometers from the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, than fire rockets. In quieter times, people tend vegetable patches along ice-cold streams.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Mar 9, 2016
China-made truck used by North Korea in new artillery system
North Korea is using Chinese-made trucks in a new mobile artillery system showcased five days ago, according to photographs reviewed by Reuters, underlining the difficulty in enforcing U.N. sanctions against the isolated state.
Japan Times
ASIA PACIFIC
Jan 19, 2016
Nuclear test seen as move to boost Kim's legitimacy as Pyongyang readies for rare party congress
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's recent nuclear weapon test was designed to boost his domestic legitimacy ahead of a rare ruling party conference in May that could formalize market-based economic experiments in the isolated country, analysts say.

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on