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Philip Brasor
For Philip Brasor's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Mar 9, 2019
Just how convenient are convenience stores in Japan?
The recent trend of online videos showing "baito tero," or "part-timer terrorism," enacted by part-time workers has sparked another media discussion about the plight of low wage earners. Most of these videos were recorded by people working in food-related businesses, and explanations for why they are eating merchandise on the job or retrieving food items from the garbage to pass on to customers range from adolescent-grade mischief to payback for suffering the indignities of what the working poor put up with. The implication of all this rude behavior is that the perpetrators don't seem to care if they are caught because getting fired is no big deal. They can always find another low-paying job.
Japan Times
JAPAN / YEN FOR LIVING
Mar 5, 2019
Japan's tax laws get in way of more women working full time
One of the key elements of the Abe administration's efforts to stimulate the economy is getting more women into the workforce. As it stands, Japan has one of the highest rates of working women in the developed world, so the problem is not so much jobs but rather the quality of the jobs women get and how much money they make.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Mar 2, 2019
NHK's restructuring plan sparks concern over influence
In a recent post for the progressive website Common Dreams, consumer advocate and one-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader bemoaned public broadcasting in the United States. Created by the government "to provide serious programming without any advertisements," the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio were designed as alternatives to commercial TV and radio, which, because of economic prerogatives, tended toward entertainment. Public broadcasting was meant to provide information that is edifying and useful.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Feb 23, 2019
Leopalace21 scandal highlights the risk tenants face in Japan compared to building owners
The theme of the Nippon Television series "Shiawase! Bonbi Girl" (“Happy Poor Girls”) is one of the most resilient on Japanese television: People of limited means getting by. As the title indicates, the subject is young women and one of the regular segments, "Jokyo Girl," highlights a young woman "moving to Tokyo" to find an apartment.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Feb 16, 2019
Are press activities being undermined in Japan?
The Foreign Ministry ordered freelance journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka to surrender his passport after he tried to leave Japan on Feb. 2 for Yemen, which is in the midst of a civil war. The ostensible reason for the order is that Tsuneoka in January attempted to travel to Yemen through Oman, which refused him entry, and the law states that the Japanese government can seize the passport of any citizen who is said to be inadmissible by a foreign country.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Feb 9, 2019
News outlets' coverage of abuse cases can make the situation worse
In her 2017 book, "Thinking About Child Abuse,” Haru Sugiyama describes her correspondence with Yukihiro Saito, who is serving a lengthy sentence for causing the death of his 5-year-old son, Riku, in the mid-2000s through neglect. In his letters, Saito expresses regret, but also says his memories about the two years he took care of Riku after his wife left him are vague.
Japan Times
BUSINESS / YEN FOR LIVING
Feb 8, 2019
Examining the high price of Japan's water systems
When we were negotiating for the purchase of a piece of land, the realtor told us that the lot we were interested in had no access to public waterworks, which meant we would have to dig a well. At first, this aspect seemed like a demerit, since hiring a company to dig the well would cost more than ¥400,000 plus administrative fees.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Feb 2, 2019
Tabloid's objectification of women continues to stir controversy
The weekly magazine Spa has apologized for an article it published in December that ranked universities in terms of how easy it is to get their female students into bed. The article generated backlash but the apology was issued in response to a petition that had been drawn up in protest.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Jan 26, 2019
Isle dispute with Russia tied to base issues, argues author Koji Yabe
There seems to be little chance that Russia will ever give back any part of the four islands it seized from Japan at the end of World War II, but the Japanese government, as well as some mainstream media, continues to act as if the possibility exists. Prior to last week's meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which showed no meaningful progress on the matter or on a proposed peace treaty, either, Kyodo News reported that the government will continue to work on retrieving the islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories and Russia the Southern Kurils, although one Japanese official admitted they could only hope for two. In that regard, Putin's concern is whether the U.S. military will put facilities on any land returned to Japan. The Sankei Shimbun quoted Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, the senior U.S. military representative in Japan, as saying that there are no plans to put bases on any of the islands "at the moment."
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Jan 19, 2019
Hitachi chief's remarks on nuclear industry spark debate
On Jan. 1, Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), held press interviews on the outlook of the business community and, at one point, the discussion turned to nuclear energy.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Jan 12, 2019
Japan's vernacular press coverage tiptoes around tattoo controversy
Before the Olympic Games come to Tokyo in the summer of 2020, Japan will get a chance to prove its mettle as an international sporting events host with the Rugby World Cup this fall. The games will be spread out among 12 stadiums nationwide, which means the whole country will be the focus rather than just cosmopolitan Tokyo. Consequently, omotenashi (Japanese-style hospitality) will be tested across a wider range of cultural sensibilities, since many of the host communities are not necessarily on the beaten foreign tourist path.
Japan Times
BUSINESS / YEN FOR LIVING
Jan 11, 2019
In 2019, how hungry is Japan for whale meat?
Japan is currently the object of criticism for its decision to leave the International Whaling Commission, and resume commercial whaling in territorial waters and its own exclusive economic zone. People who support the move cite either cultural reasons — Japan traditionally, they assert, is a whale-eating country — or the assumption that whales aren't as endangered as the IWC claims they are.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Jan 5, 2019
Internet rightists' strategy of provocation gaining traction in Japan
Popular TV personality and model Rola recently tweeted her opposition to new U.S. base construction in Okinawa. The comment was immediately derided by people who said celebrities like her had no business in political debates. Although these critics may support base construction, they didn't engage Rola on the issue. They attacked her, not her views.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Dec 29, 2018
Heisei Era a bumpy ride for Japan's media organizations
The media is busy assessing the Heisei Era as it comes to a close. Although not as dramatic as the Showa Era, it's been a bumpy ride. Japan still hasn't gotten the hang of this democracy thing, and an engaged, objective press is essential to a functioning democracy. As the following rundown illustrates, however, the jury is still out as to whether Japan's press meets those criteria.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Dec 22, 2018
Rationale for extending Japan's copyright protections unclear
Several weeks ago, I was surprised to read that a revision to the copyright law would go into effect on Dec. 30, extending the current protection period from 50 years after an author's death to 70 years. When the extension was first discussed as part of the original 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, I was under the impression that Japan had accepted the provision under pressure from the United States. Then U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the TPP and the copyright extension seemed dead, but apparently Japan revived it for the renegotiated TPP-11, which doesn't include the United States.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Dec 15, 2018
Carlos Ghosn's arrest spurs debate on executive salaries in Japan
On Dec. 10, Masaaki Tanaka, former vice president of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, told a news conference he would step down as president and CEO of Japan Investment Corp., an entity set up by the government in September to develop new industries through capital investment.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Dec 8, 2018
Korean wartime labor rulings spark debate
The 2017 South Korean film, "The Battleship Island," has yet to receive a theatrical release in Japan, even though it's set on Hashima, more commonly known as Gunkanjima, a former mining complex off the coast of Kyushu and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Given the current diplomatic tensions between Japan and South Korea sparked by two recent South Korean Supreme Court cases that ruled in favor of Koreans who sued Japanese companies they worked for during World War II, it probably won't be released here anytime soon.
Japan Times
BUSINESS / YEN FOR LIVING
Dec 7, 2018
Abuse is the norm for Japan's hometown tax donation system
On Sept. 11, then-Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda gave a news conference at which she stated the government's intention to revise laws for local taxes.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Dec 1, 2018
Question mark hangs over holiday reshuffles
The Diet passed a bill in June that will shift certain national holidays in 2020 to ease traffic congestion during the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Marine Day, which is usually the third Monday of July, will be moved to July 23, the day before the opening ceremony, while Sports Day, normally the second Monday in October, will be shifted to July 24, the day of the opening ceremony. Meanwhile, Mountain Day, which is usually celebrated on Aug. 11, will be moved up a day to Aug. 10, the day after the closing ceremony, which falls on a Sunday.
Japan Times
JAPAN / Media / MEDIA MIX
Nov 24, 2018
Variety show's fabrication scandal offers a glimpse into the nature of TV content
Earlier this month, weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun ran several articles on Nippon Television Network Corp.'s Sunday night variety show, "Sekai no Hate Made Itte Q," claiming that the program had fabricated "festivals" in foreign countries and presented them in one of its semiregular segments as real local events. Allegations of yarase (faking it) are not uncommon in Japanese television, especially when it comes to variety show programming, with its focus on reporting that tests a viewer's capacity for incredulity. The Bunshun pieces betrayed a tone that implied an even greater level of incredulity: Did Nippon TV really think anyone would believe this stuff?

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