author

 
 
 Roger Pulvers

Meta

Roger Pulvers
Roger Pulvers is an author, playwright, theater director and translator who divides his time between Tokyo and Sydney. He has published more than 40 books. His latest book in English is "The Dream of Lafcadio Hearn."
For Roger Pulvers's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Jun 11, 2006
Can art be judged apart from its creator?
Last month the Comedie Francaise, France's sole state theater, made a momentous decision. "Voyage to the Sonorous Land, or the Art of Asking" by Austrian playwright Peter Handke had been scheduled for production in January 2007 at their second venue in the Latin Quarter. But in early May, theater administrator Marcel Bozonnet canceled the production.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Jun 4, 2006
Will ghostwriters face 'treachery' from post-Koizumi Japan?
A recent news item in The Japan Times really shocked me. It concerned what a former political heavyweight once said in private.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
May 28, 2006
Japan sleepwalks by design toward peace-renouncing poll
The Japanese people may soon be asked to make a momentous decision in a nationwide referendum. As I write this, the major political parties are at loggerheads over conditions under which that referendum will be conducted. Behind the closed doors of the Diet, but barely touched on in the media, this debate will lead to a decision that, perhaps more than any other, will affect the lives of everyone living in Japan.
LIFE / Language
May 23, 2006
Opening up to difference: The dialect dialectic
Many people in Japan lead a double life -- linguistically speaking, that is. In their community, they speak the hogen (dialect) of their city, town or village, while outside it they may be accustomed to use hyojungo (standard Japanese). Their native language, in the true sense of that word, is their dialect, not hyojungo.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
May 21, 2006
Will Japan's 'positive influence' persist as it didn't before?
Well, the news is out, and it's good news.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
May 14, 2006
Beware the muted enemy within remilitarizing Japan
On April 30, the Asahi Shimbun reported on the results of a Cabinet Office survey of public opinion regarding the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). The telephone survey was conducted between Feb. 16 and 26, with 1,657 of the 3,000 people contacted replying. Overall, 84.9 percent of respondents indicated they had a "favorable impression" of the SDF. That was the most favorable response in the occasional survey's more than 35-year history. In 1972, only 58.9 percent of respondents were well disposed toward those who defend the homeland.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
May 7, 2006
Japanese being ensnared in ill-suited U.S. trappings
Back in the 1960s and '70s, the Japanese people were being raked over the coals from West Virginia to the Ruhr Valley and beyond for, chiefly, two things.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Apr 30, 2006
When in doubt . . . dust off a fervor so infamously fatal
Agreat debate is raging in Japan, and it is not about economics or politics . . . well, not ostensibly so. It is about semantics. And yet, the outcome may have as much impact on the future of this country as many more seemingly concrete issues.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Apr 23, 2006
'Folkways' school ban puts 'stateways' to democratic test
The essential argument about how to create a democratic society that is tolerant of difference revolves around an old and simple question: Do stateways make folkways?
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Apr 16, 2006
'Conspiracies of silence' feign sympathies largely unfelt
Japanese people are known for their sense of propriety and decorum. Reserve and self-restraint are fine Japanese virtues, and they have afforded the society an enviable harmony and level of personal safety unparalleled in the developed world. Putting a damper on people's self-assertive instincts, and avoiding confrontation between them, keeps everyday social interaction on an even, and civil, keel.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Apr 9, 2006
Who out there cares about 'Cool Japan'?
These days the government is jumping on the bandwagon. The Foreign Ministry is singing in tune. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has hopped on, with a conductor's baton in his hand and a spring in his step that you don't even see when he's ascending the stairs to pay his public-private respects at Yasukuni Shrine.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Apr 2, 2006
A torso squeaks -- but what does it say about the media?
OK, this is confession time. Even though I have lived in Japan for decades, there is something that still absolutely drives me up the wall -- so high up the wall, in fact, that I feel like Spiderman on a Shinjuku skyscraper.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Mar 26, 2006
One nation's icon carries a torch of conscience for all
On March 6, the Polish film and theater director Andrzej Wajda celebrated his 80th birthday. In fact, all of Poland celebrated it with him. I was in the country that week, and I have never before seen such total media interest in a cultural figure. Wajda is certainly Poland's "living national treasure."
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Mar 19, 2006
Stirring time spent among rebellious free spirits
I have just returned from a remarkable trip to Dresden, Berlin, Warsaw and Krakow, a trip made all the more remarkable for three commemorative events that took place in Poland while I was there.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Mar 12, 2006
California dreamin' and the way the world's wheels could now be
Earlier this year it was widely reported that Toyota is soon likely to overtake General Motors as the world's largest car manufacturer.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Mar 5, 2006
Doomed voice of truth screams out still against evil
Among the writers who most astutely characterized the morality of the 20th century, none may have been more accurate than the Norwegian novelist, essayist and playwright Jens Bjorneboe. His was a powerful voice of truth, and we need now, more than ever, to listen to it.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Feb 26, 2006
Has America's conscience fallen victim to 9/11?
On the 15th of this month, the Australian television station SBS broadcast one of the most awful and horrendous programs I have ever seen. The images aired -- many for the first time anywhere -- were still photographs and raw videos of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These were abuses committed by American servicemen and women against suspected terrorists.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Feb 19, 2006
Winners are losers, too, in the lingering ledger of war
Ex-soldiers, dressed entirely in white hospital-like attire, some without an arm or a leg, stood or sat in the precincts of a shrine. Some played plaintive tunes on concertinas. Others had a little dog beside them to garner the sympathy of passersby. Often the dog wore a little beanie or sported cheap plastic sunglasses to catch people's eye. Those disabled veterans of World War II were begging for money from their compatriots -- compatriots who wanted more than anything to forget they had ever existed.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Feb 12, 2006
Building scandals expose society's uncaring foundation
Japan is in the throes of two scandals that highlight a stunning flaw in the social order. For all its much-trumpeted national cohesion and the lip service paid in Japan to the people's sense of nasake (compassion, sympathy, mercy), these scandals are stark reminders that public welfare and the common good are actually low priorities for Japanese people.
COMMENTARY / COUNTERPOINT
Feb 5, 2006
Rule of the people, by our people, for our people
There is a specter haunting the world. The specter is democracy. As U.S. President George W. Bush never fails to remind us: Democracy is on the march and there is no stopping it.

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