Taxation about striking the right balance

Reference | EXPLAINER Oct 26, 2010

Taxation about striking the right balance

by Hiroko Nakata

With the country mired in fiscal debt, the government is depending more than ever on finding stable sources of tax revenue. Following are some basic questions and answers on the Japanese tax system: How much tax do the Japanese pay? Overall tax income for fiscal 2010, which ...

Expat clubs boast bygone cachet

Reference | EXPLAINER Jul 20, 2010

Expat clubs boast bygone cachet

by Eric Johnston

OSAKA — In the years following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when Japan ended nearly 2 1/2 centuries of isolation, Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe in particular saw a large influx of Western men in uniform, merchants, teachers and clerics. One of the first things many ...

Elementary schools to get English

Reference | EXPLAINER Jun 29, 2010

Elementary schools to get English

by Takahiro Fukada

Starting next fiscal year, all elementary schools will be required to introduce compulsory English lessons for fifth- and sixth-graders. The scores of Japanese who take the Test of English as a Foreign Language are among the lowest in Asia, and thus their proficiency levels are ...

Reference | EXPLAINER Oct 20, 2009

Abortion still key birth control

by Mariko Kato

People may be surprised to know abortion has been legal in Japan since 1949, more than a decade earlier than in other industrialized countries. In subsequent years, abortion became socially accepted to the point that Japan drew international criticism for attracting foreigners seeking to terminate ...

Japan's funerals deep-rooted mix of ritual, form

Reference | EXPLAINER Jul 28, 2009

Japan's funerals deep-rooted mix of ritual, form

by Hiroko Nakata

Funerals in Japan incorporate a unique mixture of religion, tradition, culture, ritual and geography that to the outsider may appear perplexing. Following are questions and answers about funerals in Japan and related activities: Do funerals generally have a religious context? With regard to rituals, most Japanese partake ...

The past, present and future of fortunetelling

Reference | EXPLAINER Apr 21, 2009

The past, present and future of fortunetelling

by Alex K.T. Martin

From the traditional "omikuji" — sacred lots — people draw at shrines and temples to learn their New Year's fortunes, to the horoscopes displayed on commuter train video screens to distract strap-hangers, Japanese society is immersed in fortunetelling. Famously accepting of different religions simultaneously — ...

Christianity's long history in the margins

Reference | EXPLAINER Feb 24, 2009

Christianity's long history in the margins

by Mariko Kato

Prime Minister Taro Aso may be a proclaimed Christian, but as far as the spread of the faith among the populace, it finds only a marginal presence. Certain trappings of Christianity, however, have manifested themselves in modern Japan, particularly in terms of Christian-style weddings and ...

Recession won't sour Valentine's

Reference | EXPLAINER Feb 10, 2009

Recession won't sour Valentine's

by Takahiro Fukada

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and stores are geared up to cater to that special time when women give their romantic others a sweet treat and, in the Japanese workplace, offer colleagues tasty tidbits out of gratitude. And chocolate is the operative word. Even in recession-hit ...

No brown bagging it for students

Reference | EXPLAINER Jan 27, 2009

No brown bagging it for students

by Natsuko Fukue

Safe, healthy, tasty. That's the goal of "kyushoku" (school lunches) that are distributed nationwide. Although the government originally introduced school lunches to help specific children mired in poverty, they spread to schools nationwide after World War II in order to improve health and to teach ...