An interactive and taboo-free journalism based in Japan

Welcome to TokyoFreePress Friday, March 24 2017 @ 05:05 AM JST
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It's about time to wake up to the nuclear reality

We are already more than two months into the 60th year since the A-bombs crushed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The August 1945 bombings on the two cities burned hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives instantly and the survivors have suffered a long-lasting after-effects out of exposure to radiation. Without a doubt these victims went through one of the worst mass-destructions in history.

But have we overcome the national trauma by now? Not at all.
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Prostitution in Japan

They say it's the oldest profession. Some also say, knowingly, prostitution is ubiquitous on this planet. So what makes me discuss all anew this oldest and widely-"accepted" activity of mankind? But actually I am not talking about prostitution in general, but the particular form it takes in Japan. · read more (651 words)
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Why not retire at 130?

More than eight years ago I sent a letter captioned "Why not retire at 130?" to the editor of the Japan Times. This letter got printed only after I persistently asked the editor to clarify the selection criteria he had applied when he decided my letter wasn't worth printing. There must have been a lot of, or at least some, reactions to my proposition but not a single reply letter passed censorship. Instead the Japan Times continued to print letters complaining about trifling and irrelevant matters such as droppings from ill-disciplined dogs in the neighborhood. On the surface Japan seems to have changed a lot since the mid-1990s but the situation with agist and sexist bias has remained essentially unchanged. That is why I now post the 8-year-old letter on my own blog.

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The Coming Collapse of China by Gordon G. Chang

The Coming Collapse of China by Gordon G. Chang, Random House Inc., 2001

When I read Gordon G. Chang's "The Coming Collapse of China", one of the greatest books in this decade, I was struck by the resemblance between Japan and China. At every page dealing with widespread corruption, the way they are passing problems around between SOEs (state-owned enterprises) and financial institutions, including AMCs (asset management companies), pervasive self-deception and ubiquitous human rights abuse, I was under the illusion that the author was addressing the issue with the possible collapse of Japan, not China. At least I am certain I was looking at the mirror reflection of Japan in China as scrutinized by Gordon G. Chang, minutely and boldly. · read more (568 words)
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The 1955 System

We could not make legible the busy diagram shown here due to technical and other reasons. But never mind, you don't have to try hard making out these party names to visualize the Japan's political landscape since the early-1990s. It doesn't really matter which party merged with which party, how a party split up into how many parties, which lawmaker party-hopped from which to which, etc.

And now the media have been spreading out an illusion that a two-party system like the one in the U.S. or the U.K. is now on the horizon with the DPJ (minshu-to) ostensibly extending its power. But as our friend Shintaro Ishihara always maintains, the DPJ is dominated by the remnants from a former intraparty faction of the LDP (jimin-to) that was headed by former prime minister Kakuei Tanaka (1972-1974). · read more (303 words)
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Transparent trick to gloss over the dilemma

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has always been a self-proclaimed rebel since the days he wrote, as a young "novelist", an award-winning crap titled "Season of the Sun" (taiyo no kisetsu). · read more (619 words)

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Ishihara comparisons

It's sometimes useful for evaluating what Shintaro Ishihara has done thus far and what he actually is to compare the current Tokyo Governor with someone in a position similar to his. The following are two examples of such sketchy comparison:

If I am to compare him with Rudolph Giuliani, the former NYC Mayor really eclipses the current Tokyo Governor. On the surface they may look pretty much alike. But actually the single-minded former NYC Mayor did a splendid job when he put the "Broken Windows Theory" into practice, whereas the Tokyo Governor, the backyard bully, has done nothing but cause distress for Korean owners of pachinko parlors. Besides, he has turned a blind eye to one of the Japan's biggest concentrations of disguised whorehouses in the same neighborhood where sits his high-rise Metropolitan Government's Headquarters building. Ishihara's police department (TMPD) keeps lending helping hand to more or less yakuza-affiliated bathhouses and the like by subtly legitimatizing the institutionalized prostitution by ordinances and yakuza-friendly interpretation of them.

When compared to Yasuo Tanaka, Ishihara is again outshone by far by the Nagano Governor. Both governors have many things in common. They graduated from Hitotsubashi University. After the graduation, both men chose to get into a writing career. But unlike Tanaka, Ishihara went into national politics with his empty promise about a "Revolution inside the System" only to fail to deliver anything he had promised to the voters. On the other hand, Tanaka chose to go directly into local politics as his second career. So he doesn't owe his supporters a concession speech as his counterpart in Tokyo does since 1989. And his catchword about an ambitious "Nagano Revolution" is much more a real thing. With his top-notch learning ability, he is testing the limit at every step when taking bold measures for his bottom-up reform. Although my way of viewing Tanaka may look naive and too schmaltzy, what the down-to-earth Governor is up to always reminds me of a famous line in Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List". Toward the end of that film, the old accountant Stern says to Schindler, his boss, when handing him a ring as a token of appreciation: "(The inscription inside the ring) is Hebrew. It says, 'Whoever saves one life saves the world'." Ishihara should have learned by now, if he had an average learning ability, that is, it can never be the other way around. I am not sure if Tanaka's pursuit of Nagano Revolution will ultimately succeed. And yet one thing is for sure. No matter whether he succeeds, he will never regret having given it a try the hardest way.
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Japanese Way of Learning English, and Its Disastrous Consequences

Take a look at the most recent results of the OECD's survey on English skills among non-English speaking member countries embedded at the bottom of this article.

Japan has been glued to the very bottom of the ranking since the inception of this comparative survey. And when it comes to a broader comparison among 151 nations, including non-OECD members, Japan ranked No.140. It's no wonder ranking-conscious Japanese people try to look away from the particularly painful OECD statistics. Some may ask what if the OECD had used some other yardstick than TOEFL scores on which it actually based the ranking. Maybe with something else in use as the evaluation method, Japan's position would have been elevated a notch or two. But I do not believe that would have made a great difference to the ranking.

Japan's disastrous showing in this respect is all the more intriguing because no other nation in the world has tried harder to improve the people's overall English skills. · read more (4,225 words)