Fast-food follies have media in a frenzy

| Aug 2, 2014

Fast-food follies have media in a frenzy

by Mark Schreiber

Almost exactly a year ago (on July 27, 2013), this column reported on how the print media was inundated with concerns over the safety of foods from abroad. Among the sources cited was Takarajima magazine, which quoted a foodstuffs importer as saying, “The decline ...

Is Japan sinking further into 'Aum-ification'?

| Jul 26, 2014

Is Japan sinking further into 'Aum-ification'?

by Michael Hoffman

The world — this insignificant little spinning rock we call home — is nearing its end. Armageddon lies ahead: violence, upheaval, horror. The normal human mind shrinks from the mere thought, but “higher consciousness” embraces it. Higher consciousness sees things in a wider perspective. ...

The high cost of peace and quiet

| Jul 12, 2014

The high cost of peace and quiet

by Michael Hoffman

Peace and quiet! How rare it is, how precious. Why rare? Because a full-blooded modern economy is no monastery, no “ancient pond” into which a frog may jump, producing the hushed “sound of water” immortalized by the haiku poet Basho (1644-94). Engines roar, machinery ...

Ongoing Obokata story seeks out scandal

| Jul 5, 2014

Ongoing Obokata story seeks out scandal

by Mark Schreiber

The paper, titled “Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency,” was accepted by the British science journal Nature on Dec. 20, 2013, and published online on Jan. 29, 2014. The authors were listed as Haruko Obokata, Teruhiko Wakayama, Yoshiki Sasai, Koji Kojima, Martin ...

A life of lettuce has its benefits

| Jun 28, 2014

A life of lettuce has its benefits

by Michael Hoffman

Lettuce. Let us raise a glass to lettuce. There’s a village in Nagano Prefecture called Kawakami — nothing, nowhere little place, deep in the mountains, far from the main road, population 3,960. Why does Shukan Gendai magazine devote three full pages to profiling it? ...

Japan's salarymen are bored to tears

| Jun 7, 2014

Japan's salarymen are bored to tears

by Michael Hoffman

It seems odd to be talking about boredom in such interesting times. Are you bored? Almost certainly you are, if Spa! magazine’s insights are reliable. Polling 2,052 mid-career (age 35-45), moderately prosperous (annual income ¥4 million-¥6 million) businessmen (sic, men only), it found no ...

Media eyes trend-setting Sony's loss of momentum

| May 31, 2014

Media eyes trend-setting Sony's loss of momentum

by Mark Schreiber

Let’s travel back 62 years. On the evening of Dec. 4, 1952, after NHK radio signed off its regular AM programming, an announcer proclaimed: “Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo and NHK now commence a joint experimental stereo broadcast.” In principle, stereophonic sound reproduction requires separation of ...

Will Japan be a country that welcomes all?

| May 24, 2014

Will Japan be a country that welcomes all?

by Michael Hoffman

“A nation of immigrants.” Japan? The leading proponent of that vision has been Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, current executive director of the private think tank he founded in 2007, the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. His was long a voice ...