Political obstacles stymie energy autonomy

| Mar 28, 2015

Political obstacles stymie energy autonomy

by Philip Brasor

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Japan earlier this month, local coverage focused on a joint German-Japanese statement about the Ukraine crisis and her comment that Japan should forthrightly address its actions during World War II. She said nothing about how Japan and ...

Failing to rebuild communities in Tohoku

| Mar 14, 2015

Failing to rebuild communities in Tohoku

by Philip Brasor

The NHK travel program “Tsurube no Kazoku ni Kampai” (“Tsurube Toasts Families”) recently aired a two-parter about the town of Watari in Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated in the March 11, 2011, tsunami. In the series, rakugo storyteller Shofukutei Tsurube and a celebrity guest ...

Okinawa's story told differently in Tokyo

| Mar 7, 2015

Okinawa's story told differently in Tokyo

by Philip Brasor

Last week, at the end of a report on the TBS newsmagazine show “Hodo Tokushu” about protests against the proposed U.S. Marine Corps base at Henoko in Okinawa, the show’s host mentioned that in response to charges from local press that it had violently ...

Shibuya's same-sex move kicks off debate

| Feb 28, 2015

Shibuya's same-sex move kicks off debate

by Philip Brasor

On Feb. 13, Asahi Shimbun’s daily Vox Populi, Vox Dei column mentioned Morizo and Kiccoro, the official mascots of the 2005 World Expo held in Aichi Prefecture. These two “woodland fairies” supposedly hailed from Seto, which issued them the same resident cards (jūminhyō) held ...

Cowed news media has forgotten its role

| Feb 21, 2015

Cowed news media has forgotten its role

by Philip Brasor

In his Tokyo Shimbun column about weekly magazines, Hiroyuki Shinoda recently lauded Shukan Asahi for accusing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of exploiting the murder of journalist Kenji Goto by the Islamic State group for political purposes. Shinoda points out that the magazine had been ...

Snark levels were on full blast for 'Kohaku'

| Jan 17, 2015

Snark levels were on full blast for 'Kohaku'

by Philip Brasor

The 2014 edition of NHK’s venerated song contest, “Kohaku Uta Gassen,” broadcast on Dec. 31, was remarkable for several reasons, though the performance that generated the most remarks was the one by the equally venerated pop-rock group Southern All Stars, their first on the ...

| Jan 10, 2015

Dull and authentic beats out polished TV

by Philip Brasor

Another New Year’s break, another two-week onslaught of inconsequential television programs based on the variety show model of comedians talking about themselves, watching videos of other people doing supposedly interesting things and playing games whose main entertainment function is humiliation. The resilience of this ...