A dark force targets youth at their jobs

| Oct 18, 2014

A dark force targets youth at their jobs

by Philip Brasor

In the ongoing discussion about workplace abuse, the media has advanced yet another new term. “Black baito” modifies the already popular phrase “black kigyō,” which are companies that manipulate or ignore labor standards in order to get employees to work overtime without pay. “Baito” ...

In-debt idols send wrong message to girls

| Oct 11, 2014

In-debt idols send wrong message to girls

by Philip Brasor

Two weeks ago a female pop group called The Margarines debuted via a Tokyo news conference. Since Japanese show business has no shortage of young women who want to sing and dance in order to “fulfill their dreams,” the new ensemble needed a gimmick. ...

Tourists may not warm to Japan's welcome

| Oct 4, 2014

Tourists may not warm to Japan's welcome

by Philip Brasor

A former colleague of mine always made it a point to tell people coming to Japan for a visit to bring lots of handkerchiefs because the public restrooms didn’t have towel dispensers. I always took a more positive view and emphasized that public restrooms ...

Social media aids rehashing of historical hate

| Sep 13, 2014

Social media aids rehashing of historical hate

by Philip Brasor

After rain caused deadly mudslides in Hiroshima Prefecture last month, rumors spread over the Internet about burglaries of evacuated homes by “foreigners,” including Zainichi (ethnic Korean residents of Japan). Such rumors tend to accompany disasters, so Tokyo Shimbun talked directly to police in the ...

Push for casinos runs into headwinds

| Sep 6, 2014

Push for casinos runs into headwinds

by Philip Brasor

Until a few months ago, it seemed a sure thing that casinos would be open in Tokyo by the time the Olympics rolled around in 2020. For years now, a group of lawmakers have been working to legalize gambling resorts in Japan, and Tokyo ...

Criminal notoriety for the sake of fame

| Aug 23, 2014

Criminal notoriety for the sake of fame

by Philip Brasor

Hirofumi Watanabe, the man convicted Thursday of threatening publishers, stores, universities and basically anyone or anything that had something to do with the popular manga “Kuroko no Basuke (Kuroko’s Basketball),” has enjoyed a peculiar sort of celebrity since he was arrested in December. Prior ...

Home is where the hard work is

| Aug 16, 2014

Home is where the hard work is

by Philip Brasor

Earlier this year, house builder Asahi Kasei Homes produced a video “white paper” based on a survey of 1,371 “double-income families” with children. Seventy percent of the husbands surveyed said they had been subjected to kaji-hara, or “housework harassment,” by their wives. AKH defined ...

Critics get frank when it comes to Godzilla

| Aug 9, 2014

Critics get frank when it comes to Godzilla

by Philip Brasor

Because Japanese media are incestuous in their inter-corporate dealings, those writers referred to as hyōronka (critics) tend to be less critical about popular culture than their counterparts in North America and Europe. They are more likely to engage in punditry or public relations, because ...

Is the next stop 'brokesville' for the maglev?

| Aug 2, 2014

Is the next stop 'brokesville' for the maglev?

by Philip Brasor

Robert Moses, the civil servant who built the great park-expressway-bridge network in New York state during the middle of the last century, succeeded by gaming the system. Understanding how politics would make it difficult for him to fulfill his vision, he often started a ...