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From Dec. 2, The Japan Times is serializing one of Japan’s early detective novels, The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo, in which author Kido Okamoto (1872-1939), offers entertaining and thrilling stories set in Edo Period Japan.
Consecutive installations from the book appear in The Japan Times every week, from Tuesday to Saturday. For context and background of the book’s setting, as well as the time in which Kido wrote his work, it offers the introduction of The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi, written by the book’s translator Ian McDonald.
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A commercial for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) gets the message through with just a few sentences: “Economic issues, pension issues, medical issues. People are now embraced by fear in many different ways. We feel a heavy political responsibility about these issues. Making it possible for every single citizen to live life without worry. That is the kind of politics that we, the Democratic Party of Japan, will make a reality.” The DPJ hammers on the same issue, “we will improve your life.” The message is simple, clear and straight, and it is repeated daily.
With Japan’s frightening economic decline and news of massive lay-offs by the country’s most respected companies in the news headlines daily, this description of poverty in Japan more than a century ago is sobering:
A road, at this time a quagmire, intersected by a rapid stream, crossed in many places by planks, runs through the village. This stream is at once “lavatory” and “drinking fountain.” People come back from their work, sit on the planks, take off their muddy clothes and wring them out, and bathe their feet in the current. On either side are the dwellings, in front of which are much-decayed manure heaps, and the women were engaged in breaking them up and treading them into a pulp with their bare feet. All wear the vest and trousers at their work, but only the short petticoats in their houses, and I saw several respectable mothers of families cross the road and pay visits in this garment only, without any sense of impropriety.
Only a third of Japanese think ties with the United States, Tokyo’s most important security ally, are in good shape, according to a poll released just weeks before President-elect Barack Obama takes office.
The level of Japanese dissatisfaction — the worst since 2000 — reflects unhappiness at Washington’s removal of North Korea from its terrorism blacklist and declining confidence in the U.S. economy in the wake of the global financial crisis, the Yomiuri daily, which published the poll, said on Thursday.
Many Japanese also fear Washington may focus on building stronger ties with a rising China while losing interest in Japan.
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Een Japanse vakbond demonstreerde afgelopen week voor de poort van een grote Canon-fabriek in zuidelijk Japan. De camera-producent zette 1.100 werknemers op straat. Dezelfde dag kondigde Sony aan dat het 16.000 werknemers de deur gaat wijzen. Voor vele Japanse werknemers, nog gewend aan het idee van lifetime-employment, komt het nieuws als een donderslag.
Japanese union members demonstrated in front of the gate of a large Canon factory in Southern Japan last week. The camera producer laid off some 1,100 workers. The same day Sony announced that by 2010 it will cut 16,000 employees. For many Japanese employees, still used to the idea of lifetime employment, the news is devastating.