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In the News

Metro Tokyo ordinance on sexually explicit manga walks fine line on freedom of speech
The Mainichi Daily News, 12/13/2010
SDP head criticizes Kan's possible dispatch of SDF to Korean Peninsula
The Japan Times, 12/13/2010
2 Japanese local assembly members visit one of Senkaku Islands
Associated Press, 12/13/2010
Why Japan is ready for anything Pyongyang might want to throw at it
Guardian, 03/01/2010
Japan disputes racism allegations at U.N. panel
Kyodo, 02/26/2010

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Rest in Peace Japanese?

RIP Japanese?

The AFP reports that Japanese students “rush for English-language education,” which would be a dramatic reversal of the trend of the past few years among young people to show less interest in foreign countries and cultures. The article features ridiculous quotes by novelist Minae Mizumura.

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• Friday July 3, 2009 • Add Comment [1]

The Story Behind Neda's Video

She is the dramatic symbol of the Iranian protest, Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year old woman who was shot dead by an unknown sniper. The man who captured the horrifying images of her final minutes, sent the video to an Iranian friend applying for political asylum in the Netherlands, who subsequently sent it into the world.

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• Wednesday June 24, 2009 • Add Comment [1]

The Forgotten Grief of Okinawa

Japanese WWII Pilot Ready for Take Off

CNN has extensive coverage of the D-Day landings of World War II today. I deeply respect the people who fought for freedom on French beaches and all the way to Germany. What those young men accomplished is incredible and does not need to be exaggerated.

Unfortunately, CNN is repeatedly describing the D-Day landings as the largest in history. This however is incorrect. Although D-Day was enormous, it was exceeded by the invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945.

Some 1,300 ships, among which 40 carriers, participated. On the first day, 183,000 troops landed, growing to a final tally of 548,000. In comparison, on D-Day the allies landed 150,000 troops. If you count beyond the first day, though, D-Day does loom larger. Some 1 million Allied men landed on the Normandy beaches from June 6 to July 4, 1944.

I wrote an article about the Battle of Okinawa back in 2005, which brings the epic battle in perspective:

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• Saturday June 6, 2009 • Add Comment

We are only a sort of They

Japanese Stereotypes

Fellow correspondents tell me that they are noticing the same trend that has been worrying me for a while: newspaper editors seem to increasingly see Asia as a far-away place that doesn’t really need that much attention. “Those Asians, they are so different from us, their experience doesn’t relate to our daily life,” some seem to think. That of course, is a very limiting way of thinking. Some one hundred years ago, British author and poet Rudyard Kipling beautifully expressed how They are really Us:

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• Wednesday May 20, 2009 • Add Comment

How to Write a North Korean News Headline

North Korean Propaganda Poster

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency of North Korea (DPRK), has a fascinating way to present news about the countries that it sees as its main enemies: South Korea, Japan and the USA. In my imagination there is a huge poster on the wall that instructs KCNA’s English writers how to write headlines:

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• Friday March 6, 2009 • Add Comment [2]

Military Prostitution and the U.S. Military in Asia

US Helicopter

Where there are soldiers, there are women who exist for them. This is practically a cliché. History is filled with examples of women as war booty and “camp followers,” their bodies being used for service labor of various kinds, including sex. Contrary to common assumptions in the West, prostitution is not “part of Asian culture.” Just about every culture under the sun has some version of it during times of war and times of peace.

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Katharine H.S. Moon • Wednesday February 11, 2009 • Add Comment [5]

Will Japanese Men Start Giving Chocolate on Valentine's Day?

Gyaku Choco

Since the custom of giving chocolate on Valentine’s Day was first promoted in Japan in the 1960s, it has always been the women who have been doing the giving. Usually to men they are clearly not in love with, like a boss or a male colleague. Men get their chance to return the favor on the later invented White Day, held on March 14th. Now confectionery giant Morinaga believes that men are ready to initiate the gift exchange.

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• Sunday February 1, 2009 • Add Comment [2]