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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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Japan in the future to be caught between U.S., China: think tank

National Diet Building, Tokyo

Japan will probably find itself caught between the United States and China over the next 17 years, with its foreign policy at the mercy of the policies of Washington and Beijing, a U.S. intelligence community think tank reported Thursday.

In an unclassified report, titled “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World,” the National Intelligence Council also said U.S. power will decline by 2025, with the world becoming unstable as the post-World War II international system vanishes.

On Japan, the 120-page report said the country will face a “major reorientation” of its domestic and foreign policies yet maintain its status as an “upper middle rank power.”

It forecast Tokyo’s foreign policies “will be influenced most by the policies of China and the United States,” with a broad spectrum of options possible. (Source: The Japan Times)

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The Japan Times • Saturday November 22, 2008 • Add Comment

Top 60 Buzzwords of 2008

Decorated Phone

Pink Tentacle has once again listed this year’s top buzzwords as released by publishing company Jiyu Kokuminsha. The words are an excellent way to discover what events, people and trends dominated the Japanese media during 2008. The list includes terms like Princess Phone (姫電, Himeden), Guerrilla Rainstorm (ゲリラ豪雨, Gerira Gou), Marriage Hunting (婚活, Konkatsu), Whispering Matron (ささやき女将, sasayaki okami), Taste for Middle-Aged Men (カレセン, karesen) and many others. (Source: Pink Tentacle)

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Pink Tentacle • Tuesday November 18, 2008 • Add Comment

Yokohama 1890s • Nectarine No. 9 Brothel

Yokohama 1890s • Nectarine No. 9 Brothel

Gorgeously dressed prostitutes are standing in the windows of the Nectarine brothel in Yokohama, a world-famous house of prostitution also known as No.9 or Jimpuro (occasionally romanized as Jinpuro or Shinpuro). Until the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, Jimpuro was one of the top brothels of the city. It was originally opened in 1872 (Meiji 5) in Yokohama’s Takashima-cho. In 1882 (Meiji 15), Jimpuro moved to the less visible area of Eiraku-cho. A branch specifically for foreigners was opened at the red-light district of Kanagawa’s Nanaken-machi. The brothel was called No. 9, because this was Jimpuro’s original address in Takashima-cho. (Source: Old Photos of Japan)

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• Tuesday November 11, 2008 • Add Comment

1890s • Kago Bearers Taking a Break

Kago Bearers, Meiji Period

During a break, two kago bearers smoke kiseru pipes while their customer is being served tea by a waitress from a teahouse. The woman’s luggage is tied to the roof of the kago. During the Edo Period, (1603-1868) only samurai were allowed to ride horses, while horse carriages were unknown. The kago therefore was Japan’s main mode of transportation until the invention of the jinrikisha (rickshaw) around 1868. The jinrikisha quickly replaced the kago in the cities (Tokyo for example had already some 56,000 jinrikisha in 1872), but its use continued in mountainous areas where the jinrikisha was often not practical. (Source: Old Photos of Japan)

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• Monday November 10, 2008 • • Add Comment

The Ghost of Wartimes Past

Illustration by Georges Bigot

Many Japanese were surprised that a hotel chain, under a cloud for shoddy earthquake-proofing standards, should sponsor a competition for the best essay to deny Japan’s wartime role as an aggressor and sponsor of atrocities. But then the chain’s boss, Toshio Motoya, is a vigorous historical revisionist (and big supporter of Shinzo Abe, prime minister in 2006-07). More astounding, then: the competition winner, Toshio Tamogami, was none other than the head of Japan’s air force.

Mr Tamogami’s offering is a warmed-through hash of thrice-cooked revisionism. Japan, he writes, fought a war of self-defence, protecting its legal territories of Manchukuo (North-East China) and Korea against communists. Pearl Harbour was an American-laid trap. Japanese occupations were both benevolent and a liberation of Asia from the yoke of Western imperialism—indeed, neighbours (20m of whose deaths were caused by the Japanese) now look fondly on wartime Japan. Japan must “reclaim its glorious history”, Mr Tamogami ended with a barrel-rolling flourish and a want of irony, “for a country that denies its own history is destined to fall.”

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The Economist • Thursday November 6, 2008 • Add Comment

Obama for Obama

On November 5th, 2008 the small Japanese town of Obama celebrated Senator Barack Obama’s historical election as the next US President. Local shops sold everything from Obama t-shirts to Obama Burgers. A hula dance group did a victory dance.

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• Wednesday November 5, 2008 • Add Comment

Lapis Lazuli Color (Ruri-iro)

Lapis Lazuli

“The Earth was blue.” These were reportedly the words used by Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, when describing his impressions after returning to Earth. He was referring to what is known in Japan as the color “ruri-iro.” This color was used in Egypt as early as 3,400 years ago in jewelry, which came to Japan along the Silk Road.

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Japan for Sustainability • Saturday November 1, 2008 • Add Comment