Abe Craves Olympic Glory

“Don’t expect Shinzo Abe to try to change the constitution before the Olympic Games,” a senior Japanese government official told me privately this week. He explained that the Prime Minister’s long-cherished plan of removing the clause in the constitution which commits Japan to a form of pacifism would be put on hold until after the […]

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Abe pledges resolute response to North Korea

Japan and South Korea are pressing the United States to step up the diplomatic effort to prevent war with North Korea. South Korea’s ambassador-at-large for international security affairs, Chung-in Moon, has said that President Trump should send an envoy such as the former national security advisor Steve Hadley to try to dissuade the North from […]

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Do lazy students let down Japan’s colleges?

This week I’ve been considering the claim: “Most Japanese universities are not very stimulating or rewarding places intellectually.” It is not a new allegation. It was made by an American writer named Robert C. Christopher in the book The Japanese Mind: The Goliath Explained, which was first published in 1983. Low ranking Given the enormous […]

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Japan cannot defend itself, warns US colonel

Japan is unable to defend itself, according a scathing article about its military published in the Washington Post this week. The journalist John Pomfret claims that the Self Defence Force is weak, disorganised and under-funded. He suggests this causes dismay to Japan’s principal ally, the United States. Pomfret bases his article on an interview with […]

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Trump’s Tokyo burger sent a USA first message to Japan

When President Trump went to lunch with the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo last week, he rejected sushi made by the finest chefs in favour of a juicy hamburger. Fortunately, his hosts had researched what he likes to eat, so they’d already put mustard and ketchup on the table. It was a potent […]

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How can foreigners find work in Japan?

A record number of foreigners are working in Japan and many companies are actively recruiting globally for new staff. Japan’s low unemployment rate has created opportunities for foreigners, although many people find the complex recruitment process baffling. This week I gained insights into the opportunities and challenges at a conference on employment, hosted at the […]

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“Adorably mad” Japan delights the motoring press

The view that Japan is a weird place full of “adorably mad” machines is strongly reinforced by international press coverage of this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. “Stay strange, Tokyo” began an article by the journalist Jeremy Korzeniewski, who compiled a comprehensive report on the event on Autoblog. He explains that “the Tokyo Motor Show never […]

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Conservatives relish Abe’s election success

Japan makes a good conservative role model for other countries, according to a political journalist reacting to the general election. Through a coalition of his party and supporters, Shinzo Abe has the support of around 80% of parliamentarians.   Conservative ideal Stephen Bush wrote in the New Statesman’s blog that “Japan is in many ways […]

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Cheating scandals mar Japan’s reputation

This week, the international media has been filled with articles condemning Japanese business culture after another high profile scandal. Kobe Steel has admitted it falsified safety records for products supplied to more than five hundred companies, including Japan’s biggest automotive firms and train manufacturers. Decades of cheating The Nikkei newspaper reported that the cheating went […]

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“We work hard but we’re not productive enough”

Pulling Japan out of a trap of low productivity is “the number one goal” of the central bank, according to one of its most senior figures. The Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan Mr Hiroshi Nakaso told a gathering in London that Japan continues to lag behind most developed countries in terms of productivity […]

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