Abe urges language learners to share Japan’s true colours

Foreigners who speak Japanese are able to understand Japan better than people who cannot speak the language, according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. For most foreigners, mastering the language is a daunting task. Fortunately, the Japanese themselves are striving for better English and claim to have invented a wonderful machine which translates Japanese to English if […]

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Amnesty condemns Japan’s death penalty and criminal justice system

Is Amnesty International right to call Japan’s criminal justice system “deeply flawed”? Should it abolish the death penalty to prevent innocent people being killed? Many of Japan’s social systems have much in common with the West. However, its criminal justice system is significantly different. There are often reports in the international media which are critical […]

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Indian nuclear deal challenges Japan’s green credentials

Japan’s prime minister says its innovative green technology can tackle global climate change. But a plan to sell nuclear power reactors to India has been criticised as “eco-destuctive” and condemned by the former mayor of Fukushima. This week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was among the world leaders to give a speech at the COP21 conference […]

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United Nations urges Japan to accept refugees

The United Nations is putting pressure on Japan to accept more refugees, especially people displaced by the war in Syria. Prime Minister Abe has said Japan should deal with its own problems before taking in newcomers. This week, the head of the UN body responsible for refugees, Antonio Guterres, was in Tokyo. He was quoted […]

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Women claim chauvinism and harassment hinder gender equality

The media often presents Japanese women as sexy and strange. Yet it also frequently reports on the pressures women face to become successful in their careers, suggesting they have a duty to assist Japan’s economy. This week, the readers of the leading US business newspaper the Wall Street Journal were presented with a striking image […]

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Abe supporter fired in row over defence policy

A university president who publicly supported Prime Minister Abe’s defence policy has lost his job. The news has led to a debate about freedom of speech and highlighted the divisions within Japan over the sensitive issue of national security. Koji Murata, 51, a professor of political science, was until recently the president of Doshisha University […]

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Relations warm between Japan, China and South Korea

There has been a breakthrough in Japan’s diplomatic relationship with China and South Korea. The leaders of the three countries met for the first time in three years last weekend. A few days later, China’s premier urged Japanese businesses to maintain their trade with China, despite a slowdown in China’s rate of economic growth. On […]

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Japan offers its sporting venues to the world

Japan wants big sporting events to boost its economy and bring it international prestige. It is hoping to learn from the UK how to gain long-term benefit from hosting international tournaments. For the past month, England has been hosting the Rugby World Cup and has been widely praised. “We couldn’t be more pleased with how […]

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David Cameron hails the UK’s “golden era” with China

The British prime minister David Cameron said the relationship between Britain and China is entering a “golden era”. Many business deals were signed during a trip to London by the Chinese president. Should Japan be worried? There was a warm welcome for President Xi by the Queen, Mr Cameron and Britain’s politicians and business leaders. […]

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Japan embraces ASEAN region despite investment risks

 Japan is investing twice as much money in South Eastern Asian countries than it is in China. Many countries which were invaded by the Japanese in the last century now want Japan to help their economies grow. This week I attended a conference about the ASEAN countries at Asia House in London. It gave a […]

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