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Tokyo’s ‘Human Accidents’

“We regret to inform you that this train has been delayed by a human accident.” I boarded the train at Kichijoji Station on the Chuo (Main) Line around 6 pm to go downtown for my regular...
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Ginza Gets its Groove Back

After years of stagnation, Tokyo’s famed Ginza shopping area is undergoing an extraordinary renaissance. Ten years ago the area seemed to be in danger of dying. The large department store...
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Japan’s Refueling Debate Reheated

Once again Japan is embroiled in one of those hair-splitting arguments over the extent to which it can participate in overseas military operations without bending its constitution and its war-renouncing Article 9 out of all recognition. The catalyst f...
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The Short, Unhappy Life of Shinzo Abe

If he had waited just two more weeks to resign, Shinzo Abe could at least have rounded out a full year as Japan’s prime minister. Instead, he seems destined to join the large number of pr...
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Japan’s Democracy Comes of Age

Photo by Andrew James A slow motion political evolution that commenced some 15 years ago in Japan is beginning to bear fruit. The long quest to transform the country into a competitive, two-part...
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Down the Hatch

“Hatch for unwanted babies.” It is a headline over the kind of weird story that sometimes seems to be a Japanese specialty. But it actually could mean a lot about the extraordinary demographic changes taking place thro...
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A Japanese Scientist Lights Up the World

Shuji Nakamura never meant to change the world. All the Japanese scientist wanted was to do some original research, write a few academic papers, make his presence felt. But he ended up revolutionizing the wo...
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Japan lets more than just interest rates stagnate

Just three days after the East Asia summit ended in Cebu, Japan struck another blow against the cooperation that Asian leaders talk so much about but practice so little. By leaning on the Bank of Japan to kee...
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Japan lets more than just interest rates stagnate

Just three days after the East Asia summit ended in Cebu, Japan struck another blow against the cooperation that Asian leaders talk so much about but practice so little. By leaning on the Bank of Japan to keep it from raising interest rates,  the new Pr...
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Being a Hostess

“Ow!" That was the sound of me slamming my knee against a futuristic Japanese toilet. Hard. Changing into a cocktail dress in a women's bathroom stall of the Shibuya Seibu department store is...