Japan Articles

Japan's Comfort Women Apology: Trust, But Verify

11:12 AM, Dec 29, 2015
Japan apologizes, but will it stick? Read more

So Long, Harry: Will Obama’s Apology Tour End in Hiroshima?

1:19 PM, Sep 02, 2015

A lame duck President Obama, released next year from any lingering political constraints, will make a likely final official visit to Asia to attend the 42nd G-7 summit of leaders of the world’s leading economies. The summit is scheduled to be held in May 2016 in central Japan, not far from Hiroshima.

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Was Dropping the Atomic Bomb Necessary?

Considering the context.
3:00 PM, Aug 27, 2015

Many of my friends think Hiroshima was an unjustifiable atrocity.

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National Archives Website Hacked; Selling Handbags, Shoes, Watches

12:41 PM, Aug 26, 2015

Advertisements in Japanese for handbagsbackpacksrunning shoes, and more began showing up on the website of the U.S. National Archives this week. Hackers managed to compromise a subdomain of the site, eisenhower.archives.gov. Below are screen captures of just two of the unauthorized pages:

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The New Orthodox Art of Murder

‘Honaku’ mystery writing in Japan.
9:15 AM, Aug 18, 2015

Unlike Scandinavia, where the police procedural form has been wedded to socio-political activism and pessimism since at least the 1960s, and unlike the United States, where different variations of the native hardboiled school continues to sell, the traditional mystery story is still alive and well in Japan.

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The Abe War Anniversary Statement: More Equivocation than Eloquence

12:01 PM, Aug 17, 2015

The statement of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second World War was the focus of profound anticipation throughout Asia. The prime minister was in an extremely delicate position, seeking to balance the need to express contrition to Imperial Japan’s aggrieved neighbors against the robust demands to yield no ground from his nationalist domestic political base.

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Do They Really Feel Remorse?

South Korea, Japan, and a fraught anniversary.
Aug 17, 2015


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Time to Talk Tough on Chinese Aggression

9:29 AM, Aug 05, 2015

John Kerry’s visit to Asia this week – like Ashton Carter’s last month – is designed to offer reassurance that America’s commitment to the region remains unwavering in the face of increased Chinese aggression. Yet despite these visits, leaders in the region have profound doubts whether the United States is serious about standing up to China.

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Japan Axes Liberal Arts in Favor of More Job Training

4:01 PM, Aug 04, 2015

Americans have long been skeptical of the liberal arts. Frequently this takes the form of a discussion of whether a degree in history or literature is “worth it” in a purely economic sense. Annual reports highlight the top-earning college majors, subtly encouraging students to forgo a class in literature or history in favor of something useful, like nursing or engineering.

Perhaps it’s a reflection of our innate American pragmatism.

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Japan Pushes South Korea Into China’s Arms

10:29 AM, Jun 29, 2015

South Korean President Park Geun-hye may have avoided walking into a potential minefield in postponing her recent Washington visit due to the MERS outbreak in her home country.

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The New York Times Tries and Fails to Prove that the U.S. Spends Too Little on Rail

10:38 AM, May 21, 2015

Even as it becomes ever more clear that last week’s Amtrak horror in Philadelphia had nothing to do with, as the refrain goes, “America’s Failing Infrastructure,™” many in the media and lobbying spheres have continued to demand greater spending on rail.

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A Bad Day For Abe

Congress should reschedule the Japanese leader's address.
9:04 AM, Apr 21, 2015

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe did not go into his line of work to make friends. Since regaining the premiership in 2012, Abe has made a habit of insulting Japan’s neighbors and allies.

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Japan’s Tense Neighborhood

China talks about a ‘peaceful rise,’ even as it probes for weakness.
Apr 06, 2015

Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Japan's Air Self-Defense Force base on Okinawa shares a runway with the civilian planes on this island about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo. When the American-made Japanese F-15s scramble, as they often do these days, the civilian traffic awaiting takeoff pulls over to a side taxiway. It must be a pretty decent air show for those with a window seat.

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The Paleo Diet, Japanese Style

Cuisine as statecraft.
Mar 16, 2015

The Japanese, seemingly stuck in political doldrums, sluggish economic growth, and waning international influence, are pushing past those frustrations with a new government-led campaign to sell the world—and their own children—on their country’s distinctive traditional cuisine.

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Wendy Sherman vs. South Korea

A top U.S. diplomat needlessly insults an ally.
1:37 PM, Mar 04, 2015

Sherman marched right into it. At an event in Washington on Friday, the U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, Wendy Sherman, held forth on the subject of the prickly relations between South Korea and Japan -- and did so in a way that seemed to blame the victims in the situation.

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Japan's Robot Babies

Why immigration probably won't save Japan from demographic decline.
2:28 PM, Feb 25, 2015

Over at Reason, Pete Suderman has a great piece about how Japan is looking to robots to help care for its geriatric citizens. It’s funny and creepy and you should totally read it.

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Defining Defiance Down

2:15 PM, Feb 04, 2015

As the prime minister of constitutionally pacifist Japan, Shinzo Abe cannot sound belligerent notes—even when his citizens are beheaded by ISIS, as occurred this past weekend.

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Obama Confirms Islamic State Murder of Japanese Man

3:38 PM, Jan 24, 2015

President Obama confirmed and condemned the death of a Japanese man at the hands of the Islamic State in this statement:

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ISIS: Counting Down to Murder

2:35 PM, Jan 23, 2015

Japan’s government is running out of time, writes Adam Pasick at Quartz:

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Japanese Leader to 'Express Remorse' for World War II

7:32 AM, Jan 05, 2015

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will "express remorse" for World War II, the Associated Press reports.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that his government would express remorse for World War II on the 70th anniversary of its end in August.

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Which Way Will Seoul Go?

The diplomatic courtship of South Korea’s ­president.
Sep 29, 2014

America’s “pivot” to Asia is rapidly going nowhere, but diplomatic challenges in the most economically vibrant region of the world still cry out for attention. These include the brash assertiveness of a rising China, the emergence of an erratic, nuclear-armed young North Korean leader, and the embrace of neo-nationalism in an aging and insecure Japan. One nation stands out as a source of balance—South Korea, personified by its astute and pragmatic president, the first woman to hold the job.

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Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

Sep 01, 2014

A foolish optimism about human nature can’t withstand even a nodding acquaintance with history. If you’re of a certain age you may well remember seeing this photo. It was published years ago in Life magazine, among other places. And once seen, it is not easily forgotten. The Scrapbook retrieved the copy reproduced here from the endlessly fascinating World War II Today website, maintained and curated since 2008 by Martin Cherrett (ww2today.com). Here is Mr. Cherrett’s description:

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Japan and the Comfort Women: Not a ‘Beautiful Country’

4:14 PM, Jul 01, 2014

In 2007, during his first term as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe penned a work titled Toward a Beautiful Country, My Vision for Japan. The recent re-examination of the 1993 Kono Statement on the Imperial Japanese military’s use of “comfort women” during World War II (a euphemism for sex slaves), which was presented to the Japanese Diet on June 20, is the antithesis of the actions of “a beautiful country.” It represents a backward step, reopening a dark chapter in 20th-century history, which most of the world woul

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‘The June 4th Incident’

Tiananmen Square and truth-telling.
Jun 09, 2014

In a March 28 speech at the Körber Foundation in Berlin, China’s president, Xi Jinping, called for historical truth-telling. He had in mind the Rape of Nanking, the massacre carried out by Imperial Japan’s forces in 1937-38 during their occupation of the then-capital of the Chinese Nationalists (the city is now called Nanjing).

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Obama's Japan Trip Hotel Bill: $635K

10:51 AM, Apr 28, 2014

President Obama spent only one night in Japan last week on his current swing through Asia, but the State Department estimated total "lodging nights" required by the president and his entourage could run around 2,172, and the use of "functional rooms" (presumably conference rooms and the like) could last up to 29 days.

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The U.S. and Japan Choose Stagnation?

3:40 PM, Apr 24, 2014

President Obama will leave Japan without a vital trade deal. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was supposed to be wrapped last autumn, and the president’s spring trip to Asia—the one he’s currently on—was supposed to be the victory lap.

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Obama: Japanese 'Robots Were a Little Scary, They Were Too Lifelike'

7:09 AM, Apr 24, 2014

President Obama met some Japanese robots and didn't like it. "I have to say that the robots were a little scary, they were too lifelike.

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Japanese Emperor Consoles Gray-Haired Obama: 'You Have a Very Hard Job'

8:20 PM, Apr 23, 2014

President Obama is in Japan meeting with the emperor -- and talking about his gray hair.

"I hope you and your family are well," Obama told the emperor, according to the pool report. "I have very fond memories of our last meeting four years ago."

The emperor responded, "We are pleased to welcome you."

According to the White House pool report, "The president told the Emperor that the last time they met, he did not have any gray hairs."

To which the emperor reportedly responded, "You have a very hard job."

Here's the entire pool report:

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Japan’s ‘Irish Question’

Is South Korea slipping away?
Mar 03, 2014

In 1916 London faced a dilemma. The British were hoping to bring American reinforcements to assist them and their beleaguered French allies in the trenches of the First World War. Woodrow Wilson, however, seeking to become the first Democratic president to win reelection since before the Civil War, was campaigning under the slogan “He kept us out of war.” 

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Japan Steps Up

America’s Pacific ally displays confidence – and makes a needless slip.
11:33 AM, Jan 21, 2014

Much good news is emanating from Japan, one of America's most important allies, though some of it comes with an unnecessary taint. After decades of economic stagnation and foreign policy reticence stemming from its postwar legacy of pacifism, Japan is back as a strong and confident alliance partner. 

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