Timely essays by specialists, scholars, and journalists interpreting the latest developments in Japan and around the world.

Pocky Heads Overseas: Japanese Snack Brands Earning a Global FollowingMitamura Fukiko

So-called “Galapagos” snacks developed to fit local Japanese tastes are now attracting hungry fans worldwide. Manufacturers are finding success abroad by changing flavors and sales promotion strategies to suit national, ethnic, and religious preferences.

Asian-Americans and Japan’s History IssuesDavid Leheny

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s speech to a joint session of Congress during his recent US visit was well received, not least due to his expressions of remorse for World War II with reference to battles in which US soldiers were killed. Lukewarm statements regarding wartime atrocities in Asia, however, could also go beyond regional politics and affect US-Japan relations. Because so many Asian-Americans are among those engaged in Japanese studies, insufficient concern for Asian sentiments risks alienating potential students and diminishing future US interest in Japan.

Breaking the 10-Second Barrier: Sprinter Kiryū Yoshihide Aims to Make History in the Men’s 100 MetersTamesue Dai

In March 2015, Japanese sprint hopeful Kiryū Yoshihide of Tōyō University clocked an extraordinary—albeit wind-aided—9.87 seconds in the men’s 100 meters. Hopes are high for Kiryū to achieve Japan’s first official sub-10-second record in the near future. In this article Tamesue Dai, two-time IAAF World Championships bronze medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, offers expert insights into Kiryū’s sprinting and career.

2015 Japan Expo in Paris: Japan Slow to Cash In on Being “Cool”Abe Hiroyuki

The 2015 Japan Expo will be held in Paris from July 2 to 5. The annual event has become a gathering spot for cosplayers and other young fans of Japanese pop culture from around Europe. Despite this intense interest among Europeans, Japan still lacks a proper structure for reaping the financial benefits of the Cool Japan boom.

Japan Brews Up a Rich Coffee CultureTakai Naoyuki

Finding a “cup of joe” in Japan has never been easier—from the ubiquitous Starbucks to fresh coffee for ¥100 at convenience stores. Here we take a look at recent coffee trends, including some unique mom-and-pop cafés off the beaten track. 

Kawasaki Youth’s Murder Exposes Japan’s Social and Policy Failings in Coping with ImmigrationSugiyama Haru

The brutal murder of a junior high school student in Kawasaki stunned Japan. As more information came to light about the victim and his alleged assailants, it revealed profound rifts in the fabric of Japanese society. This incident has cast a glaring light on shortcomings in Japan’s capacity for adequately dealing with the issues of single-parent households, poverty, and immigration.

Japan Should Consider Joining China’s New Development BankŌba Mie

Though it decided not to become a founding member of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Japan, as a responsible major country, should consider joining the new institution to foster its operation as a regional development institution.

The Need for a Flexible Japanese Approach to the Asian Infrastructure Investment BankTsuiki Saori

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, promoted by China, has garnered much interest around the world as a symbol of increasing Chinese influence. Whether Japan ultimately joins the bank or not, its experience in working with the long-established Asian Development Bank ensures it will continue to play a major role in boosting development in the region.

Abe’s Groundbreaking US VisitNakayama Toshihiro

While many pundits have pronounced Prime Minister Abe’s recent visit to the United States a qualified success, Nakayama Toshihiro argues that it broke new ground—not through the kind of personal rapport prized by previous Japanese prime ministers in their dealings with US presidents but through a shared commitment to the kind of frameworks needed to build a new global partnership.

Rainbow in the East: LGBT Rights in JapanSechiyama Kaku

A new ordinance in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward recognizing same-sex partnerships has drawn headlines around the world and started wider discussion of LGBT issues within Japan. Sociologist Sechiyama Kaku examines the recent history of LGBT rights in Japan, including a 1990s court case that proved to be a turning point.

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