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

One Look Suits All: Japan, Land of UniformsMitamura Fukiko

Japan is full of people in uniform, both at school and on the job. And then there are those who voluntarily don “pseudo-uniforms,” like the standardized suits of student job hunters. Why does the culture of the uniform have such a strong hold on the Japanese?
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Paving the Way for a Presidential Visit to Hiroshima

Remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the recent G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Hiroshima have kindled hopes for a historic presidential visit to the site of the world’s first atomic bombing. Miyama Hideaki, a veteran journalist and civic leader living in Hiroshima, talked to us about the meaning of such a visit and his own efforts to help bring it about.
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Between Consenting Adults: Japan’s Incongruous Celebrity Sex ScandalsSechiyama Kaku

In the first few months of 2016, Japan’s weekly scandal sheets blew the lid off the sexual affairs of several well-known figures, forcing them to withdraw from public life. Comparative sociologist Sechiyama Kaku questions this ritual of public shaming for behavior that the law regards as a matter of private discretion.
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The “Inconvenient Truth” Behind Japan’s Toothless MediaOkumura Nobuyuki

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Takaichi Sanae caused a stir in February with a comment that broadcasters continuing to air politically biased programs may be shut down. Pressure from the Abe administration continues to mount, but the media has been hesitant to fight back.
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Rescuing a Giant: Sharp’s Future in Foxconn’s HandsMori Kazuo

In early April Taiwan’s Foxconn concluded its bid to acquire Sharp, placing the future of the debt-ridden manufacturer firmly in the hands of the group’s chair, Terry Gou. The question going forward is whether the charismatic business leader can right the fortunes of the struggling Japanese company.
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A Greater Share for the Japanese SharehouseSophie Knight

In a bid to reverse the damage to community ties wrought by the increase in single and two-person households over the past three decades, a growing number of people in Japan are embracing collective living arrangements in an echo of the global “sharing economy.”
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The Roots and Realities of Japan’s Cyber-NationalismFuruya Tsunehira

The prevalence of anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech on Japanese websites has raised concerns about the spread of a virulent strain of right-wing cyber-nationalism in Japan. Furuya Tsunehira traces the rise of Japan’s “Internet right-wingers” and dispels some myths about their identity and potential impact.
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AKB48 at its Tenth Anniversary Faces New ChallengesRick Masuzawa

2015 marks the tenth anniversary of the idol group AKB48. The group has maintained its popularity by staying ahead of trends. But the rapidly changing music industry could make the upcoming years more challenging.
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Second Chance at Venus Orbit for Wandering Akatsuki ProbeNakano Fujio /Tamazawa Harufumi

On December 7, 2015, the Akatsuki probe entered into orbit around Venus, five years after its first, failed attempt. The probe was launched by JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, in 2010, a year when the successful return of Hayabusa from its mission to gather asteroid dust changed the attitude of the Japanese public toward space exploration.
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Maintaining Peace in the South China SeaBonnie S. Glaser

China’s terraforming activities and territorial claims in the South China Sea have unnerved its neighbors in the region. The United States has made freedom of navigation operations near the Spratly Islands part of its strategy to address Chinese actions; they must be combined with diplomacy, as well as cooperation among America and its partners, to be truly effective.
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