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National Teams Nickname Their Way to FameMichael Schauerte

“Smile Japan.” No, it’s not the latest slogan by the Japan National Tourism Organization or the successor to the “Cool Japan” campaign; nor is it the arrow of last resort in the Abenomics quiver (as in: “Get happy and buy stuff, folks!”). “Smile Japan,” it turns out, is the nickname of the Japan’s women’s hockey team that competed at the Winter Olympics at Sochi. The name apparently fits, at leas…

At the Sochi Games: The Olympic Atmosphere Around TownYanai Yumiko

Much of the early global press coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, focused on the danger of a terrorist attack at the games, the country’s legal discrimination against sexual minorities, and other factors posing a threat to the safety of athletes and fans. Now that a week has passed since the Opening Ceremony, though, the games seem to be progressing without incident. What are things…

A Post-Plushenko Champion: Hanyū Yuzuru Wins Figure Skating GoldYanai Yumiko

On February 14, figure skater Hanyū Yuzuru delivered a Valentine’s Day present to millions of fans watching him compete in the men’s free skating competition in Sochi, Russia: Japan’s first ever Olympic gold medal in the men’s event. Just 19 years old, Hanyū came into his own just as the great Russian skater Evgeni Plushenko, 31—identified by the young Japanese skater as a hero and inspiration—ann…

The Age of Public Diplomacy: Soft Power Game in East Asia

The third session of the symposium focused on public diplomacy in East Asia, particularly the increasing tension that marks Japan’s relations with China and South Korea as well as each country’s public diplomacy efforts. The session was moderated by Kondō Motohiro, former editor-in-chief of Chūō Kōron.

The Age of Public Diplomacy: How It’s Done, and How It Could Be Done Better

The second discussion panel focused on the “instruments of public diplomacy.” The panelists spoke about their experiences of public diplomacy from a variety of perspectives. Professor Watanabe Yasushi of Keiō University was moderator.

Masuzoe Yōichi: Tokyo’s Next Governor

On February 9, 2014, Tokyo voters trudged to the polls through deep snow. There they elected Masuzoe Yōichi, a former member of the House of Councillors who served several terms as minister of health, labor, and welfare, to be the metropolis’s next governor. Backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and New Kōmeitō, Masuzoe handily beat his main opponents in the contest: Hosokawa Morihiro, a former …

Japan’s Gold Medal Hopefuls at SochiYanai Yumiko

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics is set to be held on February 7 in the Russian city of Sochi, on the Black Sea coast. It is the first Olympic Games to be held since the announcement was made in 2013 that Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 summer games. Hashimoto Seiko, the head of Japan’s Olympic delegation, pledged that the Japanese athletes would aim to top Japan’s record medal tally at…

Tokyo Governor Inose Resigns: Brought Down by Money Scandal

On December 19, 2013, Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki presented his letter of resignation to the president of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, bringing his term in office to a close just a year after his election in December 2012—making him the shortest-lived governor in postwar Tokyo’s history. Inose is embroiled in an election-financing scandal involving a ¥50 million loan from Tokushūkai, a major h…

2013 Kanji of the Year: “Rin” Takes the RingMichael Schauerte

A little while back we took a look at the key words of 2013. But there is another lexical popularity contest that takes place at the end of the year—the annual Kanji of the Year award, sponsored by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society, the organization that puts out the Kanji Kentei examinations. The results were announced on December 12 at Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple (and UNESCO World H…

No Vision Yet in Sight for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic GamesSven Saaler

The IOC has decided to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In stark contrast to Tokyo’s previous unpopular bid, this time domestic support was strong. With the decision comes a huge responsibility for the organizers toward Japan, the Japanese sports world, Japanese taxpayers, as well as the international community. Before and during the 2020 Olympics, the eyes of the world will be focused on Japan…

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