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All posts by Michael Penn

NHK’s Decline into Propaganda

When NHK was founded in 1926, it was quite consciously modelled on the BBC of the United Kingdom. In that spirit, visitors to the English-language section of the NHK webpage will find its self-description as follows: “NHK delivers a wide range of impartial, high-quality programs, both at home and abroad.”

The Asahi Shinbun’s Loss of Nerve

It has been impossible for any journalist in Japan, whether Japanese or foreign, to overlook the agony of the Asahi Shinbun over the past couple months. They have stumbled from one mistake to another, and in the process they have inadvertently energized the Japanese right and deflated moderates and liberals.

Reconsolidation of the Democratic Party of Japan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s rather bizarre decision to call an early general election at a juncture that is distinctly unfavorable to his personal interests has set analysts ablaze, wondering how many seats the LDP-Komeito coalition can lose before Abe’s gambit would be judged a political failure.

Shinzo Abe Ponders Political Oblivion

When a colleague recently asked us if we’d heard the rumor that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was considering a snap election in December, our first response was to wave it off as quite implausible. As we began to read such stories in the Japanese media, our second reaction was to view it as a likely bluff that the prime minister is using to discipline his own restive party members over the consumption tax hike issue.

Losing the Plot in Okinawa

The virtues of Shokichi Kina as an Okinawan folk musician are impossible to deny. Long after the man is dead and buried, his song “Hana” will be an immortal classic. As a politician, however, the sooner his career is forgotten the better.

No One’s Party

Keiichiro Asao is among the most urbane and accessible of Japanese party leaders, and so he is in many ways a man that you want to root for. But in the nearly six months since he took over the leadership role of Your Party he has produced little prospect of a bright future for the organization.