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All posts by Michael Penn

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.

It’s a Small World

The Japan Travel and Tourism Association (JATA) annual “Tourism Expo Japan” wrapped up today after a three-day run. It bills itself as the largest tourism expo in the world, and it is undoubtedly very sizeable. Filling up a whole wing of Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba, there were booths representing all 47 prefectures of Japan as well as about 150 foreign nations. In all, close to a thousand companies and organizations participated.

Henoko and Ferguson

The various dramas occurring today near Henoko beach, Okinawa, and the city of Ferguson, Missouri, undoubtedly have many points of difference, but it is worth reflecting briefly on some issues that unite these two cases.

Gaza “Die-In” Staged in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park

A group of Japanese and foreign activists and concerned citizens staged a “die-in” in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park today to bring attention to the plight of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. This event is the latest in a series of related protests that have occurred in the Japanese capital since Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge,” a military campaign that took the lives of almost 2,000 Palestinians and injured more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians.

Is the DPJ Brand Worth Saving?

There are many reasons for the hapless condition that the Japanese political opposition has fallen into, but one of the biggest factors surrounds the state and ambitions of the largest remaining opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan. The question, put simply, is whether or not the DPJ should focus on trying rebuild itself into a party that may one day govern the nation again, or if it has fallen so low in public esteem that its lawmakers would better advised to jump ship and to start afresh with a new political party.