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The Cold Road to Europe

The long string of incidents off the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands this summer and the wider maritime territorial disputes in East and Southeast Asia have been overshadowing a major development with great potential implications for Japan: The northern sea route, linking East Asia with Europe through waters traditionally closed by ice to commercial navigation, are increasingly accessible during the Arctic summer thanks to the global warming.

Chinese Patrol Boat Bound for Hawaii

If all goes well, one of China’s largest and most advanced patrol boats, the Haixun 31, should arrive in Hawaii on September 4 for cooperative exercises with the United States Coast Guard to “strengthen mutual understanding.” This will be the first time a Chinese patrol ship with helicopter-carrying capacity will dock in the United States.

Kanami’s Wind in the Pines Heading to Canada

Once described as the oldest form of masked theatre in the world, Noh has a history that stretches back in current form to the 14th and 15th centuries; even earlier if you consider its predecessors. As is, however, modern Japanese Noh is an almost exclusively male discipline of theatre in which actors never rehearse together, but rather come together as well-practiced individuals on the day a play is to be performed, to engage in what is essentially a one-off event.

A Tale of Two Courts: Japan and South Korea

Perhaps the law is a subject better left to lawyers and courts, but the reality is that the law often collides with international politics as well, so it can never be completely ignored. We couldn’t help but notice that there were two court cases this month in which a judge in a foreign nation made some claim upon Japan, but that the domestic reaction was entirely different.

Imperial Palace Joggers

Complaints are growing about the increasing number of joggers around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and the alleged bad manners that some of them are showing.

The Wrong Man for the Job

We still don’t know exactly why Prime Minister Naoto Kan tapped former Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto for the high-profile post of Minister in Charge of Reconstructing Areas Ravaged by the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami, but we did discover today that he is certainly the wrong man for the job. Matsumoto was handed his important new responsibilities only a week ago, but clearly his sense of self-importance has inflated even more rapidly than his authority.