Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders acknowledges the crowd Feb. 9 in Concord, New Hampshire. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Presidential election season brings reality of U.S. democracy into spotlight
Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), the 40th president of the United States, was the oldest chief executive to take office at age 69.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda replies to a question in a Lower House Budget Committee meeting on Feb. 4. (Shinichi Iizuka)
VOX POPULI: Kuroda's 'money-spewing bazooka' one heck of a gamble
I don't know if it's still common, but when I was a child our neighborhood greengrocer always referred to "nasu" (eggplant) as "yoichi." I learned later that "yoichi" was produce industry jargon, derived from a legendary samurai by the name of Nasu no Yoichi (c.1169-c.1189).
Communications minister Sanae Takaichi at the Lower House Budget Committee session on Feb. 9 (The Asahi Shimbun)
VOX POPULI: Government's ominous demand for 'political neutrality' in broadcasting
When I think of news anchors leaving their news shows, Hideo Den (1923-2009) immediately comes to mind.
So Kuramoto (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Kuramoto's play asks if consumerism makes us happy
The Mainichi Shimbun is one of our competitors, but I always look forward to reading "Rinchu Musaku," a serial column by playwright So Kuramoto.
Neighborhood children gather at a house to watch a black-and-white TV in Kanazawa in January 1958. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Sharp’s excessive focus on TV business its own undoing
Many older Japanese recall their emotional responses to the first time black-and-white TVs arrived in their homes or neighborhoods during the postwar years.
Police officers cordon off a street to prevent a group of immigrants, who were pulled out from an abandoned industrial warehouse where they where living, in Barcelona on Jan. 7, 2013. (AP Photo)
VOX POPULI: The antidote to vicious rumors is telling the truth
Writer Saiichi Maruya (1925-2012) penned a personal episode in which a situation he faced ended up being portrayed totally in reverse of what had happened.
Ume flowers bloom at a park in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, on Feb. 4, which is the first day of spring by the lunar calendar. (The Asahi Shimbun)
VOX POPULI: The changing light heralds the advent of spring
Some readers of this column may have recently found themselves humming “Soshunfu” (Ode to early spring), a Japanese song first released in 1913.
Kazuhiro Kiyohara is driven from the Metropolitan Police Department to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office on Feb. 4. (Tetsuro Takehana)
VOX POPULI: Kazuhiro, the next step is up to you
American jurist and politician Earl Warren once talked about how he went about reading newspapers. When a newspaper arrived in the morning, he said, he read the sports section first, even before the front page.
A fumigation brigade sprays an area of Chacabuco Park in a mosquito control effort, in Buenos Aires on Jan. 27. The Zika virus is spread by the same mosquito that also carries the virus for dengue fever. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says researchers have found strong evidence of a possible link between the Zika virus and a surge of birth defects in Brazil. (AP Photo)
VOX POPULI: Mankind facing new global health threat in Zika virus
Certain infectious diseases have a long history of plaguing the human race, while others have only recently emerged as a threat.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (Asahi Shimbun file photos)
VOX POPULI: Seeds for U.S. presidential race planted in rural Hawkeye State
"The Bridges of Madison County," a best-selling novel that was made into a 1995 film, is about a four-day romance between a farmer's wife and a photographer visiting a small town to take pictures of covered bridges.
Snow falls in city of Kanoya, a southern city of Kagoshima Prefecture. (Koichi Ueda)
VOX POPULI: Memorable quotes from January
Despite forecasts that this would be a warm winter, a record cold spell descended on Japan in January, freezing the entire nation, including even the subtropical islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
A shrine in Ayagawa, Kagawa Prefecture, offers wooden bullfinch figurines. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Beware the silver-tongued tricksters that fleece so many
The written form of "uso" (bullfinch) is often misread for "uguisu" (bush warbler) because their respective kanji characters look quite similar.
Economy minister Akira Amari places a handkerchief at his nose after announcing his resignation at a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 28. (The Asahi Shimbun)
VOX POPULI: Amari tied up in scandal with more than 50 shades of gray
Most Japanese today say “hai-iro” or “guree” for the color gray. But those who grew up during the Showa Era (1926-1989) commonly used “nezumi-iro,” which translates literally as “rat color.”
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko gaze at the sun setting over Manila Bay with members of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers in the garden at their hotel on Jan. 26. (Pool)
VOX POPULI: Sunsets of life remembered through emperor's visit to Philippines
The beauty of sunsets over Manila Bay is noted in "Kike Wadatsumi no Koe" (Listen to the Voices from the Sea), a collection of impressions penned by Japanese student soldiers who died in World War II.
Shuji Terayama in 1970 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Words are like friends that bring comfort and meaning to life
Young people’s friendships come in more than just the shape of classmates and social media networks. "Make friends with words," dramatist Shuji Terayama (1935-1983) said.
Plum blossoms bloom at Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa on Jan. 6. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Spring will be welcome after historic big chill
In Japan, the anniversaries of the deaths of certain important literary figures are given special names.
A shale gas production plant operates in North Dakota in 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Shale gas 'butterfly effect' sends stock markets tumbling
A small event can result in huge changes on a global scale due to the “butterfly effect.”
Embattled Cabinet minister Akira Amari apologizes at the start of his economic policy speech at the Lower House plenary session on Jan. 22. (Shinichi Iizuka)
VOX POPULI: It should be a piece of cake for Amari to remember if he was bribed
"In Search of Lost Time" by Marcel Proust (1871-1922) is regarded as one of the greatest works of 20th-century French literature. And yet, due to its sheer length, this seven-volume novel is also often referred to as an all-too-famous masterpiece that most readers fail to finish.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a Lower House Budget Committee session on Jan. 13 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Abe’s ‘new realistic stage’ of constitutional change needs robust debate
Political critic Makoto Sataka’s suggestion that the opposition Democratic Party of Japan rename itself the “Constitutional Democratic Party” met with nods of agreement as he spoke at a news conference on Jan. 19.
Children playing with their mother at a park in Yokohama (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
VOX POPULI: Global wealth inequality just as much a Japanese problem
Many people will remember the fad expressions "marukin" (the haves) and "marubi" (the have-nots), coined in 1984 by illustrator Kazuhiro Watanabe (1950-2007) in a bestselling book.

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