October 07, 2015
Theoretical physicist Hideki Yukawa (1907-1981), who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1949, penned an essay titled "Gokubi no Sekai" (Microscopic world), whose opening line goes, "Nature creates curves and man creates straight lines."
October 06, 2015
This first recipients of this year's Nobel Prizes were announced Oct. 5, and the process will continue for the rest of the week.
October 05, 2015
Robots waging war against the human race, which created them, is a common plot in science fiction movies.
October 03, 2015
Democracy is egalitarian, with everyone having one vote each. Capitalism is all about competition, and money talks. As long as these two systems remain intertwined, politics will never be free of corruption.
October 02, 2015
When a local government admits having done something that violated the Constitution, I suppose I should be surprised.
October 01, 2015
I do not want to use the Japanese expression "iwakan" if I can help it. A Japanese dictionary defines it as "an unpleasant or uncomfortable feeling you can't quite put your finger on" and "the feeling that something doesn't seem right."
September 30, 2015
Legal experts and street demonstrators denounced the highly contentious national security legislation as "unconstitutional" and "incompatible with the principle of constitutionalism." But their voices were ignored, and the legislation was steamrolled through the Diet in September. Below are some comments made during the month.
September 29, 2015
When I hear about a troop of Japanese macaques, I automatically think about the group's "bosu zaru" (boss monkey). When the boss of a company is replaced, Japanese newspapers playfully refer to a "change of government." And if a boss stays at the top for an unusually prolonged period, the individual is said to have established a "long-term administration."
September 28, 2015
Someone once told me that an ancient Japanese word that is equivalent to our “shizen” (nature) is “ametsuchi” (heaven and earth).
September 26, 2015
How did Japan plunge into World War II? Political scientist Masao Maruyama (1914-1996) stated in a monograph he authored immediately after the end of the war: "(Japan) somehow drifted into the war, pushed by someone for some reason or other."
September 25, 2015
In "Mono no Mikata ni Tsuite" (On perceptions), critic and journalist Shintaro Ryu (1900-1967) cited this anecdote: A gate marked "Entrance to Heaven" was next to another gate marked "Entrance to Lecture Meeting on Heaven." All German citizens rushed to the latter.
September 24, 2015
There was a tiny bookstore near my home when I was a child. Usually, I went there only to buy boys' comic books. But when I started going every month to pick up the latest edition of the complete works of Natsume Soseki on order, the owner, who until then was a dour, grouchy old man, became all smiles and full of good humor.
September 23, 2015
In spring 1997, a revision of the land-lease law for U.S. bases in Okinawa Prefecture was a major issue of political contention for Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake.
September 22, 2015
Two Japanese phrases have been lingering in my ears for a while. One is "torima haian" and the other is "sorena, sorena." Both were being chanted by high school students demonstrating on the streets against national security legislation. And since both are teenage slang, they are probably all Greek to older people.
September 21, 2015
After the Upper House passed security legislation into law amid utter chaos, I wondered whether children had also seen the news on TV showing the unseemly mess.
September 19, 2015
I attended a plenary session of the Upper House on Sept. 18 as an observer. On the agenda was a censure motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe submitted by five opposition parties.
September 18, 2015
Joichi Ito sat down for an interview in 2011 soon after he became director of the MIT Media Lab, a front-runner in the digital revolution, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
September 17, 2015
Referring to his recent exchange with Defense Minister Gen Nakatani on contentious national security legislation, Hiroyuki Konishi, an Upper House lawmaker of the Democratic Party of Japan, likened the experience to ordering "gyudon" (beef rice bowl) and being served "tendon" (tempura rice bowl) instead.
September 16, 2015
Kunio Hamada, a former Supreme Court justice, clearly has a humorous bent. Calling on all politicians--irrespective of their party affiliation--to "respect intelligence, decorum and reason," he added, "Or at least pretend you do."
September 15, 2015
In July, the Kyoto University Campaign for Freedom and Peace issued a manifesto to protest contentious security legislation being pushed by the Abe administration. Written poetically, the manifesto resonated with broad segments of society.