May 21, 2013
Believe it or not, the following is the gist of a Cabinet-approved document: Marriage age should be lowered three years from the present age. Couples should have an average of five children. Employment of women should be restricted. Heavier taxes should be imposed on single people. Birth control and abortion should be banned.
May 20, 2013
Former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi (1896-1987), who is held in great respect by his grandson, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, once made a remark that is well worth repeating.
May 18, 2013
"Mushizu ga hashiru" is the Japanese equivalent of "to make one's skin crawl." Since "mushi" means "bug," I automatically associate this expression with a centipede crawling on my skin.
May 17, 2013
Fiercely individualistic and manipulative, French politician and diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838) had a sharp eye for human nature and the era in which he lived. And with his sarcastic wit, he came up with many aphorisms.
May 16, 2013
Writer Kuniko Mukoda (1929-1981) recounts her memories of childhood, when having cuts and bruises was part of everyday life, in an essay titled “Shintaihappu” (body, hair, skin). Her parents raised her to be careful, so she avoided any serious injury. Still, as a normal active child, she often picked up the usual scrapes and bumps.
May 15, 2013
In July 1999, the Okinawa prefectural assembly came to a standstill for an entire day because of an unexpected development. It was the day a public hearing for a national flag and anthem bill was held in Naha. Speaking at a plenary session of the assembly, a conservative member surprised those gathered by gesturing and calling out, "Tenno Heika, banzai" (Long live his majesty, the Emperor).
May 14, 2013
For five months, a mother nursed her "son," whose face was covered in bandages following a traffic accident. But when the bandages were removed, the man turned out to be a total stranger. The story ran under the headline "You were not my son" in the city news section of The Asahi Shimbun 40 years ago.
May 13, 2013
Self-esteem comes from being able to care about oneself and believe in one's own worth. Life is miserable without it, but it is also human to sometimes feel worthless and become dejected.
May 11, 2013
May 11 marks two years and two months since the Great East Japan Earthquake. For some time after the disaster, newspapers were filled with heartbreaking stories. But there were also those that gave me some comfort, as would a small candle in the dark.
May 10, 2013
The existence of a hidden chamber is often part of the plot of whodunits, and a popular short story in the Sherlock Holmes series is a well-known example. The iconic sleuth paces around the house to which he has been summoned, realizes that the corridor on the top floor is shorter than that on the floor below, and discovers a secret chamber where the supposedly dead individual was hiding.
May 09, 2013
Three years ago, The Asahi Shimbun ran a story about the discovery of a letter written in "needle characters." A needle was used to make tiny holes on a piece of white "hanshi," or Japanese writing paper, to form characters that could be read by holding the paper up to a light. The letter was addressed to Sojinkan Sugimura (1872-1945), an Asahi Shimbun reporter, in June 1910.
May 08, 2013
Along with the blooming of cherry blossoms and repots on first sightings of insects and animals, one of the signs of spring is rice planting heading north across the Japanese archipelago.
May 07, 2013
I remember a jingle for an energy drink that I hadn’t heard in a long while. It goes: “Can you fight for 24 hours, businessman?”
May 06, 2013
In a classic "rakugo" comic tale, a carpenter loses his wallet containing three "ryo."(Ryo is an old currency unit of Japan.) A plasterer finds the wallet and brings it to the carpenter, but the latter stubbornly refuses to take it, insisting that the money he has lost no longer belongs to him.
May 04, 2013
May 5 is "rikka," the day that marks the beginning of summer on Japan's traditional calendar. It is also the day the nation celebrates its most treasured possession--our children.
May 03, 2013
Many of us think of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when we read or hear the expression "utsukushii kuni" (beautiful country), by which he refers to Japan. But he certainly does not "own" this expression.
May 02, 2013
The familiarity and veneration of Mount Fuji owes much to its shape. Although there are many beautifully shaped mountains in the world, ones that can be immediately identified, even from drawings by children, are few. Looking from the Yamanashi Prefecture side, we can see Mount Fuji’s enormous peak soaring above the Japanese Alps.
May 01, 2013
"Constant dripping wears away the stone" is an old adage meaning that persistent effort produces results. At the time of the establishment of the International Association of Athletic Federations in 1912, the men's 100-meter dash world record was 10.60 seconds. True to this adage, humanity has since striven relentlessly to shrink the record by a little over one second in 100 years. That's an average 0.01 second per year. Talk about infinite patience and effort.
April 30, 2013
There is talk of moving the start of the school year from April to September. Personally, I prefer keeping it in April because that is the season of beginnings, with many new doors opening.
April 29, 2013
There is a growing move among Diet lawmakers to rethink the Constitution from scratch. They say it is time to go back to the basics of constitutional debate by redefining the meaning and purpose of our Constitution. This is a welcome change from recent discussions which tend to neglect this point.