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DISPATCHES

 

A regular up-date featuring articles written for publications

all over the world by FCCJ Correspondents

PM Abe's Gift to Yasukuni Shrine

Martin Fackler covers Prime MInister Shinzo Abe's Gift to Contentious Shrine in the New York Times

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual gift to a Tokyo war shrine on Tuesday, a gesture that could anger Japan's neighbors ahead of a visit by Mr. Abe to Washington that will put his views of history under intense scrutiny. Mr. Abe sent a potted evergreen shrub to mark a spring festival at the Yasukuni Shrine, a Shinto memorial to Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals from World War II. Read the article

Remembering History: Emperor's Visit to Palau and PM Abe's Stance

In the New York Times, Martin Fackler writes of the Emperor's trip to a WWII island battlefield and PM Abe's revisionist actions

Peleliu Island, Palau -- Visiting the remote Western Pacific site of one of the fiercest battles of World War II, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan offered flowers and prayers on Thursday to mark the coming 70th annniversary of the end of a conflict that continues to haunt Japan as it seeks a larger role in the world. Read the article

 

 

Japan's Working Poor

In the Economist, David McNeill writes that poverty is increasing as more Japanese work on non-permanent contracts

The residents of Kotobuki live not far from the glitzy shops and upscale restaurants of Yokohama, Japan's second-biggest city. Yet Kotobuki is an altogether different world: a squalid district, it is a pit stop for local Japanese on their way to destitution. Men living here in cheap hostels have lost jobs and families. Some survive on casual day work, but many have no work at all. Read the article

Household Savings Decline Could Hurt Recovery

In the New York Times, Jonathan Soble reports on the younger generations' reluctance to save--and what it means to Japan.

Takazumi Fukuoka should be exactly what Japan needs to get its economy moving again. Mr. Fukuoka, an art director at a small online media company, has an active and free-spending social life. A part-time DJ, he often buys records in the music shops of Tokyo's trendy Shibuya district. He eats and drinks out regularly, too. But his salary has barely budged in recent years. So he is spending every yen he earns. Read the article

Apologizing for Childbirth

Sonja Blaschke reports in Die Welt on the plight of mothers who suffer discrimination in the workplace, including having to apologize for getting pregnant. (In German)

Michiko Ito arbeitete als Krankenschwester in einem großen Tokioter Krankenhaus. Als ihr Chef hörte, dass die zweifache Mutter zum dritten Mal schwanger war, war er außer sich. Er wies Ito an, sich bei allen Kolleginnen und Kollegen persönlich dafür zu entschuldigen, dass sie ihnen durch ihre erneute Abwesenheit Mehrarbeit aufbürden und damit "Meiwaku" (Unannehmlichkeiten) bereiten würde. Das ist für viele Japaner der schlimmste Vorwurf. Um aufrichtiges Bedauern auszudrücken, wird erwartet, dass man sich tief und mehrere Sekunden lang verbeugt. Als Ito den nächsthöheren Chef um Rat bat, was sie tun solle, bekam sie kein Verständnis, sondern noch mehr Ärger. Er demütigte sie weiter und verdonnerte sie dazu, einen offiziellen Entschuldigungsbrief zu schreiben. Read the article

 

Remembering the U.S. Air Raids on Tokyo

In the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Patrick Zoll talks to survivors of the American air raids of March 1945

For the American commanders, the bombardment of Tokyo in March 1945 was just another operation. Für die amerikanischen Kommandeure war die Bombardierung Tokios im März 1945 eine Operation unter vielen. Für Haruyo Nihei ist sie ein Ereignis, das ihr Leben bis heute prägt. Sie setzt sich dafür ein, dass die Erinnerung nicht vergessen geht. Read the article

Future of Solar Power Explosion Now in Doubt

Jonathan Soble reports in the New York Times on the Japanese utilities' halt in buying electricity from solar installations.

Rice fields, golf courses and even a disused airport runway. All over the southern Japanese region of Kyhushu, unexpected places gleam with electricity-producing solar panels. Solar use in Japan has exploded over the last two years as part of an ambitious national effort to promote renewable energy. But the technology's future role is now in doubt. Utilities say their infrastructure cannot handle the swelling army of solar entrepreneurs intent on selling their power. And their willingness to invest more money depends heavily on whether the government remains committed to clean energy.  Read the article

 

Battle Intensifies in Okinawa

In the Irish Times, David McNeill reports on the rough treatment of protestors against the Henoko base construction

A diminutive, silver-haired warrior, Fumiko Shimabukuro (85), has one goal: to stop a US military base from being built near her home. For nearly two decades, she has been an iconic local figure in the struggle against the Marine facility in Japan’s Okinawa prefecture. Now the battle that has defined her sunset years appears to be nearing a climax. Read the article

Japan Post Moves Toward Privatization

In the Guardian, Philippe Mesmer reports that parts of Japan's much-loved postal business are to be taken public this year -- proceeds to go to rebuilding Tohoku

It is 140 years old, one of the world's largest financial bodies and a much loved Japanese national institution. And soon, investors will have the opportunity to claim a stake of their own. Plans to float part of Japan Post's business, which were announced in December, represent the culmination of a lengthy process with much at stake politically.  Read the article

Japan Joins Hunt for "Jihadi John"

In the Telegraph, Julian Ryall says Tokyo is seeking the assistance of Britain and the U.S. to catch the murderer of two Japanese hostages

Japan is joining the international campaign to identify, locate and bring to justice the member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) known as "Jihadi John." A police investigation set up in Tokyo will request assistance from Britain and the U.S. to confirm the identity of the man, who appeared in a series of videos in January that purportedly showed the execution of two Japanese nationals. Read the article

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