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DISPATCHES

 

A regular up-date featuring articles written for publications

all over the world by FCCJ Correspondents

Abe's Ministers Obuchi and Matsushima Resign

In the New York Times, Martin Fackler writes that the resignation of two female cabinet ministers is a blow to Prime Minister Abe

Two female cabinet ministers resigned on Monday for separate election campaign scandals, dealing an ill-timed political blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and two of his stated policy goals: empowering women and returning Japan to nuclear power. The two were the highest-profile women in Mr. Abe's government, and among the five women he appointed to his cabinet last month, matching an all-time high for the number of women in minister-level positions.  Read the article

Kim Jong-un Back in Action?

In the Guardian, Justin McCurry writes on North Korean reports that the regime head is making official visits again

Kim Jong-un has ended speculation about his grip on power in North Korea with his first public appearance in more than five weeks, albeit aided by a walking stick. The 31-year-old visted a housing development and energy research institute in the capital, according to the official KCNA news agency.  Read the article

New Justice Minister Hanging Tough on Death Penalty

In the Economist, David McNeill reports that Minister Matsushima is unfazed by calls to review Japan's death penalty

It is one of the anomalies of Japan’s approach to the death penalty that a stricken conscience can bring the system grinding to a halt. At least two Japanese justice ministers have refused to sign execution orders, most recently Seiken Sugiura, a devout Buddhist who oversaw a 15-month moratorium from 2005 to 2006. But Japan’s new justice minister, Midori Matsushima, seems unburdened by such doubts. Read the Article

50th Anniversary of the Shinkansen

In the Guardian, Philip Brasor and Masako Tsubuku "celebrate" the 50th birthday of the Bullet Train.

At 10am on 1 October 1964, with less than a week an a half to go before the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the two inaugural Hikari Super Express Shinkansen, or "bullet trains," arrived at their destinations, Tokyo and Osaka. They were precisely on time. Hundreds of people had waited overnight in each terminal to witness this historic event, which, like the Olympics, heralded not just Japan's recovery from the destruction of the second world war, but the beginning of what would be Japan's stratospheric rise as an economic superpower.  Read the article

 

Rescue efforts continue on volcano

In the New York Times, Martin Fackler reports that dozens of hikers are feared dead on Mt. Ontake

Thirty-one hikers were feared dead near the peak of a volcano in central Japan on Sunday, a day after it suddenly erupted, a police spokesman said. However, the danger of another eruption and a release of toxic gases made it impossible to bring most of them down and confirm their deaths.  Read the article

International Twist for NHK Drama

Justin McCurry reports on the upcoming drama based on a historic Scottish-Japanese couple in the Christian Science Monitor

When she came across a casting notice for a part in a Japanese TV drama set almost a century ago, something made Charlotte Kate Fox overcome her skepticism. At the time, she was more interested in finding a day job than in pursuing what seemed like an improbable career move. But she filed an application, and now, several months later, the New Mexico native is on the cusp of stardom in Japan after securing the role of a young Scottish woman who helped found the country's celebrated whisky industry.  Read the article

Womenomics and Poverty in Japan

For IPS, Suvendrini Kakuchi asks if government programs can slow the feminisation of poverty in Japan

Fifty-four-year-old Marlyn Maeda, an unmarried freelance writer living in Tokyo who has never held a permanent job, is now watching her dream of aging independently go up in smoke. "I work four jobs and barely survive," said the writer. Her monthly income after writing articles, working at a call center, selling cosmetics five days a week and working one night at a bar hovers at close to 1,600 dollars. Maeda belongs to the burgeoning ranks of the poor in Japan, a country that saw its poverty rate pass the 16 percent mark in 2013   Read the article

An American Success in Japan

In the Daily Beast, Jake Adelstein and Angela Kubo look into the success in Japan of an American failure

Out of all the abominations created in the "clear drink" craze of the 1990s, nothing emerged as a bigger joke than Zima, a fizzy alcoholic beverage that tasted faintly like Sprite. Originally touted as "Zomething Different," a clear alternative to beer but also a malt liquor, Zima was touted with a cheesy marketing campaign featuring a smooth-talking male who replace his S's with Z's. Read the article

North Korea "Backs Scottish Independence"

Hoping to trade natural resources for Scotch whisky, officals tell Julian Ryall of the Telegraph

North Korea is quietly backing the Yes vote in Scotland and would be keen to increase trade with a newly independent Ediburgh, according to officials of the Pyongyang regime. "I think that independence would be a very positive thing for Scotland," Choe Kwan-il, managing editor of the Choson Sinbo newspaper, told the Telegraph.  Read the article

Emperor's Biography: Pearl Harbor would be "self destructive"

Justin McCurry reports in the Guardian on the release of Emperor Hirohito's 12,000-page official biography

Japan's wartime emperor, Hirohito, congratulated his forces on victories as the country made a brutal sweep across mainland Asia but warned that an attack on the US would be "self-destructive," according to a newly published biography. Read the article

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