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Number 1 Shimbun

NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019

NUMBER 1 SHIMBUN 2019 (147)

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New in the Library

08 08
Politics, Porn and Protest: Japanese Avant-Garde Cinema in the 1960s and 1970s
Isolde Standish
The Continuum International Publishing Group


08 09
The Bells of Old Tokyo: Meditations on Time and a City

Anna Sherman
Picador


Waste: Consuming Postwar Japan

Eiko Maruko
Siniawer
Cornell University Press


Japanese Linguistics

Mark Irwin; Matthew Zisk
Asakura Publishing

New Members

REGULAR MEMBERS

Zhang Jing
is with the Xinhua News Agency

 

08 07
Kazuki Ooishi
is a freelance photographer for JP NEWS/Pasya Co.
He focuses on press conferences, politics, economics and sports.

Lens craft

08 12
Towering over
Mount Fuji stands behind buildings in Tokyo at dusk on Nov. 12.
by Tomohiro Ohsumi

 

08 10
Making light of it 
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako raise lanterns to wellwishers in front of the Imperial Palace on Nov. 9 at an event celebrating the enthronement. 
by Yoshikazu Tsuno

 

08 11
Artist of the floating world 
Bruce collects found objects on beach walks near his home and arranges them for his photos. While he has been doing this the wider world has become more aware of plastic waste, adding an extra layer of poignancy to his images. 
by Bruce Osborn

The Club poet

Synergy Net


They burned in my consciousness the KISS formula –
Keep it simple and sweet
So, I have no speech, just a plea, a prayer of sorts:
Judge the art, not the artist,
End the paralysis of silo wars,
The malaise of puffed up ego dancing.

The collective wisdom in this room astounds
and humbles –
The aesthetics of Exhibits and of Film
The professionalism of the No. 1
and by definition PAC;
The distinction of Compliance
The protean style of Entertainment
The value-addition and friendship of Association
Last but not least –
The epicurean delight of F&B, especially B!

What we will do, working together,
Puts Watson to shame;
A bountiful harvest in a synergy net
Hug a tree, bring in a new member

Our cup runneth over with love for the Club
And a shared passion to ensure its well-being;
The Typhoon season is behind us
Now it’s time for brainstorms
of positive energy.


– Warren J Devalier

Join the Film Committee…

08 05

 

. . . on Tues., Dec. 3 at 6:45 p.m. for a sneak peak at the year-end blockbuster-to-be, Talking the Pictures, an exuberant love letter to classic films and katsuben live narrators from Masayuki Suo, the director of such indelible works as Shall We Dance? Endlessly inventive, quirkily evocative, chockfull of clever period detail and driven by a jaunty ragtime score, the film follows a young man (Ryo Narita in a career-defining role) as he follows his dream to be a katsuben, with a few not-quite-legal detours in between. Team Suo favorites abound: Naoto Takenaka, Eri Watanabe, Fumiyo Kohinata star alongside Masatoshi Nagase, Kengo Kora, Mao Inoue, Takuma Otoo and Yutaka Takenouchi in this nostalgia-tinged tribute to filmmaking in the good old days. The director and his star, Ryo Narita, will join us for the Q&A session.
(Japan, 2019; 127 minutes; in Japanese with English subtitles)

— Karen Severns

 

08 06

FCCJ Exhibition ‘Tank Man’: Charlie Cole memorial photo exhibition

08 04

 

Charlie Cole won the World Press Photo of the Year in 1989 for his instantly recognizable “Tank Man” photo that depicted a lone protester staring down four tanks in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

The American photographer passed away aged 64 at his home in Bali in early September after apparently suffering complications from a motorcycle injury he sustained in Japan in the late 1990s.

Cole arrived in Japan in 1980, and over the next two decades, he shot many telling moments in and around Asia for publications including Newsweek, Time, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. 

When Newsweek sent him to China in late June 1989, to cover the student protests, his presence on a hotel balcony overlooking Tiananmen Square incurred the wrath of Chinese authorities who, within minutes, forced their way into his room to retrieve the film. But Cole, suspecting a possible visit, hid the roll inside the lid of his toilet. Managing to avoid police surveillance, Cole brought the precious image to the Associated Press office in Beijing and had it immediately transmitted to Newsweek in the U.S.

“I think his action (the white-shirted man) captured people’s hearts everywhere, and when the moment came, his character defined the moment rather than the moment defining him,” Cole told a BBC interviewer in 2005.

Charlie, we will not forget you.

Asa-kai

08 01

 

Asa-kai are the FCCJ’s breakfast meetings bringing topics that will be of interest to different Members. The Asa-kai on Nov. 15 was titled Dental Health and Mental Health—the Missing Link. The event looked at that link, especially in older people­—an often overlooked subject, yet one that is a real and important one, as clinical research in Japan and elsewhere has demonstrated.

Three eminent and practicing Japanese dental experts—Hiroshi Kawazu, Hideo Kawahara and Akira Uehama—who are all prominent members of the Japan Academy of Clinical Dentistry explained the link, including using video evidence.

Their findings show that the connection between simply chewing properly and good brain function is more direct than is often realized—and such chewing habits need to be cultivated from an early age.
For a country such as Japan and for many others that have rapidly aging populations, recognition of the need to tackle age-related conditions has far-reaching medical, social and even financial implications.

Videos of all our press conferences—as well as some events like the Asa-kai—are on the Club’s YouTube channel. Simply go to YouTube and search “FCCJ Channel”. Subscribe and you will see our videos listed when you visit the site, hit the bell logo next to the “Subscribe” button if you want to be alerted when new videos are uploaded.

Turmoil on the streets of Hong Kong

07 02

 

While traditional media covering the protests is suffering from shrinking pocketbooks and fewer reporters, freelancers using new techniques and support groups are taking up the slack.

 

By Pio d’Emilia

 

“I would say my worst experience was when I was tear-gassed by police in the face. The burning sensations lasted many hours. The uncertainty of not knowing what could happen next also was a big psychological factor. Events and information flood in from all over the city and it is hard to gauge, especially when you can’t afford a local fixer. You know something is horribly wrong with society when you feel safe among the protestors but fear the police.” 
— Sean Fleck, 50, “stock footage and filmmaker”

 

Sean Fleck, who hails from Desert Hot Springs, California, is one of the hundreds of foreign reporters, mainly freelancers, who have been constantly covering the HK crisis over the last months. It is thanks to him and his colleagues, rather than the mainstream media and big networks, that the world has been kept regularly informed about what is going on in the once-peaceful, rich, and fascinating “fragrant harbor.”

Journalists are not required to mention their profession or purpose of visit on their Hong Kong arrival cards. Journalists on a temporary assignment or even those without a proper visa don’t have to lie or be afraid of being found out, as in many other countries. Even during these difficult and politically tense days, most foreign nationals get a three-month visa, and can find themselves quickly on the road, free to report.

While it definitely is part of China, the “one country two systems” still works most of the time, at least as far as freedom of the press is concerned. Beside a few, some very serious, cases of harassment and blatant violations of the rules (widely reported and denounced even on the local media), Hong Kong is still heaven to report from compared to many other places. “We don’t know how long this is going to last,” says Tom Grundy, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hong Kong Free Press. “But we will certainly fight to keep it going as long as we can. HKFP is a very active “run by journalists and backed by readers” non-profit, online news source, which specializes in front line reporting.

 

07 01

Protection at work 
Freelance journalist Sean Fleck covered up and marked out as a journalist.

 

THERE IS NO WAY to check just how many journalists there actually are. Some people say a few hundred, some say more than a thousand. Many come and go, like myself. 

For months, Hong Kong has been torn apart by antigovernment protests, at times some very violent ones. The police force has become increasingly violent and reckless, something, to be honest, that we are used to witnessing in other countries. (Mine included; remember what the police did during the 2001 G-8 in Genoa?) But this sort of thing was never seen before in Hong Kong. Now protesters, along with doctors, first-aid volunteers, social workers—and many journalists—are being beaten, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and arrested. Some were clearly and directly targeted. 

One day, I was coming out of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus in in Tsim Sha Tsui, which after being occupied by the protesters, had been sealed off and literally put under siege by the police. It was on Monday, Nov. 18, after a violent, but unsuccessful attempt to “clean” it up. I saw with my own eyes fellow journalists (mainly local), who were wearing yellow “press” jackets and had their hands raised, being grabbed and dragged into police vans. None of the police attempted to identify them or ask for their credentials. A few of us foreign journalists even took photos and video of this shameful behavior. They let us go, but I was really worried. In fact, I’ll confess, I was scared.

In this splendid, but now deeply wounded and divided city of more than 7 million that is struggling to preserve and defend its “system,” the job of journalism has become increasingly difficult and dangerous. All the more so for those among us—an ever-increasing number—who are not full-time employees of big media, and cannot afford fixers, translators, or insurance; those who don’t have official assignment letters and have to keep expenses as tight as possible. I am talking about the hundreds of young and old, generous, motivated, brave colleagues who keep us informed about the situation in HK beyond the usually short, very episodic “breaking news” reports on the big networks. 

 

Protest and survive
Top to bottom: the author on the streets of Hong Kong; the “stonehenge” arrangement of bricks readied for throwing; Hong Kongers call for a “free Hong Kong”; a protester holding the symbol of the protests—an umbrella

07 03

 07 04

07 05

07 06

 

FOR YEARS I WAS a freelancer, so I feel lots of sympathy and respect for these people. I’ve watched them in action on the “battlefields” of Hong Kong, constantly on the front line, trying to get the best shot. But they also are always helping each other, in a kind of group solidarity which is increasingly hard to find among mainstream media journalists. 

I believe they deserve our gratitude. They are the ones who are risking their lives to get as close as possible to the action, to get the best shot and then spend time to edit, select and send it out in the hope that somebody will use it—and pay for it. It’s something that no one does if they don’t love their job, if they’re not sincerely committed, if they don’t consider the job, no matter how dangerous and difficult, a duty and a privilege.

Being accurately and promptly informed is fundamental in this situation, where the apparently leaderless, multifaceted “movement” organizes all kind of actions at the very last minute. And just as the “movement” uses several more or less “open” chats on different platforms (mostly Telegram), journalists have set up their own network. 

Some, like “Kwan Kung Temple” (https://t.me.kwankungpress), have close to 10,000 members (once they register, very few bother to sign out) and is run by a group of local media in both Chinese and English. It is available on Telegram and has several different “subchannels.” Among those, “take an interview” or “looking for a fixer” are some of the most useful. 

You can post a request for an interview, specifying the details and conditions and wait for an answer. Replies tend to come after a few minutes, directly to your Telegram account or via the forum. I have personally used this chat to interview a former policeman who resigned after he realized his son was a protest frontliner, and to meet several protesters who successfully escaped from the “occupied” PolyU. It is also a very efficient way to get updates on the actions of the day, press releases and links to local media and their livestreams. “Kwan Kung Temple” can be joined simply by sending a message to the above-mentioned link; the on-duty administrator will double check your identity and you are on.


ANOTHER CHAT GROUP THAT is particularly helpful is “solo journo support group.” This is on WhatsApp and is a little bit more complicated to join. But once you are in, you are really . . . in. The group was founded by Laurel, a local, brave and very competent journalist, and is open to all bona fide journalists and cameramen, after a double check of their identity. It is mainly an informal chat line for exchanging all kind of information. It is extremely useful for solo journalists who need updates on what is going on and where, in order to decide what to cover.

Before signing-in, you are advised to go to Google Docs, search for “HK Protests 101 for Journalists,” and read it carefully. It is a precious, constantly updated and very detailed document which deals with all sorts of logistical, technical and legal information any journalist would need while covering the protests on their own. The sections titled “Front line Conduct & Police Precaution,” “Gear and Protective equipment,” and “preventive medical measures” are particularly useful, along with a very detailed segment covering what you should do in case of arrest, including hotline numbers and lawyer contacts.

Once you are member of this chat, you can count on literally hundreds of colleagues who share your job, your responsibilities and (hopefully) your values. Which bring us to a delicate issue of solidarity vs competition. Where do you draw the line? What can you expect from a colleague, and what you should not even ask for? 

I’ll quote my friend from Desert Hot Spring, Sean Fleck: “That is a very good question. First and foremost, we are here to do a job, so basically everyone is looking to get the best shot or story. I feel that solidarity and cooperation are essential, and that if you act professionally and are curious you usually can get what you want. The last thing you want to be doing is fighting with other journalists because you never know when you may need help.”

I consider our job a privileged one. This is particularly true when somebody pays you a good salary and foots your expenses, like in my case. Unfortunately, the number of people with this kind of support is shrinking while the number of freelancers is increasing. So we owe them a lot. We should show them respect and gratitude. And pay them decently. ❶


Pio d’Emilia is the East Asia Correspondent for Italy’s Sky TG24.

 

Links for journalists covering the Hong Kong protests

Kwang Kung Temple – Hong Kongers “Press room”

HK Protests for Journalists 101

A very useful “workshop” for journalists held at FCCHK

Updated protest calendar
https://calendar.google.com/calendar/embed?src=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In memoriam: Sadako Ogata

06 01

Club news
As well as being a member, Sadako Ogawa appeared many times at the FCCJ. On this page, in 1992 before a press conference when she was with the UNHCR; opposite, in 2013, as chairperson of the World Economic Forum, Japan

 

A DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC of FCCJ Associate Member Sadako Ogata, who passed away in October at the age of 92, was her simple and sincere humanity, particularly manifested in her work with international refugees. Along with the compassion and care she displayed went a fiercely egalitarian attitude toward the role and status of women in society.

She was a role model for women in Japan, where male dominance has long been accepted as part of the natural order of things. She led by example rather than exhortation, by simply getting on with the job.

She was, like her late husband Shijuro Ogata (also an FCCJ member), a self-deprecating person, yet able to project an aura of authority and quiet competence. They both could “walk with princes and with commoners,” and they did—in her case with figures at the highest levels of diplomacy; in his, with the most senior figures in international finance.

A front-page photograph accompanying the Japan Times’ report of Mrs. Ogata’s passing showed a tearful Bosnian refugee woman embracing her during her lengthy period as head of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). She had strength that enabled her to remain calm and collected in the face of strife. Machiko Kondo, wife of FCCJ Board member Robert Whiting and a retired senior UNHCR official who worked closely with Mrs. Ogata, recalls her being asked by a reporter during a visit to a region suffering a severe refugee crisis whether she ever became emotional at seeing the difficulties that refugees faced.

“I cannot go around with tears in my eyes” was her response. “I have a lot of work to do.” She went on showing exemplary devotion to duty at a time of life when many people believe they have earned retirement and rest. When I profiled her for the Singapore Business Times in 2013 she was still a commanding presence at 86.

Mrs. Ogata had a relationship with the United Nations spanning more than 30 years, including being appointed as UN High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991 to 2000, then co-chair of the Commission on Human Security, and then chairperson of the UNICEF Executive Board. From 2003 to 2012 she was head of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

That career began in the late 1960s, when she was a lecturer in international relations at the International Christian University in Tokyo. She was asked if she would join the Japanese delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Mrs. Ogata hesitated to take the UN opening, as her career until then had been as an academic. After graduating from the University of the Sacred Heart in Japan she had obtained a Masters in international relations at Georgetown University in Washington and then a PhD in political science at the University of California, Berkeley. She also had two young children at the time.

“There was a big family discussion and it took a little time,” she told me. “But my father [former diplomat Toyokazu Nakamura] told me, ‘Your grandfather and grandmother will take care of all that. You go.’ I had studied at Georgetown University and had my Master’s already, so going to the United States was not something new. But being married and with children—it was a big difference.” Mrs. Ogata duly left for New York, leaving her husband, son and daughter behind. That initial two-month stint on the Japanese delegation began her long devotion to official duty.

FCCJ Regular Member Haruko Watanabe says that she was the first female Japanese journalist to cover Mrs. Ogata in New York when she was appointed Japan’s first female UN minister. “Mrs. Ogata,” she says, “convinced me to keep working in journalism rather than limiting myself to academic research. The result is that I am the simple and happy ‘Haruko-san,’ rather than the bookish ‘Dr. Watanabe.’”

Guiding other people along their career paths seems to have been one of Sadako Ogata’s gifts. Sachiko Sakamaki, another journalist and former Regular Member of the FCCJ, remembers that, “Mrs. Ogata was someone who inspired me when I was in college to do work related to international affairs.” There are numerous such examples.

While Ogata is well remembered at the FCCJ for the 10 occasions on which she gave press conferences at the Club in her roles for the UNHCR and JICA, Club Members recall other aspects that were displayed during her long association with the FCCJ. Former FCCJ president Kaz Abiko told me that Mrs. Ogata “loved tennis.” “She used to come to the Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club regularly on weekends,” he recalled. “After I joined the Club in 2006, we occasionally played together.”

Mrs. Ogata, a former All Japan Tennis Championships player, learned the sport as a child from her diplomat father. Says Abiko, “When she was a student at the University of the Sacred Heart, she successfully lobbied the university to build two tennis courts on its campus, and she helped organize the tennis team. Empress Emerita Michiko, another Sacred Heart graduate, was another of her tennis friends.” 

“She was about 80 years old when I was playing, so that she could not move fast on the court,” says Abiko. “But I was impressed by her steady ground strokes. I still remember her beaming smile when we won a mixed-doubles match against fellow Club members.”

 

06 02

 

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi once offered Sadako Ogata a government position. Her husband Shijuru told me in a conversation before his passing in 2014 that Koizumi once called him to ask whether it was acceptable to offer Mrs. Ogata the post of minister of foreign affairs. “Why don’t you ask my wife,” Mr. Ogata responded, rejecting the idea that it was a husband’s prerogative to decide such matters. In the end, she turned down the position, but did become an advisor to the minister of foreign affairs.

Mrs. Ogata came from an elite family. She was the great granddaughter of Inukai Tsuyoshi, who was prime minister of Japan in the 1930s. Her grandfather, Yoshizawa Kenkichi, was a Japanese foreign minister and her father a diplomat who insisted that Ogata maintain her English lessons wherever the family went. Hence her spoken English was of a quality that could put many native speakers of their language to shame.

She was strongly aware of the need to protect human dignity even among refugees. “Refugee work is not just about charity or protection [of people],” she told me. “It is really about the relationship between state and society.” She was at the height of her career at a time when what she called the “disintegration of states” became a major threat to human security. The former Soviet Union, Ukraine, Yugoslavia were all federated states that disintegrated. Citizens were turned into refugees. In Africa, too, she said, countries became independent and were expected to protect their own citizens, so there were many refugee protection issues. Citizens were no longer under the cover of former empires. They had to be protected by their own new state and there is inevitable conflict. “Those were the times when there was a lot of fighting, a lot of persecution and death,” said Mrs. Ogata. “I worked very hard at that time.” In recognition of her work, Russian president Vladimir Putin awarded Ogata the Order of Friendship of Russia in 2001 (one of many foreign decorations she has received).

Did she think that the value of the work she and others did with refugees had been fully recognized? “It will need a lot of work to put the principles and the regulations in the Refugee Convention into practice,” she said. “There is a whole lot of refugee-related international law [to be enacted], particularly with regard to internally displaced persons.”

Ogata was as passionate about the role of women in society as she was about the welfare of refugees. When I suggested that women appeared to be achieving greater professional success and recognition now in Japan, she responded smartly (and also a little tartly): “It’s about time. In terms of education, [the system in Japan] is fully open to women. There are certainly professions in which women are doing very well such as in the areas of medicine, finance and local politics,” she said.

Many Japanese women are “quite emancipated,” she said. “I think what kept them behind were child welfare arrangements.” The education system in Japan is not a problem. It’s the health and welfare part that was not sufficient. In the past, kindergartens and nurseries were under different government ministries, and that made it very difficult for mothers. . . . That has been changed and mothers have more [free time now].” 

I asked Mrs. Ogata what advice she would offer to young Japanese women who are about to start climbing the career ladder? “Carry on,” she replied. “Try to do whatever you want to do.” That could be a fitting epitaph for a woman who was an inspiration to so many others.


Anthony Rowley
is a former president and first vice president of the FCCJ.
During a long career in journalism he has worked as Business Editor and International Finance Editor of the Far Easten Economic Review and prior to that on the Times of London. He is the author of several books.

Profile: John Ashburne, Freelance

05

 

By Eric Johnston

 

Journalist, author, and photographer John Ashburne has always followed his own path. It led him to Kyoto, where he is one of the very few successful foreign freelance journalists based in the ancient capital. From there, amidst the ancient temples and shrines, Ashburne contributes, or has contributed, articles and photos to the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the Japan Times, Newsweek Japan, Gourmet Traveler, Kyoto Journal, and a host of in-flight magazines, among others.

Kyoto has a very different information-sharing culture than Tokyo. Ashburne says the key to journalistic success there is that one must be extraordinarily patient and persistent—and not facing an immediate deadline.
“Things move forward at a much slower pace in conservative, traditionalist Kyoto,” Ashburne says. “Building sources and contacts over time is the only way to get things done. That means, naturally, you often approach stories over a longer gestation period. Though I still manage to find myself hurtling towards deadline more often than not.”

A proud Yorkshireman, Ashburne arrived in Japan over 30 years ago. He came at the suggestion of a friend, after deciding a stint as a low-paid grunt at an Oxford-based publishing company owned by Robert Maxwell was not his life’s calling. He first ended up in Gunma Prefecture and found a job commuting to a small Tokyo publisher, where he sub-edited material for high school textbooks.

Ashburne turned up to work one day to find the building surrounded by cops and angry men with punch perms and knock-off Ray Ban shades. “The rightists had taken exception to the inclusion of sections on the Nanjing Massacre and the Comfort Women we were preparing,” he says. “As a naive newcomer to Japan, I hadn’t even considered that anyone might find these topics controversial. I certainly didn’t imagine they’d still be ruffling feathers more than three decades later.”


BUT LIFE IN GUNMA became a bit isolated. After numerous visits to Kyoto, Ashburne, like so many others, fell in love with the city’s gallery and art scene. He made lots of Japanese friends, including musicians and arty types. “Once I started chatting to the Gunma scarecrows on a fairly regular basis, I knew it was time to make the next train ticket one-way,” he says.

Yet unlike most foreigners who come to Kyoto to seriously (sometimes too seriously) study traditional Japanese history, arts, crafts, culture, or Zen Buddhism, Ashburne was drawn more to the Kyoto that doesn’t appear in tourist postcards, academic symposiums, government propaganda, or coffee table photo books. “I’m very much interested in what you might call the Kyoto Underground, the alternate society of radicals, musicians, people of the buraku, and others.”

Ashburne got lucky again when he received his first real break as a Kyoto-based writer from the legendary, Kobe-based publisher David Jack, owner of the late, and still much lamented, Kansai Time Out magazine, which ran from 1977 to 2009. “Dave gave me the freedom to cover stories I wanted to write, and do so in my own voice,” he says. “I met plenty of interesting characters, including former British PM Edward Heath, Richard Branson, and sumo wrestler Chad Rowan, aka Akebono.”

The interview with Branson remains vivid in his memory. “I thought I’d been asked to be there as the photographer,” he recalls. “But three minutes before the meeting, Dave turned to me and said ‘John, you ask the questions.’ I had to wing it, but found out I could do it.”


ALONG THE WAY TO becoming an established freelance writer, Ashburne found himself in other jobs and projects, from playing in a punk band to working as a laborer on a road gang largely made up of Japan-born Korean residents. A key turning point was when he met his wife, a remarkable woman who gave him access to many doors in notoriously closed Kyoto that would not have been possible otherwise. Those contacts, he says, plus an ability to speak Japanese, are crucial for journalists to succeed in Kyoto.

In addition to his writing, Ashburne is also a talented photographer. His works took first prize in the Mazda International Photo Contest two years in a row, and were voted the best in Japan a third year. Photography is a love he’s had since childhood when the powerful impact of war photographs in his local newspaper deeply moved him.

“I grew up in Yorkshire with the massive Sunday Times and its photographs dropping through our letterbox,” Ashburne says. “I suppose I was an unusually aware seven-year-old, because the Vietnam War filled my mind. First it was images of Phantom F-4s. Later, with Don McCullin’s ‘Shell-shocked U.S. Marine: The Battle of Hue,’ and AP Photographer Nick Ut’s ‘Napalm Girl.’ Those images were seared into my mind, to the point where, by 1979, I wanted to be a war photographer.”

That didn’t happen, though the belief in photography as a form of journalism remains strong. Despite his love of the written word, Ashburne has a modicum of distrust in its ability to reveal truths and elicit emotions in the ways that the best photography does. Still, he says, at the end of the day, he’s a freelance writer, a journalist.

“I’m one of those poor souls stuck between starvation and liberation, desperation and desire,” he concludes. “All I can really hope for is a paycheck, a byline, some laughs, and the hope that sometime, somewhere, I’ve helped to tell the truth, large or small.” ❶


Eric Johnston is Senior Kansai Correspondent with the Japan Times.

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