From the Editor

Justin McCurry

From the U.K. to the U.S. and Indonesia to Taiwan, key elections this year are amplifying the power of social media, especially when it comes to connecting with young voters. The days when a politician’s campaign message reached their audience through the filter of newspaper or TV reports are long gone. There's good reason to celebrate social and political engagement through the lens of TikTok, but the rise of online media has polarised voters like never before, at times driven by conspiracy theories that fuel the culture wars breaking out across western liberal democracies. Is “stable” Japan immune to this trend, which has traditionally favoured the right? Not for a moment, argues David McNeill in this month’s cover story. Elsewhere in this issue, Ilgin Yorulmaz uses the case of a Cameroonian trade unionist to examine Japan’s record on asylum, while Anthony Rowley asks if Japan’s sky-high stock market is false dawn or a sign of better things to come for the world’s third fourth-biggest economy. Mark Schreiber revisits the scene of a 1921 assassination that shook Japan, while Stephen Mansfield offers a critical look at the island “art paradise" of Naoshima. We’re fortunate to be able to run an extract from a forthcoming book about covering the White House by our colleague and former FCCJ president Steve Herman, while Vicki L. Beyer explains how Oita Prefecture is trying to boost its population and buck the national trend. In their regular columns, Philip Brasor delves into the murky world of “poverty businesses”, while Eric Johnston reports on attempts to strengthen ties between Hokkaido’s Ainu community and other indigenous peoples.

Artwork by Julio Shiiki