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Haruki Murakami's other contribution to the literary world: translation

Updated : 18.01.2017 / Category Society and Culture

Haruki Murakami is one of the world's most celebrated writers, but he wears another hat, too, which has allowed him to greatly contribute to Japan's literary sphere: He is a superb translator of literary works into Japanese.

"As a translator and a novelist, I've striven earnestly, to the best of my ability, to find a way to translate that which constitutes the most important elements of 'The Great Gatsby—its very essence, if you will—more effectively and more accurately," Murakami writes in the postscript of his Japanese-language translation of the book.

For Murakami, literary translation is not a mere hobby. Rather, it is part of his life, on a par with his novel writing. His literary translation and novel writing play off each other to create him.

Shochiku planning kabuki theater following passing of 'casino bill'

Updated : 12.01.2017 / Category Capsule

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Shochiku, a major Japanese film and theater company, is welcoming the December 15 enactment of the integrated resort (IR) promotion bill, which was passed just in time for the end of an extraordinary Diet session, despite strong opposition.

Indeed, the firm has long hoped for the establishment of the so-called "casino law," which will legalize casino gambling in Japan.

The insatiable ambition of SoftBank's CEO

Updated : 10.01.2017 / Category Economy

SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son stunned both the Japanese and U.S. political and business circles when he met with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in New York on December 6 (local time).

During the 45-minute-long talks at Trump Tower, Son—known for his shrewd ability to win over influential individuals to further his own goals—promised to invest a total of $50 billion (about ¥5.7 trillion) in U.S. startups, helping create about 50,000 jobs. For his part, Trump described Son (warmly referring to him as "Masa") as "one of the great men of industry." It was the first meeting between the two men.

Japanese Defense Ministry silent over atrocity near South Sudan encampment

Updated : 04.01.2017 / Category Capsule

Japan's Defense Ministry did not publicly reveal a report on an atrocity that took place near an encampment of a Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) unit dispatched last year to participate in U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan, just as the government was debating whether to give the GSDF fresh roles in line with controversial security laws, it was learned recently.

The event was reportedly witnessed by members of the 10th unit during their operational duties as part of a U.N. mission called UNMISS, following their dispatch to South Sudan in June last year. "A terrible atrocity was carried out against citizens on the outskirts of the capital city of Juba, close to the SDF encampment" a Defense Ministry source said.

Doubts swirl around Toyota Prius after fatal accident in Japan

Updated : 02.01.2017 / Category Capsule

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Last month, a Toyota Motor Corp. Prius model taxi cab crashed into a hospital in Fukuoka City, southern Japan, killing three people and injuring several others. The police investigation concluded the taxi driver had mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, based on an analysis of the information contained in the vehicle's event data recorder (EDR).

"There are continual rumors about Prius cars going out of control at convenience store parking lots and other facilities," said an automobile journalist who covers users' car-related comments. "In most cases, police have pointed to driver carelessness as the cause of such accidents."

LDP ignores needed reform by focusing on term limits

Updated : 27.12.2016 / Category Sentaku in The Japan Times

The Liberal Democratic Party quickly wrapped up its discussions to extend the maximum tenure of its president. However, the ruling party does not seem to be paying much attention to more complicated and serious issues that concern its future.

In just about a month after the party's political reform panel led by Vice President Masahiko Komura began discussions on the matter, the LDP effectively decided in late October to allow its president to run for three consecutive three-year terms, instead of the current maximum of two terms—a decision scheduled to be officially endorsed in a party convention next year. That will pave the way for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the incumbent party chief, to run for yet another term as LDP president when his current term ends in September 2018. Initial calls for caution over the change by the potential post-Abe leaders who stand to see their chances of a near-term ascent to the party presidency dashed, such as Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and former Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba, quickly faded away.

What price will Japan pay for getting islands back?

Updated : 22.12.2016 / Category Sentaku in The Japan Times

Lord Palmerston, who served as prime minister of Britain in the 19th century, once remarked that "We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow." By quoting these words, a Japanese government insider said recently that Japan is no exception—particularly in an age when a character like Donald Trump gets nominated for president of the United States (and goes on to be elected), noting that Japan would have to map out a new path of its diplomacy should its alliance with the U.S. starts to become adrift.

As if to reflect this view on history in transition, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is bent on seeking a breakthrough on the decades-old territorial dispute with Russia over the group of islands off Hokkaido and move Russo-Japanese relations forward when he meets with President Vladimir Putin on Dec. 15 in Nagato in his home prefecture of Yamaguchi.

NHK-Netflix tie-up facing resentment from Japanese private broadcasters

Updated : 19.12.2016 / Category Capsule

A tie-up between NHK and Netflix kicked off December 12 with the Japanese public broadcaster's terrestrial airing of "Tokyo Trial," a four-part documentary drama about the post-World War II hearings of Japanese war criminals, jointly produced by NHK and a subsidiary of the major U.S. Internet television network provider.

Under the tie-up, NHK will provide the drama on demand after its broadcast, and Netflix will start streaming it in about 20 languages in January.

Trump's shock US election win may disadvantage Toyota

Updated : 15.12.2016 / Category Capsule

Toyota Motor Corporation could face sluggish sales in the United States after the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president in January, according to Japanese analysts.

"The increased public works spending and tax cuts touted by Mr. Trump will likely spur the U.S. economy, while environment-related deregulation is set to accelerate after the United States withdraws, as per his declared intention, from the Paris Agreement," said a reporter who covers the automobile industry for a trade paper. "Americans tend to buy large, gas-guzzling vehicles when their economy is booming. If environmental regulations are eased, that trend will be amplified."

Japan's cyberdefense capabilities open to question

Updated : 14.12.2016 / Category Society and Culture

Imagine, if you will, the following scenario: As the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games reaches its climax in front of 80,000 live spectators on the evening of July 24, 2020, delegates from each country begin filtering into the freshly completed New National Stadium, and the Emperor and Empress take their seats in the VIP area. But just as Japan's national anthem begins wafting through the air, a series of bizarre events begins to unfold.

First, the prelude of Georges Bizet's "Carmen" suddenly begins blaring through the stadium speakers, drowning out the national anthem and throwing the audience into a state of confusion. Next, the stadium lighting goes out and a message flashes up on the stadium screen, proclaiming, "Japan, stop killing dolphins!" Only then do people start to understand what is happening.

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