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This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Japan, the place with the strangest drug debate in the world

Despite its relatively low drug abuse figures, the Japanese system is failing to treat addicts.

#MeToo in Japan: 'I was told not to bring shame on the country, with my story’

Journalist Shiori Ito spoke about her own experience of sexual assault in 2017 – a year marked by allegations against powerful men. Then came the backlash.

Why do people go to cat cafes? Loneliness and relaxation in a time of neoliberalism

After I began researching the explosion of ‘cat cafes’ in post-economic bubble Japan, I discovered an entire healing industry devoted to the commodification of intimacy.

Listen to a recorded audio version of this article.

Japan after Japan

Post-Fukushima social movements, the rebirth of history and tacit futures. An interview.

The anti-US military base struggle in Okinawa, Japan

Many visitors stay for a prolonged period, become regular visitors or even completely relocate to Okinawa, as Aihara and Kamoshita did a few years ago.

Japan's military sexual slavery: whose agreement?

The South Korea-Japan agreement on Japan’s military sexual slavery was announced on 28 December, 2015, but it ignores the  efforts by the victim-survivors movement to seek justice for their suffering. 

“The refugee problem is a presage of the great migrations of the twenty first century.”

This is an interview with Michel Foucault conducted by H.Uno, translated by R Nakamura for Shûkan posuto and published in August, 1979. In October, this timely if not prophetic text was translated from the French for openDemocracy by Colin Gordon.  

Time to move beyond nuclear tribalism

"Question: Is nuclear power good or bad?

 Answer: No. Some nuclear is good, some is bad. For example, the Govt. should support an IFR."

Understanding Japan's collective trauma

The Japanese have been bound together by a collective experience of horror since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an experience reawakened by the impact of the Fukushima disaster.

America's Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years later

Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun?

In Japan: controversial US army base sparks outrage among local population

It is time activists across the globe extended solidarity to those protesting to prevent the construction of a new military base in Okinawa, who are haunted by their memories.

The crisis of democracy in Japan

Japan is on the brink of changing from a pacifist state to one prepared to go to war if necessary. Now, more than ever, we must refocus international scrutiny on the country’s social movements.

Searching for justice: the Tokyo Women’s Tribunal

Justice for sexual crimes in wartime still remains elusive for many survivors, but it's never too late. From States of Impunity.

How many minutes to midnight?

Despite Hiroshima's scars, history cruelly reveals one instance after another in which the US elected to maintain the power of nuclear weapons for statecraft, squandering opportunities to de-escalate in favor of building the case for the national security state. 


The self-immolation of a man in central Tokyo last month is the latest act of protest against Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. Japanese popular opinion remains committed to a renunciation of militarism. But Japanese elites, under cover of bland excuses and in cooperation with Washington, have set about unravelling this.

Forecasting India-Japan ties under Modi and Abe

India's newly elected prime minister Narendra Modi and Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe enjoy a friendship which signals increasing co-operation and integration of both nations' economic and defense plans in a new regional strategic partnership. 

The Great East Japan earthquake and the search for "gaman"

The Japanese philosophy of gaman - dignified endurance in the face of suffering - perhaps best explains the country's unique response to national catastrophes.

Democratizing inequalities

Participation has become a necessary basis for institutional authority in an era of declining social mobility and government retrenchment. It has become a tool for sustaining hierarchies as much as a tool for transcending them. 

Beyond Yasukuni: Japan's march towards militarism

From constitutional revisions to education reform, the Japanese government is intent on undoing the country's pacifist fundamentals. 

The Ice Age 2014

As New Orleans freezes over our Sunday Comics author reflects upon his personal, ambiguous relationship with ice

Deported from Japan: until death do us part

February will see the final judgment in the case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj, a Ghanian national who died whilst being deported from Japan. An interview with his widow highlights States’ powers to regulate migrants' intimate relationships with their citizens.

Cities in the future of democracy

Today’s cities perch people far off the ground. They block sight of the stars. So we’re faced with a completely different task: re-embedding our cities into our biosphere. Interview.

Playing nice: disputes in the South and East China Seas

Maritime disputes in East Asia have been hugely detrimental to accessing the energy-rich reserves in the South and East China Seas. China needs to move beyond its wariness over sharing security responsibilities in order to solve the resource problem.

Japan's peace pledge: a question of sovereignty?

Japan adopted its war-renouncing constitution following World War II, with Article 9 as a promise to itself and a pledge to the world never to repeat its mistakes.

Rebuilding Japanese democracy after the triple disasters

Two years after the tsunami that killed thousands and triggered a nuclear meltdown, it is intriguing to observe how the 'triple disasters' might also have reinvigorated civic participation and activism in an otherwise politically apathetic society. What does this mean for the future of Japanese democracy?

Global trade politics and the spectre of the public

This opening paper of the workshop, Creating publics, Creating democracies (see this week's theme) explores the elusive nature of ‘the public’ in relation to global governance and global civil society; how it is being appropriated, invoked, silenced, and excluded in contemporary politics as well as invested with the alternative imaginaries of a more democratic future  

Apple vs. Samsung: something doesn’t quite fit!

The patent war between Apple and Samsung made a great deal of headlines over the past weeks. This article argues that both have much to gain from this big fuss, while the losers seem to be consumers and patent law itself.

China and Japan: a conflict of logics

The territorial dispute between regional powers has the potential to escalate. All the more reason for the Chinese elite to lead rather than follow public opinion, says Kerry Brown.

Noah's stories in shaky archipelagos: Martinique, Haiti, Fukushima

In the third piece of our series on Fukushima (see Fabian Schäfer and Andy Chih-ming Wang) the Japanese anthropologist and cultural critic begins by thinking that he will have to go very far indeed to find words and memories strong enough to rival the actual phenomenon of this disaster. But as he mourns the passing of the Martinican philosopher, Édouard Glissant, the island of bliss gradually returns to him.

Three notes on Fukushima: humanities after/in crisis

In an extended (5,000-word) overview drawing on cultural and philosophical studies, the author urges us to reflect on how Fukushima may change our view of the world from one of assured progress and prosperity for some, to that of vulnerability to catastrophe for all. 

Fukushima: rumours, emotions and Rousseau’s general will in the digital age

In the digital age, how does government deal with rumour in a crisis? After Fukushima, the anti-rumour strategies of the Japanese government led some to question which party, the masses or the government was more involved in the dissemination of rumours. Dominant political thinking considers rumours merely a threat to be contained. But if you allow emotions into the picture, you could reach a very different conclusion, one that requires a return to Rousseau’s general will.

Japan, the earthquake and the media

The worst disaster in Japan since the second world war hit the country's north-east coastal region on 11 March 2011. The combination of tsunami and nuclear crisis presented the media with great practical problems and ethical concerns. Wataru Sawamura, an experienced journalist with the leading newspaper the Asahi Shimbun, reflects on how he and his colleagues sought to fulfil their professional responsibilities as the tragedy unfolded.

2012, an era of uncertainty

The tsunami and nuclear accident made 2011 an especially hard year for Japan. But the questions raised by the experience are similar to those being asked across the world, says Takashi Inoguchi.

Japanese Woodcuts and Drag Queen Bingo

Jim Gabour sees the graphic of living through nineteenth-century Japanese woodcuts to Drag Bingo, via West Coast illustrators and his own country and western posters

Bombing Kobe

The city of Kobe died twice: once through being bombed in 1945, and subsequently by earthquake in 1995. As a result of both this and the hasty ‘restoration’ process, you can only see in a few bullet marks on one pier of the Owada Bridge, crossing over Hyogo Canal in downtown Kobe, the real legacy of the Kobe bombing. The author is speaking at this week’s Shock and Awe conference.
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