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Japan

Studio 360

Japanese Schoolgirls Grow Up

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Japanese schoolgirl image was made famous by comic books and cartoons. But not everyone thinks they’re so kawaii (cute). What do Japanese women make of this archetype? Lisa Katayama met three young art stars whose work reclaims and re-invents female pop imagery, in some disturbing ways ...

Slideshow: The Art of Toast Girl and Erina Matsui

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Studio 360

Pico Iyer: Outside Man

Friday, August 30, 2013

Travel writer Pico Iyer has lived in Japan for 20 years. And while he knows the locals still see him as an outsider, he told Kurt Andersen that this status helps him pay attention to his surroundings.

Video: Pico Iyer & Kurt Andersen in Nara

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Studio 360

Akihabara, Nerd's Paradise

Friday, August 30, 2013

Roland Kelts, an expert in Japanese pop culture, takes Kurt Andersen to Akihabara, a retail paradise for otaku — obsessive fans of manga and other Japanese culture. But a recent tragedy casts a shadow over the fun and games.

Video: Kurt Andersen Geeks Out in Akihabara

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Studio 360

This Is Their Youth

Friday, August 30, 2013

Young adults in Japan are unemployed, disenchanted, and depressed. Roland Kelts talks to poet Misumi Mizuki, novelist Ryu Murakami, and other artists to understand why. And he finds that Japan’s troubled youth might be changing the country for the better.

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Studio 360

No Time For Tea

Friday, August 30, 2013

The tea ceremony is a 400-year-old ritual for serving green tea. But in Japan's techno-centric society (increasingly fueled by coffee) can the tea ceremony survive? Studio 360’s Jenny Lawton talked with tea masters, old and young.

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The Takeaway

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Crisis Worsens

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Storage tanks at  the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are leaking about 80,000 gallons of contaminated water. Bob Hernan, author of “This Borrowed Earth: Lessons from the 15 Worst Environmental Disasters Around the World”, explains how serious the leak is.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Ruth Ozeki's Novel A Tale for the Time Being

Monday, July 01, 2013

Ruth Ozeki talks about her novel, A Tale for the Time Being. It connects a 16-year-old in Tokyo with a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. 

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The New Yorker: Out Loud

Larissa MacFarquhar on Japan's culture of suicide.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Larissa Macfarquhar on Japan's culture of suicide.

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New Sounds

West Looks East: Japan

Monday, June 17, 2013

For this New Sounds program some Western musicians look to Japan for inspiration both melodic and instrumental. Hear selections from a recent release by cellist/composer Jordi Savall called "Hispania & Japan - Dialogues," created following the catastrophes in Japan in 2011.  It's actually based on a previous project from 2006, "The Route of the Orient," revolving around the Spanish Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier (Francisco Javier).

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

Is war with North Korea imminent?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Is war with North Korea imminent?

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Selected Shorts

Selected Shorts: True Selves/Hidden Selves

Sunday, March 17, 2013

This week, a story from Karen Russell's new collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove.  "Reeling for the Empire" is a story of oppression, finding freedom, and fantastic transformation.   Broadway and television star BD Wong hosts.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Ruth Ozeki's Novel A Tale for the Time Being

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ruth Ozeki talks about her new novel, The Tale for the Time Being. It connects a 16-year-old in Tokyo with a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami.

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Transportation Nation

Meet the Feline Station Master of the Wakayama Electric Railroad

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Here's another way to attract people to transit -- put a cat in charge of the local train station.

In 2007, Japan's financially beleaguered Wakayama Railroad was on the verge of closing its Kishi Station. But after a railroad executive adopted a local stray, Tama the calico cat became something of a local celebrity. Responsibility soon followed, and she was officially appointed station master. Her job, when she's not napping, is to greet passengers. (According to Wikipedia, "in lieu of a salary, the railway provides Tama with free cat food.")

Mitsunobu Kojima, the CEO of Wakayama Railroad, Kojima credits her with reviving the moribund railroad ("single-pawedly," according to the above Animal Planet segment.) Tama was credited with pumping as much as 1.1 billion yen (10.44 million dollars) into the local economy in 2007 alone.

Now, Tama has a Facebook page, Wakayama Railroad is chugging along, the trains have been redecorated, and the town is so cat-crazy it's possible to ride in a taxi cab festooned with 880 cats.

The cat train of the Wakayama Electric Railroad. (Photo by Douglass Sprott via flickr)

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

Japan's Abenomics and the world economy

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Japan's Abenomics and the world economy

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Soundcheck

Gig Alert: The Suzan

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Japanese girl group The Suzan plays Mercury Lounge Wednesday night. Download the track "Ha Ha Ha."

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

How dangerous is North Korea's nuclear test?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How dangerous is North Korea's nuclear test?

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

A post-Davos debrief on the state of the world economy

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A post-Davos debrief on the state of the world economy

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Japan's Economy and Fiscal Stimulus

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a major stimulus package designed to jolt the county's lagging economy. Journalist Eamonn Fingleton and Financial Times U.S. economics editor Robin Harding examine the health of the world's third-largest economy, and the recent pledge by the Bank of Japan to buy bonds in potentially unlimited quantities with .

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

Foreign policy priorities for Obama's second term

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Foreign policy priorities for Obama's second term

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Transportation Nation

While Detroit Gains Ground, Japanese Automakers Stumble in China

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A Toyota dealership in Qingdao was burned by protestors in a dispute over an island chain claimed by both China and Japan.

(Paul Eisenstein - The Detroit Bureau) General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have ended 2012 with all-time sales records in China — but the news is nowhere near as good for Japanese makers.

Stung by a dispute between China and Japan over a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Toyota, Nissan and Honda have all suffered a sharp decline in sales in what has become the world’s largest automotive market.

While General Motors has yet to release its final figures for 2012, the maker already passed its previous peak by the end of November, the 2.59 million vehicles it sold for all of 2011. GM has set a goal of boosting sales in China to 5 million by mid-decade.

[Related story: GM Sets Another New Sales Record in China – And it’s Not Alone.]

Ford, meanwhile, has confirmed its sales in China rose 21% last year, to 626,616, also an all-time high. The maker was a relative latecomer to the Chinese market but has been aggressively expanding both its product portfolio and production capacity over the last several years.

“Record 2012 sales highlight the positive response our customers have for our full portfolio of high-quality, safe, fuel-efficient and smart vehicles,” John Lawler, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor China, said in a statement. “Their enthusiasm for Ford cars validates our aggressive plan to introduce 15 new vehicles, double production capacity and double our China dealership network — all by 2015.”

Chrysler has also been pushing into record territory, though its volumes have been much smaller than its cross-town rivals. That’s ironic because Chrysler was the first Western maker to build vehicles in China, or more precisely through its Jeep subsidiary. But its original operation was assumed by former partner Mercedes-Benz following the break-up of the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler AG.

[Related story: Chinese Reportedly Eyeing Stake in Daimler AG]

Under new partner Fiat SpA, Chrysler is again making an aggressive push to expand in China.

Japanese makers were also slow to enter the Chinese market, in part to long-standing enmity between the two nations dating back to Japan’s brutal occupation of its neighbor during World War II. That simmering disdain came back to a boil when the Japanese government decided to buy what it calls the Senkoku Island chain last September.

That set off rioting in China, the bigger nation also laying claim to what it calls the Daioyu Islands. A number of Japanese-owned vehicles were destroyed and a Toyota dealership was even torched in what many observers believe were government-tolerated, if not sanctioned, riots.

Japanese industry executives had previously telegraphed the likelihood of declining sales in China which, they also cautioned, would hurt their earnings for the rest of the 2012 fiscal year – which closes on March 31, 2013.

Nissan took the biggest hit, sales declining 5.3% for calendar-year 2012, to 1.2 million vehicles. Nissan has been the most aggressive of the Japanese makers operating in China, among other things setting up the new Venucia brand with its partner there, Donfeng Motors.

Toyota suffered a 4.9% drop in volume last year, to 840,000. Honda’s China sales slipped 3.1%, to 599,000. Prior to the dispute over the Senkoku/Daioyu Islands, Toyota had expected to see a 10% jump in sales in China, reaching 1 million for the first time.

The market for Japanese products has begun to improve, Toyota China spokesman Niu Yu telling the Wall Street Journal, “Sales are getting better day by day, but it’s still hard to say when we can get back to the pre-protest level,” said.

But it’s unclear how quickly there will be a full recovery. Nissan, for example, suffered a 41% drop in demand in October, shortly after the dispute began, but sales were still off 24%, year-over-year, in December.

Follow The Detroit Bureau on Twitter.

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