Englishisation: Is it working? (for EURObiZ Japan, Japan Today)


TOKYO — Yuki Wachi and her husband cannot speak English, but they send their five-year-old daughter Tamami to a preschool where English is the primary language of instruction. Once Tamami finishes kindergarten and enters the Japanese public school system, Wachi and her husband will commit an additional ¥100,000 per month to after school English lessons for their daughter. Read the rest of this entry

David McNeill: Living on the Edge

When the first seismic waves from a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the northeastern coast of Japan reached Shinagawa Station in downtown Tokyo, David McNeill watched the train station’s heavy steel and concrete roof lurch sickeningly overhead and thought his time had come. Read the rest of this entry

E-commerce and Japan’s Economy

TOKYO – Three years ago, Tomoko, a 54-year-old housewife, purchased everything from clothes to food to stationery at various local retail suppliers. Today, Tomoko rarely goes out to shop, preferring instead to buy most of what she needs online.

Not only is online shopping, also called e-commerce, convenient, says Tomoko, it is also inexpensive. “Groceries alone used to cost my family of three nearly ¥250,000 every month,” she said, adding, “Now they cost a third of that.”

In a country where nearly 80 percent of the population has access to the Internet, Tomoko’s shopping preferences are fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. Read the rest of this entry

The Swadesh DeRoy Memorial Scholarship


Every year the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) stages a competition for the Swadesh DeRoy Memorial Scholarship. My winning submission, entitled “Outwitting Al Qaeda in a Changing World,” was published in the July 2014 edition of the Number 1 Shimbun, FCCJ’s monthly newspaper. Click here to read it.

Paracelsus: The Man Beneath the Myth

Abstract: Paracelsus––whose unorthodox beliefs and volatile temperament caused him to be ostracized from his contemporaries in the tightly knit academic and medical communities, where gossip and scandal circulated with relative ease in spite of the spacial limitations under which mail couriers then operated––was thought of as an agent of the Devil. Though history has been kinder to him, his association with the black arts remains irrevocable––for in a 1942 speech before the Royal Society of Medicine, H. P. Bayon described Paracelsus as “not a harbinger of light.” This paper seeks to uncover the man beneath the myth, and then, hopefully, to set at rest the idea that Paracelsus was anything but an ordinary (and godly) man with ideas and ideals ahead of his time, ideas and ideals that, unfortunately for his reputation, were unsettling to his contemporaries. On a separate note, this paper also attempts to demonstrate the folly of basing one’s opinion of someone or something off of a reputation that, more often than not, is fabricated from half-baked rumors and ill-conceived exaggerations. Read the rest of this entry

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