Latest news, in-depth features and opinion on Japan, covering politics, economy, society, the country's relationships with China, North Korea and South Korea and the legacy of World War Two in Asia.


Japan may be sleepwalking into a coronavirus crisis
Japan’s top government spokesman on Monday moved to dispel growing talk of a lockdown in the capital Tokyo, amid concerns that restrictions on movement would wreak damage on an economy already walloped by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s not true that the government is planning on declaring a state of emergency from April 1,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.  He added that an expected phone call between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, had nothing to do with that topic. But a top Japanese doctor called on Abe to issue an emergency decree to fight the outbreak. “If we wait until an explosiv
2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed for one year
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo have officially been postponed because of health concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he asked for a one-year postponement and the International Olympic Committee has agreed.
Was Japan behind a mysterious bid to buy Macau outright?
In the 1930s, Western newspapers were in the habit of portraying Macau as a haven of pirates, scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells, gambling the days away and smoking opium by night. Maurice Dekobra, a bestselling French writer of the inter­war years, had a hit with his 1938 novel, Macao, enfer du jeu (Macao, Gambling Hell), which became an equally sensationalist film. Lacking Peking’s bohemianism, Shanghai’s modernity or Hong Kong’s dynamism, Macau sat in the South China Sea, fanning itself in the heat, a decaying relic of the diminished Portuguese empire. The economy was hurting thanks to the British Royal Navy’s suppression of piracy and smuggling. Officially, it was good news, but not for Maca
Tokyo, Melbourne, Hong Kong: the world’s safest cities
Antte Alatalo had a surprise when he first walked around Seoul at night. There wasn’t anything to fear. The Finnish exchange student, 23, said the experience was in contrast to European cities, which were often unnerving after dark. “I have never felt isolated walking alone in Seoul as there are always other people strolling around in almost any part of the city, even late at night,” he said, adding “I have never seen a fight breaking out since I came here.” Among Alatalo and other international visitors, Seoul’s reputation as a safe city has been steadily gaining for years. The bi-yearly Safe Cities Index by The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked it the eighth safest city in the world in 2
China’s economy looks like Japan’s in the 1990s, and that’s not good
China’s economy is flashing worrying signs reminiscent of Japan’s economic bubble in the 1990s, said a Japanese economist. Japan’s home prices nosedived in 1992 after a period of asset price inflation and sank the economy into a recession that lasted almost 25 years. Naoyuku Yoshino, dean and CEO of the Asian Development Bank Institute, said China’s housing sector is looking similar to what it was like in Japan three decades ago. As Japan did then, China in recent years has adopted a loose monetary policy that has fueled a housing bubble, he said. Couple these with an impending demographic shift – China’s population is rapidly aging and its workforce is shrinking – Yoshino said he is concern
The crown jewel of American fighter jets crashed in China’s backyard
When an American-developed F-35 fighter jet went missing on Tuesday minutes after it took off from an airbase in north-eastern Japan, several US military analysts reacted in alarm. This was a “big deal,” tweeted Thomas Moore, a former staffer at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. “There is no price too high in this world for China and Russia to pay to get Japan's missing F-35, if they can.” As China has ramped up its efforts to develop a fighter fleet to rival that of the US, the Chinese military has seen the F-35, the result of the most expensive weapons program in American history, as a model to match and to beat. There is no price too high in this world for China and Russia to pay
Blue sky, crisp air and a reset in China-Japan ties
What happened in Beijing these past few days would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, and it’s not just the uncharacteristically blue sky and crisp air. For the first time in seven years, Japanese flags were raised outside the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital, as China rolled out the red carpet for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. China’s ceremonial welcome for Abe on Friday marked a turning point in the countries’ ties, which soured in 2012 over a group of islands in the East China Sea each country claims as its own.  Anti-Japanese demonstrations broke out across China after the Japanese government nationalized these islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and th