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.


Japanese man gets paid for doing nothing
Morimoto Shoji is a 37-year-old who rents himself out for doing “nothing in particular”. But, doing nothing sometimes means a great deal to people who just need some company. The Japanese man kept his interactions to a minimum as he accompanied one of his clients, who was grieving a friend at a temple in Yokohama on January 29, 2021.   
Tired of work from home? Try a Ferris wheel
An amusement park in Tokyo has found a unique way to safely welcome back some visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Yomiuriland park has opened its doors to people tired of working from home and is offering guests a way to roll on with business from a more uplifting location – the Ferris wheel. 
How Japan helps businesses wean themselves off China
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Index features one important number about China to give you insight into the rising power. $2.2 billion: how much the Japanese government is spending on incentives for companies to move production lines out of China.  The coronavirus pandemic has been a catalyst for Japan to become less reliant on producing in China. In April, the government set aside more than $2 billion from its $1.1 trillion economic relief package to attract companies back to Japan or to set up in countries outside China. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had said Japan needed to reform its supply chain to produce high-value products and essential goods at home, while diversifying it
‘This is 2020’: Japan lampooned for filing Covid-19 cases by fax
Japan’s stubborn reliance on the fax machine has been hit by a storm of ridicule after a frustrated doctor went on a Twitter tirade about the legal requirement that hospitals complete paperwork on coronavirus cases by hand then fax it to public health centers so they can compile statistics. The doctor, apparently a specialist in respiratory medicine at a public hospital, wrote: “Come on, let’s stop this.” “Reporting cases in handwriting? Even with the coronavirus, we are writing by hand and faxing.” He added that the practice was “Showa period stuff,” referring to the imperial era that ran from 1926 until the death of Emperor Hirohito in 1989. Yet fax still reigns supreme in Japan, with a re
‘Lonely’ Japanese eels get some face time
Workers at Tokyo’s Sumida Aquarium, which has been closed since March because of the coronavirus, noticed that their garden eels had become too shy to monitor. The aquarium appealed to the public to use video calling software to dial in and keep the eels more socially engaged. The three-day event ended on May 5.
Forget coronavirus babies. Japan may see a ‘corona divorce’ spike
The term “corona divorce” is trending on Japanese social media as couples forced to stay home because of the global Covid-19 pandemic air their grievances about the state of their marriages. Twitter, in particular, is serving as a forum for frustrated wives to vent about inconsiderate or demanding husbands. Many messages include hints – veiled or otherwise – that they are at the end of their rope. Reports suggest couples who are being forced together in other parts of the world are facing similar relationship challenges, but the term “corona divorce” resonates particularly in Japan.  In the 1980s, the term “Narita divorce” took hold to describe newlywed couples returning to Tokyo’s Narita A
Keep the red light shining? Japan’s sex industry faces a dilemma
Japan’s nightlife venues are facing dire times after the country declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic. That poses a dilemma for the country’s ever-thriving adult entertainment industry: do they stay open and try to maintain clients while risking their health? Or shut entirely and face losses? Unlike the country’s restaurants, which have started offering “bento” takeout lunchboxes as alternatives to drinking and snacking at after-work izakaya bars, adult venues rely on face-to-face contact.  These range from hostess clubs, where stressed salarymen can chat with a young woman for a fee, to pinsaro, or oral sex bars, where clients can rent a 40-minute booth for around $5