Osaka to end sister-city ties with San Francisco over ‘comfort women

OSAKA — Osaka formally decided Dec. 13 to end its 60-year sister-city ties with San Francisco, in protest against its sanctioning of a statue symbolizing women forced into wartime brothels for the Japanese military, the Osaka mayor said. The acceptance of the so-called “comfort women” statue “fundamentally destroyed the relationship of trust. It cannot be […]

Osaka-S.F. sister city relationship to end

Following San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee’s formal acceptance Nov. 22 of the memorial dedicated to the so-called “comfort women,” located in the city’s Chinatown, Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said at a Nov. 24 press conference that he would dissolve the two cities’ 60-year-old sister city relationship. The Japanese Imperial Army sexually enslaved women and girls […]

Japan hails Obama’s achievements, sounds optimism over Trump era

TOKYO — Japan hailed Jan. 11 progress made between the administrations of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama and expressed confidence bilateral relations will continue to improve after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government’s top spokesman, made the remarks after Obama […]

Ukulele master dedicated to narrowing Japan-U.S. culture gap

TOKYO — If any barriers are hindering Japan and the United States from achieving ultimate social harmony, Jake Shimabukuro hopes that his music can break the ice. Born and raised in Hawai‘i, the Japanese American ukulele virtuoso gets the best of both worlds with a ‘Wa’ on the outside and ‘Aloha’ on the inside. “I […]

Abe asks Obama to investigate alleged U.S. spying

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked U.S. President Barack Obama on Aug. 26 to investigate alleged spying on high-level Japanese government and corporate officials, after anti-secrecy Website WikiLeaks disclosed last month a list of Japanese targets by a U.S. eavesdropping agency. During their 40-minute telephone conversation, held at the request of Washington, Obama apologized […]

The question of Shin-Nisei and Japanese American identity: Exploring Nikkei history at the Nikkei Youth Conference and creating models of Nikkei activism

On Nov. 16, I had the great pleasure to attend the Nikkei Youth Conference at the Berkeley Methodist United Church. I first heard about plans for the conference at the JACL’s most recent National Convention this July in Washington, D.C. from the JACL Berkeley chapter’s co-president. He mentioned that the conference would be centered on […]

Japan looks to Kennedy for new bridge with U.S.

TOKYO — With the controversial base relocation in Okinawa and other high-stakes issues testing the resilience of Japan-U.S. relations, people in Japan are looking to new U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy for not just her celebrity status but also her potential to become a new bridge between the two allies. Still her untested credentials as the […]

Thomas Foley, ex-U.S. envoy to Japan and House speaker, dies

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — Thomas Foley, a former U.S. House of Representatives speaker and ambassador to Japan, has died, U.S. media said Oct. 18. He was 84. Foley served as the U.S. top envoy to Japan from 1997 to 2001 mostly under President Bill Clinton and handled issues such as reinforcement of bilateral security ties through […]

Friendships and trials across nations

TOMO: FRIENDSHIP THROUGH FICTION – AN ANTHOLOGY OF JAPAN TEEN STORIES Edited By Holly Thompson (Berkeley, Calif.: Stone Bridge Press, 2012, 384 pp., $14.95, paperback) Children’s author Holly Thompson, who resides in a seaside town in Kamakura near Tokyo, missed the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck while she was visiting […]

What happens when goodwill and baseball collide?

BANZAI BABE RUTH: BASEBALL, ESPIONAGE, & ASSASSINATION DURING THE 1934 TOUR OF JAPAN By Robert K. Fitts (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2012, 368 pp., $34.95, hardcover) Some 17 years after Nomo opened the door for Japanese players into the Major Leagues, author Robert K. Fitts has written his third book on the subject […]