Even though it is now November, it was only yesterday that I took the time to listen to the 8 March 2012 Temple University talk by Kenneth Cukier, the former Japan economics and business correspondent for The Economist. In the YouTube video of the talk, Cukier denies he is anything of an expert on Japan, even after five years on the job. He remains baffled by the contradictions he has seen. Nevertheless Cukier leads the viewer/listener (Cukier speaks without slides, so there is nothing to watch) on a worthwhile tour of the various lenses through which one can view the Japanese economy and Japanese corporations. (Link)
At the end of his presentation, Cukier praises the work of the author Spike of the blog Spike Japan. Spike has produced some of the best writing ever on the down-at-the-heels side of Japan, in long essays laced with humor, affection and a heavy dose of statistics. The magazine is dead, which is sad, for Spike's travelogues, such as his latest on what he saw whilst on a trek through "the wettest, boggiest, squelchiest bits of Hokkaido" would certainly be gracing the pages of a thick and glossy publication. (Link)
Finally, I do not know whether the reporters of the Tokyo Shimbun read The Japan Times blog YenForLiving or whether blog authors Philip Brasor and Tsukuba Masako merely captured the zeitgeist (Link) but today's top story in the print edition of the Tokyo Metropolitan District's hometown newspaper is on the hurdle created by the kyotakukin, this blessed land's world-beatingly high and often non-refundable deposit required for a run for a Diet seat -- though, as frequent Shisaku commenter Troy has pointed out, the amount required for a run at a Diet district seat represents a one thousand yen contribution from three thousand supporters.