When it comes to historical truths, Japan does not have the best reputation. School textbooks are notorious for glossing over the nastier of Japan's wartime activities, while the government is periodically caught in verifiable lies worthy of Trump's inauguration numbers. But how does this feed into the daily news coverage in modern day Japan?
The rise of Daesh has resulted in a huge increase in hate crimes against Muslim citizens. This is due to claims by the terrorist organisation that their abhorrent actions are supported by Islamic doctrine, despite being repeatedly and strongly contested by the Muslim community. In a backlash to anti-Islam rhetoric, a steadily louder claim has emerged that all religions are a source of evil. This seems to have upset a large number of Christians who believe that Christianity is fundamentally a force for good.
"What about tomorrow?" The three men in the blue uniforms of the Sekai moving company were crowded around a cupboard containing shoes. This is a standard feature right by the entrance of any Japanese apartment: the movers had not yet got further into my home.
"It's fine," I assured them in my limited Japanese. "You can pack everything."
"But... tomorrow..." One of the movers looked across from the cupboard and gaped in shock. "Aahh!" he pointed at my feet. His two colleagues crowded close. "She's wearing shoes."
The answer was bound to be 'yes'. I had fallen into conversation with the elderly lady sitting beside me as we had sought out the shuttle bus to transfer to the airport's domestic terminal. I was connecting from Tokyo to Sapporo, she was bound for Osaka. Judging from her accent, we had both just stepped off the London Heathrow flight.
When I arrived home one evening, I discovered I had been sent a box of magic. Raw, spreadably glutenous, brown yeast extract magic in six incredible different varieties. The note that came with it was clear: "I expect a full review".
The closing ceremony for the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly marks not only the culmination of a two week science conference, but also the official change of the Executive Committee. This did not go well.
Today, I became annoyed by an article in 'The Guardian'. It was a piece discussing the consequences for the Nobel Laureate British biochemist, Sir Tim Hunt, after his disastrous speech at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul last week.
Everyone has a weakness. One that will make them abandon the common sense ingrained from years of primary school doctrine and follow random strangers into situations from which they could not possibly escape.
"This sentence is very nice" --my head of group told me-- "But, if you use this sentence for some young boy, he might feel that you have very good impression about him and you want to feel him very close to you."