Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Small is beautiful


It’s been over two weeks since the final puck was walloped and the last skin-tight lycra suit was hung up at the Vancouver Olympics. 

And while Japan’s poor performance still rankles, the passage of time has given me the chance to find some bright spots in the country’s measly haul of three silver and two bronze medals.

Not least of which is the role played by small Japanese companies in supporting our athletes at a time when corporate behemoths, such as carmaker Nissan Motor and Seibu Holdings, an operator of hotel chains and train systems, have severed ties with teams including baseball and ice hockey squads.


Two of the three women in the team that won silver in the ladies’ pursuit speed skating belong to a skating club formed by tiny surveyor Daichi Corp in Toyama Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo.

Half-pipe dream up in smoke for Japan bad boy


Inclement weather has plagued the snowboard venue at the Olympics, but the storm clouds over Japan’s Kazuhiro Kokubo nearly prevented him from competing in Vancouver.

Ending eighth in the snowboard half-pipe finals with an apparent bloodied chin and lip,  Kokubo is also unlikely to have felt the last of a public bruising in Japan that began when some people thought he was scruffily dressed for his departure from Narita Airport and continued when he later seemed unrepentant.

Tokyo lights go out


Tokyo’s failure to win the 2016 Olympic bid triggered bemused shrugs and a rush for the exits at Tokyo Tower when the result was announced well past midnight on Saturday morning. In truth, no one at the bid party in the Tower seemed to really expect Tokyo to win.

Drummers drummed, cheerleaders rustled pom-poms and a seeming endless string of noisy TV celebrities took turns at the microphone to drum up some Olympic fever among the 400-plus partygoers.

Apocalypse Edo, 2016


After watching Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics, and not always holding my tongue at the ancient city of Edo’s quest, the moment of futility in the 18-month, $50 million campaign became apparent after this headline: Olympics-2016 Games could be the last, says Tokyo governor.

Imagine the PR team behind always quotable Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, as the Japanese bid fell behind in the race according to bookmakers, suggesting he make one last plea to the IOC: With global demise coming, Tokyo deserves a final shot at Olympic hurrah.OLYMPICS/

Countdown to 2016 Gold


DENMARK/The delegations and heads of state are gathering in Copenhagen with less than one week to go until the International Olympic Committee’s decision on which city will host the 2016 Games.

Billions of dollars in investment and national pride are at stake. Oddsmakers are pegging a close race ahead of the Oct. 2 vote, and we are adding a new question to our poll on candidate cities (included below).

The 2016 Gold



Less than a month until the International Olympic Committee’s selection of the winning city in the 2016 Olympic bid campaign, and the IOC in a report Wednesday has the candidates in a dead heat.

All bid cities — Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo — will make a push before the Oct. 2 decision in Copenhagen, with billions of dollars in investment and national prestige at stake. 

from Left field:

Boyz II Men risk a Barack-ing over Tokyo Olympic support

boyzAsk not what you can do for your country ... ask its direct competitor if it wants any help with its Olympic bid.

Tokyo's 2016 campaign has been short on glamour backers and is struggling to match Chicago's trump card, American President Barack Obama - until now.