Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

A carriage too far


What are the odds, but on the morning after a few Seibu shareholders asked the transport firm to offer male-only rail cars to avoid the stress of possible train groping allegations, I mistakenly walked into the women-only car in Shibuya during the crowded rush hour.

Whoops, I suddenly realized - no blue suits and ties, discarded racing newspapers and pornographic manga, or slumped-over passengers letting neighbours support their weight, and it smelled decidedly better. Something was dreadfully wrong.

In that millisecond it takes to sense your toe in boiling bath water, I implemented immediate retreat operations, trying to moonwalk out of the carriage without creating an international incident.

I had seen Masayuki Suo’s movie “I Just Didn’t Do It” and interviewed the director, who researched cases of false groping accusations, and I knew Japan’s legal system wasn’t where I wanted to take my chances with “innocent until proven guilty”, particularly in a car where I was already persona non grata.

Mortician tale an Oscar surprise


Even the lead actor was surprised when his movie “Departures”, about an out-of-work cellist who takes a job as a mortician preparing corpses for cremation, won the Oscar for best foreign language film today.


The film has been a box office hit in Japan but it faced stiff competition and Masahiro Motoki, did not expect to win against the Israeli favourite in the category, “Waltz with Bashir”.