Yoshio Kodama

Yoshio Kodama was born on February 18, 1911 and was born in Nihonmatsu, Japan. His early life saw him staying in with his relatives in the Japanese part of Korea, in which he started and organized a nationalist group with the intent of killing and assassinating some Japanese politicians. He was eventually caught by the authorities and served time in prison for 3 and a half years. Kodama is a well known criminal figure in Japan and is an activist of the criminal underworld during the 1950’s up until the 1970s. He made a fortune by bringing in opiates to Japan and involving himself in a drug trade, all while doing errands for the government after he was contacted by them to help import resources for the Japanese war. He was able to do this thanks to the contacts that Kodama was able to establish during his time in Korea as a youth. This move allowed to make about 175 million US dollars, which made him one of the richest figures in Japan and Asia.

Yoshio Kodama


Immediately after the end of the World War II, Kodoma was convicted by the United States as a suspected Class A war criminal. He was imprisoned in Sugamo Prison. During his term in the prison, he met Ryoichi Sasakawa, who was also a war criminal, and the two formed a friendship. Kodama also penned two books during his stay in the prison, entitled “Sugamo Diary” and “I Was Defeated”. He was granted his freedom after reaching an agreement with the U.S. government, with Kodama providing help against communism in Asia. Kodama then used every resource and contact that he had in order to put an end to labor disputes, and other events in which is pro-Communism. He was also ordered to smuggle tungsten from China by the CIA, in which he earned a good chunk of money even though the shipments never arrived. Kodama died of stroke on January 17, 1984.


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Shoko Asahara

Shoko Asahara was born on March 2, 1955. His birth name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and was born in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto. He was part of a family of tatami mat makers, and was generally in poverty through out his childhood. He suffered from infantile glaucoma, he is blinded in his left eye and can only barely see with his right eye. As a result, Asahara was enrolled in a school for the blind. After graduating in 1977, Asahara pursued his studies of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, which is a typical profession for blind people in Japan. He was caught selling unregulated drugs and practicing pharmacy without a license in 1981, which resulted in him being fined with 200000 yen. During this time, Asahara sparked an interest in religions, as he studied various Chinese religions and astrology. He then went on to be more interested in Christianity.

Shoko Asahara


Asahara then officially changed his name from Chizuo Matsumoto to his current and more recognizable name Shoko Asahara in 1987, and along with that, applied to the government for the registration of his new group named Aum Shinrikyo. It was not legally recognized until 1989 however, as officials were reluctant to acknowledge Aum Shinrikyo as a legal religious organization. Aum Shinrikyo’s teachings were based on the Bible, Asahara declared himself as the “Christ”, and saw himself as the savior from the sins of the people. His famous crime happened on March 20, 1995, when members of the Aum Shinrikyo went to the Tokyo Subway and attacked civilians with sarin, which is a nerve gas. 13 people were killed, and other thousands were severely ill. Asahara, along with the 12 disciples who conducted and performed the attack were convicted and arrested. Asahara was found guilty in 13 out of 17 charges filed against him, and was sentenced to death in 2004. It was further delayed however, and in June 2012, it was postponed as other Aum Shinrikyo members were arrested.


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The Controversy of the Yasukuni Shrine

It was in 1869 when the Yasukuni Shrine of Japan was established by then Emperor Meiji. This is a special place for all the Japanese people as well as the Japanese history because it will be the home of the commemorated souls of those who had exchanged their lives to protect the Empire. At the time, Emperor Meiji composed a poem that stated ‘I assure those of you who fought and died for your country that your names will live forever at this shrine in Musashino’. Since then, all those brave men and women of Japan who risked and dedicated their lives for the honor of the Empire and the Emperor are commemorated in this special shrine. Those who fought at the wars that Japan has been involved with, from the earlier times up to the Second World War, they are given honor in exchange for their loyalty to the Emperor.

the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo


However, in the recent decades, the Yasukuni Shrine has been in a great deal of controversy especially with China and Korea. This is because of the fact that out of the many names of the military (especially during the Second World War) who are honoured and commemorated in this shrine, about 1100 of them are convicted of war crimes by what is known as a post-World War court. As many people know, the Japanese are accused of many crimes and violence during the Second World War. These include the Nanjing Massacre, slavery of Vietnam Comfort Women, those from China, Philippines, Korea and many more, the death railway in the Thai-Burma Border and many more. For the Japanese, unless these crimes are proven with sufficient evidence, these men will still be hailed as heroes of the war. This is because despite what they may have done, their best interest is to protect the Emperor and the country. This has stirred mixed emotions from many people, particularly the victims and the families of victims. With the war too distant from the present, it is unknown what is yet to happen to truth and justice.

Yasukuni Shrine Festival


images by yasukuni and japan-guide

Yasuhiro Nakasone: The Man behind Military Comfort

A lot of experts have already analysed excerpts from his memoir and how it seems that he personally made the decision of setting up brothels known as Comfort stations during the Second World War. There are a few indications in his memoir that seem to support allegations against him. However, since he released his memoir, he kept himself shut and refused to talk about the issue saying that it was all a misunderstanding and that he had no commands regarding the trivial matter.

Yasuhiro Nakasone

The problem with this is that a lot of victimized Korean comfort women as well as families of victims are still in hopes of finally receiving justice after 70 years of yearning for it. The number of comfort women that were victimized during the war was unknown until today but there are groups and families that still seek justice. In 1993, there was an apology from the Japanese government and the former Prime Minister even supported the idea of an apology. Since there are no direct evidences that link the former Prime Minister, other than his memoir that might have been interpreted negatively, the former Prime Minister did not confirm any allegations and have strongly denied the claims that he was the mind behind the idea of comfort stations. This memoir was published around 1978 and he told the story of how he had problems regarding commanding 3,000 men during when he was in the navy because of problems regarding gambling, brawl and even “attacks on women”. Up until today, a lot of members from the Japanese government still continuously claim that there is nothing to apologize for as there are no evidence that women were FORCED into this kind of service.

Comfort Women

He served as prime minister from 1892 to 1987. Though his ruling was short, he was able to make good diplomatic relations with then US President Reagan.

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The Poisonous Wife

Not many know that a number of Japan’s most notorious murderers were women. This is because during the earlier times, with poison as their weapon and their accessibility to anything a person can consume (being an active participant in the comings and goings of a household), they can easily and quietly slip in quiet down someone using beverage or food. During the earlier times, even sometimes at this time and day, Japanese murderesses are referred to as dokufu which translates to the poisonous wife (even the mode of murder is not through poisoning). The most popular and the most studied poisonous wife is Takahashi Oden.

Oden was a beautiful woman, especially when she was young, leading her to marry at a young age to a man named Naminosuke. With their young and quite luxurious lifestyle, Oden and Naminosuke gambled away all their money. To the stroke of even more misfortune, the young Naminosuke got leprosy. They had nothing but with her husband’s illness, there are bills still to be paid and medical attention is greatly needed. To make ends meet she prostituted herself to foreigners. Through all the difficulties, her husband met his end. Some literature claims that Oden herself killed her husband by poisoning him, as she was tired of taking care of him and his health. She might have ended his life to free herself of Naminosuke. To validate this claim, she soon fell in love with some rogue, a man named Ichitaro Ogawa.

Portrait of Oden

Sick of her job as a prostitute and wanting more money to fend for themselves, they decided to rob one of Oden’s rich customers. While the man was asleep she slit his throat with a razor and left a fake suicide note by his body. However, it is not the perfect crime that she had planned for the police soon tracked her down. When she was captured, she was convicted of her crimes and was sentenced to death. She is known in history to be the last woman in Japan to be executed through beheading.

Though there were other women like her, who committed crimes for money and wealth, Oden was one of the most popular where her stories were written in history books and other literary works. She was even used as an inspiration at times for characters in a number of Japanese period films.

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Comfort Women against Mayor Hashimoto

The Second World War was a nightmare to anyone who ever lived through it. The suffering caused by the war for many seemed endless; victims and even heroes still remember those memories fresh in their minds like they happened only yesterday. Whoever studies, reads or listens to stories and accounts from the war would still feel an ache in their hearts while learning about all those who suffered. Pity, anger, and regret are common sentiments, where perhaps the announcement of the war’s end is the only incident where deep and true joy was experienced in the dark period in mankind’s history. However, these emotions are not true for one specific person, rousing controversies caused by his unusual views about the events. Toru Hashimoto known as the Mayor of Osaka attracted a lot of hullabaloo against himself due to his unanticipated views and statement regarding some WWII issues, particularly the dispute regarding Japan comfort women.

Mayor Hashimoto

“Comfort women” is a euphemism used to describe hundreds of thousands of women who were forced into slavery and sexual abuse by the Japanese military during the Second World War.  In 2013, the Mayor of Osaka has released some very outspoken views that definitely stirred up some anger not only in Japan but all over the world. He daringly declared that comfort women served a vital role in the war and their presence is necessary to boost the morale of the nation’s warriors. To those oblivious of these women’s “roles” during the war, it would seem that the Mayor’s view of the issue is harmless and purely nationalistic. However, this is not the case! As implied from his statement, it seemed that he was saying that the abuse of women and children along other Japanese atrocities during the Second World War are necessary even how inhumane they may be.

One historical fact that is still strongly debated up to today is the statistic that slavery, as well as prostitution, has always been irrevocably part of any war. There are evidences in history to prove that the Japanese military had involved sexual slavery of women from their former colonies, even before the WWII. This may make Hashimoto’s statement correct. On the other hand, it does not mean that what he said was acceptable – which is the main source of all the fury.

Comfort Women Protests

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The World’s Love-Hate Relationship with Late Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito was a man of many firsts, he was able to bring about some radical changes to the lives of the Japanese people and even bring about a revolution into the Imperial throne. He was Japan’s longest reigning monarch, ascending into the throne in 1926 upon the death of his father until his death in 1989. But he actually ruled longer than that when he became regent to his chronically ill father and assumed the duties of an emperor in 1921. He was also an emperor at the darkest stage in contemporary Japanese history, calling on difficult decisions and watching his people and his men suffer heart breaking conditions due to the Second World War.

Emperor Hirohito in Imperial Robes

Soon after he was inducted into the throne, there was political turmoil in his country. With the changing tides in the position of the Emperor and his influence in the government, it was believed that he had limited influence over the military and its politics.  He was even said to be a reluctant supporter of the Sino-Japanese war, knowing what his country might possibly lose. Since then, there had been a great number of unverifiable controversy regarding his true role and influence in Japan’s operations during the WWII.

It is difficult to say whether or not the world really has the right to strongly dislike the emperor. He was accused of forcing his men to commit atrocities to their neighbouring countries during the Second World War; this included the Japan comfort women, which has become quite a controversial issue lately, in spite of the fact that the Japanese government made a very public apology and offered millions of dollars in atonement as long ago as the 1990s. Or perhaps it is rooted from the fact that his country signed the Tripartite Pact with two of the most notoriously powerful countries at the time – Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The simple agreement was that they would assist one another should any of them be attacked by a country that is involved in the war.

At the time, Japan was also among the nations that had advanced military artillery and training, if it was anything that the Emperor has done, it was solely to protect the people. The two powerful countries will be able to provide protection for Japan against their vulnerability, being powerful yet alone in their continent they surely need to defend themselves. What the western media has always labelled as Japan’s dream of ruling Asia, then the world, can never be entirely accused solely on the emperor for their dreams for Asia were truly grand. However, it would be difficult to say if it was for the benefit of all those that would be involved.

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Love her, hate her, she’s still Pamyu Pamyu

It is known by many that there are a great deal of unusual entertainment, fashion and styles in Japan. It is actually what makes them interestingly attractive to many people, particularly foreigners. But, there is only one particular celebrity that embodies all three simultaneously – she is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu with her Teddy bear head dress

There are a lot of Japanese people that are actually confused about how they feel about Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. They think that she is ridiculous but this is a great part of her charm. Seeing her anywhere will make anyone give her a second glance because she is a truly interesting character. If you think that Lady Gaga is already crazily daring with her avant garde costumes, head dresses, make up and the like, you have not seen enough yet. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is like the Lady Gaga of Japan, only much colorful. Her daring outfits are a source of awe for many Japanese because she has the guts to wear such outfits considering the very conservative nature of the Japanese society.

She is a Japanese model and singer and she is the best manifestation and symbol of kawaisa and decora – both of which are popular fashion cultures in Japan. Her music is mostly electronic and techno pop and her signature song is PonPonPon which she released in 2011. She gained popularity in Japan, then in different parts of Asia. Today, she has also penetrated the western world when many of her music videos have gone viral on the internet. She has been dubbed a the Harajuku Pop Princess and has been covers of many popular magazines because of her eccentric but cute style.

She is known to have made remarkably unusual remarks especially when she has stated in an interview that she likes “scary things that become traumatic with their cuteness”. She explained that she find brains and eyeballs important in balancing cuteness. Though what she means about the balance between scary and cuteness are unclear, she is still in a very love-hate relationship with the Japanese audiences. Her eccentric style, colorful hair and enormous hair bows  have made her cringe-worthily lovable for many audiences.

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Why many dislike Gouriki Ayame

Anyone entering the showbiz industry must understand that not everyone will be fully loved. In one way or another, there will always be a group of fans that will be hating and bashing the celebrity for a variety of reasons. Gouriki Ayame is a Japanese actress and fashion model who debuted in 2007 for a role in the TV drama ChocoMimi. Ever since her debut, she has been receiving both good and bad comments from the fans. Some of them may be reasonable but the others are just pretty unusual.

One of the probable and most understandable reasons why she is most hated is the fact that she has played a number of main female roles for live action adaptations of popular anime and manga for the past few years. According to the opinion of many journalists, fans are appalled by the idea that she has played multiple live action roles. This is based on the idea that many fans have a fantasy of who they wish to be the actors if ever their favourite manga would be turned into a live action adaptation. If their fantasies and visualizations of the adaptations don’t involve her, then there is definitely some sense of disappointment. Furthermore, she is most disliked because many of the fans claim that she does not give enough life to the characters that she play and eventually “ruin” the essence of the adaptation. This, again, is another source of disappointment. However, the fact that she is awarded so many roles for adaptations may be a sign of her underrated talent. She won’t land big roles if she is not in any way talented.

Ayame playing main role for adaptation of Biblia

Many people actually comment (sadly some do so very rudely) at her physical appearance. This is a great source of conflict among the fans for some think that she is beautiful, while others don’t. The way some fans perceive her appearance may be affected again by their disappointment towards her. Since they already dislike her, she will not be in appealing to the disappointed fans. But this is actually disproven when she was awarded with “Japan’s Most Beautiful profile” award.

Since many fans see her in so many movies and shows, as well as seeing her in many advertisements and commercials, for some fans the disappointment will be difficult to forget. It is difficult to say whether what they say about her are true or not since everyone looks at things differently; however, despite this she stays strong and positive where she does not let the hate comments get to her.

The Infamous Japanese Internet Hater

In the midst of the natural catastrophe brought about the 9.0 magnitude quake that shook Japan in March 2011 and the devastating tsunami just right after it, the most common emotion all over the world was sympathy. Everyone in the world worked hand in hand to give whatever help and prayer they can for the distressed Japanese community who were not only shocked but disheartened by the unforgiving disaster that they have experienced.

Who would have ever thought that someone in their right mind would even thank God for such a disaster to befall any nation in the world? Oh, surprise, surprise! Just a few days after that devastating disaster, a 21-year-old woman named Pamela Foreman immediately became one of the most disgustingly hated people on the internet because of her “GOD IS SO GOOD” video. At first, any viewer would think that the video is nothing but a simple and innocent praise and worship clip. But, what is most striking about this famous video is the disturbing description that Foreman daringly posted along with it which said:


She claimed that what happened to Japan was deliberately prayed for and (she believes) was God’s way of showing non-believers (not only in Japan but all over the world) that He exists. Within hours the video became increasingly viral where comments was posted about it in a rate of 500 comments every three minutes. All those that were appalled by the video immediately made retribution, dislikes reached more than 100,000 votes. After approximately half a million views, millions of hateful comments she came to her senses and eventually deleted all of her videos on the site concerned.  She even posted a video coming clean to what she did and many claim that she was merely trying to get a laugh (known as trolling) out of the incident.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and with the constitution backing up her rights for speech and expression there can be no specific allegations that can be held against her unless it would be considered as a cyber-related crime.  But despite the constitution, what she did and said was hurtful and definitely insensitive and inconsiderate. The most inspiring thing about this was that the Japanese community was understanding enough to not create a commotion regarding such a petty internet incident.

Pamela Foreman

Pamela Foreman

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