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MIYAVI, VAMPS and WagakkiBand Tokyo Journal Issue #277’s feature interview with MIYAVI sees the “Samurai Guitarist” talking not only about his music, but his introduction to the world of Hollywood through a 2014 acting role in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, and his reworking of the classic theme song for the new Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. HYDE and K.A.Z. of VAMPS talk about the challenges of going from a headlining band in Japan to an opening act in North America, while the eighth member of WagakkiBand shows the coolness of Japanese culture by fusing traditional Japanese musical instruments with rock and Vocaloid songs.

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DRUM TAO

This issue’s cover photo is of DRUM TAO. TAO has taken the art of taiko drumming to a whole new level. Over 7 million people in 500 cities have been blown away by these musicians, who are also highly trained athletes that are dressed to kill. Their spectacular costumes were designed by Tokyo Journal contributor and world-acclaimed fashion designer Junko Koshino.

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Inside this Issue

 

This issue features interviews with a number of the world’s most extraordinary people including one of the greatest minds in the world today, the esteemed MIT Professor Noam Chomsky; Nelson Mandela-appointed South African constitutional court judge and freedom fighter Albie Sachs; CNN chief medical correspondent & practicing neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta; Kyocera founder and one of Japan’s most respected business leaders Dr. Kazuo Inamori; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on his recent trade delegation to Asia; and one of Japan’s greatest rock groups of all time X Japan and their bandleader Yoshiki (pictured here) on their historic concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Editor's Desk

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The One and Only Yoshiki

The popularity of Japanese music has been growing at an accelerated rate thanks in part to X Japan’s Yoshiki who keeps setting the bar higher and higher. He has created an entire genre of music (visual kei), inspired a generation of Japanese musicians (see the interviews with One Ok Rock and NIGHTMARE) and grown a worldwide fanbase. He has toured the globe as both the hardcore drummer for X Japan and as a classical pianist whose 2014 world tour packed airports with fans and filled concert halls in Southern California, San Francisco, Mexico City, Moscow, Berlin, Paris, London, Shanghai, Beijing, Bangkok, Taipei, Tokyo and Osaka. X Japan are revving up for their October 11th concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden. See our special feature in upcoming Issue #276.

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FOLLOWING the record-breaking bouts of snow that hit Tokyo and the east coast of North America in 2014, we await cherry blossom season anxiously. Soon, Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park will be full of revelers basking in the glory of its many cherry blossom trees. Yoyogi Park is of course the location of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Village and the iconic Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

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TOKYO’S weather was getting cooler when this issue went to press, but political discourse was heating up as Prime Minister Abe tried to pass a new state secrecy law. Opponents were alarmed. The bill would severely weaken Japan’s democracy and limit freedom of the press, they said. On November 20, a group of independent journalists presented a petition to the government. It included Soichiro Tahara, the country’s best-known political commentator. This shows the high level of unease as Japanese journalists rarely deliver petitions.

Renewed Hope
Before the law’s deliberations dampened people’s spirits, Japan received some much needed hope. Tokyo was selected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics this September. Some commentators cried on live TV. Soon after, as if on cue, a rainbow appeared over Tokyo.

Hot Talent
The highlight is our 12-page feature Interview with Visual Kei pioneer, rock legend and classical genius Yoshiki. The X Japan founder shared his struggles and successes from his state-of-the-art Hollywood recording studio. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie’s questions dig deep and cover an amazing range of topics.

The complete article is available in Issue #273. Click here to order from Amazon

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JULY brought the noise of political campaigning to the streets of Japan, culminating with the upper house elections on July 21. Thanks to the popularity of Abenomics, the coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito regained the majority it had lost in 2007.

Some worry that this might persuade Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to return to his dream of removing Japan’s pacifism from the country’s constitution. But in spite of the landslide, his party doesn’t have enough seats to do this on its own and coalition partner Komeito is strongly opposed.

So for the time being, Abe likely will remain focused on the economy. His newly acquired power, however, should give him enough freedom to push through unpopular but badly needed reforms.

Olympics
With the important upper house elections out of the way, Japanese eyes are now fixed on the next elections: those for choosing the city to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Tokyo is one of the three finalists and its chances look favorable. The International Olympic Committee will elect the host city on September 7 at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To warm up, we look at Tokyo’s Olympic bid and the surprising link between the Olympics and Harajuku, Tokyo’s irreverent center of youth culture.

Festivals
Summer in Japan, of course, means matsuri, or street festivals. Religious in origin, many are now spectacles that unite the community and attract lots of tourists. In this issue, acclaimed Japanese fashion designer Junko Koshino shares how the powerful festival of her hometown influenced her work. This inspired our cover photo of the gorgeous kimono she designed. In the same vein, I invited a number of Tokyo street fashion icons to show me looks inspired by summer and matsuri. They brought me an explosion of creativity and color, with many incorporating traditional Japanese elements in very modern ways.


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IT’S spring and there’s a scent of change in the air. For the first time in history, His Imperial Majesty the Emperor welcomed the incumbent president of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. For the first time in over 20 years, the Emperor and the Empress danced in public, and one of Japan’s most acclaimed architects, Toyo Ito, is being celebrated by the world through the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The media worldwide are heralding Japan’s economic awakening. Japan’s stock market is roaring, its overvalued yen finally falling, and the Bank of Japan is spending many trillions of yen. So far, Japan’s rally is based on politics. The economic reality is yet to be proven.

Cautious Optimism
Still, many of Japan’s business people are cautiously expressing optimism “with a large question mark,” as an official in Tokyo’s heavily industrialized Ota ward said to me this week. “Companies have high expectations, but it is unclear when they will feel the effects of Abenomics. Or whether they will experience it at all. There is still much skepticism and uncertainty.”
On the streets of Tokyo few people feel any change yet. Many are apprehensive. “I don’t notice any difference,” a small business owner in Tokyo told me while walking his dogs. “It is just the stock market and large companies. Small companies are struggling. I have no expectations that things will get better. They are just creating another bubble.”
Naturally, Tokyo Journal hopes the skeptics will be proven wrong and Prime Minister Abe’s risky economic experiment will bear fruit.

North Korean War Threats
One experiment we don’t want to bear fruit comes courtesy of our neighbor North Korea. It has once again explored the limits of overly aggressive negotiation techniques. Many foreign media seem to take the reclusive regime’s bellicose rhetoric at face value.

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AS we near the end of 2012 and prepare for 2013, the Tokyo Journal Winter Edition Issue #270 is about to hit the shelves. Storefronts are decorated in Christmas cheer and year-end parties are certainly near. Although the year’s end is usually a time for closure, there is much astir in Tokyo this winter.

In Politics
On December 16, elections will be held for Japan’s lower house of parliament. Pundits predict a comeback for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) led by conservative Shinzo Abe, Japan’s 90th prime minister who stepped down in 2007 after only one year in office.



Staff Continued

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