Paging Mr. Kato Kaelin, Mr. Kato Kaelin to Tokyo, please

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Japanese political leader Ichiro Ozawa was indicted today on campaign finance fraud charges. He has denied wrongdoing and says he will not resign his seat in Parliament.


The Macaque in the Street

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Tokyo Motorcycle Show ... Your Mother Was Wrong

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Nearly every Japanese trade show will feature girls in provocative costumes, demonstrating or displaying the products, and the best shows are the car and bike shows. Perhaps needless to say, where there are girls in provocative costumes, there will be dozens of creepy guys festooned with photographic equipment, pleading (with their eyes only ... this is Japan, and these guys are extremely undersocialized) with the girls to, "Fuck the camera, baby!"


Homeland Security Ends Color-Coded Threats, Launches New System

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The color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System is due to be replaced in April by a new National Terror Advisory System that will use family-friendly animals to signal terror threat levels, said a Department of Homeland Security source who preferred to remain anonymous.

President George W. Bush established the Homeland Security Advisory System by presidential directive on March 11, 2002, just a few months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. The five levels -- green for low, blue for guarded, yellow for elevated, orange for high and red for severe -- were intended to identify the risk of terrorist attack.


Tradition at Meiji Shrine

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During the New Year holidays, most Japanese visit a nearby shrine to pay their respects to the gods and pray for good fortune in the coming year. An important part of the very simple ritual is the making of a cash donation to the shrine, and every year trillions of yen are donated (which don't pay tax on the offerings).

The most popular shrine for new year visits is Tokyo's Meiji Shrine, where over a million people a day pay their respects (and dig into their pockets for an average of nearly $4 each) on each of the three days of the holiday.

You don't often see a Shinto priest driving an old car. Just sayin'.

Friendly Advice

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A panel of Illinois Appellate Court justices ruled Monday that former White House chief of staff Emanuel did not meet state provisions mandating Chicago mayoral candidates live in the city for at least a year prior to the election. The ruling overturned a previous Chicago Board of Elections decision that found Emanuel had in fact met the requirements. The state Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a stay on Monday's appeals court ruling that held Emanuel was ineligible to be a mayoral candidate and ordered that any ballots printed include his name while the case is pending.


Kitchen Debate

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Explanatory text for non-Americans: Americans often joke (or don't joke) that after eating Chinese food, they feel hungry again an hour later. [And there are all sorts of gastronomic reasons this may be true.]

Students of history will recognize the reference in the headline to the Kitchen Debate between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and then-U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon.


Dating Secrets of the Dictators: Silvio Berlusconi

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The second in a series. See Dating Secrets of the Dictators: Kim Jong-il here.

Tokyo Story: Sex and the Single Girl

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According to a study published last week by the Japan Family Planning Association, part of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, 36% of males aged 16 to 19 surveyed described themselves as “indifferent or averse” towards having sex. That represents a 19% increase since the survey was last conducted in 2008.

However, one of Japan's great ukiyoe artists, Hokusai, shows us with his The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife that Japanese women are nothing if not resourceful.


Being Steve Jobs

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Apple Computer announced founder Steve Jobs would take a medical leave from running the company, signaling the possibility his body has rejected a recent liver transplant or a recurrence of his pancreatic cancer. Apple announced that C.O.O. Tim Cook would again take over while Jobs is on medical leave.



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Thanks, R, for the use of the pix. And I'm sure you don't mind my putting words into your thought bubbles.

Surveillance Society

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With thanks to R for the use of the photo, and apologies to H for suggesting he won't some day be PLAYING in the NHL.



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Historical note: Fuke Zen was a branch of Zen Buddhism practiced in Japan from the 13th century until the late 19th century, with Fuke monks noted for playing the shakuhachi flute as a form of meditation and for wearing large woven basket hats that covered their entire heads as they went on pilgrimage.

Fuke was eventually banned by the authorities because warriors and spies were disguising themselves as pilgrim monks, using the basket hats to conceal their identities and move freely around the country fomenting unrest.


One in 220,000 (in 2011)

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This is a personal one.

Congratulations to ASL and CASL on the birth of their beautiful son, AISL, today in Tokyo.

Looking forward to meeting the little guy in person, and to "wetting the baby's head" with a little Champagne.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Sumo

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The title of this comic is a reference to a memoir by the Japanese writer (and ultrarunner) Haruki Murakami.

And the text in the cartoon will be familiar to anyone who has ever been, or known, a woman. Or a man who's in touch with his herbivorous side.


People's Liberation Army Air Force News

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Granny, Get Your Gun

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President Obama arrives in Tucson today to visit victims of the shooting attack that critically injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed federal Judge John Roll, 9-year-old student Christina Greene and four others. Altogether, nineteen people were shot.

Excellent coverage can be found at The Tucson Sentinel's website.


What Americans Do ... and Don't Do

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President Obama spoke Saturday about the shooting attack in Tucson that critically injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed federal Judge John Roll, 9-year-old student Christina Greene and four others. Altogether, nineteen people were shot. Excellent coverage can be found at The Tucson Sentinel's website.

We hope Representative Giffords and the other injured will make a complete and speedy recovery, and we send our heartfelt condolences to the families of Christina Green, Judge Roll, Dorothy Morris, Dorwin Stoddard, Phyllis Scheck and Gabe Zimmerman.

One of those days ...

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This one is not for those who have a problem with street language, or graphic imagery.

I ran across these photos on a website at some point, and there wasn't too much explanatory text, but the scene inspired me. The accident did in fact happen in Brazil, less than an hour from the Argentina and Paraguay borders, but ... I made the rest up. Though it may be 100% true.


The Utility of Opposable Thumbs in the Arizona Desert

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As a regular cartoonist for the Tucson Sentinel, I've developed an unhealthy interest in the political scene in Arizona.

When documentary filmmaker Roy Germano produced a film titled The Other Side of Immigration, he wondered if the border fence that cost U.S. taxpayers an average $4 million a mile to build is, in fact, a deterrent to would-be illegal immigrants.

He asked two young women to climb the fence while he timed them, and both made it to the top in under 18 seconds on their first attempt.

He posted the video clip on YouTube, where it has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and offers a clear perspective on his question about deterrence.


Tokyo Political Journal: Dead Man Walking

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Happy new year, Mr. Prime Minister.

Your government's approval rating, if it can be called that, is well below 30%, and your apparent inability to lead is so obvious that even disgraced party kingpin Ichiro Ozawa, facing possible indictment in a campaign finance scandal, is still taking swings at you.

You may say that's just politics, but when the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is laughing at you, your days truly are numbered.

Tokyo Metro Manners: The Magic Word

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The Tokyo Metro has been running a 'manners campaign' for several years, and each month publishes a new poster in stations. Over the months, the campaign has pretty much covered every bit of proscribed activity (don't throw up on your fellow passengers, don't practice your golf swing on the platform with a wet umbrella, etc.) imaginable, and three months ago moved on to behavior that is apparently encouraged.

The above images are 'repurposed' from a campaign poster that urges passengers to be considerate of their fellow travelers who are too short or feeble to remove their luggage from the overhead rack, though it does not explain how the luggage got onto the rack in the first place.

EDIT: Shortly after posting this, I was informed by several friends that the tall woman on the right bears an uncanny resemblance to Matsuko Deluxe, a Japanese transvestite entertainer.

See here and here.

[To see other cartoons and comics in the Tokyo Metro series, click here or on "Tokyo Metro" in the labels below.



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Mochi (餅) are rice cakes made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. While eaten year-round, mochi are traditionally eaten during the Japanese New Year, and due to their chewiness, result in a number of choking deaths every year, usually among elderly people.

While death is no laughing matter, death by mochi ... is, kind of.

In case you'll be eating mochi this holiday season, here's an important safety reminder.

Year of the Rabbit

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Politicomix by Roberto De Vido is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License