Hollywood has a somewhat chequered history when it comes to depictions of Japan and Japanese culture. From the thoroughly reprehensible Bond excursion You Only Live Twice, to the twin monstrosities that were 1989's Black Rain and 1993's Rising Sun (Sean Connery really should have known better by this point), film-makers have rarely strayed far beyond cliche and stereotype when depicting life on the archipelago.
James Mangold's comic-book adaptation The Wolverine, for which a new expository featurette hit the web earlier this week, may face serious criticism should it slip into stereotyping. In the Marvel universe, Japan really is a country populated almost entirely by ninjas, samurai, Yakuza and geisha girls. The Wolverine is based on a 1982 limited series run by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and sees X-Men character Logan battling crime boss Shingen Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada) and the Silver Samurai (Will Yun Lee), a fearsome warrior with an electrified suit of armour.
Unlike its predecessor, 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the story is set after the events of 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, with Wolverine alone and vulnerable following the superhero ensemble's disintegration. Earlier trailers have shown him losing his self-healing power as part of what appears to be a devious conspiracy.
The new featurette helpfully explains how the adamantium-clawed superhero ends up in Japan in the first place. Riffing on Logan's advanced age and apparent inability to ever get any older, it is revealed that the mutant saved the life of Yashida during the second world war. Lost and alone after the breakup of the X-Men in Brett Ratner's execrable The Last Stand, Wolverine takes up an invitation to travel to Japan. There he is offered a change to achieve mortality, though it appears the "gift" comes with a price: vulnerability. That's not to say Wolverine is totally incapable of defending himself: winning fights tends to be a lot easier when your bones are reinforced with the hardest (fictional) substance known to man and you have retractable blades protruding from your knuckles.
The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Friday showed the original design of Kenjiro Sano's Olympic and Paralympic Games logo embroiled in a plagiarism dispute, backing the Japanese designer's claim that he did not copy a Belgian theater logo. (Kyodo)
The Diet passed a bill Friday aiming to promote the role of women in the workplace, along with greater female participation in the economy at a time when the country's population is expected to shrink further. (Japan Times)
Japan criticized China's official Xinhua News Agency on Friday for having demanded an apology from Emperor Akihito over Japan's wartime acts, saying such a claim was "extremely discourteous to His Majesty the Emperor." (Kyodo)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to be reelected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party as early as Sept. 8, as no one apparently plans to challenge him, it was learned Thursday. (Jiji Press)
A bogus smartphone tip spreading through tweets is causing a headache for the National Police Agency as users have been tricked into dialing the emergency number 110 in at least 22 prefectures. (Japan Times)
An American man arrested earlier this month in connection with the death of a Japanese woman whose body was found off the coast of Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture, is expected to face another arrest warrant shortly, this time for killing the woman, an investigative source said Wednesday. (Japan Times)
Koji Yamada, the 45-year-old man who was arrested in Osaka Prefecture last week for abandoning a girl's body, was questioned by police in Tokyo before committing the alleged crime, it was learned on Wednesday. (Jiji Press)
Police raided the headquarters of Japan's largest yakuza syndicate Yamaguchi-gumi on Tuesday after 14 workers at a waste disposal plant in Kobe, western Japan, became sick after treating waste from the building early this month. (Japan Times)
Toyama Prefectural Police on Tuesday arrested a 56-year-old woman for allegedly dumping the body of her father outside their home in Takaoka City. Investigators are now working to apply murder charges, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Aug. 26). (Tokyo Reporter)