As pandemic drags on, it's self-help time in Japan
Nikkei -- Aug 27
Reader, heal thyself! In many a bookstore in Japan these days, that appears to be the message from publishers to consumers looking for summertime page-turners or browsers in search of popular titles about golf, computers and business-and-finance trends.

Summer arrived late in Japan this year following an unusually long and tedious rainy season, whose overcast days and unshakable dampness added to the sense of ukki (melancholy or gloom) provoked by the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But Japanese bibliophiles have been emerging after a long, virus-induced stay-at-home period, looking for interesting books for pleasure, study or work-related research.

In these virus-haunted times, visitors to Japanese bookstores will find a summer mix of romantic novels by young writers, treatises predicting future trends by management and financial gurus, and fantasy-fueled travel journals (if one cannot escape, thanks to the pandemic, at least one can take off vicariously for New York, Paris or Rome). This year, biographies of Yuriko Koike, the recently re-elected governor of Tokyo, who is one of Japan's most high-profile politicians, have also appeared.

At the same time, shelves in what some stores label their "raifu", or "life" sections, transliterating the original English word and using it to refer to lifestyle guides and self-improvement books, offer numerous titles that, for a foreign observer, hold a mirror up to current trends in Japanese society.

Given the specter of the ubiquitous and lethal coronavirus, this is probably not the best time for "The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness," a self-improvement book with a peculiar theme and a downer of a title that was a big hit just a few years ago. Creating one's home should always involve more pleasure than toil, but in the current climate, even the ever-fastidious Marie Kondo's admonitions about decluttering -- tossing out possessions that do not bring their owners joy -- sound strict and stern.

Self-help and self-improvement books on display in the "Life" section of a bookstore in Tokyo, August 2020 (Photo by Edward M. Gómez)

Instead of tough-love tip sheets, Japanese readers seem to want ideas about the arts of feeling good and creating enjoyable lives -- and more confident, capable selves -- in preparation for their emergence, some fine, sunny day, from the angst-ridden pandemic. With this in mind, the psychologist Nobuyori Ooshima's "Book for Changing, Right Now, the Self That Cannot Be Tidied Up" offers, its cover declares, 25 techniques for getting one's act together, immediately and in a satisfying manner.

News source: Nikkei
Oct 28
The coronavirus pandemic has brought record losses to one of Japan's major airline operators. ANA Holdings has announced it expects a group net loss of 4.8 billion dollars, for the year ending next March. (NHK)
Oct 28
Japan's largest oil wholesaler says it will cease operations at a chemical materials factory around next October as competition in the industry intensifies. Eneos will seek to sell part of the plant to rival Idemitsu Kosan. (NHK)
Oct 28
Playing casino games online can be quite thrilling. (
Oct 27
The animated movie "Kimetsu no Yaiba," or "Demon Slayer," has broken box office records in Japan, earning 10 billion yen in its first 10 days in theaters. It reached the milestone much faster than the 25 days it took the 2001 animated fantasy film "Spirited Away." (NHK)
Oct 27
A new survey shows only a small number of people in Japan are getting the safety benefits of working from home. It found that less than 20 percent were telecommuting despite calls to do so to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (NHK)
Oct 24
Tokyo and London have agreed the UK's first big post-Brexit trade deal as Britain pushes to keep its economy on track after leaving the European Union. (NHK)
Oct 24
Japan's minister in charge of the coronavirus response says he will ask businesses to extend their year-end and New Year holiday period so people can stagger their travel. (NHK)
Oct 24
Wine connoisseurs in Japan are gearing up for an annual ritual. (NHK)
Oct 23
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. is considering sharply scaling back its staff and budget for developing the first domestically manufactured passenger jet, effectively freezing the operation amid a slump in demand caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, sources close to the matter said Thursday. (Kyodo)
Oct 22
Japan is considering creating a hub where financial firms can file regulatory paperwork in English as Tokyo aims to recruit banks and brokerages away from Hong Kong and other parts of the world, according to people familiar with the matter. (Japan Times)
Oct 22
A computer file containing data on 2,750 business partners of a unit of Japan Post Co. has been leaked, the parent company said Tuesday. (Japan Times)
Oct 21
Japan and China are expected to agree as early as this month on resuming travel by both short- and long-term businesspeople between the two countries, Japanese government sources said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Oct 21
Obtain totally free Young America quotes for auto insurance coverage. (
Oct 19
Over the coming decade, Japan will get economic tailwinds from a force never before experienced in economic history anywhere on this scale: the country's gigantic stock of record household savings will become unstuck. (Japan Times)
Oct 18
NHK hopes to make it mandatory for those who have not signed viewing contracts to report to the broadcaster whether or not they have a TV, a move it says could help cut costs for collecting fees. (Japan Times)
Oct 16
Analysts credit a Japanese government travel campaign with a slight uptick in spending on services and entertainment in late September. (NHK)
Oct 15
The parent company of All Nippon Airways Co. plans to acquire 400 billion yen ($3.8 billion) in loans from five Japanese banks as the airline operator's earnings have sharply deteriorated under the novel coronavirus, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. (Kyodok)
Oct 13
A chain of misjudgments and unexpected events, not least Carlos Ghosn's escape to Beirut, have sent Japanese prosecutors and former Nissan Motor general counsel Greg Kelly on a collision course set to unfold in his long-awaited trial over the next nine months. (Nikkei)
Oct 13
The Indian economy is set to become the third largest in the world behind China and the US by 2050 and retain the same position in 2100, a study published in the medical journal Lancet found by translating working age population of countries into scenarios for total GDP. ()
Oct 13
A report by the BOJ highlights that prices in Japan are under downward pressure amid the pandemic. (NHK)