Why I Report in English by Yuri Kageyama

This is something I just happened to find in my desk, typed up (yes, typed _ remember those days?). It’s an essay about why I am a reporter, and why I report in the English language that I wrote I think in the 1980s. Perhaps I was applying for work? It is long before I joined The AP. I am not changing the wording, but have put it down exactly the way it is typed on the sheet of paper, except for the four changes made in red in pen that were already there. I might write it differently today. But I feel exactly the same. So here goes:

Ever since I can remember, I have been of both worlds _ American and Japanese. As a child of a Japanese “salaryman” who had dreams of pioneering science by crossing borders, years before the Japanese business Establishment decided “internationalization” was fashionable, I was constantly thrust back and forth between two very different, sometimes clashing, cultures.

I will not pretend that the experience was always pleasant. It was often stunning, confusing and painful. One moment, for instance, I was expected to be the submissive, demure Japanese girl, who laughed shyly covering her mouth. The next moment, I found myself having to turn into an assertive, no-nonsense American, who could outtalk and outperform any male.

Gradually I have come to accept this dichotomy. In a sense, I now cherish it as a privilege. I took to switching cultural allegiance for convenience. I would claim my “Japaneseness” when watching Ennosuke Ichikawa Kabuki, but I would, with no qualms, claim “Americanhood” while appreciating soul rhythms at an Earth, Wind and Fire concert.

It is, after all, an eyeopener to perceive that many of society’s rules are arbitrary. What passes as positive in one culture may be absolutely taboo in another, and vice versa. As a perpetual outsider, one can see through much of the false pretentious aspects of social norms and values and hope to grasp more accurately the universal human essence.

Reporting in English about Japanese matters, therefore, came naturally to me. Explaining the East to the West has been my persistent pastime. It is something I do well, I think, because it is part of my fate.

Earlier this year, I flew to Iwo Jima to cover the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s annual services for the war dead there. The sandy island speckled with gnarled tropical vegetation appeared, at first glance, barren except for the military bases.

Yet, upon closer inspection, strange voices seemed to fill the hot, dry air _ chants verging on song, rising and falling. So many people, both American and Japanese, have died here, the voices seemed to be saying. Their blood covers this island. Even if it has been washed away, the fact of history that thousands died here will never be erased, the windlike voices were saying.

Two monuments stand on Iwo Jima _ the one put up by Americans with the Stars and Stripes and the other of gray stone built by Japanese with a graphic depiction of the map of Japan. As though staring into two alien worlds with unmoving granite eyes, the two monuments remain apart on opposite sides of the same hill.

The visit held a revelation for me. Obviously, Japan and the U.S. are two separate countries that have even waged war against one another. Today, many of the misunderstanding and barriers that divide the two nations are still close to insurmountable. But thanks to a slightly aberrant upbringing, the two worlds are totally at peace within myself.

It is this unconditional yet effortless peace between Japan and America I know so intimately that I want to keep in mind when I work as a reporter.


REPORTER AT WORK PORTRAITS Photos by my colleagues over the years that are evidence I do my best as a reporter.

AP Photo by Eugene Hoshiko

Photo during my interview of Japanese prosecutors for My AP Story March 8, 2023.

AP Photo by Itsuo Inouye

Photo during my interview of Yayoi Kusama for My AP Story Aug. 7, 2012.

At the FCCJ front row, brown hoodie for My AP Story April 12, 2023.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in Tokyo, (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)

Photo during my interview of Akio Toyoda for My AP Story March 6, 2013.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in Tokyo, (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)
Guitar player of Queen Brian May speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Tokyo, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 in Tokyo, (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

My AP Story Sept. 23, 2016, when I spoke with a rock legend, who kindly called me “AP’s journalist of conscience.”

Sometimes my sources are a bit mechanical but cute. My AP Story July 13, 2015 on the Pepper robot when I am in an AP Photo, which is unusual.

Sometimes the photographer and I end up in pretty abandoned areas like the no-go zone in Fukushima. My AP Story April 29, 2014 that I filed from this trip.

Monday, April 28, 2014 in Sagamihara, (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)

And at other times, the photographer and I end up meeting extraordinary people who were hidden in their moments of glory. My AP Story May 18, 2014 when I interview Mr. Haruo Nakajima. My AP Obit Aug. 8, 2017.

We also do 360 video and end up being in that circle. This is from My AP Story Nov. 16, 2017 at a Toyota plant. Turn your cursor in the video below to see a 360 degree view of the plant:

A Photo by Shizuo of Andy and myself interviewing a Nissan executive for My AP Story Sept. 12, 2017.

Takashi Murakami took this selfie after our interview for this AP Story Dec. 31, 2015.

My AP Stories 2022

Here goes with My AP Stories in 2022. My AP Stories for 2021 and more links there for the previous years. My AP Stories for 2023.

I’m a Contributor to this AP Story and My AP Photos Dec. 31, 2022 on New Year’s around the world.

I filed the Japan reaction for this AP Story Dec. 31, 2022 on Pope Emeritus Benedict’s death.

My AP Story Dec. 31, 2022 on a landslide in northern Japan.

I’m a Contributor to this AP Story Dec. 31, 2022 on North Korea’s missile firings.

My AP Story Nov. 28, 2022 on Toru Kubota, who was freed from a Myanmar prison.

My AP Story Nov. 25, 2022 on the widening investigation into Olympic corruption.

My AP Story Nov. 22, 2022 in which I interview Takashi Murakami on his collaboration with Post Malone.

My AP Story Nov. 17, 2022 on Japan’s trade data showing record high imports and exports.

My AP Story Nov. 16, 2022 on the new Toyota Prius.

My AP Story Nov. 15, 2022 on Japan’s economy.

My AP Story Nov. 11, 2022 on four of Japan’s biggest rock stars forming a band.

My AP Story Nov. 11, 2022 about Japan vying for “last chance” as major chips producer.

My AP Story Nov. 8, 2022 on the Americans convicted in Ghosn escape returning home.

My AP Story Nov. 9, 2022 on how Nintendo is counting on a new movie, theme parks and merchandising to keep growth going.

My AP Story Nov. 8, 2022 on Nintendo’s earnings for the fiscal first half.

My AP Story Oct. 22, 2022 on the husband of a former princess passing the NY bar.

My AP Story Oct. 25, 2022 about the push for My Number digital cards.

My AP Story Oct. 27, 2022 explaining the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy.


My AP Story Oct. 19, 2022 on the widening Olympic bribery scandal.

My AP Story Oct. 4, 2022 on a publishing executive getting charged in the Olympic scandal.

My AP Story Aug. 17, 2022 on prosecutors making arrests on suspicion of bribery related to the Olympics.

My AP Story Sept. 6, 2022 on the scandal widening with more arrests, Takahashi formally charged.


My AP Story Oct. 21, 2022 on the new German CEO at Japan’s Olympus.

My AP Story Oct. 13, 2022 on the new EV company bringing together Sony and Honda.

My AP Story Oct. 8, 2022, an Obit for Toshi Ichiyanagi.

My AP Story Sept. 30, 2020 where I chat online with Digital Minister Taro Kono.

My AP Story and My AP Photos Oct. 10, 2020 about tourists from abroad returning.

My AP Story Oct. 5, 2022 on a U.S.-Japan workshop on bioethanol in Tokyo.

My AP Story Sept. 29, 2022 on the NBA in Japan and My AP Photos.

My AP Story Sept. 25, 2022 when Floyd Mayweather Jr. wins in a exhibition fight in Japan.

My AP Story Sept. 24, 2022 on his comments ahead of the exhibition.

My AP Story Sept. 3, 2022 on rescued dolphins swimming free from a sanctuary in Indonesia.

My joint byline AP Story Sept. 28, 2022 on Vice President Harris in town.

My AP Story and My AP Photos Sept. 23, 2022 about the protest against Shinzo Abe’s state funeral.

My AP Story Aug. 26, 2022 with My AP Photos and My AP Video on Japanese salarymen becoming TikTok superstars.

My AP Story Sept. 24, 2022 on another storm hitting Japan.

My AP Story Sept. 19, 2022 on the storm hitting southwestern Japan and traveling northward to Tokyo.

My AP Story and My AP Photos Sept. 1, 2022 on a robot that stocks shelves at a convenience store.

My AP Obit Aug. 18, 2022 on fashion designer Hanae Mori.

My AP Obit Aug. 9, 2022 on Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake.

My AP Obit Aug. 30, 2022 on Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera.

My AP Story Aug. 3, 2022 about Japanese journalist Toru Kubota’s friends demanding his release from detention in Myanmar.

My AP Story Sept. 2, 2022 on Nissan eager to leverage U.S. tax breaks on electric vehicles.

My AP Story Aug. 31, 2022 on Toyota investing in battery production in the U.S. and Japan.

My AP Story Aug. 29, 2022 about Honda and LG setting up a battery JV in the U.S.

My AP Story Aug. 2, 2022 on Hino falsifying emissions and mileage data for 20 years.

My AP Story July 27, 2022 about monkeys attacking a Japan city.

My AP Story July 18, 2022 on South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers talking to mend ties.

My AP Story and My AP Photos July 8, 2022 on a Japanese company stopping production of matchbooks. (I also did AP Video.)

My AP Story July 8, 2022 on how the attack on an ex-prime minister stuns Japan reputed for gun control.

My AP Story July 10, 2022 on how a homemade gun was used in the assassination.

My AP Story July 11, 2022 on how the Unification Church distanced itself from the assassination.

My AP Story July 29, 2022 on Sony’s profits rising despite waning interest in video games.

My AP Story July 28, 2022 on Nissan’s profits plunging on lockdown, chips shortage.

My AP Story July 8, 2022 on the death of Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of “Yu-Gi-Oh!”

My AP Story July 15, 2022 on how Toyota’s Japan flagship Crown is debuting on global markets.

My AP Story June 28, 2022 about Japan bracing for a return of tourists from abroad.

My AP Story and My AP Photos June 23, 2022 on a Japanese high court rejecting paternity harassment claims.

My AP Interview and AP Photos June 17, 2022 with Naomi Kawase about her Olympic films.

My AP Photos and AP Story June 19, 2022 on Juneteenth abroad to which I’m a Contributor.

My AP Story June 28, 2022 on Toshiba shareholders approving 13 nominations to the board.

My AP Story and My AP Photos June 12, 2022 on protests in Sapporo and Tokyo against bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

My AP Story June 8, 2022 on boxing champion Naoya Inoue. My AP Interview from 2021.

My AP Story June 8, 2022 on Japan’s economy contracting, but at smaller rate than thought.

My AP Story June 7, 2022 an obit on former Sony chief Nobuyuki Idei.

My AP Story June 2, 2022, in which I interview poet Shuntaro Tanikawa.

My AP Video and My AP Story May 25, 2022 on how the declining yen is a blessing for some, burden to others.

My AP Story May 27, 2022 on a Kisho Kurokawa’s capsules coming down.

My AP Story May 30, 2022 on a territorial dispute between South Korea and Japan.

My AP Co-Byline Story today on the official Tokyo Olympics film on the athletes completed.

My AP Story May 13, 2022 on Nissan mulling a third auto plant in the U.S.

My AP Story May 11, 2022 about Wim Wenders making a film about fancy public restrooms in Japan.

My AP Story May 6, 2022 on musicians coming together in a video collaboration for Ukraine.

My AP Story April 27, 2022 on a Japan railway powered entirely by renewable energy.

My AP Story April 21, 2022 about U.S. drone company Zipline starting to deliver medicine in Japan.

My AP Story April 20, 2022 on an Ukrainian opera singer praying for peace through song.

My AP Story April 8, 2022 about “Tokyo Vice.”

My co-byline AP Story May 10, 2022 about an All Japan committee promoting the Sapporo Olympic bid.

My AP Story April 7, 2022 about famed directors denouncing sexual abuse in Japanese filmmaking.

My AP Story April 16, 2022 on American lawmakers meeting with Japan’s prime minister.

My AP Story April 12, 2022 on Honda’s electrification strategy.

My AP Story April 8, 2022 on Nissan developing a “game changing” battery for electric cars.

My AP Story June 3, 2022 on Toshiba considering going private as an option.

My AP Story March 24, 2022 on Toshiba shareholders voting down the latest restructuring plan.

My AP Story March 3, 2022 on the verdict for Greg Kelly, cleared on all counts except for charges in one of the eight contested years. He gets to go home because his sentence was suspended. The defense is appealing, asserting complete innocence.

My AP Story March 16, 2022 on the Tokyo prosecutors also appealing the verdict for Greg Kelly.

My AP EXPLAINER Story March 1, 2022 on the verdict for Greg Kelly, an American on trial in the Carlos Ghosn scandal.

My AP Story March 10, 2022 on the U.S. government seeking the two Americans in prison in Carlos Ghosn’s escape be allowed to serve the rest of their time in the U.S.

My AP Story Feb. 24, 2022 on how a Japanese woman influenced Jamaican music.

My AP Story March 24, 2022 about a widening scandal at top brokerage SMBC Nikko Securities.

My co-bylined AP Story March 16, 2022 on Sapporo’s bid for the 2030 Olympics.

My AP Story Feb. 28, 2022 on how Japanese manga has gone global.

My AP Story March 4, 2022 on Japan’s Honda, Sony joining forces on new electric vehicle.

My AP Story March 1, 2022 on Toshiba’s CEO stepping down amid restructuring efforts.

My AP Story Feb. 16, 2022 on Kirin selling its China venture to an investment fund.

My AP Story Feb. 8, 2022 on SoftBank turning to IPO for its stake in Arm.

My AP Story Jan. 24, 2022, our obit on French fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler.

My AP Story Jan. 28, 2022 on Toyota going to the moon.

My AP Story Jan. 7, 2022 on Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa speaking about his recent trip to outer space.

My AP Story Feb. 15, 2022 on the economy growing on the back of improved consumer spending and exports.

My AP Story Feb. 1, 2022 on Toyota apologizing for employee’s suicide after overwork and power harassment.

My AP Story Jan. 28, 2022 on a high-profile departure at SoftBank.

My AP Story Jan. 27, 2022 on the Renault-Nissan alliance investing in electric vehicles.

I’m a Contributor to this AP Story Jan. 25, 2022 on Japanese skateboarders.

I worked on this AP Story Jan. 22, 2022 on the Tonga volcanic eruption.

My AP Story Jan. 21, 2022 on the shortage of parts caused by the coronavirus pandemic further denting production at Toyota.

My AP Story Jan. 20, 2022 on Japan’s imports and exports reaching record highs.

My AP Story Jan. 18, 2022 on Japan expanding COVID measures.

My AP Story Jan 12, 2022 on Japanese Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa confident about balancing COVID controls with economic growth.

My AP Story Jan. 9, 2022 on the Japanese prime minister saying a deal has been reached on the U.S. military to stop COVID’s spread.

My AP Story Jan. 7, 2022 about Japan kicking in restrictions to curb COVID infections in Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima.

My AP Story Jan. 6, 2022 on Japan asking U.S. forces to stay on bases as COVID cases jump.

I’m a Contributor to this AP Story Jan. 5, 2022 on North Korea firing a suspected missile.

My AP Story Jan. 4, 2021 on Japan’s Prime Minister promising coronavirus boosters and new measures against the omicron.

My AP Story Jan. 1, 2022 on the emperor’s message for the New Year.

HAIKU FOR BASHO a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku for Basho a poem by Yuri Kageyama

May 3, 2022




He is still watching,

Though washed away to nothing-

Ness, Basho’s River

Haiku in Amsterdam

Self-Portrait by Van Gogh at the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam

Haiku in Amsterdam

By Yuri Kageyama (written in Amsterdam Sept. 2019.)

Like any city a Chinese restaurant

Glasses black hair he works hard

He is your son your first date

Your father

Your Lover for life

That Chinaman found everywhere

Our History

Our eternal plight

And he makes me fill with

Pity pride tears

While on the topic of Van Gogh in this Amsterdam reference, sharing my poem “Haiku for Van Gogh” in a reading from several years ago in San Francisco, with bass by Hiroyuki Shido.

Haiku for Disco _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku for Disco _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Too Tired, Brain Is Dead
Chukah Thomp, Chukah Thomp, Chukah Thomp,
Disco Is Music.

Some people who know a lot about music look down upon disco because of its simple repetitive rhythm and how the genre has played in to the evil money-making music industry machinery (although other genres have done this, too). What is being overlooked is that this simple repetitive rhythm, which gets people off their seats and out on the dance floor, speaks to people who work hard all day and need to forget, can’t think, but want to groove _ not those academics who want to sit around, focus on more intelligent music to analyze, contemplate and articulate. Call it dumb. Call it what you will. Call it the primordial beat. I am alive. That is what disco music says. And that is the most important thing any music, any art, any writing can say.

(video from Jimmy Clary, via Hiroyuki Shido)

ego and egoism

Art is all about ego.
Even if you are the kind of artist who believes that only amateurish art is about self-expression and true art is about something else entirely, no one disagrees that art can stem only from the self that is the artist.
Most forms of selfishness as they play out in society are negative, often evil.
People want to save their own asses and want more money, status, privileges, at the cost of others, and so place themselves in career/society/hierarchy to feed that ego and that egotistical need.
This is the reality that is 99.99999 percent of reality.
This is the reality that I don’t understand and never have understood.
It is not particularly interesting and certainly not satisfying.
Unfortunately, if we want to survive as human beings until death and support our family, we must deal with this torturous but undeniable 99.99999 percent of reality, since it IS 99.99999 percent _ if we count all the people who choose to be involved in this pursuit of career, money, status, etc. as valid values and goals vs. those who are interested in and satisfied by something else and become poets.
Poetry is a form of art that is as divorced from the worldly pursuits that make up 99.99999 percent of reality as things can get.
The ego takes center stage but in a way that is irrelevant from politicking, career advancement and mundane unbecoming unpoetic competition.
A poet is ego pure and simple and total and unafraid.
A poet exercises selfishness with a free conscience.

Where have all The Tokyo Flower Children gone?

“Relative deprivation” is a concept in sociology, which refers to the common phenomenon of people’s dissatisfaction not being correlated to the reality of oppression, but instead to perceived oppression.
This means human nature is such that people are most dissatisfied when they think they should be getting better treatment.
And that could be when things are getting better _ not necessarily worse as might be expected _ because it’s all about perceptions.
The plight of Japanese youngsters isn’t all that bad compared to their counterparts in many other nations.
But their sense of relative deprivation is quite intense because social pressures for them to conform and to do good are quite high.
Many outside of Japan would be proud of having landed an assembly-line job.
If you are Japanese, it is less than perfect.
Being shut out of a white-collar lifetime employment job after completing a degree from a prestigious college is often an embarrassment not only for the youngster but the entire family.
“Freeter” is a label assigned to the despised when many Americans would be happy _ and proud _ to just have a job, any job, even a “keiyaku” or “haken” (i.e., not lifetime employment) job!
Imagine the stigma in Japan for being unemployed.
And the jobless rate is at a record high 5.7 percent (which wouldn’t be a record at all in places like the U.S.)
Relative deprivation is seething in Japan.
Random crime to vent out frustrations is on the rise.
The existence of random crime may not be all that surprising in other big cities of the world.
Not so for Japan, which has long boasted a reputation for being crime-free (not that any nation is truly crime-free).
So no one is prepared for a stabbing spree in a commuter train station or a beating at night in a park.
In the U.S., if a nut goes berserk in public, he/she would be dead quite quickly.
The police would shoot him/her.
In Japan, we read reports of police who have been unable to track down the perpetrator, let alone arrest him/her.
In the U.S., homes have several locks. In Japan, people go out leaving their doors unlocked.
In the U.S., some citizens are armed, take self-defense lessons, carry mace or at least avoid walking alone in dark streets.
In Japan, hardly anyone does.
It is a rather dangerous situation, even if the numbers of the relatively deprived youngsters who end up turning to crime are still few.
Japan simply isn’t prepared.
There is a sense of hostility in the air.
There is a sense the best times for Japan are over.
The Tokyo Flower Children may be wilting _ remnants of the good old times _ just as the American hippies were of the 1960s.
More on the Tokyo Flower Children.
(video above: Jounetsu wo Torimodosou by Teruyuki Kawabata of CigaretteSheWas translation by Yuri Kageyama, who reads with Haruna Shimizu, and additional music by Winchester Nii Tete, Keiji Kubo, Yumi Miyagishima and Carl Freire in the TOKYO FLOWER CHILDREN performance of Multicultural Poetry and Music at the Pink Cow, Tokyo, June 8, 2008.)

Free overtime

An interesting story I did today is about how Toyota will start paying workers for what had previously been free overtime.
Called QC Circle, they are meetings that Toyota auto workers attend to talk about how they can improve production methods.
The issue is significant because “kaizen,” efficiency ideas from workers on the line and empowering workers, are all part of the Toyota Way.
Kaizen is crucial to the legendary manufacturing philosophy that make up the automaker’s sterling image.
But the story of the individual worker sometimes can be far more tragic.
Last year, the Nagoya District Court ruled in a lawsuit filed by the widow that the death of a 30-year-old Toyota employee was work-related, or karoshi _ death from overwork.
I looked at the court documents, and the glimpse they offered into this man’s life _ and death _ was heart-breaking.
He was doing more than 100 hours of overtime, sometimes working weekdays and holidays.
He was stressed out because his job was checking the car body for any defects, and pressures were high to catch them all.
This man had two young children, and in the beginning he was trying to also be the good father, and was giving them baths and playing with them.
Toward the end of his life, he no longer had the energy to do that, the court documents say, quoting his wife.
He was the team leader of one of these QC Circles, and the court ruled that such so-called voluntary work was part of the work (yes, real work) that contributed to his death.
One day, as he was filling in the records for defects, he collapsed from his chair.
He was rushed to the hospital but later died of heart failure.

Writing vs. writing

Many years ago, when I’d just started working at a new office as a reporter, I got a call from Shozu Ben.
I found this great job for you, he says, teaching English at a school.
It’s perfect for you.
He can’t believed I’m not taking the job.
He can’t comprehend why a poet would take a full-time reporting job.
What about time for poetry _ real writing?
Why? he asks puzzled, maybe exasperated, even disgusted.
He probably thought I was ungrateful.
Now that I think back, it was so sweet of him.
I had just met him once at a reading.
He also probably thought I was very misguided.