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Top 25 JAPAN Forward Reader’s Favorites of 2021

Take a look to find out why your fellow readers clicked on these stories more than any others, and once again, thanks for following JAPAN Forward!



Another year has come and gone, and once again, none of this would have been possible without the valued readers of JAPAN Forward.

In 2021 millions of readers all around the world followed the latest stories, the sports coverage, and the best picks from politics, sport and entertainment, and more. Together with our writers, our fans made discoveries about scientific advancement, ancient civilizations, the economy, and historical issues.

As the pandemic raged on, 2021 also marked important milestones in Japan. There were leadership changes, and the tenth anniversary of the Great Eastern Earthquake, long-delayed movies that we could finally see, and of course, the much-awaited Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics that made our hearts soar.

The 2021 JAPAN Forward Top 25 highlights the articles that caught the attention of our readers most among the Real Issues, Real Voices, Real Japan.

Take a look to find out why your fellow readers clicked on these stories more than any others, and once again, thanks for following JAPAN Forward!

FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Women's 55kg - July 26, 2021. Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines reacts. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

25. [OLYMPIC IMPRESSIONS] Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz Wins Historic First Gold for Philippines

By JAPAN Forward

It was a women empowerment extravaganza in the sport of weightlifting, with first golds for several countries, and inspiring women fighting through adversity to bring people together.

24.  [Bookmark] Beware the Foreign Firms Paving China’s Path Towards Global Domination

By Jason Morgan

Political and financial analyst Moët Fukuda warns: “China controls the technology and the communications. This means that China controls virtually everything.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a cabinet meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

23. Prediction: Russia to Invade Eastern Ukraine Come Winter Olympics 2022

By Nanae Hasegawa

All indications are there: massing troops, controlling strategic resources, creating obligations owed to it by neighbors.


22. [Bookmark] Japanese Citizenship or Dual Nationality? Everything You Need to Know

By Earl Kinmonth

Acquiring or retaining Japanese citizenship is less complicated than foreign media make it appear to be. Here’s the low-down on its pros and cons, costs, benefits, and prohibitions.

Swallows slugger Munetaka Murakami smacked 39 home runs this season.

21. [JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Munetaka Murakami, Yoshinobu Yamamoto Named NPB MVPs

By Ed Odeven

The Swallows third baseman and Buffaloes hurler received top vote totals in the Central League and Pacific League, respectively.

20. Kawazu Sakura Festival Canceled for the First Time in 30 Years

By JAPAN Forward

The festival — which showcases more than 850 sakura trees that line the river in the town of Kawazu — is a crown jewel of the Izu Peninsula.

19. Sakura Forecast 2021: Cherry Blossoms Come to Japan Earlier Than Usual

By Arielle Busetto

The blooms started opening out in Okinawa on January 13, and are expected in Tokyo around March 18.

18. Figure Skater Yuzuru Hanyu Sets the Path for His Third Olympic Gold

By Jack Gallagher

All-time great Hanyu, a Sendai native, represents the Japanese values of honor, dignity and respect, and in addition to his talent, that is what people love about him.

17. The International Search for a Path to Bring Home the Abductees

By JAPAN Forward

It has been more than 40 years for many families whose loved ones were abducted by agents of North Korea. In the meantime, North Korean people are also suffering. Is there a way forward?


16. [ICE TIME] Exclusive: Legendary Choreographer David Wilson Calls for New Leadership at Skate Canada

By Jack Gallagher 

Outraged by the cancellation of Canada’s national championships by the organization last month, Wilson blasted Skate Canada President Leanna Caron and her board in a recent interview.

Oppression of Uyghurs in China Only ‘Gives Rise to Hatred,’ Say Their Families in Japan

15. Japanese Firms Plan to Boycott Chinese Partners Forcing Uyghurs to Work

By Nobuhiko Yamaguchi

Global criticism of the forced labor of Uyghurs is growing, but China’s retaliation against companies standing up against human rights abuses is causing new anxiety for Japanese companies.

14. Shoko Ota Hoping Her Success on the Cross-Country Track Carries Over to the Taekwondo Mat

By Jim Armstrong

The 32-year-old is set to become one of the few Japanese athletes to compete in both the Summer and Winter Paralympics.

13. Recovering the Truth about the Comfort Women

By Mark Ramseyer

As academics, we are used to dealing with exaggerations. We are not used to finding that the story is pure fiction. But that is the nature of the comfort-women-sex-slave story.

12. HORSE RACING | Japan Cup Showcases Nation’s Racing Culture as the Biggest Annual Event on the Calendar

By Ed Odeven

Successful foreign horses, trainers and jockeys have helped raise the event’s global profile since it began more than 40 years ago.

The metabolism that resisted change. (Photo by N.W.)

11. Goodbye to the Future: The Last Days of Tokyo's Nakagin Capsule Tower

 By Peter Tasker

Situated in Ginza, this icon of Japan’s architectural avant garde — designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa in 1972 — is destined for demolition.

10. [Corona ni Makeruna] A Noh Play’s Crowdfunding Appeal to To Deliver the Magic Online

By JAPAN Forward


Take a mix of passion for the environment, Japanese folk crafts, great storytelling skill and a message for the world in the age of COVID-19, and you will find the Japanese Noh play, Okinomiya.

9. Exiled Gynecologist Reveals Details of China's Forced Sterilization of Uyghur Women

By Takao Sato

ISTANBUL, Turkey — A woman doctor from the ethnic Uyghur minority, now exiled in Turkey, painted a vivid picture of the Chinese crackdown on human rights in Xinjiang in an interview with The Sankei Shimbun.  

8. [A Photographer’s Notes] Seaside Session with BBOY TAISUKE

By Jason Halayko

I love moving around and trying different things, and seeing what inspiration the spot we are shooting at gives me. BBOY TAISUKE is super easy to shoot as well.

7. Farmers on a Mission: Letting Fukushima Shiitake, Fruits and Veggies Shine Again

By Arielle Busetto

The Hibari Vegetable Garden Factory and Watanabe Farm are just a couple of examples of how, in the midst of adversity, Fukushima prefecture still produces safe, tasty food.

6. Safer than Safe: Inside Fukushima’s Food Monitoring System

By Arielle Busetto

In the last eight years of thorough testing, Fukushima’s famous food products — such as rice, tomatoes, and cucumbers — have been consistently confirmed as safe to eat.

5. Japan's 51-Medal Haul Represents a Vibrant Collage of Great Feats and Inspiring Individuals

By Ed Odeven 

The host nation finished one medal shy of its Paralympic record, which was established at the 2004 Athens Games.

4. OLYMPICS | Japan’s Medal Tally Establishes New Benchmark for Nation’s Athletes

By Ed Odeven 

With 58 medals, including 27 gold, at the Tokyo Games, Japan’s Olympians collected 17 more medals than the nation’s previous record. The host nation received medals in 20 of 33 sports on the Olympic menu.

President Obama meets families of Japanese abductees

3. The International Search for a Path to Bring Home the Abductees

By JAPAN Forward

It has been more than 40 years for many families whose loved ones were abducted by agents of North Korea. In the meantime, North Korean people are also suffering. Is there a way forward?

2. [3.11 Earthquake: Rebuilding] 10 Years Later: Tohoku’s Recovery and Resilience Together with the World

By JAPAN Forward

“When I saw the effects of the disaster, I thought that life here would be irrevocably changed,” she recalls, “but the people here refused to give up.” (Sylvia Gallagher, from New Zealand.)

Fugaku supercomputer, by RIKEN and Fujitsu

1.  Innovators in Japan are Developing New Technologies to Counter Coronavirus

2.   By JAPAN Forward

The COVID-19 crisis is not yet behind us, but these Japanese technologies minimize the risk of infection in public spaces, and bring us closer to a better, safer new normal.

Author: JAPAN Forward

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