How a failed election bid led to Tokyo’s sarin gas attack

Shoko Asahara during a 1990 campaign rally

A popular TV personality runs for public office and despite an aggressive campaign, suffers a crushing defeat. Humiliated from his loss, he begins a PR campaign decrying the election to be a fraud. He claims the vote counting had been rigged, that votes had been switched, that he should have had at least 60,000 votes without reason. He floats conspiracy theories that shadow organizations had played a part in the fraud.

The story sounds familiar, but it takes place more than thirty years ago.

In 1990, well-known, eccentric TV…

“Where were the black people when the Asians were being harassed during COVID-19?”

I heard this comment from an acquaintance recently and it brought me back to a different statement I grew up with similar intent.

“Don’t make friends with black people.”

My parents often told me this throughout my childhood in the late-80s. My brother and I grew up in Brooklyn, the children of first generation immigrants from China, and one of the only Asians in our primarily black and Hispanic neighborhood around the corner of Knickerbocker Ave Station. This was before Brooklyn became the wet dream of every…

Playground PSA

Everything seems normal. The weather is beautiful, the trees are in full bloom, the sky that perfect chlorine pool blue. It’s spring in New York.

Except the streets are strangely quiet.

It’s been almost a month since the madness swept over the city. Every day, more places close. Another restaurant, another coffee shop, always with a variation of the same sign: “We are temporarily closed by monitoring the news around COVID-19 because your health and safety is our top priority.” One of these coffee shops had been packed with people just a few days earlier, the barista wearing neither a…

I lie awake at 5AM, wondering what I’m doing with my life. I can hear the moan of cats in heat and the honk of a garbage truck sailing across the empty street; not many other things are awake at this hour.

That’s not to say I didn’t lie awake questioning my existence at the crack of dawn before — I was an emo kid of the 90s afterall — but I did it with significantly less frequency than I do now.

I’m a mother now. A month before my 32nd birthday, after nearly 17 hours of labor (where, by…

A journey into Japan’s other side

When most people think of Japan, they picture futuristic Bladerunner-esque cityscapes, vermillion gates and shrines, and Instagram-ready delicious food.

But Shin-Imamiya, a neighborhood in Tokyo's eternal rival city Osaka, is one of those rare places where even locals hesitate to walk alone at night. As you step off the train in neighboring Tennoji station, with its soaring sky walks, bustling malls, name-brand toting young people, and Abeno Harukas, Japan's tallest skyscraper, you feel like you've slowly slipped into an alternative world as you head toward Shin-Imamiya Station. The streets slowly become more quiet, dozens of old bikes are haphazardly parked…

What I learned from 9 days in Cuba

“We are surviving to death.”

This was what one sharp-witted 26-year old girl from Guantanamo tells me over beers in a cafe on Calle Obispo, a lively street near Habana Vieja.

No one’s starving to death on the streets. If you have a bad leg or a bad heart, the doctor’ll fix you right up at zero cost to you. There are beggars, but it’s not uncommon to spot the same person a few blocks away in a suit, clicking away on his smartphone or ordering a coffee at a hotel cafe. …

Angela Liu

Strategist, Writer, and NY-Tokyo nomad.

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