Saturday, October 1st, is a special day in the history of this company: our twentieth anniversary! Yes, it was a mind-blowing twenty years ago that I officially quit my full-time job as an ESL teacher and started J-List, the first online anime shop to be located inside Japan (that I know of). 1996 was a very energetic time, right in the middle of the first dot-com boom, and it seemed like everyone and his brother had a silly Internet startup like cheesegraters.com, ready to revolutionize the world of cheese graters or something. Given the love for Japanese pop culture around the world, I was sure a shop providing anime and other random products from Japan direct from the source would do well. I’d also been running a “beta” version of J-List before officially starting the company, selling used music CDs and other items. (Our catalog was literally a list of products in an Excel spreadsheet that I would post to USENET periodically, which is where the “list” in J-List comes from.) We’ve been blessed to have so many wonderful customers around the world to help us grow and become the company we are today, and we’d like to say thank you to everyone! Also, have a $20 coupon this weekend, on us! The coupon code is JLIST20WOW.

The negativity of politics in America is bringing a lot of people down these days, so I thought I’d write about a totally different topic: politics in Japan! Japan is proof you can have more than two political parties and still have a big mess most of the time. The two major parties in Japan are the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is conservative and pro-business, traditionally deriving its support from Japan’s rural rice farmers, and the Democratic Progressive Party (formerly the Democratic Party of Japan), which draws support from employees in companies and middle-class voters from urban areas. In addition to the two major parties, there are several smaller ones, including the Japan Communist Party, the New Komeito (the de facto political arm of the Soka Gakkai Buddhist religion, though no one is supposed to state this publicly), and one with the unique name of Party for Japanese Kokoro. Issues that face Japanese politicians include how to manage the island disputes with South Korea and China, how to get inflation to take hold after two “lost decades” of zero economic growth, and how best to plan for a future with a falling population. Japanese leadership is so ineffectual that Prime Ministers are usually forced out of office almost every 1-2 years, and there have been 15 different leaders in the 25 years I’ve been here, compared with only five for the U.K. Only the current PM Shinzo Abe and Junichiro Koizumi were charismatic enough to stay in power long enough to get anything done.

This weekend is our 20th anniversary, and to celebrate we’re giving you $20! Through Monday, you can get $20 off any order $80 or more with code JLIST20WOW. Thanks for being an awesome J-List customer and growing with us over the years!