Ampontan dies.

Among the few blogs in my WordPress feed was one by William Sakovich, whose blogging handle was Ampontan. He was a longtime resident in Japan (Saga Pref.), who had many unique insights into Japan as a culture. Sakovich did his own work, and by that I mean he really focused on providing some fact or perspective that the visiting reader really wouldn’t have known before the visit. He avoided a lot of the pettier debates (“Is radiation bad?”) that substitute for online discourse in some circles of the Japan-side expat community. His politics was (for me) too Jimintou-leaning, but I respected his POV.

His commentary was a small treasure to his followers, and its disappearance will be a loss to us, too.


The dialogue about Sakovich’s passing, which can be found at his site, suggests that stomach cancer was the cause—cancer that wasn’t caught in time before it spread. As someone who advocates for enrollment in the Japanese national insurance, I hope that Bill had been covered, and it wasn’t a problem of not going to check out stomach pain because of not having the coverage. It would be tragic if the health insurance issue were implicated—in a country with universal coverage.

RIP Ampontan.


6 Replies to “Ampontan dies.”

  1. I do not know how long had he lived in Tokyo, but he was a longtime resident in Saga, Kyuushuu. I remember him replying back to me the perspective of him and mine (who was longtime resident in Tokyo) about things in Japan could be different because of difference of where each of us were. If so, his blog was in fact beneficial to Japanese (me).

      1. I understand you live in Japan as well, but I made a brief research about medical insurance in Japan and found that Kokumin Kenko Hoken or health insurace for nationals, albeit its name, is obligatory for expats having visa to stay over a year. So I presume Bill had that and it should have covered at least a part of his medical fees.

        1. Well, commenter, there is a lot to the health insurance story when it comes to Japan. Many foreigners–even longtermers, and especially English teachers—don’t have it. And that’s not to say a hospital won’t treat them, but being uninsured may make it less likely that somebody goes when they should. I don’t mean to focus on that in this post. It’s really just something I wondered about when I read the account.

          BTW, I am stateside, two years from last week.

  2. Bill went straight to Saga from the States , he never lived in Tokyo. We were friends for 28 years, arriving about 6 months before I met him in 1984, in Saga, where I also took up residence. We emailed each other daily, and he then he just went quiet.
    Paul Burns

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