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Posted in: Israeli air and ground strikes intensify in Gaza; internet collapse cuts territory off from outside See in context

Imagine the 1.5m population of Kawasaki (1.5m people, 10,000 per square km) being given 24 hours to evacuate to Tokyo. Now subtract electricity, fuel, water, food, and internet. Gazans, population 2m, 21,000 people per square mile, were told to do that. For their own safety. Being bombed not only in the area they were told to evacuate, but also on the supposed safe routes, and then at their destination.

Remember Warsaw.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Posted in: Israeli air and ground strikes intensify in Gaza; internet collapse cuts territory off from outside See in context

Does what's happening in Gaza remind anyone else of the 1943 liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto? What was it they called that? The Holocaust wasn't it? Hmm. Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. Except this time the oppressed have become the oppressors under a bloody, incompetent, genocidal government that is leading the people of Israel into a dark and dangerous future.

In the meantime, the people of Palestine are paying for this terrible mistake with their lives.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Posted in: Fruit is viewed in Japan as a sort of dessert or snack This is exemplified in the way fruit is referred to as ‘mizu-gashi’ (watery sweets). People seldom think of fruit as part of their meals. See in context

Or could it be the fact that fruit has been fetishised and swaddled in so much plastic that it looks like a Christmas doll or an Easter egg? Or news items that pop up every year celebrating cubic Yubari watermelons, or the price one piece of fruit reaches at auction? Or could it be that a single fruit is so expensive that people turn to other junk food to snack on? Or could it be that well-meaning school dieticians encourage the thinking that it's some kind of garnish, when they serve two or three grapes as dessert in school lunches, inadvertently making the children think fruit is like candy? Or could it be the total absence of messaging about the importance of eating fruit daily?

Japan really reaps what it sows in infantilising its population with this diet of media brain mush.

And to think they have persimmons and an amazing variety of citrus fruit just growing everywhere.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Tokyo's Shibuya district raises alarm against unruly Halloween, even caging Hachiko statue See in context

At first, this seems like a killjoy, reflexive reaction to foreign fun and young people enjoying themselves too much. And as others point out, there are loads of other mass events that could present equal risks. In fact, I remember one about 15 or 20 years ago where a large number of people were injured or crushed to death at a fireworks display.

But if you have ever been responsible for crowd safety (I have, at a city centre festival), and start looking at the risk factors - darkness and limited visibility, background noise, huge numbers of people randomly going in various directions, hard to see obstacles, heavy traffic, many narrow entrances with flights of stairs and escalators going down 2 or 3 floors, large numbers of visitors unfamiliar with the area, plus large scale drinking = drunken people and slimy pavements, wet paper and plastic all over the ground, narrow streets, people in bars and pubs unaware of what's happening outside ... you immediately realise Shibuya has all the ingredients for the kind of disaster that happened in Seoul last year. It is the stuff of nightmares trying to anticipate and mitigate. And I will never forget trying to prevent a drunken companion from falling down the stairs and escalators from next to Scramble Crossing, or the sound as his head hit the concrete. I would not wish that on anyone.

Leaving aside the separate issue of the neighbours getting p!ssed off at the regular disturbance of street drinking, I do agree with the mayor of Shibuya that the scale of the Halloween celebrations is getting too unpredictable and out of hand to guarantee everyone's safety.

However, any intelligent local government would look at trying to provide an alternative venue in order to head off criticism. Surely there must be somewhere in Tokyo that could be offered as an alternative, managed outdoor venue? Couldn't Shibuya organise something in nearby Yoyogi Park? Not that it would be my cup of tea, but clearly for many, dressing up and partying outdoors in this nice autumn weather is something they would like to do. That way, they could monetise it by renting space for food stalls, provide enough security, anticipate problem areas, get people away from the worst hazards, and still build Shibuya's reputation as a fun place.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Posted in: Johnny's president apologizes for alleged sexual abuse by late founder See in context

What they could do is void any non-disclosure agreements they made with past victims of sexual abuse by this man or any others in their 'stable' and allow the victims to speak out about what happened. That would clear the air and give these people who have been gagged closure. It would also serve as a warning to current and future perps that they cannot hide and cannot get away with what they are doing.

On a separate note, saw Johnny Depp next on the page to this article. I thought they meant Johnny Depp was an abuser at first! But then again, he is definitely a bit 'odd' too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: 'Horizontal recycling' tackling waste and giving plastics 2nd life See in context

If you buy 50gm of ham sliced so thin it's see through, you also have to take home the same weight in packaging. A tray with a few pieces of meat and fish arranged artfully will also force you to take home the same weight in plastic. If you go to a bakery here, and buy 5 or 6 items, you will probably have around 15 wrapping items. Things are sold in small units to disguise how ridiculously overpriced they are. This is the main source of the problem.

Plastics are also processed along with other waste via thermal recovery, which involves utilizing heat generated when trash is incinerated.

This is one of those 'only in Japan' kind of gobbledegook phrases that want to disguise the fact that they're talking about burning plastic. That is not some kind of solution, it's a problem, as tokyo_m commented.

Most Japanese are unaware that the vast sea of plastic that manufacturers here churn out in the interest of profit is exported elsewhere where there's less regulation, and often therefore ends up in the ocean or the soil as microplastics.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan births hit all-time low in 2022; below 800,000 for 1st time See in context

Lots of excellent points made above, mostly referring to the long term factors which the government continues to fail to meaningfully tackle. As it has been doing for decades. At least it's consistent.

But I'm surprised that the article didn't even mention the very obvious point that many many couples have decided to put off starting a family because the increased risk to the health of the pregnant mother and the unborn child from Covid. It's only common sense. But whether there will be a bounce back once the Covid risk finally recedes (which it hasn't yet - even with lower reporting of Covid, there were 67 deaths yesterday - higher than nearly any day in 2020 or 2021) seems unlikely to me, for all the other long-term reasons everyone has mentioned.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Paper cranes by A-bomb victim Sasaki eyed for UNESCO heritage list See in context

Totally agree, smith. The neediness of the constant efforts to get bits of Japan registered is a major turnoff, despite the fact that there are so many cultural treasures here. As there are in so many other places.

But yes, remembering things that should never be forgotten and can teach us, is actually a meaningful case of registering.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Posted in: Ex-ad agency chief admits guilt as Tokyo Olympic bribery trial opens See in context

I wonder if they have been held incommunicado in detention for months, as tends to happen to foreign executives accused of similar crimes...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Ex-UK leader Truss to urge tougher China stance in Tokyo meeting See in context

Truss is an embarrassment. Australia is well shot of Morrison. China is working on being the 21st century hegemon on the global stage.

That said, the number of misogynistic comments on here today is kind of disgusting. You can criticise someone and all they stand for without stooping so low.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan reports 95,308 new coronavirus cases See in context

Time to stop counting cases.

That should be enough to declare the pandemic over, because if you don't count cases, people will stop dying of Covid, right? Simple. Why didn't anyone think of that before?

Or do you propose to stop counting Covid deaths too? They're at record levels, according to the Mainichi:

Alarm bells are sounding in Japan over a sudden sharp increase in the pace of deaths linked to COVID-19.

The number of COVID-19 fatalities exceeded 50,000 on Dec. 1 after new deaths climbed by 10,000 every three or four months. But in a little over a month, the figure is closing in on 60,000.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Posted in: Volunteers taking outsized role in Japanese language support See in context

It isn't hard. Even tiny kids speak it fluently with no effort, there's no reason a motivated adult cannot do at least as well.

Not only motivated, but who knows how to learn and stay motivated. If so, you can make use of lots of self study resources and do language exchanges with all those people who want to practise English. I study a European language and mentioned in my profile that I also speak Japanese. Loads of Brazilian wannabe Japanese speakers, and Japanese wannabe English speakers contacted me to do an exchange.

I think the government should get with the times and fund an online language exchange, language class programme that could cover the whole country and cost a fraction of in-person sessions. But that takes imagination, creativity and the ability to take their heads out from where the sun don't shine, so it might take a few decades or so before anything happens.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Volunteers taking outsized role in Japanese language support See in context

Thanks to these volunteers, who give their time and their goodwill to make non-Japanese feel welcome in Japan. Many immigrants are in low-wage jobs and can't afford the time or money to go to privately run classes.

From my own experience of my first year in Japan, I attended this type of class and yes, the results were mixed, as you would expect with a virtually un-resourced programme and untrained teachers. Any country that is serious about sustaining its economy for the long term needs to put the resources in for immigrants to learn the language and integrate, and Japan is no exception. If it fails to improve, it is shooting itself in the foot.

They could for a modest investment create modern materials based on communicative teaching methods and designed for teachers with limited experience. MEXT (Ministry of Education) could centrally fund quality training sessions for a paid lead teacher in each local area, who could in turn run sessions for volunteers. They've already been doing this for elementary school English teaching for years now, so it's not as if they don't have the know-how to set it up.

But the biggest problem is not accepting that there is a need, and the willingness to finance it. Japanese as a foreign language teaching has for years been ridiculously underfunded, so that people keen to teach the language get disillusioned and quit, their skills totally wasted. It's very frustrating.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: End of Japan COVID curbs triggers surge in visitors to nearly 1 million in November See in context

This 'tail end of the pandemic' looks to be likely to have the biggest sting so far. Just check Worldometers, and you will see Japan currently ranks 7th in overall cases, and is head and shoulders above any country for daily deaths at the moment. The latest daily figure for Japan is 339 deaths, while the closest 'rival' is South Korea at 62. Up to now, the highest daily deaths figure has been 347.

Everyone getting excited over the return of mass tourism here, specially if it's likely to come from China, which is in the middle of a surge of unknown proportions, (they have dodgy reporting system to massage their figures, so noone really knows) might like to think of what it might mean if your health system gets overrun again this winter. Even if you have something mild, get injured or have some other health issue, you might find you don't get the medical attention you need. Having been turned away over this summer, I can tell you that's scary.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: New Zealand announces changes to agricultural emissions scheme to help farmers See in context

... long-lived gases and biogenic methane that mainly comes from cow and sheep burps.

Funny, I could have sworn burps came out of the mouth. Or maybe, like the way water drains down a plughole, they work the other way down under???

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Posted in: New Zealand announces changes to agricultural emissions scheme to help farmers See in context

 How about they scrap it completely as well as the other undemocratic policies like three waters and co-governance, this is nothing more than a power grab trying to take away people's ability to farm and live.

No it's not. The article clearly states the government is talking with farmers' groups. That is the definition of democracy. The government is clearly committed to its green policies, but is recognising that they need to work with affected groups as they move in a greener direction. Undemocratic would be a disastrous approach like the one in Sri Lanka, where you had a ruling caste unilaterally introducing radical changes to agriculture without working with those working in it. And it was a total disaster that brought the government down. Doesn't mean that greener farming is a failure - it means the need for governments to find a way to work with people democratically.

If governments worldwide abandon the attempt to stop the disastrous course we are all on, there will be no 'ability to farm and live' all over the world as the climate crisis bites harder and harder.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Posted in: Lawson opens 1st avatar-staffed convenience store in Tokyo See in context

Just a tiny problemette with the business model here. If too many jobs are automated and people can't work, how will enough people earn money to buy (overpriced) goods in convenience stores?

... And green my Aunt Sue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Over 80% of Japanese adults find tobacco smoke unpleasant: survey See in context

There is one useful property of tobacco - as an insecticide. Think of it like glyphosate - for pest control, not for human consumption. Smoking is just straight up bad for everyone's health, whether it's first, second or third hand (e.g when it soaks into fabrics that give off the noxious fumes).

On the other hand, cannabis has some proven medicinal benefits. But, big but, it is purposely being developed to have more and more powerful strains, which have more potential health risks. Of course, you can make similar arguments against smoking it as tobacco. Even if it doesn't contain tar, nicotine etc, I don't imagine it is exactly good for the lungs, but if it is managed as a controlled drug, we should be able to make the most of the medicinal benefits like relief of chronic pain. and for those who want to use it recreationally, there should be similar warnings to alcohol. It is dangerous if abused, overdosing is a risk, and some people are more vulnerable than others to unwanted effects like psychosis. Taking it and driving, or operating dangerous machinery that might harm others should be sanctioned just as drink driving is. Personally I think alcohol abuse is currently a bigger issue than cannabis abuse, but that might just be because alcohol is so widely socially accepted, so the scale of the abuse is way bigger e.g domestic violence, child abuse.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Britain's political turmoil shatters its standing in the world See in context

without the peoples mandate to government, and the people’s democratic right to remove those leaders from office.  

The Truss’s of this world never gained office as a result of Brexit

Not sure what you're smoking, but Truss had no democratic mandate, and even though many in the UK believe there should be a general election immediately for this very reason, the Tories have fixed the system so that they can keep up this farce, with as many unelected PMs as they can get through, for another two years, without the people having any democratic right to challenge them.

Not sure what the second bit is supposed to be saying, only that an empty vessel like Truss has no position on Brexit, she has just worn whatever colours fit her personal ambition in that moment. She was probably no more pro-Europe than she makes out to be anti-Europe now. It's all just a power play for the likes of her and Boris.

But at least he's probably bestirring himself off of his sun lounger somewhere in the Caribbean, drooling at the prospect of a re-run to see if a few thousand Tory voters found him entertaining enough to give him another shot. The smashing of the economy over the past few weeks is just another jolly jape for Bullingdon Boyo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Worker compensation cases due to mental stress up 60% in Japan in 10 years See in context

The report does seem to suggest that the rise in the number of cases is due to people feeling more able to come forward, rather than that the problem is worsening, so if true, the shift in attitudes can only be positive.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Posted in: Over 75s top 15% of Japan's population for 1st time See in context

While productive age group in Japan count 75 million, so for two pension payer they need to pay for pension person more and less.

Over half of 65-70 year-olds are working, therefore 'productive'. If you work, you don't draw (full) pension, and you continue to pay in, including for aged care. So, it's not exactly like you put it @sakurasaki. Even so, the numbers are scary!

I could see myself as an early retiree, or part-time worker in Japan, but yes @ssrp, the prospect of being a helpless and frail very elderly person in a care home here is a bit scary.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Care home in Kanagawa tried to cover up abuse of disabled resident See in context

The picture I get from the location, off the Tomei in a semi-rural area of Kanagawa, is of an out-of-sight and out of mind place, where families can send people with difficult behaviour. What happens once they're there is truly unknown, and the patients themselves may feel abandoned and desperate. If they have been violent with family in the past, it's understandable that staff having to deal with this, specially if they aren't properly trained, may feel they can do what they like, even more so if the management look the other way. This sounds like a large chain that does a job others in society don't want to do. Staff are most likely underpaid, not supported, and most important, maybe not even properly vetted to see if they are suitable for the work. A disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately it can also appeal to bullies and sadists who suspect they can get away with doing nasty stuff to the patients.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Care home in Kanagawa tried to cover up abuse of disabled resident See in context

But is it really any different in other countries?

And your point is ...?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Britain to see 80% spike in energy bills as crisis worsens See in context

What the article doesn't make clear is that the scale of the price hikes is a Brit government special, as other countries around the EU are facing the same energy supply squeeze, if anything worse, but aren't hitting their populations with these massive rises. So we are supposed to believe this is entirely because of the war in Ukraine, despite other countries' populations not being made to suffer in the same way. Now what else could possibly explain this unique British sickness. Don't say 'Br...'! And the other problem of course is the raving ideologues jockeying for control of the ruling party right at this moment, abandoning the population to catastrophe.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Posted in: Japan reports 253,265 new coronavirus cases; 25,277 in Tokyo See in context

Different counting systems don't make much odds. Unless the counting sustem has the effect of masking the true spread of Covid, and as a result make mitigating it harder. Like downgrading it to a lesser category. Although that would help more sick people get treated. As Worldometers shows, this week has seen record cases and also record daily deaths.

Wish it was over, but understand it's not. Stay safe, everyone. It's hard to deal with, or see someone you care about, struggling with COVID.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Posted in: Public elementary school in Aichi offers rare English-immersion program See in context

I’ve only been to the Philippines for two months, but is the native language Queens English?

Do tell, remind us in which country this 'Queen's English', which you seem to believe Japanese students ought to learn, is actually spoken? Disclosure: I'm English.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan reports 178,356 coronavirus cases; 22,740 in Tokyo See in context

It does look like the new cases in the seventh wave may be peaking, but they'll probably get bumped up again as a result of O-Bon socialising and travel. That might not be the case in Tokyo, which looked virtually empty in normally busy areas yesterday. But who knows, as the high rates around the country might mean people importing infection back into Tokyo.

On the other hand, deaths look like heading for the highest daily rates yet seen in the entire pandemic. They are nearly as high as the sixth wave, which in turn caused way more deaths than the fifth.


-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Posted in: Nearly 370 mil disposable cups used by coffee chains in Japan in 2020 See in context

Experience of the last few years has shown that 'urging' or 'encouraging' many businesses who make money out of damaging practices has no effect. The only way is to legislate to make them do it. With shopping bags, shops being obligated by law to charge separately for them has made a huge difference, despite the token two/five yen extra charge. Force them to charge 25 yen more for a throwaway cup, and to clearly display the policy, and you will see most customers voting with their wallets, even if they don't give a toss for the environment. Make coffee sellers by law use eco-friendlier materials for disposable cups. Make them clearly promote a meaningful discount if you order your coffee with your own flask or mug, and advertise this clearly so customers are aware of the benefit. Install new coffee machines that make it easy and safe (minimal handling) for staff to prepare the coffee directly in customers' flasks. Install eco-friendly dishwashers that use minimal water, energy and that also minimise staff handling of china cups. By law, make the conbinis do the same, and ensure that the coffee machines (when new ones are installed) make it easy to put taller flasks in them.

Those would all be proactive ways to help wean customers off one-use stuff. Many chains' goals are far too timid and slow.

At least many shopping bags get one more use as trash bags. These (cups) just go straight in the bin.

I've found, since the charge came in, my partner has finally stopped bringing home plastic bags. It does speak to people who are not too fussed about environmental damage! And as we have steadily been cutting down on the amount of one-use plastics coming into the house e.g. by bulk buying, avoiding over-packaged products, we have found our nama gomi easily fits into other plastic food bags, e.g that had potato crisps, or frozen vegetables, so at least that one-use plastic is becoming two-use. Baby steps. And the garbage collectors have no problem with taking away our rubbish in these bags.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan reports 168,826 coronavirus cases; 20,401 in Tokyo See in context

Not being prophetic, but looking at Worldometers, the daily deaths are approaching levels in the sixth wave, and I wouldn't make a prediction about which way that trend is going. What is certain is that strain on hospital services is bound to cause an increase in deaths from other causes, like heart problems/stroke, delayed cancer treatment, and complications could be in everything from diabetics to pregnant women who are unable to access the care they could normally expect, as a result of the current strain on the healthcare system.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan reports record high 250,403 coronavirus cases; 34,243 in Tokyo See in context

And in case anyone doubts the strain on the health system, people needing medical attention are having to wait as much as 24 hours:


I was part of that statistic, falling unconscious at a clinic and needing to be transferred to an A&E. I 'only' had to wait about 2 hours in the ambulance, was put on oxygen and a drip, and prescribed anti-virals (as a priority case, not everyone is entitled to this). After patching me up, they originally wanted me to walk home (mid-afternoon, over 30 degrees), not use a taxi, because all the special taxis were already in use. After they decided it might be a bad look, I had another two hour wait before they found a community ambulance to get me home.

Three weeks on, I am able to go out, but it's not a steady recovery, my hearing is affected, I have headaches and currently low oxygen levels (at least I was lucky because my partner 'qualified' for an oximeter).

My partner has a different range of symptoms, but he's by no means back to health.

These are two examples of so-called mild cases.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

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