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Posted in: Japanese driving pet peeves: Not so different from other countries See in context

People beeping me for stopping at a stop sign. People beeping me for not pushing in aggressively. People beeping me because they think I might do something I had no intention of doing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: The importance of social etiquette in urban Japan See in context

There are some people in Japan who break or circumvent rules of ettiquette as a matter of routine. There are some people who always endevour to follow them. However, in my experience, the majority follow some rules but not others as a matter of personal style and also tend to be idiosyncratic about when they think the rules apply as opposed to when they think they don't.

I think the situation of the enclosed public space in a train is a little too simple to use as a basis for the analysis of the role of etiquette in society at large. Direct experience of school, workplace, neighborhood and family interactions provides a more reliable sense of what goes on.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Hashimoto may resign if his party fares badly in Tokyo assembly election See in context

What happened to all the Hashimoto apologists?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Scientists seek permission for experiments with animal-human embryos See in context

ChibaChick that is a good point. Actually, the reason for this type of research is because so few Japanese are willing to donate their organs. The Japanese are in fact a lot more hung up about this subject than people in other nations and i think that is great.

As regards the contribution of medical science to the future of humanity. If the population explosion doesn:t actually end up wiping us out completely, it is certainly going to reduce quality of life in generations to come. Oh right. Science will come up with a fix. No need to hold your breath for that we are a lot closer to extinction than you realise.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Scientists seek permission for experiments with animal-human embryos See in context

These creepy biological science types make reptiles and insects look good. I really hate this stuff and I'm going to make a card and put it in my wallet saying 'No life saving transplants please'. Let me die.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Japanese media slam 3-0 loss to Brazil See in context

Japan put in a fantastic showing in the last world cup amidst general public pessimism. I hope they can get past all the hype this time around and forge the same team spirit. Ganbare Nippon.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Posted in: Thinking differently: Autism finds space in the workplace See in context

Potentially adaptable members of the so called high functioning group are what these people are mainly interested in, and whilst the article does state that not all autists are in fact high functioning, nevertheless there is a certain branding effect along the lines autist=high functioning=cool. Life is not so simple as that, unfortunately. It's a very wide spectrum and only a narrow group within that wll make it onto the emplyee lists of these people and be able to stay there.

The article states that 'it's great to see that corporations not just doing from corporate responsibility but actually recognising there is a good business case behind having people with autisjm in the workplace.' With huge unemployment amongst autists and disabled people in general, the corporate responsibility is, and always has been thin on the ground. Cherry p[icking from the disabled is a way to boost your company's image and make money too, but as for responsibility - that's for governments, individual families etc. Not corporations.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Obama's overdue reckoning on secrecy See in context

Obama is simply in the middle of a process that was begun during the Bush administration and that he couldn't stop if he tried.. Obama wanted to close Guantanamo prison, but couldn't. He wanted to effect sweeping changes to the gun laws but couldn't. His power is limited. If he were up for election again, this would be a problem for him politically. However, he isn't. So it's not. He already knows that his reputation as a leader of change is toast. It might be a problem for the next democratic contender, if it weren't for the fact that republicans are even more in favor of this kind of thing than the democrats. They've gone much quieter recently on the whole privacy issue.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Posted in: Aging Japan complains over the noise of children See in context

I get the feeling some of these people complaining want to have their cake and eat it too: ie live somewhere cheaper than right next to the station, which nevertheless has a lot of amenities available to service the population who live there. They then complain about what comes with that.

People who choose to move somewhere unwisely have only themselves to blame. There are plenty of quiet neighbourhoods around but they typically have less accessible amenities unless they are specifically built for the wealthy. People who have always lived in a neighbourhood and seen it change in ways they don't like (for example a childcare center built too close for their ideas of comfort) deserve more sympathy but ultimately it's bad lluck and they need to either move or put up with it:

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: 'Abenomics' may result in more workers getting fired See in context

All these labour market changes are occuring already and have been for some time. The legal changes Abe is talking about are simply to remove the irritatation of the occasional individual or unionised workplace successfully suing over flagrant labor law transgressions that are routine at the moment. Therefore the likely economic effect of this initiative over and above what is already occuring will not be great. It is more a question of moral support.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Two students found safe after spending night lost on Shiga mountain See in context

Every year there are thousands of these school trips and most of them pass off without serious incident. This seems a bit atypical. Public Elementary schools usually avoid these arduous mountain type things, and of the private schools that do go in for it, everything is always planned out and executed following all the boy scout type rules for outdoor safety in mind numbing detail. That clearly didn't happen here, so there is no way the teachers, the guide and the school can avoid heavy criticism whaterver the outcome. I hope of course that the outcome is good and the kids are found in one piece.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant struggles to keep staff See in context

Right now the nuclear industry in Japan is viewed as being a rogue among rogues. Cutting out the sleazy middleman and ensuring standards properly would probably cost a lot more, but it would reduce the staffing problem and make people take a little more seriously about the industry's claim that it intends to reform.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Korean 'comfort women' cancel meeting with Hashimoto See in context

Regardless of whose side you are on in this issue, this way of last minute cancellation by the party who asked to have the meeting, is disrepectful at the very least

I used to think that last minute cancellations were the height of rudeness - before I came to Japan. Here it seems to be more of a cultural norm.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Strengthening the JET Program See in context

I think the role of cultural ambassodor is one that the majority of JETs are suited to, if the selection process has been well done. However, as mentioned above, the role of emissary of educational reform is not. Anyone who simply sticks to the first and avoids the second is unlikely to have problems.

When it comes to the current value of the JET program, however, I think it is already a case of mission accomplished.as regards the program's potential for internationalisation. People in Japan, including those in country areas are now relatively comfortable with the foriegner in ways that they weren't before the program started.

In the days of relative national affluence, the JET program was an easily affordable one as well. But these days with many ordinary school teachers having had their salaries savagely cut in some areas as a matter of budgetary necessitity, the presence of the freindly underutilisable cultural missionary would seem an unnecesary extravagnce.

Doubling the number of JETs makes no sense in terms of the original mission of the JET., and arguments could be made in favor of reducing the number from that point of view. But enhancing the original mission is not the purpose. The people proposing this hope that they can thereby achieve significant a difference to the success of the nation's English programs. Personally I think this is highly over-optimistic and not based on any evidence that ALTs do or can in fact improve the abilities of students to any significant extent.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: 5-year-old boy's hand gets caught in shopping mall escalator See in context

Very attractive to little fingers those moving parts. Kids do need to be both supervised and educated about escalators, just as much as alll the other potentially dangerous technology out there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Companies Japanese people are most proud of See in context

A fair proportion of these companies are in a serious financial hole. at the moment, with no clear indicatioin that they will be able to dig themselves out again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Parents advised to give the boot to their sponging adult kids See in context

A proportion of these people are of the lazy, spoiled by their parents type, and something needs to be done. I would put one of the posters above into that cateory - although I can't be sure if it wasn't just humour. However, a hight porportion of them have problems with mental health.

My sister in law is a 42 year old mum married with 3 kids who spent 15 years working as a dental technician before being asked to resign because the dentist decided he wanted to buy his false teeth more cheaply from a company you can order from, rather than employing his own technician any longer. During her period of service despite being licenced and highly skilled her wages were never raised, so that by the time she left she was earning less than brand ne receptionists. Also the dentist refused to pay her insurance, and she had to pay it herself for the full 15 years. She received no customary leaving bonus even though she was staff and had been asked to leave for business reasons rather than her work.

Anyway, after just a few years only looking after the kids, she decided to go to work again, did training and got a job as a receptionist at a hospital not far from her house. From day one, the staff was against her and did everything possible to try to push her out through constant complaints and nagging about her work. At one point one of someone who overheard the staff carrying on at her actually made a formal complaint about their behaviour towards her. After that, she came in for even worse treatement because they wrongly thought that it was she and not someone else who had complained.

My sister in law is a normal hard working family person. She doesn't have a personality problem as many would assume when reading a story like this. The fact is there are a large number of workplaces in Japan that are absolutely brutal. My sister in law is tough, so she didn't quit, she is still there. However, I can see why a number of people with weaker personalities could easily develop a major complex after treatment of this sort. and believe themselves to be unemployable.

In addition to that, many of these people do in fact have serious pre conditions, and I fully concur with Frungy's concerns about the mental health professional's remarks.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Posted in: Hashimoto says he lacked sensitivity to U.S. perception of prostitution See in context

The problem for people defending Mr Hashimot on the basis of what he said in his recent interviews is that these are things he has been forced into saying as a result of massive adverse reaction to his earlier comments.

It was not so long ago, that Mr Hashimoto was claiming that there was no proof that these atrocities ever occurred. Then he said that they were the necessities of war. Now he is saying that they were indeed atrocities and offering to host comfort women to apologise personally. That is a big turnaround that he would not have made, he hadn't been obliged to by public opinion. Those women simply won't come to see him without statements like that being made. Hashimoto is simply paying a political price now to try and avoid a greater one later at the ballot box.

The same goes for his remarks about America. Do you think politicians like to admit they made a mistake? No. He's doing that because he has been told to by people who will make trouble for him if he doesn't.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't - but not Ishihara - backs away from Hashimoto's comfort women comments See in context

The more I think about it, the less I can see this working out for Hashimoto. Certainly he will garner a lot more hard right wing votes for his party, but at what cost?

Up to now a lot of moderate conservative types have not necessarily liked his style, but have been willing to give him credit as a smart political operator. He just blew that credit. In addition there are all kinds of groups in fields like education that he has been building relationships with that he is going to find it a lot harder to do business with now.

It really makes no sense at all. So I'm pleased really, because I have never personally liked him, and I think he's just put the lid on his own career aspirations in all cases bar a massive rightward swing of a kind that I don't believe will happen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Obama calls IRS targeting of conservative groups outrageous See in context

A number of the people in these groups are politically opposed to the whole tax system. They are libertarian. It's not unreasonable, in my opinion to look at such groups a little more carefully on that basis. I can see why Obama has a political problem saying so though.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: The mindset of workers who will always have low salaries See in context

Across the board wage stagnation of the kind that applies in Japan doesn't apply to nearly as great an extent in other industirialised countries. I wouldn't dream of describing it as unique, but it is certainly atypical

So are we to believe that Japan has a more pure form of market economy that those that exist elsewhere? Clearly this was not always so. In days of yore, the true company loyalist indeed received their reward, provided that they were also reasonably astute in their personality politics.It is only in recent times that this has ceased to be the case. Is that, then, because Japan has 'recently' become a more pure market economy, or is it simply that companies these days aren't makiing enough profits to provide their best workers with decent careers.

If Mr Tanaka is not being adequately rewarded, he should be reassessing his loyalties, not his motivatioin.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Hashimoto says comfort women system necessary for wartime troops See in context

There is some interesting reposiitoning going on amongst the ultra conservative set at the moment. First, the decision not to revise existing apologies, then the decision to review the comfort women issue. Now this kind of remark from Mr Hashimoto. It's a little difficult to figure out what these people are trying to achieve, beyond remarking that they are more concerned about maintaining and enhancing their existing conservative franchise than offending those who are already against the hard right camp.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Assistant police inspector arrested for groping 15-year-old girl See in context

Perhaps he should have said 'It is regrettaable that one of our own personnel has been arrested - AGAIN.'

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Man busted for receiving dead mother's pension See in context

Oh well. At least he has a couple more years or so of free meals coming his way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Yamanashi high school soccer club members assault younger students in shower See in context

This is news actually. I read an article on bullying in Japanese schools in an international newspaper quite recently. Apart from the general interest of the issue itself, it also connects to the status of Japan's olympic bid.

One thing to note about this school is that it is private, and not public. Private schools generallly have become more proactive on issues of this kind recently, and there is an obvious financial incentive to do so. Amongst many reasons parents have for choosing private education is the fear of bullying at their local school, particularly if the nearest one to where they live has an unsavoiury reputation. The last thing private schools want at this time of declining population and increasing competition from other private schools is a reputation for being worse for this sort of thing than state schools.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Police ignore complaint from man who stabs neighbor See in context

It's difficult to know about the police fault in this case. If signs of mental llness were clear then the logical step would be to determine if he was on medication, whether he had been taking it or not, had a case worker etc. etc. or not. However, the signs may not in fact have been that clear.

On the same basis, it is difficult to know if the charge of attempted murder is warranted or not. Obviously they had to hold him on something, but maybe the charge will be reduced after a medical evaluation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Report on potentially infected Chinese poultry used in Japanese fast food sparks fears See in context

More and more knowledge is becoming available all the time about what really healthy eating is, but at the same time fewer and fewer are able to afford the time or money to do it. This trend is likely to continue, and the number of people who live past 100 in Japan is likely to take a dive during the course of this century even as the medical knowledge on how to increase longevity improves. This should please those of our public leaders who think that old people should hurry up and die.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Gov't plans to increase number of foreign English teachers to 10,000 See in context

I'm no fan of the JET program, and don't hold out much hope that the kind of changes that would make expanding it worthwhile will be forthcoming.

However, if it is going to happen, I would far rather see these people in a program like JET than working for these scavenging private ALT companies. If they go out of business as a result of this, that will be great.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Are Tokyo University students cleverer than other people? See in context

For the most part, Tokyo university selects students who are better than anyone else at playing the testing game that so many of Japan's youth.have to play. From amongst those, there are some exceptions to this group of exceptional people, because in addition to being test aces they are also good at other things as well. Exceptions are great, but far more important is the average mentality and ability set not only of those who made it into Tokyo, but of all those others who played the same game and didn't get into Tokyo.

Far too many of these people are at a loss when everything isn't handed to them on a plate for them to work on with a set answer already there that they are supposed to know or calculate and be graded correct for. They are not all like that by any means but iit is a serious problem for a nation that is in need of innovation - a problem that exists in Tokyo university just as it does elsewhere.

I think that one of the reasons for this problem is the idea that tests should be completely objective in order to be fair. Therefore there is avoidance of testing anything that can only be rated sujectively. Then many people who know that their future depends on their performance on these kinds of tests underrate and underdevelop skills and abilities of a kind that are not tested and come out with an unbalanced skill set.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Second Boston bombing suspect in hospital after being captured See in context

At the moment it seems obvious that, whilst the act can still be defined as a terrorist act, any connections that these youths had to organised terrorism were tenuous if they existed at all. Organised terrorists would have wanted them dead at the scene, and to have had a clear and instant message attached to the act.

These kids were clearly not willing to sign up for that. They thought in their pot addled fantasy that they would be able to blend right back in as if nothing had happened and then strike again sometime later down the track. However, they didn't think through that they could get identified on video if they didn't disguise themselves, that the remains of the materials they used could be sourced, and that they should not have still had any evidence at all in their possession or onlne that they might have been connected to this.

Beyond confirming the above, I doubt that there will be much intelligence value to be had from interviewing the surviving boy. Except of course if one of the two brothers was stupid enough to tell some poor suckers around campus or elsewhere what they were planning while they were high. In that case anybody they spoke too is going to feel a heavy weight.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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