blendover comments

Posted in: Required or not, English knowledge no guarantee of success See in context

Pardon my cynicism, but I think that the chief purpose of this emphasis on the TOEIC test, as with a great many other tests, is to reduce competition for a shrinking number of higher level placements in work and higher education. '

We're very sorry Mr Yamamoto, you are a fantastic engineer, but we simply can't promote you with a TOEIC score under, let's see, sorry what was your score again? 750. Oh well, let's say 850 then, shall we?'

That's really what this whole testing game is all about, and the negative effects on the national direction are quite high, I would guess. This is because, instead of focusing most of their time and attention on develooping abilities in areas that they are good at, people spend huge amounts of time and money working on developing knowledge and skills of a kind that have limited practical application. Studying for a higher score on the TOEIC test is definitely one such pursuit.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: What do you think about those people who are holding parties to celebrate the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? See in context

It's distasteful, just like the decision to make a big public thing out of not inviting the Argentine president to the funeral is distasteful. Altogether not surprising given the kind of controversy she courted during her tenure.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Mama-friendships can be deceptive See in context

These groups exist, but by their very nature tend to be self limiting. There is always some reason or other to exclude people. For every in group there is a larger out group majority. Just don't let them get to you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: What do you think the yen-dollar exchange rate should be in order to benefit the Japanese economy? See in context

Too low would place a burden on the consumer, depress spending and cause problems with trading partners. Too high accelerates offshshoring in industry and threatens local employmentl. Therefore in a range of 90-115 is bearable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Why do some native English speakers use broken or grammatically incorrect English, when trying to communicate with someone who isn't a native English speaker, but who may understand some English? Do t See in context

If there is miscommunication in a real setting, then it is natural to simplify and the person doing that will take guesses at which words or phrases the other party knows or doesn't. Of course, they will probably be wrong some of the time or even misjudge a situation completely and simplify when it's not necessary. I imagine that might be irritating to the other party at times

On the English teaching side, as above, use of ungramatical or unnatural expressions is counterproductive in the long run. Personally, I think that teaching English entirely in English, whilst possible, is not the most efficient method. Sparing use of the mother tongue as a disambiguator can sometimes save weeks of miscomprehension. Overuse of the mother tongue is also problematic however.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. warns China, Japan, S Korea on currencies See in context

Four years of massive Fed intervention in the markets, but all in a noble cause of rescuing the global banking system and incidentally promoting American interests. Japan does the same kind of thing and they say. Wait a minute you haven't collapsed yet. You can't do that until after it's too late. It's not fair.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan trying to confirm N Korean missile launch status See in context

So far, with the help of the Western media, the North Korean actions have had some impact. Closure of the industrial complex and warning foriegners to get out of both North and South Korea in particular caused a distinct negative reaction in the Korean equity and currency markets. American language has toned down as well. They have scored points in showing that they can knock the markets around.

The ultimate goal of one on one negotiations with America won't be achieved. However, they do succeed in exacting a price for the sanctions and the larger scale than usual military exercises around their territory. Things will go quiet again soon enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Could N Korea hit Japan, S Korea with nukes? No one seems to know See in context

Hardly a sqawk from our foriegn policy hardman Mr Abe. I'm surprised he isn't bringing up the abduction topic again and piling on a few extra sanctions - Not really. It's good to know that he understands when to keep his mouth shut.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Woman puts skeletonised brother in trash after realizing he's dead See in context

It's interesting that she was not arrested given how suspicious the story is, and also interesting that the sister who helped her was not charged as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Have Japan’s anti-smoking laws gone too far? See in context

Some people are highly sensitive to the slightest smell of tobacco smoke, whereas others are not. I don't see any problem with this guy having a puff on his balcony at all. However, I see a huge problem with him being a lousy neighbour and refusing to desist from smoking on his balcony when asked. Most Japanese are not like that. They comply with their neighbour"s requests even if they think them unreasonable, but the ones that refuse to go along stick out like a sore thumb. What was this woman supposed to do? Move apartments? Some would have done that so as not to disturb the wa. Others would be just as bad as he was, and do something anti social back to him. I'm glad that this lady chose the middle path. She sought legal recourse and won. Good on her.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: TEPCO takes blame for Fukushima nuclear crisis See in context

If they had added that the great improvement would be started by immediately ceasing to employ part time staff and only having fully trained properly remunerated people with no connection to organised crime working in there, I might have taken their mea culpa a little more seriously. No sir, real change costs, so we aint gonna change that much.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Dropped scissors causes chaos at Naha Airport See in context

Seems like someone one step up in the rankings second guessing the instincts of the seurity guard. The scissors 'might' be longer than allowed, but then again might just as well not be. Timing is everything.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Why Japan is winning and 'Western management' isn’t See in context

Sorry, getting ahead of myself. Make that 20 years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Why Japan is winning and 'Western management' isn’t See in context

All these critisisms of western management style may be justified. However, one doesn't have to read very far before comcluding that the author's knowledge of Japanese management styles in general is idealised and not based on extensive recent experience or knowledge. There is also the teensy problem of Japan's weak economic performance over the last 30 years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Five-year jail term sought for ex-Olympus head See in context

As others have stated, the monetary fine is anything but whopping. It is insignificant - as are most fines of this type on the rare occasions that they are administered in Japan. The five year sentence being sought is also modest given the scale of the offending. I am not inclined to agree with people who claim that this kind of fraud is somehow less pernicious than plain and simple theft. Whatever the motives might or might not have been, the unfair benefits received over many years and the losses eventually sustained by others are no different than in a case of theft.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: LDP education proposal includes TOEFL prerequisite for univ entrance See in context

I take your point. I shouldn't have confused the studies with Krashen's commentary. I would agree of course that extensive reading and graded readers are not necessarily pleasure reading.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Nursing exam pass rate down among foreign applicants See in context

Yet another example of the type of unworkable scheme being dreamt up and and then actioned by hairbrained politicians - and as usual, it is the people who go through the process in good faith who suffer the most.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: LDP education proposal includes TOEFL prerequisite for univ entrance See in context

The thinking of the people who put this proposal together is sadly lacking in both understanding and vision. The development of a global vision starts by putting people who actually know something about the problem into decision making positions.

By the way, as a matter of information, Dr Stephen Krashen, a world famous linguist has cited research which suggests that the best way to prepare students for learning to engage with academic level English is through pleasure reading. He has cited studies which indicate that high levels of pleasure reading have resulted in equivalent to greater gains on the TOEFL test than those achieved by direct, test focused study.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Good boy gone bad? Justin Bieber's adult problems See in context

Performance artists always have emotional trouble of one kind or another to deal with. The most important thing is who is managing your money while you go through whatever it is that you go through. All too many of these people have shady types on their management team who are either there to rip you off or are just plain incompetant. As a result they often go broke, even when they've been fantastically successful.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese travelers abroad lack street smarts See in context

This idea of Japanese tourists being less careful than tourists from other countries is just a stereotype. Given the high proportion of them who travel, they probably get ripped off less on a statistical basis than other travellers. The reason why a few examples of people who came a cropper get paraded around as being somehow representative of the Japanese in general is just a play on the 'unique Japan' syndrome. Actually, these people are more likely to be the ones who were trying to prove a point to themselves about being different from the herd.

I do think that the Japanese are targeted. That's true enough. But the reason for that is because they are known to be often wealthy, non violent for the most part, not very good at speaking foriegn languages etc. That's what makes them targets, and the ones who turn out to dumb as well are the ones you get to hear about. Most Japanese tourists are aware of the shortcomings that make them targets and that is why they very sensibly travel in organised groups to destinations established as being safe.

Some might say the above type of travel takes all the fun out of it, but if you have to spend all your time checking buildings for escape routes and guarding your money bag, what's fun about that? No thanks. I'm having my next holiday in Wakayama.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Woman confesses to killing 25-year-old mentally disabled son See in context

I am inclined to think that this was a heat of the moment thing and she just snapped. Given the stress she was under, consideration should be given to her circumstances when sentencing occurs. However, too lax a sentence would send the wrong message about what is, and is not OK in society. This action was definitely not OK. Disabled people have rights.

Social services for the disabled in Japan are undoubtedly poor. However, it is open to the parent to give up the child into state care at any time, if they are no longer able to handle the burden of care. They are also able to make visits to state facilities and arrange short stays etc. etc. She had options.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Life after death? Yes, says one doctor See in context

I don't find the profession of this particular person in the least striking. In fact there have always been numerous members of science professions who profess to religious beliefs of one kind or another. For example, there is a long tradition of Christian doctors going to places like Africa to combine preaching of their faith with medical practice. This is not news.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Survey among expats: What did you think about Japan before you started living here? See in context

When I arrived in Japan and rented a house, I was told that the neighbours were very concerned that I would not be able to handle garbage properly, do my neighborhood jobs, park the car with consideration or refrain from noise pollution so I made a point of being careful about all these things. My big surprise was that people here are constantly putting out garbage on the wrong days, not doing their neighborhood jobs, parking inconsiderately and making a racket.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Posted in: More senior partners uncoupling See in context

Actually I think it is often because one of the partners or both don't want to face the existential challenge of change for the better. While the husband is at work, the requirements of the company provide the excuse to avoid issues. After the husband retires that excuse doesn't exist any more. Getting divorced is the easier option because then you don't have to change very much.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Identity of Osaka elementary school bandit discovered See in context

The vice principal job is arguably the hardest in the school. They are worked phenomenally hard and it is common for many of them to never get promotion to the next and easier stage due to poor relationships with their principal who will decline to recommend them for promotion. I have heard of quite a few cases of vice principals who had previously been very successful as teachers suffering mental breakdown. Whilst I would never condone this man's actions, I'm not particularly surprised that mental stress drove someone down this path.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan riled by WHO's Fukushima cancer warning See in context

After the WHO report came out, Kenji was relieved and started to think about moving back to Fukushima, but then the Japanese governemt response came out and he changed his mind.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Man arrested for murdering neighbor in 2007 to pay back debts See in context

Sounds like they didn't investigate very thoroughly the first time, and then reopened the case after someone told them what happened.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan will never stop whaling: minister See in context

Seems like this politician is just using the whaling issue to make a statement in line with the bold Abe foriegn policy stance. "Japan hangs tough on whaling'. Looks a bit pathetic really, but I doubt he cares. He will get brownie points from hs boss for saying stuff like this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Panel recommends 'moral education' to counter school bullying, corporal punishment See in context

To be fair, a number of the other suggested ideas seem OK ish. It's the one about morals education that people are objecting to the most. It's a very old fashioned term and conjures up images of someone standing up and sermonising to a bunch of uninterested, cynical youngsters.

Morals education, if you have to call it that, should be happening in situ, more than as a separate course. That is, the teaching of good social attitudes has to be built into the curriculae of other disciplines, such as sports, social studies and so on, as well as practiced by the teachers in all areas and enunciated on public occasions, in assemblies and so on. It's about building a culture of mutual respect - something that would take a rather more comprehensive approach than simply bunging in a few lectures on morality.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: 3-year-old girl starves to death after mother leaves country See in context

The 14 year old is not to blame. It is precisely because not all 14 year olds are neccessarily socially developed enough to handle a situation like that, that parents are not allowed to entrust toddlers to their care for long periods. She will blame herself, however, and others will help her with that. She can read the forums like anyone else. If she doesn't start getting good psychological guidance right away, she will have a messed up life.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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